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Does your job attract psychopaths?

Jennifer Kwan

The main character in Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" forever changed how we view good-looking, successful businessmen, and apparently psychopaths lurk in a range of professions.

They especially thrive in professions that give them lots of power and don't require much feeling, Eric Barker writes in his Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog. He references Kevin Dutton's book: The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.

The crux of all this argument is that being a psychopath doesn't simply mean killing a lot of people. Psychopaths typically have a lack of emotions and empathy, or the ability to identify with others. Egocentrics and impulsivity may also be telltale signs.

Dutton is an Oxford professor who spends time researching the positive side of being a psychopath. Apparently society thrives if a small portion of them exist.

One reviewer characterized the book as being a "convincing study shows that business leaders and serial killers share a mindset."

The professor and author claims that psychopaths have a distinct set of personality characteristics we may see all around us such as "ruthlessness, fearlessness, mental toughness, charm, persuasiveness — and they lack a conscience and empathy," he tells USA Today.

"I wrote the book primarily to debunk deep-seated myths the public has about psychopaths — that they are all bad or mad," he is quoted as saying. "No sooner does the word 'psychopath' come out of our lips then images of (1970s-era serial killer) Ted Bundy and serial killer A-listers come to mind."

So back to what professions draw and repel psychopaths?

Psychopaths are most drawn to being a CEO, lawyer and media type, especially TV and radio. These three rank at the top of a list of 10 most attractive professions that also includes police officer, chef and civil servant.

On the flip side, psychopaths may be least drawn to professions that require human connections such as being a care aide, nurse or therapist. Other professions on this list include creative artist, doctor and accountant.

Professions psychopaths are drawn to:

1. CEO
2. Lawyer
3. Media (specifically TV and radio)
4. Salesperson
5. Surgeon
6. Journalist
7. Police officer
8. Clergyperson
9. Chef
10. Civil Servant

C'mon, you must be curious: do you have psychopathic tendencies? Try Dutton's test.