May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Authoritarians and Corporate Psychopaths as Toxic Managers

News Books Recommended Links The psychopath in the corner office


Tactful communication Rules of Communication


Workplace bullies Mayberry Machiavellians in Office Paranoid Managers Model of Corporate Psychopath Behavior The Fiefdom Syndrome Narcissists
Surviving a Bad Performance Review Steps for Decreasing Toxic Worry Preventing Burnout Learned helplessness Anger trap Office Stockholm Syndrome Stoicism
Understanding Micromanagers Surviving Micromanagers Incompetent Managers Obsessive compulsive personality Workagolism and work overload Large organizations Fraud Caused by Social Pressures
Groupthink Conformism Lysenkoism Cargo Cult Science Quotes about Psychopaths Humor Videos
  "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark"

From Hamlet (I, iv, 90)


Softpanorama Classification of Toxic Managers

Psychopaths are real aliens, "people without conscience"


Note: This is page devoted to all IT professionals who suffer from psychopathic bosses. Only those who already suffered or still suffering from one of those types can understand the level of pain as well as stakes involved in dealing with such individuals.


If you are reading this page, you probably have problems with your boss ;-).  Now what ? Actually the situation is bad, and you are really trapped, but it is not inescapable situation. You can and should escape.  As old saying goes "Knowledge is power" and this is the area where this saying is literally true. Learning the ropes can help to find a way to escape, and lessen the current pain.

It is important to understand that whose managers who produce living hell are not all created equal. But they have a common tendency to project their dissatisfaction with their life and emotional emptiness outward and ascribe it to others. If they succeed it is all them, but if they fail, it's your fault.

They are incapable of trust, because everything they do is a facade, a lie, a Potemkin village.  The same Potemkin village as their family life, where wife and children at best are viewed as a desirable possession. And that's it.  They have utter contempt for other people, although they will use flattery, deceit and other means to create a dependency while they are using them. And after that is done, you will be discarded like an empty box. In other words they are real sharks, endlessly seeking the prey to fill their emotional emptiness with possessions, be they things or other people. And they are literally insatiable in their needs, and highly focused in their pursuit of them.

There two large group of dangerous managers who typically make the life of subordinates a living hell. We will call them "toxic managers".

Both types are power hungry and have inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, etc.”  (see Understanding Borderline Rage), which serves as a vehicles of intimidation and can be carefully rehearsed. The key differential is the amount of deceit in daily interactions and about personal and family history.  Manipulation and deceit are hallmarks of psychopathic personality. They live life as actors acting different roles depending on what is profitable and what helps to achieve their goals. Much like cult leaders (which who they have a lot in common) socialized psychopath are masters of creating an "artificial past" inventing their personal histories (including education, achievements, etc ) and sometimes even relatives as well as keeping victims from escaping. See The psychopath in the corner office for the list of traits that you need to try to match with to confirm this diagnose.

As this is not a psychiatry manual, we will use an umbrella term  "toxic managers" for both corporate psychopaths and (more numerous) authoritarian managers.  That term actually allow us to avoid nitpicking about whether particular manager is real psychopath, or something else and concentrate of patterns of behavior many of which are surprisingly common.  For our purpose real psychological diagnosis is of secondary importance, but methods of fight of this personality are of primary importance.

In this respect, what matter for us is the fact that both authoritarians and psychopath of various "denominations"  are really dangerous predators of corporate jungles in general and IT jungles in particular. And they blend extremely well into the current environment within government and mega corporations.

As all of them there is one important encompassing feature: predation. Most individuals in modern societies are caught up in the perpetual struggle of striking a balance between pursuing their own interests and respecting others' rights.  When their own pursuits take precedent over others, individuals typically feel some guilt or shame about their greed. But there is no such conflict inside sociopathic managers.  They do not need to rationalize their exploitation of other, they simply feel they are entitled.  Which makes them perfect predator of corporate jungles.  When in power, they typically use their animosity to keep others in line.  Often they create kind of cult of personality environment in which, like in Stalinist Russia, in order to survive, employees must identify with their aggressor or become one of the leader's victims (and please note that Joseph Stalin was a pretty charming personality in his narrow Politburo circle).

It goes without saying that presence of such individuals in the role of the manager puts a tremendous stress on his direct reports. Psychopaths are more that rare among general population and by some estimates represent over 1% of population and approximately 4% of managers. Authoritarians are more common and often constitute majority of middle managers in the corporation.  So both university students and regular cubicle dwellers should better know your enemy as they might need to deal with them in their first or next "manager-subordinate" relationship. They (especially Authoritarians) might be present among your immediate or extended family too.

Softpanorama Classification of Toxic Managers

With those reservations, we would distinguish the following non-orthogonal types based on a single,  dominant behavioral stereotype (for example all psychopath are bullies, but only bullies has this as a predominant feature). That's a crude and unscientific classification but it does has some practical value in dealing with this type of predators because our emphasis is of classifying and describing typical set of behaviors that those people use during "hunt" for prey.  It is valuable to knew something about what to expect if you are on the receiving end of such a behavior.  We will distinguish:

Authoritarians, quintessential kiss up kick down personalities

Authoritarians are more numerous and and while dangerious and toxic, they are less dangerous category in comparison with "real" phychopaths, especially micromanagers. If you boss fits the description you need to go to the church and light the candle. While your situation is bad and often justifiably can be called simply terrible, believe me it could be much, much worse (see below).

It is not always easy to detect authoritarian manager while not being his/her subordinates. Sometimes, like in romantic relations, it is quote difficult until it's too late. Typically authorititarian kiss up behavior can be polished to perfection and generally emogh equals he is often viewed as "normal" person. Trobles start only when you report to him.

Still there are som indicatins that are usful even when you are reporting to this jerk. In the latter  case indications are useless, because you are already cooked :-(.

One of the few good indications of authoritarian personality are extreme right wing views (see Double High Authoritarians). In any case as soon as this guy/nice lady become your boss, "kick down" side of his/her personality will be demonstrated to you in all glory and you will have zero problems with the detection. The only problem is that it's too late ;-).

Also it is not necessary that authoritarian boss should be incompetent. First of all, while there is correlation  between authoritarianism and low intelligence it is just a correlation. Some authoritarians are quite bright (for example, Bill O'Reilly -- a Fox News talking head to be more like double high authoritarian rather then a typical psychopath).

Another important trait that can be observed by outsiders and should warn you is that authoritarians tend to exhibit cognitive errors and symptoms of faulty reasoning. Specifically, they are more likely to make incorrect inferences from evidence and to hold self-contradictory ideas that result from compartmentalized thinking. Moreover, they are typically unable to acknowledge their own limitations and assume responsibility for errors and blunders.  Here is a short but very useful list from Our Church Administration is Critically Infected « Another Voice

1.Illogical Thinking: The lack of independent, critical thinking.

2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds: Authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another.

3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do.

4. Hypocrisy: The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest
against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.

5. Blindness To Themselves: self-righteousness.

6. A Profound Ethnocentrism: Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups…….in-groups are holy and good…out-groups are evil and Satanic.

7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarian’s Last Ditch Defense: By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions…..

I would put dogmatism higher as this is valuable test which works when this type of people report to you or are on the same level as you and the personality they present to you is their "fake", Potemkin village facade.

But other then that this is an excellent, simply excellent list. One missing, but important feature is that authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity. When discussing political preferences, tor example, they are more willing to suspend constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the Bill of Rights. They also are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and they admit that they obtain personal satisfaction from punishing such people. See Authoritarians

Bullies or aggressive psychopaths

Aggression in inherent in psychopath as a predator in corporate environment, and to tell that a psychopath is a bully is just to tell that the water is wet. So this is a sure sign that the boss is psychopath, but it does not help in classification of the set of behaviors that distinguish this particular predator from others. But for some sociopaths this pattern of behavior serves is the most favorite tactics that they use systematically. Those psychopaths have a distinct a tendency toward sadism and derive perverse gratification from harming others. They do like to hurt, frighten, tyrannize. They do it for a sense of power and control, and will often only drop subtle hints about what they are up to (this is also typical of authoritarians).

At the same time they systematically polish their aggressive, domineering manner in such a way to disguise any intimidation as legitimate corporate behavior and avoid coming under HR scrutiny for their behavior. Such pathological personalities always seek out positions of power, such as teacher, bureaucrat, manager, or police officer. You can also distinguish several subtypes:

I would like to stress it again that direct or indirect aggression is inherent in sociopath (a socialized psychopath) and to tell that a psychopath is a bully is just to tell that the water is wet.

US National Center for Education Statistics suggests that bullying can be broken into two categories:

Indirect bullying is more subtle and more likely to be verbal, such as the silent treatment, arguing others into submission, manipulation, gossip, staring, and mocking. While women can be as aggressive or even more aggressive then men they usually are more indirect. I would like to stress that gender differences in aggression are subject to review; human society is too complex and direct projection from animal world, for example, from great apes is of limited value. See important paper by Kaj Bjorkqvist Sex Differences in Physical, Verbal, and Indirect Aggression: A review of recent research

Accordingly, one should not expect women to develop and use exactly the same strategies for attaining their goals as men do. If strategies for aggression and conflict resolution are learned, not innate, then women are likely to learn different methods than men. Important aspects are power and capacity, not only physical, but also verbal, and social.

Human beings have nonphysical powers which are far beyond those of any other animal. Accordingly, human aggression has faces and forms, inconceivable within the realm of animal aggression. Extrapolations from animal studies are, therefore, misleading. Aggressive styles are also subject to developmental change during the life course. As indicated, animal aggression is mostly physical. Also among young children lacking verbal skills, aggression is predominantly physical.

Verbal skills, when they develop, are quickly utilized not only for peaceful communication, but also for aggressive purposes. When social skills develop, even more sophisticated strategies of aggression are made possible, with the aggressor being able to harm a target person without even being identified: Those strategies may be referred to as indirect aggression (Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist, and Peltonen, 1988; Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, and Kaukiainen, 1992).

There are good reasons to believe that, as far as adult interpersonal conflict is concerned, physical aggression is really the exception, not the rule. Other means are more likely to be used.

Burbank (1987) reviews anthropological research on female aggression. She finds females of different cultures having a large potential of aggressive means to use in order to get even with their husbands, such as, e.g., locking them out of the house for the night: she regards this as an act of aggression. Burbank (1987) found females seldom to resort to physical aggression against their husbands, but they did so, occasionally. The most common reason was that their husbands had committed adultery. Burbank found, however, that women are much more often aggressive towards other women than towards men.

Here is one type from popular literature that fits the pattern:

The Fearmonger Boss. People do what a “fearsome” boss says because they’re afraid of him, which actually encourages further intimidation. He always has a threat, and he constantly follows through with that threat in order to keep his employees acquiescent.

Often bulling behavior is combined with paranoia tendencies (paranoiac self-defense). Again this category is fuzzy.

See Bullies or aggressive psychopaths  for more information


Paranoid managers are psychopaths for whom continual mistrust and misjudgment of environment dominates other (often no less pathological) personality features. Wikipedia defines paranoia in the following way:

Paranoid personality disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis that denotes a personality disorder with paranoid features. It is characterized by an exaggerated sensitivity to rejection, resentfulness, distrust, as well as the inclination to distort experienced events. Neutral and friendly actions of others are often misinterpreted as being hostile or contemptuous.

Unfounded suspicions regarding the sexual loyalty of partners and loyalty in general as well as the belief that one’s rights are not being recognized is stubbornly and argumentatively insisted upon.

Paranoid managers are suspicious, touchy, typically humorless, quick to take offense and slow to forgive, self-righteous (Which makes them remarkably similar to authoritarians and micromanagers). They are often argumentative and litigious. They seldom show tenderness and may avoid intimacy; often they seem tense and brusque.

Paranoid personalities find causal connections everywhere; for them nothing is coincidental.

They are constantly on guard and are hypersensitive to critique. That means that they often take offense where none is intended. Often they have problems with understanding humor. They appear cold and, in fact, often avoid becoming intimate with others. Often pride themselves on their rationality, objectivity and fairness. Paranoid managers rarely come forward to seek help from subordinates.

Often paranoia combines with "toxic incompetence" as they cannot make decision on time (analysis paralysis), insists of creating tons of useless documentation and due to this skip important project milestones, etc. Fear of exposure of paranoid manager is blended into a pattern of pervasive distrust and suspiciousness. An inability to trust, doubts about others' loyalty, distortion and fabrication of personal histories, qualifications and facts, misinterpretation, and bearing grudges unnecessarily are generally hallmarks of the disorder. Pathological and instinctive aggressive counter-attack, the need to control others is also a prominent feature. They like to collect evidence of subordinates. Paranoid managers often can be classified as "raw bullies", as in relations with subordinates they prefer to rely on brute force and direct intimidation.

For more information see Paranoids


Tendency to micromanage subordinates is often combined with paranoia and bulling in various (but of course lesser then those classified as bullies or as paranoid) degrees. It also pretty often demonstrate itself as a distinct condition close to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OSD).

Micromanagers are remarkably close to authoritarian personalities in patterns of behaviour and demonstrate typical for the latter category bouts of anger (Borderline Rage). Reverse is not true, some authoritarians avoid micromanaging. Micromanagers often have almost pathological neatness; the latter is especially typical for women. Often their hairstyle is distinctly refined.

Especially dangerous are paranoid incompetent micromanagers (PIMM) the type which we will study in more detail on a separate set of pages:

Micromanagers is one of the few areas were gender stereotyping might provide some survival benefits. Women tend to be more detail oriented, and female corporate psychopaths more often tend to behave like micromanagers. Female PIMM can be mean, evil, vindictive and quite petty.

If a female boss is insecure about her skills and abilities she is more likely to exhibit PIMM behavior. Female PIMM are usually more skilled in using indirect aggression, especially isolation. 

Level of paranoia is elevated and often micromanagers simultaneously can be classified as paranoid managers. Among common traits are complete absence of trust in the staff, pathological need for control, pathologic dissatisfaction with results, and recurring "tantrums."

Many of PIMM can be also classified as bullies but again they, especially female PIMM, prefer indirect aggression to direct. Usually, female PIMM cultivate spying on subordinates and encourage "little birds" to rest on their shoulders and whisper all forms of gossip. This, these minions believe, ingratiates them to their bosses.

For more information see Micromanagers


The narcissistic bosses are characterized by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy," often evidenced as envy, taking advantage of others, an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement, and arrogant or haughty behavior. There is not much hope for the poor shmacs toiling for the narcissistic personality-disordered boss who demands perfection, absolute loyalty, and 24/7 devotion to the job.

Narcissistic managers are not that different from other types and also suffer from compulsive need for control ("control freaks"). Narcissistic behavior is dominated by compulsive desire to project highly positive image  resulting in unstable behavior with emotional outbursts caused by insecurity and weakness rather than any real feelings of confidence or self-esteem.  One interesting feature of narcissists is that their behaviour in family environment is often more brutal and tyrannical then with subordinates of the office.  That makes they close to micromanagers.

Typically they are oversensitive to criticism and do not accept slightest criticism from below. They often can be simultaneously classified both as bullies and micromanagers. As they need to steal all the achievements of subordinates to built their image they are typically "gatekeepers" who try tightly control all the communications channels with the superiors'. Can be quite paranoid and react inadequately on any threat to their projected image.

For more information see Narcissists.

Manipulator bosses or Machiavellian boss ("wolfs in sheep closing")

Manipulative psychopaths are probably the smoothest of corporate psychopaths. Here we will mean a class of corporate psychopath who excels in manipulative behaviors including, but not limited to flattery and seduction. All psychopaths use this to a certain extent, but for this type this is a preferred tactic. Also they are typically talented actors and can wear their fake, "invented personality" with confidence and aplomb typical for great actors in movies and theater.

While manipulative behaviors including, but not limited to flattery and seduction are prominent, other features typical for corporate psychopath are usually present too. They are very similar to paranoid managers in their behavior toward subordinates, but unlike paranoids are capable to create a real smokescreen over their real personality by using flattery and seduction.

Unlike bullies they prefer indirect aggression to direct. They have tendency to play by the rules only as long as it suits them and break rules as soon as this is needed for achieving thier objectives. They are notoriously capable to exploit  "grey" area in their favor. This distinguishes them from paranoids. Like narcissists they fear becoming less valued, if their underlings get any recognition for exemplary work. Manipulator bosses are backstabbers who'll go to frightening lengths to look good to their superiors at the expense of denigrating subordinates.

Typically have a dual personality syndrome and behave completely differently with superiors then with subordinates. Here is how they are described in one of Monster career self-help articles:

The Manipulator Boss

Also known as the Machiavellian boss, this type is extremely intelligent and one of the most dangerous. The manipulator boss is highly focused, very motivated, and always has a secret plan. He looks at people as a means to an end. The world is a giant pyramid and the apex is his. People he touches or runs over on the way to the top are casualties he writes off. If you work for a manipulator, watch your back. Your best bet is to be open and honest with him. Volunteer information. Your boss, who has long forgotten what truth is, will be left impressed by it.

For more information see Manipulator bosses or Machiavellian boss ("wolfs in sheep closing")

Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers)

We need to distinguish between normal and abnormal incompetence. Normal or institutional incompetence is inherent in large bureaucracies and in reflected on Peter Principle and Parkinson law.  In this case the manager was competent on some lower level of hierarchy but became incompetent after promotion or as often happens in IT due to loss of technical qualification in the current position. 

But there is also other, abnormal incompetence, when a person got to his position due to some "institutional lift" (for example being close friend or relative of  one of the higher level managers, or a secretary who is a mistress of the upper manager and was promoted to some technical position in IT department). This case  is also called pathological incompetence or colloquially "empty suits". 

It is usually quite toxic if such a manager is also aggressive. Unfortunately more often then not it is correlated with extreme aggressiveness as well as other personality problems -- most toxically incompetent managers are micromanagers or narcissists or bullies or some combination.   No substance and not much style. Just very sharp claws and elbows.

Such managers are more widespread that this is assumed in Harvard Business Scholl publications: in a large organization competence is not the primary value. Politics, connections, and clever tactics can compensate for incompetence. The sad truth that they are pretty typical in large organizations for reasons completely different from The Peter Principle.  In "bootlickocracy", the most incompetents are valued for "different reasons" and can easily propel themselves into a supervisory role.

Toxic incompetence is usually correlated with various other personality disorders and is prominent among corporate psychopaths.  Common clues include:

For more information see Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers).

Psychopaths are real aliens, "people without conscience"

Psychopathic bosses are people that are so different from normal people that they can be truly called aliens. And those dramatic differences cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or development. They operate using different set of assumptions, and it is the latter that makes them the natural "predators" of the corporate world, "criminals without criminal offences".

In corporate environment psychopath is the person who fails to recognize, much less to empathize with, the personal human dignity and rights of subordinates. That's why they are called "people without conscience".  They do not feel remorse at lying or manipulating, and they typically lie without limit creating an elaborate edifice of their fake past. This "addiction to lying" (and related inconsistencies in their descriptions of their past) is probably the most telling early warning sign about psychopath. Typically they "invent" their past. They have trouble with teamwork for the same reason. They will say one thing to one person, and something different to someone else.

As psychopaths are addicted to lying, they frequently contradict themselves. Typically they also enjoy harming and bullying others.  In young age they are often cruel to animals...

And it is difficult to understand how alien they are from "common people". To a certain extent they are insane. Please note that "sanity" does not mean perfection; it merely means sufficient engagement with the real world and society to allow us to survive both day-by-day and in the long term – thus “sane” individuals usually tend to obey traffic laws, learn from their mistakes and practical experience and, in the case of moral sanity, they recognize in others their worth and their capacity for joy and suffering.  Psychopaths are by definition reckless. This actions aren't merely misguided, but often are clinically dysfunctional. That's why they often self-destruct.

Furthermore, sanity implies an ability of introspection: capacity to critically evaluate one’s experience, to distinguish fact from fiction, and to tune behavior, to adapt to the real world. Insanity, by implication, suggests a significant level of detachment from reality and inability to change one behavior despite negative feedback from the environment.  For example, a psychopath not only can't recognize the human worth and the capacity for pleasure and pain in others, he does not recognize any value of that. For him treating people like objects is "normal" and any empathy is for suckers.  In this sense he/she is living in an "unreal", artificial world. Detached for reality world, the world were no empathy exits. It is often correlates with other psychological disorders such as paranoia.

The presence or absence of conscience and related lack of emotions is a deep human division, arguably as significant as intelligence, race, and closer then many would think to gender differences.

We don't know what makes psychopath ticks and how they acquire the set of behavioral patterns they demonstrate. So most of modern literature is limited to "traits based description". For  extensive list of traits see The psychopath in the corner office. This "trait classification" method that prevails in the literature is very limited and in general should be considered unscientific. As such, it overlaps with "popular urban mythology". Still even mythology is better then nothing and we do not have any other approach that is really better.


You need to understand that those description are pretty much ad hoc. Reality is more complex and does not fit well within this rigid scheme. Often traits are intermixed in a unique way that defy classification. That's why you need really put an effort into studying your particular type and documenting his/her behavior to get some real insights into particular beast you are dealing with. One important variable partially omitted is the level of intellect (also low IQ is reflected in Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers) type).  Often psychopaths have high or very high IQ. 

There are probably several more important factors that were omitted. For example, gender differences are also very important and color psychopathic behavior in a unique way. See Female Sociopaths

Methods of attacks used by psychopathic bosses vary but one common is based on performance reviews. There are several traps there you can and should avoid.  See Surviving a Bad Performance Review

The simplest way to get some additional insight would be checkpoint list based on typical traits displayed by psychopaths. See The psychopath in the corner office

For psychopaths the office environment is a theatre of war and like in any war ends justify means. So dirty tricks are ok  as French proverb A la guerre, comme a la guerre  implies. They are typically used by psychopaths without any constrains (spreading dirty rumors is the specialty of female sociopath and those skills are usually polished since childhood to perfection.).  The greatest variety is observable from Machiavellians Manipulators but sophistication is typical for psychopath in general. See Machiavellians Manipulators Tricks.

You should remember  famous saying that "War is a continuation of policy by other means" and don't overreact.

First of all, like in real war, there is a "fog of war" over the whole situation (i.e., you are facing incomplete, dubious, and often completely erroneous information and high levels of fear, doubt, and excitement). Which complicate rational assessment of the situation so delays with the reaction and keeping your cards close to your chest might in many cases be not detrimental, but  advantageous.

Actually studying war tactics which were discussed, for example, in famous Clausewitz On War (available free from and The Art of War  is not a bad idea. Among them (cited from Wikipedia):

There are several good books on the subject that you should definitely read. Stakes are so high that any additional ammo worth much more then its nominal cost. See a list of suggestions in  Toxic managers: The Problem of Corporate Psychopaths. But again, you should took information provided with a grain of salt.

Watching films that depict psychopath also provide some additional insight and this way of study should not be overlooked.  Unlike real events you can watch the film over and over again and that's enhance the understanding of specific tricks and attack methods. See Psychopaths in Movies. 

Some behavior patterns are really easier to study via movies. This is especially true about female sociopaths. For example there is certain logic in outbursts of anger used by psychopath. They are not completely spontaneous, but more of a sign that you entered the territory they already staked. Or they want something that you refuse to give. The same is true for authoritarians (authoritarian rage).  See Understanding Borderline Rage.

At the same time, being reserved is very important. One of the tactics used is to  provoked you into a burst of your own impulsive behavior as this way psychopath can play victim, while being actually an aggressor.  See Anger trap

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov

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[Feb 05, 2016] Pathological Liar – Impulsive, Compulsive Lying, Self-Deception
Pathological Liar – All About PATHOLOGICAL LYING, Lying, Self-Deception, Types, Classification, from Pseudologia Fantastica to Habitual Lying.
  1. Pathological Liar – Definition

    Pathological liar refers to a liar that is compulsive or impulsive, lies on a regular basis and is unable to control their lying despite of foreseeing inevitable negative consequences or ultimate disclosure of the lie. Generally lies told by a pathological liar have self-defeating quality to them and don't serve the long term material needs of the person. Therefore pathological lying is lying that is caused by a pathology, occurs on a regular basis, is compulsive or impulsive & uncontrolled, and has self-defeating, self-trapping quality to it.

    Lying or self-deception is a part of everyday human interactions. In many cases lying can be beneficial for those who lie and those who are being lied to. Most of this type of lying with positive consequences occurs in a controlled way, thoughtfully, with careful weighting of beneficial consequences. Unlike these, the lies told by a pathological liar are uncontrolled and are likely to have damaging consequences.

    Pathological lying covers a wide range of lying behavior, from pseudologia fantastica to habitual lying. Lying is a commonly found clinical component with people who suffer from impulse control disorders such as gambling, compulsive shopping, substance abuse, kleptomania etc. Pathological lying is generally caused by a combination of factors, which may include genetic components, dysfunctional or insecure childhood, dyslexia or other type of cerebral dysfunction. Such conditions may host environment that is likely to emerge chronic or pathological lying as an adaptive defense mechanism. Dysfunctional family, parental overprotection, sibling rivalry, mental retardation are among many causes of pathological lying.

  2. Low Self-Esteem And Pathological Lying

    Low self-esteem is a commonly found feature in pathological liars. The lie maybe an attempt to feel good about themselves, generally for a short period of time, similar to the effect of drugs & alcohol. The same lie or deceit repeated over and over may create a myth of personal well-being or success or displacement of faults of own failures on others, thus creating an imaginary fantasy protection bubble, which may reinforce self-esteem. Pathological liars repeatedly use deceit as an ego defense mechanism, which is primarily caused by the lack of ability to cope with everyday problems in more mature ways (Selling 1942).

  3. Pathological Liar – Causes

    Causes of development of pathological lying can be, but are not limited to, one or more of the factors mentioned below:

    • A dysfunctional family;
    • Sexual or physical abuse in childhood;
    • Neuropsychological abnormalities; such as borderline mental retardation, learning disabilities etc.
    • Impulse control disorders; such as kleptomania, pathological gambling, compulsive shopping.
    • Accommodating or suggestible personality traits;
    • Personality disorders such as Sociopathic, Narcissistic, Borderline, Histrionic and more;
    • Substance abuse or substance abuse in family;
  4. Pathological Liar – Types
    • Daydreaming Pathological Liar – Pseudologia Fantastica

      Some of the more extreme forms of pathological lying is Pseudologia Fantastica. This is a matrix of facts & fiction, mixed together in a way that makes the reality and fantasy almost indistinguishable. The pseudologue type pathological liar makes up stories that seem possible on the surface, but over time things start falling apart. Pseudologues have dynamic approach to their lies, they are likely to change the story if confronted or faced with disbelief, they have excessive anxiety of being caught and they desperately try to modify their story to something that would seem plausible to create or preserve a sense of self that is something they wish they were or at least something better than they fear others would find out they are. The excessive anxiety is driven by unusually low self-esteem, the person tries to hide reality by creating a fake reality, and once the story has enduring quality to it, he/she is likely to repeat it and if repeated enough times he/she might start believing in it as well. This reality escape can be triggered of a past incident or of an unbearable present for the pseudologue.

      About 30% of daydreaming pathological liars have brain dysfunction. For some it may take the form of learning disabilities, ex. dyslexia. Often those with cerebral dysfunction have greater verbal production & lower developed logical, analytical parts of the brain, thus they often fail to control verbal output.

    • Habitual Liar

      Habitual pathological lying is, as the name suggest, habitual. Habitual liar lies so frequently, that it becomes a habit, as a result, he/she puts very little effort in giving a thought about what the output is going to be, nor does he/she care much to process whether it's a lie or not, it's simply a reflex & very often can be completely unnecessary or even opposite to his/her own needs. If he/she stops & thinks about it, he/she knows clearly it's a lie.

      Habitual liars lie for a variety of reasons, which include, but are not limited to:

      • Take advantage of the situation or misguide a rival
      • Avoid confrontation or punishment
      • Cover up lack of knowledge
      • Cover up embarrassment
      • To entertain oneself or others
      • Reinforce self-esteem, because of failing own expectation
      • Receive unearned praise or avoid disappointment or disproval
      • For no reason whatsoever

      Habitual liars gives very few if any psychical or vocal signs of lying, due to the effortless nature of lying. That said, since he/she gives a very little thought to his/her lies, they are usually inconsistent & obvious.

      Fear is a major contributor in developing habitual lying in a child & further advancement into adulthood, more so in conditions when the child finds truth telling results in more frequent or more severe punishment. Lack of appreciating and likelihood of unwanted consequences of telling the truth may result in frequent opting out for lying, which often involves less punishment & therefore becomes more desirable.

    • Impulsive Pathological Liar – Impulse Control Disorders & Lying

      Impulsive pathological liar lies due to impulse control problem, he/she lies to fulfill his/her present (in the moment) needs, without thinking of future negative effects that can be caused because of the lie. Impulsive pathological liar generally suffers from impulse control disorders, such as kleptomania, pathological gambling, compulsive shopping etc. Those suffering from impulse control disorders fail to learn from past negative experiences, frequently suffer from depression, likely to have history of substance abuse in family or have substance abuse problems themselves, likely to have deficiency in brain serotonin. Increase in brain serotonin may have positive effect in decreasing impulsiveness, such medication may have positive effects, however there hasn't been clinical research performed to confirm or deny this theory.

    • Substance Abuse Associated Pathological Liar

      Self-Deception is an undeniable part of addictive process. People abuse alcohol or other drugs constantly lie to themselves & others to avoid embarrassment, conflict, as well as to obtain the substance. Getting off substance requires learning to distance oneself from the deceit, therefore learning to be truthful is generally a part of any Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous program.

  5. Signs of Lying

    Human detection of deceit can be summarized by the following seven signs.

    7 Signs of Lying

    • Disguised smiling
    • Lack of head movement
    • Increased rate of self-adapters (eg., movements such playing with an object in hands, scratching one's head etc.)
    • Increased/Heightened pitch of voice
    • Reduced rate of speech
    • Pause fillers ("uh", "hm", "er")
    • Less corresponding, matching nonverbal behavior from the other communication methods (ex. the movement of hands doesn't match the substance of the lie that is being told orally)

Reference: (Fiedler, Walka, Zuckerman, Driver, Ford)

Pathological lying - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Dec 09, 2015] Meet the Malignant Narcissist
"A personality disorder characterized by grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one's superiority; a lack of empathy, lack of truthfulness, and the tendency to degrade others."

"Narcissism becomes particularly malignant (i.e. malevolent, dangerous, harmful, incurable) when it goes beyond mere vanity and excessive self-focus. Malignant narcissists not only see themselves as superior to others but believe in their superiority to the degree that they view others as relatively worthless, expendable, and justifiably exploitable.

This type of narcissism is a defining characteristic of psychopathy/sociopathy and is rooted in an individual's deficient capacity for empathy. It's almost impossible for a person with such shallow feelings and such haughtiness to really care about others or to form a conscience with any of the qualities we typically associate with a humane attitude, which is why most researchers and thinkers on the topic of psychopathy think of psychopaths as individuals without a conscience altogether."

"There is nothing about the man that is service-oriented. He's only serving himself.""

[Dec 08, 2015] Cruz is a pathological liar, with no real belief system at all

Notable quotes:
"... Cruz doesn't have two faces ... he has infinity. Because Cruz is a pathological liar, with no real belief system at all. ..."
"... Cruz doesn't have this problem. He can say whatever he wants whenever he wants. He doesn't believe anything he says. His whole persona is an act. He wears the same smirk on his face that Glenn Beck wears, because he has the same business model as Beck: pretending to be an ideologue to try to maximize his appeal to the rubes. ..."
"... Nonethless his question to Yellen was correct. The Fed passively tightened during the financial panic over fears of inflation. ..."
"... For weeks, polls have shown Mr. Cruz climbing both nationally and, more decisively, in Iowa, where a Monmouth University survey on Monday placed him first, with 24 percent support among likely Republican caucusgoers. Donald J. Trump was second at 19 percent. (Another poll, by CNN, gave Mr. Trump a solid lead, despite gains by Mr. Cruz.) ..."
"... "He is a product of this paradigm shift," said Steve Deace, an influential Iowa radio host who supports Mr. Cruz. "He recognizes the direction the party is going in because if it wasn't moving in that direction, he wouldn't be one of 100 senators in the country at this moment." ..."
"... what mattered was not the current growth of the economy but cumulative growth or, more to the point, the depth of the cumulative recession. One year of contraction was not enough to significantly boost extremism, in other words, but a depression that persisted for years was. ..."
"... This column suggests that the danger of political polarisation and extremism is greatest in countries with relatively recent histories of democracy, with existing right-wing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that create low hurdles to parliamentary representation of new parties. But above all, it is greatest where depressed economic conditions are allowed to persist. ..."
Dec 08, 2015 | Economist's View\

Links for 12-08-15

sanjait said in reply to pgl...

Calling Cruz two-faced or a gold bug is a discredit to Cruz.

Cruz doesn't have two faces ... he has infinity. Because Cruz is a pathological liar, with no real belief system at all.

A lot of people become ideologues because they strongly desire ideological consistency. Most of these people come to believe the things they say, because even though they know they lie sometimes, it's too hard for them to exist in the world perceiving themselves to be liars.

Cruz doesn't have this problem. He can say whatever he wants whenever he wants. He doesn't believe anything he says. His whole persona is an act. He wears the same smirk on his face that Glenn Beck wears, because he has the same business model as Beck: pretending to be an ideologue to try to maximize his appeal to the rubes.

Maybe somewhere deep inside Cruz believes something. Maybe he even believes in the gold standard. But just because he's talked about that issue at length in the past, I don't think it's safe to assume he has any sincere belief thereof. He's not the kind of guy who actually believes in things.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to sanjait...

The short hand for saying all that is that Ted Cruz and Glenn Beck are pathological liars.

DrDick said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Actually, with these two, I am not sure how much is lying and how much is totally delusional. They both really seem to believe a lot of this BS. It doese not make them any less dangerous (it possibly makes them more so), but it does matter.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to DrDick...

I just do not know enough about Ted Cruz to say. Glenn Beck is a different matter and well documented. The article at the link below clearly shows that Beck's issues are in his personality (disorder) more than his ideology.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Paine said in reply to Peter K....

One can be a gold bug and fully recognize the consequences [of] a system that magnifies unequal outcomes and accumulations. Cruz is a demagogic hand maiden of the wealthy. Useful in times of potential popular unrest

Peter K. said in reply to Paine ...

We all know what Cruz is. He even looks like Joseph McCarthy.

Nonethless his question to Yellen was correct. The Fed passively tightened during the financial panic over fears of inflation.


Fred C.Dobbs said...


After Months of Lying in Wait and Watching Rivals,
Ted Cruz Sees Payoff in Polls

Hours after Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy last March at an evangelical university, his team openly cheered his meager position in the polls, where his support registered at around 5 percent. "You have to own a base in the Republican primary," the campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said then. "If you own the base, then you can grow it."

Less than nine months later - many of them spent drafting behind his rivals, lying in wait - Mr. Cruz's base of support has swelled, forcing his foes to grapple with the central premise of Mr. Cruz's bid, a bet many had long dismissed: that he could emerge as the first far-right conservative in recent political history with the strength to withstand a bruising primary.

For weeks, polls have shown Mr. Cruz climbing both nationally and, more decisively, in Iowa, where a Monmouth University survey on Monday placed him first, with 24 percent support among likely Republican caucusgoers. Donald J. Trump was second at 19 percent. (Another poll, by CNN, gave Mr. Trump a solid lead, despite gains by Mr. Cruz.)

Mr. Cruz, who had more cash on hand than any other campaign as of Sept. 30, boasts on the trail that the traditional primary script has been flipped: While many evangelicals and Tea Party supporters are uniting behind him, he says, several establishment figures are "fighting like cats and dogs" for their share of the electorate.

He has channeled much of the same voter frustration fueling Mr. Trump, positioning himself as an outsider with the Washington battle scars to effect conservative change, while remaining deferential enough to Mr. Trump to avoid his broadsides. (Mr. Cruz distanced himself, politely, from Mr. Trump's calls on Monday to bar Muslims from entering the United States.)

And while many rivals in the race, including Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, were elected in the Tea Party wave, no lawmaker has better internalized the Republican Party's mood under President Obama, placing conservative ideological purity above all else.

"He is a product of this paradigm shift," said Steve Deace, an influential Iowa radio host who supports Mr. Cruz. "He recognizes the direction the party is going in because if it wasn't moving in that direction, he wouldn't be one of 100 senators in the country at this moment."

Obstacles abound. Mr. Cruz, widely detested by the Republican establishment...

anne said...

December 7, 2015

That 30s Show
By Paul Krugman

A few years ago de Bromhead, Eichengreen, and O'Rourke looked at the determinants of right-wing extremism * in the 1930s. They found that economic factors mattered a lot; specifically,

"what mattered was not the current growth of the economy but cumulative growth or, more to the point, the depth of the cumulative recession. One year of contraction was not enough to significantly boost extremism, in other words, but a depression that persisted for years was."

How's Europe doing on that basis?


And now the National Front has scored a first-place finish in regional elections, ** and will probably take a couple of regions in the second round. Economics isn't the only factor; immigration, refugees, and terrorism play into the mix. But Europe's underperformance is slowly eroding the legitimacy, not just of the European project, but of the open society itself.



anne said in reply to anne...

February 27, 2012

Right-wing political extremism in the Great Depression
By Alan de Bromhead, Barry Eichengreen, and Kevin Hjortshřj O'Rourke

The enduring global crisis is giving rise to fears that economic hard times will feed political extremism, as it did in the 1930s. This column suggests that the danger of political polarisation and extremism is greatest in countries with relatively recent histories of democracy, with existing right-wing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that create low hurdles to parliamentary representation of new parties. But above all, it is greatest where depressed economic conditions are allowed to persist.

anne said in reply to anne...

With more subtlety and contemporary relevance to political responses in the wake of crises, there is "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein. That economists are unwilling to examine and credit the ideas of Klein, who is a sociologist, is a limitation on relevant analyses of economists.

im1dc said...

Ted latest attempt to be more disgusting than The Donald

European migrant crisis - 1h ago

"Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says he introduced bill to let states reject refugees - @ReutersPolitics"


pgl said in reply to im1dc...

Isn't Cruz Canadian? Can we pass a law sending him back to Canada and never letting him pass south of the 49th parallel?

[Dec 07, 2015] A Dangerously Flawed View of Capitalism
I recently bought a collection of DVDs from the website Acorn that sells a lot of PBS stuff. The collection was called The Golden Age of Television and included a bunch of critically acclaimed dramas originally written for TV. The dramas were broadcast live, and with one exception, only once.

The exception was a play by Rod Serling called Patterns. Patterns is about the immorality of corporate America. A young engineer from Cincinnati, Fred Staples (Richard Kiley), is hired by Walter Ramsey (Everett Sloane), the ruthless head of a huge corporation in New York, to replace an aging executive, Andy Sloane (Ed Begley), whose ethics have become both an inconvenience and constant source of irritation to Ramsey.

Ramsey's plan is to make Sloane so miserable through unrelenting public humiliation of him that he'll resign. Staples doesn't realize he's been hired to replace Sloane, not at first anyway. He likes and respects Sloane and does what he can to help him and to ease the pressure put on him by the villainous Mr. Ramsey.

Ramsey's behavior toward Sloan is so vicious and sadistic it's stomach turning. The implication is that Ramsey is a sadist and that such sadism might be an inexorable part of corporate culture. Even Sloane understands it. Staples, being younger and new to the corporate world, doesn't get it, but Sloane explains it to him. Sloane knows what's going on, but he's determined to stick it out for just a few more years. He has a boy almost ready for college. Sloane is not merely psychologically dependent on his identity as the vice president of a huge and successful corporation. He's also financially dependent on his lavish executive salary.

So Sloane takes beating after beating. Ramsey finally accuses him, in a particularly nasty attack, of trying to pass off Staples' work as his own by affixing his name along with Staples' to a report that Ramsey insists is so good it had to have been prepared by Staples alone. The report was, in fact, a collaborative effort, so Staples rises to Sloane's defense. Sloane knows better, however, than to accept Staples' support. "It was a clerical error," he whispers, "my name wasn't supposed to go on the report. It was a clerical error." Sloane then staggers out of the boardroom and collapses in the hall of what would appear to be a heart attack. He dies later that same evening.

Staples decides he's had enough of corporate ugliness and that he's going to return to Cincinnati. First, however, he resolves to avenge his friend Sloane by telling off Ramsey. He calls Ramsey every name in the book, says he's not even human. But Ramsey is unperturbed by Staples attack. In fact, he asks Staples to stay on with the company as Sloane's replacement. Ramsey explains to Staples that Staples doesn't have to like him, or be nice to him, and that he can oppose him whenever he wants. Staples needs the challenge, Ramsey asserts, that taking over Sloane's position would give him. He needs the challenge of running a large company, the challenge of making it an even larger company than he, Ramsey, has made it. He will grow with this challenge, Ramsey asserts, even as the company grows. So then, in what film critic Andrew Harris calls "an anti-cliché ending to end all anti-cliché endings," Staples accepts Ramsey's offer.

But Staples' acceptance makes no sense. We learned earlier from Sloane's secretary that Ramsey doesn't like people who oppose him. Not only do we, the audience learn that, Staples learns it because we learn it when she explains it to him. That's why he persecuted Sloane, because Sloane opposed him whenever he wanted to do something morally indefensible. Staples is just like Sloane in having scruples, so why would he agree to stay and work for a man to whom scruples are an intolerable threat?

Staples wouldn't accept such an arrangement, and, in fact, he didn't accept it, not in Serling's original script. Viewers learn from the introduction to Patterns provided on the DVD that Serling's original screenplay had Staples telling Ramsey off and returning to Cincinnati a hero. That's how director Fielder Cook describes the original ending anyway. Cook explains that he had to do some revision of the script and that Serling also had to labor mightily to make it acceptable. Cook makes it sound as if the motivations for the revisions were aesthetic, but the rest of the events surrounding the eventual broadcast of the play suggest otherwise.

Patterns had been written for CBS's Studio One, but the executives at CBS didn't like it so Serling had to shop it around. No explanation is given for why what had been unacceptable for CBS was soon afterward deemed acceptable for NBC's Kraft Television Theater. The implication is that it was the script doctoring performed by Cook and Serling, or more specifically, that it was the replacement of the original ending with one that would have been more palatable to television executives and, more importantly, to the advertisers they hoped to attract. Media moguls and the corporations that paid handsomely to advertise on popular programs such as Studio One and Kraft Television Theater would undoubtedly have taken offense at Serling's original denunciation of the immorality of corporate America, so the denunciation was replaced by what was effectively a defense of that immorality.

[Dec 05, 2015] Future - How dark is your personality

Pretty simplistic but still interesting self-test...

Dec 3, 2015 | BBC

The questions for this quiz were inspired by questionnaires developed by Delroy Paulhus and Daniel Jones (Assessment, vol 21, p 28). Our quiz was designed solely for entertainment, and the results should not be considered a scientific measure of your personality. If you would like to learn more about Paulhus’s personality research and his serious explorations of the dark triad, read our profile “The man who studies everyday evil”.

[Oct 24, 2015] Phone in sick: its a small act of rebellion against wage slavery

Notable quotes:
"... By far the biggest act of wage slavery rebellion, don't buy shit. The less you buy, the less you need to earn. Holidays by far the minority of your life should not be a desperate escape from the majority of your life. Spend less, work less and actually really enjoy living more. ..."
"... How about don't shop at Walmart (they helped boost the Chinese economy while committing hari kari on the American Dream) and actually engaging in proper labour action? Calling in sick is just plain childish. ..."
"... I'm all for sticking it to the man, but when you call into work for a stupid reason (and a hangover is a very stupid reason), it is selfish, and does more damage to the cause of worker's rights, not less. I don't know about where you work, but if I call in sick to my job, other people have to pick up my slack. I work for a public library, and we don't have a lot of funds, so we have the bear minimum of employees we can have and still work efficiently. As such, if anybody calls in, everyone else, up to and including the library director, have to take on more work. ..."
Oct 24, 2015 | The Guardian

"Phoning in sick is a revolutionary act." I loved that slogan. It came to me, as so many good things did, from Housmans, the radical bookshop in King's Cross. There you could rummage through all sorts of anarchist pamphlets and there I discovered, in the early 80s, the wondrous little magazine Processed World. It told you basically how to screw up your workplace. It was smart and full of small acts of random subversion. In many ways it was ahead of its time as it was coming out of San Francisco and prefiguring Silicon Valley. It saw the machines coming. Jobs were increasingly boring and innately meaningless. Workers were "data slaves" working for IBM ("Intensely Boring Machines").

What Processed World was doing was trying to disrupt the identification so many office workers were meant to feel with their management, not through old-style union organising, but through small acts of subversion. The modern office, it stressed, has nothing to do with human need. Its rebellion was about working as little as possible, disinformation and sabotage. It was making alienation fun. In 1981, it could not have known that a self-service till cannot ever phone in sick.

I was thinking of this today, as I wanted to do just that. I have made myself ill with a hangover. A hangover, I always feel, is nature's way of telling you to have a day off. One can be macho about it and eat your way back to sentience via the medium of bacon sandwiches and Maltesers. At work, one is dehydrated, irritable and only semi-present. Better, surely, though to let the day fall through you and dream away.

