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CNN Profiles: The psychopath detector
Research psychologist, Kevin Dutton, and author of the book, "The Wisdom of Psychopaths."
November 9th, 2012
07:07 AM ET

CNN Profiles: The psychopath detector

By Michael Schulder, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @Schuldercnn

(CNN) – Are you or is someone you know a psychopath?

Wait – let's reframe that question.

Do you or someone you know fall somewhere on the psychopathic spectrum?

You may not know for sure until you listen to this week’s CNN Profile of Oxford University research psychologist Kevin Dutton.

Dutton is author of the new book “The Wisdom of Psychopaths.”

As he explains in this interview, not all psychopaths are violent. In fact, there are many highly functioning psychopaths. One may even be your boss. And you can’t judge if a person is a psychopath by simply looking at him, or even from a brief conversation.

Dutton maintains that many people have great success in highly skilled fields not in spite of but BECAUSE of certain psychopathic traits, including a British neurosurgeon he interviewed.

Dutton may have been destined to study psychopaths. His father was one. Not a violent psychopath. A charming one, as so many are. Wait until you hear Dutton describe how his father once conned a restaurant full of patrons.

After you listen to our interview with Professor Dutton – you can spend some time on a psychopathy questionnaire - a "quiz" short version or a sign in for a longer one. Neither will provide a diagnosis. But your psychopathy radar will be better than ever.

Dutton’s wife of 13 years has had enough of his immersion in the world of psychopaths. You can hear how he plans to address her concerns on this edition of CNN Profiles.

Editor's Note: Listen to the complete interview in the SoundCloud player above.

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. Jon

    It would be best to describe what a psychopath is before going into what the book entails. So before I would ever purchase this book, I would like to know the author's description of a psychopath is.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. buuubbba

    Mr Dutton looks crazier than a bag of hammers.

    November 12, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mitt Romney's wallet

    I think Mitt Romeny is a psycopath.

    How can ANYONE destory millions of peoples llives to reap the benefit from them and keep a straight face and see NOTHING wrong with their actions.

    DID YOU KNOW that Mitt Romeny would buy out companies,then bankrupt them;destorying millions of peoples lives.ANd he thinks everything is okay.That man MUST be some type of satan to do such a thing.

    November 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • mojosavings

      Funny that you mention that because that is exactly what Obama is doing now. Bankrupting companies and if not bankrupting helping to ensure that they won't be hiring and cutting workers back to part time instead of full time. Further, Romney bankrupted companies that needed to be bankrupt – he also saved many big companies that would have gone bankrupt. I suppose business fundamentals would escape you though. Little things like closing stores that are losing money, investing in ones that have a growth potential. etc..

      November 12, 2012 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
    • California Ed

      Ee gads!!!!!!

      Are you so bereft of anything close to a normal life that you are still ranting about, and the possible results, of a failed candidate?

      You probably still bore your associated about past injustices, on how Bush stole the election, was not the legal president and secretly caused the planes to crash into the WTC.

      What are your thoughts on Chairman Mao, Gingis Khan, the Reformation, Columbus discovery of the new world......
      I am sure that we would all be spell bound by your tide-water depth and explanations of these events too.

      News flash, the election is over!!
      Mitt lost and will not be able to sign or veto a single bill, call on the military to go to war or deal with the fiscal policies.
      However, it was Obama that won.
      He is now the President and will set the agenda for next 4 years.

      If you want, please rant about something current.
      Oh Yes, how about COMMENTING ON THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE ARTICLE......

      November 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jennifer

    what about sociopaths? the world is filled with narcissitic personalities who will do anything to not see another person happy over the simplest of things.

    Sick world. Sick, sick, sick world.

    November 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. A Chaps

    the person who used to be my twin brother is a psychopath. At least in the last 7-8 years he has developed into one and I am not ashamed to say that relationship is effectively OVER. The other day he screamed at me for #picking up a old Atari joystick and trying to break it# when I clearly was not .He has flipped out on me for minor issues and I have had enough of his explosive behavior. We are both in our early 30s with steady jobs and girlfreinds. If you want to hear a psychopath in action that TOTALLY follows the auidocast above in terms teh traits of one.. I called him up later that night to ask what the heck he had screamed and threw a tantrum over simply picking up a old Atari game controller that was in a box. I recorded our conversation that is painful to listen to and reveals him for who he is.
    I wont give you the link but please go to photobucket.com and type into the search field "what Mental Illness Sounds Like" there will be one result and its the recordingwhich is abot a minute long.The name of the video is "What Mental Illness Sounds Like". Please listen to it and share your ideas to cpthamtaro@yahoo.com.
    For those of us who have a psychopathic boss, friend, wife, or in my case, a former twin brother, we know the good, the bad, and the catastrophic implications. The person who used tobe my twin brother is intelligent and creative but is also seductive, promiscuous, and explosive, just like this cnn podcast reveals.

    November 11, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • glen

      Those are not traits of a psychopath. It sounds more like he just cannot stand you.

      November 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. beatofmyowndrum

    I didn't read the article, but I was just wondering if the guy in the picture is the author or a example of a psychopath. I can't tell.

