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You almost certainly know a psychopath in real life… and you may very well be one yourself. And that might even be a good thing.
We’ve recognized psychopathy in science and culture for thousands of years, yet we still don’t know what to do about it. Yet we use the word itself now more than ever, so much that the meaning of the word “psychopath” has become diluted in popular culture. As we increasingly learn more about the science of psychopathy, we should get better at deploying the term more accurately — but instead, it’s become a catch-all for unconscionable human behavior and a mainstay of true crime stories.
Psychopaths are much more complex than that… for better and worse.
In reality, a psychopath’s brain creates and perpetually reinforces a moral code that is defined more by what it lacks than what it contains. From a total absence of anxiety to a simple utilitarian worldview that can do tremendous harm to others, the psychopath is a mix of brute force and the most subtle manipulation. And this is where it gets really complicated: you actually want the ruthlessness of a psychopath to run your company, you want the charm of a psychopath for investigative journalism, and you want the fearlessness of a psychopath to respond to medical emergencies.
Can we harness the biological and psychological forces that create dangerous, destructive psychopaths to improve humanity? And if we could cure or eliminate psychopathy… would we even want to?
Kiehl, Kent. “The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience.” https://www.amazon.com/Psychopath-Whisperer-Science-Without-Conscience/dp/0770435866
Dutton, Kevin. “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.” https://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Psychopaths-Saints-Killers-Success/dp/0374533989
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Research and Writing by Matthew Tabor
Editing by John Swan
Huge Thanks To Paula Lieber
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#psychology #truecrime #psychopath #mentalhealth #science