|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|The psychopath in the corner office||Micromanagers||Office Stockholm Syndrom||Surviving a Bad Performance Review||Anger trap||The toxic stress|
|Toxically Incompetent Managers||Workplace Bullies||Narcissists||Manipulator Bosses||Paranoid Managers|
Those who cannot love want power
As insightful page The toxic manager in the office catches the main features quite well:
"We've all encountered them. Moody, aggressive, unpredictable, incompetent, always blaming other people. A compulsive liar with a Jekyll and Hyde nature, the individual, male or female, is always charming and plausible when management are around."
Toxic management presents several dangers to your health. Toxic behaviors like intense bullying creates a hostile work environment and can easily escalate to real violence, harassment and intimidation, In this case it might be advisable to go to court. And you can imagine how sympathetic a jury would be toward a company that allowed its employees to be terrorized in order to keep a tidy bottom line.
A useful list of traits can be found at Behavior of the serial bully page but it is way too broad and actually includes most generic trait of corporate psychopaths including micromanagers. Anyway they can serve as a useful warning sign and probably on third is enough to classify the manager as a corporate psychopath although some. Most Triats listed like "sometimes displays a seemingly limitless demonic energy especially when engaged in attention-seeking activities or evasion of accountability and is often a committeeaholic or apparent workaholic" are generic to phychopathy and as such are applicable to any type of corporate psychopath including but not limited to micromanager, narcissist, bullies):
Moody, obsessive-compulsive, suffers from one or more phobias"We've all encountered them. Moody,
aggressive, unpredictable, incompetent, always blaming other people.
Tend to infect their departments with bad attitudes. It's like a disease: They spread
despair, anger and depression, which show up in lackluster work, absenteeism and turnover.
A pathological compulsive lying (for no reason at all, can't help self) with a Jekyll and Hyde nature: always charming and plausible when management are around.".
When called to account, will make up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment
Vile, vicious and vindictive in private, but innocent and charming in front of witnesses; no-one can (or wants to) believe this individual has a vindictive nature - only the current target of the serial bully's aggression sees both sides; whilst the Jekyll side is described as "charming" and convincing enough to deceive personnel, management.
Is constantly imposing on others a false reality made up of distortion and fabrication.
Is highly manipulative, especially of people's perceptions and emotions. Can masterfully manipulating perceptions, especially guilt.
Excels deception and should never be underestimated in their capacity to deceive.
Have an exceptional verbal facility to impose guilt and often outmaneuver most people in verbal interaction, especially at times of conflict
Can use excessive charm and is always plausible and convincing when peers, superiors or others are present (charm can be used to deceive as well as to cover for lack of empathy) but cruel to subordinates:
Is glib, shallow and superficial with plenty of fine words and lots of form - but there's no substance
Is often described as smooth, slippery, slimy, ingratiating, fawning, toadying, obsequious, sycophantic
Relies on mimicry, repetition and regurgitation to convince others that he or she is both a "normal" human being and a tough dynamic manager, as in extolling the virtues of the latest management fads and pouring forth the accompanying jargon
Is unusually skilled in being able to anticipate what people want to hear and then saying it plausibly
Cannot be trusted or relied upon. Fails to fulfill commitments
Is emotionally immature and emotionally untrustworthy
Exhibits unusual and inappropriate fixation, signs of obsessive-compulsive behavior. Generate suspicions that underneath the charming exterior are hints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, perhaps also abusive or alcoholic parents, sexual dysfunction, sexual inadequacy, sexual perversion, sexual violence or sexual abuse.
In a relationship, is incapable of initiating or sustaining intimacy
Holds deep prejudices (e.g. against the opposite gender, people of a different sexual orientation, other cultures and religious beliefs, foreigners, etc - prejudiced people are unvaryingly unimaginative) but goes to great lengths to keep this prejudicial aspect of their personality secret
Is self-opinionated and displays arrogance, audacity, a superior sense of entitlement and sense of invulnerability and untouchability . Has a deep-seated contempt of subordinates
Has a compulsive need to control everyone and everything you say, do, think and believe(a control freak ); for example, will launch an immediate personal attack attempting to restrict what you are permitted to say if you start talking knowledgeably about psychopathic personality or antisocial personality disorder in their presence - but aggressively maintains the right to talk (usually unknowledgeably) about anything they choose; serial bullies despise anyone who enables others to see through their deception and their mask of sanity
Displays a compulsive need to criticize whilst simultaneously refusing to value, praise and acknowledge others, their achievements, or their existence
Shows a lack of joined-up thinking with conversation that doesn't flow and arguments that don't hold water. Flits from topic to topic so that you come away feeling you've never had a proper conversation
Refuses to be specific and never gives a straight answer. Is evasive and has a Houdini-like ability to escape accountability
Undermines and destroys anyone who the bully perceives to be an adversary, a potential threat, or who can see through the bully's mask. Is adept at creating conflict between those who would otherwise collate incriminating information about them
Is quick to discredit and neutralize anyone who can talk knowledgeably about antisocial or sociopathic behaviors
May pursue a vindictive vendetta against anyone who dares to held them accountable, perhaps using others' resources and contemptuous of the damage caused to other people and organizations in pursuance of the vendetta
Is also quick to belittle, undermine, denigrate and discredit anyone who calls, attempts to call, or might call the bully to account. Gains gratification from denying people what they are entitled to
When called upon to share or address the needs and concerns of others, responds with impatience, irritability and aggression
Is arrogant, haughty, high-handed, and a know-all
Often has an overwhelming, unhealthy and narcissistic attention-seeking need to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person, in contrast to their behavior and treatment of others; the bully sees nothing wrong with their behavior and chooses to remain oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen and how they are seen by others
Is mean-spirited, officious, and often unbelievably petty
Is mean, stingy, and financially untrustworthy
Is always a taker and never a giver. Is greedy, selfish, a parasite and an emotional vampire
Is convinced of their superiority and has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, co-operation, trust, integrity) and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, manipulation, distrust, deceitfulness)
Often fraudulently claims qualifications, experience, titles, entitlements or affiliations which are ambiguous, misleading, or bogus
Often misses the semantic meaning of language, misinterprets what is said, sometimes wrongly thinking that comments of a satirical, ironic or general negative nature apply to him or herself
Knows the words but not the song
Sometimes displays a seemingly limitless demonic energy especially when engaged in attention-seeking activities or evasion of accountability.
