Saturday, March 16, 2013

Time to Psychopath Up

I visited Kevin Dutton's website this week.  He's the English researcher that has written a book I mentioned in previous posting: The Wisdom of the Psychopaths - What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers can teach us about success.  He has a short quiz on his site to get a measure of your level of psychopathy.  I took the quiz.  The results indicated my psychopathy level was quite low.  
I have friends that are probably surprised at that result.  After listening to a series of podcasts interviewing Mr. Dutton available through Scientific American, and learning the nature of psychopathy, I wasn't so surprised.  I was a bit disappointed.  
I want to be more psychopathic.  
That's not the same as psychotic.  I want to make that point clear.  In common usage, people use "psychopathic" and "psychotic" interchangeably.  They are synonyms for "CRAZY."  
From listening to Mr. Dutton speak, I've learned that the difference between the two.  Psychotic refers to someone who, in a general sense, has lost their grip on what is real and what isn't.  Psychotics hear voices that no one else can hear.  They hallucinate.  They have an experience of what is happening in the world that the rest of us don't share.  
Psychopaths are as grounded in reality as we are.  The difference is that their relationship to it is different.  They are more ruthless in attaining what they want.  They are more focused on getting it.  And they have less empathy for what may happen to other people as a result of their efforts.  It's not just an all or nothing thing, either.   Each aspect has its own volume knob, so to speak, with some higher than others.  Nor are psychopaths necessarily violent.  The ones we hear about in the news most often, where the term psychopath is applied to them, usually are.  But there are other psychopaths, famous and successful, that are never referred to by that term.  We call them "Masters of Industry" or "Geniuses" or "Artists."  
The most quintessential way Mr. Dutton put it was when, during a two part podcast interview between him and Michael C. Hall, the actor that plays Dexter of the eponymously named TV show about a serial killer that kills other serial killers, he asked the audience to imagine what it would be like if they were not afraid.  If, when they wanted a raise in pay at work, for example, they just went into the boss's office and asked for it.  Without thinking about the negative possibilities, not thinking about what the boss might think of them, or what their colleagues might think about them.  Focused only on the benefit they might gain if successful.  Without that fear, they would probably "Just Do It," using the very psychopathic slogan of Nike shoes as their motto.  
This, Mr. Dutton explained, is the essence of psychopathic thinking.  It is mode of thought of living in the very moment, being extremely confidant, thinking only of achieving the goal and the benefits associated with it.  
Take away the desire to kill people and put their chopped up parts in a stew for dinner, and it doesn't sound too bad, does it?  
In the last few blog entries I've written about change.  Change happens, even if we think we'll be the same as we are now as in the future.  
Since it is happening anyway, might as well do one's best to direct that change.  That was a decision I made last week in regards to some things going on in my life.  If the negative result is what seems likely, whether I do something about it or not, then the best course of action is to do whatever I think is right.  At least that way, I can say that I went out the way I wanted to instead of letting things catch  up and happen to me.  
I'm going to modify that a bit more now, change it if you will...  Instead of looking at the negative result, I am going to find the dials in my head that will turn up my psychopathy.  I'll focus on the benefits.  The success in once more having my unit at work make the daily and monthly goals as we did when I first took over.  How I will feel if...  When the acceptance letter or email comes from a story I've submitted.  I will pursue those gains without regard to what may happen or how I may look.  
I will psychopath up.  
Of course, I don't have a switch in my head that just needs flipping.  If only I did.  As I wrote the paragraph above, I could feel a sort of tremor go through me.  I was setting myself up for failure.  I was making myself accountable.  What if I say something like that and don't do anything, or fail, or fail repeatedly?  
I still imagine some sort of mesh implanted inside my skull that would use magnetic fields to suppress or enhance the activity of various regions in my brain to achieve the same effect.  Just as Steve Jobs called the computer a tool for the brain, my imagined "personality assistant" would, as the name implies, be a tool for my personality.  I could create pre-sets for various times of the day.  "BetterThanHeinlein" would be for the morning, when I'm working on my novel.  "TheKnute" would be the setting at work, when I'm coaching my people to get the job done.  "Neo-Valentino" would be for when I meet someone really attractive that I want to talk to.  
I don't have a PA.  Not yet.  All I have is my desire to make things better for myself.  And my will power, such as it is.  And an understanding of what it takes to put a good habit into place.  I have to do these things manually.  Make myself focus.  Don't back down from a challenge.  See the results I want and nothing else.  Ignore the pain of failure, pretending it didn't happen, and have at it again.  
And if that doesn't work, THEN I'll chop some people up and put their body parts in a stew to see if it makes a difference.  


Anonymous AnnD said...

I was too paranoid to enter an email address to take the psychopath survey. What does that make me? But I'm not surprised you aren't a psychopath or psychotic, you are way too kind and gentle.

March 16, 2013 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger slcard said...

Silly, Erick. There is no failure, only learning.

March 18, 2013 at 6:27 AM  
Blogger Erick Melton said...

Failure, and... Movies of the Week being made about your exploits if you get caught! That's the psychopath in me talking.

March 18, 2013 at 8:26 PM  

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