The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success
In The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, the author shares what makes a psychopath and lessons we can learn from psychopaths.
The book shares that one to two percent of the population could be considered psychopaths. Psychopaths use charm and polish to cover up their evil side. They are brilliant and lack emotions like guilt, fear, and shame. Lack of fear makes them take chances and not worry about failure. This combination makes them a functioning psychopaths where they can end up in high positions like executives and surgeons.
The book shares an example of how differently psychopaths and non-psychopaths solve a moral dilemma: A train will run into and kill five people. You have a switch to divert the train to another track that will kill one person. For psychopaths they don’t hesitate to throw the switch. Non-psychopaths need time to make the decision, and if it required them to physically push one person into the train to save five lives, they wouldn’t do it. A psychopath would.
While most of us take time to think through the potential outcomes of our actions, psychopaths don’t. With a disdain for boredom, they act quickly. And, once they’ve swiftly acted and had success, they’re more likely to do it again—from a business decision to murder. Psychopaths do things that others only think about, which is why they could end up in prison or leading a business.
Psychopathy, like other mental conditions, isn’t binary. Instead, there’s a continuum. In this continuum, advancement can come from the moderate expression of many psychopathic qualities combined with restraint to not act immediately on every desire.
Psychopaths live in the here and now. They’re excellent at executing without letting feelings get in the way—because they don’t have them. Without emotion, this ability to be in the moment makes psychopaths good at high-risk fields like being a soldier or firefighter.
Along with being in the moment, psychopaths stay calm and take action versus seize up in fear when making a hard decision. This ability to take action gives psychopaths an advantage over regular people. So, how can an average person use psychopathic traits to their advantage? Use meditation as a way to be in the moment and use this practice to help make decisions. Also, like any good psychopath, understand the power of persuasion.