Critiquing “The Wisdom of Psychopaths,” by Kevin Dutton, Ph.D.

Kevin Dutton’s “The Wisdom of Psychopaths” is a strange, ultimately disconcerting book. Dutton is erudite and obviously fascinated with his subject—psychopaths. He references some cutting edge research and had access to many heavy hitters in the field of  psychopathy experts.

Yet in the end, I find his book very troubling. His thesis is basically what the book’s subversive title suggests—that psychopaths have qualities of “wisdom.” That is,  psychopaths, he asserts, have certain admirable, enviable and distinguishing qualities in greater volumes than non-psychopaths, qualities the non-psychopath could benefit from in greater quantity so long as (unlike psychopaths) the non-psychopath can regulate and express these “psychopathic qualities” appropriately, in the appropriate contexts.

Dutton seems to be suggesting that psychopaths (or many of them) are, by virtue of possessing these “psychopathic qualities,” in some respects advanced in their psychological, temperamental and even spiritual evolution.  Audaciously, he draws analogies between psychopaths and the most evolved monks and Buddhist masters.

Dutton finally specifies what he regards as enviable, advantageous psychopathic qualities, the only caveat being that they should be expressed in good, balanced measure. They are ruthlessness, charm, focus, mental toughness, fearlessness, mindfulness, and the propensity to action/decisiveness.

When he describes psychopaths as being endowed with high levels of “mindfulness,” he is referring to what he alleges is their capacity to be present in the moment of whatever they are endeavoring. He asserts that psychopaths possess a distinct capacity to tune-out all sorts of inconvenient distractions such as depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, and anticipated remorse to achieve their ends with unique focus.

Even if this is the case, what Dutton fails spectacularly to appreciate, it seems to me, is the extent to which psychopaths deploy this alleged quality, and several of the other qualities he gushes over, in the service of exploiting, not enhancing, others. This is what, in essence, makes them psychopathic.

The psychopath is, at bottom, an exploitive, transgressive personality, a remorseless violator of others’ rights, boundaries and dignity. If you are not this, then you are not a psychopath.

But Dutton seems to be arguing that the key to being optimally adapted to our world is to master the capacity to be what he calls a “method psychopath,” meaning to develop and channel all the psychopathic qualities necessary to succeed in the particular contexts requiring them.

He then confuses, continually, the examples he gives of  “method psychopaths” by basically referring to them as “psychopaths.” But they are not necessarily psychopaths at all—many of the men he describes may merely be endowed with certain of the “psychopathic qualities” he outlines, and deploy them in the service of performing jobs that require, for instance, fearlessness (or the successful suppression of fear), perhaps ruthlessness, certainly unblinking, sustained concentration under duress, and possibly a suspension of guilt.

He may be right that psychopaths are better suited for these jobs than non-psychopaths, but this doesn’t implicate all those who do these jobs well or even brilliantly as psychopaths. Yet this implication permeates the book, corrupting its discourse.

Dutton describes a brain surgeon who describes his work with chilling detachment and compartmentalization; thereby, on this apparent basis alone, he dubs him a psychopath. He describes men in the British Special Forces who undertake daring, violent work from which most of us would cringe or break, yet these men embrace their work with a rare coolness, and, apparently by virtue of their capacity to handle the intense risks and stresses involved in their missions without reflecting signs of disabling anxiety, agitation or guilt, Dutton  regards them as “functional” or “method” psychopaths.

But a glaring question is left unexamined: Are these same men, in their personal lives, the cold, calculating clinicians, surgeons, rescuers or assassins that their jobs require them to be? (And incidentally, none of them are committing crimes: the surgeon is saving lives as, arguably, are the warriors he profusely admires.)

If the answer to the above question is “no,” as may be the case, then these men are not psychopaths. They are non-psychopaths with nerves of steel. But this basic question isn’t even addressed, superficially.

Dutton references research suggesting that psychopaths might be more likely to act heroically than non-psychopaths in certain dangerous situations. But even if this is the case, so what? So what if, in the event your house is burning down and there are two individuals on the street watching, the psychopath might be more inclined to run in and pull you out of the inferno than the non-psychopath? That may be true, and we can imagine reasons this might be the case.

But again, he’s not a psychopath unless he’s exploiting others audaciously and shamelessly in his life. Otherwise, he’s just a hero with nerves of steel. And if he is a psychopath, then his fearlessness, or lust for risk, in instances like these, confers a small benefit to humanity, which we will take without undo gratefulness given the incalculable suffering he imposes on humanity in the greater arena of life.

Dutton cites research suggesting psychopaths can feel empathy, maybe even more empathy than non-psychopaths. But the very concept of empathy is confusing and, to my mind, muddles the issue of psychopathy. What psychopaths really lack is “compassion” for their victims. Forget about empathy and how we define it. They lack compassion–real, true compassion. Compassion should be the benchmark measure here, not empathy. (My next article on Lovefraud will address “compassion” as the far more telling, missing deficit in sociopaths than “empathy.”)

And “victim” needs to be stressed in a book where it is woefully, incredibly under-stressed in Dutton’s need to virtually idealize psychopaths. Psychopath=Victims (that is my formula!). Psychopaths victimize people unconscionably. Psychopaths are victimizing, exploitive personalities. If you are dealing with an individual who is not remorselessly exploitive, you are not dealing with a true psychopath (or sociopath).

