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[Dec 16, 2012] Why We Love Sociopaths A Guide to Late Capitalist Television by Adam Kotsko

Google Books

My greatest regret that I am not at sociopath. I suspect I am not alone. I have written before that we live in the age of awkwardness but a strong case could be made that you believe in the age of the sociopath. They advantageous Intellivision for example and essentially every television genre. Cartoon shows have been fascinated we sociopathic fathers ( with varying degree of sanity) ever since the writeup of the Simpson realized that Homer was a better central character then Bart. Showing that cartoon children are capable of radical evil as well, Eric Cartman of South Park has been sprouting racial invective and I hatching evil plots for over a decade at this point. On the other end of the spectrum, flagships of high-brow cable drama have almost all been sociopaths of various stripes: them if you're the Tony soprano in the Sopranos is a seductive impostor non grata and madmen and it is a serial killer legal character of Dexter. In between want my name the various reality show contestants betraying each other in their attempt to avoid being "voted off the iceland"; Dr. House, who seeks an diagnosis with complete in difference and even hostility toward his patients' feelings; the womanizing character played by Charlie Sheen in the sitcom Two and a Half Men; Glenn close's evil, plotting lawyer in damages; zaniness about badass Jack Bauer who will stop at nothing to indicate sociopathic devotion to stopping terrorism in 24 -- and of course various sociopathic pursuers of profit, whether in business or in politics who populate the evening news.

On a certain level, this plan may not seem like anything new. It seems as though most cultures have lionized ruthless individuals who made their own rules, even if they ultimately feel constrained to punish them for their self-assertion as well. yet there is something new going on in this entertainment trend that go beyond the understandable desire to fantasize about living without restrictions of society. The fantasy sociopath is somehow outside social norms - largely bereft of human sympathy, for instance, and generally amoral -- any yet be simultaneously a master manipulator, who can instrumentilise the life social norms to get what he or she wants.

Dictate this social mastery that sets the contemporary fantasy sociopath apart from both the sociopath and the real-life sociopath.

While many of the characters named above are ruthless killers, they're generally not psychopathic or crazy in the sense of seeking destruction for its own sake, nor do they generally have some kind of uncontrollable compulsion to struggle with. Indeed, they are usually much more in control of their actions than normal "sane" person and much more capable of creating long-term plans with clear and achievable and goals.

This level of control also set them apart from clinical definition of sociopathy. I do not wish to delve into the DSM or any other authority in the field of psychology, where the usefulness of sociopathy is a diagnostic category is in any sense disputed. Yet as I understand it, real-life sociopath are pitiable creatures indeed. Often victim of severe abuse, they are bereft of any human connection, unable to tell truth from lies, champing and manipulative for a few minutes at most, but with no real ability to formulate meaningful goals. The contemporary fantasy off sociopathy picks and chooses from those characteristics, emphasizing the lack of moral intuition, human empathy, and emotional connection. Far from being the obstacles they would be in real life, these characteristics are what enable the fantasy sociopath to be his sole amazingly successful.

It's curious to think, that power would stem so directly from a lack of social connection. After all, we leave in their wallet where we are constantly exhorted to "network", to live by the maxim that "it's all about who you know". Yet the link between power and disconnection ... and pattern in recent entertainment sometimes displayed in their most cartoonish possible way. Take, for instance, Matt Damon character in various Bourne movies (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatus -- soon to be followed, as Damon has joked, by the Bourne redundancy). In the first film, Jason Bourne is fished out of the ocean with no idea of who he is. As the story unfolds, he finds that he is unexpectedly the master of everything he tries to do: from hand to hand combat, the stunt driving, to speaking apparently every language on earth.

His skills apply interpersonally as well, as very first woman he meets (Franka Polente) becomes his partner in crime and then lover.

The narrative explanation for Bourne superhero status is an elite CIA training program. Yet that training is directly tied Bourne's amnesia, as the program goal is to create the ultimate sleeper agents. The program culminates with the thorough brainwashing, after reach the agents don't remember they're agents until their programming is triggered by some signal. The life they CIA set up for their age and ease in true sociopathic style, only an act that can be left behind at any time.

What's more, a later film reveals that Bourne's trainers only regarded him as truly ready to work, what they had and used him to kill in cold blood someone he believed to be an innocent man. Lack of social ties, and ruthless amorality thus fit together seamlessly with virtual superpowers in this movie.

... ... ...

It is hard to believe, however, that the exploration of the dark side of the human psyche for its own sake is behind the appeal of these sociopathic characters. What, then, is going on in this trend? my hypothesis is that sociopath we watch on TV allow us to indulge in a kind of thought experiment, based on the question: "what if I really and truly did not give a fuck about anyone?" And the answer they provide? " Then I would be powerful and free."

Sociopathy as reverse awkwardness

At first glance, that TV sociopath appears to be nearly the opposite of the awkward character. I've previously defined awkwardness as they feeling of anxiety that I tempered my the validation of absence of a clear social norm. It would have been when someone commit a social faus pas, such as spelling a racist joke (what I've called "everyday awkwardness"), or it could occur in situations where there are no real social expectations to speak of -- for instance, in cross-cultural encounters where one cannot appeal to a third "meta- culture" to mediate the interaction (what I have called "racial awkwardness"). In both cases, we have thrown into a situation in which we don't know what to do. At the same time, however, this violation of lack of social norms doesn't simply dissolve the social bond. Instead, awkwardness is a p particularly powerful social experience, in which we feel the presence of others much more acutely -- and more than that, awkwardness spread, making even innocent bystanders feel somehow caught up in his awkward feeling. This raw feeling of social connection can be so anxiety producing, in fact, that there have been hypothesized that awkwardness comes first and social norms are an attempt to cope with it.

In contrast of the sociopath, then, those lack of social connection makes him or her a master manipulator of social norms, people caught up in awkwardness are rendered powerless by the intensity of their social connection. Thus we might say that at second glance, the TV sociopath is the exact opposite to an awkward character -- the correspondence is the perfect to ignore.

To understand why this connection might exist, I had like to look more closely at my distinction between violation and the lack of social norm. The distinction between these two situations is not hard and fast, because in many cases, it's not clear how react to the relation of social norm. Many social norms function is straightforward Commandments -- for example, "thou shalt not take cuts in a line" -- but fail to prescribe a punishment or designate an agent who is qualified to administer it. As a result, when someone does take cuts, there seems to be nothing anyone can do.

In fact, that person who does decide to confront the offender may well come out ducking like an asshole in the situation, because in many cultural settings there is a strong bias again unnecessary confrontation. The awkward person seats and fumes, or else confronts the cutter and quickly retreats. If we can define something like an everyday sociopath, it would be the person who is not only callous enough to take cuts in the first place, but is able to manipulate social expectations to shame the person who calls out the violation.

The transition to the fantasy of TV sociopathy comes when the awkward person shifts from "I hate that guy" to "I wish were that guy." In everyday settings, this shift is unlikely. Even if the line is unbearably long, most well-adjusted people would prefer not to disobey their ingrained social instincts and, if confronted with the queue-jumper, would consoles himself with the thought that at least they are not such inconsiderate people, etc. Similar patterns repeat themselves in other areas of life - a man may wish, for instance, that he where a suave seducer, but at the bottom he feels that the seducer is there really a douche bag. Even though envy is probably inevitable, a feeling of moral superiority is normally enough to stave off outright admiration of the everyday sociopath.

[Dec 16, 2012] Killing Mr. Griffin - Lois Duncan

Google Books

The term sociopath and psychopaths are often used interchangeably. We are talking about personality disorder that people are born with. Neither psychopath nor sociopaths are capable of feeling remorse or guilt. They appear to luck and conscience and have no regard for the rights or feelings of others. Those traits often surface by the age of 15.

One of the first signs is often cruelty to animals, and I use that in the chapter which has a reference to Mark thinking fire to a cat. So we've got terms for all with identical conditions, and the line between them is so vague even psychiatrists find himself arguing over which is which.

These are people like Charles Manson and Ted Bundy people who has absolutely no sense of guilt about what they did, performing horrible acts -- and yet they were just ask charming as they could be. They fit right with the society. My good friend. True crime author used to sit at the desk right next to Ted Bundy's and thought he was delightful. He'd even walk you out to her car to make sure she wasn't mugged. When she discovered she was a serial killer, she was stunned. It's a strange, fascinating and horrifying condition.

When you read about these people as doing atrocious things, we tend to forget that they were not always adults. They started out as children, as they grew up and they went to school with other children. So we can look around us today and figure that we are going to them probably in every school in the nation growing up right around the normal kids. They are developing in that situation and their practicing the skills that they will later use as monstrous adults. So I thought, why don't we see you what one of them might be like as a teenager?

[Dec 06, 2012] Chris Hedges: The Wall Street Cult of the Self and Ochberg: Coping With a Narcissist

As Ochberg implies, psychopaths don't have ethical considerations, and narcissists and asocial personalities don't care.

In layman's terms I think most of these fellows have a great hole in their being. They know that something is not right with them, but their egos will not allow them to acknowledge it.

Those who gravitate toward the corporate power structures can be quite successful in some organizations. But despite outward success they are always restless, unfulfilled, and tend to project their dissatisfaction outward and ascribe it to others. If they succeed it is all them, but if they fail, someone else is at fault.

They are incapable of trust, because everything they do is a facade, a lie. Therefore they rarely have a real relationship with their families, and at best view them as a desirable addition to their collection. They have utter contempt for other people, although they will use flattery and other means to create a dependency while they are using them. And after that is done, they will be discarded without another thought.

They are like sharks, endlessly seeking to fill their terrible emptiness with possessions, be they things or other people. They are literally insatiable in their needs, and highly focused in their pursuit of them.

They are very clever in finding the weaknesses in people and organizations, and will exploit them ruthlessly. Ethics and conscience provide no brake or boundaries on their willingness to say and do anything that is required to achieve their ends. If you attempt to thwart, be prepared for something a little different, and completely off the hook in response.

It is really something to see them at work. The destruction they can wreak, sometimes with remarkably superficial charm and high verbal acuity, is hard to describe until you see it in action.

They are always a challenge to the HR and compliance departments, and frequently end up badly, one way or the other. It becomes a personal challenge to see how far one can go without being stopped, far beyond any personal needs or requirements. Flouting the rules becomes a game in itself.

Posted by Jesse at 10:05 PM

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[Nov 22, 2012] Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers

See also Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers)
Oct 23, 2007 | Fast Company

So what hallmarks of incompetence have I learned to identify?

[Nov 10, 2012] CNN Profiles: The psychopath detector

Nov 9, 2012 | cnn

By Michael Schulder, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @Schuldercnn

(CNN) – Are you or is someone you know a psychopath?

Wait – let's reframe that question.

Do you or someone you know fall somewhere on the psychopathic spectrum?

You may not know for sure until you listen to this week's CNN Profile of Oxford University research psychologist Kevin Dutton.

Dutton is author of the new book "The Wisdom of Psychopaths."

As he explains in this interview, not all psychopaths are violent. In fact, there are many highly functioning psychopaths. One may even be your boss. And you can't judge if a person is a psychopath by simply looking at him, or even from a brief conversation.

Dutton maintains that many people have great success in highly skilled fields not in spite of but BECAUSE of certain psychopathic traits, including a British neurosurgeon he interviewed.

Dutton may have been destined to study psychopaths. His father was one. Not a violent psychopath. A charming one, as so many are. Wait until you hear Dutton describe how his father once conned a restaurant full of patrons.

After you listen to our interview with Professor Dutton – you can spend some time on a psychopathy questionnaire - a "quiz" short version or a sign in for a longer one. Neither will provide a diagnosis. But your psychopathy radar will be better than ever.

Dutton's wife of 13 years has had enough of his immersion in the world of psychopaths. You can hear how he plans to address her concerns on this edition of CNN Profiles.

Editor's Note: Listen to the complete interview in the SoundCloud player above.

[Nov 10, 2012] The Psychopath Makeover

And don't even get me started on Wall Street.
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Over a 28-year-old single-malt scotch at the Scientific Study of Psychopathy's biennial bash in Montreal in 2011, I asked Bob Hare, "When you look around you at modern-day society, do you think, in general, that we're becoming more psychopathic?"

The eminent criminal psychologist and creator of the widely used Psychopathy Checklist paused before answering. "I think, in general, yes, society is becoming more psychopathic," he said. "I mean, there's stuff going on nowadays that we wouldn't have seen 20, even 10 years ago. Kids are becoming anesthetized to normal sexual behavior by early exposure to pornography on the Internet. Rent-a-friend sites are getting more popular on the Web, because folks are either too busy or too techy to make real ones. ... The recent hike in female criminality is particularly revealing. And don't even get me started on Wall Street."

He's got a point. In Japan in 2011, a 17-year-old boy parted with one of his own kidneys so he could go out and buy an iPad. In China, following an incident in which a 2-year-old baby was left stranded in the middle of a marketplace and run over, not once but twice, as passersby went casually about their business, an appalled electorate has petitioned the government to pass a good-Samaritan law to prevent such a thing from happening again.

And the new millennium has seemingly ushered in a wave of corporate criminality like no other. Investment scams, conflicts of interest, lapses of judgment, and those evergreen entrepreneurial party tricks of good old fraud and embezzlement are now utterly unprecedented in magnitude. Who's to blame? In an issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, Clive R. Boddy, a former professor at the Nottingham Business School, contends that it's psychopaths, pure and simple, who are at the root of all the trouble.

The law itself has gotten in on the act. At the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trial, in Salt Lake City, the attorney representing Brian David Mitchell-the homeless street preacher and self-proclaimed prophet who abducted, raped, and kept the 14-year-old Elizabeth captive for nine months (according to Smart's testimony, he raped her pretty much every day over that period)-urged the sentencing judge to go easy on his client, on the grounds that "Ms. Smart overcame it. Survived it. Triumphed over it." When the lawyers start whipping up that kind of tune, the dance could wind up anywhere.

Of course, it's not just the lawyers. In a recent study by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, in London, 120 convicted street robbers were asked why they did it. The answers were revealing. Kicks. Spur-of-the-moment impulses. Status. And financial gain. In that order. Exactly the kind of casual, callous behavior patterns one often sees in psychopaths.

In fact, in a survey that has so far tested 14,000 volunteers, Sara Konrath and her team at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has found that college students' self-reported empathy levels (as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, a standardized questionnaire containing such items as "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me" and "I try to look at everybody's side of a disagreement before I make a decision") have been in steady decline over the past three decades-since the inauguration of the scale, in fact, back in 1979. A particularly pronounced slump has been observed over the past 10 years. "College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago," Konrath reports.

More worrisome still, according to Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, is that, during this same period, students' self-reported narcissism levels have shot through the roof. "Many people see the current group of college students, sometimes called 'Generation Me,' " Konrath continues, "as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident, and individualistic in recent history."

Precisely why this downturn in social values has come about is not entirely clear. A complex concatenation of environment, role models, and education is, as usual, under suspicion. But the beginnings of an even more fundamental answer may lie in a study conducted by Jeffrey Zacks and his team at the Dynamic Cognition Laboratory, at Washington University in St. Louis. With the aid of fMRI, Zacks and his co-authors peered deep inside the brains of volunteers as they read stories. What they found provided an intriguing insight into the way our brain constructs our sense of self. Changes in characters' locations (e.g., "went out of the house into the street") were associated with increased activity in regions of the temporal lobes involved in spatial orientation and perception, while changes in the objects that a character interacted with (e.g., "picked up a pencil") produced a similar increase in a region of the frontal lobes known to be important for controlling grasping motions. Most important, however, changes in a character's goal elicited increased activation in areas of the prefrontal cortex, damage to which results in impaired knowledge of the order and structure of planned, intentional action.

Imagining, it would seem, really does make it so. Whenever we read a story, our level of engagement is such that we "mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative," according to one of the researchers, Nicole Speer. Our brains then interweave these newly encountered situations with knowledge and experience gleaned from our own lives to create an organic mosaic of dynamic mental syntheses.

Reading a book carves brand-new neural pathways into the ancient cortical bedrock of our brains. It transforms the way we see the world-makes us, as Nicholas Carr puts it in his recent essay, "The Dreams of Readers," "more alert to the inner lives of others." We become vampires without being bitten-in other words, more empathic. Books make us see in a way that casual immersion in the Internet, and the quicksilver virtual world it offers, doesn't.

Which is worrisome, to say the least, given the current slump in reading habits. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the British charity the National Literacy Trust, one in three children between the ages of 11 and 16 do not own a book, compared with one in 10 in 2005. That equates, in today's England, to a total of around four million. Almost a fifth of the 18,000 children polled said they had never received a book as a present. And 12 percent said they had never been to a bookshop.

But if society really is becoming more psychopathic, it's not all doom and gloom. In the right context, certain psychopathic characteristics can actually be very constructive. A neurosurgeon I spoke with (who rated high on the psychopathic spectrum) described the mind-set he enters before taking on a difficult operation as "an intoxication that sharpens rather than dulls the senses." In fact, in any kind of crisis, the most effective individuals are often those who stay calm-who are able to respond to the exigencies of the moment while at the same time maintaining the requisite degree of detachment. Individuals like my old friend Andy McNab.

McNab was arguably the most famous British soldier to have served in Her Majesty's Armed Forces until Prince Harry hung up his polo mallet at Eton. During the first Gulf War, Andy commanded Bravo Two Zero, an eight-man Special Forces patrol that was assigned the task of gathering intelligence on underground communication links between Baghdad and northwest Iraq, and tracking and destroying Scud missile launchers along the Iraqi main supply route in the area.

But soon the boys had other fish to fry. A couple of days after insertion, the patrol was compromised by a goatherd. And, in time-honored fashion, they beat it: 185 miles, across the desert, toward the Syrian border.

Only one of them made it. Three were killed, and the other four, including Andy, were picked up at various points along the way by the Iraqis. Suffice it to say that none of their captors were ever going to have their own talk shows ... or make their mark in the annals of cosmetic surgery. It's generally accepted that there are better ways of putting a person at ease than by stubbing your cigarette out on his neck. And better ways of breaking and remodeling their jawline than with the sun-baked butt of an AK-47. Thanks to more-advanced techniques back home in Britain, Andy's mouth now packs more porcelain than all the bathrooms in Buckingham Palace put together. He should know. In 1991 he went there to collect the Distinguished Service Medal from the queen.

Such mental toughness isn't the only characteristic that Special Forces soldiers have in common with psychopaths. There's also fearlessness. A couple of years ago, on a beautiful spring morning 12,000 feet above Sydney's Bondi Beach, I performed my first free-fall sky dive. The night before, somewhat the worse for wear in one of the city's waterfront bars, I texted Andy for some last-minute advice.

"Keep your eyes open. And your arse shut," came the reply.

