Psychologist, Author, Speaker.

The Psychopath Mixing Desk

It’s probably fair to say that the one question I’ve been asked more than any other since I wrote The Wisdom of Psychopaths is this:

Do psychopathic personality traits really help us get ahead in life?

And, of course, it’s true, isn’t it? Whenever most of us hear the word ‘psychopath’ it’s images of Ted Bundy and Hannibal Lecter that flash across our minds. Not scalpel-wielding surgical geniuses, silver-tongued secret agents or super-cool Special Forces soldiers.

The reality, however, is rather different.

In stark contrast to the headline-grabbing soundbites thrown out by the media pundits and the film industry moguls, when psychologists like myself use the word ‘psychopath’, we’re actually referring to a specific subgroup of individuals with a distinct subset of personality characteristics.

These characteristics include:

Coolness under pressure


Mixing Desk
Now, if we imagine each of these characteristics as being the dials on a personality ‘mixing desk’ which may be twiddled up and down in various combinations, we arrive at two conclusions:

1. There is no one-size-fits-all, objectively ‘correct’ setting at which these mixing-desk dials may be tuned. Instead, the most effective alignment will invariably depend on TIMING, and on the particular set of CIRCUMSTANCES you may happen to find yourself in.

2. By the same logic, there will be various jobs and professions which, by their very nature, demand that some of these mixing-desk dials are cranked up a little bit higher and a little bit lower than normal – that demand a degree of what we might call ‘PRECISION-ENGINEERED PSYCHOPATHY’.

In other words, none of the knobs and sliders on the mixing desk are ‘bad’.

Far from it.

All of them have their place on it because:

Dialled up at the right LEVEL
Mixed and sequenced in the right COMBINATION, and
Deployed in the right CONTEXT and with the right INTENTION

. . . each of them adds to the quality of the overall soundtrack.