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What the Rest of Us Can Learn From Psychopaths

January 6, 2013, 6:00 PM

What's the Latest Development?

When University of Oxford research psychologist Kevin Dutton toured England's most dangerous psychiatric hospital, he was looking to better understand how psychopaths would deal with real-life problems given their tendency toward ruthlessness, charm, focus, mental toughness, fearlessness, mindfulness and action. Some expecting a bloodthirsty crew, Dutton found individuals who were often more rational than sane people. The neurological reasoning behind this, he says, is that the brains of psychopaths are less active in regions that regulate emotions.

What's the Big Idea?

 Dutton proposed various hypothetical and difficult problems to the inmates, such as evicting a tenant who still had legal rights. While the psychopaths' solutions were deceptive and immoral, they were extremely effective. "A psychopath's rapacious proclivity to live in the moment, to 'give tomorrow the slip and take today on a joyride', is well documented—and at times can be stupendously beneficial. In fact, anchoring your thoughts unswervingly in the present is a discipline that psychopathy and spiritual enlightenment have in common."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com



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