Having worked in America, though, I can say for sure that they brook no excuses whatsoever. When I was late for work and said things like, "My alarm clock did not go off", they would say that this was not a suitable explanation, which flummoxed me. I had to make up others. This was just to work in a shop.

This model of working – long hours, very few holidays, few breaks, two incomes needed to raise kids, crazed loyalty demanded by huge corporations, the American way – is where we're heading. Except now the model is even more punishing. It is China. We are expected to compete with an economy whose workers are often closer to indentured slaves than anything else.

This is what striving is, then: dangerous, demoralising, often dirty work. Buckle down. It's the only way forward, apparently, which is why our glorious leaders are sucking up to China, which is immoral, never mind ridiculously short-term thinking.

So again I must really speak up for the skivers. What we have to understand about austerity is its psychic effects. People must have less. So they must have less leisure, too. The fact is life is about more than work and work is rapidly changing. Skiving in China may get you killed but here it may be a small act of resistance, or it may just be that skivers remind us that there is meaning outside wage-slavery.

Work is too often discussed by middle-class people in ways that are simply unrecognisable to anyone who has done crappy jobs. Much work is not interesting and never has been. Now that we have a political and media elite who go from Oxbridge to working for a newspaper or a politician, a lot of nonsense is spouted. These people have not cleaned urinals on a nightshift. They don't sit lonely in petrol stations manning the till. They don't have to ask permission for a toilet break in a call centre. Instead, their work provides their own special identity. It is very important.

Low-status jobs, like caring, are for others. The bottom-wipers of this world do it for the glory, I suppose. But when we talk of the coming automation that will reduce employment, bottom-wiping will not be mechanised. Nor will it be romanticised, as old male manual labour is. The mad idea of reopening the coal mines was part of the left's strange notion of the nobility of labour. Have these people ever been down a coal mine? Would they want that life for their children?

Instead we need to talk about the dehumanising nature of work. Bertrand Russell and Keynes thought our goal should be less work, that technology would mean fewer hours.

Far from work giving meaning to life, in some surveys 40% of us say that our jobs are meaningless. Nonetheless, the art of skiving is verboten as we cram our children with ever longer hours of school and homework. All this striving is for what exactly? A soul-destroying job?

Just as education is decided by those who loved school, discussions about work are had by those to whom it is about more than income.

The parts of our lives that are not work – the places we dream or play or care, the space we may find creative – all these are deemed outside the economy. All this time is unproductive. But who decides that?

Skiving work is bad only to those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

So go on: phone in sick. You know you want to.

friedad 23 Oct 2015 18:27

We now exist in a society in which the Fear Cloud is wrapped around each citizen. Our proud history of Union and Labor, fighting for decent wages and living conditions for all citizens, and mostly achieving these aims, a history, which should be taught to every child educated in every school in this country, now gradually but surely eroded by ruthless speculators in government, is the future generations are inheriting. The workforce in fear of taking a sick day, the young looking for work in fear of speaking out at diminishing rewards, definitely this 21st Century is the Century of Fear. And how is this fear denied, with mind blowing drugs, regardless if it is is alcohol, description drugs, illicit drugs, a society in denial. We do not require a heavenly object to destroy us, a few soulless monsters in our mist are masters of manipulators, getting closer and closer to accomplish their aim of having zombies doing their beckoning. Need a kidney, no worries, zombie dishwasher, is handy for one. Oh wait that time is already here.

Hemulen6 23 Oct 2015 15:06

Oh join the real world, Suzanne! Many companies now have a limit to how often you can be sick. In the case of the charity I work for it's 9 days a year. I overstepped it, I was genuinely sick, and was hauled up in front of Occupational Health. That will now go on my record and count against me. I work for a cancer care charity. Irony? Surely not.

AlexLeo -> rebel7 23 Oct 2015 13:34

Which is exactly my point. You compete on relevant job skills and quality of your product, not what school you have attended.

Yes, there are thousands, tens of thousands of folks here around San Jose who barely speak English, but are smart and hard working as hell and it takes them a few years to get to 150-200K per year, Many of them get to 300-400K, if they come from strong schools in their countries of origin, compared to the 10k or so where they came from, but probably more than the whining readership here.

This is really difficult to swallow for the Brits back in Britain, isn't it. Those who have moved over have experiences the type of social mobility unthinkable in Britain, but they have had to work hard and get to 300K-700K per year, much better than the 50-100K their parents used to make back in GB. These are averages based on personal interactions with say 50 Brits in the last 15 + years, all employed in the Silicon Valley in very different jobs and roles.

Todd Owens -> Scott W 23 Oct 2015 11:00

I get what you're saying and I agree with a lot of what you said. My only gripe is most employees do not see an operation from a business owner or managerial / financial perspective. They don't understand the costs associated with their performance or lack thereof. I've worked on a lot of projects that we're operating at a loss for a future payoff. When someone decides they don't want to do the work they're contracted to perform that can have a cascading effect on the entire company.

All in all what's being described is for the most part misguided because most people are not in the position or even care to evaluate the particulars. So saying you should do this to accomplish that is bullshit because it's rarely such a simple equation. If anything this type of tactic will leaf to MORE loss and less money for payroll.

weematt -> Barry1858 23 Oct 2015 09:04

Sorry you just can't have a 'nicer' capitalism.

War ( business by other means) and unemployment ( you can't buck the market), are inevitable concomitants of capitalist competition over markets, trade routes and spheres of interests. (Remember the war science of Nagasaki and Hiroshima from the 'good guys' ?)
" comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt". (Marx)

You can't have full employment, or even the 'Right to Work'.

There is always ,even in boom times a reserve army of unemployed, to drive down wages. (If necessary they will inject inflation into the economy)
Unemployment is currently 5.5 percent or 1,860,000 people. If their "equilibrium rate" of unemployment is 4% rather than 5% this would still mean 1,352,000 "need be unemployed". The government don't want these people to find jobs as it would strengthen workers' bargaining position over wages, but that doesn't stop them harassing them with useless and petty form-filling, reporting to the so-called "job centre" just for the sake of it, calling them scroungers and now saying they are mentally defective.
Government is 'over' you not 'for' you.

Governments do not exist to ensure 'fair do's' but to manage social expectations with the minimum of dissent, commensurate with the needs of capitalism in the interests of profit.

Worker participation amounts to self managing workers self exploitation for the maximum of profit for the capitalist class.

Exploitation takes place at the point of production.

" Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!' they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wages system!'"

Karl Marx [Value, Price and Profit]

John Kellar 23 Oct 2015 07:19

Fortunately; as a retired veteran I don't have to worry about phoning in sick.However; during my Air Force days if you were sick, you had to get yourself to the Base Medical Section and prove to a medical officer that you were sick. If you convinced the medical officer of your sickness then you may have been luck to receive on or two days sick leave. For those who were very sick or incapable of getting themselves to Base Medical an ambulance would be sent - promptly.

Rchrd Hrrcks -> wumpysmum 23 Oct 2015 04:17

The function of civil disobedience is to cause problems for the government. Let's imagine that we could get 100,000 people to agree to phone in sick on a particular date in protest at austerity etc. Leaving aside the direct problems to the economy that this would cause. It would also demonstrate a willingness to take action. It would demonstrate a capability to organise mass direct action. It would demonstrate an ability to bring people together to fight injustice. In and of itself it might not have much impact, but as a precedent set it could be the beginning of something massive, including further acts of civil disobedience.

wumpysmum Rchrd Hrrcks 23 Oct 2015 03:51

There's already a form of civil disobedience called industrial action, which the govt are currently attacking by attempting to change statute. Random sickies as per my post above are certainly not the answer in the public sector at least, they make no coherent political point just cause problems for colleagues. Sadly too in many sectors and with the advent of zero hours contracts sickies put workers at risk of sanctions and lose them earnings.

Alyeska 22 Oct 2015 22:18

I'm American. I currently have two jobs and work about 70 hours a week, and I get no paid sick days. In fact, the last time I had a job with a paid sick day was 2001. If I could afford a day off, you think I'd be working 70 hours a week?

I barely make rent most months, and yes... I have two college degrees. When I try to organize my coworkers to unionize for decent pay and benefits, they all tell me not to bother.... they are too scared of getting on management's "bad side" and "getting in trouble" (yes, even though the law says management can't retaliate.)

Unions are different in the USA than in the UK. The workforce has to take a vote to unionize the company workers; you can't "just join" a union here. That's why our pay and working conditions have gotten worse, year after year.

rtb1961 22 Oct 2015 21:58

By far the biggest act of wage slavery rebellion, don't buy shit. The less you buy, the less you need to earn. Holidays by far the minority of your life should not be a desperate escape from the majority of your life. Spend less, work less and actually really enjoy living more.

Pay less attention to advertising and more attention to the enjoyable simplicity of life, of real direct human relationships, all of them, the ones in passing where you wish a stranger well, chats with service staff to make their life better as well as your own, exchange thoughts and ideas with others, be a human being and share humanity with other human beings.

Mkjaks 22 Oct 2015 20:35

How about don't shop at Walmart (they helped boost the Chinese economy while committing hari kari on the American Dream) and actually engaging in proper labour action? Calling in sick is just plain childish.

toffee1 22 Oct 2015 19:13

It is only considered productive if it feeds the beast, that is, contribute to the accumulation of capital so that the beast can have more power over us. The issue here is the wage labor. The 93 percent of the U.S. working population perform wage labor (see BLS site). It is the highest proportion in any society ever came into history. Under the wage labor (employment) contract, the worker gives up his/her decision making autonomy. The worker accepts the full command of his/her employer during the labor process. The employer directs and commands the labor process to achieve the goals set by himself. Compare this, for example, self-employed providing a service (for example, a plumber). In this case, the customer describes the problem to the service provider but the service provider makes all the decisions on how to organize and apply his labor to solve the problem. Or compare it to a democratically organized coop, where workers make all the decisions collectively, where, how and what to produce. Under the present economic system, a great majority of us are condemned to work in large corporations performing wage labor. The system of wage labor stripping us from autonomy on our own labor, creates all the misery in our present world through alienation. Men and women lose their humanity alienated from their own labor. Outside the world of wage labor, labor can be a source self-realization and true freedom. Labor can be the real fulfillment and love. Labor together our capacity to love make us human. Bourgeoisie dehumanized us steeling our humanity. Bourgeoisie, who sold her soul to the beast, attempting to turn us into ever consuming machines for the accumulation of capital.

patimac54 -> Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 17:39

Well said. Most retail employers have cut staff to the minimum possible to keep the stores open so if anyone is off sick, it's the devil's own job trying to just get customers served. Making your colleagues work even harder than they normally do because you can't be bothered to act responsibly and show up is just plain selfish.
And sorry, Suzanne, skiving work is nothing more than an act of complete disrespect for those you work with. If you don't understand that, try getting a proper job for a few months and learn how to exercise some self control.

TettyBlaBla -> FranzWilde 22 Oct 2015 17:25

It's quite the opposite in government jobs where I am in the US. As the fiscal year comes to a close, managers look at their budgets and go on huge spending sprees, particularly for temp (zero hours in some countries) help and consultants. They fear if they don't spend everything or even a bit more, their spending will be cut in the next budget. This results in people coming in to do work on projects that have no point or usefulness, that will never be completed or even presented up the food chain of management, and ends up costing taxpayers a small fortune.

I did this one year at an Air Quality Agency's IT department while the paid employees sat at their desks watching portable televisions all day. It was truly demeaning.

oommph -> Michael John Jackson 22 Oct 2015 16:59

Thing is though, children - dependents to pay for - are the easiest way to keep yourself chained to work.

The homemaker model works as long as your spouse's employer retains them (and your spouse retains you in an era of 40% divorce).

You are just as dependent on an employer and "work" but far less in control of it now.

Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 16:41

I'm all for sticking it to "the man," but when you call into work for a stupid reason (and a hangover is a very stupid reason), it is selfish, and does more damage to the cause of worker's rights, not less. I don't know about where you work, but if I call in sick to my job, other people have to pick up my slack. I work for a public library, and we don't have a lot of funds, so we have the bear minimum of employees we can have and still work efficiently. As such, if anybody calls in, everyone else, up to and including the library director, have to take on more work. If I found out one of my co-workers called in because of a hangover, I'd be pissed. You made the choice to get drunk, knowing that you had to work the following morning. Putting it into the same category of someone who is sick and may not have the luxury of taking off because of a bad employer is insulting.

[Oct 03, 2015] How Not to Be a Networking Leech Tips for Seeking Professional Advice - The New York Times

Oct 03, 2015 |
How Not to Be a Networking Leech: Tips for Seeking Professional Advice Sept 26, 2015


By Margaret Morford > Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

Businesspeople generally think of networking as a mutually beneficial meeting for both parties. But that's not usually what it is. Far more often, it is one person asking the other for a favor.

I have been a management consultant, business owner and speaker for more than 12 years. Before that, I was a business executive and a trial lawyer. Along the way I have received invaluable advice from others — guidance that educated me and helped me make important professional connections. Because this advice has been such a great help to me, I believe in helping others in the same way, without expecting anything in return.

During the course of a year I receive numerous requests from people I do not know, asking me to network. I respond by meeting at least once a week with someone who is seeking advice on their careers or businesses, either in person or on the phone.


A collection of "Preoccupations" columns published in The New York Times.

See More "

In the course of these meetings, I have come across people who fall under the category of what I call "networking parasites." These are people who fail to understand that I am giving them information that my regular clients pay for.

I am not alone in this. Doctors, accountants, plumbers, computer experts, lawyers and financial advisers all must deal with people shamelessly asking for meetings, free advice or free services or treatment — without remotely acknowledging that these professionals make their living selling that time and expertise. Over the years, dozens of experts have told me about being accosted at parties and on airplanes by strangers who ask for a free consultation under the guise of "conversation."

Surely you do not want to be the kind of person who antagonizes professionals in this way. So here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a networking parasite.

Make the meeting convenient. Ask for time frames that would work well, and meet at a place that is convenient for them, even if you have to drive across town. If they leave it up to you, give them three options and let them pick the one that works best.

Recently, someone asked me to meet him for coffee, and I told him I could make "just about anything work" on a particular Friday. He responded with, "I like to start my day early, so let's meet for coffee near your office at 6 a.m." I wrote back that 6 a.m. was too early, to which he responded, "O.K. Let's make it 7 a.m." If you want me to pull out all the stops for you, this is not the way to start.

Buy their coffee or meal. Insist on doing this as a sign of how valuable you consider their time and advice. If you are on a tight budget, ask them to coffee, but insist on paying for it by saying, "This is a huge favor to me, so please let me do this small thing for you." If you can manage it financially, try to meet for drinks or dinner after work. You will get more of their attention if you are not sandwiched in during their day.

Go with a prepared list of questions. People whose advice is worth seeking are busy. They don't have time to sit through your stream-of-consciousness thoughts. Figure out in advance what information you want from them, and send your list ahead of time so they can be thinking about the answers.


Continue reading the main story


Continue reading the main story

Don't argue about their advice or point out why it wouldn't work for you. You can ask for clarification by finding out how they would handle a particular concern you have, but don't go beyond that. You get to decide whether or not to use their advice.

Don't ask for intellectual property or materials. I am amazed at the number of people who ask for copies of my PowerPoint presentations and seminar materials to use in their organization, with no understanding that these materials are original and copyrighted — and how I make my living.

Never ask for any written follow-up. It is your job to take good notes during your meeting, not their job to send you bullet points after the meeting. No one should get homework after agreeing to help someone.

Spend time at the end of the meeting finding out what you can do for them. Do you know anyone who could use their services, or who would make a good professional connection? At the very least, consider writing a recommendation for them on LinkedIn.

Always thank them more than once. Thank them at the end of the meeting, expressing your appreciation for the time they have spent with you. Follow up with a handwritten note — not an email or a text.

Do not refer others to the same expert. I just helped someone (whom I didn't know well) polish her résumé and craft her job-search pitch. Then I worked my contacts and helped her land a great new job. The result? I received emails from two strangers, asking me to "network" with them, because the person I had just helped suggested they contact me to do the same for them.

Ask an expert for free help only once. If the help someone offered you was so valuable that you would like them to provide it again, then pay for it the next time.

As you ask people for help, always consider how you in turn can help others. At the end of each workweek make a list of the people you have helped, and the favors you have done for which you received nothing in return. If your list is empty week after week, then you really are a networking parasite.

Margaret Morford is the owner of the HR Edge, a management consulting firm, and the author of "The Hidden Language of Business."

[Sep 21, 2015] Is Everything Carly Fiorina Says a Lie, Including "And" and "The"?

"... Fiorina as a toxic leader. (You think toxic leaders don't gain authority through their very toxicity? Hmmm.) ..."
"... The fourth lesson taken from watching Fiorina may be the most important. As we struggle with understanding what makes leaders "successful," people frequently overlook the fact that success depends very much on how that term gets defined and measured. In business and in politics, the interests of leaders and their organizations don't perfectly coincide. ..."
"... At Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina was well-known for not tolerating dissent or disagreement, particularly on important strategic issues. ..."
"... cachet ..."
"... that's ..."
September 21, 2015 | The naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Let me provide the spoiler at once: Not entirely.

Much of what Fiorina says is vacuous, and (as with all the Republican candidates) there is the occasional gem amidst the muck. But wowsers! Fiorina's relationship to the truth is, at the very best, non-custodial. To come to this conclusion, I read Fiorina's answers to questions in the recent Republican debate (transcript here). I apologize for not color-coding the text, but the length is so extreme, and in any case I want to focus not on rhetoric, but just the facts. So, I'm going to skip the answers I regard as vacuous, and focus only on the answers that contain outright falsehoods, which I will helpfully underline, and the rare cases of genuine insight.

This is a campaign of firsts: The first socialist Presidential candidate, the first woman Presidential candidate, the first billionaire[1] candidate, and, with Fiorina, the first corporate executive Presidential candidate. And each of these candidates has a different source for their personal authority or ethos: Sanders with genuine, long-held and consistent policy views, Clinton with smarts and [1] process expertise, Trump as the wealthy mass media personality, and now Fiorina as a toxic leader. (You think toxic leaders don't gain authority through their very toxicity? Hmmm.)

In the Financial Times ("Leadership BS") Dan Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, comments on Fiorina as an executive:

[E]ven "people who have presided over catastrophes" suffer no negative consequences. On the contrary. Ms Fiorina, "who by any objective measure was a horrible CEO, is running for president on her business record. I love it! . . . You can't make this stuff up — it's too good!"

Yes, we laugh that we may not weep; I've often felt that way, even this early in the 2016 campaign. In CNN, Pfeffer ("Leadership 101") comments on Fiorina's toxicity:

Here are four things that anyone, running for president or not, can and should do:

Number one, tell your story. If you won't, no one else will. By telling your story repeatedly [like Clinton and Trump, but not Sanders], you can construct your own narrative. …

Second, Fiorina [like Trump] has and is building a brand — a public presence. Recognizable brands have real economic value. … Running for president, even if unsuccessful, transforms people into public figures often widely sought on the speaking circuit, so in many ways, they win even if they lose.

Third, don't worry about being liked — Fiorina doesn't. … In that choice, Fiorina is following the wisdom of Machiavelli, who noted that while it was wonderful to be feared and loved, if you had to choose one, being feared was safer than being loved [like Trump and Clinton, but not Sanders. "Nobody hates Bernie," as one insider commented."]

The fourth lesson taken from watching Fiorina may be the most important. As we struggle with understanding what makes leaders "successful," people frequently overlook the fact that success depends very much on how that term gets defined and measured. In business and in politics, the interests of leaders and their organizations don't perfectly coincide. [Oddly, since Trump is a brand, his corporate and personal interests do coincide. And since the Clinton Foundation is a money-laundering influence-peddling operation, its interests and Clinton's coincide as well. Sanders has no business interests.]

At Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina was well-known for not tolerating dissent or disagreement, particularly on important strategic issues. As someone quite senior in H-P's strategy group told me, disagreeing with Fiorina in a meeting was a reasonably sure path out the door. By not brooking dissent, Fiorina ensured that few opponents would be around to challenge her power. But disagreement often surfaces different perspectives that result in better decisions. The famous business leader Alfred P. Sloan noted that if everyone was in agreement, the discussion should be postponed until people could ascertain the weaknesses in the proposed choice.

Fiorina has a pragmatic view of what it takes to be successful. And that's one reason she should not be underestimated, regardless of the opinions about her career at H-P.[3]

The fourth point is especially toxic, and may show up — despite the current adulation — further along on the campaign trail. If Fiorina insists on surrounding herself with sycophants, and on making all the strategic decisions herself, will her Presidential campaign turn into the trainwreck (see under "demon sheep") her Senate race did?[4]

To the transcript!

* * *

FIORINA: Good evening. My story, from secretary to CEO, is only possible in this nation, and proves that everyone of us has potential. My husband, Frank, of 30 years, started out driving a tow truck for a family owned auto body shop.

Anybody listening to this might conclude that Fiorina rose from working class roots — especially with the borrowed cachet of a truck driving man for a husband — to CEO, and at H-P. Her actual biography paints a different picture. Here's her background and career path, from WikiPedia:

Fiorina's father was a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He would later become dean of Duke University School of Law, Deputy Attorney General, and judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her mother was an abstract painter. [S]he was raised Episcopalian.

Oh. An Episcopalian secretary.

During her summers, she worked as a secretary for Kelly Services.[27] She attended the UCLA School of Law in 1976 but dropped out[28] after one semester and worked as a receptionist for six months at a real estate firm Marcus & Millichap, moving up to a broker position before leaving for Bologna, Italy, where she taught English.

So, speaking of bologna…

Fiorina received a Master of Business Administration in marketing from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1980. She obtained a Master of Science in management at the MIT Sloan School of Management under the Sloan Fellows program in 1989.[30]

So that's when Fiorina's rise began; with degrees in marketing and management. Fiorina's one of those MBAs you get called into a windowless conference room to hear how you're going to lose your job because bullet points. That's what she was trained to do, and that's what she does.


FIORINA: Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn't talk to him at all. We've talked way too much to him.

What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I'd probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. …

Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control.

We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven't.

On the Sixth Fleet and imperial strategy generally, Ezra Klein comments:

The Sixth Fleet is already huge, and it's hard to say why adding to its capabilities would intimidate Putin — after all, America has enough nuclear weapons pointed at Russia to level the country thousands of times over. Her proposal for more military exercises in the Baltics seemed odd in light of the fact that President Obama is already conducting military exercises in the Baltics. And the US already has around 40,000 troops stationed in Germany, so it's hard to say what good "a few thousand" more would do.

And pushing on a missile defense system in Poland is a very long-term solution to a very current problem. In total, Fiorina's laundry list of proposals sure sounded like a plan, but on inspection, it's hard to see why any of them would convince Putin to change course.

... ... ...

[Sep 07, 2015] We Made It Wider! Hank Paulson Bursts Out Laughing When Asked About Wealth Inequality

Zero Hedge
Speaking of Goldman Sachs and income inequality, back in April, Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin sat down with Sheryl Sandberg and Tim Geithner at an event hosted by Michael Milken (no less), to discuss a variety of topics. Around a half hour into the discussion, Sandberg asks Paulson about income inequality. Here's what happens next:

Sandberg: "Yeah, so let's follow up on a bunch of the things we were [talking about]. Let's start with income inequality."

Paulson: "Ok, well.. income inequality. I think this is something we've all thought about. You know I was working on that topic when I was still at Goldman Sachs.."

Rubin: "In which direction? You were working on increasing it."

Paulson then bursts out laughing: "Yeah! We were making it wider!"

Here's the clip:

... ... ...

Raging Debate

JS Bach - Always enjoyed your.commentary. However, let us not paint too broad a brush here. I will not condemn every Jew for the actions of a very tiny minority. For disclosure I am not Jewish. I am a reformed sociopath. My prior actions under law would have me in the clink.

That said, the central bank model that exacerbates boom and bust, in other words skims our time and preys on human weakness must change. Governments know this too and are complicent. ALso, I not see any asking of forgiveness which would go far but only 'eat shit'. Still, a good sign sociopaths such as these can endure a Roast.

The model does not get a pass and sociopaths cannot continue to lead. Even as a reformer you wont see me in government. I would succumb to money and ass rape you all. Lobbying must end. If that is prohibited by law of harsh jail time or death that would solve 90% of world problems damn quick. What is Central Banking corporatio but the biggest of all lobby's? End the 'Fed' is just the biggest head of the hydra.


Sorry to burst your bubble, but sociopaths cannot be rehabilitated according to psychiatrists.....

Facts about sociopaths/psychopaths:


Sociopaths, like any mental state, represent a spectrum. You are on that spectrum, but likely far on the low end.

I am somewhere in the middle. Not diagnosable, but not zero either. Many people fall into this category and life can be quite uncomfortable. The people in limbo between being and not being a sociopath can often live fairly normal lives.

[Jul 24, 2015] How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain

Jul 24, 2015 | The New York Times

A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature.

Most of us today live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago.

City dwellers also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers, studies show.

These developments seem to be linked to some extent, according to a growing body of research. Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.

But just how a visit to a park or other green space might alter mood has been unclear. Does experiencing nature actually change our brains in some way that affects our emotional health?

That possibility intrigued Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, who has been studying the psychological effects of urban living. In an earlier study published last month, he and his colleagues found that volunteers who walked briefly through a lush, green portion of the Stanford campus were more attentive and happier afterward than volunteers who strolled for the same amount of time near heavy traffic.

But that study did not examine the neurological mechanisms that might underlie the effects of being outside in nature.

So for the new study, which was published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mr. Bratman and his collaborators decided to closely scrutinize what effect a walk might have on a person's tendency to brood.

Brooding, which is known among cognitive scientists as morbid rumination, is a mental state familiar to most of us, in which we can't seem to stop chewing over the ways in which things are wrong with ourselves and our lives. This broken-record fretting is not healthy or helpful. It can be a precursor to depression and is disproportionately common among city dwellers compared with people living outside urban areas, studies show.

Perhaps most interesting for the purposes of Mr. Bratman and his colleagues, however, such rumination also is strongly associated with increased activity in a portion of the brain known as the subgenual prefrontal cortex.

If the researchers could track activity in that part of the brain before and after people visited nature, Mr. Bratman realized, they would have a better idea about whether and to what extent nature changes people's minds.

Mr. Bratman and his colleagues first gathered 38 healthy, adult city dwellers and asked them to complete a questionnaire to determine their normal level of morbid rumination.

The researchers also checked for brain activity in each volunteer's subgenual prefrontal cortex, using scans that track blood flow through the brain. Greater blood flow to parts of the brain usually signals more activity in those areas.

Then the scientists randomly assigned half of the volunteers to walk for 90 minutes through a leafy, quiet, parklike portion of the Stanford campus or next to a loud, hectic, multi-lane highway in Palo Alto. The volunteers were not allowed to have companions or listen to music. They were allowed to walk at their own pace.

Immediately after completing their walks, the volunteers returned to the lab and repeated both the questionnaire and the brain scan.

As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people's minds. Blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex was still high and their broodiness scores were unchanged.

But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.

They also had less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. That portion of their brains were quieter.

These results "strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments" could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said.

But of course many questions remain, he said, including how much time in nature is sufficient or ideal for our mental health, as well as what aspects of the natural world are most soothing. Is it the greenery, quiet, sunniness, loamy smells, all of those, or something else that lifts our moods? Do we need to be walking or otherwise physically active outside to gain the fullest psychological benefits? Should we be alone or could companionship amplify mood enhancements?

"There's a tremendous amount of study that still needs to be done," Mr. Bratman said.

But in the meantime, he pointed out, there is little downside to strolling through the nearest park, and some chance that you might beneficially muffle, at least for awhile, your subgenual prefrontal cortex.

[Jul 22, 2015] Sadly, the appearance of empathy can be simulated by sociopaths, as is surely well-known in the political class.


“They wanted the candidates to empathize, not pontificate. Is that really so much to expect?” [Crooks and Liars]. Sadly, the appearance of empathy can be simulated by sociopaths, as is surely well-known in the political class.

Absolutely! Some of the nicest seeming people are really empathy free psychopaths. Remember Bill Clinton’s “I feel your pain”? A few years later we got the repeal of Glass Steagall in the Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999, followed by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which restricted the regulation of credit default swaps. These actions set the stage for the Great Financial Collapse of 2008, which hurt Americans of all races. People in the financial top 0.1% survived the collapse nicely, though. They’re the ones who profited well from the fake recovery of the past 7 years.

[Jul 14, 2015] Importance of physical exersize in fighting toxic managers

Out brains are deeply connected to our bodies. One way to improve your mental stability and the capacities to endure stress is to use vigorous exercise regiment. This is the point that implicitly was made by prominent neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki in her book Healthy Brain, Happy Life A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better. It looks like aerobic exercises are important for mental stability and the ability to cope with stress. Of cause, an important warning attributed to Talleyrand "Not too much zeal" is applicable here too. Some additional ideas might be extracted from the following reviews:
"... “Exercise is responsible for the majority of the positive brain changes seen with environmental enrichment.”"

A neuroscientist transforms the way we think about our brain, our health, and our personal happiness in this clear, informative, and inspiring guide—a blend of personal memoir, science narrative, and immediately useful takeaways that bring the human brain into focus as never before, revealing the powerful connection between exercise, learning, memory, and cognitive abilities.

Nearing forty, Dr. Wendy Suzuki was at the pinnacle of her career. An award-winning university professor and world-renowned neuroscientist, she had tenure, her own successful research lab, prestigious awards, and international renown.

That’s when to celebrate her birthday, she booked an adventure trip that forced her to wake up to a startling reality: despite her professional success, she was overweight, lonely, and tired and knew that her life had to change. Wendy started simply—by going to an exercise class. Eventually, she noticed an improvement in her memory, her energy levels, and her ability to work quickly and move from task to task easily. Not only did Wendy begin to get fit, but she also became sharper, had more energy, and her memory improved. Being a neuroscientist, she wanted to know why.

What she learned transformed her body and her life. Now, it can transform yours.

Wendy discovered that there is a biological connection between exercise, mindfulness, and action. With exercise, your body feels more alive and your brain actually performs better. Yes—you can make yourself smarter. In this fascinating book, Suzuki makes neuroscience easy to understand, interweaving her personal story with groundbreaking research, and offering practical, short exercises—4 minute Brain Hacks—to engage your mind and improve your memory, your ability to learn new skills, and function more efficiently.

Taking us on an amazing journey inside the brain as never before, Suzuki helps us unlock the keys to neuroplasticity that can change our brains, or bodies, and, ultimately, our lives.

Bassocantor TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 19, 2015

We Have An Enormous Capacity To Change Into The Very Best Version Of Ourselves

HEALTHY BRAIN, HAPPY LIFE is a fun read, filled with all kinds of exciting ways to expand your brain power. My favorite parts of the book are these little sections that the author calls "Brain Hacks." These sections are lists of easy ways to really supercharge your brain and make use of the latent power in it.

Here's the theme in a nutshell: "One thing I know for sure is that brain plasticity endows us with an enormous capacity to change into the very best version of ourselves that we can be." Dr. Suzuki explains that she uses 20 years of research in neuroscience to apply these same principles to her own personal life. She admits that she "Went from living as a virtual lab rat --an overweight middle aged woman would had achieved many things in science, but who could not seem to figure out how to also be a healthy, happy woman..."

One of her main discoveries is the powerful mind-body link. The author emphasizes how powerful exercise is. "Exercise is responsible for the majority of the positive brain changes seen with environmental enrichment." And so, Dr. Suzuki invests much time talking about the power of the brain-body connection. Towards that end, she combines physical workouts as a way to energize your brain: "The body has a powerful influence on her brain functions and conversely but the brain has a powerful influence over how are bodies feel and work and heal." Exercise causes definite changes in your body--it boosts the level of three key chemicals that affect mood.

The key is to make your workouts intentional. Towards that end, the author suggests ways to do this--for example, proclaiming affirmations out loud. "Intentional exercise happens when you make exercise both aerobic and mental...You are fully engaged in the moment and trigger a heightened awareness of the brain body connection." In the Brain Hacks suction, the author lists different exercises that would best fit you.

Another great section is the section on creativity. You can actually improve your creative thinking; it is "a particular version of regular thinking they can be practiced and improved like any other cognitive skill." Once again, the author lists great suggestions in the Brain Hacks section on ways to jumpstart your creativity. The key point is to learn something new and "Try to use as many senses as you can." For example, one fun suggestion is to "Sit outside and blindfold yourself for 4 minutes. Then, listen to the world sounds in a new way."

All in all, HEALTHY BRAIN, HAPPY LIFE is a fun, inspiring read. The author is full of great, uplifting ideas. My favorite chapter is the one on creativity. The end of the book contains an extensive Reference section, in which the author documents the various points she makes.
Highly recommend!

Advance copy for impartial review

love2dazzle on June 10, 2015

Happy Life” by Wendy Suzuki is all about focusing on ...

“Healthy Brian, Happy Life” by Wendy Suzuki is all about focusing on expanding your brain power. Our bodies and mind have a very powerful link. Dr. Suzuki has invested her life to focusing on the brain. She goes on to state that “Exercise is responsible for the majority of the positive brain changes seen with environmental enrichment.” Dr. Suzuki is making the point that we need to exercise to work our brain to its fullest potential. She goes on to make the point that you want to make sure the exercise is intentional because that is what exercise you both mentally and aerobically.

The second best way to expand your brain is by creativity. The point of creativity is to learn new things that will improve your brain and your senses. One is able to find different ways to help build and exercise their brain. The author calls some of the tips she gives “Brain Hacks” so I thought this was a great learning tool.

I thought “Healthy Brain, Happy Life” was very insightful. I thought this book had a lot of good tips and was also able to explain the brain and how things worked really well. I did enjoy reading it and learning new things on how I am able to improve my brain function.

Bruny Hudsonon June 13, 2015

Interesting theory for improving one’s life

The book “Healthy Brain, Happy Life” by Wendy Suzuki is about a success story, about the author’s life. It’s entertaining and enriching but sometimes out of touch with reality. Considering that the author is a neuroscientist, her line of reasoning sounds dubious in parts of the book, especially her generalizing concepts of life. Just because an effort has worked for her, it does not mean it will work for someone else. Nevertheless, the book deserves a five-star rating because of the author’s pleasant writing style and the well-explained examples of research in neuroscience.

Transporter chair reviewer, on July 9, 2015

Mainly autobiographical

I saw her interviewed on CBS and found her a charming and energetic person. I am not sure what take aways I have from the book, though it interested me since I am also an Asian American woman who is an over achiever, and many of her experiences resonated. I enjoyed the read. I am not sure what type of person I would recommend it to . I am also a doctor. It was fun to review some of the neurobiology and learn some new things.

[Jun 24, 2015] Psychology the man who studies everyday evil By David Robson

"...the everyday sadists were more than happy to take the trouble. “There wasn’t just willingness to do it but a motivation to enjoy, to put in some extra effort to have the opportunity to hurt other individuals.” Importantly, there was no provocation or personal gain to be had from their cruelty – the people were doing it for pure pleasure."
January 30, 2015 | BBC

Why are some people extraordinarily selfish, manipulative, and unkind? David Robson asks the scientist delving into the darkest sides of the human mind.

If you had the opportunity to feed harmless bugs into a coffee grinder, would you enjoy the experience? Even if the bugs had names, and you could hear their shells painfully crunching? And would you take a perverse pleasure from blasting an innocent bystander with an excruciating noise?

These are just some of the tests that Delroy Paulhus uses to understand the “dark personalities” around us. Essentially, he wants to answer a question we all may have asked: why do some people take pleasure in cruelty? Not just psychopaths and murderers – but school bullies, internet trolls and even apparently upstanding members of society such as politicians and policemen.

It is easy, he says, to make quick and simplistic assumptions about these people.

“We have a tendency to use the halo or devil framing of individuals we meet – we want to simplify our world into good or bad people,”

says Paulhus, who is based at the University of British Columbia in Canada. But while Paulhus doesn’t excuse cruelty, his approach has been more detached, like a zoologist studying poisonous insects – allowing him to build a “taxonomy”, as he calls it, of the different flavours of everyday evil.


Paulhus’s interest began with narcissists – the incredibly selfish and vain, who may lash out to protect their own sense of self-worth. Then, a little more than a decade ago, his grad student Kevin Williams suggested that they explore whether these self-absorbed tendencies are linked to two other unpleasant characteristics – Machiavellianism (the cold, manipulative) and psychopathy (callous insensitivity and immunity to the feelings of others). Together, they found that the three traits were largely independent, though they sometimes coincide, forming a “Dark Triad” – a triple whammy of nastiness.

It is surprising how candid his participants can often be. His questionnaires typically ask the subjects to agree with statements such as “I like picking on weaker people” or “It’s wise not to tell me your secrets”. You would imagine those traits would be too shameful to admit – but, at least in the laboratory, people open up, and their answers do seem to correlate with real-life bullying, both in adolescence and adulthood. They are also more likely to be unfaithful to their spouses (particularly those with Machiavellian and psychopathic tendencies) and to cheat on tests.

Even so, since Paulhus tends to focus on everyday evil rather than criminal or psychiatric cases, the traits are by no means apparent on the first meeting.

“They are managing in everyday society, so they have enough control not to get themselves into trouble. But it catches your attention here or there.”

People who score particularly high on narcissism, for instance, quickly display their tendency to “over-claim” – one of the strategies that helps them boost their own egos. In some experiments, Paulhus presented them with a made up subject and they quickly confabulated to try to appear like they knew it all – only to get angry when he challenged them about it. “It strikes you that yes, this fits into a package that allows them to live with a distorted positive view of themselves.”

Born nasty

Once Paulhus had begun to open a window on these dark minds, others soon wanted to delve in to answer some basic questions about the human condition. Are people born nasty, for instance? Studies comparing identical and non-identical twins suggest a relatively large genetic component for both narcissism and psychopathy, though Machiavellianism seems to be more due to the environment – you may learn to manipulate from others. Whatever we’ve inherited cannot take away our personal responsibility, though. “I don’t think anyone is born with psychopathy genes and then nothing can be done about it,” says Minna Lyons at the University of Liverpool.

You only need to look at the anti-heroes of popular culture – James Bond, Don Draper or Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street – to realise that dark personalities have sex appeal, a finding supported by more scientific studies. Further clues to the benefits might come from another basic human characteristic – whether you are a morning or evening person. Lyons and her student, Amy Jones found that “night owls” – people who stay up late but can’t get up in the morning – tend to score higher on a range of dark triad traits. They are often risk-takers – one of the characteristics of psychopathy; they are more manipulative – a Machiavellian trait – and as narcissists, they tend to be exploitative of other people. That might make sense if you consider our evolution: perhaps dark personalities have more chance to steal, manipulate, and have illicit sexual liaisons late while everyone else is sleeping, so they evolved to be creatures of the night.

Whatever the truth of that theory, Paulhus agrees there will always be niches for these people to exploit. “Human society is so complex that there are different ways of enhancing your reproductive success – some involve being nice and some being nasty,” he says.

Dark corners

Recently, he has started probing even further into the darkest shadows of the psyche. “We were pushing the envelope, asking more extreme questions,” he says – when he found that some people will also readily admit to inflicting pain on others for no other reason than their own pleasure. Crucially, these tendencies are not simply a reflection of the narcissism, psychopathy or Machiavellianism, but seem to form their own sub-type – “everyday sadism”. For this reason, Paulhus now calls it a “dark tetrad”.

The “bug crushing machine” offered the perfect way for Paulhus and colleagues to test whether that reflected real life behaviour. Unknown to the participants, the coffee grinder had been adapted to give insects an escape route – but the machine still produced a devastating crushing sound to mimic their shells hitting the cogs. Some were so squeamish they refused to take part, while others took active enjoyment in the task. “They would be willing not just to do something nasty to bugs but to ask for more,” he says, “while others thought it was so gross they didn’t even want to be in the same room.” Crucially, those individuals also scored very highly on his test for everyday sadism.

Arguably, a rational human being shouldn’t care too much about bugs’ feelings. But the team then set up a computer game that would allow the participants to “punish” a competitor with a loud noise through their headphones. This wasn’t compulsory; in fact, the volunteers had to perform a tedious verbal task to earn the right to punish their competitor – but, to Paulhus’s surprise, the everyday sadists were more than happy to take the trouble. “There wasn’t just willingness to do it but a motivation to enjoy, to put in some extra effort to have the opportunity to hurt other individuals.” Importantly, there was no provocation or personal gain to be had from their cruelty – the people were doing it for pure pleasure.

Troll tracking

He thinks this is directly relevant to internet trolls. “They appear to be the internet version of everyday sadists because they spend time searching for people to hurt.” Sure enough, an anonymous survey of trollish commentators found that they scored highly on dark tetrad traits, but particularly the everyday sadism component – and enjoyment was their prime motivation. Indeed, the bug-crushing experiment suggested that everyday sadists may have more muted emotional responses to all kinds of pleasurable activities – so perhaps their random acts of cruelty are attempts to break through the emotional numbness.

More immediately, his discoveries have attracted the attention of police and military agencies, who want to collaborate with Paulhus to see if his insights might explain why some people abuse their positions. “The concern is that these people might deliberately select jobs where you are given the mandate to hurt individuals,” he says. If so, further work might suggest ways to screen out the dark personalities at recruitment.

He’s also excited about new work on “moral Machiavellianism” and “communal narcissists” – people who perhaps have dark traits but use them for good (as they see it). In some situations, ruthlessness may be necessary. “To be prime minister, you can’t be namby pamby – you need to cut corners and hurt people, and even be nasty to achieve your moral causes,” he says. After all, the dark personalities often have the impulse and the confidence to get things done –even Mother Theresa apparently had a steely side, he says. “You’re not going to help society by sitting at home being nice.”

All of which underlines the false dichotomy of good and evil that Paulhus has been keen to probe. In a sense, that is a personal as much as a professional question. He admits to seeing a dark streak in his own behaviour: for example, he enjoys watching violent, painful sports like Mixed Martial Arts. “It didn’t take long to see I would stand above average on these dark traits,” he says. “But given my abiding curiosity as a scientist and my enjoyment of investigating such things – I thought that perhaps I was in a good position to take a closer look at the dark side.”

[May 27, 2015] How to turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening

May 27, 2015 | The Guardian

Why do so many decent people, when asked to pretend they're CEOs, become tyrants from central casting? Part of the answer is: capitalism subjects us to economic rationality. It forces us to see ourselves as cashflow generators, profit centres or interest-bearing assets. But that idea is always in conflict with something else: the non-economic priorities of human beings, and the need to sustain the environment. Though World Factory, as a play, is designed to show us the parallels between 19th-century Manchester and 21st-century China, it subtly illustrates what has changed.

... ... ...

A real Chinese sweatshop owner is playing a losing game against something much more sophisticated than the computer at the Young Vic: an intelligent machine made up of the smartphones of millions of migrant workers on their lunchbreak, plugging digitally into their village networks to find out wages and conditions elsewhere. That sweatshop owner is also playing against clients with an army of compliance officers, themselves routinely harassed by NGOs with secret cameras.

The whole purpose of this system of regulation – from above and below – is to prevent individual capitalists making short-term decisions that destroy the human and natural resources it needs to function. Capitalism is not just the selfish decisions of millions of people. It is those decisions sifted first through the all-important filter of regulation. It is, as late 20th-century social theorists understood, a mode of regulation, not just of production.

Yet it plays on us a cruel ideological trick. It looks like a spontaneous organism, to which government and regulation (and the desire of Chinese migrants to visit their families once a year) are mere irritants. In reality it needs the state to create and re-create it every day.

Banks create money because the state awards them the right to. Why does the state ram-raid the homes of small-time drug dealers, yet call in the CEOs of the banks whose employees commit multimillion-pound frauds for a stern ticking off over a tray of Waitrose sandwiches? Answer: because a company has limited liability status, created by parliament in 1855 after a political struggle.

Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. Today it is beset by strategic problems: debt- ridden, with sub-par growth and low productivity, it cannot unleash the true potential of the info-tech revolution because it cannot imagine what to do with the millions who would lose their jobs.

The computer that runs the data system in Svendsen's play could easily run a robotic clothes factory. That's the paradox. But to make a third industrial revolution happen needs something no individual factory boss can execute: the re-regulation of capitalism into something better. Maybe the next theatre game about work and exploitation should model the decisions of governments, lobbyists and judges, not the hapless managers.

Earl Shelton -> phil100a 27 May 2015 14:14

Avoid arguing with Libertarians -- unless you have lots of patience. Their philosophy boils down to: Greed is good; government is bad.

And they will stick to those dubious premises -- despite the tons of contrary facts, evidence (and stories of human suffering those ideas cause) that you might present -- from Jesus Christ to John Maynard Keynes....

NomChompsky -> imipak 27 May 2015 12:04

You spilled some pseudo-intellectual gibberish on your post. You also ignored that the number of computers isn't a constant, in particular, and that zero-sum economic theories are, by nature, incredibly fucking stupid in general. You also seem to think that the Pareto principle is some sort of a law instead of a rule of thumb that has numerous exceptions.

Just, eww.

asquaretail 27 May 2015 09:25

We won't discuss whether or not a UK resident can be a "Hipster." Sounds like cultural theft to me.. What I really want to point out is something more basic. Banks are not empowered by government, at least not initially. Initially, they were restricted by government which then reduced the restrictions to allow banks to function. This has profound analytic consequences for those brave and courageous enough to pursue the chain of thought.

toffee1 27 May 2015 08:12

This validates that Marx's was right. A capitalist (or a manager in a capitalist firm), acts as a capital personified. His/her soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. So, the problem is the system. The liberal view is wrong. What needs to be changed is the system.

