A Society Where Psychopaths Have the Upperhand

I recently read a book called ‘The Wisdom of Psychopaths’ written by a man named Kevin Dutton. In this book, Dutton reviews a series of studies on individuals who fit the ‘psychopath’ criteria and provides evidence to suggest that these people, rather than inevitably becoming the serial killers we might expect, actually have an evolutionary advantage that may increase their ability to succeed in our society.
Over the years the term ‘psychopath’ has become quite loosely used and I doubt that most people realise what a true psychopath actually is. It has become the term of choice when describing an overly emotional ex-girlfriend, think the stereotypical ‘bunny boiler’ type that we were taught by the iconic film ‘Fatal Attraction.’ We tend to associate this word with people who behave erratically and engage in acts of passion due to an excess of emotion, however, this is the exact opposite of what a psychopath, in its truest definition, actually is.
A psychopath in the true sense is someone who is completely in control of their emotions because, technically speaking, they do not have any. Now, my initial thoughts were that psychopaths must lead a very empty existence if they are incapable of feeling anything, just imagine a life where you are incapable of forming meaningful relationships. However, if they are unable to feel love then the chances are that they are unable to feel emptiness so for them it probably makes no difference. Besides, although evidence suggests that psychopaths are incapable of feeling love towards another, many psychopaths throughout history have had seemingly fulfilling relationships, with many going on to get married and have children. This indicates that, contrary to what we may believe, psychopaths are able to form some kind of bond with another human, meaning their lives may not be empty after all.
With this being said, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that maybe, just maybe, being incapable of feeling may not be such a terrible thing. Although they may not be able to fully feel what I will refer to as ‘positive’ emotions like the rest of us, they are also unable to feel, thus be affected by, what I will refer to as ‘negative’ emotions. This is the point that Dutton seems to draw on in his book; he invites us to imagine a world where we feel none of these negative emotions. There would be no loneliness, no guilt, no sadness, no anxiety and, above all, no fear. For many people, it is our negative emotions that hold us back from doing the things in life that we really want to. These negative emotions are the reason we did not apply for the job we really wanted or set up our own business when we had the chance. They are the things that hold us back and prevent us from doing the things we truly desire.
Just imagine how many opportunities we would have taken if we felt no fear. If we weren’t scared of failing we would step out of our comfort zone more often and would be more likely to reach our full potential. Imagine a life where you did not fear failure. That is the life that psychopaths lead. Their lack of emotion enables them to live the life that they want to. Although this occasionally does lead to a psychopath turning to a life of crime, many psychopaths instead become extremely successful and fulfil their maximum potential in terms of their career. Their lack of guilt and anxiety often makes psychopaths extraordinary business people who thrive in cut throat environments. Their innate ruthlessness gives them the edge over those ‘normal’ people who are often held back by their conscience and their emotional attachments. For this reason, Dutton refers to psychopaths as having an evolutionary advantage over the rest of us and, in a modern society where one night stands have replaced loving relationships and wealth equates to power, I wonder if he might be right.


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