    November 11, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • nellie

      Yes. This pic is Prof Duttin

      November 11, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • nellie

      Sorry Kevin. Last name is Dutton. Pshycopaths usually are in a hurry, thus misspelliings are common in Tweets.

      November 11, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • C.W.

      Was Professor Dutton born in Seattle? My husband was adopted at birth, born in Seattle, and Professor Dutton could be his twin!

      November 11, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    People are multi-faceted, complicated creatures capable of having psychopathic traits, but nearly all people can feel or learn to feel at least a little empathy. The brain's hemispheres are connected so the side handling emotional intelligence is separated from the side handling logical intelligence. Women have a large connection between hemispheres; hence, they are less likely to be extreme psychopaths. But even Men who are able to "turn off" the side of their brain that deals with emotions and empathy, do so at will, and are responsible for the results. A truly gifted man is one who can turn off the emotions when necessary, and use them for the good of society when necessary.

    November 11, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Laura

    Psychopathology isn't an exact science and no one knows for certain when a true psychopath has struck. Serial killers are obvious but other forms of this condition are no so obvious. I thought this expert was absolutely one myself. He is a real wacko. Next time someone crawls through my bedroom window trying to kill me I'll give them this little quiz.

    November 11, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jason

    I would say that human nature in general is psychopathic, and insanity is a prevalent trait.

    November 11, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Shecherie

      I disagree. Human Nature is to be in balance and to be healthy~body, mind and spirit. Abuse of each other, ignorance and a general misunderstanding of our purpose here lead people to live there lives solely attuned to their egos. There is where the schism lies.

      November 11, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. Linds

    I must be a psychopath because the long version is not sending me my password in a timely fashion and it's making me crazy!! Well played.

    November 11, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. Hocfish

    I think the thing to remember when throwing out terms like "Psychopath" and "Mentally Ill", is that they are a cover up for people who make money off of selling drugs (Psychiatrists). Enough said about snake oil salesmen...

    November 11, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Duh

      There are no meds to treat psychopaths.

      November 11, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Corey

      Your comment is one of the most ignorant comments I've ever read. When did we Americans become so uneducated about the world around us? Mental illness has been described and well documented for thousands of years, well before any drug companies were around to make any profits. Now science has advanced enough that we do not blame serious mental illnesses on things like demon possession or the lunar cycle. We diagnose illnesses that people have been suffering from for millenia and know we have the abilty to treat these conditions in ways we have never before with therapy and if need be medication. If a family member God forbids comes down with some kind of mental illness such as Post Traumatic Syndrome or clinical depression, what are you going to do? Tell them that's there illness is not real and that it's a ploy for drug companies to take money from you? I hope that you wouldn't.

      November 11, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    I would say too though that 95% (guesstimate) of the time you will never know who is or isn't. It took me years to learn that my gift had the potential to hurt others. The thing is, others have no idea that my gift gives me such an advantage. They assume I am just a very likeable, charming guy. I still don't feel. But I understand my gift shouldn't be used where it may personally hurt others. It is more like math to me than feelings... I have an understanding of how it works and most of the time try and play by the rules. If I am challenged however; I will use my gift. I don't take advantage of others. I just have an advantage over most others when it comes to reading people for what they expect. Anyway. Psyco-sociopath that selectivly uses his gift, B

    November 11, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. WhatisNorMaL?

    The Rich will get richer and the Poor will get richer. The middle class will get poorer which will be the downfall of the American economy.

    46 million Americans on food stamps as of September 2012. How long can our economy survive under this leadership?

    November 11, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Try faux news. They are buying what you are selling there.

      November 11, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Henry Allen

    Think of a psychopath as someone who is fixated fully on 'What's in it for me?' while giving the appearance of being concerned about others. The majority of psychopaths do not get in trouble with the law and are rarely identified as psychopaths. While unable to feel empathy, they learn early how to appear like they care. In other words, they're good actors playing out a real life part showing consideration and compassionate when the situation demands it. It's the psychopaths with low intelligence, excessive sadomasochistic drives or mental problems that stand out as psychopaths, but they're the minority of psychopaths. Beware the psychopath that my wife wisely labels 'a sewer in a suit'. They're the ones who'll take your last dime and make you feel good about giving it up.

    November 11, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Unless you are one you are just parroting what you have been told. I am. I have taught myself not to be that way to others but to only use my "gift" when I need to. Like in job interviews, or debates. I decided not to take advantage of people. Though my gift would allow me to easily. It is a double edged blade.

      November 11, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. RichardSRussell

    Am I a psychopath? Yes. Yes, I am. And I'm enraged at you for making sport of me. You have too many "N"s in your name. You will regret that. Do you know what pure CN is? Bwahahahahahaha! I must go now. The little voices in my head told me it's time to clean the guns.

    November 11, 2012 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark9988

      The llamas know what you're doing Richard. That's why they are hiding the salt.

      November 11, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
      • Bob Twicher

        Purple monkey orbital bxzjkl

        November 11, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  16. Laerrus

    Anyone who lives without moral or ethical qualm in North America, in accordance with their Government is a psychopath...