And Dutton pays scant attention to qualities like emotional shallowness and deep loyalty. The psychopath is a disturbingly shallow, disloyal individual. This surely doesn’t equate with spiritual advancement, yet Dutton absurdly seeks to find commonalities between Tibetan monks and psychopaths. He aims to recast psychopaths as misunderstood rebels, perhaps overly adapted to the exigencies of modern society.

Dutton writes, “”¦the problem with psychopaths isn’t that they’re too chock-full of evil. Ironically, it’s precisely the opposite: they have too much of a good thing”¦The car is to die for. It’s just too fast for the road.” (p. 186).

This gives you the flavor of the need Dutton has throughout his book to reframe psychopathy as a virtually enviable condition that is “too much of a good thing.”  The chasmic inattention given, as noted above, to the immeasurable suffering psychopaths inflict on their victims is itself almost glib and callous.

One senses that Dutton is just a bit too enamored of the psychopath and too desperate to rehabilitate the psychopath’s well-earned reputation as an exploitative, emotional cipher to do real justice to his subject.

Which is to say that psychopaths, in the end, really have no wisdom to impart to us. As entertaining as his book is, neither, I’m afraid, does Dutton.

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63 Comments on "Critiquing “The Wisdom of Psychopaths,” by Kevin Dutton, Ph.D."

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I’m so glad you wrote a review on the book, “The Wisdom of Psychopaths”. I read some of the book last week on Amazon and I just felt defeated and sad. Dutton seems so removed and he has no idea what it means to be victimized by a psychopath. Nada, none.

The part about the neuro surgeon, yep, it’s great that he can focus and is brilliant at what he does, but I wouldn’t want to be married to him. And if he is a psychopath, maybe he hasn’t been outed yet and he secretly beats his wife and kids at home.

My ex was and is brilliant, was very focused and became a senior vice president at a national and international company. He was also a pathalogical liar. He also tried his best to convince me I was crazy (your sick Hope, it’s all in your imagination, I’ll take care of you) when I started to find out about his secrets.

Then my daughter came forward and said she didn’t like the way dad was touching her.

Oh yeah, I’m seeing the wisdom of flipping psychopaths. I don’t want to learn anything from them. He tried to tell the psychologists that I was crazy and needed help, thank goodness for the MMPI and for therapists that couldn’t be manipulated by him.

His parting wisdom was to stalk me, with my kids home, and to tell all his family lies about me and his daughter. She knew he was a sociopath at 16 and told me that’s what her dad is.

This literature is harmful for people in a relationship with a psychopath because “even though he beats me, he’s a brilliant surgeon so he can’t be that bad.”

We have to endure so much already because people don’t get it, Dutton obviously does not get it.

Steve, you validated me and my feelings with this review, thank you!


Years ago My MD supervisor of my unit at Baylor hospital and I used to “argue” whether becoming a neurosurgeon made you an arsehole or if only arseholes became neurosurgeons. My MD supervisor BTW was head of the ethics committee at Baylor then and he saved my bacon many a time when I would go head to head with an unethical (I thought) neurosurgeon. Of course this was all in good humor, but I can testify that in my career I have seen more surgeons that I would classify as HIGH ON THE PSYCHOPATHIC TRAIT LIST than surgeons who were “Mr./Ms Nice guy” Yet, at the same time, those are the very people I would call to cut my belly open.

While I think (and BTW I have just finished reading but not yet finished “digesting” the book) that there are LEVELS OF PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS in people and while a “full blown” psychopath such as my son, who thought he is quite bright (99th percentile) just isn’t going to focus enough to become a great neurosurgeon because his P traits over shadow all other ones.

Yet, I have seen many SUCCESSFUL politicians that I think are full blown Psychopaths that would score right up there at or near or even above 30 on the PCL-R and I think these people became as successful as they are BECAUSE of their P traits, the ability to stab people in the back, to walk on others, to cheat and lie without a bit of remorse.

So in a way, I do think that there is some “benefit” to society for psychopaths or they would not have made it this far. Without some benefit they would have been “selected out” of the gene pool. The psychopath who is sexually more active with many women than a man who bonds to his spouse leaves his seed spread far and wide and is thus more likely to leave offspring.

In business the cut throat businessperson who is willing to do “whatever it takes” to succeed is more likely to get rich than the nice guy. Maybe the guy isn’t a full blown P but he has more traits than Mr. Nice guy…and so on.

So while I don’t agree with everything in this book, or take it as “gospel” I do see some advantages for the people high in psychopathic traits for both themselves and for society as a whole.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I think your review pretty much sums up what I thought about the oxymoron “Wisdom of Psychopaths”.

If it takes age and experience to attain wisdom, how the heck does someone who is emotionally infantile have wisdom? A baby has “wisdom” in being a baby. It knows how to do that and it serves his purposes as a baby. When an adult continues to behave like an infant, that’s no longer wisdom.

You nailed it when you said, “He aims to recast psychopaths as misunderstood rebels, perhaps overly adapted to the exigencies of modern society.” Yes, the problem is that society has adapted to the existence of spaths by becoming more like them, by admiring them, by putting them on pedestals. So now they seem like someone to aspire to be like, when in fact, spaths are an example of how not to be.

