The Huffington Post:
Forest “Tommy” Yeo-Thomas was a real-life swashbuckler, charismatic and daring. The British World War II spy, known as the “White Rabbit” to the Nazis, employed an array of disguises and fake documents to elude the enemy in Vichy France, once pretending to be a corpse while traveling in a coffin. He withstood severe torture by the Gestapo, leapt from a moving train, and strangled a prison guard with his bare hands. He was also known as a seducer of beautiful women.
Most people have never heard of Yeo-Thomas, though most are familiar with his fictional incarnation. He was the inspiration for novelist Ian Fleming’s flamboyant hero Bond. James Bond.
I read about Yeo-Thomas for the first time just recently, in a forthcoming paper in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. Three Emory University psychological scientists — Scott Lilienfeld, Ashley Watts and Sarah Smith — use the adventurous spy’s life to illustrate a clinical type they call the “successful psychopath.” Long the stuff of clinical lore, the successful psychopath displays many of the core features of the malignant psychopathic personality — but with real-life success rather than crime and imprisonment. Although most of what’s known about psychopathy comes from failed criminals locked up in prison, the Emory scientists raise the intriguing possibility that many psychopaths are actually thriving in the real world, perhaps occupying the higher echelons of professional life.
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