Often a committeeaholic or apparent workaholic
George K. Simon, Jr
This is one of the better books. The basic premise of the book is that manipulative psychopath are different from normal people and are truly pathological both in their psychological traits and behavior. The primary characteristic of such personalities is that they value winning over anything and everything. They key is to study and document this behavior like anthropologists study apes. The first step is consider them difference species of the humans: they really are.
The most fundamental rule of human conflicts is that the aggressor sets that rule and defines initial dynamic of the engagement. Being attacks already weaken you position. There without careful study and preparation against their often dirty tricks you will always fall victim to their ruthless behavior. But knowing the enemy help defining the terms of engagement in your favor. To be able to withstand the pressure you need to need to the free of possible misconceptions about this persons; have high self-awareness, explicably about the traits of your character that increase your vulnerability to manipulation. You also need to learn avoid fighting losing battles.
Chapter 9 is probably the most important chapter of the book. In this chapter the author lists typical tricks used by manipulative people. Among them:
The author discusses those issues in Chapter 10. He recommends:
Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.
Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a "cult scale" or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry-or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar-or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
- Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
- The most loyal members (the "true believers") feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
This checklist will be published in the new book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It was adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.
amazon.comDan E. Nicholas, February 4, 2016And some are not even bad people. She says it's when folks who lack ...Wild'n'Free
I'm reading and loving this book. I'll expand my review when I'm completely done in a couple days but just have to say: get it. Read it. Learn about yourself; if you dare. (I gave it four stars rather than five to protect myself!)
I was shocked how well she documents that it is we the conned that want the con to be real. The Grifter doesn't even have to always be that skilled. I went back and saw ways I got conned in matters of the heart while dating; in buying things; in following certain leaders in church.
Stunned to learned that 1% of the population is psychopathological in the way their brains are wired, some folks just can't feel or give meaning to your pain or the pain of others. And some are not even bad people. She says it's when folks who lack this "proper" wiring aim to use it for financial gain or to win and break hearts? Awful.
I fell in love with a Man Eater once. Looking back I see how it was my fault in setting up my own fall. I want things to look like they would work. The bad rests on me now. She's still a Man Eater. But the wounds I earned with my stupidity. I went on to find success with love but I've some scars for sure due to female cons running scams unwittingly online with dating sights.
She shows we can be wise without being cynical. I like that.Disappointing but with some qualities,
November 28, 2015
Konnikova promises a lot in the titles to her books. I read Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes and was disappointed. I did not learn to think like Sherlock Holmes; not by a long shot. In this book, Konnikova has come closer to delivering the "Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time" but I disagree with her observations and conclusions.
As a former prosecutor of elder abuse crimes (both physical and financial), I have a lot of experience with people who "fall for it." But that certainly doesn't mean everyone does. Nor does it mean that the ones who don't "fall for it" are more cynical, less humane, less open to true friendship, etc. In fact, Konnikova's description of victims of con artists as being more open and in touch with their humanity sounds like the manipulation of a con artist.
Not that I think Konnikova is a con artist. She is just a very ambitious young woman and a self-promoter. I have read a lot of her magazine articles and have enjoyed many of them. Unfortunately, her organizational and analytical skills as a writer do not make her a good writer of books. Viewed as a series of magazine articles with the inevitable repetitions this book holds up fairly well.
But as a book, it lacks a great deal. It certainly deserves 3 stars, but its failure to respond to bigger questions with bigger answers makes it fall short. For me, it was an uneven, often repetitious, fairly shallow approach to a fascinating subject. Until she matures as a thinker and researcher, Konnikova does better when she sticks to the magazine articles that she handles so well.
"In fact, Konnikova's description of victims of con artists as being more open and in touch with their humanity sounds like the manipulation of a con artist."
Excellent observation and excellent review.
As a scientist, used to sorting through ambiguous evidence and well-meaning but underdetermined interpretations, I find this book excellent. The author no doubt has to cast speculations of her own, and overplay some connections and implications, but the connections between gullibility, optimism, cults, and scams strike me as well articulated. The field of psychology is messy, but this book was very interesting and enlightening, clear as is possible (aside from chapters organized like magazine articles), and the connection between empathetic people and people who get scammed seems completely reasonable, albeit with a less than perfect correlation.
Joe Madison says:
I have the same question as Ellis Reppo: If this book is only average, can you recommend a good one? I have not read The Confidence Game, but I have a psych degree and a longstanding interest in persuasion. I often find popular psych books to be like you describe The Confidence Game (repetitive, without great breadth of understanding), and so your own book recommendations would be of real value. Thanks!
pat black says:
There's one called Eyeing the Flash: The Making of a Carnival Con Artist. A case study, if you will, of a 17-year-old middle class math whiz who became a midway con man in 1960s midwest
I'd stick to making an unbiased appraisal of the merits of the book if I were you, and cut out the ad hominem nonsense. As a reviewer you are privileged to make an opinion on the book's attributes, how it answers the questions raised by the author, etc.