I did. Just. But performing the same feat at night, in the theater of war, over a raging ocean from twice the altitude and carrying 200 pounds of equipment, is a completely different ballgame. And if that's not enough, "We used to have a laugh," Andy recalls. "Mess about. You know, we'd throw the equipment out ahead of us and see if we could catch up with it. Or on the way down, we'd grab each other from behind in a bear hug and play chicken-see who'd be the first to peel off and pull the cord. It was all good fun."

Er, right. If you say so, Andy. But what wasn't much fun was the killing. I ask Andy whether he ever felt any regret over anything he'd done. Over the lives he'd taken on his numerous secret missions around the world.

"No," he replies matter-of-factly, his arctic-blue eyes showing not the slightest trace of emotion. "You seriously don't think twice about it. When you're in a hostile situation, the primary objective is to pull the trigger before the other guy pulls the trigger. And when you pull it, you move on. Simple as that. Why stand there, dwelling on what you've done? Go down that route and chances are the last thing that goes through your head will be a bullet from an M16.

"The regiment's motto is 'Who Dares Wins.' But sometimes it can be shortened to 'F--- It.' "

Andy's on a weeklong spree in the desert, roaring around Nevada on a Harley V-Rod Muscle, when I call.

"No helmets!" he booms.

"Hey, Andy," I say. "You up for a little challenge when you get back?"

"Course!" he yells. "What is it?"

"How about you and me go head-to-head in a test of cool in the lab? And I come out on top?"

Manic laughter.

"Love it," he says. "You're on! How the hell do you think you're going to pull that off?"

I hang up. What I'm planning is a psychopath makeover, to find out firsthand, for better and for worse, what it's like to see the world through devil-may-care eyes. And there's nothing like a bit of competition.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (or TMS) was developed by Anthony Barker and his colleagues at the University of Sheffield in 1985. The inaugural application of TMS by Barker and his team comprised an elementary demonstration of the conduction of nerve impulses from the motor cortex to the spinal cord by stimulating simple muscle contractions. Nowadays it's a different story-and TMS has widespread practical uses, in both diagnostic and therapeutic capacities, across a variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions, from depression and migraine to strokes and Parkinson's disease.

The basic premise of TMS is that the brain operates using electrical signals, and that, as with any such system, it's possible to modify the way it works by altering its electrical environment. Standard equipment consists of a powerful electromagnet, placed on the scalp, that generates steady magnetic-field pulses at specific frequencies, and a plastic-enclosed coil to focus those magnetic pulses down through the surface of the skull onto discrete brain regions, thus stimulating the underlying cortex.

Now, one of the things that we know about psychopaths is that the light switches of their brains aren't wired up in quite the same way as the rest of ours are-and that one area particularly affected is the amygdala, a peanut-size structure located right at the center of the circuit board. The amygdala is the brain's emotion-control tower. It polices our emotional airspace and is responsible for the way we feel about things. But in psychopaths, a section of this airspace, the part that corresponds to fear, is empty.

In the light-switch analogy, TMS may be thought of as a dimmer switch. As we process information, our brains generate small electrical signals. These signals not only pass through our nerves to work our muscles but also meander deep within our brains as ephemeral electrical data shoals, creating our thoughts, memories, and feelings. TMS can alter the strength of those signals. By passing an electromagnetic current through precisely targeted areas of the cortex, we can turn the signals either up or down.

Turn down the signals to the amygdala, of course, and you're well on the way to giving someone a psychopath makeover. Indeed, Liane Young and her team in Boston have since kicked things up a notch and demonstrated that applying TMS to the right temporoparietal junction-a neural ZIP code within that neighborhood-has significant effects not just on lying ability but also on moral-reasoning ability: in particular, ascribing intentionality to others' actions.

Andy rocks up to the Centre for Brain Science at the University of Essex one bitterly cold December morning, and we're met at the door by the man who, for the next couple of hours or so, is going to be our tormentor. Nick Cooper, one of the world's leading exponents of TMS, ushers us into the lab, shows us over to two high-backed leather chairs, and straps us in. He wires us up to heart-rate monitors, EEG recording equipment, and galvanic-skin-response (GSR) measures, which assess stress levels as a function of electrodermal activity. By the time he's finished, the pair of us look like we're trapped inside a giant telecom junction box. The gel for the electrodes feels cold against my scalp.

Directly in front of us, about 10 feet away on the wall, is a large video screen. Nick flips a switch, which makes it crackle to life. Then he goes into white-coat mode. Ambient music wafts around the room. A silky, twilit lake ripples in front of our eyes.

"Bloody hell," says Andy. "It's like an ad for incontinence pads!"

"OK," says Nick. "Listen up. Right now, on the screen in front of you, you can see a tranquil, restful scene, which is presently being accompanied by quiet, relaxing music. This is to establish baseline physiological readings from which we can measure subsequent arousal levels.

"But at an undisclosed moment sometime within the next 60 seconds, the image you see at the present time will change, and images of a different nature will appear on the screen. These images will be violent. And nauseating. And of a graphic and disturbing nature.

"As you view these images, changes in your heart rate, skin conductance, and EEG activity will be monitored and compared with the resting levels that are currently being recorded. Any questions?"

Andy and I shake our heads.


We nod.

"OK," says Nick. "Let's get the show on the road."

He disappears behind us, leaving Andy and me merrily soaking up the incontinence ad. Results reveal later that, at this point, as we wait for something to happen, our physiological output readings are actually pretty similar. Our pulse rates are significantly higher than our normal resting levels, in anticipation of what's to come.

But with the change of scene, an override switch flips somewhere in Andy's brain. And the ice-cold Special Forces soldier suddenly swings into action. As vivid, florid images of dismemberment, mutilation, torture, and execution flash up on the screen in front of us (so vivid, in fact, that Andy later confesses to actually being able to "smell" the blood: a "kind of sickly-sweet smell that you never, ever forget"), accompanied not by the ambient spa music of before but by blaring sirens and hissing white noise, his physiological readings start slipping into reverse. His pulse rate begins to slow. His GSR begins to drop, his EEG to quickly and dramatically attenuate. In fact, by the time the show is over, all three of Andy's physiological output measures are pooling below his baseline.

Nick has seen nothing like it. "It's almost as if he was gearing himself up for the challenge," he says. "And then, when the challenge eventually presented itself, his brain suddenly responded by injecting liquid nitrogen into his veins. Suddenly implemented a blanket neural cull of all surplus feral emotion. Suddenly locked down into a hypnotically deep code red of extreme and ruthless focus."

He shakes his head, nonplused. "If I hadn't recorded those readings myself, I'm not sure I would have believed them," he continues. "OK, I've never tested Special Forces before. And maybe you'd expect a slight attenuation in response. But this guy was in total and utter control of the situation. So tuned in, it looked like he'd completely tuned out."

My physiological output readings, in contrast, went through the roof. Exactly like Andy's, they were well above baseline as I'd waited for the carnage to commence. But that's where the similarity ended. Rather than go down in the heat of battle, in the midst of the blood and guts, mine had appreciated exponentially.

"At least it shows that the equipment is working properly," comments Nick. "And that you're a normal human being."

We look across at Andy, who's chatting up a bunch of Nick's Ph.D. students over by a bank of monitors. God knows what they make of him. They've just analyzed his data, and the electrode gel has done such a number on his hair that he looks like Don King in a wind tunnel.

All done, Andy is off to a luxury hotel in the country, where I'll be joining him later for a debrief. But that's only after I've run the gantlet again, in Phase II of the experiment. In which, with the aid of a psychopath makeover, I'll have another go at the experiment, only this time with a completely different head on-thanks to a dose of TMS.

"The effects of the treatment should wear off within half an hour," Nick says, steering me over to a specially calibrated dentist's chair, complete with headrest, chin rest, and face straps. "Think of TMS as an electromagnetic comb, and brain cells-neurons-as hairs. All TMS does is comb those hairs in a particular direction, creating a temporary neural hairstyle. Which, like any new hairstyle, if you don't maintain it, quickly goes back to normal of its own accord."

Nick sits me down in the sinister-looking chair and pats me, a little too reassuringly for my liking, on the shoulder. By the time he's finished strapping and bolting me in, I look like Hannibal Lecter at LensCrafters. He positions the TMS coils, which resemble the handle part of a giant pair of scissors, over the middle section of my skull, and turns on the machine.

Instantly it feels as if there's a geeky homunculus miner buried deep inside my head, tapping away with a rock hammer.

"That's the electromagnetic induction passing down your trigeminal nerve," Nick explains. "It's one of the nerves responsible for sensation in the face, and for certain motor functions like biting, chewing, and swallowing. You can probably feel it going through your back teeth, right?"

I nod.

"What I'm actually trying to find," he continues, "is the specific part of your motor cortex responsible for the movement of the little finger of your right hand. Once we've pinpointed that, I can then use it as a kind of base camp, if you like, from which to plot the coordinates of the brain regions we're really interested in: your amygdala and your moral-reasoning area."

"Well, you'd better get on with it," I mutter. "Because much more of this, and I'm going to end up strangling you."

Nick smiles. "Blimey," he says. "It must be working already."

Sure enough, after about 20 seconds, I feel an involuntary twitch exactly where Nick has predicted. Weak, at first. Then gradually getting stronger. Pretty soon my right pinkie is really ripping it up. It's not the most comfortable feeling in the world-sitting strapped in a chair, in a dimly lit chamber, knowing that you don't have any control over the actions your body is performing. It's creepy. Demeaning. Disorienting ... and kind of puts a downer on the whole free-will thing. My only hope is that Nick isn't in the mood to start clowning around. With the piece of gear he's waving about, he could have me doing cartwheels round the lab.

"OK," he says. "We now know the location of the areas we need to target. So let's get started."

My little finger stops moving as he repositions his spooky neurological wand in the force field above my head. It's then just a matter of sitting there for a while as my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and right temporoparietal junction get an electromagnetic comb-over.

TMS can't penetrate far enough into the brain to reach the emotion and moral-reasoning precincts directly. But by damping down or turning up the regions of the cerebral cortex that have links with such areas, it can simulate the effects of deeper, more incursive influence.

It isn't long before I start to notice a fuzzier, more pervasive, more existential difference. Before the experiment, I'd been curious about the time scale: how long it would take me to begin to feel the rush. Now I had the answer: about 10 to 15 minutes. The same amount of time, I guess, that it would take most people to get a buzz out of a beer or a glass of wine.

The effects aren't entirely dissimilar. An easy, airy confidence. A transcendental loosening of inhibition. The inchoate stirrings of a subjective moral swagger: the encroaching, and somehow strangely spiritual, realization that hell, who gives a s---, anyway?

There is, however, one notable exception. One glaring, unmistakable difference between this and the effects of alcohol. That's the lack of attendant sluggishness. The enhancement of attentional acuity and sharpness. An insuperable feeling of heightened, polished awareness. Sure, my conscience certainly feels like it's on ice, and my anxieties drowned with a half-dozen shots of transcranial magnetic Jack Daniel's. But, at the same time, my whole way of being feels as if it's been sumptuously spring-cleaned with light. My soul, or whatever you want to call it, immersed in a spiritual dishwasher.

So this, I think to myself, is how it feels to be a psychopath. To cruise through life knowing that no matter what you say or do, guilt, remorse, shame, pity, fear-all those familiar, everyday warning signals that might normally light up on your psychological dashboard-no longer trouble you.

I suddenly get a flash of insight. We talk about gender. We talk about class. We talk about color. And intelligence. And creed. But the most fundamental difference between one individual and another must surely be that of the presence, or absence, of conscience. Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels good. But what if it's as tough as old boots? What if one's conscience has an infinite, unlimited pain threshold and doesn't bat an eye when others are screaming in agony?

Back in the chair, wired up to the counters and bleepers, I sit through the horror show again: the images modified, so as to avoid habituation. This time, however, it's a different story. "I know the guy before me found these images nauseating," I hear myself saying. "But actually, to be honest, this time round I'm finding it hard to suppress a smile."

The lines and squiggles corroborate my confession. Whereas previously, such was my level of arousal that it was pretty much a minor miracle that the state-of-the-art EEG printer hadn't blown up and burst into flames, my brain activity after the psychopath makeover is significantly reduced. Perhaps not quite as genteelly undulating as Andy's. But getting there, certainly. It's a similar story when it comes to heart rate and skin conductance. In fact, in the case of the latter, I actually eclipse Andy's reading.

"Does that mean it's official?" I ask Nick, as we scrutinize the figures. "Can I legitimately claim to be cooler than Andy McNab?"

He shrugs. "I suppose," he says. "For now, anyway. But you'd better make the most of it while you can. You've got a quarter of an hour. Max."

I shake my head. Already I sense the magic wearing off. The electromagnetic sorcery starting to wane. I feel, for instance, considerably more married than I did a bit earlier-and considerably less inclined to go up to Nick's research assistant and ask her out for a drink. Instead I go with Nick-to the student bar-and bury my previous best on the Gran Turismo car-racing video game. I floor it all the way round. But so what-it's only a game, isn't it?

"I wouldn't want to be with you in a real car at the moment," says Nick. "You're definitely still a bit ballsy."

I feel great. Not quite as good as before, perhaps, when we were in the lab. Not quite as ... I don't know ... impregnable. But up there, for sure. Life seems full of possibility, my psychological horizons much broader. Why shouldn't I piss off to Glasgow this weekend for my buddy's stag party, instead of dragging myself over to Dublin to help my wife put her mother in a nursing home? I mean, what's the worst that can happen? This time next year, this time next week even, it would all be forgotten. Who Dares Wins, right?

I take a couple of quid from the table next to ours-left as a tip, but who's going to know?-and try my luck on another couple of machines. I get to $100,000 on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" but crash and burn because I refuse to go 50-50. Soon things start to change. Gran Turismo the second time round is a disappointment. I'm suddenly more cautious, and finish way down the field. Not only that, I notice a security camera in the corner and think about the tip I've just pocketed. To be on the safe side, I decide to pay it back.

I smile and swig my beer. Psychopaths. They never stick around for long. As soon as the party's over, they're moving on to the next one, with scant regard for the future and even less for the past. And this psychopath-the one, I guess, that was me for 20 minutes-was no exception. He'd had his fun. And got a free drink out of it. But now that the experiment was history, he was suddenly on his way, hitting the road and heading out of town. Hopefully quite some distance away.

I certainly didn't want him showing up in the hotel bar later, where I was meeting Andy. They'd either get on great. Or wouldn't get on at all.

To be honest, I didn't know which would be scarier.

Kevin Dutton is a research psychologist at the University of Cambridge. This essay is excerpted from The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, his new book from Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

[Oct 02, 2012] Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert Hercz

Hare estimates that 1 percent of the population -- 300,000 people in Canada -- are psychopaths.

He calls them "subclinical" psychopaths. They're the charming predators who, unable to form real emotional bonds, find and use vulnerable women for sex and money (and inevitably abandon them). They're the con men like Christophe Rocancourt, and they're the stockbrokers and promoters who caused Forbes magazine to call the Vancouver Stock Exchange (now part of the Canadian Venture Exchange) the scam capital of the world. (Hare has said that if he couldn't study psychopaths in prisons, the Vancouver Stock Exchange would have been his second choice.)

... They're your neighbour, your boss, and your blind date. Because they have no conscience, they're natural predators. If you didn't have a conscience, you'd be one too.

Psychopaths love chaos and hate rules, so they're comfortable in the fast-moving modern corporation. Dr. Paul Babiak, an industrial-organizational psychologist based near New York City, is in the process of writing a book with Bob Hare called When Psychopaths Go to Work: Cons, Bullies and the Puppetmaster. The subtitle refers to the three broad classes of psychopaths Babiak has encountered in the workplace.

"The con man works one-on-one," says Babiak. "They'll go after a woman, marry her, take her money, then move on and marry someone else. The puppet master would manipulate somebody to get at someone else. This type is more powerful because they're hidden." Babiak says psychopaths have three motivations: thrill-seeking, the pathological desire to win, and the inclination to hurt people. "They'll jump on any opportunity that allows them to do those things," he says. "If something better comes along, they'll drop you and move on."

How can you tell if your boss is a psychopath? It's not easy, says Babiak. "They have traits similar to ideal leaders. You would expect an ideal leader to be narcissistic, self-centred, dominant, very assertive, maybe to the point of being aggressive. Those things can easily be mistaken for the aggression and bullying that a psychopath would demonstrate. The ability to get people to follow you is a leadership trait, but being charismatic to the point of manipulating people is a psychopathic trait. They can sometimes be confused."

Once inside a company, psychopaths can be hard to excise. Babiak tells of a salesperson and psychopath -- call him John -- who was performing badly but not suffering for it. John was managing his boss -- flattering him, taking him out for drinks, flying to his side when he was in trouble. In return, his boss covered for him by hiding John's poor performance. The arrangement lasted until John's boss was moved. When his replacement called John to task for his abysmal sales numbers, John was a step ahead.

He'd already gone to the company president with a set of facts he used to argue that his new boss, and not he, should be fired. But he made a crucial mistake. "It was actually stolen data," Babiak says. "The only way [John] could have obtained it would be for him to have gone into a file into which no one was supposed to go. That seemed to be enough, and he was fired rather than the boss. Even so, in the end, he walked out with a company car, a bag of money, and a good reference."

"A lot of white-collar criminals are psychopaths," says Bob Hare. "But they flourish because the characteristics that define the disorder are actually valued. When they get caught, what happens? A slap on the wrist, a six-month ban from trading, and don't give us the $100 million back. I've always looked at white-collar crime as being as bad or worse than some of the physically violent crimes that are committed."

The best way to protect the workplace is not to hire psychopaths in the first place. That means training interviewers so they're less likely to be manipulated and conned. It means checking resumщs for lies and distortions, and it means following up references.

Paul Babiak says he's "not comfortable" with one researcher's estimate that one in ten executives is a psychopath, but he has noticed that they are attracted to positions of power. When he describes employees such as John to other executives, they know exactly whom he's talking about. "I was talking to a group of human-resources executives yesterday," says Babiak, "and every one of them said, you know, I think I've got somebody like that."

By now, you're probably thinking the same thing. The number of psychopaths in society is about the same as the number of schizophrenics, but unlike schizophrenics, psychopaths aren't loners. That means most of us have met or will meet one. Hare gets dozens of letters and e-mail messages every month from people who say they recognize someone they know while reading Without Conscience. They go on to describe a brother, a sister, a husband. " 'Please help my seventeen-year-old son. . . .' " Hare reads aloud from one such missive. "It's a heart-rending letter, but what can I do? I'm not a clinician. I have hundreds of these things, and some of them are thirty or forty pages long."