Dutton reminds me of my spath-sister who said, “Skylar, it’s okay to be evil.” WTF? I sure hope that this book gets the reviews it deserves, reviews like the one you wrote.

Sky, I think the Term “wisdom” of the psychopaths in the title etc is more a “play on words” than the way WE think of “wisdom”

Knowledge is what you learn.

Wisdom is learning HOW to use it.

So maybe in a way what they do IS ‘wisdom”—

I think a person who is a sniper for example…who sits and waits to kill people (however justifiable the reason for killing them) has to have some form of way to either not have or to control his empathy or they would never be able to pull the trigger in “cold blood.” Yet, we As a society must have snipers in our military or be like the islanders onn the small island near New Zealand who were wiped out by the warrior tribes from near by islands. They had no warriors, no snipers, no spears…they tried to make peace and live together, but the warrior groups killed without a thought “because that’s what we do.” So I think the more aggressive islanders had more P traits than the passive Islanders….and they were wiped out to a man.

There are things that require the quashing of empathy in order to do them. Being an army sniper is only one of them…being a general who sends men out, knowing that many or most of them won’t come back is another, but Patton did it…Eisenhower did it…and Hitler did it. Were the Generals on our side less Ps than Hitler? Or was Hitler more a P than our generals?

War is horrific….most people couldn’t squash down their empathy enough to send thousands of men to their deaths, but someone high in P traits who can do that….I think they are necessary to our society as a whole. If that makes any sense.

Having the confidence and arrogance to cut into a living body is another thing that Ii think requires someone high in P traits. Not necessarily a full fledged psychopath, but those traits. To get anywhere in politics and the military the person must also have superficial charm and arrogance and be willing to step on other’s backs to climb the ladder of success.

I think wisdom is what you gain from experience, whereas knowledge is gained from books or instruction. The difference is that experience makes us internalize the knowledge because it is embedded with emotions. Later, the wisdom feels like it came from our guts, because the emotion was associated with it.

I read, “People of the Lie” and absorbed the knowledge but it did me no good because I had no experience of pure evil. 25 years later, when the man in the sushi bar said, “there’s a book you need to read.” I replied, “I know the book. People of the Lie.” Suddenly I knew what the book meant.

Spaths can teach themselves all kinds of things, but without experiencing emotions, they can’t ever learn wisdom. The 2 things go together.

When you say, that wisdom is knowing how to use knowledge, I think that you are right because that comes from our emotional response to experiences.

I saw this post pass by on the face book Love Fraud page and could not resist reading. I’d not heard of this book prior to reading Steve’s article, which might be a good thing (?) given the cognitive dissonance I’m experiencing just knowing that this book exists.

I went to Amazon and read the “look inside” portion of the book and the reviews. I did a Google search and read more reviews on the book. Obviously, I have not read it all and I will not be able to articulate much with regards to its content..

But there is something SO disturbing about the reviews and what appears to be a glorification of psychopaths and their “positive” traits. It is incredibly invalidating to a survivor’s experiences. It feels as if a slap in the face to the victims of psychopaths who have been destroyed or nearly destroyed by them. What is MORE disturbing to me is that the perspectives of the reviewers of the book were COMPLETELY SHALLOW and missed critical elements in the devastating consequences of those who have been involved with psychopaths. The implication that we would do better to be MORE like them is insanity.

The idea of “mindfulness” as a positive psychopathic trait were LUDICROUS. I believe this spiritual state of being was contextually molested by twisting what is merely SHALLOW AFFECT into something positive when a psychopaths precision like focus in being able to “live in the moment” also makes it possible for him to gaslight, brainwash and exploit any victim that walks onto his path. We’ve all experienced what it is when the psychopath conveniently pushes the “reset” switch in his ability to rewrite history or rather, “live in the moment”. It felt offensive to me to align a genuine spiritual state of being and a psychopath as being mutually exclusive or in any way comparable to a Buddhist teaching. Incredible.

Given that the author’s father was a psychopath, I’m sure that many a psychologist would have a field day with this guy with his insatiable quest for knowledge about psychopaths. Perhaps he is purging his own painful consequences of a father incapable of love for his son. It also calls into question, for me, whether or not this guy is a spath too. If we truly know what spaths are, why glorify them? I don’t see Robert Hare doing so. Red flag much?

Having said that, all of you make very good points about your perceptions of the book and the psychopath.

I think what matters, though, is the bottom line. I think that psychopaths eventually undo themselves, not because they lack intelligence or education (successful spaths), or success in their careers, but because they lack emotional intelligence that eventually trips them up somewhere else in their lives if not in their careers too, later on.

Politically, I’m noticing a shift in our society despite spaths in power who believe they are invincible. There seems to be a large population of people that are waking up to the destruction psychopaths have created politically, as well as financially in this country. People are becoming fed up. When I hear a politician, a CEO, or otherwise greedy, wealthy, power driven individual speak about Americans as sheeple who are ignorant, deserving of their poverty, low wages and lack of health insurance, I don’t wish they would shut up. In fact, I hope they keep TALKING because more and more, they look as entitled, egocentric and ridiculously out of touch and distorted in their thinking which is a great display of their lack of compassion and, emotional intelligence that is becoming FAR too obvious. People are pissed off. And this is a GOOD sign.