But you are not at all privileged to launch unsolicited attacks on the personal attributes of the author. (Your line "until she matures as a thinker and researcher....." was completely uncalled-for, and hints more at your feelings of insecurity and inadequacy than anything else.)
Kirk McElhearn says:
Read David Maurer's The Big Con. It explains how the cons work, rather than focusing on lots of psychological studies that Konnikova looks at, trying to suss out why we respond the way we do.
Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE on November 27, 2015Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAMEon January 12, 2016
Entertaining and interesting look at conmen and the rubes who buy what they sell
This is a fun book that covers a lot of ground about 'cons,' from the personalities of those who can commit them, to the marks and rubes who get taken advantage of.
You would think in our informed culture, we couldn't be fooled, but we know that's not the case. Author Maria Konnikova does a good job presenting all sides of these stories and it's often entertaining reading about the pure brazeness of it all. I had not heard of many of the conmen (and women) that she describes and I always like reading new stories.
I do wish there had been more recent accounts - there are so many cheaters like Lance Armstrong that aren't exactly doing it for profit, and more attention to them would have been interesting. Three-card monte gets some attention - but that's not that interesting to me...I know why they succeed, because people want to see if THEY can beat the game - it's not a con as much as a battle of wits, which the rube always loses (I was cheated on a rigged carny game years ago - they suck you in with a few easy wins, then it gets progressively harder to win the stuffed animal).
I think the book is not disorganized, but it does cover a lot of ground, and the different names and situations can be difficult to follow at times. Interesting and entertaining, yes, but just be ready to pay attention.
Ultimately, it's an interesting sociological study - as long as there's an advantage to fooling somebody, people will try to fool other people. I would not use this book as the primary source - I think a reader should have interest in this specific topic first, and not use this book to try to get interested. It's a little too specific to get a reader invested who comes to the topic totally new.Rogues Regularly Triumph Over The Meek
Author Maria Konnikova has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia, along with considerable experience researching topics in and writing about psychology. This, her second book, is about conmen - elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust, not just your dime a dozen cheats and swindlers. Their 'bible' is Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
A confidence game starts with basic human psychology. The con identifies what the victim wants and how to play on that desire to achieve what the con-artist wants. Size someone up well, and you can sell them anything; it helps to have someone in the throes of some sort of life turmoil - the conman preys on what people wish were true, reaffirming their views of themselves and giving their lives meaning. Doing so requires the creation of empathy and rapport - laying an emotional foundation before any scheme is proposed.
The con is an exercise in soft skills - trust, sympathy, persuasion. He doesn't steal - we give. We believe because we want to, and we offer whatever they want - money, reputation, trust, fame, support, and don't realize what is happening until it is too late. No one is immune to the art of the con - it is not who you are, but where you happen to be at the moment in your life (eg. undergoing misfortune).
By the time things begin to look dicey, the victims tend to be so invested, emotionally and often physically, that they do most of the persuasion themselves. The con-artist may not even need to convince his victims to stay quite - they usually are more likely than not to do so themselves. When we hear others talking about their unbelievable deal or good fortune, we realize at once they've been taken for a sucker, but when it happens to us, it's simply because "I'm lucky and deserving of a good turn."
The best of cons are never discovered - we simply write our loss off as a matter of bad luck.
Psychopaths make up an estimated 1% of male population; among women, they are almost nonexistent. Grifters also are highly likely to be narcissist and Machiavellian. Narcissism entails a sense of grandiosity, entitlement, an overly inflated sense of worth, and manipulativeness. Machiavellian has come to mean a specific set of traits that allows one to manipulate others - employs aggressive, manipulative, exploiting, and devious moves. They are also more likely to attempt to bluff, cheat, bargain, and ingratiate themselves with others, and more successful at doing so.
Leadership and high-profile roles, salesmen/marketers, and the legal profession are all more likely to be populated by confidence men.
Researcher James Fallon believes that certain critical periods in childhood can nudge one more or less towards full-blown psychopathy - luck out, you become a high-functioning psychopath, get the bad draw and you become a violent psychopath. Fallon believes the first three years of life are crucial in determining one's psychopathic future.
The con is the oldest game there is, and it's likely to be entering a new age - thanks to new opportunities brought by increasing technology that make it far easier to establish convincing false identities (eg. LinkedIn), as well as identify those who might be more likely conned (dating sites that identify widows and divorcees). Since 2008, consumer fraud in the U.S. has risen more than 60%, with online scams more than doubling. In 2012 alone, the Internet Crime Complaint Center reported almost 300,000 complaints of online fraud, with over $500 million lost. Between 2011 and 2012, the Federal Trade Commission found that a little over 10% of American adults (25.6 million) had fallen victim to fraud. The majority of the cases involved fake weight-loss products, second place went to false prize promotions, and in third place was buyers' clubs in which what seemed like a free deal actually involves membership charges you didn't even know you'd signed up for. Fourth was unauthorized Internet billing, and finally work-at-home programs.
Con artists aren't just master manipulators - they are expert storytellers (eg. 'I'm supporting my mother, who now has AIDS,' 'I had PTSD from Iraq,' etc. Once we've accepted a story as true we will probably unconsciously bend any contradictory information to conform to the conclusion we've already drawn - it's known as 'confirmation bias.' Ultimately, what a confidence artist sells is hope. Many cases go unreported - most cases, by some estimates. AARP found that only 37% of victims over 55 will admit to having fallen for a con, and just over half those under 55 do so. Most con artists don't ever come to trial because they aren't brought to the authorities to begin with.