Thomas G. Wilson 26 May 2015 23:15

So, the choice is sack one third of the workers or spread the pain by cutting the worker's pay by a third? The unstated third choice is do nothing and go bankrupt.

"Decent liberal hipsters" don't usually confront these problems-they only complain about those who do. "Ruthless capitalists seated at the boardroom table" are just liberal hipsters that had to grow up.

Hiring people and giving raises is fun and heartwarming-firing people and denying raised when finances are tough -- not so much. I've done both.

Michael Pettengill 26 May 2015 20:36

Employers in this "factory world" do not need to find or create consumers, so the employers are free to destroy consumers to save themselves from bankruptcy. But when the retailers who pay the employers cut the size of their orders, the employers have no choice but to fire workers and destroy consumers.

That this is what is going on is hidden by the long chain the money flows through. The workers are paid by employers paid by retailers who sell to workers paid by other employers who sell to retailers who sell to workers which eventually needs to be the original group of workers in that original factory. Cutting their wages will cut their buying which will ripple back to reduced sales by the retailer paying the factory paying their wages by buying goods.

Adam Smith argued this value chain would work without fail to employ all workers in producing just barely what the workers desired, but not more and just enough less to motivate workers to produce more to be paid more.

Keynes argued, after it was conventional wisdom, that unemployment would cut demand causing more unemployment, so government needs to force spending to cause workers to be hired and paid.

Keynes did not argue for paying people not to work. FDR in 1935 laid out the case for the moral imperative to pay people to work for the good of the nation.

In any case, the wealth of nations depends on the collective action of all the people of the nation, and Keynes argued and FDR demonstrates that collective action through people acting through government works.

The play merely teaches that you are a cog in a machine that is beyond your control.

DoRonDoRonRon 26 May 2015 19:26

"Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. ... But to make a third industrial revolution happen needs something no individual factory boss can execute: the re-regulation of capitalism into something better."

The author sees capitalism as flawed because it is "set of conditions created and maintained by states." But how is the "re-regulation" he thinks will make it better be carried out? It would, of course, be carried out by states.

[May 15, 2015] Fed-Up Employee Just About 14 Years Away From Walking Out Door

Pretty biting humor
The Burning Platform

WALTHAM, MA—Frustrated with a growing list of unacceptable workplace indignities, fed-up Catamount Systems employee Marc Holden is just about 14 years away from walking out the front door of his office and never returning, sources confirmed Thursday. “I swear to God, if things don’t improve around here real fast, I am out of here in 14 years or so—I am not bluffing,” Holden said, noting that if he has to endure just a decade and a half more of company-wide incompetence and pointless micromanagement, he is gone for good. “Seriously, I don’t think I can take any more than 3,000 more days of this before I snap.

Mark my words, if 2029 rolls around and it’s still the same old shit around here, I’m cleaning out my desk, getting on that elevator, and never coming back.” Holden added that if his boss belittled him in front of the entire staff just 200 more times, he would storm right into his office and tell him exactly where he can stick it.

[Apr 20, 2015] Colleagues Addicted to Tech

Apr 20, 2015 |

Discussing Bad Work Situations

I have been in my present position for over 25 years. Five years ago, I was assigned a new boss, who has a reputation in my industry for harassing people in positions such as mine until they quit. I have managed to survive, but it's clear that it's time for me to move along. How should I answer the inevitable interview question: Why would I want to leave after so long? I've heard that speaking badly of a boss is an interview no-no, but it really is the only reason I'm looking to find something new. BROOKLYN

I am unemployed and interviewing for a new job. I have read that when answering interview questions, it's best to keep everything you say about previous work experiences or managers positive.

But what if you've made one or two bad choices in the past: taking jobs because you needed them, figuring you could make it work — then realizing the culture was a bad fit, or you had an arrogant, narcissistic boss?

Nearly everyone has had a bad work situation or boss. I find it refreshing when I read stories about successful people who mention that they were fired at some point, or didn't get along with a past manager. So why is it verboten to discuss this in an interview? How can the subject be addressed without sounding like a complainer, or a bad employee? CHICAGO

As these queries illustrate, the temptation to discuss a negative work situation can be strong among job applicants. But in both of these situations, and in general, criticizing a current or past employer is a risky move. You don't have to paint a fictitiously rosy picture of the past, but dwelling on the negative can backfire. Really, you don't want to get into a detailed explanation of why you have or might quit at all. Instead, you want to talk about why you're such a perfect fit for the gig you're applying for.

So, for instance, a question about leaving a long-held job could be answered by suggesting that the new position offers a chance to contribute more and learn new skills by working with a stronger team. This principle applies in responding to curiosity about jobs that you held for only a short time.

It's fine to acknowledge a misstep. But spin the answer to focus on why this new situation is such an ideal match of your abilities to the employer's needs.

The truth is, even if you're completely right about the past, a prospective employer doesn't really want to hear about the workplace injustices you've suffered, or the failings of your previous employer. A manager may even become concerned that you will one day add his or her name to the list of people who treated you badly. Save your cathartic outpourings for your spouse, your therapist, or, perhaps, the future adoring profile writer canonizing your indisputable success.

Send your workplace conundrums to, including your name and contact information (even if you want it withheld for publication). The Workologist is a guy with well-intentioned opinions, not a professional career adviser. Letters may be edited.

[Feb 28, 2015] How to Deal With a Psychopath

[Feb 28, 2015] Psychopath BBC documentary Full Documentary

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[Feb 28, 2015] The Psychopath Next Door (2014) - ( Documentary )

[Feb 28, 2015] The Mind of a Psychopath

[Jul 06, 2014] How a phychopath boss can turn friends into enemies

yalensis , July 5, 2014 at 4:12 am

This guy got his rocks off by pitting his underlings against each other: Turning friends into enemies, etc. He did this through a combination of (temporary) favoritism, using office spies, power plays, and also employing an “office wife” to spread gossip about people behind their back.

It was very effective: in the end, nobody trusted anyone, everybody hated everybody, the whole team became completely dysfunctional because people would rather root for others’ failures than try to achieve something themselves; hence, nothing ever got done, and some very talented brains were completed wasted with this intrigue and B.S.

... ... ...


March 1, 2004 |
Toxic managers are a fact of life. Some managers are toxic most of the time; most managers are toxic some of the time. Knowing how to deal with people who are rigid, aggressive, self-centered or exhibit other types of dysfunctional behaviour can improve your own health and that of others in the workplace. This author describes the mechanisms for coping.

Toxic managers dot the landscape in most organizations, making them seem, at times, like war zones. These managers can complicate your work, drain your energy, compromise your sanity, derail your projects and destroy your career. Your ability to deal with these corporate land mines will have a significant impact on your career. Those who are able to recognize toxic managers quickly and understand what makes them tick will be in the best position to protect themselves. Difficult managers are a fact of life and how they affect your life depends upon the skills you develop to deal with them.

The issue is not simply a matter of individual survival. Toxic managers divert people’s energy from the real work of the organization, destroy morale, impair retention, and interfere with cooperation and information sharing. Their behaviour, like a rock thrown into a pond, can cause ripples distorting the organization’s culture and affecting people far beyond the point of impact.

Senior management and HR can significantly improve an organization’s culture and functioning by taking steps to find and contain those who are most destructive. Leadership can spare an organization serious damage by learning how to recognize problematic personality traits quickly, placing difficult managers in positions in which their behaviour will do the least harm, arranging for coaching for those who are able to grow, and knowing which managers are time bombs that need to be let go.

This article will help you learn how to avoid becoming a scapegoat, to survive aggressive managers’ assaults, and to give narcissistic and rigid managers the things they need to be satisfied with you. It will also help senior management and HR to recognize toxic managers before they do serious damage. The basic theme of the article is that to deal effectively with toxic behavior you need to understand what lies underneath it, design an intervention to target those underlying factors, and have sufficient control of your own feelings and behaviour so that you can do what is most effective, rather than let your own anger or anxiety get the best of you. In other words, you need to develop your emotional intelligence.

[May 31, 2014] Psychopaths: how can you spot one?
We think of psychopaths as killers, alien, outside society. But, says the scientist who has spent his life studying them, you could have one for a colleague, a friend – or a spouse

There are a few things we take for granted in social interactions with people. We presume that we see the world in roughly the same way, that we all know certain basic facts, that words mean the same things to you as they do to me. And we assume that we have pretty similar ideas of right and wrong.

But for a small – but not that small – subset of the population, things are very different. These people lack remorse and empathy and feel emotion only shallowly. In extreme cases, they might not care whether you live or die. These people are called psychopaths. Some of them are violent criminals, murderers. But by no means all.

Professor Robert Hare is a criminal psychologist, and the creator of the PCL-R, a psychological assessment used to determine whether someone is a psychopath. For decades, he has studied people with psychopathy, and worked with them, in prisons and elsewhere. “It stuns me, as much as it did when I started 40 years ago, that it is possible to have people who are so emotionally disconnected that they can function as if other people are objects to be manipulated and destroyed without any concern,” he says.

Our understanding of the brain is still in its infancy, and it’s not so many decades since psychological disorders were seen as character failings. Slowly we are learning to think of mental illnesses as illnesses, like kidney disease or liver failure, and personality disorders, such as autism, in a similar way. Psychopathy challenges this view. “A high-scoring psychopath views the world in a very different way,” says Hare. “It’s like colour-blind people trying to understand the colour red, but in this case ‘red’ is other people’s emotions.”

At heart, Hare’s test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn’t apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list includes: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, cunning/manipulative, pathological lying, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, a tendency to boredom, impulsivity, criminal versatility, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Hare says: “A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, once said: ‘Bob, when I meet someone who scores 35 or 36, I know these people really are different.’ The ones we consider to be alien are the ones at the upper end.”

But is psychopathy a disorder – or a different way of being? Anyone reading the list above will spot a few criteria familiar from people they know. On average, someone with no criminal convictions scores 5. “It’s dimensional,” says Hare. “There are people who are part-way up the scale, high enough to warrant an assessment for psychopathy, but not high enough up to cause problems. Often they’re our friends, they’re fun to be around. They might take advantage of us now and then, but usually it’s subtle and they’re able to talk their way around it.” Like autism, a condition which we think of as a spectrum, “psycho­pathy”, the diagnosis, bleeds into normalcy.

We think of psychopaths as killers, criminals, outside society. People such as Joanna Dennehy, a 31-year-old British woman who killed three men in 2013 and who the year before had been diagnosed with a psychopathic personality disorder, or Ted Bundy, the American serial killer who is believed to have murdered at least 30 people and who said of himself: “I’m the most cold-blooded son of a bitch you’ll ever meet. I just liked to kill.” But many psychopathic traits aren’t necessarily disadvantages – and might, in certain circumstances, be an advantage.

For their co-authored book, “Snakes in suits: When Psychopaths go to work”, Hare and another researcher, Paul Babiak, looked at 203 corporate professionals and found about four per cent scored sufficiently highly on the PCL-R to be evaluated for psychopathy. Hare says that this wasn’t a proper random sample (claims that “10 per cent of financial executives” are psychopaths are certainly false) but it’s easy to see how a lack of moral scruples and indifference to other people’s suffering could be beneficial if you want to get ahead in business.

“There are two kinds of empathy,” says James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the University of California and author of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. “Cognitive empathy is the ability to know what other people are feeling, and emotional empathy is the kind where you feel what they’re feeling.” Autistic people can be very empathetic – they feel other people’s pain – but are less able to recognise the cues we read easily, the smiles and frowns that tell us what someone is thinking. Psychopaths are often the opposite: they know what you’re feeling, but don’t feel it themselves. “This all gives certain psychopaths a great advantage, because they can understand what you’re thinking, it’s just that they don’t care, so they can use you against yourself.” (Chillingly, psychopaths are particularly adept at detecting vulnerability. A 2008 study that asked participants to remember virtual characters found that those who scored highly for psychopathy had a near perfect recognition for sad, unsuccessful females, but impaired memory for other characters.)

...And in his youth, “if I was confronted by authority – if I stole a car, made pipe bombs, started fires – when we got caught by the police I showed no emotion, no anxiety”. Yet he is highly successful, driven to win. He tells me things most people would be uncomfortable saying: that his wife says she’s married to a “fun-loving, happy-go-lucky nice guy” on the one hand, and a “very dark character who she does not like” on the other. He’s pleasant, and funny, if self-absorbed, but I can’t help but think about the criteria in Hare’s PCL-R: superficial charm, lack of emotional depth, grandiose sense of self-worth. “I look like hell now, Tom,” he says – he’s 66 – “but growing up I was good-looking, six foot, 180lb, athletic, smart, funny, popular.” (Hare warns against non-professionals trying to diagnose people using his test, by the way.)

“Psychopaths do think they’re more rational than other people, that this isn’t a deficit,” says Hare. “I met one offender who was certainly a psychopath who said ‘My problem is that according to psychiatrists I think more with my head than my heart. What am I supposed to do about that? Am I supposed to get all teary-eyed?’ ” Another, asked if he had any regrets about stabbing a robbery victim, replied: “Get real! He spends a few months in hospital and I rot here. If I wanted to kill him I would have slit his throat. That’s the kind of guy I am; I gave him a break.”

And yet, as Hare points out, when you’re talking about people who aren’t criminals, who might be successful in life, it’s difficult to categorise it as a disorder. “It’d be pretty hard for me to go into high-level political or economic or academic context and pick out all the most successful people and say, ‘Look, I think you’ve got some brain deficit.’ One of my inmates said that his problem was that he’s a cat in a world of mice. If you compare the brainwave activity of a cat and a mouse, you’d find they were quite different.”

It would, says Hare, probably have been an evolutionarily successful strategy for many of our ancestors, and can be successful today; adept at manipulating people, a psychopath can enter a community, “like a church or a cultural organisation, saying, ‘I believe the same things you do’, but of course what we have is really a cat pretending to be a mouse, and suddenly all the money’s gone”. At this point he floats the name Bernie Madoff.

Guest Post - Conditioning That Which Keeps People Subservient to Abusive Leadership

Zero Hedge
Few who are paying attention to world events through a lens more precise than the Main Stream Media (MSM) would deny that the vast majority of humans are being badly abused by their leadership in a variety of venues ranging from local, regional, national, and international politicians and bureaucrats, financial managers, corporate controllers, religious leaders, media moguls and warlords.

The vast majority of humans appear to be oblivious to this abuse and passively accept what is being done to them. Why is that? In one word - conditioning.

The vastly increased access to information that the internet enabled is responsible for a large number of people at least becoming aware of this abuse. However even among this more aware group, taking effective action to stop the abuse is sorely lacking. Why is that? In one word - conditioning.

There is a much smaller group that are proactively attempting to counter the abuse through group protest, but they are losing the struggle. Why is that? In one word - conditioning.

... ... ...

The most rigid and destructive conditioning is imposed on us during our schooling. That schooling is starting earlier and lasting much longer than previously in history and while we are being ‘schooled’ we are not considered full adults with the responsibilities and freedoms such status implies.

Why is that? Could it be that control in our society is much more rigid than ever before? Those that control us realize that a rebellion of youth is the most dangerous kind. How better to minimize the impact of people in their prime than by keeping their status at ‘children’ with little access to power until well past their prime years? If people cave in to ‘slave hood’ during their prime years, how likely are they to rebel once they are past their prime; especially if they are burdened with excessive debt from their education?

... ... ...

In current society peer pressure during childhood, and early adulthood, is immense. To survive in this setting we must pay close attention to others around us for clues regarding what is and is not acceptable. Because of this pressure the bulk of our energy goes into human interactions and we are pretty much oblivious to everything but our immediate environment. “Use it or lose it”, is sage advice. Because of concentrating on human relations during their formative years, most people have little if any connection to the natural world.

Try to imagine what people would be like if, as youngsters, they spent time exploring and living in nature while being responsible for their own survival and actions instead of hanging out at the mall or partying with their pals.

Is it fair to say that those that hang with the crowd are unlikely to be aware of, or able to understand, large scale events not part of their immediate environment?

What about someone who is tasked with surviving in the greater world using only their own skills? Would they stand a better chance of grasping what is going on?

Is this phenomena related to the common use of a ‘rite of manhood’ by many cultures where young adults leave the security of their group to face the wilderness on their own?

Do the majority of people in modern societies never go through this enabling rite of passage and instead go from the security of their parent’s care to the security of the big brother state? Does this explain why some people never seem to reach adulthood?

Substantial time on the lookout, without peer pressure, made me realize how confining trying to fit into the crowd is. Most people don’t even sense this pressure because it is all they know. It’s like the air we breathe. It’s just there until it isn’t, then we die; unless we are prepared for an airless environment.

Most people also don’t realize how much of their time and energy it takes to be ‘social’. Being removed from ‘socializing’ is enormously stressful if it is all you know.

Many aspiring lookout men needed to come down off the mountains prematurely because they could not stand being alone. Those that adjusted to the isolation came to treasure the freedom of being comfortable for extended periods with just their own company. The amount of time that then becomes available for other, possibly more worthwhile pursuits, is substantial.

In the forefront of these benefits is having the time to look inside youself without constantly being subjected to the opinion of others. Building friendships takes time and effort and becoming your own friend is no exception. Most of us never get the opportunity to do this.

Those that desire to control human behavior understand that people that are not comfortable with themself are much more susceptible to being controlled because they are lonely and need to seek comfort and friendship outside themselves. Virtually every sales campaign, ranging from that of the door to door salesmen to world leaders, is then enabled to easily sell you a bill of goods by convincing you that what they have to offer is going to become your best friend and make your life less lonely.

Short excursions or holidays into nature, most often with others fitted into a busy schedule, do little to increase our awareness of the greater reality that humans exist within. Thanks to modern technology very few of these excursions actually take people far from the human controlled environment they are conditioned to.

It is one thing to climb to the top of a mountain, conquer it, and then immediately return to civilization. It is something totally different to stay in that wilderness environment for extended periods with the time to come to know those other species that are at home in those environs. It makes one realize that humans are not the 'be all, end all' of life on earth. Humility is born which serves us very well. In this environment one soon comes to realize those species include the earth itself. Seeing the constant breathing of weather and daily and seasonal shifts of energies makes one realize everything is made of the same stuff and ‘lives’ in its own unique way.

... ... ...

Humans are far more difficult to control if they live in small clusters, all over the place, while paying little or no attention to the MSM. The propagandists can then no longer create a single message that will motive the whole herd of humans to act identically by broadcasting their one piece of propaganda from a single location that reaches everyone.

Propaganda still works, but it must be tailored properly to fit each unique situation in order to get consistent results. If there is no central broadcasting service the message must also be taken to each unique location individually. This is an impossible situation for our rulers and is the reason we are all so heavily conditioned to….

The most destructive conditioning takes place in our schools, right at the time we are most susceptible to it, during our formative years. During that period we have little experience of our own to compare to what we are told, and raising questions about the validity of the taught ‘truth’ is ruthlessly punished in order to force us to depend on the wisdom of others instead of our own intuition.

We are ruthlessly regimented to follow orders so that we eventually become incapable of thinking for ourselves and become dependent on the ‘boss’ to do our thinking for us. The intellectual box we become stuck within is then defined by the boss.

Specialization in training, and limiting access to information, (compartmentalization) is critical to our conditioning. If we cannot think for ourselves, and only understand part of the puzzle, and are incapable of deducing or intuiting answers to unknowns, we are trapped within our dependence on others.

I have personally met a number of world shaker class intellectuals that are extremely brilliant in their own field, but figuratively can’t tie their own shoe laces. This situation is not accidental. If only the boss has the full picture, the boss becomes the only one who can act effectively. Everyone else then becomes totally dependent on the Boss. Specialization has its place, but having a well rounded toolkit of life skills is essential to individual freedom.

Being away from civilization where the boss is not handy to hold your hand is a disaster waiting to happen if you cannot think for yourself. Then, unless you quickly learn to identify problems before they destroy you, and also learn to fix problems you can’t avoid intuitively without an instruction manually from the boss, you will not survive long.

... ... ..

No one is perfect and you will make mistakes when you think for yourself. Mistakes are often painful, but if you accept the possibility of making mistakes, and are willing to learn from them when you make them, you will eventually become a very robust and capable person. What doesn’t break you strengthens you.

If you are afraid of making mistakes you are stuck on the safe (?) road built by our bosses. You still might not be safe, but at least you can then blame your mistakes on someone else.

I have learned far more from my mistakes than from my successes. I am now very thankful for my mistakes, even though some were very painful to navigate.

... ... ...

[Mar 02, 2014] Forensic psychiatrists use Hollywood characters to shed light on psychopaths

Feb 28, 2014 | DW.DE

Film is a particularly suitable medium for depicting psychopathy, says Samuel Leistedt, a forensic psychiatrist at the Marronniers hospital in Tournai, Belgium. Many films featuring psychopaths have also become Hollywood classics and blockbusters: "Psycho," "Silence of the Lambs" and "There Will Be Blood," to name a few.

Leistedt and his team compiled a database of 400 films, although less than a third were selected for analysis based on the realism of the characters. Their study, which was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, found that psychopaths in the movies have become more clinically accurate over time.

"I identify the really well-constructed characters, which were so realistic that you could meet them in your practice," says Leistedt, who co-authored the study with colleague Paul Linkowski.

One classic, idiopathic prototype, which closely resembles a clinical case, is the psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh. He is portrayed by Spanish actor Javiar Bardem in "No Country for Old Men."

"A guy I met in my practice was exactly like that. He was a hitman in Belgium, working for a criminal organization. He was very cold and very scary," Leistedt says.

Non-violent psychopaths

Not all psychopaths are serial killers, rapists or mafia hitmen though. Some are neither violent nor criminal. Manipulative corporate raiders such as Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's film, "Wall Street," can still destroy other human beings, yet manage to sleep soundly at night.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko in Wall Street
Not all psychopaths are serial killers, rapists and mafia hit men: Some could be corporate raiders

"Gordon Gekko is probably the best example of this kind of successful, manipulative psychopath. They will not kill you, but they are very charming. They lie, they like power," says Leistedt.

Interestingly, the few psychopathic women in the film study are mainly the manipulative type. Actress Sharon Stone's character in "Basic Instinct" uses her sexuality to entrap victims and kills them with an ice pick, even though physical aggression is rare among women.

"Female psychopaths are more manipulative than male ones. The motivation for murder is different, like the black widow who marries a wealthy old man and puts poison in his drink," he explains.

The counterpart to the clever manipulator is the "macho male," who possesses more brawn than brains.

"The most beautiful example of macho is the famous gangster in Chicago, Al Capone. He's aggressive, but not very smart," Leistedt adds.

Absence of empathy a key personality trait

Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men
Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men" is the "perfect villain with a bad haircut"

The defining personality trait of all psychopathic types, in film as well as life, is lack of empathy, says Dietmar Kanthak, a film critic at the Bonn-based daily Der General-Anzeiger. He describes Javiar Bardem's portrayal of Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men" as "the perfect villain with a bad haircut."

"He kills like Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Terminator' - like a machine. He's got this intelligence, this will to get a job done. He has no empathy at all," he adds.

Other psychopathic traits include lack of remorse and guilt.

"They can mimic emotions. Intellectually they are able to explain what sadness is, but they are not able to feel sadness or anxiety," explains Leistedt.

Psychopathic brains are different

Diagram of amygdalae in the brain
The amygdalae, deep in emotional brain, remain dormant in psychopaths

The inability to feel emotion could have a biological basis. When psychopathic subjects are shown powerful images of pain, terror or suffering, their brain activity hardly registers on an MRI scan.

The amygdalae - two small almond-shaped structures at the heart of what is called the emotional brain - remain cold.

"It's like the brain is paralyzed or asleep. These are very important structures in terms of emotions and fear. When you see a snake, for example, your amygdala will normally activate a lot," Leistedt says.

The MRI scans show how psychopathic and non-psychopathic brains differ, but do not explain the reasons for the difference. It's not known to what extent a relatively inactive amygdala may be inborn or genetic, since social deprivation, childhood traumas or head injuries can also leave a neurological imprint on the brain.

Psychopaths versus sociopaths

Many of the film psychopaths in the study are actually sociopaths. They commit the same brutal crimes as true psychopaths who have no feelings. The difference is that sociopaths may still be capable of feeling human emotion and remorse. One classic case is the real-life Louisiana death row inmate Matthew Poncelet. He is portrayed by Sean Penn in "Dead Man Walking."

"He has access to emotions - to sadness, to guilt. He is anti-social, a drug addict, but not a psychopath," says Leistedt.

Sean Penn (left) as sociopath Matthew Poncelet, and Susan Sarandon, in Dead Man Walking
Sociopath Matthew Poncelet (left) in "Dead Man Walking" is able to access his emotions

Cinematically, Matthew Poncelet is one of the most realistic characters in the study.

"We don't know if he's guilty or not, and then afterwards you see the evidence of his killing two teenagers. You get the whole complexity of this character," says film critic Kanthak, who believes that films can enable moviegoers to understand the psychology of psychopaths.

"The best films try to explain these characters. They try to present them in all their complexity - all their faults, all their wickedness: but they're still human beings, aren't they?" he adds.

[Mar 01, 2014] Lewis Yablonsky, Provocative Sociologist, Dies at 89

Lewis Yablonsky carried a switchblade before he became a sociologist.

“My need for self-protection stemmed, in part, from my teenage years as a dice and card hustler,” Dr. Yablonsky once wrote, recalling his days at South Side High School in Newark.

“During this phase of my life I hung out with many individuals who I would, later on, after my formal education, characterize as sociopaths.”

He made good money cheating at cards and dice. He went on to make a remarkable career hanging out with and writing about sociopaths — gangsters, drug dealers, murderers — as well as more ordinary characters, like unhappily married couples.

... ... ...

Dr. Yablonsky emphasized street-level immersion over academic remove, and he often said that his rough childhood had helped him see the complexity in people and inspired his belief in treatment over punishment. When he was a boy, in the 1930s, he was beaten by whites who mocked his Jewishness and by blacks who mocked his whiteness, he recalled. He rode along in his father’s laundry truck in tough neighborhoods, he said, in part to prevent people from stealing the truck. He often marveled that, unlike so many of the people he grew up with, he did not go to prison.

“My greatest achievement in life,” he liked to say, “was getting out of Newark.”

[Feb 02, 2014] Bully Nation By Yale Magrass and Charles Derber

On international arena its not simply bulling. It is also divide and counque strategy that is in works.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has appropriately been called a bully. This has implications well beyond Christie. His calling out has the potential to shift the growing public conversation about bullying from a psychological narrative about abusive individuals to a new discourse on institutionalized bullying, carried out by ruling institutions and elites.

The current focus on bullying - like much of the discussion about guns and gun violence - has tended to focus on individuals and mental health. It is a therapeutic narrative. Bullying is seen primarily as a psychological problem of individuals. The victim needs therapy, better communication or adaptation skills. Bullies are characterologically flawed and need therapy or perhaps legal punishment.

But there is little or no discussion of larger social or cultural forces in the United States and the American institutions or leaders who bully other countries or workers and citizens at home. Institutionalized bullying is endemic to a capitalist hegemonic nation like the United States and creates death and suffering on a far greater scale than personal, everyday bullying, as important and toxic as the latter might be.

Moreover, much of the everyday bullying that is the current media focus must be understood as the inevitable consequence of a militarized corporate system that requires a popular mind-set of bullying to produce profit and power. The individual bully is the creation of the bully nation.

The United States openly views itself as the world police force, a benign hegemon morally ordained to impose its interests and values on the rest of the world and justified in the name of freedom, human rights and antiterrorism to do to weaker countries what it wants. It spends more on weapons than its next 20 largest competitors combined. President Obama proclaimed "[S]o long as I'm Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known." To peasants living in small countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia - where the United States has sent armed forces, used drones to bomb, and often overthrown the government - polls show that a majority of people see the United States as the greatest threat to their security, and fear it. Hegemony here seamlessly unfolds as morally sanctioned, institutionalized bullying.

America makes heroes of bomber pilots like John McCain and offers them as role models for children and adolescents to emulate. They see the media applaud the bullying behavior of their own government that dispatches police, soldiers, FBI and CIA agents into foreign nations to kill and wreak havoc - from Afghanistan to Somalia to Columbia. If you kill enough, whether in a just war or not, you may win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

If bullying brings esteem to a nation, then surely that is a behavior to strive for. Potential recruits for an aggressive military need to be immunized against scruples over violence and bullying. This becomes an implicit part of their education, whether or not it is ever publicly admitted. Accordingly, schools and adult authorities often turn a blind eye toward bullying. After two world wars, the Army lamented that a majority of combat soldiers never fired a weapon. They called for a change in the training of soldiers and the education and upbringing of children to correct that. By that measure, they have been successful. In Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan, the majority of combat soldiers killed.

Sports has played a vital part in preparing children for institutionalized aggression, bullying and combat. In football, the goal is to attack the opponent and knock them down, a hard hit that keeps the opponent dazed on the ground is sometimes encouraged by coaches and cheered by the crowd. In schools and campuses, the athletes are often the popular heroes and also the bullies, involved too often in sexual violence or drinking binges in bars that lead to fights or crimes.

Only recently would they expect sanctions against bullying. Indeed, the more they bullied, the more popular they would be. Even before World War I, President Theodore Roosevelt insisted that elite universities like Harvard would have to enhance their football teams if America were to dominate the world. He declared: "We cannot afford to turn out college men who shrink from physical effort or a little physical pain." For the nation needed men with "the courage that will fight valiantly against the foes of the soul and the foes of the body."

The aggression and competiveness of bullying pervades civilian life as well as military. As the beacon for the rest of the world to emulate, the culture the United States wishes to export is capitalism. Capitalism's staunchest defenders proclaim competition to be its fundamental operating principle. The monopolistic corporations and the wealthiest 1% have been the most aggressive, bullying anyone who stood in their way by outsourcing their jobs, lowering wages, stripping away benefits and firing those seeking to organize unions.

The bully demonizes their victim. In American capitalism, elites have long defined the losers in the competitive struggle with the words used by Mitt Romney to defame the 47%: undeserving "moochers." They are weak and lazy and don't have the stuff to prevail. As victims, they deserve their fate and must submit to the triumphant. Those, like the wolves on Wall Street who bully their way to the top, should be there; those who couldn't or don't, belong where they are.

Bullying is the means through which the corporate empires were built. Carnegie and Rockefeller intimidated and threatened their rival capitalists to cede them an ever-larger share of the market. They brought in Pinkerton goons to beat striking workers into submission. Workers were forced to either sign "yellow dog" contracts and pledge not to join unions, or be thrown into the street. Similar bullying practices continue today. Corporations warn entire communites they will shut down factories and undermine the local economy if they do not accept low wages and minimal regulations. Banks entice consumers to borrow through predatory loans and then raise interest rates and threaten foreclosure. The corporations are clear they have the power and will not tolerate challenges from weaklings who fail to know their place.

Bullying enhances the ideology that the strong are strong and the weak are weak, and each deserves to be where they are. This attitude pervades America's culture, government, military, corporations, media, schools, entertainment, athletics and everyday life. The first step to a solution is shifting the conversation to institutional bullying, moving beyond simply a therapeutic narrative to a political one aiming toward transformative social change. As long as the United States embraces militarism and aggressive capitalism, systemic bullying and all its impacts - abroad and at home - will persist as a major crisis.

[Jan 19, 2014] Power + Incompetence = a Bullying Boss

Here’s some gratifying news for any employees out there who are feeling bullied by a tyrannical boss: That aggressive behavior may have little to do with you, and a lot to do with your boss’s feelings of incompetence. A new study in Psychological Science found that when managers are made to feel insecure about their job performance, their aggressiveness skyrockets. “Power holders feel they need to be superior and competent. When they don’t feel they can show that legitimately, they’ll show it by taking people down a notch or two” [New Scientist], says study coauthor Nathanael Fast.

The researchers got 410 volunteers from various workplaces to fill out questionnaires about their position in the workplace hierarchy, how they felt about their job performance, and their aggressive tendencies. They also conducted a series experiments on the volunteers. In one, they manipulated the subjects’ sense of power and self-worth by asking them to write about occasions when they felt either empowered or impotent and then either competent or incompetent. Previous research has suggested that such essays cause a short-term bump or drop in feelings of power and capability [New Scientist]. Next they asked the volunteers to set the level of punishment for (imaginary) university students who got wrong answers on a test. Those people who felt more powerful and more incompetent picked the harshest punishments, the study found.

So what’s to be done with a bullying boss? Coauthor Serena Chen says a little ego stroking may make life easier for everyone. “Make them feel good about themselves in some way,” Chen said, suggesting this might mean complimenting a hobby or nonwork activity provided it is “something plausible that doesn’t sound like you’re sucking up” [San Francisco Chronicle].

Related Content:
80beats: Teenage Bullies are Rewarded With Pleasure, Brain Scans Show
DISCOVER: So, You Want to Be the Boss?

[Nov 03, 2013] The Age of Narcissism

Jesse's Café Américain

"Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities.

But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless."

-- Jeffrey Kluger

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence...

The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”

-- Sam Vaknin

If you wish to see the narcissist in their natural habitat, the chat boards and comment sections of some blogs are where the marginally successful dwell, often dominating the conversation with their self-obsessed arrogance. Sometimes in periods of unusual circumstances they can even rise to positions of power. They are attracted to corporate structures, and financial and political positions.

They have no humility, no doubts, and no empathy. Whatever life or luck or others may have helped them to achieve, they feel that they deserve it all, and more. They have worked for everything they have, whereas others who have suffered setbacks and misfortune simply have made bad choices or been lazy. And if others have been cheated and abused, then they deserve it for being stupid.

They are often judgmental and racist, and brimming over with hateful scorn for others, unless they can be co-opted into their sphere of influence and behave according to the narcissist's world and rules.

As Thomas Aquinas said, 'well-ordered self-love is right and natural.' It is when this natural behaviour becomes excessive and twisted that it becomes a pathology, a disorder of the personality.

Often narcissists have exaggerated ideas about their own talents and worth and work. Sometimes they are compensating for the neglect and disregard, or even abuse, of one or both parents who failed to see and appreciate how special they are. At other times they are the product of an environment in which they have been raised to believe that they are special, and deserve special treatment and consideration. Since obviously not all children of privilege or abuse become narcissists, it might have its genesis in an untreated form of depression or genetic predisposition.

"The classic narcissist is overly self-confident and sees themselves as superior than other people. Think of a child who has always been told by mom and dad that they would be great, and then that child takes and internally distorts that message into superiority.

The compensatory narcissist covers up with their grandiose behavior, a deep-seated deficit in self-esteem. Think of a child who felt devalued but instead of giving up on life, resorts to fantasies of grandeur and greatness. This person will either live in that fantasy world or decide to create that fantasy world in real life."

If this affliction is accompanied by other problems such as sadism or malignant mania, they may become a destructive element for all who encounter them. Their illness affects others more than themselves, so they may often not seek treatment, and excuse the damage they inflict with the 'weakness' of others.

They seek to fill the great empty holes of self-loathing with the lives and possessions of others, all the while proudly wreathing their actions with self serving rationalization.

They are more to be pitied than scorned, as they are living in a small part the hell which they are making for themselves. But we must guard ourselves against their powerful certainty in an age of uncertainty. Their certainty is a madness which serves none but itself.

"Narcissism is a psychological condition defined as an obsession with the self. While not all forms of self-love or self-interest are destructive, extreme cases can be very damaging and may be diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

In these instances, the disorder is characterized by a lack of empathy for others, sadistic or destructive tendencies, and a compulsion to satisfy personal needs above all other goals.

People suffering from NPD tend to have difficulty establishing or maintaining friendships, close family relationships, and even careers. About 1% of people have this condition, and up to 3/4 of those diagnosed with it are men.

The signs of narcissism often revolve around a person's perception of himself in comparison to other people.

Those with severe cases often believe they are naturally superior to others or that they possess extraordinary capabilities. They may have extreme difficulty acknowledging personal weaknesses, yet also have fragile self-esteem.

Narcissistic people also frequently believe that they are not truly appreciated, and can be prone to outbursts of anger, jealousy, and self-loathing when they do not get what they feel they deserve."

Hallmarks of Narcissism

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

•Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
•Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
•Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
•Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
•Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
•Requires excessive admiration
•Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
•Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
•Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

[Oct 14, 2013] Jesse's Café Américain

"A rogue does not laugh in the same way that an honest man does; a hypocrite does not shed the tears of a man of good faith. All falsehood is a mask; and however well made the mask may be, with a little attention we may always succeed in distinguishing it from the true face."

Alexandre Dumas

[Aug 24, 2013] 11 Signs You May Be Dating A Sociopath

Watch out for consistency of their stories about past. And I agree that "#1 clue - constantly lying about insignificant or stupid stuff for absolutely no reason. When caught, they either change the subject, or get angry/violent (which also changes the focus away from the lie). They really enjoy making you wonder "why" (about everything and anything), because it gives them power over you. "

Could that amazing new person you or a loved one is dating actually be a sociopath? It's not as far-fetched as you might imagine. Roughly one in 25 Americans is a sociopath, according to Harvard psychologist Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door.

Of course, not all sociopaths are dangerous criminals. But they certainly can make life difficult, given that the defining characteristic of sociopathy is antisocial behavior.

Here are 11 RED FLAGS to look out for:

sightseeing62 .

I am a man, and an alpha male at that, and I have stumbled in to a couple of (professional)women that fit six out of the eleven mentioned. When men lie they are convincing, when women lie they are believable. What's the difference? Nothing, they are the same type of people. Different genders only.

458 Fans .

This is the guy I broke up with, after two yrars, last week. In retrospect, I thought of him more as a narcissist. My heart hurts, but my head is relieved. Whatever you call it, these peoplr only know how to use. They are charming and know how disarm. I will be smarter next time.

jmarworth .

The author of this article implies that sociopaths are men. Believe me, there are plenty of women who fit the description.

berlytowns .

7.7% of men and in 1.9% of women. According to Wiki. Not a terribly reliable source, but other websites tend to agree with this one.

njenel .

we had two sociopath's in the white house, guess ?

ItsGettingWeird (or is it just me?) .

Sees no value in personal photographs of family & friends ("just pieces of paper" to them). Any photos will not be cared for and placed in frames or albums; you'll find them stuffed into a box, stored out of sight.

Not very interested in movies, novels, music, either. That's stuff about human emotions and relationships, and sociopaths see it as a waste of their time.

AtlantaBlue .

I read somewhere that it's 1:10 for hedge fund folks. what a surprise!


#1 clue - constantly lying about insignificant or stupid stuff for absolutely no reason. When caught, they either change the subject, or get angry/violent (which also changes the focus away from the lie). They really enjoy making you wonder "why" (about everything and anything), because it gives them power over you.

Jane Cubelli .

How is this different from just being a pathological liar? I'm just asking since I know a pathological liar and he doesn't fit the other criteria of a sociopath.

[Jul 28, 2013] Weekend Viewing I Am Fishhead

July 27, 2013 | Jesse's Café Américain
... ... ...

I have a high regard for Frank Ochberg, although he normally writes about other aspects of psychology especially Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and victimization.

Like others in business, I have had the occasional misfortune to encounter a few obvious narcissists, and probable psychopaths, during my thirty years long corporate business career. I learned to avoid them at all costs, no matter how intriguing or attractive their activities and personalities may have been. There was always a price to be paid. And if you have one as a boss, change is sometimes the only recourse.

They are rarely responsive to or capable of genuine friendship, but rather tend to relate best on a power-subordinate level, and in peers prefer more active controls like greed, scheming, and if possible, various forms of blackmail, often financial but sometimes more involved.

They do not like the independent minded person or moral personality in the least. They despise and fear them because they view morality or other limitations as a weakness, and fear them because they do not bend easily to control. Even if loyalty is offered they do not trust it because they do not know what it is. It is most often about the need for certainty and control on a primitive level.

Invariably if you know someone who holds quite a few people in contempt, and not mere dislike, the chances are pretty good that at some point they will hold you in the same contempt as well. If you wish to know the measure of a person, watch how they treat those who they perceive to be weaker or vulnerable. Listen to their words, but pay more regard to their actions.

And they tend to attract other people with personality disorders into loose groupings that can become self-promotional. If they ever obtain a significant amount of control of a business, that entity will sooner or later be in serious trouble, often shockingly so. What were they thinking? They were well beyond reason, and their morality is largely self-referential.

It is a problem that far too often power attracts those who would abuse it. And so there is a need for transparency, checks and balances, and rules that limit concentrations of power, both in the corporate and in the political worlds.

All systems that rely on the assumption of a natural rationality and inherent goodness of leaders and key participants are doomed to a tragic failure. There is strength in diversity, simple because as Lord Acton observed, 'where there are concentrations of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.'

[Jun 03, 2013] The Guardian



Humans, like dogs, need to know who the pack leader is. Which is why the sociopaths are usually at the head of the pack.

No; that's just some humans. It isn't just a matter of sociopaths rising to the top; there's an ongoing complicity between sociopaths and that segment of the population who quite like to have them in charge. The rest of us pay the price.


Perhaps we should filter them out at birth

Might be better to abandon the patently absurd notion that authority, moral discipline, the inculcation of rules and respect, etc. etc. are guarantors of civilisation. Rampant authority produces authoritarian types - fearful followers and damaged and brutalised shitheads.

If society stopped producing people with authoritarian personalities (from the obnoxious martinets who stalk Cif wanking on about drugs, fecklessness and the death penalty to the vast herds of lost, obedient cud chewers who vote for strong leaders with simple messages) most sociopaths would be rendered quite harmless....even good fun. A good many artists are sociopaths. ("Some of my best friends...." It's a damaged society that renders them dangerous.

Of course that's a pretty tall order - society reproduces the notion that raising children is like training marines or breaking wild horses in pretty much the same way that violent parents make for violent children.


@NOTaREALmerican - Stop saying sociopath FFS. Is that the new 'crypto-facist' buzz word for you to attribute every shortcoming to?

If you use that term so broadly, it loses all meaning. People who put themselves first and spend time (and social credit) manipulating people to get what they want (but not too much) will by definition get a better result. There is literally nothing anyone could hope to do to change that.

All we can (and ought?) to do is ensure that the incentive system is set up such that those people stay within acceptable boundaries. i.e. within the law and within public opinion. That way they are able to succeed by staying within the law instead of being pushed outside it.

@SkepticLiberal -

Stop saying sociopath FFS. Is that the new 'crypto-facist' buzz word for you to attribute every shortcoming to?

Yep, for the last couple of years everything has been the fault of "sociopaths". When stated on the internet, it seems to mean anyone you don't like and is something fixed and unchanging that you can identify from--roughly--birth. I think at some point someone got hold of the crypto-facist dictionary, crayoned out "undesirable" and replaced it with "sociopath" adding in some little pseudo-scientific snippets to the definition for good measure.

(BTW, less snarkily, I agree with you on both overuse and indentivisation.)

[Jun 01, 2013] Systemic Malfunctioning of the Labor and Financial Markets

May 19, 2013 | naked capitalism

I keep going back to Jeffrey Sachs, with whom Flassbeck and Jay (and Soros) seem to agree:

Jeffrey Sachs: Well, thank you very much for saying it and practicing it. I do believe – by the way, I’m just going to end here because I’ve been told I have to run to the U.N. in fact right now – I believe we have a crisis of values that is extremely deep, because the regulations and the legal structures need reform. But I meet a lot of these people on Wall Street on a regular basis right now. I’m going to put it very bluntly. I regard the moral environment as pathological. And I’m talking about the human interactions that I have. I’ve not seen anything like this, not felt it so palpably. These people are out to make billions of dollars and nothing should stop them from that. They have no responsibility to pay taxes. They have no responsibility to their clients. They have no responsibility to people, counterparties in transactions. They are tough, greedy, aggressive, and feel absolutely out of control, you know, in a quite literal sense. And they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent, and they have a docile president, a docile White House, and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can’t find its voice. It’s terrified of these companies.

If you look at the campaign contributions, which I happened to do yesterday for another purpose, the financial markets are the number one campaign contributors in the U.S. system now. We have a corrupt politics to the core, I’m afraid to say, and no party is – I mean there’s – if not both parties are up to their necks in this. This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. It really doesn’t have anything to do with right wing or left wing, by the way. The corruption is, as far as I can see, everywhere. But what it’s led to is this sense of impunity that is really stunning, and you feel it on the individual level right now, and it’s very, very unhealthy.

I have waited for four years, five years now, to see one figure on Wall Street speak in a moral language, and I’ve not seen it once. And that is shocking to me. And if they won’t, I’ve waited for a judge, for our president, for somebody, and it hasn’t happened. And by the way it’s not going to happen anytime soon it seems.

mansoor h khan:


Throughout history elites in all societies have always worked to preserve and maintain social stability. They know war and chaos is very risky and will probably end their good life eventually.

Are our elites that stupid? Why would they not have some balance in society to avert war and chaos?

more at:


May 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

We have elites which support Monstanto and nuclear power, things that have the potential of wiping out all life on earth, including that of the elites?

The obvious answer of course is that they are not stupid, but psychotic. If you look at it from that perspective, then everything the elites do makes perfect sense.


May 20, 2013 at 12:59 am

Psychopathic, techinically.