I’m believing it’ll be those who have compassion and empathy that will eventually be the psychopath’s undoing. Maybe that’s too simplistic and too hopeful, but this is why I believe all of us have a stake in educating others about psychopathy and putting it into terms that are REALISTIC. I hope this book loses momentum. It doesn’t appear to have much.

And I sure as hell would not encourage a survivor in recovery to read it.

Thanks for the heads up and the review, Steve. I’ll be passing this on.


Steve I don’t think you and I disagree on this at all really, I think we both pretty much believe that Psychopaths, the pure kind, don’t have much ability to empathize and therefore they will act to harm, or even deliberately harm others, just for the “fun” of it (duping delight as it were)

Baron-Cohen’s ideas on the continuum of empathy….from zero+ (an autistic person) to zero negative (psychopathic) on one end of the bell curve to the utter empath on the other end, with most of us in the middle pretty much for me outlines what “normal” is —being in the middle of the bell curve, but we all must quash our empathy at times or we would never be able to drive down the street past a homeless person without stopping and giving them our bank books, the keys to our cars and the key to our home. Even though we may empathize with this person’s plight, we “control” our response to that empathy and we drive on by, or we stop and give them a few bucks.

Before I read Baron-Cohen’s book I hadn’t really thought about how we can control our response to empathy. Once, when I was asking a person I believe is a psychopath to leave my farm they went into a guilt throwing party, then a pity party, etc. and changed from rage to pity seeking like a top spinning round and round and I found myself watching them like I would watch a bug and I was not buying into either their contention that I had mistreated them, or that I should pity them. Later as I reflected on this event, I got to thinking that must be the way a true psychopath feels when they watch us begging them to stop hurting us….totally without any empathy. I realized that day that I had NO empathy for this person who was truly homeless except for their vehicle and it was a sobering thought for me that I COULD have no empathy for another human being.

So reading about the levels of empathy and the fact that they are not “static” but vary from day to day and situation to situation gave me a lot to think about.

So I think a lot of the people that our society requires to do some pretty “heavy” things must be able to “adjust” their empathy….or have little empathy to begin with in order to accomplish the jobs, but that in most cases the “pure” psychopath can’t hold it together enough to function well in society, but there are exceptions to that rule too…how about that Canadian military guy who was robbing then raping and murdered a couple of women, can’t remember his name (CRS!) He did WELL in his profession. How about the many governors of states, Bloggo is one example….who are obviously very HIGH in P traits? Dictators of countries. Presidents of countries. Lots and lots of psychopaths have risen to high positions just by virtue of having no consciences.

Maybe society would be better without them, but since we DO have them in our society, I think we must have some checks and balances and maybe having a few of them or a few people who are high in the traits off sets the bad apples of the Ted Bundys or the Blaggos.

Thanks Steve. I haven’t read the book, and know only what you have shared, here. I like LL, immediatly sensed that Dutton was a psychopath who felt the need to “romantisize” his pathology, or at least to make it innoculious, and heroic.
And, with a title like that, who will it mostly attract? People like us, the survivors, perhaps, professionals in the feild, yes, but my guess is that the majority of his readers will be psychopaths looking to bolster their already inflated egos and justify their percieved superiority.
This sounds like a psychopath blowing his proverbial horn.

Hi Kim,
yep, that’s why I won’t pay full price to read it. Just like I won’t pay for “All In. The education of what’s his name.”

The answer to psychopathy is to not play the game.

The “wisdom” of the psychopath……RONFLMAO…snort. Guffaw….coffee through my nose. OGL. Wisdom, yet. Really? Wisdom?

How ’bout this: The spiritual experience of psychopathy?
Or, “How my psychopathy helped me to understand the true meaning of life.” Looking at psychopathy as a blessing, or how I can make the most of my psychopathy….
Or to really extend a metephor….for those of us who are in our fifties, or older….remember Brooke Sheild’s, Don’t hate me because I’m……psychopathic. Well.

When I first started researching psychopathy, I came across an article online, (and I can’t cite it. I’m sorry.) About soldiers in combat. Psychopaths were the most aggressive infantrymen; they were fearless when it came time to rush in and KILL the enemy. But, they were piss poor at reconisance…ie, they wouldn’t rush in, to save a comrad….the empaths did that. Just saying.

Steve, thank you for this review article. I won’t choose to read Dutton’s book simply because it’s one more attempt to “excuse” ppath behaviors as admirable qualities, and they simply are not.

Sure, exposure to ppaths and spaths have their intrinsic value in the lessons that I’ve needed to learn about myself, but I would have preferred to never have the need to learn about this condition in the first place.

For whatever reason, ppaths have always existed and will continue to exist as part of the “human condition.” In times past when human beings lived in much smaller populations (tribal groups, etc.), if a ppath went over the edge of the groups mores, they were dealt with quickly and either kept in check or dispatched, entirely. Today, there are laws in place that prevent indiscriminate lynching, and rightly so. Our culture has become too huge for vigilante actions, and anarchy would result if such laws weren’t in place. But, what the current laws fail to accomplish is to “send a message” that bad behaivors are intolerable.

I don’t know what the answer to this would be. Removing predators of all types from society would seem to be the answer, but the general public would have to pay to keep these predators safe and secure from society.

