Not all psychopaths are violent, or even criminal. The clinical term actually refers to a specific group of people with a distinct set of personality characteristics which include ruthlessness, fearlessness, self-confidence, coolness under pressure, mental toughness and charm. People high on the psychopathic spectrum often have a distinct advantage over non-psychopathic individuals and can perform at the very top of their careers, says Professor Kevin Dutton, a research psychologist at Oxford University. In his book ‘The Wisdom of Psychopaths’ he claims we can all actually learn from psychopaths to get ahead in life. Here are his ten lessons for unleashing your inner psychopath.
1. Just do it!
Research shows that procrastination uses up valuable mental resources. If they want something, psychopaths just go for it. They are very reward driven and don't waste time thinking about things. They just do it!
2. Have the courage of your convictions
Psychopaths have immense self-belief. You can’t please all people all of the time, so psychopaths don't see the sense in voting against themselves. Most of us are scared of putting our head above the parapet but psychopaths don't care what people think. They're not afraid to speak out.
3. Focus on the positives
Psychopaths are optimists. The reward part of the brain is much more active in psychopaths. They are reward driven focusing on the positives rather than the negatives.
4. Don’t take it personally
Psychopaths couldn’t give a damn. They let go easily. The emotion part of the brain is under aroused in psychopaths. This allows them to be cool under pressure. They don't feel anxiety like the rest of us and don't take things to heart.
5. Stay in the present
Psychopaths are focused when it matters. The ability to ‘live in the moment’ is something that psychopaths, elite Buddhist monks and top sports-people all have in common. They don't have a sense of the consequences of their actions focusing instead on what they've got and what they can get. They don't get stuck in a rut by looking back with regret or worrying about the future.
6. Don’t overly analyse or criticise yourself
Psychopaths move on. They focus on what they are good at and do it - avoiding emotional hangovers. They don't beat themselves up or have regrets. They have the attitude that if something goes wrong, it’s water under the bridge.
7. Max it!
Psychopaths know how to win. This ability to 'switch on' when it really matters is another trait common to both psychopaths and top sportspeople. A study found that when psychopaths were rewarded for success, rather than being punished for making mistakes, they learnt a lot quicker. They play to win!
8. Respond rather than react.
Psychopaths don’t try to please other people. They act out of strength rather than weakness, doing things to please themselves rather than others. They are dominant and controlling.
9. Study people
Psychopaths do their homework. They are genius-level psychological code-breakers because, like any predator, getting inside the mind of their prey gives them a distinct advantage.
10. Decouple behaviour from emotion
Psychopaths aren’t ruled by emotions. In fact they take a step back and surgically remove emotion from the situation. When stressing over a difficult task, ask yourself what would I do if I didn’t feel this way? What would I do if I didn’t give a damn what other people thought? What would I do if it just didn’t matter?