Most people require three things to align before going from legitimacy to con-artistry - motivation (underlying predisposition created by psychopathy), narcissism, and Machiavellianism - along with opportunity and a plausible rationale. In corporate fraud, for example, few choose to con in a vacuum - they also perceive an aggressive sales environment (opportunity) and a feeling they must do something to stand out. For a significant percentage of the conning population, surroundings matter. About half those who commit fraud cite intolerable competitive conditions as justification. They can rationalize away just about any behavior as necessary.
In one study of 15,000, only 50 could consistently detect liars - they relied on detecting incredibly fast facial movements as their clues. One of those 50 is now employed in law enforcement, and she told the author that smart psychopaths are super liars and have no conscience, and are very hard for her to identify.
The first commandment of the con man - 'Be a patient listener.' (Victor Lustig, con artist) Emotion is the primary hook used, much more powerful than logic. Cons tend to thrive in the wake of economic or natural disaster illness, personal travail. Sadness makes us more prone to risk taking and impulsivity - perfect for certain types of cons. Con artists love funerals and obituaries, divorces, layoffs, and general loneliness. He does everything in his power to bring our self-perceived better-than-averageness perceptions to the fore - eg. 'How intelligent you are, Professor Frampton.' And we believe it, because we want it to be.
Consistency plays a crucial role in our ongoing evaluations of a person we're helping - 'If I've helped you before, you must be worth it.'
Overall - some good points about con-men - but far too reliant on anecdotes.
Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE. November 2, 2015
Know How Crooks Think, So They Can't Outthink YouOur world positively teems with swindlers, ripoff artists, and con-men. From ordinary curbside Three-Card Monte to charming, narcissistic domestic abusers, to Ponzi schemers and Wall Street market riggers, the confidence game exudes from society's very pores. Psychologist turned journalist Maria Konnikova wants to unpack what makes us susceptible to con artists, a journey that leads through all human psychology, sometimes vulnerable to diversions and cow paths.
Konnikova's first book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, dealt with how crime fighters organize thoughts, observe reality, and undermine criminal mentality. This book essentially addresses the same issues from the opposite angle: how criminals create situations that need busting. Konnikova's conclusions may seem surprising, until we consider them further. Vulnerability to confidence artists and other professional chiselers actually means our psyches are healthy.
Confidence artists work with an encyclopedic understanding of human psychology with which research scientists are only now catching up. They recognize common traits, like our tendency to see others as similar to ourselves, our illusion of control, and our unwillingness to think badly about ourselves. These traits aren't weaknesses; without them, we'd be functionally paralyzed. Effective swindlers work by turning our best characteristics and human capabilities against us.
We must recognize, therefore, that making ourselves insusceptible to cons isn't actually desirable. Fraudsters prey on traits that open us to community, family, and fiscal reward. As Konnikova writes: "The same thing that can underlie success can also make you all the more vulnerable to the grifter's wares. We are predisposed to trust." With swindles, as with propaganda, those who think themselves most immune are, actually, most vulnerable.
The answer lies in understanding ourselves and the swindlers better. They don't see us like we see ourselves. They don't want to. We must cultivate complex understanding of different human thought patterns, and a stronger sense of ourselves. Konnikova again: "It's not that the confidence artist is inherently psychopathic, caring nothing about the fates of others. It's that, to him, we aren't worthy of consideration as human beings; we are targets, not unique people."
All isn't bleak. Throughout most of this book, Konnikova suggests it's difficult to prevent con-games without isolating ourselves and descending into cynicism. In the later chapters, though, she reverses the trend, showing how skilled, self-aware people can resist flim-flam artists' techniques. Not hypothetically, either: she shows how real people, cult busters and cultural anthropologists and police, have maintained their sanity when confronted by seemingly insurmountable double-dealing. Resistance is possible.
As Konnikova explains confidence artists' psychological techniques, her focus expands to include much about recent discoveries in psychology and behavioral economics. She wants readers to emerge with as thorough an understanding of human minds as the fraud merchants enjoy. This sometimes makes her technique sprawling (this book runs over 300 pages plus back matter, unusually long for its genre.)
Reading Konnikova sometimes requires especial concentration and focus.
She richly rewards those who stick with her narrative, though. I've recently seen one friend lose rafts to shady investments and two others get burned by charming, narcissistic romantic partners. Even if we never vote for crooks, invest with Bernie Madoff, or buy salvation sellers' wares, the potential for confidence games still surrounds us. Konnikova provides needed tools for self-awareness, clear boundaries, and bold self-defense. Swindles are inevitable; victimhood isn't.
Bill Kaminski (Bloomington, IL United States) - See all my reviewsIts a Job , not a jail., April 7, 2003
This book offers a refreshing view of dealing with a workplace bully. You are not alone. This book provides valuable tips on how to make it until you are able to leave. Going to work should not be considered the same thing as spending the weekend in jail. Help is here. Check this book out.
Gregory J. Casteel "Dr. Gregory J. Casteel" (Athens, AL United States) - See all my reviewsA good overview of a disturbing subject, November 22, 2006
As a political scientist who studies war, terrorism, and other forms of political violence -- and as someone who has had a lifelong interest in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, and ethics -- I try to read everything I can find on the psychology of violence, criminal behavior, and social deviance.
By far, the best book I have read on the subject is Roy Baumeister's "Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty" (1996); and the second best is Aaron Beck's "Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence" (1999).
So, when I came across Martha Stout's "The Sociopath Next Door" (2005), I knew I had to read it. And, while it's not quite in the same league as the Baumeister and Beck books, it is certainly well worth reading.
