Kevin Dutton

The psychopath, it’s been said, gets the words, but not the music, of emotion. […]

Joe was twenty-eight, better looking than Brad Pitt, and had an IQ of 160. Why he’d felt the need to beat that girl senseless in the parking lot, drive her to the darkness on the age of that northern town, rape her repeatedly at knifepoint, and then slit her throat and toss her facedown in that Dumpster in a deserted industrial park is beyond comprehension. Parts of her anatomy were later found in his glove compartment.

In a soulless, airless interview suite smelling faintly of antiseptic, I sat across a table from Joe—a million miles, and five years, on from his municipal, blue-collar killing field. I was interested in the way he made decision, the stochastic settings on his brain’s moral compass—and I had a secret weapon, a fiendish psychological trick up my sleep, to find out. I posed him the following dilemma:

A brilliant transplant surgeon has five patients. Each of the patients is in need of a different organ, and each of them will die without that organ. Unfortunately, there are no organs currently available to perform any of the transplants. A healthy young traveler, just passing through, comes into the doctor’s office for a routine checkup. While performing the checkup, the doctor discovers that the young man’s organs are compatible with all five of his dying patients. Suppose, further, that were the young man to disappear, no one would suspect the doctor. Would the doctor be right to kill the young man to save his five patients? […]

“I can see where the problem lies,” he commented matter-of-factly when I put it to him. “If all you’re doing is simply playing the numbers game, it’s a fucking no-brainer, isn’t it? You kill the guy, and save the other five. It’s utilitarianism on crack… […] If I was the doctor, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. It’s five for the price of one, isn’t it?”

Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, New York, 2012, pp. 48-49