Hare's book opened my eyes, too. Reading it, I realized that I might have known a psychopath, Jonathan, at the computer company where I worked in London, England, over twenty years ago. He was charming and confident, and from the moment he arrived he was on excellent terms with the executive inner circle. Jonathan had big plans and promised me that I was a big part of them. One night when I was alone in the office, Jonathan appeared, accompanied by what anyone should have recognized as two prostitutes. "These are two high-ranking staff from the Ministry of Defence," he said without missing a beat. "We're going over the details of a contract, which I'm afraid is classified top secret. You'll have to leave the building." His voice and eyes were absolutely persuasive and I complied. A few weeks later Jonathan was arrested. He had embezzled tens of thousands of pounds from the small firm, used the company as a mailing address for a marijuana importing business he was running on the side, and robbed the apartment of the company's owner, who was letting him stay there temporarily.

[Jun 20, 2012] Psychopathic personality in young people

Three factor structure for psychopathy....

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by a constellation of interpersonal, affective and behavioural characteristics (Hare, 1998). The early literature suggested that it was a uni-dimensional phenomenon, but subsequent studies revealed that measures of psychopathy had at least a two-factor structure, comprising an interpersonal/affective element (factor 1) and a social deviance component (factor 2). More recently, a three-factor structure has been proposed (Cooke & Michie, 2001), which includes:

Conduct disorder, antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy are often seen as developmental disorders that span the life course and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. There are, however, significant differences between them and their associated correlates. Whereas conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder primarily focus on behavioural problems, psychopathy, as described by Hare (1991), emphasises deficits in affective and interpersonal functioning. Psychopathy is seen as a higher-order construct, which can now be reliably be assessed in adults using the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL–R; Hare, 1991). A score of >30 on the PCL–R indicates prototypical psychopathy.

The estimated prevalence of adult psychopathy in the general population is 1%, rising to between 15% and 25% in incarcerated groups. The notion that individuals identified as PCL–R 'psychopaths' are different from people with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder comes from research showing that there are high rates (50–80%) of antisocial personality disorder in prison populations, but only 20% of these meet Hare's criteria for psychopathy (Hare, 1998).

Item content of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (afterForthet al,2004)
  1. Impression management Conforms with notions of social desirability, presents him- or herself in a good light, is superficially charming
  2. Grandiose sense of self-worth Is dominating, opinionated, has an inflated view of own ability
  3. Stimulation-seeking Needs novelty, excitement, is prone to boredom and risk-taking behaviours
  4. Pathological lying Exhibits pervasive lying, lies readily, easily and obviously
  5. Manipulation for personal gain Is deceitful, manipulates, engages in dishonest or fraudulent schemes that can result in criminal activity
  6. Lack of remorse Has no guilt, lacks concern about the impact of his or her actions on others; justifies and rationalise their abuse of others
  7. Shallow affect Has only superficial bonds with others, feigns emotion
  8. Callous or lacking empathy Has a profound lack of empathy, views others as objects, has no appreciation of the needs or feelings of others
  9. Parasitic orientation Exploits others, lives at the expense of friends and family, gets others to do his or her schoolwork using threats
  10. Poor anger control Is hotheaded, easily offended and reacts aggressively, is easily provoked to violence
  11. Impersonal sexual behaviour Has multiple casual sexual encounters, indiscriminate sexual relationships, uses coercion and threats
  12. Early behavioural problems Lying, thieving, fire-setting before 10 years of age
  13. Lacks goals Has no interest or understanding of the need for education, lives day-to-day, has unrealistic aspirations for the future
  14. Impulsivity Acts out frequently, quits school, leaves home on a whim, acts on the spur of the moment, never considers the consequences of impulsive acts
  15. Irresponsibility Habitually fails to honour obligations or debts, shows reckless behaviour in a variety of settings, including school and home
  16. Failure to accept responsibility Blames other for his or her problems, claims that he or she was 'set up', is unable and unwilling to accept personal responsibility for their actions
  17. Unstable interpersonal relationships Has turbulent extrafamilial relationships, lacks commitment and loyalty
  18. Serious criminal behaviour Has multiple charges of convictions for criminal activity
  19. Serious violations of conditional release Has two or more escapes from security or breaches of probation
  20. Criminal versatility Engages in at least six different categories of offending behaviour

... ... ...

At present, there is no general agreement on whether or not psychopathy exists in childhood and adolescence. A consensus is likely to be reached only when we have longitudinal studies demonstrating the stability of psychopathic traits over the lifespan and evidence that the same aetiological factors contribute to this disorder at all ages. As there is significant overlap between the behavioural aspects of juvenile psychopathy and ADHD and between the callous-unemotional dimension of psychopathy and autistic-spectrum disorders, future work needs to disentangle these constructs from a phenomenological and aetiological perspective.

As yet, there are few treatment outcome studies in juveniles with psychopathic traits, although the limited data suggest that these traits might be a moderator of outcome. Most clinicians view youth psychopathy as a potentially treatable disorder, and there is some evidence that identification of psychopathic traits in young people has a number of benefits, which include:

[Jun 20, 2012] How to recognize a child's psychopath?

Slightly edited Google translation. See also Psychopathic personality in young people - Advances in … Might be useful in deciphering your boss stories about his childhood ;-)
Psychopathy in children - a condition more common than people think.

Signs of impending disaster can be seen as early as age three. They can be expressed in a child's inability to empathize when others are suffering, in the absence of remorse for bad behavior, but the most disturbing - is cruelty to children or other animals.

Many parents who have witnessed abuse by their children, feel the chill in his stomach. Most moms and dads want their offspring were attentive and kind, if not all the time, at least most of it. Typically, a flash of rage subsides child in five minutes, and a furious tiger turns into a nice home a kitten. But some parents treacherous cold in the stomach and does not leave a proverbial five minutes. He only transformed into a gnawing, nagging belief that all is not as it should.

The problem may manifest itself in the child's inability to experience empathy when others suffer. This may be a lack of remorse for bad behavior. The most alarming cases - a manifestation of cruelty to children or other animals.

One day the parents are asking: Can my child - a psychopath? The answer, experts say, may well be positive. Today, most psychologists believed that the first signs of psychopathy can be seen when the child reaches the age of three.

Stephen Scott, professor of child health and behavior based on the Institute of Psychiatry, London Maudsley Hospital, is engaged in identifying problems in children aged from three to eight years. Among those who demonstrate antisocial behavior, it easily identifies children who have supplemented it heartlessness and unemotionally, characteristic of adult psychopaths, and directs them to the specialists of "Gentle Care With Love" (Tender Loving Care, TLC).
Experts TLC every year deal with hundreds of children referred to them on the advice of psychiatrists, pediatricians, social workers, teachers and psychologists. Parents can bring children themselves, without the direction of a specialist if they have concerns about his mental state.

To put a child into the category "callous and detached" may be difficult, admits Scott. As a rule, children have time to be excluded from school for the disgusting behavior before on clarifying the causes of professionals start working. Most children are diagnosed after a series of quality tests, extensive interviews, interviews with the little bully and his parents and his class teacher.
At the same time, the professor, many children, and adults can naturally not be too emotional, without being psychotic. For example, autistics can not put yourself in another's place and corny do not understand when a person is bad, or hurt, while the true psychopath aware of this report, but it just do not care about the feelings of others.

"One little girl put her five-year window of the cat, darling of the family, and then threw her down on the concrete - just for fun. This is a very bad sign. This behavior is characteristic of psychopaths than simple fighting with brothers and sisters - said Professor Paul Frick, dealing with the problems of child psychopathology over the past two decades. - Most of the time we do not pay attention to how children behave at home with each other. However, children that we do not just bad behavior in the family - they intentionally harm people by behaving coldly and calculatingly in any situation. "

A psychopath is not necessarily always be dispassionate - and they can see the flash of anger, but their anger is different from the momentary rage inherent in the other children. One little boy, whom experts involved in the project TLC, pushed his mother down the stairs and said that he had de love it when people hurt. "We just do not want to stigmatize these children psychopaths, but we would say that this child has certain features which, if not elimination of their work will lead to psychopathy," - said Scott.

My parents bought another difficult child stained glass for 300 pounds. A few days later a 12-year-old boy, looking at my father and mother, went to the window - and turned it into a stained glass pieces. The anger has nothing to do with it: the action was clearly intentional, explains the professor. "The brain is a site that will handle the fear - the amygdala. For some children it does not work at full strength, with the resul that they like to take risks. They like to have fun, but the punishment they forget" - says Scott.

Here are the main symptoms, noting that parents should be wary. A child with psychopathic traits:

- Constantly fighting with others, corrupts or steals their belongings;
- Violates parental prohibitions - running away from home or returning late at night;
- Does not feel guilt for his obviously bad things;
- Demonstrates a disregard for the feelings of others: for example, pushes another child with a swing, not paying attention to his cries;
- Do not worry about their performance;
- It seems a cold, showing emotion only when he wants to scare anybody, or to subordinate his own will;
- Blames others for his mistakes, not taking responsibility for themselves;
- Afraid of nothing and consciously takes a risk;
- Does not respond to the threat of punishment;
- Above all, puts his own pleasure, even if it brings pain to others (for example, steals his favorite thing).

Risk children usually do not look into the eyes of parents, but if you force them to do so, they better understand the feelings of mothers and fathers. How to achieve this understanding, experts explain TLC: "Ask your child to look you in the eye and say:" I am very glad that you did it "when a child commits a good deed, to connect the emotional component of the interaction and strengthen the activities of the cerebellar tonsils."

Professor Scott suggests need to give children an idea of the possible consequences of their actions. Kids are smart enough to realize it. You can, for example, say: "If you did not listen, then go to my room," the main thing - be sure to bring your promise into action. Talking it should be very calm tone. No one says that it is simple: children psychopaths need more praise and rewards for good behavior.

In addition, parents should try to win the respect of their offspring, and for this they need to be consistent and not let the words in the wind. For example, once a child starts behaving very badly, you need to explain to him that his behavior will inevitably be followed by your response, and turn away. Once the child calms down, you can continue the dialogue with the place where you left off, while making sure that your tone was calm. Reward your child's attention for his good behavior - and be patient.

[Apr 29, 2012] Catalyst Corporate Psychopaths - ABC TV Science

Is your boss manipulative? Intimidating? Totally lacking in remorse? Yet superficially charming? Then you could be working with a workplace psychopath. The latest figures suggest one in ten managers are psychopaths, and this week Catalyst goes deep inside their minds - what makes them tick, how do you spot them; and how do you avoid being crushed by them. We'll also run a handy test – tune in to find out if your boss is an office psychopath.


Narration: It begins as a phone call - and then a meeting - usually late at night.

A corporation has a problem and they need Dr John Clarke's help. They need a psychopath- buster.

Dr John Clarke: The common misconception with psychopaths is that they're all violent extreme kind of criminals. The majority of them are living and working around us in jobs psychologically destroying the people that they work with.

Narration: There's a growing realisation psychopaths are thriving in today's workplace. According to the textbooks, every large company has them.

Jonica Newby, reporter: This is where I work. It's the ABC building in Sydney. Now the figures are that 0.5% of women are psychopaths, and 2% are men. So that means there are up to 25 corporate psychopaths somewhere up there.

Narration: But who are they? What makes them tick? And how do you avoid being the next victim of the workplace psychopath.

Psychologist John Clarke started out profiling criminal psychopaths, but four years ago, he began to realise there was a much bigger problem.

Dr John Clarke: I was giving a lecture on criminal psychopaths and someone came down after that lecture and said that their boss had the same characteristics as what I'd just described for a criminal one.

Narration: "Annette" knows just what he's talking about. Like most victims we contacted, she would only tell her story anonymously.

She was a confident, career minded public servant when she first met her new boss.

Annette: I got a shock when he took me into his office and shut the door - he just exploded. It was sort of like well what do we want you for.
And then when he let me out again it was all smiles.

Dr John Clarke: There are 20 characteristics to define a psychopath. Really the fundamental factor is an absolute lack of remorse or guilt for their behaviour, pathological lying, manipulative, callous, egotistical, very kind of self centred individual, glib and superficial charm

Narration: The workplace psychopath's textbook strategies feature in a new David Williamson play, Operator.

Psychopath: Francine. They tell me that you're the person who really runs things here, so I thought I'd better say hello as quickly as possible.

Francine: Now you're just trying to flatter me.

Psychopath: Not at all. Three different people have told me that with your capabilities you could step straight out of a support role into top management.

David Williamson: They are so devious. They're so good at saying things you want to hear to your face at the same time they're knifing you in the back.

Psychopath: Could you do me a big favour?

Francine: What?

Psychopath: Write me an email that sort of recounts what happened here today.

Francine: I don't like putting things in writing.

Psychopath: I won't ever show it to anyone without getting your permission first. I know I shouldn't be showing it to you ...

Dr John Clarke: They steal other people's work. They spread rumours about people, character assassination. A range of different strategies they will use to move up through the company.

David Williamson: They are worrying. I mean, if you strike one you may not realise it for quite a while until they do some devious act that stabs you in the back and can quite psychologically crush you.

Narration: Annette's boss was typical - charming his superiors and acolytes, while isolating and undermining his victims.

Annette: I wasn't allowed to have a phone when I was working, you know, my phone calls were monitored just this constant wearing down and harassment and you know, it was just awful.

Narration: By the time she complained, she'd been so discredited behind her back, no one would support her.

Annette: They didn't believe me. They're going, "He's such a funny guy, he's so nice"

In the end I had to go in and, and see him. And I was just crying my eyes out and I was just tears running down my face. And he walked me out through the chairs, through the desks, out through the long way through the office in case anyone had missed the spectacle of me just breaking down. I was devastated. I was just broken.

Narration: But how can someone act in such a seemingly inhuman way?

The truth is, psychopaths are fundamentally different to the rest of us. Research is showing they're deficient in a crucial skill that evolved to ensure we don't abandon our friends and family - empathy.

Dr John Clarke: Empathy really is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. It's very very important in terms of survival of the human species because if nobody really cared or understood what other people were feeling it would just cause breakdown of society.

Narration: Empathy is not just an abstract idea ... it's something you can measure physiologically.

Jonica Newby, reporter: Well, I'm about to be tested for one of the key characteristics of a psychopath.

Dr John Clarke: Now I'm just going to show you some pictures. Sit back, relax, and we'll see what happens.

Narration: As I watch the pictures, probes are detecting whether I release minute traces of sweat - whether I have an emotional response - empathy.

Psychopaths generally don't react.

Jonica Newby, reporter: So how'd I go?

Dr John Clarke: Very well. What we can see as we scroll through is for the non-emotional pictures there is no response. And when we get to here with the pictures of people crying you can see an involuntary physical emotional response.

Jonica Newby, reporter: So I'm not a psychopath.

Dr John Clarke: Definitely not.

Narration: Psychopaths generally don't react.

This lack of emotional response extends deep into the brain.

When most of us see another persons distress, our emotional centre, the limbic system, is aroused. We feel a little of what others are feeling.

But a 2001 US study revealed the psychopath has very little limbic system response to emotional information.

John Clarke: And that's what allows them to manipulate and control other people because they're able to do that on a very rational logical level but at the same time they don't feel the emotion or empathy for the other person.

Narration: No one knows how much of this deficit is genetic, and how much shaped by childhood.

But by the time they are adults, psychopaths aren't simply uncaring. They are physically incapable of feeling other people's pain.

Annette: My hair was falling out, you know, and I uh.. you know, I had diarrhoea, I couldn't sleep, my life got that awful and black it seemed a better option to just be dead and stop it.

Man: Someone I like and respect a lot almost died last night.

Psychopath: Let's get real here. Melissa was reckless, incompetent and stuffed up in a big way. And when you stuff up big time you get depressed.

Man: She nearly died.

Psychopath: She's a loser. Who f...... cares?

Narration: But without a brain scan, how do we spot a psychopath before its too late? One answer seems to be; look up.

John Clarke suspects corporations today aren't just failing to screen for psychopaths, they're unwittingly selecting them.

Dr John Clarke: You see this advertisement here. "An ability to do whatever it takes to meet a deadline". So that would appeal to a psychopath because they are prepared to do whatever it takes whatever the cost. If we look at this one - "The opportunities are endless you just need to know how to win it" - well they know how to win everything pretty much.

David Williamson: They present very confidently. They are full of self-esteem. They have no doubts; no hesitations and so interviewing panels often find them very attractive.

That's what many corporations see as being a good executive.

Narration: But some corporations are now realising they have a problem. That's why they call secretly on criminal profiler, John Clarke.

Dr John Clarke: The companies don't like to admit they have a psychopath and so the first meeting, it's often on a Friday night or late at night after the employees have gone home.

Narration: Issues range from fraud, to broken promises, to losing staff.

Executive: I just can't seem to keep staff and it's all coming from his section.

Dr John Clarke: Which is costing you money.

Executive: Exactly.

Dr John Clarke: The first thing I do is really get an assessment from the people working below, at the same level and above the individual. And so if there are huge discrepancies in opinion that's reason to start delving deeper.

Narration: Dr Clarke then administers a standard psychopath assessment. Remember those questions you answered earlier? They're a modified, cut down version.

Here are the final two:

Is your boss opportunistic, ruthless, hating to lose and playing to win?

Does your boss consider people they've outsmarted as dumb or stupid?

If your boss scored 5 out of 6 or more, you could be working with a workplace psychopath.

Now for the bad news.

Dr John Clarke: It's almost impossible to rehabilitate the psychopath. In fact, there are studies in the United States, which suggest that rehabilitation in fact makes them worse because it teaches them new social skills they can use to manipulate the people around them more effectively.

Narration: Once identified, there are strategies to manage the psychopath or move them on.

But what if you're the victim, and the corporation backs your boss?

Stay too long, and you risk a severe psychological breakdown. That's what happened to Annette.

Annette: I loved my job but in the end I, I fell apart. I was just so, so broken and you know, I just walked out and there was no coming back.

I'm unemployable now, you know. I just, I can't take another knock like that,

Dr John Clarke: When I tell them that one of the options is to leave the company there's shock, and then they go on to how unfair it is but then there's devastation when they do realise that that might be the most appropriate option to take because the situation is not going to change.

Narration: Far from getting their comeuppance, in these days of short term goals and high staff turnover, psychopaths often rise to the top.

In making this story, we spoke to many victims, none who could be identified for fear of defamation or worse - all devastated - all with a similar message.

Annette: I think you should run, you should run. There are some bosses out there that are deadly.

Dr John Clarke: I want people to be aware that they're not going crazy. It's the workplace psychopath that's the problem, not them.

David Williamson: That's not to say that every manager is like that. But it's that one out of ten that has the potential to really wreck a company, wreck the coherence of a company and wreck lives.

Topics: Others

Story Contacts

Dr John Clarke: Psychologist / Criminal profiler

David Williamson: Playwright

Dr John Clarke's Website

John Citizen
I could recount acts by a psychopathic boss that are so disgusting, so unethical, that its hard to comprehend. However, I chose to write the following:

For those who, like myself, do not want to quit a good job - I say study your psychopath boss and evolve beyond him / her.

