I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
In this engrossing journey into the lives of psychopaths and their infamously crafty behaviors, the renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton reveals that there is a scale of “madness” along which we all sit. Incorporating the latest advances in brain scanning and neuroscience, Dutton demonstrates that the brilliant neurosurgeon who lacks empathy has more in common with a Ted Bundy who kills for pleasure than we may wish to admit, and that a mugger in a dimly lit parking lot may well, in fact, have the same nerveless poise as a titan of industry.
As Dutton develops his theory that we all possess psychopathic tendencies, he puts forward the argument that society as a whole is more psychopathic than ever: after all, psychopaths tend to be fearless, confident, charming, ruthless, and focused—qualities that are tailor-made for success in the twenty-first century.
If you choose to read this book, I would advise regarding it completely as entertainment. Don’t expect it to reveal too much about the issue of psychopathy—it tells the reader much more about the author than about this mental condition.
This is a book to be enjoyed for its anecdotes, not for its scholarship. The author seems to believe that quite a number of psychopaths populate his life—from his father to one of his childhood friends. Plus he tells an entertaining story of his visit to Broadmoor Hospital, where psychopaths are securely housed.
Despite the author’s enthusiasm, I’m not sure that we regular folk have anything of any great import to learn from psychopaths. Much more significant in my opinion is the ability of regular folk to recognize these damaged people and deal with or avoid them, something that the author doesn’t even broach. This seems to be more the author as a fan, rather than a realist about the condition. Still an entertaining read.