They are incapable of being afraid of long-term consequences, due to a mental defect.


“But in the end, they cannot succeed with that. They can only succeed with a flourishing economy, and you can make money in the long term only if the economy is growing sufficiently quick.” ……………

..obviously unaware of “Shock Doctrine-Rise of Disaster Capitalism”, performed upon South-Central American nations, 70′s, 80′s…(and related war crimes, by Friedmanite-”Chicago Boys” war criminals)…

..have we already forgotten HW telling “W” he didn’t take out Saddam, as it would DESTABILIZE the entire Middle-East?? Does anyone believe DEstabilization was not the Cheney-”W”-bushit GOAL??

“Civilization” be damned…mother earth takes no prisoners…historical documentation (Kevin Phillips-”American Dynasty”-”American Theocracy”) shows what happens when manufacturing based economies DEvolve into “financial services”=paper debt economies…and Phillips was Nixon acolyte..

Timothy Y. Fong

May 19, 2013

“But the political economy is as much like a family as government is like a household. Is there a way forward here? Readers?” The problem is pretty simple. American elites seem to believe that the US is immune to the cycle of nations. They simply cannot grasp the potential negative outcomes. That is, if things go really wrong, some oligarchs and their retainers (both public and private) will find themselves torn apart by angry crowds, or pursued to the ends of the earth by a new revolutionary government.

The denial falls into two categories. The first, and most common, is a belief that “democracy” and the Constitution mean that things can never fall apart. This is a common belief amongst attorneys and other working professionals.

I find this view to be especially ironic when expressed by relatively conservative Christians, since one of the basic tenants of Christianity is that human beings are fundamentally fallen and imperfect. Apparently, however, that doesn’t apply to Americans, which again, makes no sense, seeing as the Bible does not mention the United States anywhere. Then again, it does make sense, as a friend of mine in the clergy has observed that some of his most rabidly conservative congregants have never actually read the Bible.

Professionals of course, generally have to make it through the filtering system of higher education in the United States, which means buying into the reigning political orthodoxy. Incidentally, that recent survey about American attitudes toward armed rebellion seemed to show that the more education someone had, the less likely they were to believe that armed rebellion would be necessary in the coming years.

The second view, which I suspect is in play amongst the pathological elite mentioned by Sachs, is the belief that they can buy protection. Call it the “high walls and trustworthy details” philosophy. I can see how a person could believe that if they live in a walled community (or co-op with a doorman), and have a trustworthy security detail, they can avoid any consequences for their actions. Security details can be either wholly private, or simply off duty police officers. Indeed, in a place like NYC, the police can be ordered (paid) to bust the heads of any pesky protesters.

In that light, Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign to more strictly control firearms makes perfect sense. The truly worthy….err…wealthy, will always be able to hire off duty armed police officers (pistols politely concealed) as bodyguards. Removing firearms from the hands of everyone else is a nice insurance policy. I understand that the dogma around here is that firearms and violence are ineffective nowadays in political struggles, but, I’m sorry, the fundamental drives of humans don’t change, no matter how much we’d like to think otherwise. Bloomberg won’t get his way outside of the Northeast. There are simply too many firearms in circulation, and any effective action to seize them would probably precipitate a civil war– at least secession, if not a split amongst security service personnel.

Ian Welsh had a very good interview the other day where he mentioned that if things go wrong, it will be very ugly, and a lot of innocent people will get hurt. That is true, and it is a measure of how depraved and foolish our elites are that they are risking that turn of events.

This is going to sound somewhat harsh, but perhaps what our society really needs is an extremely ugly lesson in the unintended consequences that can happen when a few people decide to take all the wealth and oppress the shit out of everyone else. That would be a decisive end to the ridiculous nonsense about how “it can’t happen here because we have democracy.” If that happens, and we survive, somehow, we should take a cue from the Japanese and their tsunami markers. After a tsunami, people mark the safe areas, and the areas where the water came up to. In some cases the markers are centuries old, a warning for the future. We should put up markers to remind everyone of the consequences of acting like short sighted sociopaths. Sociopaths may not feel empathy, but they certainly have an instinct for self preservation– and future sociopathic elites (let’s not kid ourselves– they’ll be back) should have a dire reminder of the lethal consequences of overreach.

jake chase:

I am afraid you are being romantic and melodramatic in your expectations. What is more likely is that the middle class will move seamlessly into customer service at Walmart and other oases of putrid consumerism.

Americans to the end will be passive consumers of vapid entertainment and disgusting fast food and carbonated sugar water. Look at the amazing number who still smoke cigarettes and gamble at casinos and horsetracks, not to mention bookmakers.

Our individualism may be carcinogenic and idiotic but it is deeply inbred.

Generalfeldmarschall Von Hindenbur:

I wish I could say jake is wrong. Things here will have to devolve to the level of the Latin American latifundia with the descendants of today’s “middle class” (working class is a forbidden term) living in favelas and being hunted for sport by the children of the elites before they pull their head out and disabuse themselves of this Horatio Alger/Ayn Rand mythology that anyone can be rich through prayer and hard work.


Nations don’t matter–we live in an emergent international Empire with an emergent imperial court and a virtual Emperor.

I don’ believe this country is a Constitutional democracy on the federal level. The two Party system doesn’t work anymore because the power-elite has gamed the system. The genius act the oligarchs used was to create an Orwellian state of permanent war which actually suspends the Constitution which is in place only at the pleasure of the power-elite. Boston showed what can happen should anything that looks like “terrorism” occur.

Washington is the main global imperial court and all who work there are all part of it. There is no difference between government officials, politicians and journalists other than the fact they represent somewhat different interests.

Great comment on education and how it vets the elite–that’s why universities turn out little scared clones today.

I think armed rebellion is unlikey but I’m thankful to be living in the South nonetheless

Julian Dennis:

Yes let’s go for it! Would anybody like to join my new religious movement ‘Hang a Banker for Christ.’ If you won’t do it for yourself, if you won’t do it for your loved ones, if you won’t do it for that stranger in need, then do it for the Lord!


To paraphrase George Carlin: Where do you think these “pathological elites” come from? Mars?

Parasites as “pathological” as the American ones could only survive on a certain type of host: a people of proud ignorance and infinite obedience.

What you call an infection (a Lenin o a Mao Tse-Tung) would actually require a population with many redeeming qualities. America, on the other hand, is the same old opportunist genocider it started out as, it just goes into hibernation for awhile, dormant like a retrovirus.

Americans would sooner idolize the pus-filled sac while calling to lay waste to the nearest defenseless minority.


I have the unfortunate history of having had too much experience with sociopaths, starting first and foremost with a parent who with the exception of murder (at least that I know of) meets all but one of the criteria of a textbook sociopath.

The sociopaths have gained control of the world. They care only of themselves. They are sadistic. They enjoy and receive pleasure from the suffering of others. So far, the only way I have found to counter such behavior is through the acts of creation and generosity. Art, music, dance, smithing, carving, cooking, sewing, knitting, weaving, gardening, any activity that leads to creation is the antithesis of the destruction. The act of giving freely is the antidote to greed.

So look around and say, what can I do myself? The very act of making your own bread and sharing it with others is the anarchy we so desperately need today.

Susan the other :

Reading Aesop’s Fables is always encouraging because all those tales try to caution against greed by using an interesting truth. Which is as Lincoln told us “…. but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” And once trust is lost it is never recovered. It is always changed. Trust is a good example of evolution. It isn’t a static thing. Just remember your parents, if you are old enough, who lived through the 30s and never trusted the banks or the stock market again and were extremely skeptical of real estate. That distrust ran so deep and was partially passed on to our generation that it created a condition whereby the Finance Industry had to think up all sorts of tricks to lure us back in. Which they did. But they regret it as much as we do. All this mess because corporations are trying hard not to pay livable wages. Sad and foolish.

Another Gordon:

Very like the French Revolution.

About a year ago I saw a BBC program about Versailles and the decades running up to the French Revolution and it was spookily like the situation in the US today. The government was perenially short of revenues – partly because of wars, but mainly because of a system which taxed only the poor (who, naturally couldn’t pay much) while exempting the aristocracy who repeatedly used their political power to block any move to tax their vast wealth. In the end they paid with their heads while Britain won the struggle for colonial supremacy.

Those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.


jake chase:

“What continually amazes me is why anybody in the country listens to anything they ever say?”

It seems that you have nailed the crux of the problem.

On one hand, we have the relatively small group of sociopaths who control the entire system — practicing their brand of sadism. On the other hand, we have the teeming middle class made up of both sycophant/inept sociopaths and willfully ignorant, self-hating masochists.

I’m actually beginning to believe there’s something in our water supply that causes the majority of people to be docile. Any other generation of people at any other time in history would have seen this for what it is, by now, and would have put an end to it, one way or the other.

Then again, maybe not. Rome went on for a long time as a war-mongering kleptocracy governed by sociopaths


12 Million Americans Are Sociopaths

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted. d.h.lawrence


It’s interesting to see how people dance around the concepts of kleptocracy, class war, and wealth inequality. Apply these to the interview above and all the surprise and incomprehension melt away.

Flassbeck says “What we have is the systemic malfunctioning of the system, system malfunctioning of the labor market, systemic malfunctioning of the financial markets.” This seems to me like a half statement. The system is indeed malfunctioning, as in not serving the interests of the 99%, but as an engine of looting and suppression of the 99% by the 1%, it is working just fine. The rich and elites may be evil and/or stupid but mostly they are criminal.

They are not irrational. They will loot to a crash and then loot the crash. They will keep doing this until there is nothing left or they are overthrown. This is the essence of kleptocracy. It is the real system we have, and it is functioning exactly as intended.

Brooklin Bridge:

... ... ...

Moreover, much of the discussion in the comments is more interesting than in the post in that commenters question the why of the middle class and others as well as of the 1%. Why indeed do we – or so many of us – go along with this broken, or criminal, system? I’m not sure Lambert means it that way (applying to both the 1% AND the 99%) when he calls it, “the eternal question”, but since both sides of a pathological relationship (the abusors and the abusees) are important if there is to be such a relationship at all, it IS pertinent. Finally, I assume like objects, a system taken alone can’t be criminal or evil. Those qualities are imbued by the people who inhabit and use or are used by the system.

I’m not arguing your points, except perhaps the implication that, it’s simple, (or easily understandable) “[if one applies the] concepts of kleptocracy, class war, and wealth inequality.” Those may indeed be useful concepts with which to look at it, but even then IT is still not simple or easily cleared up to understanding regardless of the tools you bring to bear or of which side of the abuse one examines or both.

[Mar 27, 2013] Did Boris Berezovsky Kill Himself More Compelling, Did He Kill Forbes Editor Paul Klebnikov by Richard Behar

From comments to the article: "Isn’t it amazing how London and other major financial centers seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to these oligarchs? No one asks too many questions. From what I have read, real estate taxes on expensive homes are very low in London. Very few people will be saying kaddish over the death of this one time thug."
Mar 24, 2013 | Forbes
Here’s where it gets even more interesting. Last summer, Berezovsky’s Chechen links came to the surface in a $6.5 billion London lawsuit that he had brought (and lost) against Roman Abramovich, a rival Russian oligarch. Abramovich claimed during the trial that Boris had links to Chechen terrorists, while an ex-Chechen separatist claimed that Boris financed separatists in the 1990s. Berezovsky denied these and other allegations. But the judge in the case — Mrs. [Elizabeth] Justice Gloster — valued what she called Abramovich’s “responsible approach to giving answers which he could honestly support.”

On the other hand, she annihilated Berezovsky. She declared that Boris had been an “unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes. At times the evidence he gave was deliberately dishonest.” At other times, the judge concluded, Berezovsky had “deluded himself into believing his own version of events.” She ordered him to pay Abramovich’s legal fees, which exceeded $100 million.

Of course, Klebnikov had concluded that much about Berezovsky nearly two decades ago. Recalls Forbes’ London counsel, David Hooper, one of the world’s top media-defense lawyers: "The man was a fairly polished liar because one of the things that Paul accused him of was how he milked his links with [Russian President Boris] Yeltsin and set up bank accounts for Yeltsin. Berezovsky denied it, but in the Abramovich case it suited him to change his story and say the opposite — so his evidence now became that he did have those close links with Yeltsin, and he claimed that that is what made him so valuable to Abramovich. He was a brazen liar, but Mrs. Justice Gloster saw through his mendacity."


Judging by Berezovsky’ psychological profile he would never kill himself, no matter how much he suffered. Can he kill anybody else like Paul Khlebnikov for example ?

Absolutely and with very high probability.

No doubt, Berezovsky was very educated and clever person, but he also was a pathologically self-centered , egoistical , greedy beyond reason and ambitious person. This deadly combination made him a cold-blooded killer. Not that he was making killing himself, but he was a mastermind of many political killings, though unproved in court of law and thus speculative.

Isn’t it amazing how London and other major financial centers seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to these oligarchs? No one asks too many questions. From what I have read, real estate taxes on expensive homes are very low in London. Very few people will be saying kaddish over the death of this one time thug.

The World's Greatest Con Man Opinion By Yulia Latynina

Note "his deeply rooted habit of lying" the key trait of a psychopath.
March 26, 2013 | The Moscow Times

Boris Berezovsky could have, indeed, committed suicide. He was miserable in the final months of his life. A man who once flew only chartered flights was reduced to bumming $5,000 off a friend to buy an airplane ticket recently and reportedly sent a note to President Vladimir Putin telling the leader how great he was.

At the height of his powers in 1997, a businessman proposed a project to Berezovsky that he said could reap $25 million in profits. When Berezovsky turned it down, explaining that he "doesn't get involved with anything worth less than $50 million," he wasn't grandstanding in the least.

Yet Berezovsky was never a true businessman. Other people ran his businesses for him, people such as billionaire Roman Abramovich, who discarded Berezovsky the moment he fell out of favor with the authorities.

Above all, Berezovsky was a con man. Money was necessary for him, of course, but only as one of the devilish addictions that dominated his life: power, influence and sex.

Berezovsky had a nasty habit of lying. One of Berezovsky's favorite tricks was to call someone and inform them that he had appointed them to an influential post when, in fact, he had done nothing of the sort. He had only been present in the Kremlin when the appointment was made.

Berezovsky was the most highly placed con man in history, and he had an almost superhuman ability to translate his delirious fantasies into reality.

He was not the sole force behind Putin's rise to power: That was actually a decision made by "the Family," former President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle. But Berezovsky sincerely believed that he was responsible for Putin's political rise in 1999 and had no qualms about reminding everyone — including Putin — of it. That proved to be his fatal mistake.

Even after Berezovsky was no longer calling the shots, Abramovich paid him $2 billion for his stake in Sibneft and RusAl. Over the next 10 years, Berezovsky spent every last penny of that money on women, luxury villas, yachts, chartered flights and pointless lawsuits.

Following his unsuccessful lawsuit against Abramovich, Berezovsky was a broken man, a complete wreck. In reality, he should have won the case, but he torpedoed his own chances with his deeply rooted habit of lying — this time under oath in a London court.

What he didn't understand is that you can act like that in Moscow and get away with it, but not in London. In that case, Berezovsky claimed he had created Sibneft and opened the doors to the Kremlin halls of power. But those words held little weight because he had testified during a previous legal dispute with Forbes that he had no relationship to Sibneft and was not the "godfather of the Kremlin."

Losing the case to Abramovich was the final blow for Berezovsky, and it left him with huge debts and no hope. Nobody needed him anymore — not even his own family members, who had come to see Berezovsky as their endless source of wealth.

Berezovsky, who not long ago wrote a letter about how he would stage a revolution in Russia, ended up appealing to Putin for permission to return to his homeland. Putin ignored him. After that, there was nothing left for him but to die.

Here is an interesting take on the problem from The Psychopathic and Sociopathic Personality of the elite

I'm going to try to compare/contrast the "psychopathic" and "sociopathic" traits of the elite, wealthy, higher-echelon class of the new world order. Understanding the way they think is beneficial because they even admit that 90% of the war on the people is psychological.

Why do I want to do this? Because it seems like the people are afraid of them because they don't know how they tick. If you figure out the behavior and mindset of the elite, you de-construct the matrix and it's all laid out in front of you. But since most people are NOT psychopathic or sociopathic, they cannot understand why a criminal element would want to "cull" 80-90% of the population, why they would be so bloodthirsty, why they are ruthless, why they like to hurt the innocent more than punishing the wicked, etc. When faced with the prospect that some people just really are that wealthy and mentally ill.

When people are inbred as much as some of the elite have, they begin to display abnormal behavioral symptoms along with genetic birth defects ("shallow gene pool" effect). These people are sick and twisted emotionally and psychologically, but it's important to understand the different KINDS of psychopathy, the way they operate, because God KNOWS they've been doing that to us for hundreds of years. Time to dissect the mind of the criminal elite.

The Psychopathic Personality
The Psychopathic Personality

Revised: May 20, 2007

The psychopath is one of the most fascinating and distressing problems of human experience. For the most part, a psychopath never remains attached to anyone or anything. They live a "predatory" lifestyle. They feel little or no regret, and little or no remorse - except when they are caught. They need relationships, but see people as obstacles to overcome and be eliminated. If not, they see people in terms of how they can be used. They use people for stimulation, to build their self-esteem and they invariably value people in terms of their material value (money, property, etc..). (Sounds like the entire Rockefeller family and the majority of wall street execs and washington lobbyists)

A psychopath can have high verbal intelligence, but they typically lack "emotional intelligence". They can be expert in manipulating others by playing to their emotions. There is a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories (i.e., how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may have felt and why). The lack of emotional intelligence is the first good sign you may be dealing with a psychopath. A history of criminal behavior in which they do not seem to learn from their experience, but merely think about ways to not get caught is the second best sign. (This is becoming more and more obvious as time goes on that the elite's plan for world government is falling apart at the seams, and the public is waking up and finding out what they have done. Instead of learning their lesson (humans are not their slaves, that to try to manipulate humanity and stunting the growth of the competition is a crime against God, etc.) and backing off, though, the elite have merely looked for ways to do it anyway and get away with it.

The following is a list of items based on the research of Robert Hare, Ph.D. which is derived from the "The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, .1991, Toronto: Multi-Health Systems." These are the most highly researched and recognized characteristics of psychopathic personality and behavior.

* glibness/superficial charm
* grandiose sense of self worth
* need for stimulation/prone to boredom
* pathological lying
* conning/manipulative
* lack of remorse or guilt
* shallow emotional response
* callous/lack of empathy
* parasitic lifestyle
* poor behavioral controls
* promiscuous sexual behavior

* early behavioral problems (the elite children are no doubt raised by nannies most of their early childhood, and extravagantly expensive prep school programs. The nannies and teachers are encouraged to promote narcissistic, elitist and nihilistic behavior among their students, and to follow "traditional standards of behavior" (double standard) of the elite--that they can do whatever they want. Literally. So when these elites display behavioral problems as children, they're probably rewarded for it, or it is swept under the rug.
* lack of realistic long term goals (goal-setting isn't a problem for the elite. REALISTIC goal-setting might be, though--like wanting to grab the guns from the American people--not too realistic, guys)
* impulsivity (8-8-8, anyone?)
* irresponsibility (also displayed on 8-8-8, as the REAL actions of the Georgians were blasted all over the web by the infowarriors out there--Good job, guys. Wink)
* failure to accept responsibility for their own actions
( brzezinski not taking public responsibility for encouraging the Chinese to support Pol Pot)
* many short term relationships
* juvenile delinquency
(see above at "early behavioral problems")
* revocation of conditional release (not a problem, they never go to jail)
* criminal versatility (BECAUSE they've gotten away with so much, they can take it to an extreme level before any kind of public outrage about anything)

According to wikipedia (links to real studies):
Relationship to other terms

Relationship to sociopathy

The difference between sociopathy and psychopathy, according to Hare, may "reflect the user's views on the origins and determinates of the disorder."[59]

David T. Lykken proposes psychopathy and sociopathy are two distinct kinds of antisocial personality disorder. He believes psychopaths are born with temperamental differences such as impulsivity, cortical underarousal, and fearlessness that lead them to risk-seeking behavior and an inability to internalize social norms. (I believe most of the key players for the nwo are psychopaths: the rockefellers, the rothschilds, on down to the "pseudo-elites" like politicians and top lobbyists (like the Bushes, the Clintons, any of the Bohemian Grove members in general)

On the other hand, he claims sociopaths have relatively normal temperaments; their personality disorder being more an effect of negative sociological factors like parental neglect, delinquent peers, poverty, and extremely low or extremely high intelligence. (they just described the 20-25% of the white collar class that knowingly lets the elite get away with everything. they are usually highly intelligent but compartmentalized to a degree. They know that what they're doing is wrong, they know the elites are doing wrong, but they choose to do nothing about it because they like the mini-power trip it gives them, and the feeling of being "special" and "elite" even though it's obvious that they live in bondage to the new world order. This would also apply to TV personalities who are obvious about towing the party line)

Both personality disorders are, of course, the result of an interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental factors, but psychopathy leans towards the hereditary whereas sociopathy tends towards the environmental.[54]

Relationship to antisocial personality disorder

The criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder were derived from the Research Diagnositic Criteria developed by Spitzer, Endicott and Robbins (1978). There was concern in the development of DSM-IV there was too much emphasis on research data and not enough on the more traditional psychopathic traits such as a lack of empathy, superficial charm, and inflated self appraisal. Field trial data indicated some of these traits of psychopathy derived from the Psychopathy Checklist developed by Hare et al., 1992, were difficult to assess reliably and thus were not included. Lack of remorse is an example. The antisocial person may express genuine or false guilt or remorse and/or offer excuses and rationalizations. However, a history of criminal acts in itself suggests little remorse or guilt. [60](This is the majority of the key nwo players in the biotech and military/intelligence fields, like the ones who KNEW about the HIV in the blood used for Factor VIII, but did nothing to stop it from being shipped out. It also pertains to the big university professors who like to go on and on about how humanity is a scourge upon the earth and how they can't wait until 90% of us DIE--,2933,190479,00.html. Roll Eyes)

The American Psychiatric Association removed the word "psychopathy" or "psychopathic", and started using the term "Antisocial Personality" to cover the disorder in DSM-II.[61] (Maybe their bosses felt targeted.)

The World Health Organization's stance in its ICD-10 refers to psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality, asocial personality, and amoral personality as synonyms for dissocial personality disorder. Further, the DSM was meant as a diagnostic guide, and the term psychopath best fit the criteria met for antisocial personality disorder.

[edit] Relationship to sex offenders (I think the Franklin cover-up and DynCorp's recent doings, not to mention the mk-Ultra victims like Cathy O'brien that claim sexual abuse show a direct relationship between psychopaths and sex crime--particularly sex with children. But the "research studies" basically just say that "apples can be red or green but that not everything red or green is an apple" and claims that the evidence for psychopaths being pedophiles is "outdated". No, it's just not being investigated)

No clinical definition of psychopathy indicates that psychopaths are especially prone to commit sexually-oriented murders, and scientific studies do not suggest that a large proportion of psychopaths have committed these crimes.[62] Although some claim a large proportion of such offenders have been classified as psychopathic, this evidence comes from a single, unrepeated research study using the Rorschach Inkblot Test, an invalid test for psychopathy and for sex offenders,[63] references not considering psychopathy, [64] and studies concerning sexual homicide, a somewhat different population than the general class of sex offenders and not from meta-studies combining repeatable results.

Research findings

The prototypical psychopath has deficits or deviances in several areas: interpersonal relationships, emotion, and self-control. Psychopaths lack a sense of guilt or remorse for any harm they may have caused others, instead rationalizing the behavior, blaming someone else, or denying it outright.[65] (We see this effect with the latest psychological warfare carried out on the people of the world, particularly on the American people:
9/11 conspiracy theorists are holocaust deniers, what?, "those who question or even attempt to JUSTIFY 9/11...","
"In addition to believing the World Trade Centers were demolished by the "New World Order," they also push theories that man did not walk on the moon, Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone was assassinated by the Bush administration, the Srebrenica massacre and even the Holocaust never happened."...
: this one really took the cake: brzezinski wants us all to think that the Iranian coup was the extent of the false-flag terror, rachel maddow basically says 9/11 truthers are holocaust deniers, and Brzezinski re-inforces that idea and also the one that Obama is like "JFK 2.0" )

Psychopaths also lack empathy towards others in general, resulting in tactlessness, insensitivity, and contemptuousness. All of this belies their tendency to make a good, likable first impression. Psychopaths have a superficial charm about them, enabled by a willingness to say anything without concern for accuracy or truth.
(This is the scariest thing about Barack Obama...he's nothing like the idiot monkey George W. Bush, he's like-able, he seems genuine, and he's totally dangerous because psychopaths on this level can actually lie without getting caught...they are BOTH psychopaths AND sociopaths. They are pathological liars, and are willing to say the opposite of what's really going on and actually try to make people believe it. When a serial killer is both a psychopath and sociopath, they tend to go a long time without getting caught, such as the BTK killer or Jeffrey Dahmer).
This extends into their pathological lying and willingness to con and manipulate others for personal gain or amusement. The prototypical psychopath's emotions are described as a shallow affect, meaning their overall way of relating is characterized by mere displays of friendliness and other emotion for personal gain; the displayed emotion need not correlate with felt emotion, in other words. (Like this video: , or the "Katrina effect"--remember this? and this? , and see how Obama doesn't seem to care when the lady is emotional about rationed health care: and almost seems to not understand or even care what that lady said, because he knew she was too close to actually making him answer real questions about the health care situation...

Shallow affect also describes the psychopath's tendency for genuine emotion to be short lived and egocentric with an overall cold demeanor. Their behavior is impulsive and irresponsible, often failing to keep a job or defaulting on debts.[65] (The impulsivity the banker bailout and the irresponsibility of Barack Obama as one of the lead proponents (and stakeholders) of the hijacking of our economy by lobbyists and wall street execs and banker bosses is one of the biggest indicators that our government has been taken over by a psychopathic element and is no longer working for us--especially since they got 1,000:1 phone calls saying "NO" to the bailout in the first place--By passing it anyway, at gunpoint basically, was very telling of their mindset towards us now--that was them saying to the American people, "SHUT UP--WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU WANT, WE WANT COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE MONEY SUPPLY)

Most research studies of psychopaths have taken place among prison populations. This remains a limitation on its applicability to a general population. Findings indicate psychopathic convicts have a 2.5 time higher probability of being released from jail than undiagnosed ones even though they are more likely to recidivate.[66]

It has been shown that punishment and behavior modification techniques do not improve the behavior of what Hare, and other followers of this theory call a psychopath. Psychopathic individuals have been regularly observed to become more cunning and hiding their behavior better. It has been suggested by them traditional therapeutic approaches actually make psychopaths if not worse, then far more adept at manipulating others and concealing their behavior. They are generally considered to be not only incurable but also untreatable.[67]

Psychopaths also have a markedly distorted sense of the potential consequences of their actions, not only for others, but also for themselves. They do not, for example, deeply recognize the risk of being caught, disbelieved or injured as a result of their behaviour.[68]

Psychopaths may often be successful in the military, as they will more readily participate in combat than most soldiers.[69]
(Yeah, they just thought they'd tag that on in the ending, there--"Oh, btw, there are lots of psychos in the military"--that's wikipedia, for you.)

Another take on the same subject is from Serial killers and politicians share traits

(The following commentary includes material obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Analysis Unit.)

Psychopathy is a personality disorder manifested in people who use a mixture of charm, manipulation, intimidation, and occasionally violence to control others, in order to satisfy their own selfish needs. Although the concept of psychopathy has been known for centuries, the FBI leads the world in the research effort to develop a series of assessment tools, to evaluate the personality traits and behaviors attributable to psychopaths.

Interpersonal traits include glibness, superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, and the manipulation of others. The affective traits include a lack of remorse and/or guilt, shallow affect, a lack of empathy, and failure to accept responsibility. The lifestyle behaviors include stimulation-seeking behavior, impulsivity, irresponsibility, parasitic orientation, and a lack of realistic life goals.

Research has demonstrated that in those criminals who are psychopathic, scores vary, ranging from a high degree of psychopathy to some measure of psychopathy. However, not all violent offenders are psychopaths and not all psychopaths are violent offenders. If violent offenders are psychopathic, they are able to assault, rape, and murder without concern for legal, moral, or social consequences. This allows them to do what they want, whenever they want. Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders.

The relationship between psychopathy and serial killers is particularly interesting. All psychopaths do not become serial murderers. Rather, serial murderers may possess some or many of the traits consistent with psychopathy. Psychopaths who commit serial murder do not value human life and are extremely callous in their interactions with their victims. This is particularly evident in sexually motivated serial killers who repeatedly target, stalk, assault, and kill without a sense of remorse. However, psychopathy alone does not explain the motivations of a serial killer.

What doesn't go unnoticed is the fact that some of the character traits exhibited by serial killers or criminals may be observed in many within the political arena. While not exhibiting physical violence, many political leaders display varying degrees of anger, feigned outrage and other behaviors. They also lack what most consider a "shame" mechanism. Quite simply, most serial killers and many professional politicians must mimic what they believe, are appropriate responses to situations they face such as sadness, empathy, sympathy, and other human responses to outside stimuli.

Understanding psychopathy becomes particularly critical to law enforcement during a serial murder investigation and upon the arrest of a psychopathic serial killer. The crime scene behavior of psychopaths is likely to be distinct from other offenders. This distinct behavior can assist law enforcement in linking serial cases.

Psychopaths are not sensitive to altruistic interview themes, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse/guilt over their crimes. They do possess certain personality traits that can be exploited, particularly their inherent narcissism, selfishness, and vanity. Specific themes in past successful interviews of psychopathic serial killers focused on praising their intelligence, cleverness, and skill in evading capture.

Experts recognize that more research is needed concerning the links between serial murder and psychopathy, in order to understand the frequency and degree of psychopathy among serial murderers. This may assist law enforcement in understanding and identifying serial murderers.

Over the past twenty years, law enforcement and experts from a number of varying disciplines have attempted to identify specific motivations for serial murderers and to apply those motivations to different typologies developed for classifying serial murderers. These range from simple, definitive models to complex, multiple-category typologies that are laden with inclusion requirements. Most typologies are too cumbersome to be utilized by law enforcement during an active serial murder investigation, and they may not be helpful in identifying an offender.

As most homicides are committed by someone known to the victim, police focus on the relationships closest to the victim. This is a successful strategy for most murder investigations. The majority of serial murderers, however, are not acquainted with or involved in a consensual relationship with their victims.

For the most part, serial murder involves strangers with no visible relationship between the offender and the victim. This distinguishes a serial murder investigation as a more nebulous undertaking than that of other crimes. Since the investigations generally lack an obvious connection between the offender and the victim, investigators instead attempt to discern the motivations behind the murders, as a way to narrow their investigative focus.

Serial murder crime scenes can have bizarre features that may cloud the identification of a motive. The behavior of a serial murderer at crime scenes may evolve throughout the series of crimes and manifest different interactions between an offender and a victim. It is also extremely difficult to identify a single motivation when there is more than one offender involved in the series.

Identifying a homicide series is easier in rapidly-developing, high profile cases involving low risk victims. These cases are reported to law enforcement upon discovery of the crimes and draw immediate media attention.

In contrast, identifying a series involving high risk victims in multiple jurisdictions is much more difficult. This is primarily due to the high risk lifestyle and transitory nature of the victims. Additionally, the lack of communication between law enforcement agencies and differing records management systems impede the linkage of cases to a common offender.

While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance ( In addition, he's the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and He's also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc.

To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to and write "Subcription" on the subject line.
Oh-oh! Politicians share personality traits with serial killers: Study

Using his law enforcement experience and data drawn from the FBI's behavioral analysis unit, Jim Kouri has collected a series of personality traits common to a couple of professions.

Prison Walls

Kouri, who's a vice president of the National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.

These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.

But -- and here's the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion -- these traits are also common to American politicians. (Maybe you already suspected.)

Yup. Violent homicide aside, our elected officials often show many of the exact same character traits as criminal nut-jobs, who run from police but not for office.

Kouri notes that these criminals are psychologically capable of committing their dirty deeds free of any concern for social, moral or legal consequences and with absolutely no remorse.

"This allCapitol Hill Domeows them to do what they want, whenever they want," he wrote. "Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders."

Good grief! And we not only voted for these people, we're paying their salaries and entrusting them to spend our national treasure in wise ways.

We don't know Kouri that well. He may be trying to manipulate all of us with his glib provocative pronouncements. On the other hand ...

He adds:

"While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government."

-- Andrew Malcolm

We are absolutely not seeking to manipulate Ticket readers by glibly saying with superficial charm that they are certainly among the world's most intelligent people. Nor do we seek to manipulate every one of them to click here for Twitter alerts on each new Ticket item.

[Feb 2, 2013] Almost a Psychopath Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy Ronald Schouten, Jame

July 31, 2012 |


What a disappointment. I was married to a psychopath and should have known better than to buy this book. A psychopath has a mental/character flaw that may range from serial killer to just no good and abusive but a psychopath is a psychopath regardless of the extent of his/her appearance or damage. Some normal people may have behaviors similar to a psychopath but that does not make them almost a psychopath. Normal people may be selfish, misguided or even down right mean but they feel love, hate, guilt, shame, joy sadness just like we do...even if it is suppressed, it is there. The main difference between normal and psychopath is not behavior but the lack of any emotion, an inability to love, empathize or even care about another person.

A psychopath is hard wired, cannot be cured and is a psychopath regardless of the extent of the perceived or actual harm inflicted. There are a lot of psychopaths out there; this author just wants to claim they are not quite psychopaths.

Believe me when I say the normal looking, acting and semi successful lawyer I married was a full blooded psychopath. He put on a beautiful show of love and kindness and he violently raped me and laughingly humiliated me on our wedding night and for the entire length of our marriage. I had instantly become a possession. The show was over except for public display. He targeted me because I was vulnerable because my mother died and I had no family support. His only pleasure from then on was to use and abuse me to boost his ego, to make himself think he was better. It took me ten years and two children to prepare myself to get out.

Do not be deceived by this misleading book. Be afraid, a psychopath is a very dangerous creature without conscience pretending to be your best friend or soul mate...there is nothing almost about them! They will turn on you as soon as you are entrapped. As Sandra Brown, an expert on psychopathy says, psychopaths cause inevitable harm. Buy her books and do not read or be misled by this drivel.


You missed their schtick. They are trying to sell a book to a certain market and trying to interest as many as they possibly can in purchasing it. So they bend things a little. As in "almost." Which can pretty much cover any and everyone at one time or another. Or no one. Take your pick.


You know what, Betsy? I believe you are right. I think this book probably should have had the title of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) or BNPD (Borderline Narcissistic Personality Disorder) because many sociopaths traits are similar to them. I'll bet the previous commenter (Ronald Amon) was also onto something because there are so many titles that already deal with the subject (BPD and BNPD) that they figured lets put the name sociopath in the title to make it sound more scary and get folks to buy the book.

I'm sorry for your past troubles with your psychopath husband! And you are correct

Phyllis Antebi Ph.D:

Friendly is safe and unfriendly is not safe. If the person lies, cheats, or steals, (any or all of these) he is someone without a conscience. Who cares about labels! That's for obsessive compulsive people to ponder. If it hurts when you least expect it, you are being abused.


With a psychopath friendly can be the most dangerous part. They lure you in with a smooth loving facade and then hook you into the mind control, abuse and total annihilation if possible.

But you have the rest right on. I love, " If it hurts when you least expect it, you are being abused." So very true and well put.


I believe the book was well written but seemed to drift away to other areas of personality disorders far too much. There are so many books written on narcissistic disorder or other disorders that are available that I believe the author could have only highlighted these disorders relative to the subject matter rather than filling up half the book with the other disorders and their traits.

[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 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

[Dec 10, 2011] Psychopaths Amongst Us

Be careful. It looks like the term "psychopath" now is abused...
Thirteenth Monkey

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.) A significant proportion of persistent wife beaters, and people who have unprotected sex despite carrying the AIDS virus, are psychopaths. Psychopaths can be found in legislatures, hospitals, and used-car lots. 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 resumés 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.

Like everyone who has been suckered by a psychopath — and Bob Hare includes himself and many of his graduate students (who have been trained to spot them) in that list — I’m ashamed that I fell for Jonathan. But he was brilliant, charismatic, and audacious. He radiated money and power (though in fact he had neither), while his real self — manipulative, lying, parasitic, and irresponsible — was just far enough under his surface to be invisible. Or was it? Maybe I didn’t know how to look, or maybe I didn’t really want to.
I saw his name in the news again recently. “A con man tricked top sports car makers Lotus into lending him a Ł70,000 model . . . then stole it and drove 6,000 miles across Europe, a court heard,” the story began.
Knowing Jonathan is probably a psychopath makes me feel better. It’s an explanation.

[Dec 10, 2011] Politicians share personality traits with serial killers


Kouri, who's a vice president of the National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.

These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.

But -- and here's the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion -- these traits are also common to American politicians. (Maybe you already suspected.)

Yup. Violent homicide aside, our elected officials often show many of the exact same character traits as criminal nut-jobs, who run from police but not for office.

Kouri notes that these criminals are psychologically capable of committing their dirty deeds free of any concern for social, moral or legal consequences and with absolutely no remorse.

"This allows them to do what they want, whenever they want," he wrote. "Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders."

Good grief! And we not only voted for these people, we're paying their salaries and entrusting them to spend our national treasure in wise ways.

We don't know Kouri that well. He may be trying to manipulate all of us with his glib provocative pronouncements. On the other hand ...

He adds:

"While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government."

-- Andrew Malcolm

We are absolutely not seeking to manipulate Ticket readers by glibly saying with superficial charm that they are certainly among the world's most intelligent people. Nor do we seek to manipulate every one of them to click here for Twitter alerts on each new Ticket item. Or follow

[Jun 04, 2011] Serial killers and politicians share traits - National Law Enforcement

Psychopathy is a personality disorder manifested in people who use a mixture of charm, manipulation, intimidation, and occasionally violence to control others, in order to satisfy their own selfish needs. Although the concept of psychopathy has been known for centuries, the FBI leads the world in the research effort to develop a series of assessment tools, to evaluate the personality traits and behaviors attributable to psychopaths.

Interpersonal traits include glibness, superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, and the manipulation of others. The affective traits include a lack of remorse and/or guilt, shallow affect, a lack of empathy, and failure to accept responsibility. The lifestyle behaviors include stimulation-seeking behavior, impulsivity, irresponsibility, parasitic orientation, and a lack of realistic life goals.

Research has demonstrated that in those criminals who are psychopathic, scores vary, ranging from a high degree of psychopathy to some measure of psychopathy. However, not all violent offenders are psychopaths and not all psychopaths are violent offenders. If violent offenders are psychopathic, they are able to assault, rape, and murder without concern for legal, moral, or social consequences. This allows them to do what they want, whenever they want. Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders.

... ... ...

Psychopaths are not sensitive to altruistic interview themes, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse/guilt over their crimes. They do possess certain personality traits that can be exploited, particularly their inherent narcissism, selfishness, and vanity.

... ... ...

While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government.

[Apr 18, 2011] The Awkward Absurdity of Corporate Culture

June 26, 2007

As an Eastern European arriving in the United States initially for college, the corporate culture is even more inexplicable to me than to someone who lived in its presence from birth. A few years ago I had just a vague belief that “corporations are where the real economy and culture of America lies.” Right after college I started a job in a medium-sized corporation, and within weeks I was stunned by the abnormality of its culture.

The company should have been named “the cult of John” since it was a sycophantic cult devoted to its mythical founder. The ultra-energetic recruitment person stressed to me at the interview that “John is a genius” and my manager found endless ways to phrase his devotion to “the big man.” The pecking order was painfully enforced with condescending remarks from superiors to subordinates, and through testosterone-filled meetings among upper management, each eager to outdo his colleagues with obscenities and back-slapping in front of the father of us all, John.

Work, which should have been plentiful, was forgotten under political moves and revolting inefficiency. My manager was “protecting us” from a higher-level manager who promised to “make our life hell.” Why, and how, remains a mystery. An employee from a different department triggered a small-scale war by asking for my help. The manager took each of his team to his office and individually shouted them into promising “never to help anyone without his consent.” I quit after realizing that the corporation is a complex game I was not prepared for.

I am young and I moved on, but the corporate world still lingers with me as an awkward absurdity. Inside windowless cubicles, fear, sycophantism, hypocrisy and selfishness reign free, leaving people both exhausted and humiliated. I find it perplexing that in a nation that prides itself on dignity and liberty, some employees let such abuses go on day by day in a “business as usual” manner. I kept hearing “that’s how managers are, you’ve got to let that insult pass by you” or “you need to pick your battles.” Most upsetting, it seems that almost nobody tries to keep a cool head when judging corporate culture. The problem is not so much something you can understand by looking at facts and figures, but by looking at the monsters the corporation creates out of its employees. And in the college medium, opinions are split between the “lefties,” continuously demonizing corporations to a caricature, and the “econ” students who have no qualms and expect to pick up the corporate culture “on the fly” in internships and jobs.

The resemblance of corporate culture with Soviet society is shocking. Soviet society too was based on fear, hypocrisy, double-talk and many lies. The important communist bureaucrats were masters at speaking with a “wooden tongue” — a style of talking that had no connection with the reality of governing. They were diabolically able to wrap very pragmatic actions in completely irrelevant Marxist-Leninist talk. The major difference from the corporation is that the generations formed in communist times are extremely cynical and bitter, while corporate U.S. keeps pushing credulity, self-blame and “a positive attitude.” Just like communism, the corporate workplace culture refuses to be aware of itself. It wraps a simple and pragmatic set of actions with a complex and irrelevant set of behaviors and justifications, all the while somehow mysteriously passing on the management wisdom over the years.

I have a message to add to my complaints: if you have to work in such a medium, always try to understand what is really happening around you. It is better to be aware of an unpleasant reality than to let your gullibility and insecurities make a victim of you. Be cynical and allow yourself to see through greed, backstabbing, abuse and absurd speeches. Try to connect and communicate with people you can trust. Think scientifically — science made the world evolve; cults always backfired.


Daniel, You triggered a few musings:

It occurs to me that your boss might have had psychopathic tendencies. The way he wanted to control your contacts with other employees is a red flag to me.

The management style now in vogue seems to me to more closely resemble totalitarian dictatorship.

With regard to internal economics, however, corporations have always operated in a manner similar to communism, which makes their genuflections to “free enterprise” seem rather rehearsed.


Daniel’s advice in his last paragraph is sound for every aspect of society. I’d say be skeptical rather than cynical, but the point is nearly the same — don’t “drink the KoolAid” or lose yourself in slavery to somebody else’s vision of their dream. Keep your own dreams alive. Work is just a place you have sold 40 hours a week to. If your own dream happens to be one that can turn a profit, start your own company and drink your own KoolAid.

[Mar 23, 2011] EXCLUSIVE CIA Psychologist's Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush's Torture Program

Replace detainer with psychopath: "cooperation is the "end goal" of the detainer, who wants the detainee "to see that [the detainer] has 'total' control of you because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.)."

"From the moment you are detained (if some kind of exploitation is your Detainer's goal) everything your Detainer does will be contrived to bring about these factors: CONTROL, DEPENDENCY, COMPLIANCE AND COOPERATION," Jessen wrote. "Your detainer will work to take away your sense of control. This will be done mostly by removing external control (i.e., sleep, food, communication, personal routines etc. )…Your detainer wants you to feel 'EVERYTHING' is dependent on him, from the smallest detail, (food, sleep, human interaction), to your release or your very life … Your detainer wants you to comply with everything he wishes. He will attempt to make everything from personal comfort to your release unavoidably connected to compliance in your mind."

Jessen wrote that cooperation is the "end goal" of the detainer, who wants the detainee "to see that [the detainer] has 'total' control of you because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.)."

Jessen described the kinds of pressures that would be exerted on the prisoner to achieve this goal, including "fear of the unknown, loss of control, dehumanization, isolation," and use of sensory deprivation and sensory "flooding." He also included "physical" deprivations in his list of detainer "pressures."

"Unlike everyday experiences, however, as a detainee we could be subjected to stressors/coercive pressures which we cannot completely control," he wrote. "If these stressors are manipulated and increased against us, the cumulative effect can push us out of the optimum range of functioning. This is what the detainer wants, to get us 'off balance.'"

"The Detainer wants us to experience a loss of composure in hopes we can be manipulated into some kind of collaboration..." Jessen wrote. "This is where you are most vulnerable to exploitation. This is where you are most likely to make mistakes, show emotions, act impulsively, become discouraged, etc. You are still close enough to being intact that you would appear convincing and your behavior would appear 'uncoerced.'"

[Mar 22, 2011] But Freedom Is Slavery - An Exchange With The Guardian’s Economics Editor


By contrast, in his devastating book and documentary, The Corporation, Canadian law professor Joel Bakan explained how the business entity termed a ‘corporation’ was legally transformed into a ‘person’ possessing its ‘own identity, separate from the flesh and blood people who were its owners and managers’. Bakan found that corporate behaviour closely matched the clinical definition of a psychopath, including: ‘callous disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human relationships, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness (continual lying to deceive for profit), the incapacity to experience guilt, and the failure to conform to social norms and respect for the law.’ (The Corporation, documentary, YouTube)

Bakan quoted businessman Robert Monks, who noted that a corporation ‘tends to be more profitable to the extent it can make other people pay the bills for its impact on society. There’s a terrible word that economists use for this called “externalities”.’

