WHY BEING A PSYCHOPATH T IS THE SECRET OF SUCCESS; Think Psychopaths Are All Serial Killers? Wrong. Many of Us Have Their Character Traits -- and, as a Fascinating Book Reveals, They're Vital to Winning Life's Battles and to Getting What You Really Want

Daily Mail (London), May 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

WHY BEING A PSYCHOPATH T IS THE SECRET OF SUCCESS; Think Psychopaths Are All Serial Killers? Wrong. Many of Us Have Their Character Traits -- and, as a Fascinating Book Reveals, They're Vital to Winning Life's Battles and to Getting What You Really Want


Byline: Andy McNab and Dr Kevin Dutton

HELLO. My name is Andy McNab and I'm a psychopath. That statement comes as a bit of a shock when you first hear it, doesn't it? Finding out that I could be classified in this way was certainly a surprise to me but it turns out that I'm what they call a 'good psychopath' and it's certainly done me no harm in life. In fact, I believe it's the reason I've been so successful.

I've certainly come a long way since I was a kid. Abandoned on the steps of a hospital in a Harrods bag as a newborn baby, I was adopted and brought up on a tough housing estate. I've faced a lot of challenges, but one has always been pretty much like another to me. If you've read my books, you'll already know that I was in the British Army for 18 years. Eight as an infantryman and ten in the Special Air Service.

My first book, Bravo Two Zero, was the story of my time as part of an eight-man Special Forces operation behind enemy lines in Iraq during the first Gulf War. For that, I was decorated for bravery along with three other soldiers from the Bravo Two Zero patrol.

In fact, our mission became the most highly-decorated action since the Boer War battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879.

I've since written more non-fiction, thrillers and film scripts, and produced films. I'm also involved in business both in Britain and the US, particularly start-up ventures.

I've gone from enemy lines to movie lines and from battle plans to business plans and I've never given a single thought to the possibility of messing up.

AND I have always been up for stuff, whether it's being number one through the door on a hostage rescue; going undercover in Co. Derry with a South London accent; or, these days, talking to the board members of a company that's going bankrupt because they don't know their backsides from their elbows. Whatever the situation, I've always thought, 'I'll get away with it' and I always have.

This is just one quality of the 'good psychopath' and I'm telling you all this because, with the help of my psychologist friend Dr Kevin Dutton, I want to show you how to make the most of your own inner psychopath. Don't panic. We're not trying to turn you into Hannibal Lecter, just to identify some simple psychopathic strategies for getting the most out of life.

DR KEVIN DUTTON SAYS: Whenever most of us hear the word 'psychopath', images of infamous serial killers flash across our minds. But psychologists use the term to refer to a much wider group of individuals who have a distinct cluster of personality traits.

As you might expect, reduced empathy for others and lack of conscience are among them. But they also include ruthlessness, fearlessness, impulsivity, self-confidence, focus and coolness under pressure.

Imagine each of these as a dial on one of those recording studio mixing desks. No one characteristic is necessarily 'bad' in itself. It's the particular combination of levels at which they are twiddled up or down that matters.

Bad psychopaths cannot regulate their behaviour in this way. There are many possible explanations for this, including the start they get in life and what else they've got going on in their personalities. But the end result is that their dials are set at dangerously high levels and either stuck fast, or very difficult to turn. In good psychopaths, those able to adjust the settings according to different social contexts, the same traits can actually be very constructive and there are various jobs and professions which, by their very nature, demand that some of these mixing-desk dials are cranked up a little higher than normal.

For example, there's no point having the visionary thinking and instinctive feel for the market necessary to be a top businessman if you lack the ruthlessness to fire people who aren't pulling their weight, or the nerve to take a calculated risk when appropriate.

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WHY BEING A PSYCHOPATH T IS THE SECRET OF SUCCESS; Think Psychopaths Are All Serial Killers? Wrong. Many of Us Have Their Character Traits -- and, as a Fascinating Book Reveals, They're Vital to Winning Life's Battles and to Getting What You Really Want
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