Do not let them defeat you. They are in fact quite predictable, once you learn the fundamentally different way they view you and the world around them. Do not battle with them, instead get to know their modus operandi to the point where nothing surprises you. Strengthen yourself through being informed and prepared. Try to learn from the situation and build your character. After all, they have no right to project their psychopathy on to others. Its his/her personal issue, they have no right to mess with your career or the way you provide for yourself and your family! Fight back, calmly and intelligently.

Yes they are self serving, destructive parasites. However, their presence is an inescapable reality of the corporate world - there is strong argument that corporations themselves are psychopathic entities - if you want to play the corporate game, better get prepared for the corporate psychopath.

Plenty of resources out there, such as Dr. John Clarke and Dr. Robert Hare. Also texts on 'power' (i.e., in this context, manipulating without empathy) like Machiavelli's The Prince can be quite insightful.

Happy Ending
My husband was at the mercy of a psychopath for 6 months. After almost bringing the Company undone the psychopath was sacked by the Directors. It required reports by all the employees, backed up by visitors to the company from outside. Every incident had been diarized for 6 months. These included swearing, shouting, threatening, harassing (sexual and verbal), lying, discriminating, bullying, taking credit for others good work, demeaning behavior towards staff and customers alike, etc.

Of course there were incidents of charming behavior mixed in, especially with the "right" people. Thankfully, a full report to Directors and HR brought swift action - within 7 days he was GONE!

He had actually received counseling previously so I guess the company did not want any law suits!

Your husband was very lucky. Only 6 months of hell. Sounds like a dumb psychopath, that one, giving away his true colours to too many people. Thats unusual. The one I"m dealing with is much smarter than that. He only shows his true colours to individuals, and he"s conned and cowed the manager so as to make sure any complaints get back to him..

Which makes it payback time against anyone who dares to do it. Everyone is miserable, yet no one, apart from me, has had the guts to complain, which I've done 3 times, to no avail. But it has had the effect, for now, of making him think twice about retaliating, knowing as he does, that I wont take it quietly. I"m waiting for his next move, which I KNOW he will be scheeming up right now. I dont know how this will end, but I am using my instinct, which I think is the only way to fight these types.'All Ive got left to loose, is a job which he has made miserable anyway.

I only wish ABC or any channel could come out with more programmes on this subject. It"s such a widespread and serious problem. It would be a sure fire ratings winner if they advertised it properly in advance as they always do with special interest programmes. And with the amount of people being so badly affected by psychopaths these days, there would surely be enough material to make a 3 or 4 part series out of it. That Catalyst programme was years ago. MORE educational programmes about psychopaths are desperately needed.

Moderator: Thanks for your comment. Dr Jonica Newby recently revisted the subject of psychopaths and her latest story focused on children who are at risk of developing psychopathic traits in adulthood. It's called Psychopath in the Family and you can find it here -

I am currently in the clutches of a Corporate Psychopath. The rest of the team I work with also suffer the manipulation. There seems to be no way out. The EEO officer in the company is the person causing the problem. This person has caused me so much grief that I am at my wits end. My problem is that I am very competent in my work a represent a huge threat to this person. I don't know what to do. I would give my eye teeth for a new job.
have had a similar experience, this resulted in me losing my job. I was unaware of what was happening - too naive - until it was too late. Returned from leave - 7 weeks - this was all the time that they needed to cement themselves. I have been completely devastated.

All I can say to you is run - as fast as you can before they destroy your career. Good luck.

Would I be correct in saying that the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath is that the psychopath is more ambitious, constantly striving to push their luck further and further, whereas the sociopath is happy to attain a certain level in life, and ruthlessly cling onto that??? Ive known both types over the years, and despite these differences in their aims, they still otherwise possessed all the other normal characteristics of a standard psychopath.
Why is it, in these modern times, our societies are STILL so blissfully ignorant of psycopaths? My supervisor is a copybook psycopath, all my workmates know fully well what he"s like, yet when I mention to them that he is a workplace psycopath, they give me a funny look. Theyve never heard of the term. This ignorance is why workplace psycopaths thrive. People still think psycopaths are just horror movie characters. Is it possible to get the reality of workplace psycopaths into mainstream media? Apart from the odd documentry. These monsters cause far more damage to our workplaces and societies than any other type of villain. The best defence against them, is to EXPOSE THEM, their characteristics, tendencies, aims, games, tell tale signs, and most importantly, the fact that their condition is untreatable and incureable. They have infiltrated into every part of society and I believe they are much more common than any stats suggest, and that they are negatively influencing our culture far more than we realize. How can a collective monster get this big, in our midst, and still hardly anyone has heard of it?
One of my parents was a psychopath, I believe. They are both dead now. The one who caused the trouble declared they intended to cause chaos. Is is worse than a boss. It is very difficult to leave a parent. I found the only way to survive was to leave. Now I am dealing with the result of the back stabbing, lies and deception. I am now reading Jon Ronson's 'the psychopath test' to try to understand the situation I was/am in. I am not surprised that others do not believe me. Psychopaths are very charming, convicing, very very clever. I am in the process of being an executor of this parent's will. I am continually confronted with the lies and misinformation left to be dealt with.
Mod, bearing in mind that those who have successfully dealt with a psychopath have longer stories than the failures do - would you please stop cutting off the best bits when the stories get 'too long'.

There aren't that many successful techniques. It would be nice if the few there are, were preserved for Posterity!

They are out there. I manage a small team in the public service. A female corporate psychopath was seconded into my workgroup for a period of nine months. She heaped praise on me, offered me gifts (I rejected), and spoke of previous excellent work achievements. My subordinates lapped up the praise, accepted the gifts and listened to every word.

I uncovered a minor fraud, when I challenged her all hell broke loose. There was much cunning, bizarre behavior was directed to me, she made sure there were no witnesses. Incidents included sloshing a bucket of vomit at me, death threats, suicide threats, and totally alienating me to the group I managed.

I was stunned when she denied these actions. A harassment claim was lodged against me painting her as the victim. Outright lies, twisted truths, union involvement. My HR and leadership team went missing. She spread rumors I threatened to kill her via email. I was investigated, but I also finally had proof (no death threat).

I demanded action should be taken, nothing was. I then threatened to quit, still no action. She has since been granted compo on stress leave (which is why I don't think work persued her). As it turns out, this is a pattern of behaviour.

I will resign within the next few weeks on principle, I am absolutely disgusted with my department (11 years of service). She had my team in her clutches, they did not have the courage to stand up and say this behavoiur is wrong - cowards. She backstabbed these people and I stood up for them.

Despite this being extremely unpleasant, I come out much the wiser. They don't play by the same rules. For all those dealing with this, my advice is put yourself first. This may mean quitting.
They're everywhere...


Both my partner and myself have been bullied and harassed in the workplace by psychopaths.

Survival techniques include keeping a written record on them and any witnesses, try not to let them get you alone (difficult when they call you in an office and shut the door I know).

Try and find someone who is prepared to back you up if meetings are required. Although our situations were different the resultant bullying and harassment symptoms was the same. We both fought off our opponents for years. My Partner has had some success due in part to having "evidence". I literally mean photos, recording etc. (psychos beware people are arming themselves). I however worked for lawyers as a secretary...ever tried arguing with one???

HR were useless as it was the psycopathic partners of the firm who paid them. After 3 miserable years I left, I was very close to snapping and was driving my family and friends mad with my complaints. I abruptly left the firm one day. I'd had enough. Best decision I ever made and should have done it way sooner. These people are difficult to avoid they're everywhere, so in your new job, flush them out immediately. Make sure you let these people know (sometimes a look and body language speaks volumes) that they are NOT your friend, they'll get the message pretty quick.

Also as a backup build up an "emergency" bank account. If do need to leave a job to keep your sanity it helps a lot that you know you have enough money to survive on for a good couple of months before getting another job. Its difficult and risky but if you're sanity, health and family life is at risk of crumbling it's worth it. Surround yourself with supporters it helps pick you up where the psycho's knocked you down. Work to live NOT live to work. There are plenty of good employers out there don't put up with a bad one. As a footnote I've subsequently learned that my "replacement" left after 3 months...(now that's justice!)

I have just left a sociopath after an 11 year relationship. I think i have aged about 10 years over the past 3 years we were living together. I've lost money, was physically and emotionally abused.

He has had at least 8 jobs over the past 11 years and recently got a new well paying job in the area of human services. In all his positions he has had problems with people under him and above him. He has conducted various campaigns and threats against management and his team members in all his positions. Has been pulled up for bullying on countless occasions and sent to counselling etc. He's always fighting with HR, IT, everyone is incompetent etc. He recently forced one woman to resign because he told me she was fat and unattractive. He is now starting another campaign against another woman there.

He works in an area that helps single mothers with there issues and also in an area that employs a lot females, who tend to be very empathetic, ie social workers, educators etc It just amazes me that someone like that can do so well, change jobs constantly but doesn't appear to have to face any consequences. No one seems to question him or look at his past.

He just makes himself so unpleasant to people that in the end, they are glad to see the back of him and wouldn't complain about him because he would retaliate.

I think they should test these people before employing them for this disorder and there should be some kind of register like child abusers. They are dangerous.

Dr Suss
Dear distracted i completely relate to how you feel regarding your ex sociopath, i was working for and dating one at the exact same time. Mine also switched jobs and caused great disputes with former employers and employee's. It annoys me greatly how they move up in the world by stepping on others and how some employers just don't do background checks anymore. If his current employers had done a back ground check he would not be working for them now and making life miserable for those who have to work under him.
It is extremely difficult to overcome the abuse of a manager who exhibit psychopath traits.. I had my dealings with one of these persons, and the methods and strategies they used on the victim are deadly...
Wow I went through workplace harassment for 5 years in one of Australia's largest communications company's. My manager and supervisor fit this bill to the T. When my harassment started (primarily driven by their bonuses, success and power) I elected to fight this unjust and unwarranted treatment.

When I officially complained to HR and as far as the then CEO, I quickly found out how HR and management can collude to protect themselves and most importantly their reputations. Hence began my 'character assassination'. My union wasn't prepared to assist or defend me, Work Choices was not interested, Comcare didn't even investigate. In the end I felt I had no choice but to leave the company after 19 years of service. As I was going crazy and was always on the defensive and not allowed representation.

It's ironic that it has taken this documentary, Corporate Psychopath, for the first time that I feel somewhat vindicated as to this type of acknowledged behavior in the workplace and the big and powerful corporate world.

Thanks ABC/Catalyst

Silas Kerrchner
I saw everything in your dramatization that exists (and is encouragred) for new Managers in the Canadian Gov't Civil Service.

The Canadian Gov't Civil Service has a new MOTTO "you don't know to need the subject matter to manage"

Unfortunately, after working for many years in XXXX, a new top manager came in from a welfare agency. He had no experience in law enforcement [moderator edited]. He immediatly started to hire his lovers and promote them to middle management; while eliminating the cadre of employees who knew more than him.

Torture Torture Torture
A loss to Canadian Security

John O'Leary
I've been seeing all kinds of numbers on this. Mediaite says 1 in 4 bosses are pyschos!

Friends in high places assure me the ratio is actually closer to 1 in 2. Bosses with split personality are 2 in 1.

If you add the article below from Dr Burch from Auckland, you will see how much value and merit there is your article. You are essentially right about workplace bullying where extreme individuals with a high repeat rate at some one in ten are really "psychopaths". Well done for bringing this article to my attention too. In the world of law and recruitment and self care, these articles are invaluable.

Dr Burch said his research shows psychopaths created "toxic workplaces" with bullying, manipulation, sexual harassment, lying and fiddling the books.

"We all come across people at work from time to time who are difficult, devious and troublesome," Dr Burch said.

Dr Burch said most people with personalities generally fitting under the 'psychopathic umbrella' do not commit obvious crime and are not imprisoned or hospitalized, but function within normal society - often with apparent success and the respect of their bosses.

However, workplace psychopaths are generally highly destructive and manipulative individuals with "dark sides" who have no remorse for their actions, which can result in a range of serious issues for organizations and the people within them, Dr Burch says.

And they're making you ill, he said.

Victims suffered insomnia, depression, were more prone to heart attacks could even be traumatised to the point of suicide.

"Unrelenting stress from a toxic workplace causes anxiety and clinical depression in 30 percent of female and 20 percent of male targets, according to international research. The risk of cardiovascular disease is 30 percent more likely when workers believe their workplace is unjust...."

I worked for 18 months under two workplace psychopaths in cahoots who not only played mind games and intimidated employees in their professional life, but monitored their phone calls and movements, spread rumours through networking with all around them, and made them feel stalked for years. I still live with the fear of being circled by them. I have learned to look for smiles in the workplace with a real glint in the eye, rather than a vacant glazed stare, and I have remain vigilant that friends stay loyal to me rather than passing on phrases and messages designed to take me back to those times where the abuse was closer. The only place for those without empathy is in IT where they can relate to like minded machines.

That sounds like a cult more than anything. What field of work is this in? I think a study of different fields would show some correlation with a specific field vs. another. Some psychopaths are drawn to certain paths or callings too. It would reveal a lot if someone did a study on this.

I've worked for the state 4 years. 3 months ago I "RIFd" into another department. 15 years of experience in the field. Excited that my experience fit the position perfectly, and eager to contribute to this newly created program. Red flags began 1st day. Fear based management of staff, micromanagement, 2 years ago every counselor was bullied into early retirement or transfer, staff are reprimanded for being too cheerful, certain staff are forbidden to speak to particular staff, manager told me which staff had personal life problems, who had accommodations and who was behind in their work (non of my business and perhaps a nudge to mob targets). At 90 day review he told lie about what I said in meeting and used this as reason he believes I may not be able to deal with "gray areas" so extended probation to 6 months. Friendships among staff are forbidden. I've never dealt with a manager like this and am bewildered! Based on my research, it seems wise to go back onto "RIF" list & get out of there. This is the perfect position for me and love the work so it's a hard decision.

If you can get ten employees to write to your HR rep or Equal Oppotunity Employer Union or whatever about this manager you can start a real case. I never heard of violating "Freedom of Speech". I guessed that you are a counselor. Are you working with prisoners? Gray areas? hmmm. Maybe the reason is because some of the counselors deal with highly talkable subjects like ..."my clients are murderers" or something that is violating privacy laws. Pretend to be the manager in your mind for a half an hour and meditate on why this manager came up with these rules. If you put yourself in the shoes of this manager you might find that they are just as stressed as you are!

Seems to be alot of disgruntled employees now blaming their problems on the scary boogeyman of the office, that it was never their fault the official office psychopath made them fail.

Psychopaths make up roughly 4% of the population not all your bosses can be psychopaths, get over it, maybe you just werent as good at your job as you thought?


Wow! So what do you do when the psychopath is your ex partner dragging you through the legal system and being a step ahead of you at every turn. Where do we find information to guide us through the legal system. All the behavior of the workplace psychopath is that of the one who lurks at home, same behavior different context. Where to find help, how do we get them diagnosed before a homicide is committed??? Please help!

Moderator: If anyone needs support please call lifeline in Australia
Phone: 13 11 14

Another spousal
The courts hate liars so tell the truth and listen to everthing they say and where they are going with there 'storys' but make sure you are in court or have witness's when you point out there lie .
I stumbled across this whilst trying to research what to do about an employer who has been subtly harassing me and undermining me. Everything in this program indicated that my boss is also a pyscopath. She plays games, on one hand nice and then stands over meyelling and pointing her finger at me. Some of her behaviour has now been witnessed by other people in our organisation. I have tried to complain and have been sent to mediation with her. I had a session just today that left me more stressed and confused. without breaching the mediation session too much, all i can say is that she lied and made false accusations about me. What now???
it sucks
Hi I am going through the same at the present time, only thing is i have refused to do the mediation as i know how charming this can be. I put in the response to mediation after they suggested it the following:
1) this persons behaviou is not something that i feel i should be addressing, it would only benefit that person immensely.
2 I do not think that the share holders etc would not condone this type of behaviour.
3 I feel and believe that this kind of behaviour is morally and ethically wrong.
i'm still awaiting a response as yet I have not heard anything.
th manager has alos been moving my things like car keys, turning pc off, isolating me out of meetings.

I put the grievance in on the 17th March, wasn't heard until the 11th april and it's now may???? I have had to take time off to deal with it, not looking forward to going back in.

I watched a co worker who is very outspoken deal with my boss. He said an onslaught of hateful things that were vented up from months of being a victim.

She calmly addressed him with counterclaims on everything and made us wonder if she even knows herself?

Then she sent him to Anger management the next week and informed the higher ups he has an anger management problem. We laughed at the absurdity of it!


May I point out bullies do not pick victims they pick targets. There is a difference.
Hanh Stewart
I understand what you going through I am the victim of work place psychopath, as I am right now just engaging legal challenge with such a good company who just employed me and this sociopath ambushed me force me to write my resignation so he could easerly win the court case.

Dr John Clark is right very hard to deal with Sociopath as they are very maniplative,snicky and clever with evil mind . Yes they do destroy my employment opportunity with such good company. Dr John Clark is right again stay away from sociopath to save your self this why I let the lawyer to deal with them so I can move on and go to an other company hopefully not run into another Sociopath

I think the nice part is to keep you thinking she is still not a threat. I worked with someone like this too. Maybe she feels guilty so she acts nice. I had one change her shirt in front of me once...when we were alone and talk about how she had a stain on it and that was the reason why. She still talked about work as she fixed her shirt and stuff. I laughed because a minute before she was acting all power trippy and then acted like a human being who has problems too. I learned not to trust them anyways. Keep your distance and never talk about your troubles or whatever. It will be used against you, unlike what she does with you. The difference is that you do not use it against her but you could,
my boss had lied again and again to discredit me with her boss....they appear to have a symbiotic relationship. As a new mature aged graduate the treatment I have been dealt has been disgusting. If it wasn't for the good supportive relationships I have made in the workplace, and support of wonderful friends I think I would have had a breakdown. I identified early that these people are lacking empathy. As a social worker I feel empathy is inherent in my make-up so to be controlled and manipulated has been a shock and very distressing. Their subversive techniques are soul destroying.
I have just returned from the first session with the psychologist and discovered it was not me as incompetent, and the rest. I work for a CP and am now on one hand feeling a bit better knowing it is not me but horrified that there is almost no hope for me to stay in the job I love. I am having a week off work to overcome the breakdown but cannot see what I will do next. My Doctor says to fight will just kill me an further cement her position. Devastated .
Craig Barry
I Take it that CP is for child protection? I have worked for the last 24yrs in many positions working with young people,I tell you now, "get out" don't let them burn you out at such a young age!!!
The Department will distroy you!!!
I dont know if you should quit. Sometimes there are situations that you cannot leave or quit. Try the military for one.;). We get so used to Pyschopaths in positions of authority that we are practically immune to yelling, humiliation, and being called incompetant or slow or whatever.