Monks added:

‘The difficulty with the corporate entity is that it has a dynamic that doesn’t take into account the concerns of flesh-and-blood human people who form the world in which it exists,’ so that ‘in our search for wealth and prosperity, we created a thing that’s going to destroy us.’ (Bakan, The Corporation, Constable, 2004, pp. 70-71)

[Mar 14, 2011] Psychopathy and the Characteristics of a Cult Leader

This is a very important observation: psychopath managers typically operate as cult leaders and books about abusive cults can teach us a lot about how to deal with psychopaths in the office. I highly recommend to read the whole except... --NNB

What follows below are characteristics of a cult leader. These are given so that the reader may understand what to look for in patterns of cult leadership. The text was excerpted from chapter five of Captive Hearts Captive Minds by Madeline Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich pp. 67-79, and is reprinted with permission of the author.

Psychopathy and the Characteristics of a Cult Leader

In general, charismatic personalities are known for their inescapable magnetism, their winning style, the self assurance with which they promote something, a cause, a belief, a product. A charismatic person who offers hope of new beginnings often attracts attention and a following. Over the years we have witnessed the likes of this in Dale Carnegie, Werner Erhard (founder of est, now the Forum), John Hanley (founder of Lifespring), Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, Shirley MacLaine, John Bradshaw, Marianne Williamson, Ramtha channeler J. Z. Knight, and a rash of Amway "executives," weight loss program promoters and body building gurus.

One dictionary definition of charisma is "a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader or military commander); a special magnetic charm, or appeal." (5) Charisma was studied in depth by the German sociologist Max Weber, who defined it as "an exceptional quality in an individual who, through appearing to possess supernatural, providential or extraordinary powers, succeeds in gathering disciples around him."(6)

Weber's charismatic leader was "a sorcerer with an innovative aura and a personal magnetic gift, [who] promoted a specific doctrine....[and was] concerned with himself rather than involved with others....[He] held an exceptional type of power: it set aside the usage's of normal political life and assumed instead those of demagoguery, dictatorship, or revolution, [which induced] men's whole hearted devotion to the charismatic individual through a blind and fanatical trust and an unrestrained and uncritical faith."(7)

In the case of cults, of course, we know that this induction of whole hearted devotion does not happen spontaneously but is the result of the cult leader's skillful use of thought-reform techniques. Charisma on it's own is not evil and does nor necessarily breed a cult leader. Charisma is, however, a powerful and awesome attribute found in many cult leaders who use it in ways that are both self-serving and destructive to others. The combination of charisma and psychopathy is a Lethal mixture - perhaps it is the very recipe used at the Cookie-cutter Messiah School!

For the cult leader, having charisma is perhaps most useful during the stage of cult formation. It takes a strong-willed and persuasive leader to convince people of a new belief, then gather the newly converted around him as devoted followers. A misinterpretation of the cult leader's personal charisma may also foster his followers' belief in his special or messianic qualities.

So we see that charisma is indeed a desirable trait for someone who wishes to attract a following. However, like beauty, charisma is in the eye of the beholder. Mary, for example, may be completely taken with a particular seminar leader, practically swooning at his every word, while her friend Susie doesn't feel the slightest tingle. Certainly at the time a person is under the sway of charisma the effect is very real. Yet, in reality, charisma does nothing more than create a certain worshipful reaction to an idealized figure in the mind of the one who is smitten.

In the long run, skills of persuasion (which may or may not be charismatic) are more important to the cult leader than charisma - for the power and hold of cults depend on the particular environment shaped by the thought-reform program and control mechanisms, all of which are usually conceptualized and put in place by the leader. Thus it is the psychopathology of the leader, not his charisma, that causes the systematic manipulative abuse and exploitation found in cults.

The Cult Leader as Psychopath

Cultic groups and relationships are formed primarily to meet specific emotional needs of the leader, many of whom suffer from one or another emotional or character disorder. Few, if any, cult leaders subject themselves to the psychological tests or prolonged clinical interviews that allow for an accurate diagnosis. However, researchers and clinicians who have observed these individuals describe them variously as neurotic, psychotic, on a spectrum exhibiting neurotic, sociopathic, and psychotic characteristics, or suffering from a diagnosed personality disorder.

It is not our intent here to make an overarching diagnosis, nor do we intend to imply that all cult leaders or the leaders of any of the groups mentioned here are psychopaths. In reviewing the data, however, we can surmise that there is significant psychological dysfunctioning in some cult leaders and that their behavior demonstrates features rather consistent with the disorder known as psychopathy.

Dr. Robert Hare, one of the world's foremost experts in the field, estimates that there are at least two million psychopaths in North America. He writes, "Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret."

Psychopathy falls within the section on personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the standard source book used in making psychiatric evaluations and diagnoses. In the draft version of the manual's 4th edition (to be released Spring 1994), this disorder is listed as "personality disorder not otherwise specified/ Cleckley-type psychopath," named after psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley who carried out the first major studies of psychopaths. The combination of personality and behavioral traits that allows for this diagnosis must be evident in the person's history, not simply apparent during a particular episode. That is, psychopathy is a long-term personality disorder. The term psychopath is often used interchangeably with sociopath, or sociopathic personality. Because it is more commonly recognized, we use the term psychopath here.

Personality disorders, as a diagnosis, relate to certain inflexible and maladaptive behaviors and traits that cause a person to have significantly impaired social or occupational functioning. Signs of this are often first manifested in childhood and adolescence, and are expressed through distorted patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself. In simple terms this means that something is amiss, awry, not quite right in the person, and this creates problems in how he or she relates to the rest of the world.

The psychopathic personality is sometimes confused with the "antisocial personality," another disorder; however, the psychopath exhibits more extreme behavior than the antisocial personality. The antisocial personality is identified by a mix of antisocial and criminal behaviors--he is the common criminal. The psychopath, on the other hand, is characterized by a mix of criminal and socially deviant behavior.

Psychopathy is not the same as psychosis either. The latter is characterized by an inability to differentiate what is real from what is imagined boundaries between self and others are lost, and critical thinking is greatly impaired. While generally not psychotic, cult leaders may experience psychotic episodes, which may lead to the destruction of themselves or the group. An extreme example of this is the mass murder-suicide that occurred in November 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana, at the People's Temple led by Jim Jones. On his orders, over 900 men, women, and children perished as Jones deteriorated into what was probably a paranoid psychosis. The psychopathic personality has been well described by Hervey Cleckley in his classic work, The "Mask of Sanity", first published in 1941 and updated and reissued in 1982. Cleckley is perhaps best known for his "The Three Faces of Eve", a book and later a popular movie on multiple personality. Cleckley also gave the world a detailed study of the personality and behavior of the psychopath, listing 16 characteristics to be used in evaluating and treating psychopaths. Cleckley's work greatly influenced 20 years of research carried out by Robert Hare at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In his work developing reliable and valid procedures for assessing psychopathy, Hare made several revisions in Cleckley's list of traits and finally settled on a 20-item Psychopathy Checklist. Later in this chapter we will use an adaptation of both the Cleckley and Hare checklists to examine the profile of a cult leader.

Neuropsychiatrist Richard M. Restak stated, "At the heart of the diagnosis of psychopathy was the recognition that a person could appear normal and yet close observation would reveal the personality to be irrational or even violent". Indeed, initially most psychopaths appear quite normal. They present themselves to us as charming, interesting, even humble. The majority "don't suffer from delusions, hallucinations, or memory impairment, their contract with reality appears solid." Some, on the other hand, may demonstrate marked paranoia and megalomania. In one clinical study of psychopathic inpatients, the authors wrote "We found that our psychopaths were similar to normals (in the reference group) with regard to their capacity to experience external events as real and with regard to their sense of bodily reality. They generally had good memory, concentration, attention, and language function. They had a high barrier against external, aversive stimulation....In some ways they clearly resemble normal people and can thus 'pass' as reasonably normal or sane. Yet we found them to be extremely primitive in other ways, even more primitive than frankly schizophrenic patients. In some ways their thinking was sane and reasonable, but in others it was psychotically inefficient and/or convoluted."

Another researcher described psychopaths in this way These people are impulsive, unable to tolerate frustration and delay, and have problems with trusting. They take a paranoid position or externalize their emotional experience. They have little ability to form a working alliance and a poor capacity for self-observation. Their anger is frightening. Frequently they take flight. Their relations with others are highly problematic. When close to another person they fear engulfment or fusion or loss of self. At the same time, paradoxically, they desire closeness; frustration of their entitled wishes to be nourished, cared for, and assisted often leads to rage. They are capable of a child's primitive fury enacted with an adult's physical capabilities, and action is always in the offing." Ultimately, "the psychopath must have what he wants, no matter what the cost to those in his way."

The Master Manipulator

Let us look for a moment at how some of this manifests in the cult leader. Cult leaders have an outstanding ability to charm and win over followers. They beguile and seduce. They enter a room and garner all the attention. They command the utmost respect and obedience. These are "individuals whose narcissism is so extreme and grandiose that they exist in a land of splendid isolation in which the creation of the grandiose self takes precedence over legal, moral or interpersonal commitments."

Paranoia may be evident in simple or elaborate delusions of persecution. Highly suspicious, they may feel conspired against, spied upon or cheated, or maligned by a person, group, or governmental agency. Any real or suspected unfavorable reaction may be interpreted as a deliberate attack upon them or the group. (Considering the criminal nature of some groups and the and social behavior of others, some of these fears may have more of a basis in reality than delusion!) Harder to evaluate, of course, is whether these leaders' belief in their magical powers, omnipotence, and connection to God (or whatever higher power or belief system they are espousing) is delusional or simply part of the con. Megalomania--the belief that one is able or entitled to rule the world--is equally hard to evaluate without psychological testing of the individual, although numerous cult leaders state quite readily that their goal is to rule the world. In any case, beneath the surface gloss of intelligence, charm, and professed humility seethes an inner world of rage, depression, and fear.

Two writers on the subject used the label 'Trust Bandit' to describe the psychopathic personality. Trust Bandit is indeed an apt description of this thief of our hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and pocketbooks. Since a significant percentage of current and former cult members have been in more than one cultic group or relationship, learning to recognize the personality style of the Trust Bandit can be a useful antidote to further abuse.

[Jan 17, 2011] The Psychopathic Influence

The Hidden Evil

Psychopaths, also called sociopaths, are categorized as those who exhibit superficial charm and intelligence, and are absent of delusions or nervousness. Their traits include:

Psychopathy is basically an emotional disorder. The book, The Psychopath, by James Blair, Karina Blair, and Derek Mitchell, states, "The crucial aspect of psychopathy is ... the emotional impairment." According to Dr. J. Reid Meloy's book, The Psychopathic Mind, although psychopaths don't feel emotion in a normal sense, they do experience boredom, envy, exhilaration, contempt, sadistic pleasure, anger, and hints of depression.

Generally, those who believe it's caused by environmental factors use the term sociopath, and believers of the biological theory use the term psychopath. Psychopathy closely resembles Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD or APD) or Conduct Disorder (CD) as outlined in the DSM-IV. These disorders are detected using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revisited (PCL-R), the DSM-IV, and other diagnostics.

These character types, comprise about 4% of the population and span every level of society. Psychopaths can be found in every race, culture, profession and class. Because the term psychopath has been used to describe APD types and sociopaths, in this chapter I'll use it as a universal label for these three character types.

Later when I'm explaining how psychopaths always mask themselves when seeking positions of power, it will help to remember the following: If a rational person tries to apply their logic while trying to understand the reason for an objective or act of a psychopath, they will fail. This will be explained in more detail later. Likewise, when a rational person hears of the possibility that a massive lie has been told to a population by a trusted leader, and they attempt to use their logic to determine weather or not such a lie is possible, they will usually not believe the truth (that they have fallen for a huge lie).

The reason for this is that although most of us can identify with small lies, we find it difficult to conclude that such a massive lie is possible. When I use the term massive lie, I don't just mean a complete falsehood regarding a major event, but also the scope of its influence (global) and the amount of people that have fallen for it.

In his book, The Mask of Sanity, Dr. Hervey Cleckley, says that even during the most "solemn perjuries" they show "no difficulty at all in looking anyone tranquilly in the eyes." He adds that that they will "lie about any matter, under any circumstances." He explains that it is difficult to express how completely straightforward they appear when telling a blatant lie.

"The great masses of people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one."
-Adolph Hitler

"Lying, deceiving, and manipulation are natural talents for psychopaths," agreed Dr. Robert Hare, in his book, Without Conscience. "When caught in a lie or challenged with the truth, they are seldom perplexed or embarrassed--they simply change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so that they appear to be consistent with the lie."

Psychopaths are always able to justify their actions, no matter how brutal. They have, "an ability to rationalize their behavior so that it appears warranted, reasonable, and justified," says Dr. Cleckley. Dr. Hare added, "Psychopaths show a stunning lack of concern for the devastating effects their actions have on others. Often they are completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they have no sense of guilt, [and] are not sorry for the pain and destruction they have caused," which, says Dr. Hare, "is associated with a remarkable ability to rationalize their behavior."Psychopathy is usually untreatable. Most therapists won't work with them because they often end up damaged in the process. Dr. Hare explained, "Such counseling would be wasted on psychopaths." Some of them will even reflect the wishes of the therapist and pretend to be getting better.

In his book, People of The Lie, psychiatrist Dr. Scott Peck had this to say: "Among themselves therapists will not infrequently refer to a patient's psychopathology as being 'overwhelming.' We mean this literally. We literally feel overwhelmed by the labyrinthine mass of lies and twisted motives ... into which we will be drawn if we attempt to work with such people..."

Wikipedia describes that, "traditional therapeutic approaches actually make them, if not worse, then far more adept at manipulating others and concealing their behavior. They are generally considered to be not only incurable but also untreatable." Basically psychopaths are the way they are for life. In most legal jurisdictions they are considered sane. So technically, they're not mentally ill, just different.

Dr. Scott Peck concludes, "I have learned nothing in twenty years that would suggest that evil people can be rapidly influenced by any means other than raw power. They do not respond," he says, "to either gentle kindness or any form of spiritual persuasion with which I am familiar with."

Where Are They?

When people hear the word psychopath, most think of the famous serial killers locked away in prison. However, most don't end up in prison or mental hospitals. Dr. Cleckley wrote, "The true difference between them and the psychopaths who continually go to jails or to psychiatric hospitals is that they keep up a far better and more consistent outward appearance of being normal."

"This outward appearance," says Dr. Cleckley, is essentially a mask, which, "may include business or professional careers that continue in a sense successful, and which are truly successful when measured by financial reward or by the casual observer's opinion of real accomplishment."

"Many psychopaths never go to prison or any other facility," agreed Dr. Hare. "They appear to function reasonably well--as lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, academics, mercenaries, police officers, cult leaders, military personnel, business people, writers, artists, entertainers, and so fourth--without breaking the law." He continued, "Their intelligence, family background, social skills, and circumstances permit them to construct a facade of normalcy."

"Corrupt and callous politicians, social or career fast climbers, authoritarian leaders, abusing and aggressive persons, etc., are among them" wrote Dr. Renato Sabbatini in his article, The Psychopath's Brain. "A common characteristic," says Dr. Sabbatini, "is that they engage systematically in deception and manipulation of others for personal gain. In fact, many successful and adapted non-violent sociopaths can be found in our society."

Most of these people are not just right in your churches, schools, charitable organizations, and workplaces, but by their very nature, they are likely running them. It is a core trait of the psychopath to place themselves in positions of influence, not for public service, but for power. "The experience of pleasure is not reciprocal for the psychopath," stated Dr. Meloy, "it is available only through sadistic channels of power and control." Achieving power for the sake of having power is the nature of the psychopath. "They love to have power and control over others," agreed Dr. Hare.

The need for absolute power over others and the wish to inflict pain for the enjoyment of watching others suffer, are almost never apparent to the casual observer. The reason for this is that another core trait of the psychopath is disguise. So unfortunately, these individuals usually mask themselves as good-natured people. If they have tremendous wealth, you can bet that they'll create charitable organizations as part of their mask.

They are well aware that their mental makeup is drastically different from the majority. They have a sixth sense for detecting and exploiting any weakness you may have. At a very early age they learn that they can inflict mental and emotional harm on others with ease. They also learn how to detect others like themselves out of a crowd of normal people. Beginning in their childhood, most of them learn to mimic normal emotional reactions in order to blend in with society.

An article on Dr. Hare's website called, Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert Hercz, describes how Dr. Hare was contacted by Nicole Kidman, who wanted his advice on how to play the part of a psychopath for her film, Malice. Dr. Hare uses the anecdote of a psychopath who had just witnessed an accident where a mother watched her child get killed by a car. There's blood all over the place, and the psychopath experiences no emotion, but instead, is trying to avoid getting blood on her shoes. The psychopath notices the mother's emotional reaction to the accident and is fascinated. She goes home, looks in the mirror, and begins to mimic the facial expressions of the mother. "That's the psychopath," revealed Dr. Hare.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, states that, "any emotions which the primary psychopath exhibits are the fruits of watching and mimicking other people's emotions." They are adept at, "using their charm and chameleonlike abilities to cut a wide swath through society and leaving a wake of ruined lives behind them," Dr. Hare warns.

"More often than not," says Dr. Cleckley, "the typical psychopath will seem particularly agreeable and make a distinctly positive impression when he is first encountered. Alert and friendly in his attitude, he is easy to talk with and seems to have a good many genuine interests. There is nothing at all odd or queer about him, and in every respect he tends to embody the concept of a well-adjusted, happy person."

"Psychopaths are often witty and articulate," concurred Dr. Hare. "They can be amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming."

Remember, most of them don't psychically hurt people, so this is about mental and emotional domination. To accomplish these objectives, they will use their mask of sanity to place themselves in positions within your community. These positions may include school boards, charitable organizations, churches, politics, law enforcement, or any position which they believe will offer them power over others. These are the places where most psychopaths end up, not jail.

[Jan 12, 2011] The Sociopath In The Next Office by Davia Temin

Nov 19, 2010 |

One out of every 25 has no conscience or sense of right or wrong. What to do when you work with one.

Evil in the office. If you think about it, you'll probably realize you've seen it play out at least once in your career.

All of a sudden a well-running, friendly, effective group or company begins to disintegrate for no apparent reason. People start to become demoralized and dysfunctional, efficiency plummets, client service and sales suffer and convoluted mistakes are made, up to and including illegal behavior such as fraud and larceny. Employees begin to develop psychosomatic illnesses, sick time rises and the best talent starts to leave.

What used to be a great work situation turns into a nightmare.

More often than not this dysfunction can be traced to the entry of one new employee, perhaps the boss, his or his assistant, the head of HR or a new shop steward. And when you start to explore, you find that, though the person may look and act apparently normal -- even charming -- all those around him or her are suffering.

Four percent of the global population is made up of sociopaths, Dr. Martha Stout, psychologist and clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, tells us in her book The Sociopath Next Door. That means one out of every 25 human beings has no conscience, no sense of right or wrong, no empathy, no ability to understand emotion--no soul. Worse, while they can mimic emotion, they see other humans as mere pawns or saps, to be used for their benefit or amusement, or both.

Add that to the fact that science now is questioning whether there is any difference at all between sociopaths and psychopaths, and that those with narcissistic personality disorder also have some of the same characteristics (an inability to care about anyone but themselves), it means that "evil" is all around us, even at work.

[Jan 11, 2011] Is Your Boss a Corporate Psychopath

ePsych News

Do these characteristics sound familiar?

Yes? Then you possibly have been, or currently are, working with a corporate psychopath.

Contrary to popular perception, psychopathology is not always about murderousness. It is defined broadly as 'callous behavior without normal feelings of empathy or guilt'. And there's a surprising amount of it about.

According to a recent report on the ABC's Catalyst program, one woman in 200 is classifiable as a psychopath, as is one man out of every 50 - overall, approximately one person in 80. This means that every large organisation has several of them; chances are, you have several psychopaths in your building.

Worse, many companies are unwittingly selecting in favour of psychopathology, especially when recruiting executives. Their charm, fearlessness and "whatever it takes" attitude can win over even experienced interviewers, and with rapid job turnover they can march up the ranks at great speed.

Consequently, the chance of psychopaths holding senior positions in industry and government is disquietingly high. We only have to consider the great wars of history, acts of national aggression in our own lifetimes, and examples of extraordinary corporate self-interest, to see the power of the pathology that we have allowed to slip past the sentries. Criminals in neckties.

[Nov 18, 2010] Stoller A Debtcropper Society

November 18, 2010 | naked capitalism


“We should recognize that what the creditor class wants is what they’ve always wanted: total dominance of our culture.”

Going on from there what we must recognize is that the proper clinical description, or, rather, diagnosis for those who seek total dominance of others is sociopath. There really is no treatment for such a severe condition, and, therefore, the only effective response entails stern measures.



As a shrink with considerable forensic experience, I agree with your statement that there is no treatment for sociopathy. If anything, treatment is highly discouraged, as it only teaches them how to be even better criminals. Sociopaths are not human beings, as they lack a conscience or basic human emotions such as empathy.

As such, the only 2 options we have when dealing with sociopaths:

(1) containment, which means putting them in prison for the rest of their lives with no possibility of release, or

(2) destruction, which can be accomplished via a number of ways, such as public lynching or giving them the death penalty in a speedy, followed by immediate execution.


[Nov 06, 2010] Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend (9781591025801) by Barbara Oakley

Borne out of a quest to understand her sister Carolyn's lifelong sinister behavior (which, systems engineer Oakley suggests, may have been compounded by childhood polio), the author sets out on an exploration of evil, or Machiavellian, individuals. Drawing on the advances in brain imaging that have illuminated the relationship of emotions, genetics and the brain (with accompanying imaging scans), Oakley collects detailed case histories of famed evil geniuses such as Slobodan Milosevic and Mao Zedong, interspersed with a memoir of Carolyn's life. Oakley posits that they all had borderline personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder, a claim she supports with evidence from scientists' genetic and neurological research.

All the people she considers, Oakley notes, are charming on the surface but capable of deeply malign behavior (traits similar to those found in some personality disorders), and her analysis attributes these traits to narcissism combined with cognitive and emotional disturbances that lead them to believe they are behaving in a genuinely altruistic way. Disturbing, for sure, but with her own personal story informing her study, Oakley offers an accessible account of a group of psychiatric disorders and those affected by them.

Gadget Hound

This is a terrific book on the brain's organization, where genes fit into the picture of psychopathology, and a personal story to knit it all together. Probably the best I've ever found, and it reflects the state-of-the-art in it's subject matter.

This is a technical book written almost as a novel - just a wonderful read for those who would otherwise never bother with a real medical book. If you're interested in any of the above, then this is the book for you. There are also YouTube videos of the author giving talks at book signings, etc., which are very interesting and can serve as an introduction to the book.

In addition, here are some articles, etc., by Barbara Oakley which should be of considerable interest to anyone purchasing this excellent book:

1. "The Killer in the Lecture Hall," Op-Ed for New York Times, April 19th, 2007, republished in The International Herald Tribune and many other papers worldwide.

2. "The Devil Inside," by Barbara Oakley, The Times Higher Education Supplement, pp 18-19, November 30th, 2007. Invited article.

3. "A world afflicted with blind spots," by Barbara Oakley, op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, December 6, 2007.

4. "On Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and Atlas Shrugged," by Barbara Oakley, Normblog, (one of the most popular blogs in England). Invited article. (Discusses Rand's work using neuroscientific findings.)

cassdog (Gainesville, Fl USA): Illuminating look at some sinister characters in all of our lives, (October 10, 2009)

This author does what a good popular science writer should do. She discusses a large amount of cutting edge science in a manner that an educated reader can understand while providing context to the science through discussions of history, politics and even family relations. The result of this recipe is a thoroughly enjoyable and mesmerizing book that teachers the reader something new.

While I found her discussion of the history of Machiavellian research fascinating and the historical examples of Mao, Milosevic, Hitler and Stalin illuminating, the book hit close to home when she discussed the sub-clinical Machiavellian's that we all have to interact with.

Often these people are very successful and quite friendly but underneath the surface there is a more sinister programming going on. This sinister program has stayed in the gene pool, because at low-levels of the population, these social cheaters could have their way without fear of reciprocation.

In our anonymous urban societies, these personalities can flourish much stronger than in our historical evolution, when maintaining the trust of your social group was literally a matter of life and death.

It is in these sections where I could make sense of some people that I have met in my life and prepare for dealing with them in the future. In a sense this is the journey that the author went through. It appears that she had an overpowering urge to understand the source of her sister's troubled behavior. Along the way, she uncovered some very interesting facts and the readers get to enjoy the results.

Craig Hyatt: A+ for Oakley's Evil Genes, (October 8, 2009)

This review is from: Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend (Paperback) I give Evil Genes an A+. First off, forget the whole nature-versus-nurture debate and all the baggage about eugenics and whatnot: that's just not the *point* of this book. Oakley isn't preaching here, she's presenting the reasonable point of view that inheritable faults in brain development can, together with environmental influences, result in personality disorders and other processing problems that may, in turn, lead to inexplicably and gratuitously evil and destructive behavior.

However, I read the book cover to cover, and I never got the impression she was making the case that there's a "schizophrenia gene" or a "rapist gene" or anything like that, and I certainly didn't get the feeling she was arguing that we ought to excuse criminal behavior because "my evil genes made me do it."

What Oakley does is present a well-founded case that genes and combinations of genes can ultimately cause brains to get wired wrong or to develop chemical imbalances that result in faulty processing. Oakley's case seems reasonable to me. If you pick up Gray's Anatomy, you see there are loads of physical variations in the construction of our bodies... an extra bone here... an extra nerve or artery there... and I see no reason why brain construction shouldn't have similar physical and chemical variations resulting in a spectrum of psychological dispositions. Oakley isn't writing a PhD thesis here. What she's doing is mixing a goodish dose of interesting and accessible science with some fascinating inside stuff about public menaces interwoven with Oakley's memories of the trail of destruction left by her own erratic older sister Carolyn. I just couldn't put the book down. Here are a few random sentences on pages I dog eared (some of these are from sources, not Oakley herself):

If my review didn't convince you, sample the front matter and first chapter. You won't be able to put the book down. I promise.

Sacramento Book Review: Vampires are Real, July 19, 2009

By employing the destructive, exploitative life of her own sibling, Dr. Oakley has personalized a "plot" for her exploration of dangerous mentalities. Mao, Stalin, Slobodan Milosevic, Mugabe, Papa Doc Duvalier, Castro, Hitler--all self-serving, manipulative, and deceitful minds who slew without conscience, disregarded the suffering of and were obsessed with control over others--all, we learn, were Borderline personalities. In perhaps similarly motivated economically murderous careers are Ken Lay, Bernard Madoff, and their ilk.

Perhaps because she is so thorough in covering the associated psychopathologies and neural malfunctions that create or facilitate Borderlines, this delving into a fearful subject was as entertaining to read as top-flight fiction. Most valuable, perhaps, are the insights and diagnostic tools that may empower the reader to recognize Machiavellian personalities in public and corporate life.

Vampire Alert! Personalities that on a tribal level would be shunned or culled, wield immensely dangerous charm and emotionally detached power to harm in an urban, large corporate, or national political milieu. And one of the symptoms of Borderlines is differential reproduction. They are among us, and their numbers are growing!

Sympathetically written, awesomely erudite, with humour and a wide array of the author's personal adventures and achievements to enrich it, this is a book I will reread many times.

Reviewed by David Lloyd Sutton

[Nov 01, 2010] What Psychopath Means

Scientific American

We have all heard these phrases before. “Violent psychopath” (21,700). “Psychopathic serial killer” (14,700). “Psychopathic murderer” (12,500). “Deranged psychopath” (1,050). The number of Google hits following them in parentheses attests to their currency in popular culture. Yet as we will soon discover, each phrase embodies a widespread misconception regarding psychopathic personality, often called psychopathy (pronounced “sigh-COP-athee”) or sociopathy. Indeed, few disorders are as misunderstood as is psychopathic personality. In this column, we will do our best to set the record straight and dispel popular myths about this condition.

Charming but Callous

First described systematically by Medical College of Georgia psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley in 1941, psychopathy consists of a specific set of personality traits and behaviors. Superficially charming, psychopaths tend to make a good first impression on others and often strike observers as remarkably normal. Yet they are self-centered, dishonest and undependable, and at times they engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of it. Largely devoid of guilt, empathy and love, they have casual and callous interpersonal and romantic relationships. Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead. They rarely learn from their mistakes or benefit from negative feedback, and they have difficulty inhibiting their impulses.

Not surprisingly, psychopaths are overrepresented in prisons; studies indicate that about 25 percent of inmates meet diagnostic criteria for psychopathy. Nevertheless, research also suggests that a sizable number are represented in everyday life. Some investigators have even speculated that “successful psychopaths”—those who attain prominent positions in society—may be overrepresented in certain occupations, such as politics, business and entertainment. Yet the scientific evidence for this intriguing conjecture is preliminary.

Most psychopaths are male, although the reasons for this sex difference are unknown. Psychopathy seems to be present in both Western and non-Western cultures, including those that have had minimal exposure to media portrayals of the condition. In a 1976 study anthropologist Jane M. Murphy, then at Harvard University, found that an isolated group of Yupik-speaking Inuits near the Bering Strait had a term (kunlangeta) they used to describe “a man who … repeatedly lies and cheats and steals things and … takes sexual advantage of many women—someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment.” When Murphy asked an Inuit what the group would typically do with a kunlangeta, he replied, “Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking.”

The best-established measure of psychopathy, the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), developed by University of British Columbia psychologist Robert D. Hare, requires a standardized interview with subjects and an examination of their file records, such as their criminal and educational histories. Analyses of the PCL-R reveal that it comprises at least three overlapping, but separable, constellations of traits:

Three Myths

Despite substantial research over the past several decades, popular misperceptions surrounding psychopathy persist. Here we will consider three of them.

  1. All psychopaths are violent. Research by psychologists such as Randall T. Salekin, now at the University of Alabama, indicates that psychopathy is a risk factor for future physical and sexual violence. Moreover, at least some serial killers—for example, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and Dennis Rader, the infamous “BTK” (Bind, Torture, Kill) murderer—have manifested numerous psychopathic traits, including superficial charm and a profound absence of guilt and empathy.

    Nevertheless, most psychopaths are not violent, and most violent people are not psychopaths. In the days following the horrific Virginia Tech shootings of April 16, 2007, many newspaper commentators described the killer, Seung-Hui Cho, as “psychopathic.” Yet Cho exhibited few traits of psychopathy: those who knew him described him as markedly shy, withdrawn and peculiar.

    Regrettably, the current (fourth, revised) edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), published in 2000, only reinforces the confusion between psychopathy and violence. It describes a condition termed antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which is characterized by a longstanding history of criminal and often physically aggressive behavior, referring to it as synonymous with psychopathy. Yet research demonstrates that measures of psychopathy and ASPD overlap only moderately.

  2. All psychopaths are psychotic. In contrast to people with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, who often lose contact with reality, psychopaths are almost always rational. They are well aware that their ill-advised or illegal actions are wrong in the eyes of society but shrug off these concerns with startling nonchalance.

    Some notorious serial killers referred to by the media as psychopathic, such as Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, have displayed pronounced features of psychosis rather than psychopathy. For example, Manson claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and Berkowitz believed he was receiving commands from his neighbor Sam Carr’s dog (hence his adopted nickname “Son of Sam”). In contrast, psychopaths are rarely psychotic.

  3. Psychopathy is untreatable. In the popular HBO series The Sopranos, the therapist (Dr. Melfi) terminated psychotherapy with Tony Soprano because her friend and fellow psychologist persuaded her that Tony, whom Dr. Melfi concluded was a classic psychopath, was untreatable. Aside from the fact that Tony exhibited several behaviors that are decidedly nonpsychopathic (such as his loyalty to his family and emotional attachment to a group of ducks that had made his swimming pool their home), Dr. Melfi’s pessimism may have been unwarranted. Although psychopaths are often unmotivated to seek treatment, research by psychologist Jennifer Skeem of the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues suggests that psychopaths may benefit as much as nonpsychopaths from psychological treatment. Even if the core personality traits of psychopaths are exceedingly difficult to change, their criminal behaviors may prove more amenable to treatment.

Psychopathy reminds us that media depictions of mental illness often contain as much fiction as fact. Moreover, widespread misunderstandings of such ailments can produce unfortunate consequences—as Tony Soprano discovered shortly before the television screen went blank.

Selected comments


I applaud your thoughtful consideration of an often misunderstood set of behavioral symptoms. However, there has historically been recognized a clinical differentiation between sociopathy (characterized by superficial charm, narcissism, and a lack of empathy) and the more problematic psychopathy (characterized by the aforementioned symptoms, plus aggressive and predatory behavior). Unfortunately, such a distinction has been ostensibly lost in recent clinical training. This distinction among antisocial presentations is important to acknowledge. Whereas sociopathy may not be recognized in many individuals, psychopathy can be expected to certainly take a larger societal toll.


Dr Kaufman brings up a useful distinction in understanding the causes of such behavior. Poor impulse control combined with inadequate self esteem or lower social standing is enough to create sociopathic behavior. Whereas, the sociopath response is more grounded in reality of their social standing and past history the psychopath creates greater perceived threats through imagination - hence the greater violence.

AnnieUK :

I am the mother of a 20 year old psychopath. Living with this kind of behavior has all but destroyed me and the family bonds are very strained. It is not an easy thing to handle, and I suppose admit to, and the family has taken all of 20 years to listen to me. Now they have all finally woken up and are paying attention. Trying to keep everyone talking while trying to keep him alive because of his total lack of remorse or fear, is a full time job.

Ripon :

I understand, but you as a mother have reached the first level of understanding " Recognition of the Psychopath". What ever has happened in the past can now be viewed thru clear eye's.

Generally, the first degree female family members are a big part of the problem, by choosing not to see the problem, making excuse's and arguing with everyone that recognizes the Psychopath for who and what they are, unfeeling manipulators of everyone they come in contact with in their day to day life. If you have openly addressed the problem with your son, with other family members present, that you have started to really address the problem child or bad seed.

Anything less than a direct approach is a waste of time, and still without resolve by you , there is no good answer. The Psychopath must have a victim at all times, other wise they are not happy, with themselves.

When they are unhappy and not manipulating someone, they will begin to ask or question themselves , and possibly but not likely to seek help. The critical point is to warn off victims before they can totally become victimized.


Dr. Kaufman, narcissistic personality features and lack of empathy in particular are what would facilitate aggressive and predatory behavior. In serial domestic abusers, I have found that with the exception of cases where delusional or psychotic symptoms were seen, at least three of the five following characteristics were almost invariably present:

  1. self-centeredness,
  2. lack of empathy,
  3. exaggerated sense of entitlement,
  4. jealousy,
  5. and an inability to accept responsibility for one's actions.

Those traits facilitate aggression, abuse, exploitation, and deception.

The so-called distinction between sociopathy and psychopathy is ridiculous and based on absolutely nothing of substance. The same could be said of so-called secondary psychopathy because such people are merely products of their environment and do not necessarily suffer from a psychological disorder, whereas psychopaths (real ones) have differences in how their brains process information that could only be hereditary.


I believe my husband is a psychopath. He angers very easily, for the simplest reasons. He has been in numerous relationships. He only can stay committed to a person no longer than eight years, and he then becomes bored. He lies about everything, I can't tell when he is truthful or not. I've constantly found condoms or phone numbers of various women. His reply is that these are his friends. It seems he looks for certain women that will further his social or economical status.

I am a school teacher, and for some reason he targeted me. I believe he assumed that I had more financial security. My previous husband was financial secure, which enabled me to do more with my own money. Everything that we own, I have purchased it in my name. I feel that when the relationship has not reached the financial status he desires, he looks for another one to put him in that status. I am very angry for being used and not loved. I feel that he is a great manipulator! Do you have any advice

[Oct 12, 2010] Inside the Mind of a Psychopath

Psychopaths are likable guys when they want to be.
Scientific American

Neuroscientists are discovering that some of the most cold-blooded killers aren't bad. They suffer from a brain abnormality that sets them adrift in an emotionless world

The word “psychopath” conjures up movie images of brutal, inexplicable violence: Jack Nicholson chasing his family with an ax in The Shining or Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, his face locked into an armored mask to keep him from biting people to death. But real life offers another set of images, that of killers making nice: Ted Bundy as law student and aide to the governor of Washington State, and John Wayne Gacy as the Junior Chamber of Commerce’s “Man of the Year.” Psychopaths are likable guys when they want to be.

Between the two of us, we have interviewed hundreds of prison inmates to assess their mental health. We are trained in spotting psychopaths, but even so, coming face to face with the real article can be electrifying, if also unsettling. One of the most striking peculiarities of psychopaths is that they lack empathy; they are able to shake off as mere tinsel the most universal social obligations. They lie and manipulate yet feel no compunction or regrets — in fact, they don’t feel particularly deeply about anything at all.

[Oct 12, 2010] Cross-check Are war crimes caused by bad apples or bad barrels by John Horgan

Oct 4, 2010
When soldiers commit atrocities, we must ask why. The question is being raised once again by reports that a handful of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan carried out premeditated killings—murders—of Afghan civilians. The soldiers allegedly took photographs of themselves posing with corpses and body parts, including fingers and heads.

The alleged ringleader is Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. In an interrogation video leaked to CNN, Specialist Adam Winfield, a member of Gibbs's platoon, said that Gibbs "likes to kill things. He is pretty much evil incarnate. I mean, I have never met a man who can go from one minute joking around, then mindless killings."

Military officials invariably blame these sorts of atrocities on "bad apples." That was the phrase that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld used to describe American guards accused of abusive behavior at Abu Ghraib prison in 2004.

Some evidence supports the bad-apples theory of atrocities. In a previous post, I cited a report by two psychiatrists that after 60 days of continuous combat, 98 percent of World War II infantrymen suffered from psychiatric illness, with some succumbing to a near-catatonic "vegetative phase." But 2 percent of the soldiers, far from being traumatized by intense, prolonged combat, enjoyed it. The psychiatrists diagnosed these soldiers with "aggressive psychopathic personalities."

Dave Grossman, a former professor of psychology at West Point and Army lieutenant colonel, acknowledged in his 1995 book On Killing (Little, Brown, 1995) that a small number of men—whom he called "the two percent who like it"—can "kill without regret or remorse." According to Grossman, these men may be excellent soldiers when competently trained and supervised, but they are also more likely than other men to use excessive force and commit atrocities.

The description above of someone joking one minute and killing the next sounds like textbook psychopathy. In "Inside the Mind of a Psychopath," in the September/October issue of Scientific American MIND, the neuroscientists Kent Kiehl and Joshua Buckholtz stated that psychopaths "are guilty of the most erratic and irresponsible, sometimes destructive and violent behavior," for which they "feel no compunction or regrets." Psychopaths, who comprise as much as 35 percent of U.S. prisoners, seem incorrigible; they may behave worse after treatments such as group psychotherapy, Kiehl and Buckholtz said, because "insights into others' vulnerabilities become opportunities to hone their manipulation skills."

Today, some psychiatrists prefer the terms "sociopathy" or "antisocial personality disorder" to psychopathy. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, antisocial personality disorder is characterized by extreme aggression, lack of empathy for others, lack of remorse for one's actions—and, not surprisingly, a propensity for violent crime. The manual estimates that 3 percent of all males have the disorder, which is suggestively close to the "two percent who like it." The disorder is much less common among women.

A British study of school-age twins published in 2005 [pdf] suggests that psychopathy has a strong genetic component. Teacher surveys revealed psychopathic tendencies (including antisocial behavior and "callous-unemotional traits") in 234 children—all less than 10 years old—out of a total of 3,687 pairs of twins, or roughly 3 percent. If one identical twin was psychopathic, the other was much more likely to be so; the concordance between fraternal twins was smaller.

In Final Solutions (Cornell, 2005), the political scientist Benjamin Valentino asserted that small percentages of men caused much of the slaughter of the 20th century. "The impetus for mass killing usually originates from a relatively small group of powerful leaders and is often carried out without the active support of broader society," Valentino stated. This pattern was true of mass killings in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, the Balkans, Guatemala and elsewhere.

Similarly, the biologist Barbara Oakley argued in Evil Genes (Prometheus, 2007) that Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong and other notorious tyrants displayed symptoms of psychopathy. Oakley concluded that they were "born to be bad." But in her 1963 essay on the Nuremberg trials, Hannah Arendt noted that psychiatric evaluations of Nazi mass murderers such as Adolf Eichmann suggested that they were "neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal." Arendt attributed Eichmann's crimes to "circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or feel that he is doing wrong." Arendt was rejecting the bad-apple theory and blaming "circumstances" for the Holocaust.

This conclusion was corroborated by famous experiments carried out in the 1960s by the psychologist Stanley Milgram. The son of Jewish immigrants, Milgram devised his experiments in part as a reaction to the Nuremberg trials, which left him wondering about the motivation of Eichmann and other Nazis. In Milgram's experiments—the details of which are still chilling—subjects were told that they were participating in a test of another person's learning ability. The "learners" were actually actors in cahoots with Milgram.

The subject read pairs of words to the learner—who was in an adjoining room and could be heard but not seen by the subject—and then tested his ability to remember the pairings. Each time the learner failed to remember a pairing, the scientist, who was in the same room as the subject, ordered him to give the learner a stronger electric shock. As the shocks increased, the learner reacted with audible distress, crying out in pain, banging on the wall or even claiming that he was about to have a heart attack. After a certain point, the learner would fall silent.

Of course, the learner was pretending to be shocked. If the subject hesitated to deliver stronger shocks, the scientist insisted that the subject continue, adding that he would not be held responsible for anything that happened to the learner. Only if the subject resisted four successive commands from the scientist was the experiment stopped. Otherwise the experiment continued until the subject had administered a "shock" of 450 volts to the learner.

Before the experiment, Milgram asked several dozen psychiatrists to predict the results; the average guess was that only 1 percent of the subjects, those with sadistic tendencies, would deliver the strongest shock. But in Milgram's initial experiment 26 out of 40 subjects, or almost two-thirds, administered what they believed to be the strongest, life-threatening shock. Only one subject refused to continue the experiment before reaching the 300-volt level. Versions of Milgram's experiment have been repeated in the U.S. and elsewhere with similar results.

In 1974 Milgram spelled out the implications of his research: "The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation. Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."

In 1971 the psychologist Philip Zimbardo, Milgram's former classmate at a New York City high school, carried out the so-called Stanford Prison Experiment, which has become almost as renowned as Milgram's work. Zimbardo created a mock prison in which Stanford students played the roles of either prisoners or guards. The "guards" quickly became so abusive—and the "prisoners" so distressed—that Zimbardo had to discontinue the experiment. Some of the guards' abusive acts—which included forcing prisoners to strip and to engage in simulated homosexual intercourse—were strikingly similar to acts perpetrated more than three decades later by American soldiers against Iraqis held in the Abu Ghraib prison.

This research suggests that human aggression and cruelty stem less from the "disposition" of individuals than from their environment, or "situation," Zimbardo argued in The Lucifer Effect (Random House, 2008). Studies of modern suicide bombers, torturers and war criminals, Zimbardo wrote, have revealed that many are, in Arendt's words, "terrifyingly normal." People behave badly not because they are bad apples but because they are in "bad barrels," situations that encourage brutality. War is the ultimate bad barrel. "In all wars, at all times, in every country, wars transform ordinary, even good men into killers," Zimbardo stated.

In War of the World: History's Age of Hatred (Penguin, 2007), the British historian Niall Ferguson described how combatants in World Wars I and II became consumed with hatred for their opponents. As a result, even Americans and British soldiers, the putative good guys, engaged in escalating atrocities, including bombing civilians, torturing and killing prisoners and mutilating the dead. This emotion-fueled descent into brutality is an inevitable consequence of the bad barrel of war.

If genocide, war crimes and other atrocities were all perpetrated by a few bad apples born with bad genes, we could perhaps identify them through genetic testing and sequester them from the rest of us good, decent, peaceful folk. If only things were that easy.

Photograph of 1968 massacre in My Lai, Vietnam, courtesy of Wiki Commons

Mims 11:59 AM 10/4/10Also relevant: the 2001 documentary Japanese Devils.

The film is basically about how conditioning soldiers to believe that their opponents are sub-human encourages them to commit atrocities against their enemies. Some of the accounts (from former soldiers themselves) are truly gruesome.