I’ve typed it many times, but I seriously feel that placing people convicted of repetetive predatory behaviors should be placed on an island, far away from society. Drop them all off with a bag full of seeds, some livestock, and let them sort it out between themselves on this island. It’s meant as a tongue-in-cheek scenario, but it seriously seems to be the only way to put the public out of harm’s way, as much as can be. Of course, it would be impossible to herd them all together in one fell swoop because ppathy and spathy are simply aspects of the “human condition” and can never be eradicated.

All I know is that it seems that there are FAR more ppaths within contemporary society than the experts estimate. I don’t know whether this is because of technological advances that have allowed a greater access to information, or what, but it seems that there are literally dozens of reports of spath behaviors, on a daily basis.

Again, thanks for the review!

Brightest blessings

Kim Frederick…..LMAO!!!! Wisom? uh……..(snaps fingers) whatever…..

I haven’t seen Kevin Dutton’s book, but I see from other sources that he believes his own father is (or was) a psychopath. He cannot escape suspicion of being biased is certain ways.

Apropos of nothing in particular, I also noticed that one of his chapters is titled “Carpe Noctem.” I had to smile at that phrase! It sounds like the motto of a vampire.

“Yes, the problem is that society has adapted to the existence of spaths by becoming more like them, by admiring them, by putting them on pedestals. So now they seem like someone to aspire to be like, when in fact, spaths are an example of how not to be.”
Well said, Skylar. Yes.

And many thanks to Steve for this review! As if there wasn’t enough misinformation out there…

Thank you for the warning, I will not be buying his book.

Nothing good can come from a psychopath. A psychopathic lawyer will pervert the law. A psychopathic politician will usurp power over the people. A psychopathic brain surgeon will perform atrocious “studies” on innocent animals and would do so on people if they could get away with it.

No one ever said they were all stupid, they are simply all evil.

“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
”• Albert Einstein

I am however reading Psychopathic Altruism because of the seeming oxymoron of a title. But that is because I believe what Ayn Rand taught about altruism: that good is done out of love and concern and is therefore ultimately selfish and that altruism is self sacrifice and behooves no one. Altruism is why we were psychopath bait in the first place.

“What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

“Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.”


I was just about to buy this book, but the title bothered me so much I put it back down. I thought He was coming from the angle of what they had to teach us about ourselves, not actually picking out ‘traits’ as being useful…I’m glad, for all the reasons you outline here i did not buy it. It’s too serious to get wrong. End of.

“Dutton finally specifies what he regards as enviable, advantageous psychopathic qualities, the only caveat being that they should be expressed in good, balanced measure. They are ruthlessness, charm, focus, mental toughness, fearlessness, mindfulness, and the propensity to action/decisiveness”

So, am I the only one who actually envied the spath’s abilities (at one time) and watched to see how I could become more like him? Of course, that was before I saw the consequences of his behavior.

Ruthlessness: I could be ruthless pulling off a band-aid, making my kids take their medicine, etc. But that was as far as it went.

Charm: Everyone seemed to like him. I didn’t have that ability, in fact, there were lots of people who didn’t like me because I spoke the truth.

Mental toughness: Wow, I really related to this one! I always let my emotions get in the way. Why couldn’t I be more like him, I always wondered? He didn’t let ANYTHING get in the way of what he wanted!

Fearlessness: Let’s face it, I was full of fears! No problem for him. But then he jumped in without thinking, ever, of the consequences and they always came back to bite in the butt.

Mindfulness: ??? He didn’t relate to this one at all, his thinking was very shallow. Unless it means, focusing on one thing and accomplishing that goal. He really couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. I, on the other hand, was easily distracted by other issues in life and didn’t always stay focused.

Propensity to action/decisiveness: Oh yeah, he had that alright. Jumped in with both feet and never looked back. (See fearlessness.) The problem with this one was, he never learned from his mistakes by taking such foolish risks. And I mean really harmful actions, not just to himself but the others who depended on him. I always was the one who hung back and presented logical arguments why we shouldn’t do something. He ignored me. So since he didn’t learn, he’d do it all over again the next day! I was exhausted and could never keep up.

But when I first knew him, I did admire those traits in him and wished I was more like him. I don’t now. I saw where having the extremes of those abilities lead…to disaster, to catastrophe. Instead of admiring him, I know what a retarded loser he is! He’s like a wind-up toy that mindlessly keeps doing the same thing over and over, banging little cymbals with the same goofy painted expression on his face. It got really old!

I thank God I am not like him.

I think you can take admirable qualities and apply them to other personality types. Ps do not have a monopoly on these characteristics.

Steve, you’re absolutely right-motivation is the key.

As far as this author goes, there is always somebody out to make a name for himself (or herself) and somebody who wants to be the clever one who upsets conventional wisdom. These books, interviews, and articles about the authors’ egos or narcissism.

As for MDs, in my little town, there is the ex-wife of a head surgeon at our state’s largest hospital who told plenty (and took her ex to court for this) about his physical and mental abuse and his need for absolute control. She lost the case because of “look at all the good that he does-how can you say such a thing?” Somebody even suggested that I include her case if I ever write a book about Ps some day.