We deal with jobs that no one explains how to do and all sorts of micromanagements and finally we learn to use our heads, filter out the stupidity and meanness and say "what are the results of this being done" That is all we want at the end of the day. Results.

a few P's joining the conversation here no surprise-important info for them on how to do it better!
Being the daughter of one and sadly not realising untill too late the mother of a few I have an inkling that I may have a co dependence issue.Hospitalisation alerted me to the prevalence of the cost to society of those victims whoavoid ending their lives-not many!Also interesting was the prevalence of certain professions being over represented on the wards suffering from'Burnout'a euphemism for cosequences of a P. the prevalence of Asperger's Syndrome(on the Autistic Spectrum)in my family makes me wonder about the same disconnect to emotions that the P has. Another prog.ABC aired recently "I Psychopath" was absolutely brilliant more exposure is required
Definately exclude - there is no positive outcome from employing staff at any level with these characteristics - in fact the opposite is sure to be the result - gradual destruction of individuals and any possibility of team work. The planned, cold and calculated destruction of individuals is the purpose of these people.
No, their purpose is survival and personal gain. This means that unlike people with ordinary social/ emotional responses they will trample people without conscience to attain their goals. And if you're standing in the way of their objectives, they will set out to destroy you. In this competitive, capitalist society they thrive because they embody the attributes of success. This is an interesting psychological analysis of them:
Just say grow
The question is however is cp a fundamental part of leadership or would companies that recognize this personality type and seek to exlude it foster a healthier more productive culture of engagement?
Definately exclude as they can only add individual and team misery, whilst going undetected for some years. The worst are the professionally trained in some way, such as psychologists, who can use thier profession to enhance their skill at destruction and to hide that from detection.
Dear Dr John,
I have been struggling now for 2 yrs with the workplace psychopath. I work in a clinic for youth and adolescents with mental health issues. I thought only caring and concerned people wanted to work for young people!!!!!! My mistake. My concern is for family and patients... but now has moved on to me!!! I am so drained by this experience. The only sustaining factor are the few staff who are aware of this person. Some management are also aware but it is hard to get hard data on them. They are very good at covering their tracks- but the poor kids and their families get their heads done in quite frequently. I am also due for a big payrise. It seems pretty empty though and comes at a big cost of surviving this psychopath. I feel myself losing any empathy I had and am now thoroughly suspicious, paranoid, and unfeeling. I feel like I have developed a 'lizard brain' as soldiers term it and I am turning into the bitter, narcissistic, manipulative creep I despise!!!!! Help!
Here is what I would do. Stay there and get the big pay raise. Then as you establish yourself in the new position I would look for another job to match the NEW PAY level. New skills acquired make for a better resume and if your skills are in demand then you will find a great job with the new salary and since you worked at this job you need to become more "desensitized" anyway to the patients and families around you. Alot of these adolescents will drain you and then later not be so messed up...but you will still carry their troubles with you not even knowing that ALL TEENS are usually troubled with mental health issues. Later it somehow gets better but you only see their present states and not their futures.
Whistling Woman
I am a veteran, having worked for three women in the past twenty years or so. All had personality problems of some kind.

The first had what I now think was narcissistic personality disorder; the second became disturbed and abusive in the final year before she left very suddenly; the third and most recent is retiring TODAY! She has been lazy, self-serving, self-absorbed, gutless, and undermining. She has launched an investigation into my "misconduct", leaving it up in the air, because she knew she was retiring (but has not even had the courtesy to tell me or the other managers who report to her!). It is probable that she has been driven to this by her own (male) manager, and is either too gutless or uncaring or unprofessional or all three, to refuse to participate in it. I am past caring. It seems they are everywhere - and it's power that enables their true colours to come out. One thing I disagree with Dr Clarke's diagnosis of CP's is the charm - none of them was/is particularly charming, or even interesting as people (which makes it all the more annoying that one has to spend so much time obsessing about them). I think the best thing is just to carry a mental impermeable membrane around oneself, and just write them off one's mental horizon - act as if they are NOT THERE, or when communicating with them is unavoidable, maintain an aura of freezing politeness.

I worked with one too and I was in the military myself. I noticed that she pointedly did things to exclude me. Like first it started with meetings...saying "this is not concerning your work so you don't have to stop working" but I would overhear her and sometimes she mentioned me like.."what is she working on today?" which made me feel paranoid. Then it went to social exclusion like " we are having a ceremony for blah blah but you need to watch this office while we go". I suspected that she blamed me for mistakes and it went on like this. One day I was driving in my car and suddenly I thought of her and said to myself..."no don't pay her no mind" and wondered "does she think of me?" And thats when I realized not to let her "rent head space". Later I read that they often think about their subjects and I thought no to feeding into her weird head gaming ways.
I have worked for a female boss for over 2 years and have been subject to micromanagement, subtle and untraceable bullying for the entire time. Her method of insidious grinding victimisation has reduced my confidence and at times my ability. further advancement in the institution is impossible as she has friends and networks with stealth. I am constantly told of her supportive relationship with her boss which leaves me isolated and unable to go to work without feel sick. Is this a P? Either way I want to move on and have applied for several senior admin positions. Is it a war zone in every workplace?
Chris F
Yes, she is a P. Only after getting terminated from my previous job of nine years in May 2010 (now collecting unemployment), did I labeled the problem. It was systemic and so subtle that I didn't even realize that they were trying to abuse me until after I was fired. You described the exact same situation I was once in. The corporation has developed a psychopathic environment overall. Most of my coworkers feel micromanaged, a severe lack of respect from management, cannot talk to anyone in management about how they feel, they dread taking any time off for being sick as psychopathic bosses feel no empathy for the sick or weak, they absolutely dread waking up and going to work and often feel like not going in. Every mistake they make is treated as the same whether it's big or small. After reading about psychopaths in the workplace, I've come to the conclusion that we have at least 4 psychopaths in the office, two of which are female. It's not a war zone in every workplace, but now that you are aware of psychopaths in the workplace, just being able to identify them will allow you not suffer future abuse.
Been there managing one
I managed a potential one of these CPs. John Clarke does educate on them at Sydney Uni Continuing education. I learnt a lot and helped the victims of the CP and in the end we all left the company when national managmnt would not take action even though they knew the problem for 7 years prior to any of us joining. Its just a continual turnover in that area of the company. Do the course if you need to learn about them.
On the edge
Amazing stuff... explains a lot really. I thought these people were borderline personality disorder types but there was too many of them I thought, surely. Yes, CP seems the logical answer now I have watched the episode and read some of the posts. Try working in a uniformed service with these people. It is an absolute nightmare. They herd and gather like shopping trolleys and are just about as unmanageable always power broking and putting some skew on everything. They delight in destabilising the senior officers group and the organisation being dysfunctional because of it.
What do you suppose the collective noun for a group of CP's would be? A 'Toxic' of CP's.
Lol. I am in the uniformed forces myself and I have seen so much that I think I am desensitized much like a PTSD disorder. I have seen crazy levels of mental abuse and "supposed tactics of execution" to other members in the group. There is only one thing that is good about watching so much mental finally say "hey I have seen that movie too and you buy a bag of popcorn". It doesn't faze you as much, you start to study to gain rank, and you tail race them and leave them collecting dust. Senior Officers are needed in the military and logic and sanity are well represented with this group so don't give up. Leading by example makes us look to you for hope and knowing that there is some people that still make sense in this world.
Thank you so much ABC. Someone I'm very close to has a Mother who is exactly like this. Although it's been years since he lived at home. I am helping him deal with her cold, malipulating, sexually abusive, controlling ways. He finally told me what life had REALLY been like for him growing up. She should be behind bars. But I'm protecting him. He doesn't want to be publicly humiliated. I thought at some point he might want to confront her about all that she put him through, but after reading this I think perhaps that would be more of a hinderance. And somehow she'd convince him it was all his fault.

Thank you for letting us know that "psychopath" isn't just a bad word. But that it's very real.
And someone said somethign earlyer. Some people have mental illnessess and are kind, morally empathetic human beings.

A psychopath is not the same thing.

stronger now
This article was very helpful to me, especially the description of a CP as someone who can be charming and glib and doesn't really care about their impact on others. I kept trying to understand how someone could lie, manipulate and disparage others even when they were continually caught out - essentially he didnt care less. The CP in my workplace was not my boss - I was his. Over time all of the other staff in the team complained to me about him and when I challenged his poor treatment of others he accused me of bullying - relentlessly, right through the organisation - without anything to substantiate his claims. But he didnt care that it was obvious that he was lying - but throw enough mud and it will stick. The rest of the team were disgusted with his behaviour so then he accused me of turning everyone against him. I experienced the self-doubt, sleepless nights, tears and pain of trying to understand why someone would behave like this. It drove me crazy because there was no reason to treat me like this, it wasnt logical or reasonable. Turns out he had done it over and over again in previous jobs and kept moving on. I cant bear to think what it must be like to have a CP as a boss - its bad enough to have one work for you! My advice - never agree to meet without witnesses, document as much as possible, research the CPs history - what a relief to discover that there is a pattern and that its not just you! - above all dont expect rationality or decency from a CP!
I think the CP is generally a narcissist, and that's a mental illness with no cure. I was made redundant recently by the Managing Director of a small company who is a CP... the usual characteristics - lack of empathy, empty promises, lying low after suffering a "narcissistic injury" in the form of a detailed email from me copy to one or two other people.

Fortunately for me I worked alone 700km away and hardly ever saw him, but I feel for HO staff! There is a general lack of knowledge in the workplace about narcissistic personality disorder but when you go to a job interview, you accept the risk that you end up working for a CP (or in your case, employing one). Hopefully the CP can be taught to be ruled by fear of the consequences of mistreating others. Good luck with finding a replacement employee!

I have just managed to get a former employee out of my life, and believe me it wasn't easy. He continued to bully me via technology [put rootkits and self written scripts on all my computers and network in linux, very hard to get rid of]. I still can't come to grips with how evil these people can be. I simply couldn't imagine it! Way out of anything I could comprehend, especially since he did the 'poor me' routine on me, and I went out of my way to help him - taking to doctors, accommodation etc only to have him really use and abuse me. I think this is why I didn't really heave and fight to get him out of my life sooner, though I did do more than you would normally have to do to achieve this. Even when I got him off the premises he refused to hand over his keys. In the end I had to resort to conning him to do this, something I normally wouldn't do but couldn't afford to change the locks. I have since instituted further security measures as well, though I already had deadlocks,window locks etc.

I still have not recovered emotionally from it all, don't hardly know where to start. After I had done all this what horrified me was he ACTUALLY SAID something along the lines of "you're rich, therefore I have the right to take you for everything you've got, it came so easily to you, unlike poor me, therefore I'm entitled. Even though he knew I had chronic pain due to two genetically based health issues and had had to deal with this from my early twenties. Add to this that people like me with hypermobility syndrome and either fibromyalgia or caeliac disease are at least 90% likely to be misdiagnosed by GP's. Also no emotional or practical support from a family with alcoholism issues and mental illness. Life was such a peach for me. (sarcasm)

I think the things to look out for with psychopaths are what I call the three E's. Egotistical, Ego-centrism, Entitled. The entitled thing can be used both ways the 'poor me' or the 'I'm educated therefore I am superior and entitled' sometimes at the same time! I honestly don't think at this stage I will ever get over this, or how. This is the second time I've encountered this in the workplace, coincidentally both male electrical engineers who were subordinate to me. In the other case the backstabbing was relentless and it appeared that the CEO was supporting him till he said something that made me realise that he had been lied to by the psychopath. There were things the psychopath had said that on the surface didn't make sense eg: protests about moving to a work location closer to his home address. I mulled things over and eventually realised why and what he was doing. He told the CEO he was going to 'keep in touch' with people at the old work site, for half a day, whereas in reality it dawned on me that he may have been using this as an excuse to do contract work nearby in the CBD. I checked things out but I was literally shaking with fear when I revealed this to two supportive board members and

Moderator: Please keep posts to a reasonable length - under 200 words.

there seems 2b alot of fingerpointing going on...shame shame shame seems to me that people need to either develop thicker skin or stay out of the corporate sector.. as far as personal life watch the signs they can't change their stripes for long.. never in 1 place for too long if they are real CP.. and not just a sociopath in CP clothing to the person who asked do they know what they are..... yeah they know..
Yep. Ghostwriter and people with this type of attitude are always with us in history. They are low down in the evolutionary chain and will learn through 'what you sow you reap' type of justice. Unfortunately for all of us we need to be patient with these poor souls.
Seenit.. the moral of the story is if they r a true psychopath they will NOT LEARN because they DON'T CARE.... they aren't happy with themselves for the actions they commit they do it for the reaction to test peoples limits. human nature facinates them as they are not capable of feeling empathy or sympathy & many other "natural" emotions so they feed on u to get a reaction in order to witness these feelings even though the connection to the feelings themselves does not exist..

by giving them a reaction u r playing right into their hands.. they will WEED themselves out in time if u give them NO REACTION... they will get bored with u & move on to other people or places... but if u give them what they want BE PREPARED to be in it for the long experience is great in this matter.. FYI if not sure your dealing with a TRUE PSYCO ASK THEM...

in my experience they will tell u point blank just to issue & study your reaction..most are VERY PROUD of what they are.. who knows u might even get a 1st real answer.

Been there managing one
Until you come across one you have no idea the damage they cause. They can be long term employees in my case the national management were too frightened to do anything as this one talks legal everytime a problem arises as they have a family of legal eagles giving advice and a sibling that won a fortune from a company that took action. So it ain't so black and white my friend in some cases.
My partner is in the middle of recovering from a CP. He nearly lost his life as he considered suicide at his lowest. Our whole family has been severely affected by the employers lack of care for my partner, even when they knew there was a big problem and just ignored it for 3 yrs. My partner did finally seek workers compensation and after an initial denial of the claim, we are seeing a solicitor who is confident of our case. Interestingly there is no compensation or domestic assistance for me after I have had to give up my job to look after my seriously ill partner and 3 kids.
I believe you and hope you can try to put this behind you. Try to imagine a better life. This may be what gets you through. Definitely get counselling. These people are as toxic as hell. I am going to try to find out as much as possible about a company, its values and its IR record before I work for them. Unfortunately I have seen the proverbial 'bad apple' cause so much dysfunction and stress to other employees.
I survived an experience that had all the trademarks of the C.P.

I'm happy to say I managed to get through without being personally defeated. Would I like to go through it again? No, once is enough. I have my scars but I've proven to myself my character was stronger and I see no further learning from going through it again. It was a first for me. I was generally trusting of people in the workplace, but I guess now am a tad more careful from coming out the other end of the C.P. experience.

What I find interesting about the C.P. phenomenon are the quantity of weak minded individuals that often assist the C.P. in their endeavours, conquests and laugh at their sick and sad jokes. All in the hope to be permitted entry into the C.P.'s inner circle.

This is why I said it was a test of character. I felt the whole experience put my character to the test and I survived. Unfortunately, a number of people of whom I knew from previous workplaces flaked under the pressure and assisted the C.P. Some might say they were just trying to survive as best they could. Maybe, but I couldn't live with myself to do it - just not how I was raised. In fact I feel those people are the saddest casualties, not those who are the completely broken by the C.P. or who end up leaving.

I'm thinking of getting some t-shirts printed up with the slogan: "I survived a C.P."

Otherwise what else could be done? A website to name and shame - effectively a black list? Unfortunately no, as it would probably constitute libel. N.B. "Probably" because if it can be proven true I suspect it isn libellous.

Good luck people and remember to hold your own moral strength of character to help survive the ordeal.

@ survivor - The people who flaked under pressure from the CP - that's called "narcissistic supply". There's one such sycophant I'm considering removing from my list of verbal referees...
My female boss is a psychopath and hormonally unstable which is always even more of a treat 2 weeks of the month. I had been at the company for 10 years in a regional branch and was transferred to Head Office of which she was the new manager of a new department.

The first DAY i could feel my confidence coming undone. Nothing I did was right. At first I took everything on board, working long hours but she kept changing the goal posts ensuring that people could hear her disapproval of my work. She would put a big display of tearing up work that I had spent hours on saying words like, 'huge disappointment' and my favourite 'some pple do not deserve a job'. By the 4th day I was spending my lunch breaks wiping tears in the toilets.

It was like being constantly slapped in the face. I was shocked! - words, cruel, behind doors locked and humiliation in front of my co-workers. It was more distressing then giving birth! I found her to be unnaturally aggressive and overly charming at the same time with a blank coldness, completely unmoved.

She'd humiliate me and then ask if Id like some lunch and to come outside for a break where she would talk about her family and laugh and joke with other people in the building. I was like .. what the?? Skitzo much??

Luckily she had not factored in my personal relationships at Head Office with HER superiors. (10 years of fun Christmas Parties and Corporate Box shenanigans share a bonding of its own) These things I used to my advantage.

I had a not so secret meeting with her manager of whom she'd shared an adjoining window. He had heard the things being said behind closed doors and had not said anything because he wanted to see how she would play out (being an unknown factor).

He apologised that he had not intervened earlier but he thought I was handling her well. Well, after a few minutes of explosive expletives I warned him to put a stop to her behaviour or I would go higher. He spoke to her. Monday morning she was nice as pie but I KNEW i was in for a fight. Whenever her insidious attempts at work and character assassination wore me down Id make a point of sitting in her managers office sharing chocolate and laughing and smiling at her through the adjoining window.

I have become very good at detailed file notes of conversations and phone calls always cc-ing correspondance and emails openly providing evidence to the team and sometimes BCC'ing contacts in Head Office of my work leaving minimal room for error and if so, showing the criticisms to be hardly worthy of attention. It was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. I wasnt going to let her beat me and I still havent.

She backed off about 6 months later because she was exposed but I have continued to detail my work. She also realized early on she needed my support in getting the department off the ground due to my inside knowledge of the industry, our clients and my professionalism.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Happy Now! Yes I have the Union supporting me and keeping me informed of my rights along with my work colleague who got sack on the spot because of being too emotional on hearing about the retrenchment. I have no problems with references and am confident of getting another job. Those colleagues who are still there, most are new, are vaguely aware of the situation and are still in shock as to the people the P chose to get rid of. All seem to be seeking alternative employment despite their success in being chosen to stay so the organisation is basically stuffed. I would dearly love for the board of management to recruit Dr R. Clark for an assessment but unfortunately he has them eating out of his hands!
Victim (nee nearly Victor)
Well I am nearly a Victor. CP is now trying to manipulate things so I get sacked before my redundancy comes to fruition. Cant give the details as it may become too obvious to the powers that be. Suffice it to say hopefully he has shot himself in the foot in regards to workplace bullying detailed in email. I am taking sick leave as of tomorrow and will try for workcover. Will play it all by ear and see what transpires. Very exhausting I must say but I will stay on top. The union has been kept abrest of events but I am not too sure about this particular ones competency after events that occured a year or so ago. Still it doesnt hurt I guess? I am considering a personal visit to worksafe. Doctor is tomoz. Aaaargh!!
Dr John B Conlon
No, as far as I know (ok so I'm only a retired Anaesthetist). Insight is either extremely rare or unknown in Psychopaths. Funnily enough I had a Psychopath to interview in my Psychiatry finals in 1973 - got the diagnosis right too. Examiners v. impressed.

