“The Legal Field Attracts Psychopaths, Author Says”

“CEOs and lawyers are among the professions with the most psychopaths — evidence that psychopathic traits aren’t all bad, according to a new book by an Oxford research psychologist. … The [Washington] Post quotes one successful lawyer who spoke to [author Kevin] Dutton. ‘Deep inside me there’s a serial killer lurking somewhere,’ the lawyer says. ‘But I keep him amused with cocaine, Formula One, booty calls, and coruscating cross-examination.'” [ABA Journal, Smithsonian]


  • How is that evidence that psychopathic traits aren’t all bad? It is only evidence that being psychopath pays off in those professions.

  • Psychopathy is a continuum, measured by the prevalence of certain traits and behaviors. Some of the traits/behaviors are even benign or helpful (i.e., risk taking, ability to compartmentalize emotion) for, e.g., cops and CEOs. And even pronounced tendencies for many traits doesn’t make someone a cold-blooded psychopath, just like a strong preference for quiet, the sound of water, and solitude, plus an attention to detail, doesn’t make Thoreau autistic.