In this day and age, people can spin things just about any way that they’d like to make their case. The first-time readers on the subject or those otherwise impressed by his title might buy his stuff, but give him some time. He’ll be forgotten soon enough-unless the Wall Street types and others who thrive on P characteristics keep singing his praises.

For the record, no P that I know of would run back into a burning house to save somebody (not if there was a real risk involved.) Honestly, what P would even consider sacrificing his or her hide for another person unless there would be a big enough and sure payoff of a gain for the P and ultimately, very little risk for the P?

You post dialed in on one aspect of my relationship with my X! husband: the parts of him that I found MISSING in me, and sought to copy and incorporate into myself… AT FIRST.

Yes, he was SO charming, had people eating out of his hand in minutes. ME? I grew up isolated on a farm with a HORRIBLE family. VERY abused. I had poor social skills, learning late how to small talk, etc. So… I did copy behaviors he did to put people at ease.

Also, EVERYTHING my X! did was so easy, so effortless. I worried about things that could go wrong; he had NO pangs of anxiety at all. He bought real estate and flipped it for a profit EVERY time.

He stay calm cool and CO-lected, as he’d say. Planning commission meetings where townspeople objected to his developments? Things got VERY heated. But not him. ANd he’d twist people’s words so that he got approvals b/c of loopholes, or b/c people used ONE word wrong, and He’d POUNCE and “capitalized” on their error.

That’s just three examples: charming people, no fear decision making, and able to remain as if in third person.

Once I understood what was REALLY going on, I got a little paranoid about his characteristics, b/c after 20 years with him, I didn’t want anything of him to rub off on me….esp in those last years. Behaviors that I admired at first now made me feel queasy, and by the time I left him, he constantly reminded me of a snake oil salesman.

There are NO benefits to sociopathic behavior, b/c how could fooling people in order to set them up for a scam EVER be a GOOD thing? Haven’t read the book. Just think the premise is a WTF disconnect.

Katy, just adding my 2p b/c I related to what Newlife43 wrote, and like her, how those “admirable characteristics” turned out to not be so admirable at all.


We have something in common. I also grew up isolated on a farm with an extemely dysfunctional family.

You know what they say…the things that initially attract us to someone are the things that we will hate about them in the end. That is always what I have heard anyway.

I don’t know about the “admirable’ qualities of a sociopath – the list of things that are to be construed as enviable could be made using ANY argument, but what is clearly a constant with regard to spaths and their “qualities” is that they do not express those “qualities” in an effort to benefit others.

“Fearlessness” is an incorrect assessment. “Fearlessness” is, as G1S noted, an example of someone putting their OWN lives at risk to help someone else without a second thought about awards, accolades, or some sort of compensation. In the World Of Spath, “fearlessness” is actually RECKLESSNESS. Recklessness. Period.

“Charm” isn’t correct, either. They SEEM charming and beguiling. But, if we look harder and longer at that “charming” smile, it isn’t a smile of mirth or joy, but clearly the leer of a predator.

“Mental Toughness?” REALLY??? I don’t believe that wanton callousness can be, in any way, associated with “mental toughness.” Mental toughness translates into doing what needs to be done, even if it hurts OURSELVES. Example: it takes mental toughness to acknowledge one’s core-issues and work on those issues to evolve into a healthier human being.

C’mon……..this is all just claptrap to generate sensation and book sales. Don’t buy into these idiotic views because spaths are not admirable, nor do we ever want to be what they are: callous, predatory, and users.

Brightest blessings

That’s the point, isn’t it. Words that take on meaning, and it has to be the right word. Charm that switches on/off, isn’t charming at all. As you said, fearless is the wrong word, reckless is more like it. All this concern for the meanings of adjectives to describe positive attributes of a sociopath, and WE know the core truth, that from Title to ending period, the premise of the book is a fallacy, a gushing admiration for a defective “it” that could not care less.

B/c sociopaths aren’t so interested in being admired, sucking up is for narcissists. The sociopath that infected my life was driven by/motivated by being top dog, the ultimate controller, the WINNER… but only as HE defined “WINNING”, not what anyone would find in a dictionary.

The book is pathetic but does us one favor, the author has completely undermined his own credibility and in doing so, we know to ever again see his name in print is moot.

How did you learn how to be in public? It took me years to learn to finish speaking sentences b/c it was expected that I’d understand what my parent/siblings were saying and THEY would decide what I was thinking or saying before I said it. That kind of thing PISSED me off b/c they were WRONG, and yet they insisted they knew my mind. (it’s the same behavior my LF nemeisis did to me too.)


Boy, can I relate to what you just said. My S mother would get into my face with, “That’s not what you think/feel. This is what you think/feel.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t get angry. I got very confused. When I was little, I actually wondered if she had some kind of special powers or if there was a sign lighting up over my head with information that I didn’t know about, but when I got older, I guess I did get angry, although I called it frustration. Then I’d lock horns with her to convince her that she was wrong.

Had I known what I was up against and what was going on, I never would have done that, but there was no information back then about this kind of dynamic. Nobody could have told me what was going on because the behavior hadn’t yet been identified.

Fortunately, I was able to teach my son something different and we never went those routes.

KatyDid, yepper – and, that’s why I would rather use a $20 bill to light my woodstove rather than waste it on the reviewed “work!” LOL!!!