In the same vein, but involving U.S. soldiers in Vietnam: Winter Soldier

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 2. candide 12:20 PM 10/4/10How about the OBVIOUS: war crimes are caused by .... WAR.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 3. Chrisstephen 02:29 PM 10/4/10Having reported from numerous wars, I think the conclusion is spot on. For some soldiers, killing seems to be a pleasure. The vast majority try to balance following orders with staying alive. In an environment where their job is to kill the enemy and killing is normal, the line between legitimate and illegitimate killing is blurred. The onus is on the supervising commanders to keep all this in check.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 4. WRQ9 03:36 PM 10/4/10I cannot agree with the findings of tests like the Milgram test mentioned because, in my experience, it has been under a perceived threat that people behave this way. Most people will pretend to behave in an acceptable manner no matter how wrong it feels to do so. It is in the presentation of circumstance that bias is introduced. I do not either believe in the 2%-3% figure involving war criminals, as I believe in the prevalence of cover up in these circumstances, and the pragmatism of not being found out in general. The 2%to3% represent to me, a percentage so driven that once they are allowed to commit a murder for example, they are unable to put the genie back in the bottle. The line must be drawn where no possible repercussions are perceived, as when no witness is available or such circumstance to provide a true reflection. Many people are secretly glad to be in a unit with a man like Gibbs because they are allowed to stop pretending and not risk the same level of stigma as the Gibbses. In my informal study of "sociopathy", it seems like about a third of people have a palpable emotional response, a third have a response and suppress it, and fully a third have no response at all. These numbers I don't feel vary as much in males to females as is indicated, but again cultural necessity skews the findings. Although I agree that genetics is a strong predictor of this tendency, other factors can play a significant role in determining the degree of evidence of such leanings. Drug abuse childhood abuses and combinations of other extreme circumstances can inspire differences in scale, either way. I reach these finding by regarding the context and value in circumstance in life to be a constant within the species, and the perception of equality to be assumed. Cheaters oppress, and the willingness to oppress often reflects sociopathic tendencies. In fact, the intended suppression of any faction or individual for any cause save the actual greater good of society, reflects such tendencies. It is the impossibility of proof, given the complexity of human the psyche which leads us time and time again to the same pitfalls. If these people were so alone in culture, they could hardly be considered socially driven in any way. Influence is a form of violence to some, and the relative subtlety doesn't change the paradigm.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 5. JamesDavis 03:42 PM 10/4/10People like Sergeant Calvin Gibbs are needed in wars because it is people like them that brings the war to an end. The more cruel the killings, the faster the war ends or the faster the people give up. You have this in every war because there is a Sergeant Gibbs in every war and Sergeant Gibbs is born with this trait and it comes to light in war. If there is no war, people like Sgt. Gibbs would more than likely become a serial killer or an incredible hunter. In war or not in war, these people have to kill the same way a painter has to paint...they are needed.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 6. TTLG 04:41 PM 10/4/10I am somewhat skeptical of studies like Milgram's which rely on the subjects being fooled by actors. My experience is that most people are much better at detecting this sort of deceit than most actors are are fooling people. For example, just look at how much bad acting there is in Hollywood movies, which have access to the largest pool of actors in the world. If these guys cannot get believable actors, how can psych experimenters? I would not be surprised if a significant amount of people's behavior in these experiments is due to their not entirely believing (either consciously or not) that the situation they are in is real, due to the behavior of the supposed victim or the person giving them orders.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 7. gesimsek 06:20 PM 10/4/10It is an excellent article. Stanford experiment reminds me fraternity entrance tests. Unfortunately, as long as human beings are raised to prove themselves by inflicting damage upon themselves and others, this vicious circle will continue.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 8. imipak 08:20 PM 10/4/10JamesDavis' view that wars end quickly with extreme cruelty is the precise opposite of the view held by Sun Tzu who admonished against excess. It is also contrary to the view of Miyamoto Musashi, who stated that one should never repeat a method, lest it becomes predictable and a weakness.

Since "Art of War" and "Book of Five Rings" are recognized as excellent guides on how to win but no blogger has yet to achieve such repute, I'll side with expert opinion and say Sergeant Gibbs is not the way to win but is actually the way to lose.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 9. tombaxter 09:18 PM 10/4/10I'd like to think I would not have pull the trigger like a handful didn't at My Lai. But even if I didn't shoot, I know I would have never reported it as I didn't report other war crimes I saw. We weren't dealing with people. We were dealing with g**ks and "What is the value of one mere g**k?" It's the same as a Hajji, etc. I hope I will commit suicide before I become a Kapo.

Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this 10. 01:39 AM 10/5/10I have traveled perpetually for 12 years, and visited 88 countries. It is normal for me to live with people who speak a different language than me, this is a more instinctual way of living.

I also observe many tourist and travelers outside the social norms of home.

Yes, for sure 2-3 percent of people feel no guilt.

However, the assumption I feel is wrong, is that we somehow imbue humans with introspection. I do not feel that 50 percent of Humans take the feelings of others into consideration. I believe what we often see as empathy is only a self-serving desire to get reward from the group.

People generally are cows, with an alpha male instructing them what to do, this idea of morality of the individual is truly just fear of social norms being enforced and mass confusion causing mental problems. Overwhelming confusion, incongruence of beliefs to me is mental illness.

People generally do not want to hurt people, but if there is a group desire, or a easy to recognize benefit, with no danger, they will do so without thought.

Andy Graham of in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa 2010

[Aug 20, 2010] At the top, you can only look down by Cardiff Garcia

Aug 20, 2010 |

It’s approaching happy hour at Chez FT Alphaville, so we hope you don’t mind if we finish the week on a lighter topic (as we sometimes do).

We draw your attention to a recent article about the psychology of power in the pages of our mortal enemy fierce rival formidable competitor the Wall Street Journal, by science writer Jonah Lehrer.

Lehrer explores a concept called the Paradox of Power, which he summarises thus:

The very traits that helped leaders accumulate control in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power. Instead of being polite, honest and outgoing, they become impulsive, reckless and rude. In some cases, these new habits can help a leader be more decisive and single-minded, or more likely to make choices that will be profitable regardless of their popularity.

One recent study found that overconfident CEOs were more likely to pursue innovation and take their companies in new technological directions. Unchecked, however, these instincts can lead to a big fall.

We know that Wall Street has its share of authoritarian bosses. What Lehrer’s article suggests is that not all of them were quite so accomplished as bastards while still on the way up.

We suppose that’s not really a surprising revelation: power tends to corrupt, etc..

But after discussing the myopia and lack of empathy that overtake people who reach the top of their organisations, Lehrer relates a suggestion from one psychologist for how this problem might be countered.

Given the passage of FinReg, the notion is at least timely:

There is no easy cure for the paradox of power. Mr. Keltner argues that the best treatment is transparency, and that the worst abuses of power can be prevented when people know they’re being monitored. This suggests that the mere existence of a regulatory watchdog or an active board of directors can help discourage people from doing bad things.

However, people in power tend to reliably overestimate their moral virtue, which leads them to stifle oversight. They lobby against regulators, and fill corporate boards with their friends. The end result is sometimes power at its most dangerous.

It’s interesting to think that even if, say, a newly empowered regulatory body turns out to be ineffectual, its presence might nevertheless cause executives to be marginally more virtuous and considerate.

But we would add another point of skepticism to those made by Lehrer. According to the article, people in power only respect their equals, or other people with similar or higher power. Is it likely that an executive who has succumb to the worst effects of the paradox will come to view regulators this way?

Somehow, we doubt it.

Have a nice weekend.

Related links:
The Power Trip – WSJ
No, Steve, it’s not like when Hitler invaded Poland – FT Alphaville
A tragedy of hubris and nemesis – FT
Dick Fuld? Not a bad guy (and other contrarian takes on LEH) – FT Alphaville

[Aug 13, 2010] Identifying Psychopathic Fraudsters These Men Know ' Snakes in Suits' By Dick Carozza

To know about psychopaths is especially important to 401K investors and, especially, to baby boomers. Such types often surface in financial scams that target seniors...
July 2008 |

Interview with Dr. Robert D. Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak

Not all psychopaths become fraudsters, but some fraudsters are psychopaths. A fraud examiner's job is to help deter fraud by discretely noticing those employees who might be exhibiting psychopathic tendencies. Psychologists Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., and Paul Babiak, Ph.D., experts in psychopath studies, explain how these aberrant characters can infect organizations and provide ways to deal with them.

Sam strode into the lobby of Bacme Manufacturing. Impeccably dressed in a tailored suit, carrying a burnished leather briefcase, he smiled at the receptionist. "Hello. I'm Sam Smithson, here to see Mr. Tolliver for my second interview." "Yes, Mr. Smithson. Mr. Tolliver is ready to see you." Eyes turned as Sam walked up the stairs.

"Sam! So good to see you!" "It's great to be here again, Mr. Tolliver!" During the national economic downturn, Bacme was suffering and needed a few "white knights." Sam had the requisite resume, leadership qualities, and enthusiastic spirit the company needed to boost morale and the bottom line as a vice president.

Unfortunately, Mr. Tolliver didn't know that Sam was a textbook psychopath. Behind his smile and relaxed manner, he was dishonest, devious, and manipulative. He pretended to be an empathetic listener, but most of the time he had only one person on his mind.

Within a year, Sam had ingratiated himself to staffers who could benefit him: top executives but also the "informal leaders" - middle managers and administrative assistants who got the real work done. Soon he was controlling vast areas of the company and began embezzling funds. By the time the corporation realized it was missing millions of dollars, smiling Sam, "the white knight," was on to the next corporation.

Not all psychopaths become fraudsters, but some fraudsters are psychopaths. A fraud examiner's job is to help deter fraud by discretely noticing those employees who might be exhibiting psychopathic tendencies.

Robert D. Hare, Ph.D. and Paul Babiak, Ph.D., authors of "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work" (available in the ACFE Bookstore), have been studying psychopaths and their effects for years. Babiak is an industrial and organizational psychologist and president of HRBackOffice, an executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in management development and succession planning ( Hare, the creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy and author of "Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among us," is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and president of Darkstone Research Group, a forensic research and consulting firm (

"Psychopaths invest energy in creating and maintaining a facade that facilitates their careers," said Hare. "During the hiring process they convince decision makers of their unique talents and abilities - albeit based upon lies and distortion.

"Executives are always looking for the best and brightest ... but there are not that many from which to choose," Hare said. "As times goes on, the psychopath will continue to manage this positive reputation for as long as it is useful to him or her. ... Executives view themselves as good judges of people, and few want to be told that they were wrong about something as basic as honesty and integrity. This aspect of human nature works in favor of the psychopath."

Hare will be a keynote speaker at the 19th Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhibition in Boston in July. He spoke to Fraud Magazine from his home in Vancouver, B.C., and Babiak from his home in Dutchess County, N.Y.

Do you believe that most fraudsters are psychopaths or do they just exhibit anti-social behavior?

Hare: There are many reasons why people engage in fraudulent behavior, some related to economic necessity, cultural, social, and peer pressures, special circumstances, opportunities, and so forth. Many of these people are small-time criminals just "doing their job," and their victims are relatively few in number. Much more problematic are fraudsters whose activities reflect a virulent mix of personality traits and behaviors including grandiosity; sense of entitlement; a propensity to lie, deceive, cheat, and manipulate; a lack of empathy and remorse; an inability to develop deep emotional and social connections with others; and the view that others are merely resources to be exploited - callously and without regret.

These white-collar psychopaths often are heavily involved in obscenely lucrative scams of every sort. They lead lavish lifestyles while their victims lose their life savings, their dignity, and their health - a financial death penalty as one law enforcement officer put it. The public and the courts have difficulty in appreciating the enormity of the damage done by these social predators, and because their crimes often do not involve direct physical violence, they may receive comparatively light fines and sentences, and early parole. The money obtained from their depredations is seldom recovered, leaving the victims and the public bewildered and convinced that crime certainly does pay when committed by those whose charm, egocentricity, and deception disguise a flabby conscience.

You've designed the "Psychopathy Checklist - Revised" (PCL-R), the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy. Can you briefly describe its methodology and how it differs from other forms of measurement?

Hare: The PCL-R is a 20-item clinical construct rating scale for the assessment of psychopathy in forensic populations. Qualified professionals use interview and detailed file/collateral information to score each item on 3-point scales (0, 1, 2) according to the extent to which an individual matches explicit criteria for the item. The resulting total scores can vary from 0 to 40 and reflect the extent to which the individual matches the "prototypical psychopath." One derivative of the PCL-R, the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL: SV), often is used in community and civil psychiatric research on psychopathy. It has 12 items, with total scores that can vary from 0 to 24. The items in each instrument are grouped into the same four factors or dimensions, each of which contributes to the measurement of psychopathy. For example, the items in the PCL: SV dimensions are: Interpersonal (Superficial, Grandiose, Deceitful); Affective (Lacks remorse, Lacks empathy, Doesn't accept responsibility for own behavior); Lifestyle (Impulsive, Lacks goals, Irresponsibility); Antisocial (Poor behavioral controls, Adolescent antisocial behavior, Adult antisocial behavior). The PCL-R and the PCL: SV are strongly related to one another, both conceptually and empirically and have much the same psychometric, explanatory, and predictive properties. Because of their demonstrated reliability and validity, they are widely used in basic and applied research on psychopathy and for clinical and forensic evaluations.

The personality disorder measured by the PCL-R is similar to antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), described in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV. The difference is that the PCL-R places considerable emphasis on the interpersonal and affective traits associated with psychopathy, whereas ASPD is defined more by antisocial behaviors. As a result, ASPD fails to capture the traditional construct of psychopathy and is much more prevalent in community and forensic populations than is psychopathy.

Self-report personality inventories also are used for the assessment of psychopathic traits and behaviors. The information provided by these instruments reflects the individual's self-understanding and evaluation, what he or she is willing to disclose to others, and impression management. It may be difficult to obtain accurate self-reports of affective experiences associated with psychopathic tendencies. Further, self-report measures of psychopathy are only moderately correlated with the PCL-R and its derivatives. Nonetheless, they provide useful information from the individual's perspective, and contribute to our understanding of the psychopathy construct, particularly in the general population. One derivative of the PCL-R is the B-Scan or Business Integrity Scan, which includes both a self-report version and a supervisor's rating version. We developed the scan out of our experiences with, and research on, the lack of integrity and honesty of corporate psychopaths. Although not a clinical measure of psychopathy, it is designed to tap into the behaviors, attitudes and judgments relevant to ethical business practices.

You've written that many people, after reading or hearing you speak, begin wondering if their bosses and co-workers are psychopaths - or even themselves! I imagine all of us exhibit psychopathic traits at various times, but what are the prevailing characteristics that you believe a person must exhibit to actually be diagnosed as a psychopath? How do you distinguish a psychopath from a difficult person?

Hare: Television constantly describes the symptoms associated with an endless list of diseases, some real, some contrived. The viewer may have one of the symptoms of disease X, say a sore throat, and worry that he or she has the disease. But this symptom is shared by scores of conditions other than disease X, and sometimes a sore throat is simply a sore throat. What people don't take into account is that a given disease or medical condition is defined and diagnosed by a set of symptoms, a syndrome, and that one or two of the defining symptoms may be of little diagnostic value. One symptom does not a disease make, nor does being impulsive, egocentric, irresponsible, and so forth make someone a psychopath; difficult, perhaps, but not psychopathic.

Psychopathy is defined by having a heavy dose of the features that comprise the disorder. How heavy? Like blood pressure, the construct measured by the PCL-R and PCL: SV is dimensional. The threshold for "high blood pressure" or for a label of "hypertensive" is somewhat arbitrary, but typically falls in a range where there is increased risk to the individual's health. The threshold for "psychopathy" also is somewhat arbitrary, but generally is set rather high, at a level where the individual's manipulative, callous, egocentric, predatory, irresponsible, and remorseless behaviors begin to infringe upon the rights and safety of others. For example, researchers often adopt a PCL: SV score of 18 (out of 24) for "probable psychopathy," and a score of 13 for "possible psychopathy." To put this into context, the average PCL: SV score is less than 3 for samples from the general population, and around 13 for samples from forensic populations. Most of those in the general population receive a PCL: SV score of 0 or 1. So, even those who appear to exhibit a few psychopathic features would fall well below thresholds for possible or probable psychopathy. This does not mean that such individuals are saint-like; they could still be very "difficult" for reasons other than psychopathy. Their values, beliefs, or personal style may not be appealing to us, but they may be honest, have integrity, experience emotions at a real level, and contribute to the success of the organization. These "difficult" people also can make sincere efforts to moderate their attitudes and behaviors so as to fit more comfortably into the corporate culture or social norms of their work group. Psychopaths, on the other hand, lack integrity, are dishonest and manipulative, and do not experience deep-seated emotions. They may go through the motions of change in order to achieve their goals, but it will be little more than play-acting. Like Iago in Shakespeare's Othello, psychopaths can be "good" or "bad," depending on what is likely to work best at the time.

What do psychopaths want? What are their motivations?

Hare: They want many of the same basic things that the rest of us want, but, in addition, have an inordinate need for power, prestige, wealth, and so forth. They differ from most of us in terms of how much they "need," their sense of entitlement to whatever they want, and the means with which they are willing to achieve their ends. They also differ dramatically from others in the communal nature of their needs and goals. That is, the sense of altruism, concern for the welfare of family, friends, and society, and the social rules, expectations, and reciprocity that guide most people are irrelevant to psychopaths. They operate according to their own self-serving principle: look out for number 1, no matter what the cost to others, and without guilt or remorse.

Do psychopaths feel emotions and respond to emotions in others?

Hare: The emotional life of psychopaths lacks the range and depth found in most individuals. It often is described as shallow and barren, consisting mostly of "proto-emotions," somewhat primitive responses associated with their own needs and experiences. Their displays of anger, hostility, envy, and response to frustration are likely to be much more intense and genuine than their feelings of empathy, love, shame, and sorrow. While at times they may appear cold and unemotional, they are prone to dramatic, shallow, and short-lived displays of feeling. They are able to mimic emotions rather convincingly, but an astute observer may be left with the impression that they are play-acting and that little is going on below the surface. This, of course, raises an interesting question. If their own emotional life is relatively barren how are they so adept at "reading" and responding to the emotions of other people? The answer seems to be that they have learned that what others describe as a given emotional state is reflected in a distinct pattern of verbal cues and body language. Psychopaths are able to use this information to intuit an emotional state that they don't really understand. In this sense, they are like a color-blind person who "recognizes" color because of the context in which it occurs (the red light is at the top of the traffic signal) and therefore gives the appearance of color perception. However, no amount of training and practice will allow the color-blind person to really understand color or the psychopath to really understand the emotional life of others, except in a vague intellectual, inferential sense. To put it simply, they don't know how you feel, nor do they much care.

You've written that some researchers have said that psychopaths "know the words but not the music." What does that mean?

Hare: It means that psychopaths understand the denotative, dictionary meanings of words but do not fully appreciate their connotative, emotional meaning. Their language is only "word deep," lacking in emotional coloring. Saying "I love you" or "I'm truly sorry" has about as much emotional meaning as saying "have a nice day." This lack of emotional depth in language is part of their more general poverty of affect as described by clinicians and observed in neuroimaging studies.

What are the differences between psychopaths, sociopaths, and those with narcissistic personality or histrionic personality disorders?

Hare: The terms psychopathy and sociopathy refer to related but not identical conditions. Psychopaths have a pattern of personality traits and behaviors not readily understood in terms of social or environmental factors. They are described as without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves. Sociopathy is not a formal psychiatric condition. It refers to a pattern of attitudes, values, and behaviors that is considered antisocial and criminal by society at large, but seen as normal or necessary by the subculture or social environment in which it developed. Sociopaths may have a well-developed conscience and a normal capacity for empathy, guilt, and loyalty, but their sense of right and wrong is based on the norms and expectations of their subculture or group.

Many criminals might be described as sociopaths.

Narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders are described in DSM-IV, and their differences from psychopathy are outlined in "Snakes in Suits."

Do we have research that indicates that a person is a psychopath because of genetics, the environment, or both? If it's partially environmental, what could happen to a person so he or she develops into a psychopath?

Hare: All personality traits are the result of genetic-environmental interactions. Recent research in behavioral genetics indicates that callous-unemotional traits and antisocial tendencies, likely precursors to the dimensions of psychopathy described earlier, are highly heritable. There is no evidence that psychopathy can result solely from social or environmental influences. This doesn't mean that some people are destined to become psychopaths, only that the process of socialization is much more difficult for those with early indications of the precursors of the disorder.

Do male and female psychopaths practice their deceptions in different ways? If so, how?

Hare: There are many clinical accounts of female psychopaths but relatively little empirical research. The available evidence suggests that male and female psychopaths share similar interpersonal and affective features, including egocentricity, deceptiveness, shallow emotions, and lack of empathy. All will make maximum use of their physical attributes to deceive and manipulate others, but female psychopaths may be less prone than males to use overt, direct physical aggression to attain their ends. The term femme fatale comes to mind.

What are some ways that companies can screen out psychopaths during the interview and background check processes? This has to be extremely hard because psychopaths exhibit all the right qualities (and fake the rest) when companies are vetting them for jobs.

Babiak: Psychopaths make great first impressions and have extremely effective interviewing skills, so relying on employment interviews alone when making hiring decisions can lead an organization to make the wrong choice. The risk is increased by the use of untrained or inadequately trained interviewers who are unaware of the psychopath's skill at lying and deception, and therefore don't take the necessary extra steps to verify all information collected.

Improving one's chances of detecting psychopathic lying during the employment process requires verification of all details presented (knowledge, experience, expertise), and exploring and challenging discrepancies. Psychopaths talk a good game on a surface level, and will use technical jargon and glib, superficial charm to convince the interviewer of their experience and expertise. As much as possible, resume data should be checked before the interview. Then, by using structured interviewing techniques and multiple interviewers from different functions and levels in the organization, inconsistencies can be explored further and details drilled down.

It is critical that all interviewers get together to share their findings and impressions before an offer is made. During this important meeting, the discrepancies noted and possible deceptions will be uncovered. Relying on a group decision removes the psychopath's advantage in manipulating just one interviewer successfully.

Can you talk briefly about the "three personalities" that are within all of us?

Babiak: Deep down we all have a private experience of ourselves, our personality, which consists of our needs, values, emotions and so forth. This self-perception includes things we know about ourselves that we are comfortable sharing, other characteristics we wish to keep private, and even some parts that are unknown even to us. This is our inner or private personality. When we deal with others, though, we tend to limit the presentation of our personality to those things we like, are socially acceptable, and can positively influence those around us. This is our persona, or public self. We wear this mask in public. The third point of view of the personality is our reputation among those who know or interact with us; that is, our attributed personality.

In a business world, where "perception is reality," this last view of our personality - our reputation - is the most important. It influences how others will treat us and how decisions are made about us, and can ultimately foster or derail our careers. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of or discount this view of themselves. Sometimes it is only upon receipt of hard data, often in the form of "360-degree" feedback given during training programs, that they learn how others really perceive them.

The psychopath operates on the surface level, presenting a mask or persona that is in keeping with the expectations of the organization and its members. Typically, this mask is: "I am the ideal employee and leader."

The psychopath invests considerable effort creating and managing this facade through impression management techniques. Those who have power and authority will be shown only this mask - that is, the facade of an employee who is honest, productive, caring, with leadership potential, and so forth - and will integrate it into their evaluation of the psychopath - in effect, the psychopath's reputation. Those who are of little value to the psychopath will not receive such careful impression management, and may come to see the psychopath for who he or she really is. Unfortunately, however, they are often in positions least likely to influence the thinking of those in power.

In a nutshell, how do psychopaths judge the personalities of others?

Babiak: Psychopaths often come across as good psychologists, but in reality they are just more observant of others and are motivated to take advantage of the traits, characteristics, and personal situations of those around them. Psychopaths use the same three-part personality model to build strong relationships with others. They initially present a charming, charismatic mask, persona, which is often quite likeable. When they want to deepen the relationship (because the target has something they want), they first convince the target that they truly like him or her (that is, like his or her own persona or outward self). Then, they convince the target that they are more similar than different in many ways (including at the deep psychological level). Thirdly, they convince the target that they fully understand and accept the target's own true, private, and inner personality (the one with all of its secrets), and, therefore, because of this acceptance, they can be trusted. Finally, they convince the target that they (the psychopaths) are the ideal friend, partner, coworker, and so forth; this forms the "psychopathic bond." This bond is quite seductive, as few people reach this level of psychological intimacy with others in the work environment. Once this bond is formed, it is very difficult for the target to see the truth about the psychopath as he or she continues to be manipulated.

In business situations, do psychopaths target particular individuals? If so, what kinds of persons?

Babiak: Psychopaths are always on the lookout for individuals of whom they can take advantage. We often correctly assume that they target those with high status and power in the organization, but they also identify those with subtle, informal power in the organization. For example, many secretaries control access to their principals whom a psychopath will want to influence. Middle-level managers control the flow of materials, information, and processes that might prove useful to a psychopath. Individual contributors in professional positions (for example, those in IT, finance, and auditing), despite the lack of authority over staff, have great amounts of influence over information and other resources useful to the corporate psychopath. Any person with perceived utility to the psychopath will be targeted.

I know this is complex, but how are psychopaths able to manipulate people within an organization to be, as you call them, "pawns," and "patrons"?

Babiak: This model evolved out of our observations of how the "psychopathic drama" unfolds. It captures the theatrical nature of the psychopaths' view of organizational life. Psychopaths see themselves as the writers, directors, and producers of the dramas that are their lives - on and off their jobs; other people only exist to fulfill the supporting roles required of them - the pawns, and patrons.

Psychopaths form bonds with many people in the organization; that is, psychopathic bonds, not real ones. The psychopath views as pawns those who have the power, status, or access to desired resources, to be used until their utility is gone, and then dispensed with or even sacrificed. Patrons are those key power holders whom the psychopath relies upon for protection and defense when things get uncomfortable, much like the "mentors" or "godfathers" who exist in many large companies to assist high potentials negotiate their way through the political minefields to the top.

In addition, there is the patsy - a former pawn or patron whose organizational power and influence has been effectively neutralized by the psychopath. Finally, there are the organizational police, those in control positions such as accounting, HR, IT, and security who are in the best position to unseat the psychopath, but who often are not listened to by those in power, and who have already been trapped in the psychopathic bond. The psychopath prefers to avoid the organizational police (they tend to have ethical and professional values which are anathema to the psychopath), but having one in his or her vest pocket can be invaluable.

It makes sense that psychopaths would try to influence recognized top managers, but how do they manipulate and use "informal leaders," those who wield influence but might not be high on the organizational chart?

Babiak: While formal power holders are credited with leading their organizations, it is often a group of informal leaders who gets things done on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, in many companies, these informal leaders are the unsung heroes - and feel as such. What better person to convince that they have value and a friend in high places, as the psychopath moves up, than these individuals? They are the perfect targets from the up-and-coming psychopath's point of view.

How can a person avoid becoming ensnared in a one-sided relationship with a psychopath?

Babiak: Knowledge certainly is power in this case. It is important to learn as much as one can about psychopaths - their traits and characteristics, and how they operate. Furthermore, one should learn more about oneself, particularly those things that would make one attractive to a psychopath. These can include power and control of resources (formal and informal), as well as any psychological or emotional weak spots or hot buttons that can be used to unduly influence you. Psychopaths don't operate in a social vacuum, and those with whom they have worked or interacted can be valuable sources of information.

You've written that once psychopaths are within an organization, they revert to their natural three-phase behavior pattern - assessment, manipulation, and abandonment. Can you briefly describe those three steps? Can you also describe the ascension phase?

Babiak: In society, psychopaths exhibit a fairly consistent pattern of behavior. They identify targets (assessment phase), use them (manipulation phase), and dispense with them when their utility is used up (abandonment phase). In organizations, the abandonment phase is difficult to manage, as the psychopath cannot just move on, in the physical sense. This can lead to confrontations with former pawns who now feel like patsies. But the psychopath has already prepared for this, having spread disparaging information about these individuals - that is, "poisoned the water" - among those in positions of power. Those who ultimately confront a corporate psychopath often come to find themselves on the chopping block.

In some cases, psychopaths see opportunities to move up in the power hierarchies by unseating those who have mentored or protected them, their patrons, in the ultimate acts of betrayal. This form of ascension can be particularly rewarding to a psychopath who has played both the patron and other members of the organization.

Are most corporate and organizational psychopaths loners or do they sometimes team up with other psychopaths to pull off fraud schemes?

Babiak: Most of the individuals we have met have been "loners" in the sense of only thinking of themselves; however, they do surround themselves with supporters and followers to facilitate their activities. To the degree that the psychopath can get these naÔve supporters to believe that their actions are consistent with their own personal values, the game remains in play.

Occasionally, two psychopaths may work as a team in the same organization, at least for short periods. Inevitably, there will be a falling out: two stars is one too many. In one case, two corporate psychopaths worked in the same company but were in different divisions and rarely interacted. Historically, there may have been instances of psychopaths working together. One wonders who was "more" psychopathic: Joseph Stalin or his henchman, Lavrentiy Beria, chief of the secret police.

Have the Internet and other technological developments aided psychopaths?

Hare: Immeasurably! The Internet and technology have given psychopaths and other predators access to a virtually unlimited pool of potential victims. They can promote phony stocks, circulate crooked investment schemes, siphon off bank accounts, commit identity theft, and so forth, all with little risk to themselves. They also can promote themselves by constructing fake or greatly embellished Web sites and credentials in order to lure unsuspecting victims. In a very real sense, the Internet and associated technology represent a paradise on earth for fraudsters, with even better things to come.

The business world of the 1980s and 1990s went through startling changes after decades of relative stability in culture and procedures. And now we're in an economic slowdown or possible recession. Have these changes helped or hindered psychopaths in organizations?

Babiak: While economic slowdowns can lead to layoffs and plant closings, there is still the need for seasoned, experienced leaders who have the wherewithal to meet the challenge of recovery and turnaround. These individuals are rare. What a perfect scenario for the psychopath to enter as the "solution," replete with the skills (faked), abilities (faked), and background (faked) necessary to take over and makes things right.

There is also greater access to higher education in general than before, as well as questionable online degrees that can be bought and used by psychopaths to pad their resumes. Losing one's job no longer bears the stigma - or provokes as much concern - as it once did; layoffs and plant closings have left many truly stellar executives with gaps in their employment histories. Economic conditions can be a convenient explanation for short tenures listed on the resume. While a psychopath would be expected to blame the former boss's personality or colleagues' underhandedness for losing his or her job, a really clever one can feign some sadness at having to leave "a great job at a great company" due to economic conditions.

You've written that organizations have become more "psychopath friendly." What do you mean by that?

Babiak: The change of organizational structures from large and bureaucratic to lean, mean, and flat has inadvertently made companies more attractive to psychopaths (fewer rules) and, at the same time, easier to negotiate (faster progression). There is more opportunity for a motivated psychopath to stand out amongst his or her peers, less hoops to jump through, and shorter distances to the top. Changes in work values among employees have also facilitated entry by psychopaths. Many companies, initially puzzled by the demands of "younger" workers for large sign-on bonuses and promotions at least every two years, are beginning to accept this as part of a new work style that needs to be accommodated in some way. A young psychopath would fit in quite nicely in this culture.

You've written that you doubt that psychopathic individuals would be very successful in a highly structured traditional bureaucracy. Why is that?

Babiak: Bureaucracies, by design, are rule-bound structures. They are the result of a stage of organizational development in which companies attempt to systematize their operations in pursuit of consistency, quality, and productivity. An unfortunate outcome also is that they can become quite boring, slow to respond, and intolerant of creativity and innovation.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the speed required of businesses to maintain their positions, and perhaps grow market share, increased. This put a tremendous strain on organizational systems - the bureaucracy - as well as on employees and managers - the culture. The mantra became "do more, better, faster with less" - a difficult task, at best. In response to accelerated market demands, organizations began to jettison parts of their bureaucracy - policies and procedures - in the interest of speed. Entire levels of management were eliminated under the theory that communications would improve from top to bottom. Systems once thought to be helpful were eliminated or "reengineered" away. By eliminating those policies and procedures that could help uncover psychopathic behavior - formal performance appraisals are a good example - and systems that help prevent their hiring - structured employment practices - it became much easier for someone with psychopathic tendencies to slip in and look successful.

Unfortunately, this is where the psychopath has an advantage; these new structures are always in a state of flux and never reach the "ideal" state. We call them "transitional organizations" because the transitioning never ends. This frustrates and confuses those who have grown accustomed to the stability that large organizations used to provide. Being a thrill seeker by nature, the psychopath relishes the chaos. On a practical level, a constantly changing work environment provides the psychopath an endless source of new coworkers to target and many opportunities to move from project to project when boredom sets in.

Can you talk about how psychopathic fraudsters use affinity groups (religious, political, or social entities in which all members share common values or beliefs) to pull off their schemes?

Hare: We refer to these schemes as affinity fraud. They rely on the fact that members of an affinity group typically are very trusting of others who profess to share their values, beliefs, and interests. Those who are most adept at perpetrating affinity fraud are psychopaths who gain entry into the group by developing an acquaintance with a member who then introduces the fraudster as "one of us." The result is a "fox in the henhouse," with predictable results. Religious groups, are particularly vulnerable; belief in the inherent goodness of others and uncritical acceptance of professions of faith are tailor-made for an enterprising psychopath. Sadly, even after being victimized, many members of a group will refuse to face the truth, continuing to believe that the scamster is basically good at heart or that there must be a reason why he or she took advantage of the group. Even sophisticated members of financial and business groups - such as investment clubs - often are no match for the charm and seduction of a good-looking, well-dressed, and apparently well-connected psychopath. A suspicious view of newcomers might help but is no guarantee of immunity to infiltration by someone intent on doing the group harm. Even organizations that by their very nature are extremely cynical and suspicious - such as intelligence agencies and criminal gangs - cannot protect themselves completely from those who misrepresent their credentials, connections, and intentions.

Joseph Wells, the founder and chairman of the ACFE, has concentrated on teaching not just about fraudsters' actions but their psychological motivations and aberrations. How can a group like ours aid its members in spotting possible psychopaths and prevent them from transforming their behaviors into crimes?

Babiak: Increasing the professional standards and training of fraud examiners is a good foundation. Knowledge about the nature of psychopaths and of the strategies and tactics they use is important. Even so, it can be very difficult to spot them without detailed information from a variety of sources about their behavior and manipulations especially if you are the one being targeted. It is also important for examiners to understand themselves and how their own personality traits and vulnerabilities may play into the hands of a psychopath. A confidential "hot line" could be made available to members who have suspicions and need coaching and advice on how to proceed.

Are most psychopaths in organizations exposed or do they remain or go on to greater positions?

Babiak: With one exception, all of the psychopaths that we have studied are still in positions of authority in their companies. In some cases, they have risen within the ranks, and in others, they have solid positions from which they continue to use their organizations for personal gain. The one psychopath we studied who was fired ended up leaving with a sizeable financial package and a company car. He was hired by a competitor at a significantly greater salary. Unfortunately, in their effort to rid themselves of problems and to avoid embarrassment in front of corporate or financial communities, some organizations will cover up their messes and even write favorable letters of recommendation thus facilitating psychopaths' devious journeys up corporate ladders.

Since the publication of "Snakes in Suits," we have received an increased number of calls from executives, entrepreneurs, and principals who now suspect that someone on their staff - or even an equity partner - is a corporate psychopath. We see that awareness of the problem has increased, as has the willingness to take action to remove or otherwise deal with the problem person.

How does a fraud examiner identify possible psychopaths after they're hired? I imagine it's a sensitive issue to put the psychopath label on anybody, but how should a fraud examiner proceed to prevent a possible fraud or should they even try? Is it ever possible to discern the potential for fraud in a suspected psychopath?

Babiak: In business situations, it is rarely useful to label someone a psychopath; organizations can only respond to the overt behaviors of fraudsters and others. Suspecting that a client (or even a coworker) has psychopathic traits can help sensitize an examiner to search out and investigate subtle forms of lying and deceit. If the client is highly psychopathic, the odds are that some form of corporate misbehavior, perhaps fraud, is underway, but hidden from view. If inconsistencies and improprieties begin to surface, it is important that the examiner's focus remain on the facts of each case, as the psychopath will try to distract him or her through flattery, misdirection, questioning the examiner's competence or authority to investigate, and so forth.

What steps lead to the confrontation of a psychopath and how is it carried out? Can a psychopath ever be rehabilitated?

Hare: Like anyone suspected of corporate misbehavior or fraud, confrontation of a suspected psychopath should occur after all the facts have been obtained, verified, digested, and interpreted, and in accordance with corporate policies and due process. In addition, however, it is important to anticipate the potential reactions of the psychopath, which may include "plausible" indignation and denial, diffusion of blame and responsibility, appeals to a "higher" authority, verbal abuse, and threats of litigation. In such cases, it is essential to ensure that the case against the individual is factually and legally sound and to "stand one's ground."

A somewhat different tactic sometimes employed by those accused of misbehavior is to admit it, claim that the behavior was out of character, and solemnly pledge to change. However, when dealing with a suspected psychopath such tactics should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism. There is little evidence that psychopaths can be, or even believe that they should be, rehabilitated. Their behavior reflects a well-established, stable personality structure. Most people have some insight into the motivations for their own behavior, and will accept that changes need to be made in order to be a good corporate citizen. Unfortunately, psychopaths already are aware of their own motivations, see little wrong with them, and do not believe they need to change. However, if they think that "rehabilitation" can serve their own selfish, pragmatic ends, then they are quite capable of playing the game, portraying themselves as a "saved" or "redeemed" sinner.

Dick Carozza is editor-in-chief of Fraud Magazine.

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[Aug 02, 2010] It’s time to sack job appraisals By Lucy Kellaway

Job appraisal is actually a tremendously powerful weapon in hands of psychopath.
July 11, 2010 | Financial Times

Last week an e-mail went round the office touting for suggestions on ways to improve our performance appraisal system. My suggestion is dead easy and dirt cheap: get rid of the whole thing and replace it with nothing at all.

Normally, if I have any bright ideas about how this newspaper could be managed better, I propose them in private. It is not seemly to wash the Financial Times’ dirty linen in public. Yet when it comes to appraisals, the linen of every other company is covered with much the same filthy stains as ours, and so there seems no shame in suggesting a mass outing to the launderette.

Over the past 30 years, I have been appraised three dozen times – as banker, journalist and non-executive director. I’ve lived through the craze for long, complicated forms. I’ve also survived the informal fashion in which appraisals are called “career chats” and where a bogus air of equality prevails. I’ve done appraisals across a table, on a sofa, even over a meal. I’ve had them ŕ deux and ŕ trois – with a facilitator in tow.

But never have I learnt anything about myself as a result. I have never set any target that I subsequently hit. Instead I always feel as if I am playing a particularly dismal game of charades, with three disadvantages over the traditional parlour game. There is no dressing-up box; there is no correct answer to guess and it isn’t remotely fun. The norm is a harrowing hour’s conversation during which you are forced to swallow an indigestible mix of praise and criticism referring to long-ago events, which leaves you demotivated and confused on the most basic question: am I doing a good job? The resulting form is then put on file, making you feel vaguely paranoid, even though you know from experience how much attention will be subsequently paid to it: none whatsoever.

At least I’ve only had to suffer one side of the process. I have never – thank goodness – had to appraise anyone else, which must be even more tiresome as you have to perform the same operation with each underling in turn, wearily letting people believe they are doing more or less okay, because it’s too tiring to drop the bombshell that they aren’t doing okay at all.

I have a friend in a large company who spends an entire month each year appraising her team. She says the system has been “improved” so that she no longer sorts people into “exceptional performers”, “good performers” and so on. Instead she works through a list of mysterious attributes – such as “leverages mastery” and “innovates holistically” – choosing three strengths and one development need (or weakness, as it was formerly known) for each.

She admits that this system – which applies to almost 100,000 people worldwide – is utterly idiotic. But when I suggest it be scrapped she looks shocked. “Out of the question,” she says. “That would be interpreted as us saying we don’t care about developing people.”

Not by everyone, it seems. Last week Samuel Culbert, a business school professor in California, went on US radio to say that all appraisal systems were total baloney. He thinks even less of them than I do. They were a throwback to the bad old days of management by objective, he said, and only persisted because they allow evil managers to hold employees down and because HR managers are like the KGB when it comes to hoarding information.

His alternative, which he describes in his new book Get Rid of the Performance Review, is that bosses and underlings should have regular, equal conversations during which the boss says things like: “What do you need from me to deliver what we are both on the firing line to produce?”

This is a fantastic idea. The only trouble is that it bears no relation to the world as I know it; managers don’t talk or think like that.

The most sinister thing about the current system is that it allows managers to delude themselves into thinking that they are managing their people.

With this delusion stripped away, some managers might take matters into their own hands. They might even start saying “that’s good” and “that’s not so good” at the only helpful time to say such things: when they have just happened. This sort of thing is called managing, and the beauty of it is that it makes formal appraisals quite unnecessary.

Even for those whose managers did nothing to fill the gap, there would still be a net gain from scrapping appraisals. Time and energy would be saved and the only two things lost would be cynicism and paranoia.

[Jul 24, 2010] Overpaying CEOs by Linda Beale

"Specifically, we claim that higher income inequality between executives and ordinary workers results in executives perceiving themselves as being all-powerful and this perception of power leads them to maltreat rank and file workers."

The Wall Street Journal reports today on a study by three academics on CEO pay. They are Streedhari Desai (Harvard), Jennifer George (Rice) and Arthur Brief (Utah), and their study is "When Executives Rake in Millions: Meanness in Organizations" (available on SSRN). Here's the abstract:

The topic of executive compensation has received tremendous attention over the years from both the research community and popular media. In this paper, we examine a heretofore ignored consequence of rising executive compensation. Specifically, we claim that higher income inequality between executives and ordinary workers results in executives perceiving themselves as being all-powerful and this perception of power leads them to maltreat rank and file workers. We present findings from two studies - an archival study and a laboratory experiment – that show that increasing executive compensation results in executives behaving meanly toward those lower down the hierarchy. We discuss the implications of our findings for organizations and offer some solutions to the problem.

Trends in this country are ominous.

[Jul 17, 2010] Economist's View In Finance We Distrust

Looks like higher level of inequality produced more sociopaths in upper echelons of power. That is really observable in financial industry. See also "The future of finance" a free ebook with entries by Adair Turner, Peter Boone and Simon Johnson among others:


According to the bestseller "The Sociopath Next Door" by former Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, 1 in 25 people are sociopaths. What does that mean? It's not anything like an internal struggle of conscience, a battle of good versus evil deep in the soul. It's much more frightening and diabolical than that. Similar to someone who is color blind being unable to see the colors red or green, a sociopath is unable to feel emotions like empathy, compassion or love. A sociopath could crush the skull of a puppy and feel nothing at all other than perhaps a passing sense of curiousity at best or, more villainously, a sense of sporting entertainment. After the first few million, I think it doubtful Bernie Madoff cared anything at all about the money. It was all about screwing the dumb suckers, taking it all from the pathetic little ants and getting away with it. I suspect that finance is an industry where the proportion of sociopaths in the population rises significantly greater than 1 in 25. Regulation may not be enough. The threat of harsh and lengthy prison sentences backed up by vigorous and vigilant prosecution may be in order.

K Ackermann :

I think the sociopath potential is in most people.

The police and the military have to train people to be able to aim a gun at another person and pull the trigger.

Some still never will, but for those that do, most report it gets easier the more they do it. Something gets shut off; it's not something missing or extra, it's just shut off.

Bruce Wilder :

Big bonuses tend to attract and/or train sociopaths.

Mbuna said...

Well, let's get to the heart of the problem. Teaching ethics and having it stick only occurs in a cultural circumstance. Certainly in the past (50 years ago let's say) there was a pretty clear delineation between what was right and ethical and what was not. The basis for such ethics of right and wrong was the Judeo-Christian culture that had a very prevalent voice in society back then.

I am stating as fact that the Judeo-Christian religious culture has lost a tremendous amount of influence in the last 50 years and that trend shows no sign of reversing. In fact I would say that the Renaissance was the real start of the world secularizing trend and it has continued to this day. The only real problem with this is that real culture will not last without some kind of real connection to the Source, the Divine, whatever you may wish to call it.

What we have now is no culture, or call it a secular culture if you will. Look back in history for any other secular cultures existence and you will not find one.

In all cultures to one degree or another, if you didn't follow the rules of the culture you were separated or ostracized, and this kept the core of the culture strong. Our present society lacks this necessary instrument of culture which is why I say we have no culture. Government laws do not suffice and if they did then we would have a police state.

So now lets jump back to ethics on Wall St. My point is that in a real culture you could be hired and everyone would not only understand what was required of them ethically but understand the wisdom of behind it. And that fundamental wisdom is the understanding of what works for the greater good of all. As long as we have this secular, adolescent, me first mentality, no amount of government structure and regulation will actually work because the people who need to make the regulation work will not be culturally dependable. This has already been and is currently being demonstrated, in spades. No one is culturally accountable period, so society just kind of festers into a me first free for all.

We all have to dig a lot deeper to begin to grasp the fundamental issue these times confront us with.


Judeo-Christians don't have a prominent voice in our culture? Give us a break. Or, how about an "indulgence."

"50 years ago there was a pretty clear delineation between what was right and ethical and what was not"

What is this, ancestor worship? 50 years ago, religious zealots beat their wives and lamented the uppity coloreds all six days between services. Only someone who never had to live back in those times would say something so inappropriately glorifying about such a savage era.

And what is currently being demonstrated is that over the last 10 years, the bureaucracy was overrun with foaming-at-the-mouth jesus-school sentinels. Right now is your recommended substitution of competence with "culture" on display.

How about this for a fundamental issue: The backward view that lawlessness is freedom, and ostentatious displays of religious piety is the same as accountability. That is what contempt for "secular" norms of objectivity brings to civilization

[Jul 15, 2010] Bully or Victim More Similar Than We Might Think Scientific American Podcast

July 10, 2010 | scientific american

We might think that bullies are quite different from the victims of bullying. But those who become either a bully or a victim actually share similar outlooks and have similar difficulties dealing with their environments. There is, however, one significant risk factor for bullying.

