I am reading a book called “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success” by Kevin Dutton. This may sound strange to some, that individuals with psychopathy might have something to offer us but many researchers are finding that there are substantial advantages to having some of these traits. Of course, we’re not talking about these traits as a whole because the combination can lead to some individuals acting in very violent ways. Others have just the right balance that they end up running large, successful companies, occupy high ranks within the military and acting as protectors in the FBI and related agencies.
I’m thinking about these “psychopathic” traits in a very simple form when I write this post. I’m thinking of all the times that I cared more about myself than others and when I made logical decisions rather than emotional ones. Having some of these traits, under no circumstances, means that I or you are psychopaths. It just means we should not condemn everything about these people because many of their behaviours are what have got humankind to where we are right now.
It has always bothered me that society seems to require us to always be empathetic. Many of us have probably experienced this requirement when we are told that self-care is selfish, when we need to stop thinking badly of people who have died and when we’re supposed to go above and beyond to keep our interpersonal relationships together.
It has been to my advantage to stop caring about the feelings of someone I am in a relationship with, to completely shut off the emotion and look at the benefits to my life and only my life. Some people have been bothered at my ability to cut people out of my life when they no longer benefit my life and maybe I do go about it in a harsh way but it’s the way that causes me the least amount of pain. It has been difficult but necessary when I have had to think logical about a client’s mental capacity and safety when discussing next steps in their treatment. The tough decisions do not always have the most desirable outcomes in terms of emotions and they need to make logical sense when it comes to cost and benefit.
The above image describes what I am trying to say very well. A doctor needs to be charming, ruthless, focused, fearless and be empathetic. In order to be an effective doctor, the right levels of each are needed. When you work with people you need to be charming (people need to like you). Working in medicine will mean that you have to push for procedures that come with high risk, you need to stay on track when you are performing surgeries and you need to just do things that you think are best based off of your education and experience (ruthless, focused and fearless). Finally, doctors do need to be empathetic as working people requires you to be and you also need to be able to push feelings aside, make tough decision, share sad news and cope appropriately with death. That is why each character trait knob is set at different levels. This is not a bad person. This is a person that is fit for their job.
Again, I am thinking in the most basic sense of what we know as “psychopathic” traits. We all have a little bit and should all have a little bit as many of these traits can keep us moving forward, allow us to make smart decisions and keep us safe.