Psychopaths wear uniforms, suits, conquer workforce

Are you a psychopath?

Well, according to Oxford psychologist Kevin Dutton, I might be.

Dutton, author of “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success,” compiled a list ranking the top professions chosen by psychopaths in America. Both of my possible future careers proudly made it onto that list.

Based on that list, I have two placements in the psychopathic career ladder – I rank third (if I choose to be a TV/radio media person) or sixth (if I choose to be a journalist). The top rank on the list is taken by none other than CEOs. Other possible psychopathic professionals include those wishing to become lawyers, salespersons, surgeons, police officers, clergypersons, chefs and civil servants.

A quick look at that list made me realize that most of these professions on the list actually aim to help people, which conflicts with the normal way I imagine a psychopath – an antisocial, chainsaw-holding killer roaming the streets with a smug look in his (yes, in my imagination all psychopaths are male) red-tinted eyes.

But that’s not the way the psychological community views psychopaths. Many definitions of psychopathy circulate the Web with a certain degree of differentiation. Most psychologists, however, agree that a psychopath is someone who is impulsive, has shallow emotions, tolerates stress and shows little signs of empathy or guilt.

I am obviously not a psychologist, but after taking a closer look, the list didn’t seem to hit too far-off for me. After all, the picture of a power-loving person does jump at me when I think of the word “psychopath.” And aren’t police officers, surgeons and lawyers all in positions of power? It does make sense to me that such careers would have the highest number of psychopaths.

Other professions that I find more likely to fit the description, however, have not made it on the list. Does the name “Dexter” stir anything in you? I know he’s a psychopath we all love and adore, but he is one nonetheless – or so he’d have us believe. And while the show is fictional, it makes me wonder why forensic investigators, morticians and other death-related professionals didn’t make Dutton’s cut.

Journalism, however, finally made it into somebody’s top-10 list, albeit an ominous one. But I do find it a bit hard to believe that journalists could be psychopaths. Maybe it’s because I find it difficult to imagine myself – possibly a future journalist – fitting into the psychopathic profile.

If you’re looking for a career with minimal psychopath interaction, consider being a care aide, a nurse, a therapist (what?), a craftsperson or a beautician. These careers, and five more, made it to Dutton’s list of careers with the lowest number of psychopaths.

If I am, in fact, a psychopath, at least I know I’m in good company. If I ever get into trouble, I’ll have a fellow psychopathic lawyer to defend me and a psychopathic surgeon to patch me up.



[email protected]