Editor’s Note: Nina dos Santos is a news anchor and correspondent based in London. She is the host of CNN International’s new business show, The Business View, which airs weekdays at 12pm CET. Follow her on Twitter or tweet the show on #cnnbusinessview to tell us, after taking the test at the bottom of the story, what your psychopath score is.
Andy McNab argues being a psychopath is good for business, and that leaders should not have empathy
The former SAS soldier and author is a psychopath and says he always knew he was different
He tells Nina dos Santos he did not feel remorse when he killed during his time in the military
But McNab says being a psychopath can be a matter of striking a balance
Andy McNab is trying to convince me that being a psychopath is good for business.
“When I look at CEOs, or even political leaders, I don’t want them to have empathy,” he says. “What I want them to do is to have focus and to make the best decisions possible.
“I want them to be ruthless,” says the ex-soldier with a hint of passion so fierce it risks betraying his claim to “have no feelings.”
If the timbre of McNab’s voice gives much away, his face is inscrutable in the darkened basement room chosen for our interview.
His true identity is hidden because of the anti-terrorism operations he was once engaged in as a member of Britain’s elite SAS.
McNab isn’t even his real name, rather a pseudonym adopted to write the 1993 book, Bravo Two Zero, recounting his time behind enemy lines in Iraq.
Trauma, it seems, has been a recurring theme in McNab’s life, which may explain the man’s ability to master his emotions.
Left at the door of a London hospital as a baby in a Harrods carrier bag, McNab had a rough upbringing, in and out of juvenile detention in South West London, before finding himself suited to the discipline of the army, which he joined at 19.
Although he was only officially diagnosed as a psychopath four years ago, McNab says he always knew he was different.
“As kids you run around the housing estates in gangs,” he says. “Well, when the gangs started their smoking and their drinking, it didn’t interest me at all… I was always slightly detached from that.”
As a professional soldier, McNab says he first killed a person during his first year in the military and was surprised to have felt no remorse.
“You are in a situation where nine out of ten times in conflict they are trying to do the same to you. So you’ve got a responsibility to yourself to stay alive… you’ve got a responsibility to keep everybody else alive,” he says.
But what exactly is a psychopath? And is the disorder a hindrance or can it be a help?
From Charles Manson, to Ted Bundy, the annals of crime history are replete with examples of what you might term traditional – or dysfunctional – psychopaths, people capable of carrying out the most abhorrent crimes, those without feeling or the ability establish meaningful relationships.
Now after extensive research scientists have begun to realize a scale of less extreme psychopathic traits that may lie in some of us, ones which, if harnessed correctly, McNab says can be a secret weapon.