Are you dating or have you ever dated a psychopath? There are actually clear signs, or "tells," to use a poker analogy, according to Kevin Dutton, the Oxford psychologist and author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with Dutton, whose book looks at both the dark side and the useful traits of psychopathy. We need psychopaths in our society, Dutton tells us, to do the dirty work that no one else wants to do. Psychopaths are particularly disposed to leadership positions, for instance, because they are good at making ruthless decisions that might hurt some people, but are nonetheless better for the group as a whole. CEOs tend to register high levels of psychopathy, Dutton tells us.
But what about the dark side? We are all familiar with the figure of the violent psychopath that abounds in popular culture. And yet, there are plenty of other functioning psychopaths who may not be killers, but display other abhorrent behaviors.
These psychopaths are lady killers, for instance, like James Bond. So what characteristics do these people possess?
"They tend to play on our pity a lot," says Dutton. There's always an excuse for their bad behavior. Psychopaths are heavily narcissistic. The world centers around them. "And although psychopaths don’t feel emotions like us," Dutton says, "they are masters at pushing those emotional hot buttons that elicit emotions in others."
Psychopaths tend to get away with their bad behavior because they tend to be very charming. In the video below, Dutton walks through these characteristics, and how psychopathic behaviors play out in relationships.
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