Researchers reviewed and analyzed 153 studies and found that both victims and bullies have poor problem-solving skills within social situations. They also found that boys bully more than girls but here’s a significant point: Those who do poorly in school are at a higher risk of becoming a bully. The research was published this week in the journal School Psychology Quarterly.

Typical bullies have negative attitudes toward others, feel badly about themselves, and most likely grew up in a home with conflict. Victims share much of same, negative attitude, conflict in the family.

But the dividing characteristic: bullies dislike school and tend to perform worse academically than those who later become victims.

Most current solutions try to enforce anti-bullying rules or simply remove the bully from bullying situations. The authors note, however, that the most successful intervention is three-pronged. They suggest simultaneously targeting the areas that may be influencing the potential bully or victim in the first place: the parents, the peers and the schools.

—Christie Nicholson

[Jul 08, 2010] Tales of Corporate Oppression

I once got talking to a guy whose job it was to go into a company, sit alongside the Systems Administrator for two weeks, and write a professional audit on his processes and practices.

Naturally the sys admin would be on his best behavior, showing off all the clever things he did to keep the company's computer network ticking over.

At the end of the two weeks, the sys admin would be fired. There was never any audit: this was just the method the company used to replace their IT people without disruption, making sure the new guy was trained up and the old guy didn't cause any damage before he left.


At a former employer of mine it was common practice to only grant the pay raises and other benefits associated with a promotion six months after the promotion was given. The official rationale was that management needed to know you were going to work out in the position. Not suprisingly in practice the vast majority of promotions were recinded 4-5 months after they were announced. They always managed to catch people slipping up SOMEHOW over that time.

It was an horrific system but jobs were so scarce in that area that no one quit. (Obviously it wasn't a union shop.) Finally things came to a head when my friend and cubicle mate was promoted to group leader. The poor guy was put on earth to do the kind of Quality Control work the job entailed. He loved his job and worked at least three times faster than everyone else. Better yet he was obsessive about being on time for everything never slacking off during work hours.

In a normal company he would have shot up the corporate ladder. In this case the management freaked when they couldn't trip him up after 5 months. They started increasing his workload by the day. To the point where he was doing five and a half peoples share of analysis. He was my good friend and had a kid and needed the raise so I'd stay late for the first week and would help him finish his work. Then suddenly everyone was banned from assisting one another in their work load.

They finally got what they wanted and he missed a deadline and had his promotion canceled. It was honestly the saddest sight I have ever seen in any workplace. He literally cried the entire day in his cube while still doing his work faster than any of the rest of us.


Call centers collect a lot of stats on their employees, "average handling time" being one of them. They're meant to be be measures of efficiency, but when these stats are the only thing team leaders have to justify their existence sometimes that can lead to wackiness.

Take my mate, who was a genuinely nice guy. Far too nice really to be doing the job he was doing.

He thought he was there to help customers get their broadband services connected, his manager thought his job was to get customers off the phone ASAP in order to get good stats for the month.

Naturally this difference in goals lead to the amusing situation where the manager brought in an egg timer, set it to go off after a minute then would literally stand over the employee yelling, "Why are you still talking to this customer?!?" while the employee tried to juggle an irate customer and an irate boss.

After a couple of days of his he was really stressed out. I guess it wasn't helping that he had this whole Pavlovian dog thing happening with egg timers going off (yes, I'm a big meanie for setting one off during lunch) and he came to me for advice.

The only honest answer I could give him was to help 2 out of 3 customers and that should bring his handling time down. Just hang up on or transfer the third one. Although he baulked at this (nice guy), it did work, got his boss off his back and everyone was happier... well, except the customer obviously.

I suppose that's why I got promoted when I made the suggestion to management that they should make "Customer Satisfaction" a measure for team leaders as well?


I once, very briefly, worked as a telemarketer. I know, you hate me. I'm sorry.

We were collecting charitable donations for "The Police Benevolence Foundation," which had absolutely nothing to do with the police per se. I still to this day don't know what the money we were collecting for actually went to. They wouldn't outright tell us. They would only respond to the question by answering 'we might use the money to help officers who are wounded in the line of duty.' Then again, they might not.

We were told to never accept no for an answer. In fact, we couldn't accept two no's for an answer. We had to be rejected three times before we could give up. And they actually had to say "No," or "I'm not interested," or in some way offer a firm rejection. "I don't think I can afford it" did NOT count as a rejection.

So one day, I was listening to an old lady tell her tale of woe: her husband had died, her daughter never visited, she didn't know where her cat wandered off to, she couldn't afford her medication, she was laid up in bed for two months and her home care nurse was stealing her valuables... I really didn't want to keep pressing this poor old lady for money. But she had never said "no."

I should say there was also a strict guideline on how long these calls should LAST. The sooner you get one out of the way, the sooner you could start ripping off someone else.

Instead, I listened to her and tried to console her as best I could. After about the first three minutes I never brought up the subject of the Police Benevolence Foundation again. We said goodbye after about 20 minutes and she thanked me for calling.

As I left for the day, the boss calls me over to berate me for the length of the conversation, and--since it was screened--hassle me about letting her go without ever getting one firm, "No."

As I walked out the door, I waved and said, "Bye! Bye! Bye!" I never went back.


I am a woman. I worked on Wall Street where the C.E.O. (a man) convened a meeting to explore "Women's Issues on Wall Street." Successful women from the firm were invited along to share their opinions.

One woman, "Diane," said she thought mothers shouldn't take maternity leave, and that women just had to work harder and longer than men to get ahead.

The C.E.O. appointed Diane as "Head of Women's Issues." Diane's boss was forced out and she became co-Head of our department, meaning that I reported to her. At 35, I had been trying to get pregnant for years, and, as everyone in the group knew, was using fertility drugs. Happily, I became pregnant with triplets.

I was a very good producer for the department, but Diane was not happy about my news. She suggested, "as a friend," that I abort one or two of my children so I could "better manage my career."

After giving birth to three beautiful children, and taking my full maternity leave; I found a new job on Wall Street. With three babies, I did not want to fight that fight. Diane continues to move ever-higher on Wall Street.


I worked for a Not For Profit organisation where ineptitude is not only tolerated but expected. These are people who would be slaughtered in a private organisation quicker than you could say 'bleeding heart'.

So this isn't really a corporate tale, more of one about human shortcomings and passing the buck. Pretty much transferable over to the private industry world.

I worked in a small team, with two managers. Both managers were completely useless and under-performing for years. As is common for these types, they got away with this by passing the buck and lying to senior management. They blamed their staff for poor performance, we were lazy, lacking motivation, always late...yada yada. We weren't, in fact we were surviving and meeting targets in an sector where all our competitors were having their funding cut and being closed down.

Eventually, these managers had to up their lies - we were difficult (yeh, we were - we told them they were useless), hard to manage and had 'attitudinal problems' (is that even a word??) The General Manager believed them, HR stepped in, and we were all put on Performance Management. The shortsightedness of such an act escaped them, and we 'naughty' staff dutifully attended daily meetings to explain our every act to our hapless manager who didn't actually understand what it was that we were doing.

This went on for six months, the only thing we could do was laugh and wait to be fired. Eventually, the General Manager was fired and his replacement quickly cottoned on to what was happening and sacked our crapola managers. We were all taken off Performance Management, had our 'naughty files' destroyed, and given counselling for our ordeal.

If this isn't incredible enough, it turned out that the old management had been messing up reporting to our government funding body and we had actually performed 15% above what was originally thought.


At a medium-sized private textile company, the CEO prided himself on his benevolence to his employees. He even created a non-profit Foundation which provided college scholarships for the children of plant workers. Though each scholarship was only $1000, for the very poor it did provide assistance in helping them achieve their dreams. Each year, the winners were proudly announced in the company newsletter.

After several years, my old computer died and I needed a new one. The IT guy brought in a used computer from Accounting for me to use. I soon found that this computer had been used for running the Foundation. The IT guy hadn't wiped the hard drive and so I was left with lots of information.

As I reviewed the documents (of course I looked), I noticed the CEO's children's names popping up quite frequently--like once a month. They weren't even in college, so it didn't make sense. And the numbers were much larger, too.

A little digging revealed he was paying his kids' private school tuition out of the Foundation, to the tune of $25,000 per year for three kids!

Strangely, this one didn't make the company newsletter.


I have many stories about this particular Chairman of a company I used to work for, but this is my favorite.

The Chairman hired two assistants to run his office. The woman was "Kate" and the young man was "Alan," but the Chairman called him "Seven". For days Alan endured the Chairman calling them into the office by yelling down the hall, "Sue! Seven!"

Finally, Alan asked, "Why do you call me Seven?" The Chairman replied that he was the seventh assistant hired that month.

Aha. Alan got it, but kindly asked, "Why don't you just call me by my name?"

The Chairman said, "Because you're not going to be f*!%ing around long enough for me to learn your f*!%ing name!" He then pushed passed Alan, shouting, "Kate! Get rid of Seven and get me Eight!"


I was working for a small family-owned company (the kind that are supposed to care about employees, right?) when my father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He did chemo and radiation in another state and I cheered him on from a distance.

Some months later the doctors decided the treatments were not working and there was nothing more to be done.

When i heard this sad news, I worked like a dog for a week to get ahead of my deadlines and explained the situation to my boss.

ME: So, can I take a week off to go see him?
BOSS: Well, is he dying right now?
ME: No, not yet, but he's terminal.
BOSS: But he's not dying now.
ME: No, but I'd like to see him while he's still lucid.
BOSS: If he's not dying right now, you can't take time off.

I thought I was misunderstanding something, so I explained again and told the boss that I had worked ahead of my deadlines, etc. He still refused.

I quit and did go see my father. He died two months later.


I was once manager of production, responsible for about 45 people. One day, early in the morning, the owner stopped by my office and informed me that we had just lost our major contract. As a result, we soon wouldn't have enough work to keep people employed.

When I enquired which one of us should tell the staff this, he instructed me not to inform anyone. Instead, I was to "find any reason to terminate employees.” For example, if someone was a few minutes late to work, I should immediately terminate them. He said, "If that doesn't work... give them tasks that will make them want to quit."

I argued against this but the owner threatened to fire me. It was tough times in manufacturing and I needed the job.

Over the next four months I had to personally lay off 85% of our employees. Then they fired me.


I used to work a grocery store which was governed by a woman I would be accurate in describing as a "bean counter".

One day I called in sick, which I was, and this very lovely woman called me a liar and hung up on me. This infuriated me to the point that I called right back with every intention to resign my post but to frustrate me even more she put me on hold for ten minutes. Now, this may have been a good thing since I realized while I waited that quitting my job would hurt me a lot more than it would her. So I decided to resort to using some civilized verbal abuse (and it was indeed civilized, some words that were in my head did not escape through my mouth) and expressed my discontent with her attitude towards me as an employee. The conversation ended amicably with us coming to a common understanding. Or so I thought.

The next time I came into work I was summoned to her office. Once I got there I received no eye contact from her (her attempt to dominate the situation) and in front of her was my punch clock printout, with every day where I was even just one minute late highlighted. In this group of days being late my average was about three minutes past the hour - and this is in Iceland, where if you're ten minutes late, you're on time (in Mexico I'd have been there before she was). Still she gave me a long lecture on what a bad employee I was - this coming from the only boss I've had who hasn't given me outstanding recommendations - while my department head stood by almost burying his face in his hands. I countered with the argument that I made up for it by never taking a cigarette break, since I don't smoke, and her reply was... that nobody in the company smoked. Which was an insane lie (or delusions of some kind) since more than half of the staff were smokers at that time.

It's safe to say that I lost that battle unfairly but was redeemed when this very lovely woman got fired for being an uptight *enter civilized verbal abuse*.


I was part of a large team (100+ people) working on a worldwide rollout of a software product. It was quite a complicated business - the project was scheduled to roll out over a seven year period and we were about halfway through.

Early in the project one of the guys joked that we should have team T-shirts to build morale. Our manager said he didn't like T-shirts as they were too casual for the office. Our guy suggested golf shirts instead.

But no-one could agree and the "team shirt" debate continued, steadily becoming more serious, over the next few years.

One day, out of the blue, the manager arrives with boxes and starts handing out team golf shirts. I was impressed. Not only were they nice-looking, but they were decent quality.

He says everyone should wear their shirts the next day at our monthly all-hands meeting, to show team unity.

At the meeting we're all kidding each other about how cool we look in our team shirts. Then the VP stands up and tells us the project has been cancelled. Effective immediately.

Some of the people there had been hired two (I kid you not - TWO) days before. They looked like they had been sucker punched right there...

It's now three years since I left and the problem the project was meant to resolve has still not been fixed. Business is steadily declining as a result.

My shirt still looks sharp though.


During college I worked in a call center providing customer service for satellite TV customers that had purchased an extended warranty.

At first I worked in customer service, and had to explain to customers things like, "No, of course the Protection Plan doesn't cover that. If high winds blow your dish out of alignment, that's covered, but if high winds blow a tree into your dish, which knocks it out of alignment, then that's an act of God, and is not covered." Many customers didn't seem to understand the concept of a "limited warranty" and complained, "But they told me it would be covered... blah blah blah." The fact was we charged $75 for service calls unless the fault was expressly covered by the warranty.

Later, due to a staff shortage, I ended up being cross-trained, and was shown the actual sales script we read to the customers: "From electrical to mechanical failure, you can rest safely knowing that you're covered by the Protection Plan. You will never pay for a service call or replacement part again, because you're already covered!"

I then understood why they separated the two jobs.


I was a golden-girl director of a department in a southern conservative corporation until, much to my surprise, a man with no qualifications even near mine was promoted over me to run my department. This was a man I had just a year ago helped "get ahead" and even coached on his salary negotiations. When I asked my boss why he was promoted over me I was told because I had "a bad attitude." When I calmly asked for specific examples none could be provided. One was lamely offered up as a reason but was quickly proved to be incorrect.

Alas, the guy moved up over me and I quietly went about my job of being the one actually running the department when I found out that he had be secretly meeting with one of my employees about splitting the department and giving the younger guy half my employees. The younger guy came and told me about this because he was so upset about it going on behind my back. He and I decided to together to talk to our new boss about it. The new boss then wrote us a threatening and nasty email.

I then met with the HR Director after that to ask for his advice and he questioned my integrity and threatened my employment (mind you, I had a stellar record prior to this). I later found out my new boss and this HR Director were buddies and good friends and had also been talking about this behind my back and my fate was pretty much sealed regardless of what I did. They were both soon promoted to VPs. I soon resigned my position and now I make more money working for myself.


A friend of mine who I'll call "David" was bullied by another teacher in his department for many years. Although David was highly qualified and had a great rapport with his students, this other staff member continually made negative comments about him behind his back and ridiculed anything he did.

At first David tried to shrug this off, even when students began telling him that she was calling him an idiot in her class. She also began using David's title ("Head Teacher") at open days and when introducing herself.

After some years, David finally complained to the head of the department, but he was completely dismissive. So David began to keep a diary to show that he was the target of this teacher's negative campaign.

He saw a counsellor, who was shocked at what the diary revealed and encouraged David to take the issue to the school CEO. The CEO listened carefully and began an investigation (things were looking up at last!), but as the issue grew larger than he could reasonably handle, he ended up telling David to simply "take it like a man."

David had a type of mini breakdown, to the point where he says he can not recall a five hour period from that day, although he can remember the uncontrollable sobbing with the counsellor for an hour and a half.

He still works there, as does his tormentor.

[Jun 20, 2010] Ayn Rand- The Boring Bitch is Back | The Big Picture

danm :

1. An individual’s life belongs to himself. 2. Physical force is not a proper way to deal with others. 3. The proper purpose of government is to protect individuals from force or fraud. Are these the principles of “assholes” or immature undergraduates? I think not.
Sociopath could not care less about those assumed “rights” and research has shown that both the political and business worlds are run by a slew of them.

Fog of war


The fog of war is a term used to describe the level of ambiguity in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.[1] The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign. The term is ascribed to the Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote:

"The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently—like the effect of a fog or moonshine—gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance."[2]

The term may also be a reference to the use of black powder in warfare, which often produced clouds of thick "fog", obscuring the battlefield from observers.

[Apr 24, 2010] Jamie Dimon Should Debate Us

April 20, 2010 | The Baseline Scenario


I would have argued that a bank or any corporation cannot be good or evil since thay are not people. The SCOTUS says differently.

I recently found this regarding Evil. I think It describe these people perfectly.

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.” Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist , Nuremberg trails Submitted by questministries… on February 5, 2009 – 2:26am.

“In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trails 1945-1949) I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men.

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.”

Quotation: Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist assigned to watching the defendants at the Nuremberg trails

On the other hand is a bank or corporation capable of an emotion? Such as Empathy.


Ordinarily in a skilled occupation (medicine, banking?), the community polices itself to avoid runaways from tainting the entire profession.

I don’t think the oligarchs for the most part are lacking in empathy; I think it takes considerable ability to “read” other people and gauge your actions accordingly in order to succeed in business. Even members of urban gangs succeed according to their ability to empathize. Then, however, there is the ability to “compartmentalize,” a word I learned in regard to Bill Clinton, the great compartmentalizer. You empathize in private, and wield your sword, figuratively, when fighting.

The oligarchs, I suspect, do not believe that there is really room in the world for all to flourish (someone posted something along those lines here; is there limitation worked into equations that squeeze profits out of plain paper?), and therefore oligarchical sanity depends on limiting the circle among whom they extend their empathy.

In the Jim Crow South, plenty of Ku Klux Klan types were upstanding, ethical, empathic sorts, but they excluded people of color from the circle of their empathy. Soldiers at war also compartmentalize.

It’s interesting how our elected politicians maneuver, however, deriving campaign funds from the oligarchs, but deriving votes from the non-oligarchs. Each side would be the skunk at the party of the other these days, unless careful etiquette were understood, that etiquette being (in my corner of this country) chiefly to keep out of each other’s space.

A debate would be a carefully controlled encounter, and one would retire to a sort of contrived anonymity once concluded.

Basically, I don’t think the banker echelon believes a broadly-based inclusive community (including them) would really work (not enough basic necessities to go around? no cooperative spirit of sacrifice to get where needed?) (Say what?). Hence the pope-mobile idea.

James Gornick:

Far-fetched Jack54 but, I appreciate your wit and comments, thank you : – )

In keeping on the Scotus theme…

“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do” (Aristotle). Seems to be the mystery the invites the very nature of Evil’s empty compassion and absence of empathy to find a hollowed and empty erect body of common purpose as;

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” (Aristotle). For we can not achieve Good or Excellence as an erect body and soul without passion for the human condition that breeds life, hence the point of evil and eventual death; this is why,

“It is possible then to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way” (Aristotle). As this is the call made to all that hold the position to be able to make change to the human condition.

I think a good way to end this deep thinking session comes with…

“All men are by nature equal, made all the same earth by one Workman; and however we deceive ourselves, as dear unto God is poor peasant as the mighty prince” (Plato).

Simply stated, Goldman Sachs, and all the rest are and never will be GODS Bank nor is the Catholic Church for those wanting to rush in to toss in their two cents.

The Creator defined for all is “I am” or also known as GOD. When man places himself before all the rest, as we discussed the love, compassion, and empathy part, for your fellow neighbor (man / women “human”) you have the full definition of evil exposed.

If you are Christian or even if you are not, these are two good theories to live by. The first, greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart and soul and the second, to do the same with your neighbor.

From the sounds of the media today, and the continued layers of more covering up. Further folks are going to be losing their homes and jobs. Looks like the neighbor thing is having a little difficulty these days with the banking and financial folks; and for that matter, a lot of other industries just not putting people back to work. To many erect bodies putting profits first and not second, though some real great earnings are coming so far as reported these fist couple of weeks. Look at what came across the wires from Apple and others tonight reinforces even more the reason for this post tonight.

God bless…

Far-fetched, Not anymore…

James Gornick


James: A very good post! I think your post is getting at the root of how and why individuals, human beings functioning as bankers who are God’s creations, have been able to do what they have done for a very long time. Especially being the epicenter of the housing bubble and collapse. The bankers have certainly not had empathy for all those affected by their actions. Your quote from Plato bears repeating:

“All men are by nature equal, made all the same earth by one Workman; and however we deceive ourselves, as dear unto God is poor peasant as the mighty prince” (Plato).

Those entrusted with such an important function, such as investment banking, would better serve us and themselves if their actions where God-centered.

[Mar 15, 2010] Links Ides of March 2010

March 15, 2010 | naked capitalism


There was a study a while back. The gist of it was that the unsuccessful psychopaths were in prison. The successful psychopaths were highly successful businessmen. This was before the GFC. It’s possible that many of the corporate looters are psychopaths who haven’t gotten caught or punished.

[Mar 14, 2010] Indefensible Men

March 13, 2010 | naked capitalism

Alexandra Hamilton:

“The finance community has other elements in common with cults. One is the implicit and explicit reinforcement of bankers’ “specialness,” their elite status.”
That is not unique to finance. You’ll find that in almost any large business, especiallly top management.

The problem may have started in finance, but it is now everywhere.

Alexandra Hamiltons:

“But the firms are white-collar sweatshops with glamorous trappings. You do not know how hard you can work, short of slavery, unless you have been an investment banking analyst or associate. It is not merely the hours, but the extreme and unrelenting time pressure. Priorities are revised every day, numerous times during the day, as markets move.”
Sounds like permanent ‘hell week’ to me.
However, Navy Seals only do this 5.5 days in their training, while employees nowadays have to put up with this constantly over several years.
Bringing you to your breaking point is intentional.
Everyone will crack sooner or later and either leave and possible carry away psychological scars from this, like PTSD or such, or (s)he might become brainwashed and accept the value system and start acting like them, namely like a psychopath. Like it or not the business environment is psychopatic in nature.


See definition below. Fits to a T the mold of many (not all) I met and knew in the Wall Street world, especially the “intraspecies predator” part.

Not trying to demonize these people – but this was the role, the character mold, that many of the best and the brightest in this country and elsewhere were drawn to (given the monetary reward, which is what we’re all here for, right?)and groomed for (in elite MBA schools, etc.)

It is truly sick and twisted, and history is unlikely to be kind to this last 30-40 year rule of finanzkapital uber alles and its wrecking ball form of global capitalism.

And Jones, I think you are dead right and have hit on a crucial insight which we best hammer home soon. As the LibertAustrians start waving their snake flags high on the way to victory in the midterm elections, demand that they defend all their John Galt’s on Wall Street.

The predator state, as Jamie Galbraith put it in a recent book, is not the only predatory institution out there. There clearly were other predators working close to the heart of their beloved free market, who for all intents and purposes corrupting and eroding all the rules of the game and social practices that would keep anything resembling a free market intact.

Hy Minsky used to say, it’s like the label on Heinz ketchup says: there are 57 flavors of capitalism. This one leaves a decidedly foul, rancid taste in the mouth…while it rots you from the inside out. Time to head back to the kitchen and try a different recipe altogether.

Psychopathy ( ) is a personality disorder whose hallmark is a lack of empathy. Robert Hare, a researcher in the field describes psychopaths as “intraspecies predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, sex and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs. …


Calling this mindset sociopathology is spot on. It’s a common disease in this country, mostly infecting the jobs involving expensive wardrobes and obscure vocabulary. One of the ways you can see this is a current example and how it relates to law.

The Lehman report reveals an act with Repos that was certainly an attempt to defraud. Yet, the report calls the deception “colorable” rather than unlawful, a fraud that’s only a fraud against, oh, someone somewhere. Not something that would send people to jail, rather something that should be settled by civil lawsuits. Lots of civil lawsuits, requiring lots of hours of legal work by lots of highly-paid lawyers. One notes in passing this was a report by lawyers, but that may not have relevance.

The relevance is that instead of public officials defending the public, we have private individuals settling things among themselves. From honest finance being a public good, it’s now just a civil arrangement. You can’t expect anything, since it’s all negotiable before and after you say yes. Hand over your money and take what they give you. Both as an individual and as the state.

The danger is that the descent from public law to civil law will keep going. Getting to private law, like the Open Carry wackos, is no longer so wacky.

blunt :

Neibuhr, no doubt, is helpful in understanding the mindset behind the crisis and its aftermath.

But perhaps more in tune with the overall conduct before, during and now would be a stroll through Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann In Jerusalem.”

I was forcefully struck by the ways in which the various unnamed characters in this piece were reminiscent of Arendt’s views of Eichmann and of the culpability of the victims, in some respects, to enabling the horrors.

Surely, nothing could argue more forcefully for “the banality of evil” or the discovery that these people are not any different than the mass of us when we are, like Eichmann, eternal joiners of average intelligence who when we join the “right” group manage to believe we lose all volitional response to any situation.

Arendt was spot on. Such behaviors were not simply confined to Nazi Germany, but are a part of the human repertoire, available to any of us given the opportunity.

I find myself feeling a copmpassion for the fools, knowing that given a certain mindset, I could as well be one of them.

Still, to follow Arendt’s justification for Eichmann’s, that more normal than normal man, execution: since they, the traders and brokers, see no reason that they should share the world with us, then we should see no reason to share the world with them.

Justice and a reminder to us all that we could be them and to reinforce the lesson maybe a few public executions would not come amiss. Certainly there’s need for seizures of whatever gains they’ve acquired through the banality of their regimentation.

Tom Crowl:

Fantastic article and overview of the culture of Wall Street and it’s unfortunate evolution.

Paradoxically, much of this arises as a consequence of biological altruism’s dysfunction in scaled societies… Which is why we need regulations and oversight…

A couple of brief posts on these issues if interested:

The Foundations of Authoritarianism

Compensation and the Social Network

Ayn Rand & Alan Greenspan: The Altruism Fly in the Objectivist Ointment

Alexandra Hamilton :

One of the core tenets of modernism is that social intelligence can be imparted to the masses and that this enhanced social intelligence will result in greater social justice.

This concept is totally modern. Before the advent of modernism such thoughts were unheard of.


Thanks for your great post. This concept is not modern, however. It is thousands of years old. Just to name a few: the New Testament and the Qu’ran, among others. The struggle is still the same, but has different names.

About the Greeks: Some time ago, I think I noticed something. Have you ever tried to analyse the personality types of the greek gods? The are amazingly pathological.

I think, the Greeks were aware of what those rather human “gods” actually described and thus were rather reserved about worshipping them. However, the Romans – which had the same gods under different names – acutally believed in this.They semm to have gone full tilt basing their society and ideals on those personality types.

Why Powerful People -- Many of Whom Take a Moral High Ground -- Don't Practice What They Preach

Dec 30, 2009 | ScienceDaily

2009 may well be remembered for its scandal-ridden headlines, from admissions of extramarital affairs by governors and senators, to corporate executives flying private jets while cutting employee benefits, and most recently, to a mysterious early morning car crash in Florida. The past year has been marked by a series of moral transgressions by powerful figures in political, business and celebrity circles. New research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University explores why powerful people - many of whom take a moral high ground - don't practice what they preach.

Researchers sought to determine whether power inspires hypocrisy, the tendency to hold high standards for others while performing morally suspect behaviors oneself. The research finds that power makes people stricter in moral judgment of others - while being less strict of their own behavior.

The research was conducted by Joris Lammers and Diederik A. Stapel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and by Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. The article will appear in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science.

"This research is especially relevant to the biggest scandals of 2009, as we look back on how private behavior often contradicted the public stance of particular individuals in power," said Galinsky, the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management at the Kellogg School. "For instance, we saw some politicians use public funds for private benefits while calling for smaller government, or have extramarital affairs while advocating family values. Similarly, we witnessed CEOs of major financial institutions accepting executive bonuses while simultaneously asking for government bailout money on behalf of their companies."

"According to our research, power and influence can cause a severe disconnect between public judgment and private behavior, and as a result, the powerful are stricter in their judgment of others while being more lenient toward their own actions," he continued.

To simulate an experience of power, the researchers assigned roles of high-power and low-power positions to a group of study participants. Some were assigned the role of prime minister and others civil servant. The participants were then presented with moral dilemmas related to breaking traffic rules, declaring taxes, and returning a stolen bike.

Through a series of five experiments, the researchers examined the impact of power on moral hypocrisy. For example, in one experiment the "powerful" participants condemned the cheating of others while cheating more themselves. High-power participants also tended to condemn over-reporting of travel expenses. But, when given a chance to cheat on a dice game to win lottery tickets (played alone in the privacy of a cubicle), the powerful people reported winning a higher amount of lottery tickets than did low-power participants.

Three additional experiments further examined the degree to which powerful people accept their own moral transgressions versus those committed by others. In all cases, those assigned to high-power roles showed significant moral hypocrisy by more strictly judging others for speeding, dodging taxes and keeping a stolen bike, while finding it more acceptable to engage in these behaviors themselves.

Galinsky noted that moral hypocrisy has its greatest impact among people who are legitimately powerful. In contrast, a fifth experiment demonstrated that people who don't feel personally entitled to their power are actually harder on themselves than they are on others, which is a phenomenon the researchers dubbed "hypercrisy." The tendency to be harder on the self than on others also characterized the powerless in multiple studies.

"Ultimately, patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy perpetuate social inequality. The powerful impose rules and restraints on others while disregarding these restraints for themselves, whereas the powerless collaborate in reproducing social inequality because they don't feel the same entitlement," Galinsky concluded.

[Dec 19, 2009] Are Americans a Broken People Why We've Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression by Bruce E. Levine

December 11, 2009 | AlterNet

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them? Has such a demoralization happened in the United States?

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, dis-couraged U.S. population?

Can anything be done to turn this around?

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them?

Yes. It is called the "abuse syndrome." How do abusive pimps, spouses, bosses, corporations, and governments stay in control? They shove lies, emotional and physical abuses, and injustices in their victims' faces, and when victims are afraid to exit from these relationships, they get weaker. So the abuser then makes their victims eat even more lies, abuses, and injustices, resulting in victims even weaker as they remain in these relationships.

Does knowing the truth of their abuse set people free when they are deep in these abuse syndromes?

No. For victims of the abuse syndrome, the truth of their passive submission to humiliating oppression is more than embarrassing; it can feel shameful -- and there is nothing more painful than shame. When one already feels beaten down and demoralized, the likely response to the pain of shame is not constructive action, but more attempts to shut down or divert oneself from this pain. It is not likely that the truth of one's humiliating oppression is going to energize one to constructive actions.

Has such a demoralization happened in the U.S.?

In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance, and many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing their coverage. But despite the current sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens on the streets of Washington, D.C., protesting this betrayal.

Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry, yet only a handful of U.S. citizens have protested these circumstances.

Remember the 2000 U.S. presidential election? That's the one in which Al Gore received 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush. That's also the one that the Florida Supreme Court's order for a recount of the disputed Florida vote was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a politicized 5-4 decision, of which dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens remarked: "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." Yet, even this provoked few demonstrators.

When people become broken, they cannot act on truths of injustice. Furthermore, when people have become broken, more truths about how they have been victimized can lead to shame about how they have allowed it. And shame, like fear, is one more way we become even more psychologically broken.

U.S. citizens do not actively protest obvious injustices for the same reasons that people cannot leave their abusive spouses: They feel helpless to effect change. The more we don't act, the weaker we get. And ultimately to deal with the painful humiliation over inaction in the face of an oppressor, we move to shut-down mode and use escape strategies such as depression, substance abuse, and other diversions, which further keep us from acting. This is the vicious cycle of all abuse syndromes.

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?


Shortly before the 2000 U.S. presidential election, millions of Americans saw a clip of George W. Bush joking to a wealthy group of people, "What a crowd tonight: the haves and the haves-more. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base." Yet, even with these kind of inflammatory remarks, the tens of millions of U.S. citizens who had come to despise Bush and his arrogance remained passive in the face of the 2000 non-democratic presidential elections.

Perhaps the "political genius" of the Bush-Cheney regime was in their full realization that Americans were so broken that the regime could get away with damn near anything. And the more people did nothing about the boot slamming on their faces, the weaker people became.

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, dis-couraged U.S. population?

The U.S. government-corporate partnership has used its share of guns and terror to break Native Americans, labor union organizers, and other dissidents and activists. But today, most U.S. citizens are broken by financial fears. There is potential legal debt if we speak out against a powerful authority, and all kinds of other debt if we do not comply on the job. Young people are broken by college-loan debts and fear of having no health insurance.

The U.S. population is increasingly broken by the social isolation created by corporate-governmental policies. A 2006 American Sociological Review study ("Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades") reported that, in 2004, 25 percent of Americans did not have a single confidant. (In 1985, 10 percent of Americans reported not having a single confidant.) Sociologist Robert Putnam, in his 2000 book, Bowling Alone, describes how social connectedness is disappearing in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. For example, there has been a significant decrease in face-to-face contact with neighbors and friends due to suburbanization, commuting, electronic entertainment, time and money pressures and other variables created by governmental-corporate policies. And union activities and other formal or informal ways that people give each other the support necessary to resist oppression have also decreased.

We are also broken by a corporate-government partnership that has rendered most of us out of control when it comes to the basic necessities of life, including our food supply. And we, like many other people in the world, are broken by socializing institutions that alienate us from our basic humanity. A few examples:

Can anything be done to turn this around?

When people get caught up in humiliating abuse syndromes, more truths about their oppressive humiliations don't set them free. What sets them free is morale.

What gives people morale? Encouragement. Small victories. Models of courageous behaviors. And anything that helps them break out of the vicious cycle of pain, shut down, immobilization, shame over immobilization, more pain, and more shut down.

The last people I would turn to for help in remobilizing a demoralized population are mental health professionals -- at least those who have not rebelled against their professional socialization. Much of the craft of relighting the pilot light requires talents that mental health professionals simply are not selected for nor are they trained in. Specifically, the talents required are a fearlessness around image, spontaneity, and definitely anti-authoritarianism. But these are not the traits that medical schools or graduate schools select for or encourage.

Mental health professionals' focus on symptoms and feelings often create patients who take themselves and their moods far too seriously. In contrast, people talented in the craft of maintaining morale resist this kind of self-absorption. For example, in the question-and-answer session that followed a Noam Chomsky talk (reported in Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, 2002), a somewhat demoralized man in the audience asked Chomsky if he too ever went through a phase of hopelessness. Chomsky responded, "Yeah, every evening . . ."

If you want to feel hopeless, there are a lot of things you could feel hopeless about. If you want to sort of work out objectively what's the chance that the human species will survive for another century, probably not very high. But I mean, what's the point? . . . First of all, those predictions don't mean anything -- they're more just a reflection of your mood or your personality than anything else. And if you act on that assumption, then you're guaranteeing that'll happen. If you act on the assumption that things can change, well, maybe they will. Okay, the only rational choice, given those alternatives, is to forget pessimism."

A major component of the craft of maintaining morale is not taking the advertised reality too seriously. In the early 1960s, when the overwhelming majority in the U.S. supported military intervention in Vietnam, Chomsky was one of a minority of U.S. citizens actively opposing it. Looking back at this era, Chomsky reflected, "When I got involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, it seemed to me impossible that we would ever have any effect. . . So looking back, I think my evaluation of the 'hope' was much too pessimistic: it was based on a complete misunderstanding. I was sort of believing what I read."

An elitist assumption is that people don't change because they are either ignorant of their problems or ignorant of solutions. Elitist "helpers" think they have done something useful by informing overweight people that they are obese and that they must reduce their caloric intake and increase exercise. An elitist who has never been broken by his or her circumstances does not know that people who have become demoralized do not need analyses and pontifications. Rather the immobilized need a shot of morale.

See more stories tagged with: consumerism, television, depression, mental illness, american culture

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and his latest book is Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007). His Web site is

Comment from bernanke-confirmation-headwinds-increasing


December 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm

In regards to the Alternet article, isn’t that the very reason why conservatives hate people like Martin Luther King and Marx so much? Are not their philosophies, after all, what gave oppressed peoples not only the intellectual framework to question their oppressors’ rationales, but also the hope necessary to rise up against those oppressors.

Conservatives embrace an assumedly “natural” distinction of rich and poor. The revolutionaries, on the other hand, embrace a notion that men are born or created equal and become unequal by virtue of social and political, that is man-made, institutions.

As Hannah Arendt observed in On Revolution:

Marx’s transformation of the social question into a political force is contained in the term ‘exploitation’, that is, in the notion that poverty is the result of exploitation through a ‘ruling class’ which is in the possession of the means of violence… If Marx helped in liberating the poor, then it was not by telling them that they were the living embodiments of some historical or other necessity, but by persuading them that poverty itself is a political, not a natural phenomenon, the result of violence and violation rather than of scarcity.

Likewise, MLK didn’t buy into the conservative conviction that blacks are created inferior by virtue of the color of their skin, making their inferior status “natural.”

As to engendering hope, MLK led people to believe that God is on the side of justice. The secular Marx, on the other hand, espoused an inexorable historical dialectic process that was equally as unstoppable as MLK’s divinity.

And both MLK as well as the followers of Marx argued that it was incumbent upon the oppressed, and not their oppressors, to bring about change.

For an excellent encapsulation of the socialist doctrine, there is probably no better place to look than chapters 28 and 29 of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle:

And so all over the world two classes were forming, with an unabridged chasm between them—the capitalist class, with its enormous fortunes, and the proletariat, bound into slavery by unseen chains. The latter were a thousand to one in numbers, but they were ignorant and helpless, and they would remain at the mercy of the exploiters until they organized…

Personally, I believe it is nonsensical to argue that today’s American middle class is more beaten down and demoralized than blacks or Hispanics were during Jim Crow, or workers were during the days of Upton Sinclair.

[Aug 26, 2009] How Banks (and Companies) Diversify Their Way Into Incompetence

naked capitalism

I read my first management book at the age of 11, not because it was a management book, but a best seller at the time, And it may have been imprinted by it more than I realized. The Peter Principle says that managers are promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. The classic example is promoting the best salesman to be a sales manager. The joke (all too true) is that you both lose your best salesman and gain a lousy supervisor.

That pattern says that organizations as a whole are not very capable (if they recognize this danger, they should try to manage against it, but the popularity of The Peter Principle did not change corporate practice one jot, at least as far as I can tell). And of course, it explains why there are so many crappy managers and executives.

John Kay of the Financial Times applies this idea to financial firms, arguing that they diversify their way into incompetence:

Financial institutions diversify into their level of incompetence. They extend their scope into activities they understand less...

The principle of diversification into incompetence applies from the largest financial institution to the smallest. AIG was America’s leading insurance company. The company did not just undertake credit insurance, but was the largest trader in the credit default swap market. That is how its financial products group, employing 120 people in London, brought about the collapse of a business that employed 120,000.

Yves here. Citigroup is another example. It isn't so much that Citi made a disastrous acquisition as it dedicated itself to massive reach as a corporate imperative: be as global and be in every conceivable product niche. That is a prescription for being unable to manage yourself, which is the essence of the big bank's problems. Back to Kay:
The boredom factor is important. Much of traditional banking is quite boring. The desire to find new challenges is an admirable human trait. It is, however, very expensive for shareholders to allow their chief executives to indulge it.

Public sector bodies are usually constrained in their activities, so deregulation is often a trigger for expensive experimentation. In Britain, many of the efficiency gains from privatisation were squandered in diversification: I watched senior managers spending 80 per cent of their time on activities that generated 1 per cent of turnover and minus 10 per cent of profit. But it is more fun to go on jollies to Buenos Aires than to fix leaking pipes.

To win an auction when you don’t know what you are bidding for is often to lose. This winner’s curse is often behind bad acquisitions because the successful purchaser is the bidder most willing to pay too much. Hence the contest between Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays as to which bank would court bankruptcy by buying ABN Amro. Ignorance of products may also be a problem. When you are the newcomer and know little, the business that gravitates to you will be the business no one else wants.

But the driving factor is hubris. Jim Collins’s well-timed study of How the Mighty Fall applies to every business I have mentioned. The financial services industry is particularly vulnerable to hubris because sections of it are not very competitive, and randomness plays a large role in the outcome of speculative transactions. It is therefore particularly easy for those who work in financial institutions to make the mistake of believing that their success is the result of exceptional skill rather than good fortune. What more natural to believe than that extraordinary talent will find pots of gold under other rainbows? Until vanity is vanquished, I anticipate that diversification to the level of incompetence will continue to be a powerful element in business behaviour.

With all due respect, I think Kay has the essence of this wrong. First, deals are engrossing and sexy. They are very intense, the top executives are the focus of Big Decisions, and they have a horde of high priced talent catering to them (well actually, leading them by the nose, but they are usually so adept at it that the client often does not realize he is no longer in control).

But the big driver is that bank CEO pay is correlated with the size of the institution. And it is much easier to get big fast by acquisition than organically. Big deals are a wallet-lining activity, and the advisors understand that very well.


attempter :
I don't doubt Yves is right about the top-down influence, but I think there's also something to the boredom argument.

It's long seemed to me that e.g where it comes to computers and gadgets in general that the engineers seem to want to tinker and gratuitously change things and add superfluous features all way beyond what customers want, and even where it doesn't add to revenue (rent-seeking).

The designers have a fundamentally different, non-market mindset. A customer probably just wants a basic product that functions well, but for the engineer this is his toy, his "creative outlet."

I long suspected this, and recently I've started seeing pieces which agree with me, like in some of the NYT tech columns.

So I don't doubt there may be something similar going on with financial "engineering", although there of course the rent-seeking is a far greater motive.

skippy :
Like in the Military Kill Ratios or Counts get you noticed, promoted because its a sexy statistic (see Vietnam). Not consolidation of ones position in order to blunt the oppositions maneuver (see victory with out death).

skippy..."A solider will fight long and hard for a bit of ribbon" Napoleon Bonaparte.

Ina Pickle :
The problem is not just the organization, but self-selection and the process involved in getting to the top. They choose for risk-taking personalities for whom boredom is a serious issue - and who have a serious bias towards action over inaction, risk-taking over safety, etc.

I once had the CFO of a very large corporation tell me that, if I could tell him that he had a 50/50 chance of keeping the assets he wanted to acquire -- a coin toss -- he would go ahead with the merger.

We have reached a point where our idea of who is executive material involves a macho type who conflates decisiveness with risk-taking, when really they are two different things. Just my opinion.

DownSouth :
This is evidence as to why classical economics and all its begats--Marxism, libertarianism, neo-liberalism, etc---are all failed ideologies. All are predicated on the assumption that man is motivated solely by materialistic objectives, or, as Reinhold Niebuhr put it, "all human desires are determinate and all human ambitions ordinate."

As Niebuhr goes on to explain in The Irony of American History:

The false abstraction of "economic man" remains a permanent defect in all bourgeois-liberal ideology. It seems to know nothing of what Thomas Hobbes termed "the continual competition for honor and dignity" in human affairs. It understands neither the traditional ethnic and cultural loyalties which qualify a consistent economic rationalism; nor the deep and complex motives in the human psyche which express themselves in the desire for "power and glory." All the conflicts in human society involving passions and ambitions, hatreds and loves, envies and ideals not recorded in the market place, are beyond the comprehension of the typical bourgeios ethos.

Or as George Orwell put it:

The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions--racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war--which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action.

Orwell uses H.G. Wells as the poster child of a failed bourgeois-liberal ideologue:

He was, and still is, quite incapable of understanding that nationalism, religious bigotry and feudal loyalty are far more powerful forces than what he himself would describe as sanity. Creatures out of the Dark Ages have come marching into the present, and if they are ghosts they are at any rate ghosts which need a strong magic to lay them. The people who have shown the best understanding of Fascism are either those who have suffered under it or those who have a Fascist streak in themselves. A crude book like "The Iron Heel,' written nearly thirty years ago, is a truer prophecy of the future than either "Brave New World" or "The Shape of Things to Come." If one had to choose among Well's own contemporaries a writer who could stand towards him as a corrective, one might choose Kipling, who was not deaf to the evil voices of power and military "glory."

--George Orwell, "Wells, Hitler and the World State"

Anonymous Jones :
To synthesize the comments of both DownSouth and Siggy, non-financial incentives are crucial to much of the world, just not to those who run it.

Another problem with management beyond the Peter Principle is the self-selection bias. It is exactly those who seek the levels of upper management of the large companies, especially the position of CEO, who are the most likely to exhibit antisocial personality disorder. It is rare that a non-sociopath will have a competitive advantage over a sociopath in rising up the corporate ranks to the top. To wit...

"Profile of the Sociopath

* Grandiose Sense of Self. Feels entitled to certain things as "their right." Extreme narcissism. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Believe they are all-knowing, entitled to every wish. May state readily that their goal is to be a mogul, rule the world.

* Need for Stimulation Living on the edge. Promiscuity and gambling are common.

* Incapacity for Love Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim; incapable of real human attachment to another

* Superficial Charm and conventional appearance Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them; only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired

* Manipulative and Conning They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

* Seeks Affirmation to Create Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love); Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims.

* Irresponsibility/Unreliability Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed."

DownSouth :
Anonymous Jones,

I had a psychologist friend who believed the same as you, that those with anti-social personality disorder are disproportionately drawn to and well-suited to positions of power. But he insisted upon one caveat, and that is that human behavioral types are distributed along continua and not in discrete categories. Probably nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the findings of Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin, who developed a seven-point scale (0-6) to indicate degrees of homosexuality-heterosexuality.