G1S, so you weren’t in line for the “Handbook Of Life” when you were born, too?! Even today, with the explosion of “information” and technology, people are still completely uneducated about disorders and the human condition. It’s not “fact” that we learn, but a system of beliefs, I think. At least, for me that was true.

It’s a good thing that you have an opportunity to educate your son – my son is learning about this, as well, and it’s kind of sad that the world isn’t as warm and welcoming as I was taught to believe. Kids shouldn’t “have” to learn about bad people and personal agendas. Kids should be running, laughing, skipping, and playing with joyous abandon instead of wondering why mommy or daddy doesn’t care about them. (sigh) It’s a hard life for the innocents.

Brightest blessings


I don’t know how I learned to be in public. Honestly. Since I am a God believer (I can’t remember if you are), I contribute it to Him. Somehow, I made my way. I will say though that because of the way I grew up, I don’t have the normal social skills that most people seem to have. I am different. I will always be a bit different due to my upbringing. We never, not once, went on a vacation. We didn’t go anywhere for that matter. I got hardly anything for Christmas. I only had two brothers (no sisters) and they were older than me so I didn’t even have the normal sibling interactions. It was all so dysfunctional. I always wanted a sister. I guess I thought if I had a sister, I would have had more “girl” interaction.

Here’s another article on narcissism/sociopathy where it talks about executives being high in those traits. It may be good for them but it’s NEVER good for those in any kind of a relationship with them.



Thanks for this link. This is my spath. He is in an executive position and it’s not because he is all that great at what he does. He is very smart, but he has gotten where he is on his charm, not necessarily his knowledge.

The people who get the “corner office” many times get there by stepping on the backs and heads of people who are less ruthless than they are. Dr. Bob Hare’s book “Snakes in Suits, when Psychopaths go to work” describes this exactly.

Many high ranking politicians got there the same way….some get exposed (Bloggo, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy) and some of them go to jail and some keep their jobs. I never did figure out how Ted Kennedy got reelected over and over after he left that woman to die in the sunken car while he tried to come up with an alibi.

Or Jesse Jackson Jr. getting reelected when he is pretty well proven to have committed fraud….but he of course blames it on his “mental condition” of bi-polar. And how about Pretaus? Maybe none of these men are full fledged 30+ score on PCL-R but name one of them that you think could have a respectful, mutually loving relationship with a partner? DUH? Give up? Me neither. They have that superficial charm, and believe me Bill Clinton is not called “slick willie” for nothing. IN the one time I met him when he was gov of arkansas I saw that slickness up close at a meeting with the state’s nurses. He could convince you that he believed A and me that he believed B and us both hearing him speak…he is SLICK.

Is that slickness admirable for a president or a diplomat? Probably. For a mate? Not likely. LOL

So whether those character traits are beneficial or harmful I think depends on the context of the person and what the situation is.


I agree. I bet Slick Willie is about as slick as they come.

My spath only has a bachelor’s degree. I say only because mostly everyone else at his workplace (and my former workplace) has at least a master’s degree and a lot have PhDs. So he got to where he is on only a bachelor’s…rarely seen in his line of work. That shows how he has charmed and conned his way to the top. UGGHH. I hate it.

I cut off contact with my family after my sister nearly beat my baby to death. 25 years later, my youngest sister contacted me and at first I was THRILLED… I thought here was someone who knew the misery of our childhood and we could share adult friendship. But within a month, she started getting strange and it b/c clear she had NO conscience. All the stuff she said about not knowing what my sister did to my baby… was lies, CLEARLY lies b/c she didn’t remember from one time to the next what she told me. I ended our correspondence immediately and then she started to send me really ugly messages, the same crap that my mother used to say to me.

Sometimes neglect is a blessing, and not having sisters is also a blessing. I have friends that are my “adopted sisters”, they are family that I CHOOSE and have been wonderful.

Katy, who does not regret the loss of siblings.


I did not know that about your sister and your baby. How horrible!! I see having sisters was not good at all for you. Maybe I was spared by not having one.

I also have friends who are like sisters so I understand it and can see how it can actually be better because we “chose” them.

I am glad you don’t regret or mourn the loss. I think that is one of my problems…I mourn things way too long. Blessings to you.

Psychopaths, ‘Dark’ Personalities Better At Making Themselves Look Attractive, Study Suggests

Posted: 11/30/2012 11:22 am EST Updated: 11/30/2012 5:05 pm EST


More from the researcher Holtzman


So what’s the definition of a predator?

Just because one can disassociate their conscience and soul out of true survival doesn’t constitute that individual to be a psychopath. That individual could be a damaged individual who after much therapy can obtain normal human qualities again with great humiliation as to what they had been forced to take part in.

I had done things (manipulate by a psychopath to do) I am now ashamed of however; it took awhile to deprogram me (my choice to seek professional help) from the psychopath’s training I had no choice (was a child brainwashed). I was depressed all the time (since a young child) and wished and I willed for my death while under her control (the female psychopath who raised me). I lived in hell.

Three out of the four children tried to kill themselves under her parental control. It was hell to be raised by a psychopath. We are all messed up in one way or another because of her.