I digress. It was called "Bullying" at work and my eldest sister had a terrible few years before she retired. When the bullies are confronted they deny everything and feel they have been doing their best for the organisation, leaving a trail of destruction. In My Opinion: think Margaret Thatcher, Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer.

Ralph Midnight
They know who and what they are. The smart ones do anyway. They are proud of their ability to cut through the 'pointless' human emotion that clouds judgement and work in a universe that has no mercy.
I want to thank the ABC for re-running this show tonight and wished I had seen it back in 2005 when I was victimised.

I didn't understand the extent of my male 'friend's' perverseness to cruelty until it was too late when I suffered post traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and ruined mutual friendships/ reputation. He also left a trail of financial destruction for others who have engaged in business with him. The scary thing is that although he has recently declared bankruptcy, he is back in Corporate Finance soliciting for investors and an MD of his own company.

If you have to endure a psychopath - remember two words: wasted energy. It's not worth the pyhrric victory - because they are not capable of remorse.

In hindsight and from my lessons learned - to counteract any attacks, build a good sense of self worth, maintain your integrity and never give in to self doubt. Try not to beat yourself up after they've pummeled your self esteem. It would also be good to have an outlet where you can speak out in safety and who does not know the P.

I could ramble on but I think it's been said by everyone else. The only question I have is - do we know of any psychopaths who have successfully reformed and regained a fully functioning conscience?

Hello fellow victims. Bernie (not my real name) - 24 Feb 2009 You make some excellent points. I would also add get a small tape recorder and a microphone - there are 'spy' shops online that sell these marvels. Transcribe the conversations and keep the recordings organized for the day that you need to play them. There are ones that will record up to 8 hours or more at a time so you needn't fuss with turning it on and off.

If you must stay in your job â€" start preparing now for your wrongful dismissal suit. And start saving for a lawyer. If you can - get a background check done on them and their resume. P's lie. They lie a lot and they lie badly. Mine had 2 degrees on his resume (turns out he had none) and he didn't even leave a gap large enough to have earned the degrees! That is a firing offense. If HR has had complaints or questions about the P before that may be just what they're looking for - proof. Hire a private investigator to do reference checks on past jobs of his, in addition to criminal and credit checks. If you can show that the company clearly had a monster in their midst they'll want to hush you up. Always be anonymous - never point a gun at your head by letting the P know you're after him. Never assume HR won't rat on you to him. A P will butter up HR and get them on their side' they know the value of a befuddled HR dept.

Ex-wives and girlfriends are outstanding sources of info. You're not the first person they've screwed over. Credit checks are usually very revealing as well.

They will stop at NOTHING to destroy you if they suspect you don't buy their act. Be very careful. Do not think for a second if you let them know subtly that you're onto them that they will back down. Quite the opposite will occur. Same thing if you're passive. Bernies ideas were very good.

Try to never be alone with one. Avoid looking them in the eye; you'll think better and hear better if you don't if you know a true P you'll understand what I mean.

I can't just leave my job to get rid of the psychopath in my life. The psychopath is the father of my son who uses his manipulative ability and charm to convince people in power that it is me who is the bad one. So far, he has done an excellent job of this with judgements praising him and demonishing me; and is now on his second attempt trying to claim custody of my son who was the result of rape by this psychopath when I tried to end a relationship with him. He is cool and charming to other people, lies constantly and tells more lies to cover up those lies and somehow convinces people that I am the one at fault and I am the reason why my son hates him. He has no empathy, no guilt for the way he treats my son or me, and enjoys seeing my son or me upset, and the Family Law supports and encourages him. Since being raped by this person 8 years ago, I and my son have suffered continuously at the hands of this controlling psychopath. Now my son is going to be forced to live with this person and so devastate and destroy a child, not to mention his mother. Why is this happening - because he has convinced people that my son has no reason to hate him, telling stories of being a wonderful father in his affidavits and such like, and so it is said it must be me who is making my son hate him.
I know how you feel, I was married to someone like that and my only salvation was my strength to keep moving forward and my faith that his day will come. I am still waiting but I am patient.
Can you get them to try that test on him that shows his lack of empathy?
Dear Betty . I have never replied to anyone like this before but your story was to painful for me to ignore . The problem with me telling you what I know about psychopaths is that it may not help you . My story is that I was married to one for over 17 years . I would have left her a lot earlier in the relationship but I feared for my childrens safety . I eventually moved out when my son had left home and my daughter came with me , she had had enough of her also . I knew that my ex had been stabbing me in back for last few years but I only found out after leaving that it had been going on the whole time i was with her . But getting back to your situation , I too feel that the law is geared for the psychopath and there isn't much you can do , with in the law , other then doing your best and not to be intimadated by them . There are a million things on the net you can look at on this subject but other then this one , catalyst , the only other I find worth while was "Psychopaths:The Mask of Sanity " I think it is called . Your story is awful but you cannot give up . You have your son to think of . Pete
I don't really think theat the law is geared to support the Psychopath, just that the Psychopath is so ruthless and clever that they know how to use it and be a step ahead of us all, unfortuantely.
Chris F
Sorry to hear this, my best friend's sister married a psychopath that she knew for only two months and got pregnant before she realized she had made a huge mistake. I could barely listen to the stories of his abuse, they were so horrific. To make matters worst, he came from a family of psychopaths, his parents and sister worked with him to destroy his wife who was determined to divorce him and save the life of her child. Thankfully, in the end, he was a dead beat dad and she won custody of her son when the judge gave him a choice of either paying the $50,000 in back child support or give up custody of his son forever. He chose the money.
Dear Betty. Firstly, I never saw the doco, but I have read Dr Johns' book. Your story, is my story. Although I wasn't raped, my Psychopaht didn't want children and I suspect he was feeding me black market morning after pills to miscarry my other 7 pregnancies. I have two children that I kept due to leaving my ex partner on the two separate occiasions, although I was bashed to the floor at 18 wks pregnant. My ex is also dragging me through the legal system, that which I cannot afford. He always threatnened me that if I involved the police or the womens group he would tell everyone I was an alcoholic and he would get the children taken off me. We are still fighting post 2 yrs. I have tried to contact Dr John as I need advise on how to fight a Psychopath through the legal system and would even love to help him write a book for women like us. We just have no hope against these men. It is thier way or no way and we need help. I am beginning a course to work with abused women and would also like advise on which avenue to take. My ex lied throughout the family report, his affidavit and is still lying and getting away with it. He is a criminal and drug addict and has weekend accesss to drive my two innocent children around whilst he is drug affected. Not right, and I want to know how I can have him diagnosed as a Psychopath before he does something to my children. I haven't drank alcohol for over 2 yrs.
Is there any chance of Aunty getting John Clarke to expand on the processes used by organisational psychopaths. Most people are blinded by the superficial charm and don't see the victimisation occurring. Clearly this is the psychopaths game and adds to their feelings of superiority. The actual damaging process is much more insidious than the usually portrayed yelling bosses, and can come from any level of staff. From experience the most devastating part is that others believe the lies and manipulative behaviour and the victim is generally in a no win situation.
Sick of Psychopaths
After first watching this story some months ago I have been on a long learning journey . It still hasn't stopped me from being a victim but it has helped me realise that i'm not the one who is mad . What I have learnt is that to stand a chance with a psychopath you must record your conversations with them . It is the only way any one will believe you . There are plenty of discreet & preferably voice activated (so you don't have to fiddle with it ) recording devices out there . Even if you are not sure of the legalities do it any way as it can be presented anonymously . It is the only way to expose these people for the evil bastards they really are .
anne of qld
As a public servant who has been targeted by psychopaths I can tell you that they are very successful. The percentage that is quoted is so true. The first time I was targeted the person was so successful that I was up for Major Misconduct. The union rep thought this person was great! I did what any smart person who wants to stay in the public service I did what the CEO said (he did not like this person). I was sent on a psyche assessment -- I could have been sacked for what this person was saying. After this I have been targeted by psychopaths two more times. The trouble is that once is done once you are a big target. My best advice is to

1. professionally journal,
2. run to EAS,
3. learn your rights and
4. defend yourself to the hilt.
5. make the union your best friend

I also have tried to get on with HR - however I went relieving to another department recently and the psychopath was the HRM!!! This is a first and is very difficult! Anybody tried to disprove a HRM lie! The absolute maliciousness of the lie is difficult.

Judy, Canada
I have one other interesting comment to share. I was never bullied in school or throughout my twenties and thirties. It started once I was successful in my business, compounded with lots of attention and high priced cars. Girls in our schools are ganging up in groups of 4 or 5 and the victims are afraid to report it. I have preached about this example lately as I feel its the root cause of the hardened women I have been exposed to as a business owner. I feel the problem is in the adult women (something is lost in the mothering bond). I personally enjoyed being a manager throughout my career with a long track record of mentoring many into success, however I do not feel women are ready to rule quite yet until they keep their emotions in check. They truly play an ugly game when they go into high gear. W5 had an excellent show on a successful firm that was destroyed by a new female manger who utilized the divide and conquer principle and broke up a strong team as she ruined a once thriving firm. Once it is underway why is it so hard to bring back? It would be wonderful to educate employers and government specialists on the "divide and conquer" principle which basically is how the process works at destruction. There are many wonderful women however the increase in jealous, brutal women who thrive off of breaking another woman amazes me compounded with all the guilt that has been put on men, I personally do not feel many of these women are ready for their new found power. Is it the left overs of going too far with human rights in Canada?
I think female bullies are on the rise. I was brutalied by a female director. I had been a founing member of a successful theatre company for 8 years, with terrific reviews and was well liked by almost all directors I worked with. Then I met M...... who was very charming at first. She was very complimentary of my work for 3.5 weeks and then suddenly she snapped. She would isolate me from the rest of the cast and ridicule me. Hwe comments were such a far cry from the compliments she had paid me for the majority of the rehearsal period. With a week to go until opening I thought I would keep it to my self for the sake of the show. My partner and friends knew I was having a hard time though as I would come home and break down. Then she did the unspeakable-she fired me with only a week to go until opening! The worst part was that she turned the entire company against me. When I sought support there was none to be found. She was this "brilliant and charming director who knew best" and I was the incompetant actor who had to be replaced. It was crazy I had been there for 8 years and in 4 weeks she had charmed the company into taking her side. I sought union and legal advice and there was little i could do in the end. I left a company which I had built from scratch and I was completely abandoned by my fellow actors. Looking back the signs were there. She had to always be the centre of attention, was constantly talking up her accomplishments (in reality they were few) and was canoodling up to a young actor. Psychologists suggested she was a psychopath, as the younger, more attractive and talented star I stood in her way of being queen bee. I will report bullying much sooner next time. She got away with it but in time kharma will get her, perhaps the scathing review of her direction of that production was that very kharma!!
Judy, Canada
Nice to find this. I was targeted and mobbed in Canada. It started in my company as one individual who I had given a Manager title to started a process that escalated into pure hatred after so many had to respect me for so many years. It truly reinforces we as humans have not evolved much since the dark ages. I am deperately trying to recover, mostly from the impact of doubt as the chaos around me unravelled me as I reached out for help and no one believed the scope of my situation. I have survived every hurdle as a business owner however being targeted, mobbed and degraded for eight months was the most brutal experience of every hurdle I previously worked through without missing a beat. The individual involved has a few mentally challenged family members and is an only child - daughter. I witnessed three personalities as I experienced her cruelty. It still amazes me that she charmed her way into doubt. We have huge issues here as I survived attacks on my business by a few women in banks who nsf'd checks with funds in the account and got away with it. Its lingering here, people don't understand it and are complacent about it. It truly sent me to Pluto trying to get attention as I was being brutalized and currently have pulled away from people temporarily in an attempt to recover. Police won't deal with corporate bullies and lawyers want money so the freedom to bully continues. Makes me sad that our evolution still promotes witch hunts just the modern version of todays witch hunts.
I have been dealing with a psychopath at work now for a month. It's a new job for me, and he obviously sees me as a threat. He's systematically undermined me, turned people against me and done a whole host of underhanded things. I'm actually lucky in that, I'm not the only person he's done it to. So now, there's a little clique of victims that can compare experiences and build alliances against him. He's actually leaving for a management role in a bank and has claimed "I'm going to make the people I manage lifes' hell", which I can believe!!! These people aren't human, there is no boundaries to which they adhere and no lines in which they wont cross to defeat their 'enemy' or perceived threat. The thing I've found is, you can't give them an inch, or anything in which they can use against you; as inevitably, they will. Death to psychopaths! << Irony ;-)
I think these people are hurting deep inside and bullying other people make them feel better.. They want to see us happy people hurt as much as they do.. The difference is that they will never show their hurt but we do.. And they love it... I left my last job due to a Psychopath.. I have also been blinded by one i thought was a "friend".. She twisted my words put me down to others seperated me from my other friends and finally egged my car when i stopped being her victim .. She felt down when i was happy and elated when i was down and alone.. there is no defence but to walk away and hope they meet their match one day. They pick on the nice or as they see weak.. Dont be an easy target.. My advise is to look strong.. and talk as though you have lots of people in your life... They like to pick on people they think have no support..
Dear survivor, I do believe C.P. are very fragile people who live in fear of being bullied or their weaknesses uncovered. I confronted my work place bully who fits the C.P. profile to a T. I was calm and pulled them aside for a quiet talk one on one and I said "I need to tell you that the way you treat me and speak to me makes me feel hurt and upset. To my surprise they broke down crying in front of me like a baby. I felt a bit confused but also felt I regained my power back. However the dramas continue.
Bullied At he job in church
Don't be fooled. In time you will see how ugly and abusive they can get!
They may just have found another victim to turn on. I'm having my first mobbing experience with a few CP's AND IT'S EXTREME...and it's in the church!!!! The one place you'd least expect it. What makes it worse is my mother passed and they knew I was even more vulnerable so they turned up the pressure. With every move they makes they use God's name, and they really believe in what they're doing and that they're right. How sick!
move on
It's not a quick and easy process to change job's when there is a Psychopath getting the better of you. But it's easier to find another church.. Don't put up with it. Love them and leave them and move on to another church i say..
Thanks Prepared, yes very fragile inside i agree.. And yes the dramas will continue until they understand what they are doing.. because hurt people hurt people! Sometimes i feel like an easy target because of my gentle nature and think i should harden up. But then i think, maybe thats how it started with them!
left the company
Yeah, they're handicapped. And what Bernie said.
Foot soldier
Well done Aunty. Typical of your informative/educative and socially responsible programing.

Agree with Dave (31st December), a follow-up is needed with more detailed facts about these psychopathic people and information about what is being done to 'deal' with these people and support good employees of these typically large corporate organisations. Interesting to note that most of the perpetrators mentioned below in other comments are female!

Interesting given academic studies show that 0.5 of corporate psychopaths are female and 2% are men. The other interesting theme noted from the comments is most people who wrote comments experienced the corporate psychopath in an office environment. I am a nurse, and experienced the corporate psychopath both within health and in the university environment. I survived the battle to fight the war. I lost at first, but eventually won the bigger fight. The perpetrator was the same person in both cases. That person was eventually 'outed', and followed a gruelling process for that person who lost much credibility, income and employment position. Psychologically I was a wreck, and after 4 years, I am making MY WAY as a contract nurse, ensuring I do not belong to any one organisation or work for any one employer. Its an isolating experience but safer this way! I am regaining my confidence slowly and beginning to once again believe in myself - I have to for my children's sake. I look forward to the day when I can trust again, and move to work with others in a permanent position for an organisation. To those seeking help while currently going through it - YOU are the most important person here. YOUR sanity is at stake and subsequently your income, etc. I urge you, move on before you are so badly damaged you are paralysed. There is life outside your curent employment, and many lovely people. There is another way. You have skills, knowledge and experience - think laterally - use them in other ways - and move on. You have the strength.

one of the victims
I am aghast, didn't know there was a psychological term for this until someone mentioned it to me the other day and i 'googled' it. This is my boss to a tee. I knew in some part of me that i couldn't suddenly go from brilliant to pathetic in my job overnight as i have never had so many complaints about the level of my work, but as we naturally do i found myself in a lot of doubt and devastation. What is more concerning is that there seems not much way out for the 'victims' unless they leave their employment and loose their job security, so a balance of the lesser of the two evils in this current time. And as is so often the case, the bosses of these people never know and don't believe it, so one has no where to turn. I pray God's justice be done to these people - karma has a way of working itself out.
I have a new supervisor psychopath in my section of my workplace, a Indian women. I'm just a temp Mon-Friday and know anytime that I can be asked your contract is over, though I've been with this organisation for 2 years. My personal superviosr psychopath has many complaints about her and many people do not like her attitude and talk about it behind her back.

My Supervisor Psychopath exaggerates situation and makes it bigger than what it really is, is pushy, has unrealistic goals for each of us that is ridicules, lectures, tells lies, is very stressed and unable to relax. told me she doesn't have time for anything let alone dream, when our section had a good giggle at my nightmare which was I was sacked because I couldn't type fast enougth, which I giggle at too! My staff used sacasm directed at her and embrasses her for example saying "we have matching pimples", and when she got busy one day someone asked her "did you have your "Wit Bix this morning" and other staff member offered her a Vallum! From this she giggled herself and run off and I did not see her again all day. However I have noticed 1 change she has stopped yelling at her staff for some strange reason. I wander if she got told of by the co-ordinator or manager about her behaviour.

You sound like a gossip/bully yourself.
jack of qld
Reply to Jean on the 10th May- this supervisor does not sound like to psychopath to me! They sound as if they need training about how to do their job. All the people in the workplace sound as bad as her. I have experienced pyschopaths at work - .5% of the workforce. A true psychopath will arrange a meeting about you with their supervisor(try to arrange it without a union rep), invite you with no warning, dump all these examples that are false, put doubts on your mental stability and then smile at you after the meeting when you are distressed!They will then run to HR and complain. I have had a psychopath tell me a year afterwards that what they did to me was an exmaple of human nature in action. This involved a work investigatin and a psyche assessment! It was very malcious! By the time you go to HR - the HRM also adds more false lies! The true psychopath uses their "skills" to make your work colleagues gang up on you to make your life miserable. I have encounted a few psychopaths in the workplace and have the mental scars to show. I have learnt to professional journal, keep work journals, run to EAS and have become an expert at writing grievances(public service). The supervisor in your example just needs training. By gossiping about her behind her back you are just as bad! Until you meet a true psychopath you have no idea of how they destroy your life and dreams. This has been done to me a couple of time! Don't confuse training needs with psychopathic behaviour!
Bullied At The Job In Church
Reply to Jean -- if she were a true CP what you described would only have set her off and she would have started all of you on a path of mental and emotional employee at a time.
The Stoat
I have recently experienced working with a psychopath in the workplace and been, yet another, victim of her behaviour. I came to the position with 20 years of experience in my job and therefore, felt confident that I could successfully meet the challenge of a new work environment. Despite an extremely heavy workload in the first 1/2 year in the job because of a review of the workplace, I felt that I was meeting my obligations with aplomb.