It's a fairly short book; well-written; easy-to-read; and aimed at the lay-reader who has no background in psychology. It doesn't have the depth, or the scope, of the Baumeister and Beck books; but it provides a good, non-technical introduction to what psychologists label "Antisocial Personality Disorder" -- better known as "sociopathy" or "psychopathy" (technically, these two terms are interchangeable). This book explores the nature of sociopathy; discusses its causes; and gives advice on how to recognize and deal with the sociopaths you may encounter (and, chances are, you will encounter many on a daily basis, since sociopathy is a far more common condition that many people realize -- affecting about 1 out of every 25 people).
Fortunately, most sociopaths don't become violent criminals or terrorists. But all sociopaths are potentially dangerous; and can be dishonest, exploitative, cruel, and abusive -- so you need to be prepared to protect yourself against them. This book will help.
Allan M. Gathercoal "fdoamerica" (Norcross, GA) - See all my reviews
- Paperback: 276 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone; 2nd edition (January 2, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684848597
- ISBN-13: 978-0684848594
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.8 inchesK. Sprinker (Birmingham, AL USA) - See all my reviews
Peck's insight into the world of evil is sorely needed., September 21, 1998
"Evil is the exercise of power, the imposing of one's will upon others by overt or covert coercion". "The core of evil is ego-centricity, whereby others are sacrificed rather than the ego of the individual." These words and the following analysis that Scott Peck gives us into the world of evil are sorely needed now in America. At the heart of our political and moral meltdown is the force of evil. According to Dr. Peck (psychology) ego-centric persons are utterly dedicated to preserving their self-serving image. They cultivate an image of being a good, right, God-fearing citizens. They specialize in self-deceit and thus are People of the Lie.
Scott Peck is best known for his famed book The Road Less Traveled where Peck argues that there is a link between personal growth, spirituality, and basic mental health. In People of the Lie Scott, Peck see evil as the antithesis to the very goodness and life that normal, healthy people seek. He writes this book to raise the awareness that evil exists as an entity and force in the world and calls his readers to take evil far more seriously.A Must Read, January 26, 2007
As we live in a society (America) where superficial is the norm, this book speaks to the very heart of so many we interact with on a daily basis. This is a book that will prick the ego of many who choose to live their lives in pretense....yet a book that will encourage all the souls that desire healthy relationships via truth and intimacy. It is very easy to believe that the desire for people to "be real" and loving is a fantasy..not to be found in this world.. and therefore our desire or expectation of that from people is wrong. This book encourages those seekers that their desire is not the problem....the problem lies with the "people of the lie" which unequivocally descibes a vast percentage of Americans.
So, this book will either encourage you or upset you....depending upon which side of it's truth you find yourself sitting.
How many times can an author write the word "vampire", August 25, 2005
I know that Dr. Bernstein is trying to communicate an idea but his constant use of the word "vampire" really put me off. Pg 65 - 5 times; pg 188 - 6 times... you get the idea.
Reviewer: Sunny California "Beeziemom" (Sunnyvale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
The information he conveys is interesting if you have never read about Personality Disorders like anti-social, histrionic, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive and paranoid. Buy the book at a used price and you'll get your money's worth.
Taking the Bite out of Vampires, November 24, 2000
Emotional Vampires teaches you how to protect yourself from people who emotionally and materially drain you for their own gain and at your expense. These "vampires" prey on colleagues, friends, and family. They are especially dangerous because their self-absorption prevents them from seeing that they are harming others, and even makes them think they are helping others. "Vampires" are especially gifted at finding the most vulnerable victims.
Reviewer: joyce howell (virginia beach, va United States) - See all my reviews
With Dr. Bernstein's help, these vampires will see you as no easy prey and move on to others. You recognize Emotional Vampires by the emotional aftermath: they "take a lot out of you," they leave you feeling "drained," they "pushed your buttons," they are "high maintenance," etc.
Dr. Bernstein is right on the money with "vampire bite" as a metaphorical diagnosis for the real harm these types cause, but beware: the fangs seldom show, and emotional vampires can seem as harmless and ineffectual as Aunt Bea, or as affable as Will Rogers. Each chapter is a recognizance of different "vampire" personality types. I realized I was particularly vulnerable to the "histrionics" who thrive on drama for its own sake.
I used Bernstein's techniques on a certain "histrionic" vampire in my life, and now I'm thankfully out of her perpetual soap opera. I urge everybody to buy this book. It's a funny and easy read, but the subject is serious and the insights ring deeply true. Once you have read it you will have the power to protect yourself from a lot of hard times and wasted hours.
ABSOLUTELY RECOMMENDED!!!, September 30, 2006
First, to diffuse some of the objections to this book you might come across:
Reviewer: PROBLEM CHILD "F*** this." (Las Vegas, NV) - See all my reviews
1. "Overuse of the Vampire analogies and other metaphors and imagery." Whoever found them distracting was just not understanding them. Bernstein uses each one to make a very specific point, and with their aid he makes that point compeletely clear and accessible. He does use the vampire analogy, but at almost every turn there's a new take on it. His writing is very colorful and just as intentional.
Also, Bernstein is uproariously funny (but never funny just for the sake of being funny). And a lot of that is in his use of metaphors, etc. Before I got 1/2 way through, I checked the 'about the author' to see if he'd done stand-up comedy on the side. Apparently he does a lot of public speaking. A good comedian points out things you haven't really thought about and then makes them entertaining. And when you laugh at something it usually means that you can relate to it and that you completely understand the message. The clarity and liveliness needed to be an effective public speaker, along with the didactic humor, keep things humming from cover to cover. If you're not at least giving a chuckle every few pages or so, either you're not getting it, or there's a much more serious concern...
2. "Not enough concrete advice." Whoever could think this, they are truly not seeing the forest for the trees! This book is loaded with practical advice and revolves around delivering that advice in the most effective way.