    November 11, 2012 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
    • AJW3

      Bankers, Traders.....etc?

      November 11, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  17. ehlo Clarice...

    Dangit... I flung the test with flying colors!

    November 11, 2012 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
  18. Johnny American

    I took the test. Apparently Im an average psychopath...I don't know what that means. Am I not a full psychopath? Am I just an average human who has psychopathic tendencies every once in a while? Am I a psychopath, but Im nothing special, im just average...not Dahmer level.

    November 11, 2012 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
  19. N8

    This test is a joke.

    November 11, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe Mahma

      This joke is a test.

      November 11, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  20. refugeek

    Psychopaths are born without empathy or conscience. My Church would hate this idea, but maybe psychopaths really are soulless. They could be throwbacks to what I call the Pre-ensouled Era. I know this is going to sound crazy to most people, but I had fun putting this together, and maybe there’s some truth buried here –

    Ensoulment – the moment at which a human being gains a soul.

    There is a fundamental problem with souls and evolution. When exactly in our evolution were humans ensouled? Did it begin with an ensouled child looking into the eyes of soulless parents? Were there Pre-ensouled and Souled Eras?

    Christians believe that God created mankind in his image – as spiritual beings. The story of Adam and Eve could simply be a story of sudden genetic mutation. Adam would have been a mutant, who was later joined by another mutant, Eve. Sort of like spiritual X-Men. This mutation was the final genetic piece that came together to form a “spiritual stargate” – an interface that connects this universe to the “outside.” This interface is the soul.

    Why religion? Why souls? Why evolve like this? These are BENEFICIAL steps in our evolution that are leading to something. Like a tree evolving higher and higher to reach the light. There must be a light for the tree to reach out to. There must be an “energy source” that makes us evolve into spiritual beings, reaching out to it. We receive positive energy as a result.

    Where is there evidence of sudden mutation?

    Sudden jump in brain power with the SRGAP2 gene -
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/cp-egd042712.php

    Sudden appearance of modern humans 50,000 years ago – exhibiting language, religion, art, music, myth, cooking, games, and jokes –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_human_behavior

    Evidence of a genetic-spiritual link with the VMAT2 God gene –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_gene

    If I had to guess, I’d say that humans became ensouled about 50,000 years ago, when modern humans appeared – the beginning of the Souled Era. If psychopaths really are soulless, then they are missing genetic pieces of the spiritual stargate, the interface, the soul – and so are throwbacks to the Pre-ensouled Era.

    November 11, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • kenny

      that must be some awesome stuff you take, what is it? cause you made soooo many leaps that were complete bs based and yet made them sound true... for a second... you moronic douuuche...

      November 11, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
      • refugeek

        Sounds like you could use some positive energy.

        November 11, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Peter

        While finding an ensoulment date, gene, or something like that might sound outlandish to you Kenny, whether everyone has a soul or not is an interesting thing to think about.(and it's actually something I think about a lot because a lot of people seem really lost) I'm guessing you don't believe in souls. Heh.. Maybe that is whats wrong with people, it's not they don't have souls, it's they don't even realize it or understand what it really means. Sad.

        November 11, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
        • asocal

          Depressed people tend to spend their lives overthinking

          November 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grog speaks

      Somewhere back in time, a cave guy lost his gal to a Saber tooth and stayed up for days howling and singing the
      caveman blues. He gets another cave gal and Jazoo steals her from him. All this was pre-soul at it's earliest
      beginnings.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  21. Bill

    Plus they lied about having the full interview on line. That interviewer seemed like a classic psychopath to me.

    November 11, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  22. Mona

    Think you folks need to get a job or something constructive! You're way outta line! Hmph!

    November 11, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  23. Chris

    CNN produces another article completely lacking substance. I hope everyone submitting these articles are volunteers because I cannot imagine someone getting paid for this information. Seems to be a trend more and more.

    November 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • lordnimrond

      Wow,...you guys just have nowhere to go, do you Chris? You and HII both so desperately want attention and to find someplace, ANYPLACE to express your views that you are willing to subject yourself to someplace you think is so horrid as CNN and its "substance lacking" journalism (Chris)...and its "Obama-supporting" audience (HII)...

      You know,...if you both can't stand those things SO MUCH,...then by all means, prove yourselves not to be complete id;ots and go elsewhere for your news...

      November 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mike

        beautifully said, Lordnimrond..

        November 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  24. HII

    Obama supporters = psychopath, simple enough

    November 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Pat Bateman

    He looks like a Psycho !

    November 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • G

      Patrick Bateman is an American Psycho.

      November 11, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  26. Rog

    What a useless article, it didn't say anything of substance. It was just an ad for the guy's book.

    November 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  27. paul

    Think Laci Peterson's husband....

    November 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maggie Vaughan

      Are you sure you're not referring to Stacy Peterson,Drew Peterson's missing wife? Just wondering

      November 11, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
      • P.J.

        No, he mean Laci Peterson, late wife of Scott Peterson. Try google.

        November 11, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
      • StaceyFLNative

        I agree its Drew Peterson more than Scott Peterson

        November 11, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
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