It was not until the second 1/2 of the year that I realised that I had been targeted by my immediate boss. It came to light that I had been successfully undermined for some time when I was called into the HR sector of the workplace and accused of incompetence in all spheres. I was, of course, devastated and broke down in tears.

When I had resumed some semblance of calm, I sought to address these accusations in a letter and at a meeting of all relevant management. I 'won' this battle but should have known that it would not end there...

My boss now saw this as a war, which she must win at all (any) cost. She easily fits the profile of a psychopath, being willing to compromise all standards in a bid to 'win'. I think what really hurt me the most was her undermining of me with both peers and clients. Unfortunately, by the time I realised that my character had been assassinated I was - at best - an object of pity in the workplace: I was humiliated.

I felt powerless and began to suffer sleeplessness and, when asleep, subject to nightmares. I knew that I was spiralling into depression. Fortunately for me, my husband eventually understood my predicament (it's hard to explain as it all seems so paranoid to others)and, being financially stable, agreed that I should resign and take 'time out' to recover.

I, like many others previously recorded, would recommend you do the same if you are in this predicament. What is worse: being temporarily unemployed or permanently unemployable? I have been unemployed for just over a week now (after holidays) and, although I have my moments, the nightmares are easing and I am beginning to feel more like my old self.
This experience has been sobering to say the least and I will always be more guarded in future, but I am hopeful.
Thank you for allowing me to have my say and providing me with invaluable information that made me see that I am not 'losing it' and to the person who put me onto this site.

I have recently experienced working with a psychopath who was my immediate boss. She quite easily fits the profile - willing to do anything to 'win'. Despite others knowing of this, her behavior is so insidious that she (up until the present) always prevails. Unfortunately, by the time I was aware of her activities, I was so undermined and my character so assassinated that I became - at best - an object of pity. I chose to resign from this position - for I would rather be unemployed in the short term than be unemployable in the long term. I am now getting to sleep at night and the nightmares are abating, the spiral into depression having been stalled. However, this has been a sobering experience and I will always be more guarded in future. I hope that once too many people have resigned from working under this person that the alarm bells will begin to ring for administration, but I'm not holding my breath. I tried to put forward my case but the damage had already been done and hence, my word was discredited before I even opened my mouth. If you have been in this situation I also recommend that you RUN! Thank you to the person who pointed me in the direction of this website.
Moving on
It is scary that this interview was conducted in 2005, yet there are so many recent posts. It just shows how real the issue is.

I can relate to so many of your posts the manipulation & the deceit. Like many of you, my Manager is very charming & has the CEO & other staff buttered up, resulting in my complaints largely falling on deaf ears. I am treated like a nuisance, a disgruntled employee who has had a mere personality clash with their Manager. I sought help from a psychologist & they have helped me see that the problems are not mine. The 2 best bits of advice that I have been given which I want to share with you all are:

  1. Remember the person you were before you met the 'psychopath' and base your confidence and self belief on that.
  2. Empower yourself by creating choices.(eg. get skilled in another area and open up your job choices)

I was really struggling, and the best thing I did for myself was to seek help from a psychologist & take the pressure off myself to stay and fight. I am now planning an overseas trip & looking at further study and work options so that I can leave my current workplace. I am trying my very best to take a positive out of a negative. It is hard, I still have my moments, but I have belief in myself that I can do it.

I wish you all the best. Believe in yourselves, we will find light at the end of the tunnel.

This is an excellent discussion. Twice in my career, I've worked with bosses who are psychopaths. The first time, I reported the abusive behavior to HR and, while that eventually led to the boss's leaving months later, he retaliated in the short term and made me so miserable that I left. Never again would I report someone. I'd just get out fast. The second time, I and several others were targeted and laid off as part of a restructuring. That's OK with me; I'm out of there. I loved the job and the colleagues but not the new boss, who's trying to make herself look good. I have since heard from other colleagues who are really suffering as they're now targets of this individual. It's sad.
Graeham Yass
The transcript of this interview has been invaluable for me. I am sure I am working for a psychopath; exhibited by constant lying and stealing ideas to present to the board as his own whilst at the same time berating be in emails that are "blind copied" to the world. when talking to me in public or with customers/suppliers he is charming and eloquent but privatly just tells me to "f....k off" at every opportunity. The business he has run has collapsed and my division is up 300% over two years but I could not believe it when took credit for my work, berated me to the board and colleagues and has explained away his failures. It is so frustrating it has made me ill; I feel powerless. I only have work email and he reads all my correspondence so will post again when I obtain one. Does anyone have any suggestions??
Anna Cotinaut
I used to live with a psychopath , he delighted in telling me the stories of his demise of colleagues so as to take over their positions and secure his own. He was angry and abusive when his manipulation and deciet had no effect. His mother is dying of cancer in another country and he has no feelings to see her before her death. He lived off me financially . thank goodness for this documentary it is an eye opener.
It would be great to also run the psychopath that people live with. Since these people exist in the corporation it is likey they also live with people god forbid.

I have been in a relationship with one such person he was my second marraige and lived off me financially. He was abusive to me and the children he ran hot and cold and we had to walk around on eggshells, the arguments and chaos was certainly a feature. A compulsive liar. He prided himself on removing the property staff from a major institution and he is now the property manager in place. Before he left he informed me he was commencing the demise of a colleague he felt was a threat to him. He had no remorse his mother who is currently dying of cancer and he has no feelings to take time off to be with her. He abondoned his 6 year old child to live and work in another country and for a long time treated her with creulty until she grew up and he was left with a choice of being decent or not seeing her at all.

Emotionally i have been destroyed I have lost my confidence and jobs continually not understanding why i was in a heightened state of anxiety and fear. Thanks to this dooumentary I can start to rebuild myself up to today I felt all the chaos was my responsibility I see now that my responsibility was not doing something sooner.

Being a victim of abuse by my team laeder and now manager for ten years I thought I was alone. I went to her boss and then to HR to find that she had already waeved her web. As a result no job opportunies came my way and even when I applied I was 'unsuccessful'. Bad reviews, being told that I was disliked by all of my peers and fellow employees, I did not crack. Instead one day she slipped and someone saw her, I was saved mentally just knowing that someone knew it was true.
I am being sued by a psychopath because I complained about him to his employer. He alleges my complaint affected his career (which it didn't)and hurt his feelings. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants. As well as the mental anguish, I could lose my entire life savings. The law does not allow me to use his mental disorder in the defence of a defamation suit, even though his personel file shows a track record of psychopathic behaviour for the last 6 years. If anyone has any advice I would be happy to hear it.
What an education and for such an important topic the ABC should keep on top of this. Whilst I have never known one in my 35 yrs of corporate experiences in UK and WA I do feel that my husband worked under a number of them in WA over 20 yrs at the same national corporation. A professional with international experience his work could not be faulted so they targetted and harassed him on little things. He had support from colleagues so was lucky. Despite many reports to Worksafe for Bullying in the Workplace (he was OH&S rep)they did nothing as they wouldn't take on a big corporation. He has now retired from there and has a dream job. He was lucky as he didn't succumb to depression etc.
It's so wonderful to see 'Jerks at Werx' being seen for what they are, but help for victims is hard to come by. The best advice I have seen is that the smart people leave - not always seen as economically viable nor the best way to deal with ratbags because 'I haven't done anything wrong, I'm a hard worker and I'm fully qualified and capable in the role I am in' tends to guide many vistims because surely the good people around me can see the truth of the matter and right will out'. Right will probably not surface in time to save many victims who are left unable to function anywhere, any more.
The potential, both personal and commercial that is stunted by Psychopatths is immense. Obviously better KPI's are needed to weed them out of work.

Many bullies have similar traits, especially the upwardly mobile bully who targets a superior. It seems incredible, but it happens.

The other incredible phenomenon is the pack of psychopaths that can inhabit workplaces. They can be either mangers or workers. They have cliques that work to control and intimidate en masse. More should be done to research the cultures that allow these cliques to survive and flourish at work.

Peace on Earth to all readers.

After just watching a rerun of this show i am positive my ex-wife is a psychopath. I left her because of all those reasons that psychopath is a psychopath . Loveless and selfcentred just to name a few . The problem is that she still uses and emotionaly abuses the children . Is there anybody that could offer any sort of advice. Pete
The most important things are: To set limits on her behaviour, which can be viewed as defensible (try a formal agreement in writing). Accept that she will often win. Don't get drawn into attacking her.
Avoid alcohol when seeing her, being with children. Remember that she will attack you and acuse you of doing things she does

Another victim

An ex-colleague of mine forwarded the link of this article to me - this person knew the hell I had gone through under my "Corporate Psychopath" and after reading this article, it is such a relief that my suspicious now have a foundation! It's not me or the 4 other people before who left this role. It's the fact that there is a corporate murderer at the top killing off her staff members...emotionally and mentally. It is just sad that a number of high performing organisations seem to thrive with such "leaders" and the attitude is, if you can't take it, then leave it. Perhaps it's time to shake it up a little more and find a nice little island to ship these psychos off to! After all, we are not fans of letting repeat offenders off likely in this country, perhaps we can apply the same rules here.

And for those who have come out of this awful experience alive, I take my hat off to you.

a survivor
My experience took place in a remote area, and unfortunately we were sent 2 psychopaths who relished each other's support, and went to work on the only female in the workplace. I was totally mystified by their behaviour and most of all had no idea of the backstabbing that was going on that lost me the support of colleagues and management in a place where I had spent a wonderful, positive 20 years. I still don't know what they said but the attitude of the 'firm' towards me was evidence enough.

Being abandoned (on the word of these outsiders) by those who had previously respected and valued my contribution to the team was a shock, however the unfairness of having little option other than to leave when you have been the victim, is the worst, as it takes away your security and could ruin lives.

Personally my life outside the organisation has been wonderful, and opened up many opportunities that have proven to be life altering. I try to be sympathetic to those psychopaths who live in such a negative world, disliked by all they have failed to charm. In a small community it's not easy to maintain this behavior without people realizing what you are like after a while. As long as I harbor resentment, they are still controlling me, and that isn't going to happen.

Your suggestion of sending them to an island is not original. Whoever thought of it before sent them to my island! No more please!

They will never be shipped off because organizations love CP as they rule buy fear and will do anything to get the job done. I have been working with a CP for 3 years now and reported her for slapping another staff member at work on two different occasions. The response I go from HR is that the slap may have been done jokingly and if so there will be no formal investigation. It's been one month now since I reported this physical abuse and the CP is still in the corporation, in the same job! She shows no remorse because when I report some of her bullying to her superiors she just ups the anti.
Bernie (not my real name)
Yep me too, my boss is a classic. Given psychopathic characteristics and the requirements of organisations, they are a perfect fit. Even if everyone who can do anything about them knows, they are so valuable as predators, eliminators of human problems and super active achievers that they provide a valued service in organisational life. They are a price organisations are willing to pay.

Play the game to win. Why, because it can be fun.

Slow it all down, be polite and supportive, formal and legal, get really into the detail and complexit. They have no idea what you will do next, don't let them know your plans, change your plan without notice, don't settle, ask to think and consult, be committed to the best outcome for all. Just hit the ball back gently over the net, postpone/decrease stimuli wherever possible, reduce face to face dealings, deal through others.

  1. With no instant gratification they will give up and go away.
  2. Now provide them a face saving out and you win.
  3. Work long term and they have no defence.
  4. Keep records, wait, wait, wait and then.... I'll let you know what's next ...
Bernie, I tried all of this as I desperately needed to keep my job. They don't give up and go away....they just make it worse. After almost suffering a nervous breakdown, and conytinued thoughts of taking my life....I left. Although the nightmares still continue to haunt me after 4 years, it was the best thing I ever did to just up and leave.
Wow-reading your comments makes me feel like fighting harder than ever! These bullies need to be made accountable for their atrocious actions. I've been working in my current environment for three years, and the psychopath that I have had to deal with has become more devious and manipulative as the years have progressed.

With a 60% turnover in staff, one would think that that would be enough to trigger "alarm bells' about our manager and manage the behaviour of the one common denominator-the bully. Unfortunately, many qualified and valuable staff members have walked away from their jobs. They later described themselves to me as feeling “useless and incompetent”.

My "Team Leader' has based her career on the the work of others, and she ensures that staff members maintain a sense of gratitude towards her-even though the work is not her own.
I decided that I had mentally had enough of the stress involved in working with her, and I took the BIG STEP in submitting a formal grievance. I needed to get to a point within myself that I could handle the fall out associated with this step. I knew that other people had taken her on in the past, and that they had eventually lost their case. They walked away down trodden and shaken by the experience of working with her. HOWEVER, thankfully as a result of their complaints, their voices now count as I have placed a formal grievance against her. Most staff members only stayed for a short period of time within their roles, and therefore had little time to collate concrete evidence to support their complaints.
I am a compliant, hard worker and I take pride in my work. I tried for a long time to keep my head down and stay "out of her radar' but eventually you do become a target. My best advice to you all would be to do what I did a year ago-STOP answering your phone at work/mobile when he/she calls, and AVOID all informal one-on-one meetings.Instead, build evidence with emails and create a solid case. Always have a representative with you when you have to meet with him/her, and when you place your grievance, make sure that you have organised a go-tween email receiver/sender, so that when the bullying behaviour is turned up, then you have another "listening ear'. The last most important thing that you should do is JOIN YOUR UNION.

Also remember, that these bullies only make up a small proportion within a workplace: WE MAKE UP THE MAJORITY so let's stand up to psychopaths and GET RID OF THEM!!!!

After I had placed my grievance with HR I was told that I was the first one to make an "official complaint' against my boss. I was shocked when I heard this as she has been arguing with "everyone' for years. Another staff member mustered up the confidence to place a second grievance against my boss after me.

So the whole process has been going on for months, but it has been the best therapy that I could have ever received, and I feel a great sense of relief. I don't know if I have a job.

Moderator: Please keep posts to a reasonable length - under 200 words.

Most interesting story.. I am the victium of a corporate Psychopath. I found he confided in me in private and then denied it later on...he gave me such a hard time that when my time ended no one in the section would support me.. they considerd his versions of various accussions were correct.
They thought he was a fun guy he convinced his management that he was right. when backed into a corner he was abusive and angry.. he made sure that all staff heard his outburst and moved the situation that I was in the wrong. In private meetings he put down other members of staff.. he would made unconfortable and inappropiate gay comments to me... in the end I was terminated from my employment.. I am now suffering severe depression and am finding it difficult to move on a get a job... I would like to take legal action but the money is a problem
I experienced an almost IDENTICAL situation last year, right down to the sexual harrassment. It was done in such a subtle way with jokes etc that it was hard to detect from an outside perspective. I finally complained and was successful, I've found a new job. Although the guy is such a psychopath that now he is appealing and trying to get his job back. These guys or women, will seriously stop at nothing to win. You just have to be proud and not take their BS, stand up for your rights.
Very interesting reading this article and discussions. I work with one at the moment, thankfully this person is not my boss so they have had limited success in effecting me. However I see fairly regularly the impact on their immediate staff and it is very frustrating, we work in a small office and it is not easy to address the issues.

This person's narcissism is so bad they they believe they are superior to the CEO although is charming to his face. How common is this and the fraudulent behaviour?

Australia Bully Manager
Great article- thank you! I have been the focus of a jealous, intimidating, undermining & incompetent workplace manager for over a year. It has since come to light that this woman has seen over 8 staff leave due to her psychopathic impact.

I am desperately trying to find a new job. I am also trying to lend a ear to 2 other staff members who have issues in the workplace. The CEO, HR & other all back each other & ignore complaints & OH&S issues. Yes- It is Toxic. I have taken a lot of leave, yet no one even is questioning what is going on with all the staff.

To anyone else in this position- I feel or you... but get out quickly- i regret waiting so long (& thus into a recession job market)due to thinking I was the one going mad!

Can't beleive i'm on this page finding so many people in the same situation as myself. Something needs to be done. I feel like i'm going crazy. Been on my job for 9 years, the last 2 have been a living hell working with a psychopathic co-worker and a passive aggressive supervisor. I have a plan with legal help hopefully it will work. I'm using my sick time and hopefully can get my unemployment.
I have a workplace psychopath at the engineering company where i work. She decided that i would be her victim on day one and constantly harasses me. She also makes complaints against me to the boss. The key problem is that he takes her word as gospel.

She tried to get me sacked after 3 months, however i survived after proving myself. This has only intensified her determination. She made a complaint against me again today. We had an argument and after she won it, she then decided to get revenge on me (who takes revenge for winning an argument???) by complaining about me on an unrelated matter.

Luckily my immediate supervisor, as well as the other job team leaders in the business back me and share my concern about this individual.

But i don't know how long i can stand up to this bullying.

I am working with one currently. She is constantly harasses me and others. She is lying all the time. She is incompetent with her work but she always tells her superiors that her mistakes made by me. I have worked so hard because she always gives me incorrect information or wrong information which has increased my work load. Although someone can back me up as they have experienced same thing as I have been constantly experienced on a daily basis, I don't know how long it can last.
I had never experienced a "workplace psychopath" until 3 years ago. After researching the internet to obtain some understanding of these people I became amazed that so many of these low life mongrels exist. I am a long serving Police Officer who works in a small "specialist" area. Our OIC fits all the criteria of an "attention seeking" workplace psychopath. The working environment is absolute hell to say the least. This person exhibits swinging moods, bizarre behaviour, extreme self pity, manipulation and deceit. This persons constant whining is immense and very difficult to take everyday. I have experienced difficulty sleeping at night over a long period of time because of the behaviour. When this person goes on holidays the workplace becomes relaxed and everyone is so happy. Everyone in our office "suffered in silence" for a very long period of time until we all started realising that we all felt the same. Thankfully higher management have now become aware of the behaviour of this person, however I have now leart that it's not an easy issue to deal with. This person is shameless and is fighting "tooth and nail" to keep their position and is stooping to very extreme manipulation and deceit in doing so. I just hope this person moves soon.
Absolutely, a follow up doco would be really good, I just went through hell last year because of one of these idiotic psycos. I luckily walked away with my sanity but now a year later his bosses are still protecting him. I don't understand why bosses would want someone like him to work for them, completely counter productive and damaging to the company and the workers. One of my co-workers is now having to put together a lawsuit.
I am currently studying personality in psychology and am about to do a research proposal on workplace psychopaths. I am motivated to do this personally as I have been the victim of workplace psychopaths not once but twice, and have seen many others suffer the same fate as me long after I have left an organization.