I identified my vampire, and I'm going to take a totally different approach to them based on the practical information I found here. In fact Bernstein says outright that while finding the root cause of a disorder can be interesting, it can often be a distraction from how to deal with the practical issues you have face. And, true to his word, everything he says either frames his practical advice, tees it up or delivers it--usually with illustrations on how one might apply it.
3. "There are better books out there on the subject." It's hard to imagine. Maybe there are. But it's all moot anyway when the critic doesn't actually provide any alternative titles or make any effort to back the statement up.
While you're reading and enjoying, you're picking up some rather subtle points all along the way, maybe without even quite realizing how difficult it would really be to take up these otherwise abstract and difficult points and then render them as accessible as Bernstein does. This book is full of valuable tools, and concepts that are crucial to understanding and dealing with this type of person. I know, based on personal experience--frighteningly personal experience.
My vampire is a paranoid obsessive-compulsive. Bernstein illustrates a typical conversation that an OC vampire might have, and I've had that EXACT SAME conversation, in almost identical circumstances and which included a lot of the same exact words and phrases!
Bernstein accomplishes everything, and more, that one would want to see in a practical introduction to the more common personality disorders--only EXTREMELY WELL! After reading this book you'll feel a lot less alone in your situation and a lot more equipped to deal with your vampires.
Incredibly useful, action-oriented book!, August 5, 2006
I found this to be incredibly helpful in dealing with strong, needy personalities that I encounter. In fact, I found it so like an instructional (how-to) text, I highlighted in it!
Reviewer: Stacey M Jones (Conway, Ark.) - See all my reviews
Many people are difficult sometimes or often -- including each one of us -- but Bernstein writes that his "emotional vampires" are people who see the world differently. "Their perceptions are distorted by their cravings for immature and unattainable goals. They want everybody's complete and exclusive attention.
... Emotional Vampires are inordinantly threatened by common adult experiences, including boredom, uncertainty, accountability, and having to give as well as receive" (p. 4). He bases his categorizations of emotional vampires on personality disorders as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, but states that the people who give us trouble, or the types he addresses in this book, aren't likely to be that seriously dysfunctional.
After a few introductory chapters helping to set the stage (and firmly establish his vampire metaphor), Bernstein dedicates a chapter to each type of vampire. The introductory chapters outline how "vampires" are different from other people, how they are "made" and how their sucking black holes of emotional needs will suck the life out of anyone who doesn't know how to defend him or herself. Bernstein repeatedly makes the point that life is lonely for vampires: For them, the world comprises only their needs, nothing else.
Regarding this last point, Bernstein emphasizes that to fight a vampire, or at least to protect oneself, individuals should NOT try to make vampires care about their feelings, or tell them they've been hurt by them. Bernstein's tips are entirely practical to ensure that the healthy person is not taken in by the need of the vampire, and can cope with him or her. He often focuses his scenarios and tips on a work environment, which I found very helpful.
While he states that most types of vampires have common traits, he divides the vampires into Antisocial (Vampire Daredevils, Vampire Used Car Salesmen, Vampire Bullies); Histrionic (Vampires Who Ham It Up, Passive-Aggressive Vampires); Narcissistic (Vampires Who Are Legends in their Own Minds, Vampire Superstars); Obsessive-Compulsive (Vampire Perfectionists and Puritans) and Paranoid. All chapters outline common behaviors, include hypothetical scenarios, behavior checklists, and most important, REALLY HELPFUL TIPS on how to cope with these people without getting scarred for life! (Some of these tips included things like telling a bully you need time to think about something before answering a "throwdown" type question, and to stop explaining yourself or your decisions to bullies, who only use your rationals as points of vulnerability or weakness.)
Throughout the book, Bernstein stresses that while one may be interested in how someone becamse a vampire, that is not necessary knowledge to develop the skills to defend oneself. He also says repeatedly that trying to change vampires is nearly impossible. The goal of his tips and instruction is to protect the reader from the harm that may come to them psychologically or organizationally from individuals whose own emotional needs overpower any other human and social instinct they have in dealing with others.
I have found this book to be extremely helpful in dealing with difficult people in a polite but self-protecting manner. I highly recommend this book if you have an emotional vampire in your life!
Bernstein, A.J. (2001). Emotional vampires: Dealing with people who drain you dry. New York: McGraw Hill.
I could not read this book, March 4, 2006
I could not read this book all the way through. The vampire, vampire, vampire thing was carried WAY too far. There is a real need for a book on personality disorders written for the layman, but this book appears to have been written with a second grader in mind. As a matter of fact, many second graders would probably feel insulted by the condescending way the author addresses his audience.
Reviewer: Sammy Madison (USA) - See all my reviews
Emotional Vampires Keep on Sucking, September 29, 2005
I thoroughly enjoyed the humor and broken record technique to educate the layman on personality disordered individuals that thrive on emotional drama and trauma, rather than the sociopathic/psychopathic appetite for murder and rape. Few people recognize the daily contacts we have with disordered people, especially if they were born to one! As an advocate and counselor, this is a good read for the highly intelligent and motivated client that is confused by the chaos one of 'the disordered' is stirring up in their lives. For management, that are not disordered themselves, it is good to recognize what you are dealing with before probationary periods are completed! Anyone that is feeling like their emotional investments in an individual are not egaltarian or not paying off equitably ought to read this book. Fun approach to a very painful, dark subject.
Reviewer: the Rez Chick (Oregon) - See all my reviews
toxic workplaces, June 10, 2003
This book is a mix of material lifted from the DSM IV (or whatever it's called today) and some anecdotal stories from the authors' own experiences, with some recommendations for 'dealing with type X' as a manager, employee, or coworker.
