One sentence: An in-detail book about psychopaths that solves many mysteries.
Pieter Hintjens proposes that psychopaths are predators who prey on the altruism of social humans. This definition explains many of their characteristics. It also gives a plausible reason for our complex emotional character and why our brains are so large.
Throughout the book, he uses the name Mallory as the psychopath’s name. I find it very appropriate that the name used for someone who intercepts communications in cryptography is also the name of a cheat in the social game.
The chapters describe how psychopaths hunt, capture and feed off their victims. Then how to hunt them, the different sets of emotions that psychopaths and social humans express and how to escape from an abusive person in your life if you are stuck.
Reading this book, I could not clearly identify any of the people that I have met during my life as psychopaths. I feel lucky not to have such a bad experience. I feel sure that some of the people I met must have been psychopaths, yet camouflaged and undetected. He explains that most psychopaths never get caught and rarely use violence. He also stresses that the popular conception of psychopaths as serial killers is totally misfounded.
As with any great book, it sparked connections to many pieces of previously incomprehensible knowledge and gives an interesting lens with which to view the world. If I do get entangled with a psychopath one day it will definitely be of great help.
Psychopaths as parasites and destroyers bring an interesting dynamic to the rising and falling of empires and countries throughout history. As historical arsonists, psychopaths play their part well. Our co-evolution made us both great. The complex interplay of genes that result in predators that look almost indistinguishable from their prey is a twist that I did not consider previously. I thought humans had no natural predators. I was wrong.
If want to escape an abusive relationship or are just curious about the forces that shape human culture and progress I can highly recommend this book.
To happiness, and beyond!