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When we think of “Psychopaths” or the term “Psychopathy”, the pictures that tend to jump into our mind are those of manipulators, terrorists, psychotic serial killers, the coldblooded murderers portrayed in horror movies or the sort of nightly creatures that crawl in the worst of nightmares; definitely not someone you would ever want to cross path with. The reality is, however, psychopaths are more common than you think, making up roughly of about 1 percent of all human population, it is plausible to say that we are practically swimming in “Psychopaths”. If that is so, how could we possibly be living so blissfully in utter peace and tranquility like we are now? The truth is that our conception of what “psychopathy” actually is, is albeit only true to a certain degree, because not all psychopaths are mindless killers, nor committers of heinous crime. Most live normal lives, have proper human relationships, hold down stable jobs and startlingly more often than not, are highly successful individuals due to the interesting traits that come with their psychopathic nature. At least 21 percent of all CEOs are psychopaths with many more working and specializing in medical and law fields (Dutton, 2012). The 3 main traits that enable them to attain such great achievements while being able to blend in so seamlessly into our society, are their superficial charm, callousness, and ability to work under stress which, by carefully examination can be put to use for the greater good, both socially and personally.
First and foremost, psychopaths are incredibly successful for their well-known captivating superficial charm that has the ability to lure everyone around them into becoming oblivious puppets that are mindlessly trusting of them. Outwardly, these creatures appeal to us in the rawest of human senses possible for they appear to be immensely capable, confident, charismatic and powerful yet, warm, compassionate and welcoming to all. However, as previously stated, it is all but skin deep. Various studies have shown that psychopaths are born without a wide range of human emotions such as empathy, the ability to understand and feel others’ pain, and are less likely to develop emotional attachment due to a part of their brains, the amygdala, the region that regulate said emotions, being visibly smaller than normal human’s of around 18 percent, making them unable to process these fundamental emotions. In addition, they have a higher level of testosterone which makes them more innately aggressive than normal people, giving them a heightened sense of self-grandiosity, hence their bottomless confidence that is borderline on narcissism. To make up for their emotional shortcoming, psychopaths would spend their time observing those around them in order to imitate and mimic, which in turn, sharpen their wit and make their emotional intelligence sky rocket, enabling them to read people like a book despite not having any humane emotions themselves and to be able to infiltrate into any social hierarchy with ease. They then use these to persuade, manipulate and make people do their bidding and behave in ways that are favorable to the psychopaths themselves. These skills set, however, is horrible when used to the extreme, like exploiting people for example, but beneficial when used moderately and properly especially in sales or in a working environment. They are great sale-people due to their persuasive skills and a perfect team player when it comes to team work because they amiable mask make people feel safe and understood while knowing exactly what their teammates need and what needs to be done for the team to reach their goal in the most efficient way possible.
Secondly, and without a doubt, psychopaths are extremely calloused creatures. They are not plagued by emotions which is unlike most of us who tend to let our own emotions and those of the people around us run amok and interfere with our decision making. Their ways of making decisions is cold, detached and backed by pure logic, making them the best candidates for jobs in business and higher positions like CEOs, leaders, politicians, all jobs that are required to make tough and harsh decisions with little to no regard to emotions, both internally or externally. Take Steve Jobs for instance, who, of course, was not a psychopath but possessed this “leader” trait. He could not be more careless about what people thought of him, got himself ganged up against and fired from his own company until he was hired back in. If this had happened to anyone with high emotional sensitivity, this would have become very ugly and there would not be the Apple we know of today. Fortunately for us, however, He was Steve Jobs and he just went back to work. This be said, though we can never be, nor should we ever be, entirely detached of all emotions for these are the things that make us “human”; we should instead learn to distance our decision making from our own and others’ internal turmoil. Because in the end, most of these emotions are simply a distraction that could stop us from making the right and meaningful decision.
Last but by no mean least, psychopaths’ best last trait is their ability to work under extreme stress. A study done by O’Leary, Loney, & Eckel (2007) showed that the human stress hormone known as cortisol which is released when the body is under stress, mentally or physically, is found to be less responsive in psychopathic individuals. To them, stress is a state of emotions, triggered by fear, insecurity and doubt, always present but so heavily muted that are paid little mind to. In short, they simply see the problem, know that it needs to be dealt with down, deal with the problem and move on without being in the slightest bit “stressed out” by that occasion. For this one reason, they do their job well and systematically better than those who are constantly plagued with mundane emotion such as fear, worry and the so-called doubt. What we can learn from this is simply to fear and worry a little less. In the end, what needs to be done still needs to be done. The quicker, these emotions are dealt with, the quicker we would be able to act and the happier we would be going toward our end-goal.
In conclusion, psychopaths have advantageous traits that give them a high probability of succeeding in today society such as their superficial charm, callousness and ability to work under stress. While we should never ever strive to be like psychopaths who care about nothing but getting ahead in life, disregarding everyone around them, they still have traits that are learnable and can prove to be useful when practice properly and moderately, for example, their ability to observe and relate to people’s emotions, mental toughness and fearlessness in decision making that could be used to enrich our own life and others around us.
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