I'm reminded that the field of psychology would diagnose the majority of us with some form of disorder at some point in our lives, and the authors have extended this to the corporate world in a way that would label nearly everyone I've worked with in my career as suffering from one or more personality disorders. I can only think of a couple who really caused problems.
The authors are overly-broad in their categorizations. For example, if your employees think your requests are unreasonable, then they must be passive aggressive whiners. But you are narcissistic or obsessive compulsive for making these requests.
One disappointment is that 'toxic workplaces' aren't mentioned until the second to the last page. Maybe some of the behavior that they describe as disorders are actually reasonable reactions for people in a toxic workplace. The authors describe large corporations, the government, and the military as being a good place for people of this or that disorder. Maybe working for the government makes you that way, not the other way around!
I didn't find much here that would be of help in dealing with bosses or coworkers. I think the various 'dilbert' books would be more genuinely useful, as well as more amusing. I think that most people just want to do their jobs with a minimum of corporate nonsense so that they can enjoy their lives outside of work with their remaining free time, which is why those of us who are not blessed with great wealth are enduring what for most of us are toxic workplaces.
Jean Lipman-BlumenHenry Berry "Henry Berry" (Southport, CT) - See all my reviews
Those who have read Lipman-Blumen's previously published Connective Leadership and/or Hot Groups can correctly assume that she again offers brilliant insights, eloquently expressed, in her newest book. She responds to two especially interesting questions: "Why do so many people follow destructive bosses and corrupt politicians?" and "How can we survive them?" In fairness both to her and to those who have not as yet read this book, I will resist the temptation to reveal what her responses are. However, I hope the remarks which follow create sufficient interest in this book because it eminently deserves and richly rewards a careful reading.
She organizes her material within Four Parts: The Big Picture (Chapter 1) in which she explains why toxic leaders are so plentiful; Leaders, Leaders, Why Do We All Want Leaders? (Chapters 2-6) in which she examines psychological needs, angst and illusions (e.g. about life, death, and immortality), global instabilities, creation of potentially dangerous deities, and the urge for heroic men and women; How [and Why] We Create Willing Followers and Toxic Leaders (Chapters 7-9) in which she discusses various myths which help to explain the appeal of toxic leaders and the rejection of non-toxic leaders; and finally, Liberating Ourselves from the Allure of Toxic Leaders (Chapters 10-13) in which Lipman-Blumen proposes a number of mindsets, values, strategies, tactics, and initiatives which can -- at least in some instances -- protect mankind from toxic leaders or expedite their loss of power and even influence.
In this volume, Lipman-Blumen demonstrates all of the highly-developed skills of a world-class cultural anthropologist whose cutting-edge thinking about effective leadership and productive teamwork has earned for her the eminence she now enjoys. In my opinion, she has far greater and much more challenging ambitions in this book than she did in either of the two which preceded it. Consider this brief excerpt from the first chapter: Toxic leaders "first charm but then manipulate, mistreat, undermine, and ultimately leave their followers worse off than when they found them. Yet many of these followers hang on. I do not speak merely of the leader's immediate entourage -- the leader's close-in staff and advisors. I am speaking also of the larger mass of supporters (employees, constituents, volunteers) who only glimpse their toxic leader through a glass darkly -- perchance through a window of the executive suite or on the television screen. More surprisingly perhaps, even those groups charged with keeping leaders under the microscope and on the straight and narrow -- the media and boards of directors -- fall under they sway."
How to explain the "allure" of toxic leaders? How do they sustain, if not increase their domination of others? Even when exposed as toxic leaders, why do they continue to retain so many loyal followers? Realistically, to what extent (if any) can one individual or even a group remove such leaders from their positions of dominance? These and other questions have intrigued me for decades. Although I do not agree with all of Lipman-Blumen's opinions, I appreciate the rigor with which she has formulated those opinions.
To me, the book's most thought-provoking and thus most valuable material is provided in Part III, with the relatively weakest material following in Part IV. Lipman-Blumen is at her best when examining, indeed explaining how and why mankind creates toxic leaders as well as their willing followers. She is much less effective, in my opinion, when offering advice as to how to avoid or respond to the allure of such leaders. For example, is a coup or assassination the only effective solution to a tyrant? In a business context, what if a toxic leader is the owner/CEO of a small company? Realistically, is there any viable choice other than leaving? Lipman-Blumen's difficulties with the material in Part IV were probably inevitable...and have nothing to do with her intelligence, sensitivity, street smarts, and frame-of-reference. With all due respect to the "lessons" she reviews (please see pages 206-215) and the five strategies she then recommends (please see pages 238-249), I think those difficulties are explained, rather, by flaws in human nature which some have traced back to the Garden of Eden. Historically, those whom toxic leaders manipulate, mistreat, undermine, betray, and ultimately leave worse off than before are victims. Those who support toxic leaders are willing accomplices. Those who oppose toxic leaders are heroic. Those among them who are destroyed by toxic leaders are martyrs. For me, the most important question Lipman-Blumen poses in this book is hardly original: "Who are you?" For each reader, the answer will not be found in this book. However, a careful reading of it can assist with completing that immensely difficult journey of self-discovery.
I also highly recommend Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior co-authored by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.delves into how and why harmful leaders come to and keep power, January 2, 2007
The central question for Lipman-Blumen, professor of Public Policy and of Organizational Behavior at California Claremont Graduate U., and one of the founders of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Leadership, is "What are the forces that propel followers, again and again, to accept, often favor, and sometime create toxic leaders?"
The question has many sides involving sociological, psychological, historical, political and also in varying measures pathological and irrational matters. The author delves into these varied areas with familiarity, depth, analytic abilities, and nimbleness. There is no simple answer to the question.
