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Customer Review

on 6 July 2014
This book offers to help the reader 'psychopath up', that is to say develop and unleash the inner psychopath in all dimensions of our lives. The authors suggest 'turning the dial up' on most bur not all of the characteristics of psychopaths - give impulsivity and ruthlessness a miss for example and make sure the intellect is in full working order. Then you can join the SAS or become a top neurosurgeon or barrister.

The book takes the form of presumably imagined conversations on presumably imagined journeys around Hereford, Belfast, Michelin starred restaurants in London and the Punjab. It's remarkably entertaining throughout and carries a good deal of psychological information. Psychopaths keep emotion out if their thinking processes and and take a more accurate view of what's in their interests in prisoner's dilemma games or when for example suffering from unequal distribution of rewards in a psychology lab or in life. They just don't let emotion get in the way and can take an unhesitatingly utilitarian view of moral dilemmas. We could all do more to just do it, nail it, take it on the chin, live in the present, be your own person and become a black belt in persuasion.

There's a section on the philosophy of this way of life drawing on Sartre, Camus, Nietzsche, Epicurus and the parable of the talents. You might feel the ancient Stoics deserved a look in here - but of course this is not primarily a work of philosophy.

For all this aims to be a self help book, though, it lacks a theory of how people change. The authors may think simply that readers of their book will see the advantages if the psychopathic way of life and simply choose to adopt it. And McNab himself says though that he gave up on anger when it ceased to be an adaptive response to his circumstances, ie when he left the regular army for the SAS. We may all I suspect need a similar jolt to change our ways of being in the world.

But it's certainly a very enjoyable and thought provoking read and I'd strongly recommend it.
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