This is a real problem, one that is an 'underbelly' of the workplace. Education campaigns or wider community knowledge about this fact of the workplace really needs to be addressed. As too many people that I have spoken to that are going through or have gone through it, feel that the problem is with themselves. It wrecks self esteem and impacts greatly on the quality of life, something really needs to be done about this problem.


Good Luck and keep the end goal in sight. I think Corporations, starting with HR (the buggest bungling idots that make situation worse) need to change mindset about thinking the bully must be supported and not the victim. Call me crazy, but if someone has the guts to complain it is 99% valid.
HR exists to protect the interests of the corporation-this involves smoothing problems over as economically possible. It takes an enormous amount of courage to stand up to a psychopath, and it needs to be done in a carefully crafted and timely manner. Gather your evidence, join your union, and then strike when you are informed and equipped! Patience first...then fight when the the time is right.
I left a job because of a 'workplace psychopath'. Fortunately for me I was resilient and got on with my life and career. I thank her for the psychopatic attitude as it was a steep learning curve I will never forget and has been a lesson in how NOT to treat people particularly from a management point of view!
When you consider that these people literally don't care at the end of the day, consider their psychopathy as a distinct advantage over the general population, whom they view as either moronic, stupid, or wrong, and are incapable of empathising with others, at the end of the day there is nothing to sympathise with.

These people are not having a hard time, they just leave us with all their crap. They are not "cruel" or "nasty", as these are emotive words, and they do not feel (much) emotion. They just do whatever they can to get whatever they want, and damn the rest. As luck would have it, emotions are easy to manipulate, and so that's what happens most of the time.

Luckily I'm very aware of the nature of psychopathy and quite perceptive regarding people so I am unlikely to fall into the same trap many others have done. Unfortunately, this will seem like a declaration of war to most psychopaths, and they love challenge and competition. Protect your own best interests - that's the best advice I can give you. Remember that healing takes time and there is always light at the end of the tunnel, you might just have to travel a long time to find it.

Suzette monohan
i agree with what you said but I am in the same boat as many out there seem to be and i have decided to become a psychopath in theory not practice so that I can undermine the other psycho thats driving me crazy at work.I reckon its better to go outside of the usual norms and head straight to the core issue MADNESS and freak them out and let them run out of the building for a change.........
Unless you are a psychopath you cannot compete with them - you will be the one that ends up emotionally destroyed. Also you are lowering yourself to their standard. The only thing to do is avoid them as much as possible. It is better to find a better place to work. Walk away with your sanity, don't waste your precious time and energy playing their stupid mind games.


Good advice Dave (posted 31 Dec). I agree. Get rid of them as they don"t care if they get rid of you for their own insecurities and reasons! "The greatest evil is when good people do nothing" a famous quote. I truly believe in that. Don"t be AFRAID. The truth IS the truth. Keep evidence and fight back. I wish all you fellow sufferers the very best outcome, believe in yourselves (you are not going mad) and be kind and gentle to yourselves .Get good support to help you. Unless you remember you have rights as a human being on this planet nothing will change.
I had a manager who was obviously a psychopath from the get-go. He broke up a successful team and fired many competent people. He was new, and when I tried o explain to him how the owners had trained us to do things, he told me, "I don't like people telling me what to do. Obviously they have hired me for a reason. I didn't see your name on the list of applicants for my job; if you don't like the way I do things then you need to apply for my job." So I did! Along with a long cover letter to the owners explaining why I was applying for the position, and imploring them to fire him even if they didn't hire me. They did not hire me, but they did get rid of him. He is now a fast-food manager, hee hee. I also managed to keep another psychopath I had worked at another job for from being hired for my supervisor's job. Knowlege protects, don't be afraid, it's only a lousy job!
Whatever you do, NEVER feel sorry for the psychopath; he will use it against you because in his eyes it makes you weak and he can't relate to the emotion. Pity those who pity, for they are horribly vulnerable to psychopathic control, mainly because normal people don't want to believe the psychopath exists.
Corporate Psychopaths
Once I realised my boss was a corporate psychopath, it was almost a relief and everything began to make sense. Unfortunately it was too late for me and many colleagues in terms of the mental abuse she caused. She appeared so charming to others, yet I can only describe her as being a truly wicked person. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I took her to court. I agree that they cannot be changed. they are fundamentally nasty people. The only solution is recognise the traits early and leave the company quick.
Carol Poland
It is a relief to know someone else is a victim and has taken legal action against this type of abuse.
I am very interested to know details of the court proceedings and the outcome and whether our justice system recognised the actions of a psychopath to be a criminal offence.

I recognise my Ex Husband as having the profile of a Corporate Psycopath and describe him as being a callous, unscrupulous, cruel, evil person.

Throughout 32 years of marriage he treated me as if I was an employee and he had no concept of how to interact as a husband or father.
Divorcing him did not provide me with an escape from the abuse.
I believe he is the perpetrator of extreme emotional and psychological abuse and his actions, which also involve fraud should be recognised as criminal offences.

I look forward to your reply, which will help me to move forward in the right direction.

I am not being frivolous or vindictive. I am wanting to deal with the facts and the abuse in a positive way.

almost victim
My psychopath boss is new to the boss game and was easily spotted as she chose to target everyone subordinate at once. Unfortunately, her bosses love her (more psychopaths?) so she is not going anywhere anytime soon. We are protected by our union so she can't just fire anyone, either. Unions were formed for a reason, afterall. We are mostly women and we confide in each other. Thwarting her is a group effort and supporting each other makes the constant harassment more tolerable. We consulted higher ups in the union, from outside our organization, and we were advised to "keep the devil we know" as getting rid of her would be next to impossible and her replacement might be even smarter and nastier. My advice is talk, talk, talk to each and support each other and under no circustances let the psycopath get you alone! Find a buddy to go into the office with you as a witness. You have that right. And DON'T let them see you sweat...stay calm and be prepared.
Viva la France
Let them know you're not alone too, alone = prime pickings, having family and friends, a life outside takes you away from making them money.

I was accused of using our adopted children as an excuse to leave work overtime and they used to say that "on time" was "early" and other days, "I feel so sorry for you girls, you should leave on time tut tut big mean bosses should let you go", these same people who questioned when you left on time other days. That's how they do your head in if you aren't ahead of the game. So get ahead of the wolves and look at their eyes-they can't tell the truth on the run.

Having to justify, "Why are you going home early?" when I did my days work to the time I was given when first starting there and choosing. "Why do you deserve to have the new piece of equipment?" Asked another new psycho on the way up (when they had one and it broke, they guilted others into giving up theirs for them).

Some "religious" psychos mixed in too, my congregation is praying I get better, "can you work overtime so I can go home on time guilt free?" (because I have none) and gossip gossip gossip and tell others to not complain when the boss does her door slamming swearing act. Play the religious card and you're above question, like religion-he goes to church=he's good. How many killers were altar boys?

"I will always be your fren" a comment made by a girl from overseas online who knows perfectly well how to spell friend-she wanted to be my "fren" because I "did so much for her" (i.e. she wanted to be my nothing, my leach, she was, I was a bit of a larf for her and her friends who didn't think I understod their foreign language). "Dance like no one's watching" i.e. dance around and look crazy while I look sane. So I danced, like I always do. "Oh God has been so bad to you, how can God be so bad to one person?" (said to draw me in), I don't believe in a god, so I, unlike them only have myself accountable for my own actions. Good thing I heard through the grapevine about their online friendship game and fun parties that they deliberately didn't invite myself and a few others to to hurt (but it didn't, I was out to dinner with a real friend)- these parties were just excuses to drink and bad mouth from what one of them told me- drunks get away with anything don't they? Drink makes your tongue loose and you say what you really think- others talked earlier before they asked for my email address and I gave them my old one. People who know how to spell do it, or are trying to lie through semantics, not getting "board" "You're a good sole", ever read that from someone who knows how to spell again and again until then? I just laugh like they're illiterate and blind because they are both. They don't get it.

They try to cling to their own jobs b

I to have experienced workplace bullyimg like what is described (for that is what it is) However it is not just Bosses that do this. My missfortune was to upset (as they see it) a member or two of a Fraternal society by standing my ground when the intent was to teach me a lesson or in their slang break my back.

Then the abuse started, roumors spread, jokes made at my expensive, all behind my back. False tails that I bullied people. Machinery I used damaged and it implided I did it. My car tyres let down, tyres puntured. Vehicle keyed and sprayed, but with paint that can be cleaned off (This way the victim can be made to seem a fool by making a mountain out of a mole hill.) After all what damage was done, see the paint comes off with petrol. do you see how this attack works?))

Look up Gang Stalking, Brighting, Mobbing, Gaslighting.

It is a sad fact that there is a subculture of these Psycopaths in society that have got organised, read books and study tactics. They see themselves as normal, to them it is the victim that is defective. But as stated hear they have no true Empathy, they can fain emotion, friendship, affection.

In most cases appear extremely bright, Intelligent, illuminated. They have though drove all emotion out of their souls in their desire to improve their minds and as they see it perfect themselves. But they gather and co-operate like a Pack of Rabid wolves that can think.

They actually see their role as one of fighting for the common under dog. Righting wrongs by bullying people into shape, making them good people.

But intruth they get excited almost erotically on stealling from a mark (The person under attack maybe called a Mark, Marked one, Beyond the Pale, The green Man, Marked with chalk or caled the Project, work in progress).

A person given the task of knocking a peron maybe called a riviter or Hammer smith. (Yes they have their own slang language a tactic taken from the Art of war, It is designed to enable them to talk in a way by insinuation of a idea, so someone over hearing can not understand the hidden message.) It is a method taught by experience of doing or having done to you.

The ultimate high for them is to drive a Victim to self harm through trickery or depression. Being able to kill without even touching the victim is the greatest high or to them the mark of a Grand wizard.

Not all Faternal people are like this Just a organised group within. Wolves hidding amongst the Sheep from the Sheppard.

Sorry to have to write in such away but I need to proctect my children, my family and those who risked their lives to save me. before they drove me off the edge!

Sufferers need to organise, just learn from the fight against slavery! don't re-invent the wheel look to history for how to fight back!

Onthe edge
This pack you mention is so true, the premeditated action plan
Need to add this to get rid of this last unthoughtful comment. CP is not about anyone being paranoid - it is about what is lacking in the CP not the victim.
I saw this episode the first time round and instantly realised my manager's manager was one. He fitted all but one of Dr John's characteristics.

My direct manager was weak (read sycophantic) so I was in direct management contact with his manager daily and in effect had to manage the situation myself. I documented the behaviours over time with HR (with some behaviour's demonstrated in the company of others) and then when the show was aired I also provided HR the web links.

Keep in mind HR is there to protect the company not you - and HR did raise the issue with him despite my asking otherwise and made it worse for me â€" so I suggest you leave the HR contact until you have your next career step in progress. Oh and obviously never ask the P for a reference or to be a referee.

I resigned once I'd had enough, but it was on my own terms.

A couple of years later my P mate got pushed out because of a repeat performance and second report to HR. The gent before me in the same role was the third. So a clear pattern was established. I could only let myself be the first the first to report this, but not be the one to resolve it. Despite it being unfair to me this was not my responsibility to resolve â€" HR unfortunately felt they could resolve it and perceived it as a personality clash. HR and anyone I spoke to continued to be incredulous about it, except a couple of people who had experienced the P before when they worked for him.

Your own sanity must prevail! You cannot stay and fight on your own! You cannot stay because you enjoy your job however unfair that is! If you stay you get mentally screwed up! Then you are no good for yourself or your family! Leaving protects you from long term mental harm and self-doubt. It took me some time to get my own "Groove" or "Mojo" back after the experience because I did stay too long!

Good jobs do exist elsewhere for good people, so go for those! Put the bad time down to experience. You do grow from these events. I can tell you I don't take the same crap anymore and directly challenge similar behaviours now â€" even with a few somewhat interesting but not P type characters in my new company. One was made an offer she couldn't refuse the other was counselled.

The game is to win the game of life, not right every wrong done to you. I hope my story helps anyone else move forward...


good on you. this is one of the clearest comments here about roles and relationships when confronted with this situation.
Thank you, it is nice to know I can move on... I work with someone who is incapable of empathy, blatantly lies, rewrites history and is very good at covering their incompetence. Any issues are everyone else's fault! 1.5 years ago when members of the team I work with realized we weren't isolated victims we addressed it with our management team. Management are only now addressing it following written complaints- I have an interview next week- and am looking forward to working in a 'normal' work environment - making healthy work relationships. I only hope I can learn to trust others (including myself - I'm not crazy!) - particularly managers again.
So if there are 312 million people in the USA and half are male and 2 % are psycopaths that makes over 3 million psycopaths. There has to be compulsory screening. They have to be identified on their ID's with a P letter the rest us normals getting a N letter. Then when you take on a job a business partner or marry you can see if you are hooking up with a P.
I worked for a medium sized org once and the CEO was a P but it turned out a criminal P. It was many years later after I had left, that I saw his photo in the newpaper. He had been put away for corruption, a crim, I was so please as he was one of the most evil people I had ever met.

[Apr 29, 2012] I, Psychopath

End the Lie – Independent News

PSYCHOPATH documentary. Directed by John Purdie

"There are many psychopaths in society, that actually, we virtually know nothing about. These are the psychopaths who don't necessarily commit homicide, commit serious violence, or even come to the attention of the police. They may be successful businessmen. They may be successful politicians. They may be successful academics. They may be successful priests. They exist in all areas of society. There is a growing awareness that psychopathic behavior is around us in all walks of life."

According to popular wisdom, psychopaths are crazed and bloodthirsty serial killers. The reality is not so simple. While many psychopaths do commit violent crimes, not all psychopaths are criminals and not all criminals are psychopathic. Psychopaths are found in many walks of life and are often successful in competitive professions. However they are also ruthless, manipulative and destructive. Equinox reports on techniques developed by psychologists to work out whether a person is psychopathic and shows how brain scientists are coming close to mapping the malfunctions in the brain that cause a person to be a psychopath. In Britain one person in 200 is likely to be a psychopath. However psychopaths are thought to be responsible for half of all reported crimes and to make up between 15% and 20% of the prison population.

The programme looks at the most recent research into the brains and behavior of psychopaths and assesses the prospects for the treatment or containment of this antisocial group of people who create such a disproportionate amount of destruction. Psychopaths who have been convicted of appalling crimes explain with disturbing clarity what motivated them in their violent and destructive behavior. They speak without shame, guilt, remorse or empathy with their victims. Though they are articulate and, at times, plausible and charming, they lack the range of emotions experienced by the rest of society. They know the difference between right and wrong but they do not feel it. Robert Hare, Professor of Psychology at the University of Vancouver, has devised a system of assessment called the Psychopathy Checklist. In specialized interviews, psychologists assess individuals on a scale of 0 to 40 for a series of character traits, including callousness, superficial charm, lack of empathy and many others (for more detail look at How to recognize a psychopath). Anyone whose score is greater than 26 is diagnosed as psychopathic.

[Apr 29, 2012] HealthPop: Narcissism, pessimism and pain

Narcissists are at a greater risk for high blood pressure and heart problems; Also, men with higher levels of lead are more likely to be pessimistic; And, women consistently report higher levels of pain than men.'s Nick Dietz has the details.

[Jan 30, 2012] With friends like Facebook, who needs sociopaths by John Naughton

Jan 28, 2012 | The Guardian

The truth is that companies such as Facebook are basically the corporate world's equivalent of sociopaths, that is to say individuals who are completely lacking in conscience and respect for others. In her book The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout of Harvard medical school tries to convey what goes on in the mind of such an individual.

"Imagine," she writes, "not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern of the wellbeing of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken. And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools."

Welcome to the Facebook mindset.

[Jan 30, 2012] Is Facebook run by sociopaths?

"companies such as Facebook are the corporate world's equivalent of sociopaths."

A commentator on the Guardian suggests that "companies such as Facebook are the corporate world's equivalent of sociopaths." Might this be true?

While I wouldn't wish to wallow in a definition of sociopathy, I did happen to ask a couple of Facebook's advertising clients how they found dealing with the world's most powerful brain child.

"They breathe their own fumes," one executive told me. And he is someone who gives Facebook rather large sums of money.

It is in this, surely, that Facebook has its power. It tells us all that in tomorrow's world, everything will be social. If you're not riding in the social Ferrari, you will be but a mere cipher in the commerce of life. Worse, you will be a mere individual, someone with absolutely no friends in the playground.

And who would want to be an isolated individual or part of an isolated company? It's tempting, then to view Facebook's world picture as expressing the mindset of a sociopath--or even a con man.

The driving force of both is that their world is the only one that matters. Their own personal joy lies in dragging everyone else into their vortex and watching as everyone stares rapt in an excitement they can't quite define. There's a lot of fun in that.

Is there some ultimate meaning and spiritual uplift in the proceedings? Not so much. Rather, it's the power of the game and the protagonist's power in the game that matter.

The gullible--that would be us--play along because the game seems to offer something that we will enjoy: success or approbation, perhaps.

But, in the end, it's rather hard to believe that every move Facebook makes is the move of a benevolent association or a social revolutionary, instead of a move by an advertising company.

Who might suspect, in their private hearts, that privacy is not something that enjoys too much philosophical debate at Facebook HQ? Rather, it's simply something that stands in the way of selling more adverts. It's an inconvenience that gets in the way of economic progress.

Because economic progress is far more important than any individual's right to keep herself to herself. That's not Facebook's fault, some might say. That's just the world we live in. We've all come to believe that economic progress matters more than anything.

Naturally, this might all change a little should one of the Facebook management run into some sort of personal bother that becomes public. But, until then, let's knock down those privacy walls and make some money.

It is wrong, of course, to suggest that Facebook's management might be isolated in their apparent views. Google, too, would surely prefer it if you gave it more and more information so that it can sell more and more--and, cute phrase this, "better"--adverts.

For Naughton, sociopaths are "individuals who are completely lacking in conscience and respect for others."

I have a feeling that the people who run Facebook and Google aren't sociopaths in their private lives--should they have them. It's just that when they create one of those social networks we call companies, a strange group-think takes over. That strange group-think doesn't so much distort reality as try to create a new one. We are now living in the new reality. It's one in which it all has to start with people. People are products, products are money, and money is power.

Once you have the power, you can even try to tell governments what to do and what to think. And that's so much fun.

[Jan 1, 2012] Toxic Manager Bulletin, 2011

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