Dear Raised by a sociopath,

I just read an article about a small child who was taught to have sex with his mother from a young age and until he was placed in a foster home he had no idea it was “wrong.” It was what he was taught to do…sure he was taught wrong things, and many children are in similar situations…taught that black is white and white is black, that up is down, and down is up….but that “training” doesn’t make them a sociopath.

Sure some kids who are children of sociopaths become sociopaths, they get the double whammy of environment and genetics…but other people who are raised by sociopaths turn out okay…they have consciences and learn new ways of living.

Just be glad your DNA didn’t over come and you were able to escape the fate of many…both taught wrongly and abused by sociopaths. Congratulations. I’m glad you are FREE.

ps I know a little girl, she’s 17, and as sweet as she can be, but she was pimped out by her own mother from age 8 to 12….then she was given to a relative to raise who is far from an “ideal” parent…but this young woman is as kind, caring and sweet as you could want. She isn’t even the brightest bulb in the lamp, but she has a heart that is huge. So no matter how bad our upbringing is we can still overcome it.


Thanks for the Holtzman references. This is particularly interesting:


The x-spath and I have a very, very similar face. I did not see this when I knew him, because he had a more “aged” appearance, even though I am older. However, I did find him attractive and more than most his/our age.

When I saw younger pictures of him that he uses online, I was floored by the resemblance. Haunts me to this day.

Look at the pictures in the link. Essentially, I am the guy on the left (so sociopath) and he the guy on the right.

Same look, but his face is rounder and less angular than mine.

Webster says a predator is one that preys, destroys or devours.

Raisedbyspath, in the Animal Kingdom, a “predator” is a species that either hunts for food sources, or lies in wait for food sources. Human predators are those beings that hunt or lie in wait for other people whom they can exploit for their own purposes, whether it’s sex, money, status, or the Cloak Of Respectability.

The difference between human and non-human predators is simple: non-human predators hunt (or, lie in wait) to feed themselves and their offspring. Human predators hunt (or, lie in wait) for their own entertainment or personal gain. A cheetah has to eat, and it is a carnivore, so it must hunt in order to survive. The exspath did NOT need to live a double-life and relieve me of my personal finances to survive. That’s the difference.

Brightest blessings

EDIT ADD: And, Raisebyspaths, you have a conscience – you felt “shame” for some of your choices. A cheetah does not feel “shame” for hunting down a newborn wildebeast or sick/injured springbok. A human predator also does not feel remorse for exploiting or damaging others of their own species.


Lies in wait. Yep. That was surely the spath I knew. You could actually see it. His body language. He would actually sit back or stand back and observe with that blank look on his face…it was lying in wait at its finest.

Louise, there is a whole boatload of truth about human predators and their body-language. The infamous “Predatory Stare?” Well, it’s real – if you compare the intensity of a hunting cheetah that has focused upon a potential prey, you can see the exact same thing in the gaze of a predatory human being. The exspath would put his eyes on me, but they were not “engaging” with me on an emotional level. It’s one of the eeriest of all spath body cues, and that’s WHY I am dead-set opposed to ANY online dating or technological communications.

Brightest blessings!


That predatory stare is real. I never saw it before him. That is an awesome comparison with the cheetah…so true!!!

Me, too, Truthspeak. I will not ever do online dating. I never have and never will. They can be anything they want behind that computer screen and then you meet them and they are monsters. I have heard way too many horror stories. I don’t need anymore drama. A girlfriend of mine suggested maybe I try it to meet someone and I said no way and then she said she didn’t mean online dating…she meant a matchmaker. Whatever that means. I think she meant where you pay to get matched with someone. Nope. To me, that is still going techy to meet someone. If I can’t meet someone on my own out in the world, I’m not going to do it. Not that it means that is a guarantee that they will be “OK,” but at least I can “see” them…haha. Geez. God, if I ever see that predatory stare again I will run so fast it won’t even be funny. Both of his kids have the stare, too. Can you believe it? How sad is that???

Louise, LOL!!!!!! “Matchmakers” have been around since mankind scrawled images of mammoths on cave walls. At one time, romantic marriages weren’t so important as a “good match.” And, a renowned matchmaker would research family history, work/business practices, ideals, religious convictions, and every other aspect of a person’s life and make suggestions on a suitable mate that would ENHANCE the person’s aspirations and qualities.

Today, human qualities and attributes are no longer determined by wisdom or observations. Today, these “qualities” are determined by short surveys that are computer analyzed. No background checks are performed. No months-long observations are made. No body language and personal history is explored. It’s VERY dangerous, today.

Personally, I’d rather stick knitting needles in my eyes than trust ANY online dating service!

Brightest blessings


It is laughable, isn’t it? 🙂

There are still cultures and parts of the world were marriages are made by family arrangements, and in some cases, mostly in the middle east, women are given as “payment” for debts etc. It is SICK but tat is the way women are considered as chattel (possessions)

Romantic marriage selection is less than perfect as 50% are divorced and many more are “stable” but unhappy, and 75% of 2nd marriages end in divorce, and again many of the ones that stay married in that second marriage are unhappy.

I was fortunate that my marriage of nearly 20 years to my husband that I had been friends with for many years prior to our marriage was a good one. My first one, filled with mental illness on the part of my husband, and the abuse of his psychopathic father was a night mare.

I would love to have a good relationship, but at this point in my life I am not sure it is very likely, maybe I am more likely to win the lotto.

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