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Personal Growth

Do You Have to Be a Psychopath to Be a Great Athlete?

Psychologist Kevin Dutton points out that psychopathic traits are not only common among great athletes, they may be required.
Katie Ledecky shows how it's done. (IAN MACNICOL/GETTY IMAGES)

Everybody knows you don’t want to be a psychopath, except when you do. Wait, what? Psychologist Kevin Dutton has spent a lot of time studying psychopaths, and he suggests there are places in which psychopathic traits actually come in handy, and may even be required. Like the Olympics.

So here are the traits according to Dutton. See if they don’t sound like a great athlete:

  • Ruthlessness
  • Fearlessness
  • Mental toughness
  • Coolness under pressure
  • Ability to focus remorselessly on a goal
  • Hm. Gold medals seem almost inevitable. As long as there’s no issue with aggressiveness and you’re smart enough to use these super-powers for good, that is.

    There are recognizable patterns of behavior and personality traits that we can look for to give us insight into Lance Armstrong’s reckless actions, so that this whole affair might be a so-called teachable moment.

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