Followers' self-esteem, the delusions of crowds, deceptiveness of a leader, historical circumstances, and the nature of and need for society play into the acceptance, toleration, and support of toxic leaders.
There is also often an ambiguity to a leader making it difficult to see if he or she is toxic; and some leaders may become toxic over a period of time. Not all toxic leaders are as evident in their time or even historical hindsight as Hitler or Stalin and the other ogres of history.
Lipman-Blumen's purview of toxic leaders extends to Jeffrey Skilling of Enron notoriety and other top corporate executives of recent years whose harmful wrongdoings have been uncovered. While she regularly refers to certifiably toxic or questionable leaders in varied fields as examples, Lipman-Blumen engages only minimally in psychoanalysis of them.
Her concentration is on the broader circumstances and patterns of how toxic leaders come to power in the first place and how they are able to stay in power even when their harmful behavior and policies become known. The author also pays much attention to the role of much of respective populations and key supporters in this. But the author also provides answers on how to counter toxic leaders in this timely, needed work.
Gerry Stern "Stern's Management Review Online" (Culver City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
HOW TOXIC LEADERS GAIN AND KEEP POWER, BUT CAN BE CHECKED., April 18, 2005
Toxic leaders leave their followers worse off than they found them. A few of the many other ways toxic leaders act are they: violate basic standards of human rights; feed followers illusions; stifle criticism; maliciously set constituents against one another.
The book shows how these leaders win people over by playing on their fears and self-esteem, only to ultimately use their power against their own followers. The book explores, in depth, how people are drawn into accepting, even embracing toxic leaders, and how these leaders retain power.
This is an enlightening probe into the psyche of people and how their culture, situation, deepest fears, and dysfunctional personalities, make them vulnerable to toxic leaders. The book also explores ways of dealing with these leaders: counsel them to change; undermine them; join with others to confront or overthrow them.
The book closes with a chapter on how to be freed of toxic leaders, by facing up to our anxiety and the accompanying pain, as well as by bringing nontoxic leaders to the fore. The author's insights apply to leaders of all kinds, political and business. This brief review does no justice to the breadth and depth of this work.
To read this book is to help become aware of, and armed against, toxic leaders of all types. Required reading for all who yearn and strive to live free of domineering, destructive leaders. Our highest recommendation.
The bestselling expert on>nasty behavior sets hissights on bad bosses
In the straightforward and popular style of Dr. Carter's previous three books (Nasty People, Nasty Men, and Nasty Women), Nasty Bosses provides no-nonsense insights into bad-tempered behavior, offering proven techniques for handling every harmful moment inflicted by snide superiors. > Combining humor with the know-how of a trained psychologist, Dr. Carter offers strategies for:
- Navigating around the "The Carrot Dangler"--the boss who motivates with the promise of a promotion but never delivers
- Discerning the deceptive "Two Face"--the supervisor who tells everyone a different story to try to please them all
- Coping with "The Crusader"--the chief who demands fanatical hard work and dedication from employees but "guilts" them, "misers" them, and demeans them
- Dealing with "The Chucky Boss"--when this boss is through using you, you get chucked in the "wasted" bin
- Contending with "The Noper"--the leader who rejects your ideas only to later implement them as his own
by Valerie Frankel (Author)
- Paperback: 226 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1ST edition (January 30, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0449908860
- From Library Journal
Hating your job is not uncommon; being fixated on hating your job is. Frankel and Tien (The Heartbreak Handbook, Fawcett, 1993) discuss the latter situation. Their format is humorous, mixing truth, scenarios, anecdotes, and personal revelations so that even if you don't find an answer to your misery, you can find some laughs and some insights. The authors discuss types of bosses, co-workers, whether to stay or go, and even some revenge tactics. Although not stated anywhere, the book is clearly targeted to female job haters; male job haters will have to wait for the sequel. At times the humor gets overbearing, and the book fails to explore the best choice of all for someone in career misery: networking. This is a good option for people wanting empathy, but for a serious remedy Don Asher's Foolproof Job Search (Ten Speed Pr., 1995) or Douglas B. Richardson's Networking (LJ 9/1/94) will be more useful.?Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. System, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When a boss from hell is the problem, Frankel and Tien provide quite a few solutions to laugh about as well as some commonsense advice. Much of the book presents lists, including 5 ways to tell if the job is a health hazard, 7 types of bosses, 5 kinds of political personalities, 10 job-search pointers, and so on. There are a few good legal tips here, too, including comments on sexual harassment and negotiating severance pay. Barbara Jacobs
Christopher S. Hyatt
An Interesting Book For Research Or Those In Denial, March 2, 2001
- Paperback: 112 pages
- Publisher: New Falcon Publications (November 10, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1561841226
- ISBN-13: 978-1561841226
This is an updated review for this book.
Reviewer: W. Koenigsmann "Wendy Koenigsmann" (Northern Hemisphere) - See all my reviews
If one is doing research on psychopathy, this book could be very interesting indeed.
I don't believe that psychopaths are to be revered or that we should emulate them (one is either a psychopath or is not anyway), but this book could serve as good fodder for those who are studying psychopathy.
I was not shocked by the statements made by the author, as I know many people exist who share his viewpoints.
The book is just basically an overview on the viewpoints of the psychopath. We are told what it's like to see through the psychopath's eyes. Psychopaths have no regard for others, they see death and destruction everywhere about them, human beings are too be mocked and used and then destroyed.
The only thing I cannot imagine, is, why a self-proclaimed psychopath would be putting his secrets out in the open for.
At any rate, good book for research, or just for those who are in denial that such people exist in our society.
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