We could do the same with type of behavior you describe. A person with the characteristics you enumerate we could define as a 0, and a person, let's say, who is kind, generous, compassionate and caring we could call a 6. I think it goes without saying that a 4, 5 or 6 would be totally inappropriate as a modern corporate executive. But when we get 0's in positions of power, we have a problem.

As to your comment that "non-financial incentives are crucial to much of the world, just not to those who run it," I have to disagree. Being an engineer by training and a reformed "pragmatic jewell," as an art-dealer friend of mine used to call me, I once believed the same as you do.

However, if those who "run the world" do not respond to non-financial incentives, then how do you explain this?:

"Mexican splashes out record $140m for Jackson Pollock's drops of genius
1948 work by American master becomes world's most expensive painting"

As the article explains, that's the most expensive painting ever sold, $4 million per square foot for some paint dribbled (and litterally "dribbled" if you're familiar with the work of Jackson Pollock) on a canvas.

I could write quite a bit about this, as it's common knowledge amongst those who study ancient civilizations that powerful men have always coveted exclusive objects that convey a sense of prestige, status and rank upon their owners, and that much human behavior throughout history has been dedicated to acquiring these objects. This behavior can hardly be described as "rational," and has no place within the classical economic paradigm. And yet there it is.

Anonymous Jones :
DownSouth --

I agree with your instinct that most everything is a continuum. I actually believe what people perceive as "bright lines" are usually much more fuzzy upon closer inspection. You can play this game with anything, even acts as repugnant as murder and rape. Start pushing anyone with tough fact sets and their "bright lines" quickly blur.

The reason most humans accept a belief in any certain bright line is for economy of thought. It is just a natural heuristic technique. However, once one accepts that almost everything is a continuum, the world becomes much more interesting. What is the shape of the continuum? Is it a barbell with little in the middle? Or is it a ball with sticks on the sides? Or is it evenly distributed across? Or is it irregularly shaped?

But these questions are useless for most of humanity. People become attached to their heuristic methods and often react in anger when it is suggested that the lines they have drawn could possibly be masking a more complex and subtle world. So we should probably keep this to ourselves before everyone gets their knives out.

FWIW, I didn't actually promote the "synthesis" as my belief. I was just being "clever" (sarcasm intended). I think it would be very difficult for anyone to care about nothing but money. In fact, the "0" sociopath would usually see money as a means, not an end. The end is probably better defined as power, to which money is a very good means. As you note, lifetimes could be spent writing about this.

donna :
I don't believe in the Peter principle. I think companies just promote the managers who suck up best, and then find out they are only good at sucking up.
donna :
And I don't think the problem with Citi is diversification --they are simply evil and stupid.
gatopeich :
Well said, donna.

Trapped by the interesting post and superb comments, thinking about reading more of J. London, and at the same time realizing that we are talking the talk while they walk... Away with our money!

moslof :
Belonging to clubs like the Augusta National and landing the corporate jet there a couple hours after a break in the February weather doesn't require much money because the Master's tournament pays the bills tax free and you can meet with all your CEO buddies and strategize with no gossipy women around. These are the non$ perks that any and all bankers will bow down to their bosses for, just to keep the hope alive....
Francois :
"The boredom factor is important. Much of traditional banking is quite boring. The desire to find new challenges is an admirable human trait. It is, however, very expensive for shareholders to allow their chief executives to indulge it."

AMBAC comes to mind as a case example. Here was the corporation who had the most net profit per employee on the PLANET. But the business was a bore; mix that with the side effects of a testosterone-based culture and danger signals should've started to flash all over the place.

[Jul 15, 2009] The Economics of Narcissism By Marion Maneker

Jul 14, 2009 | The Big Money

How grandiosity and lack of empathy created our modern malaise

Narcissism is back in the news, thanks to Sarah Palin. Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair profile, which appeared just days before Palin announced her resignation, described the Alaskan governor this way:

More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin's extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of "narcissistic personality disorder" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—"a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy"—and thought it fit her perfectly.

The diagnosis clearly resonates, not because it is accurate (who knows?) but because narcissism is the psychological substrate of our troubled times. During the credit boom, an unquenchable need for short-term success, combined with a lack of empathy for those who didn't share in the economic windfalls, was a byproduct of a society trying desperately to survive beyond its means. We both empowered the most ruthlessly self-aggrandizing among us and succumbed to the erosion of any authority that might have contained the overweening. We lost any independent measure of the American dream.

Still, a question remains: Was the army of narcissists unleashed upon our society a product of the boom or the cause of it—or both? For John Gartner, grandiosity was a precondition for success. His 2005 book The Hypomanic Edge praised the reckless abandon of Americans who leapt before they looked. (Slate's Dan Gross made a great case for why those leaders ultimately threaten the institutions they lead.)

In the noughties—given our obsessing over celebrities, insatiable consumption of debt to keep up with others, and the loss of any meaningful values that might sustain us in adversity—the country seemed to be caught up in its own culture of narcissism. As exceptional as this new culture was, it was not new. The culture of narcissism first appeared as a popular concept 30 years ago. And this week marks the apogee of its influence with the anniversary of President Jimmy Carter's infamous "malaise" speech (delivered on July 15, 1979).

That much-reviled address is an unlikely subject for study. But historian Kevin Mattson has done his best to reclaim it in his new book What the Heck Are You Up to, Mr. President? To Mattson, a desperate nation, hobbled by a stagnating economy with chronic energy shortages, a crumbling manufacturing sector, and crippling inflation, was buoyed by Carter's willingness to level with them. Carter tried to snap the country out of its frenzy of selfishness and return it to a civic-minded purpose. The speech boosted the president's poll numbers by 11 points in one evening, and the event seemed to provide a catharsis of sorts, if a short-lived one.

The 1970s were a nadir of American self-confidence. Carter came to give the "malaise" speech at the prodding of Patrick Caddell, who was himself inspired by a reading of historian Christopher Lasch's surprise best-seller of 1979, The Culture of Narcissism. A quiet Midwesterner with a cranky pen, Lasch was the Paul Krugman of 1979 — an esoteric thinker whose political stance was informed by raw anger and disgust. Lasch may have used radical cultural concepts to inform his views, but he himself was deeply and personally conservative. He would later write a book dismissing the notion of progress and locating our best hope as a society in small-town acceptance of limitations.

The Culture of Narcissism was an attack not only on the excesses and disillusionment of the '70s but also on the growth of institutions—the liberal state, corporations, and the therapeutic culture—that broke down the individual's independence and authority. Those institutions may have grown out of a need to protect us from depredations. But the unintended consequence was to replace our freedom and individual authority with insecurity and anxiety.

Thus was born the narcissistic personality of the 1970s. The cultural narcissist—as opposed to the clinical one, like Palin—can overcome the anxiety created by his or her lost economic and social independence, according to Lasch, only "by seeing his ‘grandiose self' reflected in the attentions of others, or by attaching himself to those who radiate celebrity, power, and charisma. For the narcissist, the world is a mirror whereas the rugged individualist saw it as an empty wilderness to be shaped in his own design."

Narcissism thrives only where positive authority—a world of role models who establish genuine, trusted leadership and an economic system where rules are defined and enforced—no longer presides. Lasch's narcissism was a direct result of the hypocrisy of the liberal state and its collapse under the multiple assaults of the Vietnam War, Watergate, the degraded environment, and the emasculating energy crisis.

In our own day, narcissism seems the direct result not of societal failure but of success run amok. (Though we've had our own fruitless, frustrating war with its concomitant betrayals of public trust and an awareness of impending environmental collapse, too.) Beginning in 1994—15 years after the "malaise" speech and 15 years before today—the United States turned itself inside out. The Republican congressional victory of 1994 brought about a libertarian detente between left and right centered around globalization, in the form of NAFTA, and cultural truce, where everyone agreed to disagree on hot-button issues like abortion.

The new order unleashed an explosion of wealth, new technology, and a reinvention of politics both domestically and internationally. The '90s ended up being the 1970s in reverse. Instead of the decline of industry, we had the upending explosion of the Internet. Where the 1970s had eroding pessimism, the 1990s had the optimism that "this time, it is different."

In both cases, the path from past to future was no longer clear, which created confusion and doubt about what rules to follow. Clinton's new liberalism sought deregulation and a return to personal responsibility, but only one side of the equation took hold. Throughout American society in the 1990s, authority was eclipsed by the unparalleled success of young people.

There were other similarities between then and now that contributed to the emergence of the cultural narcissist. Both eras had presidents who were threatened with impeachment. Both eras had a vertiginous rise in housing prices. In the 1970s, homes became a rare anchor for embattled Americans as their most important asset became a refuge from rampant inflation.

For us later, our houses were the devil's candy to satisfy our insatiable needs. Instead of the last and most vital of our assets—the one protected from bankruptcy by homestead laws in many states—we used property as a grub stake in a poker match, hoping to win shallow advantages like better-looking kitchens, elaborate home theaters, and more authentic personal experiences. Each one of these desires fits neatly into the Lasch-ian definition of narcissism: the frantic need to distinguish ourselves without ever mastering our anxieties.

Lacking her own goals, and an independent measure of success, the narcissistic personality keeps chasing a fleeting dream. Perhaps that is why the debt bubble churned endlessly without restraint. We had everything, but it was never enough. Insatiability, of course, is a hallmark symptom.

Another era of adversity might have restored the bulwarks of our society. The excesses of the Internet boom were burned off in the scandals of Enron, Tyco, and the like. The Sept. 11 attacks also seemed to presage a new era of rationality. The Bush administration's response, however, was narcissism through and through. A sober response would have been to track down the malefactors to ensure that justice prevailed. Instead, the neocons in the Bush Pentagon pursued an unlikely target—Iraq—with the misguided idea that they could transform the politics of the Middle East through shock and awe. (Grandiose?) They even imagined they would be greeted as liberators. (Admiration seeking?) And they failed to address the root causes of Sept. 11 attacks: the frustrations felt by the disenfranchised toward the United States. (Not much empathy there, eh?)

So the flood of credit from 2002 on only fueled the narcissism raging at the center of our society. To read the Culture of Narcissism today is to look at ourselves through a distant mirror. We have a better communicator as president, but many of the same maladies confront us—a crippled economy, a recently discredited president whose White House was filled with dirty-tricksters, and a sense that American power no longer has a place in the world. The only good thing is that the feeling of desperation so pervasive during Jimmy Carter's time has not taken hold; but that could be because we just haven't hit bottom yet.

Marion Maneker is the former publisher of HarperCollins's business imprint.

[Jul 15, 2009] Are Americans rich because they're crazy By Daniel Gross

Feb. 15, 2005 | Slate Magazine

That's the thesis of a new book, The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, by John D. Gartner, a psychotherapist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. America may be the dominant force in the global economy because we're a nation made of somewhat Crazy Eddies—gonzo businessmen and -women who may be genetically predisposed to take big-time risks.

Related in Slate

Hypomania may be related to another, less helpful, form of financial risktaking—stock speculation by novice dummies. "The Book Club" examined this particularly American delusion in its discussion of American Sucker. Tim Carvell pointed out that you don't necessarily need to be a success to succeed. Also, while geniuses may have made America great, they also need grant money; David Plotz examined the qualifications for a MacArthur genius grant.

It sounds right. Creativity and genius have often been linked to mental illness. Many virtuoso painters, composers, and architects are a little kooky. Why not entrepreneurs? Gartner identifies "hypomania" as a benign form of madness—manic without the depressive. Here's how they present: "Hypomanics are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence, and really big ideas. They think, talk, move, and make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions 'just doesn't get it.' " They find it hard to sit still, channel their energy "into the achievement of wildly grand ambitions," feel a sense of destiny, "can be euphoric," have a tendency to overspend, take risks, and act impulsively, and with poor judgment.

They are "witty and gregarious" and possess a confidence that makes them charismatic and persuasive. It sounds a lot like Jim Clark, the founder of Netscape and animating character of Michael Lewis' The New New Thing. Or like President Bush.

Gartner concludes that many of the components of the archetypal American character—optimism, entrepreneurial energy, religious zeal—fit the hypomanic profile. Perhaps, he posits, this nation of immigrants has a gene pool of hypomanics. Immigration may select for it. After all, who else would be eager to embark on a dangerous journey, convinced he could make it in the New World? As a result, Gartner writes, Americans may be "culturally and genetically predisposed to economic risk."

Gartner sets out to prove his case not through contemporary case studies or the aggregation of vast quantities of data, but through brief, lively studies of key hypomanics from five different centuries. Christopher Columbus, the "messianic entrepreneur," had divine ambitions. Some of the first settlers of the United States were "protestant prophets"—John Winthrop of Massachusetts and Roger Williams in Rhode Island. Alexander Hamilton fearlessly charged British positions at Yorktown and wrote The Federalist papers in a series of all-nighters. His hypomania "was an essential ingredient in his accomplishments. And his accomplishments were an essential ingredient in the creation of America." Andrew Carnegie, the hypomanic steel baron, feverishly built up an industrial empire and then spent the rest of his life trying to change the world. More recent hypomanics might include movie-studio moguls David Selznick and Louis B. Mayer, and geneticist Craig Venter, who founded Celera and set off a race to decode the human genome.

It's a fun read. But Gartner's diagnosis overlooks the more rational factors that were crucial to the settling of America and the construction of our unique economic and business culture. The British Protestants who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the 17th century came for God, but they also came for the cod. And the timber and the tobacco. By the time John Winthrop arrived in Massachusetts, non-dissenting settlers—economic opportunists, not prophets—had been farming and trading in Jamestown, Va., for more than 20 years.

Immigrants like Hamilton, Carnegie, and David Selznick's parents may have been hypomanic. But whether you were a landless peasant in Ireland in the 1840s, a Jewish cobbler in Russia in 1910, or an Indian computer programmer in the 1980s, the decision to move to America made profound economic sense. America had cheap land in abundance. The opportunities—if occasionally overblown—were real. So was the infrastructure that provided for the rule of law, capital markets, and the protections of minority rights.

In fact, practicality and realism have coexisted with messianism and utopianism in the American experiment from the very beginning. Benjamin Franklin was almost certainly hypomanic by Gartner's reckoning, but he was also one of the most relentlessly practical Americans of the 18th century. The U.S. economy has been distinguished by hypomanic booms and busts and by the creative destruction that lies at the heart of entrepreneurial capitalism. But it's also distinguished by durable systems and institutions that are emblematic of our distinct style of managerial capitalism—the Federal Reserve and the New York Stock Exchange, our telecommunications networks, and Procter & Gamble. Such institutions are not the work of flamboyant geniuses but of tons of thoughtful, far-sighted, and average Americans.

To put it another way, hypomanics instigate, but they rarely build institutions that outlive them. The necessary counterpart to the hypomanic Henry Ford was Alfred P. Sloan, who built General Motors. Andrew Carnegie could never have monetized his fortune were it not for the constantly rationalizing financier J.P. Morgan. In every generation, cooler-headed executives and entrepreneurs enter a field after a burst of creativity and build businesses and fortunes by imposing the discipline and order the creators may have lacked. Steve Jobs of Apple (who certainly has hypomanic tendencies) is an innovator who has become a billionaire, made long-term investors wealthy, and helped spread the personal computer revolution. But the same can also be said of the preternaturally well-adjusted Michael Dell.

Executives who chew the scenery may suck up attention, revolutionize industries, and symbolize American capitalism. But they're not particularly good for companies' long-term health, as Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Kurana's argues in his book Searching for a Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs. No country produces as many turnaround artists, bankruptcy specialists, and temporary CEOs as America does.

The late 1990s Internet boom was the golden age of hypomanic CEOs. But how many of their companies still survive? Perhaps the most prominent and successful Internet executive is eBay's distinctly unhypomanic Meg Whitman. So, yes, Gartner is right that hypomanic first movers matter a lot, and that we need a few more. But we shouldn't forget the huge contributions of the more sober-minded folks who follow behind and pick up the pieces.

[Jun 6, 2009] Dan Agin Political Corruption, Wall Street Frauds, and Sociopaths

" Labels are just linguistic conveniences that we use to organize reality. We need to keep in mind the continuities in the real world, the gradations, the way traits gradually differ along a spectrum from one person to another, from ordinary to extreme."
Dec 17, 2008 | The Huffington Post

The roots of all of this are deep and troubling. Aside from the general American ethic of "money talks"--net worth more important than personal worth--there's a real psychiatric problem.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have learned a few things about what they call "social cognition"--our awareness of our connections to the people around us. People with normally developed social cognition appear to have attributes that foster social understanding. For example, they have what psychologists call a "theory of mind"--the ability to recognize what some person may be thinking from that person's facial expression or from cues related to what that person is doing or saying. Those with normally developed social cognition also have an attribute called "empathy"--the ability to imagine or feel the emotions of another person.

Unfortunately, either as a consequence of variant genes or very early environment or an interaction of both genes and environment, not everyone is operating with a full deck in the social cognition domain.

For example, 30 to 50 percent of all incarcerated criminals in American prisons have measurable problems in social cognition.

Autistic children have problems in social cognition.

Many psychotics such as schizophrenics have problems in social cognition.

Serial killers have special problems with empathy, although they do have good theory of mind--they excel at reading people and manipulating them. But lacking empathy, they can kill without batting an eye.

Sociopaths in general usually have social cognition problems, especially with empathy. They are people who feel nothing when viewing or imagining the pain and suffering of other people.

Most clinical psychologists and psychiatrists use a rating scheme called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist to diagnose sociopathy (also called psychopathy).

Here are some items on the checklist to detect sociopaths:

Glibness and superficial charm. Grandiose sense of self-worth. Pathological lying. Conning and manipulative behavior. Lack of remorse or guilt. Lack of empathy. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions.

Yes, we could make a list of politicians and Wall Street scam artists described by the above cluster of traits.

Sociopaths? Labels are just linguistic conveniences that we use to organize reality. We need to keep in mind the continuities in the real world, the gradations, the way traits gradually differ along a spectrum from one person to another, from ordinary to extreme.

Not everyone with the traits of a sociopath is a serial killer. Not everyone with the traits of a sociopath is in prison. Not everyone with the traits of a sociopath is autistic or psychotic.

One can have enough empathy to refrain from homicide, but not enough empathy to refrain from fraud or political callousness that causes harm to many thousands of people.

So if you want to understand how someone can run the huge scam that was Enron, or how someone can rip $50 billion out of the pockets of charities and people, many of whom are "friends," or how some people can be callous about a torture called water-boarding (a "no-brainer," he said), or offer nothing but a shrug when reminded they have caused the death of thousands--if you want to understand the dynamics of these behaviors it might help to remember the continuum that runs from ordinary people with empathy to people with no empathy at all.

It seems that's the real America. Or is it? These days it seems we're living in a society that's a candy store for sociopaths and almost-sociopaths and wannabe-sociopaths.

I don't have a fix. Regulation will help on Wall Street, but it's only a band-aid. The general problem is apparently psychiatric.

With so many media people manifesting amazement at the revelations about political corruption and Wall Street scams, one wonders if the media are really amazed or is the surprise just one more example...

With so many media people manifesting amazement at the revelations about political corruption and Wall Street scams, one wonders if the media are really amazed or is the surprise just one more example...

MyTherapy Discussion Forums - Sociopath Comments.

Dear Readers,

I'm a sociopath, lets make that perfectly clear. I don't know if I'm an exception to any rule, but I have a morale guideline that substitutes for the conscience, I was born without. I don't feel, as we all probably have researched my brain reads stimuli much differently, or ignores it all together. As a sociopath, it is hard for me to relate to the value the rest of you put into your relationships, if someone is so horrible and cannot be controlled then just leave, do not pass go, do not let them collect your two hundred dollars, as the case seems to be over and over again.

Advice to Victims.

I've read so many of these stories, and cannot see how every single one of you fall for the ploys of your alleged loved ones. The thing you need to understand is sociopaths seek control, even me. It is very easy to learn just how to present anything to get others to agree or at least behave as you want them too, the best way to discourage a sociopath is to take the control away from them. You can do this directly, assert yourself as the one in control, or get law enforcement involved, most sociopaths, out of self preservation, will not come after you with their own freedom at stake. We understand consequences, and will not volunteer for any of them.


If you've already suffered and left, and are merely looking for some sort of understanding, well then, hear this. People, these days, have a Victim mentality. You, humans, want pity, consolation, like your own personal TV drama. TV is not how the world is suppose to work, but I find that more and more situations end up with dramatic endings. Drama is not supposed to run the world, blame your television set. It is not hard to get over things, simply separate it, because if you let this person control your thoughts, then they won, they have accomplished their goal. Control.

Advice to Sociopaths

The world is stale, boredom is so hard to overcome, because you don't FEEL like our fellow inhabitants of the Earth, we simply exist. We get impulses like animals, but we also use Logic, more precisely than any other being, even humans. Sociopathy is a Blessing or a Curse, depending on whom you ask, and what day it is. I've seen horrid displays of human emotion that makes me glad that I have no emotional spectrum, but I also resent the fact that I'm numb inside, it has almost driven me to extremes, but the code I live my life by, my substitute conscience, always keeps me in line. I made my rules that I live by, and insist that others live by in my presence, and if I can agree on these rules, as important, then I can stop myself from doing the rather basic or violent things that my impulses drive me too.

I know, most of us, can tell a lot about a person merely looking them over, know what they want to hear, and know how to present it to them in a manner to get what we want, I know I can. I'm very good at playing human. I'm handsome, charming, and have a higher IQ than a good ninety percent of people on the planet, and yes, I see myself as 'better than' everyone surrounding me, but that doesn't mean I should use the people beneath me, I would rather help them, like a stray animal, they're very little importance to me, but I'd rather not have them whining within earshot. With your ability to manipulate people, you can lead them in the 'right' direction just as easy as you can lead them in the wrong one.

Humanity is all we have, really, to communicate with, especially since there isn't conventions or parades held in our honor. So, we must simply learn how to be peaceful in our world with others. A human life means very little, we've had time to observe and analyze that people are going to die, so their personal deaths aren't very important, but we are human, at least, genetically, too. We will die, the same way they will, so our lives really aren't more important than others'. Plenty of jobs in society a sociopath would excel at, far past our human counter parts. Lawyers, Law Enforcement, Politicians, and many others, to name a few. I suggest you look strongly in the mirror, and decide on a good life to live, because, we all know how tempting boredom is, to do something new, and satisfy that perpetually talking mind. So, devote yourself to something, even if you cannot feel happy at the fruition of your skill, you can know that you're the best at what you do, and know that rather than manipulating those around you, you were an example among us and helped others rather than hurt them. With a smile and good reputation you can get a lot further in life than with fear. Fear eventually inspires your pets to snap at you, or flee. Love, Respect, and Admiration inspires them to continue on in the path you set for them.


WhiteWolf Starting Member

JD, as a sociopath, I can tell you... you are not one of us. While I don't doubt you have issues this is not your issue. Stop letting your ex wife dictate to you what you are. As I am sure she has something to do with your believe that you are a sociopath.

Also I wouldn't expect Divineman to return or reply. I've had some experience with the hit and fade tactic he is using. No doubt he probably came back at some point to see what the replies were but didn't feel the need to.. amuse you.

I, on the other hand, am in the mood to amuse myself and you by answering some of the questions you had for him. Perhaps they will enlighten you or otherwise confirm some presumed theories you have had.

Marriage is something I can't really breakdown into less than a chapter. It would take me quite a while to explain and I am not currently in the mood to go into such detail.

BTW, I learned a long time ago that it is best to get a girl to cheat on you and leave you. That way you don't have to put up with the constant acquisitions and harassment they want to subject you to. If a woman leaves you she wont look back. If you leave her she will stalk you till the end of time. Now my ex still hates me bitterly but she doesn't stalk me and that is all that really matters to me. I am not concerned with her erratic emotional instability even if I am the cause.

As for faking emotions... The only time I have found it hard to fake emotions is at a funeral. Everyone is crying and sad and they want you to be sad and cry with them but all I want to do is go get something to eat or go smoke some weed. I believe in the Bible. So I know that certain people, when they die, will go to Heaven. So why feel sad for them? Are they not going to a happier place? I do not understand this about people. You weep and cry for people who are moving on to a better existence than your own. It doesn't make much sense.

Other than funerals faking emotions isn't hard. I like to play the role of Chandler from the TV series Friends. I like to be the funny/witty/sarcastic guy. It's a better role to play because you can always act as if you are being sarcastic.. even when you are not. Other than that I just pretend to be interested in what these cattle say. I mean if you think about it.. normal people are all a bunch of fake liars anyway. Always laughing and smiling about stupid crap no one really cares about but they do so because it is their social norm. How ironic that their social norm is just my plain norm. Who's faking it now? Reflect on that.. so called normal people.

BTW, All you Christians and your waivering faith are going straight to Hell. Why? Because you didn't obey the laws. Why? Because your EMOTIONS got in the way. Little note. If your "temple" is completely corrupted you can kill yourself and still go to Heaven. In fact killing yourself really isn't a rejection of God so much as a rejection of pain. Normal peoples views on God pisses me off the most. How can you say a homosexual is going to Hell or someone who kills himself when all sins are equal sins? Bunch of people living in glasses houses throwing stones at each other. Each of you claiming to be correct. Each of you claiming the other to be wrong. You so called normal people are responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the world due to your arrogant/ignorant judgements. Then you say I am crazy because I don't share your emotional instability. You people of humanity are not a great people. You are an abomination to this planet and your own greatest enemy.

Normal people are slaves to their emotions while sociopaths are ruled by their logic. That's what makes us superior to you. That's what gives us control over you and that's why we think less of you.

WhiteWolf Starting Member
CBoo, moral insanity is part of being a sociopath.

As for evil deeds. What is evil? To determine what evil is really relies on what is socialy acceptable in an area. In Iran people get stoned to death. In America that is simply evil. So evil can be a broad term. We also prey on others which can be seen as evil. I believe it is more instinctive than evil. We see weakness.. we exploit weakness. It's how we survive.

I, for some reason, do not like little dogs. Something about them triggers my instinct to attack. I tortured a lot of little animals as a child. As an adult I try very hard not to torture them but the instinct to punt a little dog is ever present in my mind. I also tortured cats as a child but as I have grown up I have come to really love cats.. but I still hate little dogs. lol Am I evil as well?

CBoo, I will let you in on a little secret that may help you some. Other sociopaths will hate me for admiting this. If you actually got your ex to stalk you... you got the very best of him. You beat him bad if he was that obsessed with aquiring revenge against you. Take comfort in that thought because you won. To us the game is everything because we have nothing else and you beat him at the game.

The following is just me rambling.

I'm working on my sheep and wolves analogy but it is not perfected yet. So much of the new testiment is dedicated to the sociopaths. I think Jesus was trying to explain things to people who will never understand. If you feed the wolf, give the wolf a home to defend and love the wolf.. it is your wolf. That which would prey on you becomes your greatest defender. But you do not love your neighbors as you should thus we prey on you. You're supposed to drown us in love. It is your love that destroys our hate. It is your fear that turns you into our prey. Perhaps your fear provokes our instinct to attack or prey upon you. I believe this is only true for sociopaths who have moral guidlines. The rest are just wolves.

Surviving A Psychopath (Sociopath)

MyTherapy Discussion Forums

Dear Members,

Many of you have written elsewhere about the emotional damage done to you from living with a psychopath (formerly termed "sociopath"). A psychopath is defined as one who lacks empathy, guilt, remorse, and a feeling of responsibility. Thus the psychopath is the exact opposite of the depressed individual (who often suffers from excessive guilt, remorse and feelings of responsibility).

There is an excellent description of a psychopath's behavior at:

Given the harm that psychopaths do to others; it is easy to just judge them as "evil" and not consider that this disorder may have an underlying biological cause.

Recent research has shown that psychopaths may have abnormal functioning in the parts of their brains that control emotion. There are excellent reviews of this at:

Our very compassionate member, David, alluded to psychopaths having such a biologically-based disorder in an earlier discussion. If you have ever lived with a psychopath, you will eventually conclude that there must be something desperately wrong in the way their brain functions. How can a normal person not feel guilt, remorse or responsibility?

Research on antisocial personality disorder suggests that about half of this disorder has an environmental causation, and the other half has a genetic causation:

A very important research finding is that women are much less likely to be psychopaths than men:

Early research suggested that the treatment of psychopaths actually made them worse. This research argued that psychotherapy just gave the psychopath new ways to justify their behavior (e.g., "I learned that my behavior is all due to my terrible childhood", etc.). More recent research has concluded that we just don't know if treatment helps or harms psychopaths:

However, there is a consensus amongst mental health professionals. Namely, if you are in a relationship with a psychopath, leave. There is no way whereby a normal individual can happily live with another individual who does not feel guilt, remore or responsibility. Remember, this advice is valid only if the other individual is truly a psychopath (that is, the individual has the majority of items listed in R. Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised).

Since this topic has received many posts elsewhere; I believe it should be given its own forum here.

Thus I would welcome hearing if your mental health problems were related to dealing with a psychopath.

Phil Long M.D.Administrator

MyTherapy Discussion Forums - Leaving a sociopath - tips - add yours

CBoo Starting Member

I'm on a mission. When I left my ex sociopath husband, I was totally unprepared for what lay ahead of me and I made crucial mistakes in dealing with my situation. I'm painfully aware that there are people out there who are currently living with a sociopath and want to leave, but may be unsure of what to expect or of how to go about it. While all situations are different in some ways, leaving a sociopath, because of their very nature, is almost always complicated. Even more complicated when marriage, kids and financial factors are involved. I don't have all the solutions, but I will give all that I have and hope that others who have freed themselves from a sociopath can add their tips too. I speak only from my own experience and from what I have read from others' experiences.

Some of this advice may also be a applicable to men leaving women sociopaths.


Other possible tips:

Everyday is a winding road...

[Apr 22, 2009] Economist's View A Crisis of Ethic Proportions

Patricia Shannon says...

Adult psychopaths commonly have a long history of significant behavior problems in youth and juvenile delinquency (although most delinquents will not become psychopaths). Studies show that a significant portion of children who show psychopathic traits — often referred to among researchers as “callous-unemotional (CU) traits,” which include not being concerned about others’ feelings and not feeling bad or guilty

Frick says some of the best evidence for helping kids with CU traits comes from an Australian study of boys ages 4 to 8 with conduct problems. Those with CU traits did not respond to the common discipline strategy of time-outs but they did show a response to a parenting strategy in which they were rewarded — praised — for good, “prosocial” behavior. Frick says the study, published in 2005 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, makes sense considering that people with psychopathic tendencies tend to be reward-driven and largely insensitive to punishment.

[Nov 21, 2008] U.S. suicide rate is up

"I would not be surprised if a big factor was the despair that sets in by age 50 plus or minus when you realize your life has been wasted doing meaningless tasks for bosses who are essentially criminals.
The American way of prosperity leaves something out."
Los Angeles Times

After falling for more than a decade, the U.S. suicide rate has climbed steadily since 1999, driven by an alarming increase among middle-age adults, researchers said Monday.

A new six-year analysis in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the U.S. suicide rate rose to 11 per 100,000 people in 2005, from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999, an increase of just under 5%.

The report found that virtually all of the increase was attributable to a nearly 16% jump in suicides among people ages 40 to 64, a group not commonly seen as high-risk. The rate for that age group rose to 15.6 per 100,000 in 2005, from 13.5 per 100,000 in 1999.

Susan P. Baker, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and an author of the study, said she was baffled by the findings. Sociological studies have found that middle age is generally a time of relative security and emotional well-being, she said.

"We really don't know what is causing this," said Dr. Paula Clayton, research director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, who was not involved in the study. "All we have is speculation."

One possibility, she said, is that the increase in suicides might be tied to a concurrent increase in abuse of prescription pain pills, such as OxyContin. Studies have shown that people who abuse drugs are at greater risk for suicide, she noted.

Another possible explanation, she said, was the drop in hormone replacement therapy after it was linked to health risks in 2002. Women who gave up the drugs or decided not to take them might have been more susceptible to depression and potentially suicide, she said.

Dr. Ian Cook, an associate professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said stresses of modern life, particularly worries in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, might have a role.

Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide, he said.

"The bottom line is while we can't infer a lot of things about what is causing the trend, I think it cries out for better depression screening and treatment," he said.

Suicide rates declined 18% from 1986 to 1999, helped in part by a focus on prevention among teenagers and the elderly.

In the current study, researchers found little or no change in the suicide rates for three other age groups: 10 to 19, 20 to 29, and over 65.

Suicides for whites ages 40 to 64 rose 17% from 1999 to 2005, researchers said. For middle-age white men, the rate rose 16% to 26.9 per 100,000 in 2005, from 23.1 per 100,000 in 1999. For white women in that age group, the rate rose 19% to 8.2 per 100,000 from 6.9 per 100,000.

The suicide rate among middle-age African Americans rose 7% from 1999 to 2005, but it was not enough to drive up the overall suicide rate among blacks.

For black men ages 40 to 64, the rate rose 5% to 10.4 per 100,000 from 9.9 per 100,000, and for black women in that age group, the rate rose 14% to 2.5 per 100,000 from 2.2 per 100,000.

Baker said she had no idea why the increases among whites were higher.

Gellene is a Times staff writer.

Comments from Angry Bear Late Working-Age Suicides Rising


The authors find an increase in the rate of suicide in a longitudinal analysis of the 40-64 cohort. This would already hold for an inherent acceleration in suicide as people move from an younger cohort to the one being discussed.


coberly: (despair over wasted life)

Isn't that what the stereotypical midlife crisis is mostly about? What you mentioned is just a particular aspect of the general phenomenon. And it usually doesn't start as late as 50. But I can imagine the despair escalates.

As for Greg's point, he has already followed up but what he says is essentially it's a boomer phenomenon -- whatever characteristics boomers have are strongest in the age group where the peak of the boomers is. That's how I read his claim.

Really interesting, thanks for posting this. I'd also look to the increasing use of SSRI antidepressants, which have suicide as a side-effect. I understand some new allergy medicines also have depression and suicide as a side effect-Singulair?

Yep, boomers. They died in their 20s and now in their 50s. There should be cheering all around.

But on a serious note, I wonder what the job loss is among this group. The stats on men/women increases work against this factor but it may play some role. Also, what about divorce. Are a greater number left alone in their 50s after children are grown with children moving elsewhere for jobs? A loneliness factor, perhaps?

Perhaps its just not anything in particular.
Anna Lee

[Nov 21, 2008] Rake (character) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A rake is defined as a man habituated to immoral conduct. Rakes are frequently stock characters in novels. Often a rake is a man who wastes his (usually inherited) fortune on wine, women and song, incurring lavish debts in the process. The rake is also frequently a cad: a man who seduces a young woman and impregnates her before leaving, often to her social or financial ruin. To call the character a rake calls attention to his promiscuity and wild spending of money; to call the character a cad implies a callous seducer who coldly breaks his victim's heart. These men are also known as heels. A bounder is an 'ill-bred, unscrupulous man', the social inferior of the cad.[1][2][3][4] During the English Restoration period (1660–1688), the word was used in a glamorous sense: the Restoration rake is a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat typified by Charles II's courtiers, the Earl of Rochester and the Earl of Dorset, who combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts. The Restoration rake is celebrated in the Restoration comedy of the 1660s and 1670s.[5] After the reign of Charles II, and especially after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the cultural perception of the rake took a dive into squalor. The rake became the butt of moralistic tales in which his typical fate was debtor's prison, venereal disease, or, in the case of William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress, insanity in Bedlam.[6]

The rake is often portrayed as a heavy drinker or gambler. An earlier form of the word was rake-hell, a form reshaped by folk etymology to mean someone who stokes the fires of Hell, making them hotter. The actual etymology of the word is from the Old Norse reikall, meaning "vagrant" or "wanderer"; this was borrowed into Middle English as rakel (possibly via Dutch rekel, meaning "scoundrel").

Rakes are also very arrogant.[citation needed]

Well known fictional rakes and cads include:

Historical figures who have informed the stock character include:

The stock character of the rake can be contrasted with some others. The town drunk is frequently intoxicated, and impoverished by heavy drinking, but here the focus is on the character's alcoholic state rather than on sexual excess; the town drunk is typically older than the rake.

[Nov 19, 2008] Bullying devastates lives -- until victims find ways to heal By Janet Kornblum

Kathy Shedd had red hair. Meg Rafferty was shy. And Jodee Blanco was just different. Those were their crimes.

The punishments for Blanco, Shedd, Rafferty, and others like them? Being kicked, punched and spit upon. They were yelled at, taunted and shunned. They spent hard time in isolation, crying themselves to sleep at night, sometimes wanting to die.

They weren't in prison. They were in school. And their tormenters were not adults, but other children. And yet, now as adults, the memories of childhood bullying still haunt their daily lives.

"I was relentlessly tormented from fifth grade until the end of high school simply for being different," says Blanco, a former public relations executive from Chicago. Blanco wrote about her experiences in Please Stop Laughing at Us. .. : One Survivor's Extraordinary Quest to Prevent School Bullying, which was published in the spring. "I was ambushed. I would find my belongings floating in the toilet. I was spat at and kicked and worst — ignored."

Blanco, a school consultant who talks to students and teachers about ways to prevent bullying — often cyberbullying — still bears the emotional pain of bullying, including raw flashbacks to childhood torment. But she's getting help and now also wants other adults who have been bullied to seek help as well.

Though cyberbullying has taken center stage among many in the psychological community, "adult survivors of peer abuse," as she calls her demographic, often suffer in silence, she says.

Rafferty, of Eden Prairie, Minn., 52, knew she was different and "that there was something wrong with me," she says. But like many adult survivors, "I tried to hide it."

Not everyone who is bullied has lifelong trauma. But there's no question that "unrelenting, daily hostilities that maybe escalate to threats or actual aggression can be on par with torture and child abuse," or that "repeated and severe bullying can cause psychological trauma," says Daniel Nelson, medical director of the Child Psychiatry Unit at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

"There's no question that bullying in certain instances can be absolutely devastating."

The abuse that Kathy Shedd of Lafayette, Ind., endured more than two decades ago still affects her, even at age 42.

Shedd's crime? Being born with red hair — and having a name that unfortunately made rhyming taunts simple.

"Being bullied set me up as a mark," she says. "I don't fight back." It's so bad that she likes to have her husband with her when she goes out in public — although lately things have been improving for her, ever since she began focusing on the issue.

"I've always wanted to know: Why? Why do they bully?"

That's a simple question with many answers. Experts have different theories on why certain children get picked on, but most agree that being different — in even the smallest way — can lead to bullying.

As a teenager, Jenny Morsch, 28, of Hinckley, Ill., became the target of anonymous letters that called her fat and threatened her. She has her suspicions about the teens in town who might have written the letters. But even police couldn't identify the perpetrators, leaving Jenny ostracized, sentenced to sit alone at lunch with kids staring at her. The letters made her frightened, depressed and suicidal."

She did get help in college. But a decade after it happened, it still affects her.

"I feel like everything sucks and I can't do anything right. I feel like I have to be perfect."

Blanco is also still affected today, even though she spends her life counseling other victims. Recently she began therapy to help her put the pain behind her.

And she strongly believes that others who have survived years of abuse also need to find ways of healing.

"I want people who are victims, who are survivors like me, to know that if you're affected by it, you have to take it just as seriously as you would if you were abused in any other way as a child, and you need to incorporate it into whatever therapy you're doing," she says. " You have to acknowledge it."

READERS: Have you ever been bullied? How did you deal with it? Does it affect you now? Or have you ever been the bully? Why and is there anything someone could've done to make you stop? Share your experiences and opinions below, keeping in mind USA TODAY's community guidelines against personal attacks and hate speech:

A Reporter at Large Suffering Souls Reporting & Essays

The New Yorker

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At thirty-eight, Kiehl is one of the world’s leading younger investigators in psychopathy, the condition of moral emptiness that affects between fifteen to twenty-five per cent of the North American prison population, and is believed by some psychologists to exist in one per cent of the general adult male population. (Female psychopaths are thought to be much rarer.) Psychopaths don’t exhibit the manias, hysterias, and neuroses that are present in other types of mental illness. Their main defect, what psychologists call “severe emotional detachment”—a total lack of empathy and remorse—is concealed, and harder to describe than the symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. This absence of easily readable signs has led to debate among mental-health practitioners about what qualifies as psychopathy and how to diagnose it. Psychopathy isn’t identified as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association’s canon; instead, a more general term, “antisocial personality disorder,” known as A.P.D., covers the condition.

There is also little consensus among researchers about what causes psychopathy. Considerable evidence, including several large-scale studies of twins, points toward a genetic component. Yet psychopaths are more likely to come from neglectful families than from loving, nurturing ones. Psychopathy could be dimensional, like high blood pressure, or it might be categorical, like leukemia. Researchers argue over whether tests used to measure it should focus on behavior or attempt to incorporate personality traits—like deceitfulness, glibness, and lack of remorse—as well. The only point on which everyone agrees is that psychopathy is extremely difficult to treat. And for some researchers the word “psychopath” has been tainted by its long and seamy relationship with criminality and popular culture, which began with true-crime pulps and continues today in TV shows like CBS’s “Criminal Minds” and in the work of authors like Thomas Harris and Patricia Cornwell. The word is so loaded with baleful connotations that it tends to empurple any surrounding prose.

Kiehl is frustrated by the lack of respect shown to psychopathy by the mental-health establishment. “Think about it,” he told me. “Crime is a trillion-dollar-a-year problem. The average psychopath will be convicted of four violent crimes by the age of forty. And yet hardly anyone is funding research into the science. Schizophrenia, which causes much less crime, has a hundred times more research money devoted to it.” I asked why, and Kiehl said, “Because schizophrenics are seen as victims, and psychopaths are seen as predators. The former we feel empathy for, the latter we lock up.”

In January of 2007, Kiehl arranged to have a portable functional magnetic-resonance-imaging scanner brought into Western—the first fMRI ever installed in a prison. So far, he has recruited hundreds of volunteers from among the inmates. The data from these scans, Kiehl hopes, will confirm his theory, published in Psychiatry Research, in 2006, that psychopathy is caused by a defect in what he calls “the paralimbic system,” a network of brain regions, stretching from the orbital frontal cortex to the posterior cingulate cortex, that are involved in processing emotion, inhibition, and attentional control. His dream is to confound the received wisdom by helping to discover a treatment for psychopathy. “If you could target the brain region involved, then maybe you could find a drug that treats that region,” he told me. “If you could treat just five per cent of them, that would be a Nobel Prize right there.”

The four hundred and six prisoners in the Western New Mexico facility are serving sentences ranging from a year to life without parole. New Mexico uses a classification system that assigns each inmate a number from one to six, with six being reserved for the most violent offenders; Western has inmates of all levels up to five. Although not all psychopaths are violent, Kiehl told me, the majority are fours, fives, and sixes.

Unlike most academic psychopathy researchers, Kiehl has spent many hours in the company of his subjects. When he meets colleagues at conferences, he told me, “they always ask, ‘What are they like?’ These are guys who have spent twenty years studying psychopaths and never met one.” Although the number of psychopaths who are not in prisons is thought to exceed the number who are—if the one-per-cent figure is correct, there are more than a million psychopaths at large in the United States alone—they are much harder to identify in the outside world. Some are “successful psychopaths,” holding down good jobs in many types of industries. It is generally only if they commit a crime and enter the criminal-justice system that they become available for research.

In the conference room where Western’s warden, Anthony Romero, greeted Kiehl, there was a framed tableau of illegal items confiscated from inmates, including handmade shivs and crude tattooing devices. Romero explained that Kiehl was using the scanner not only to study psychopathy but also to measure the level of craving in the brains of substance abusers as they go through a treatment program, also run by Kiehl, which is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The volunteer rate among the inmates is more than ninety per cent (although some are too muscle-bound to fit inside the scanning tube). As a “collateral benefit,” Kiehl throws in a free clinical examination of their brains. (He has discovered previously undetected tumors in about five per cent of the volunteers.) In addition to the pay they receive for their time (a dollar an hour, Western’s standard rate for prison labor), inmates get pictures of their brains that they can post in their cells. “There’s a lot of joking among the prisoners about who’s got the biggest brain,” Romero said.

The scanner was housed in a tractor-trailer parked behind the prison’s I.D. center. We followed a correctional officer through an internal courtyard to the rehab wing, which consisted of a large common area surrounded by two-man cells. The prisoners were standing at attention outside their cells, some holding mops and brooms. I entered a vacant cell and saw the occupant’s brain, a grainy black-and-white image on a piece of a paper, its edges curling, tacked up over the desk.

Then we walked through the common room and out a door at the other end, passing under a large poster with lines that read, “I am here because there is no refuge, finally, from myself.” The officer led us along a corridor of offices in which students from the University of New Mexico, where Kiehl is on the faculty, conduct psychopathy interviews and also counsel participants in the drug-treatment program. Carla Harenski, one of Kiehl’s postdocs, was interviewing a beefy guy with a tattoo on his neck. Her office, like those of all the researchers in the lab, is equipped with a button she can press to call for help if an interview gets out of hand.

In order to distinguish psychopaths from non-psychopaths among the Western volunteers, Kiehl and his students use the revised version of the Psychopathy Checklist, or PCL-R, a twenty-item diagnostic instrument created by Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist, based on his long experience in working with psychopaths in prisons. Kiehl was taught to use the checklist by Hare himself, under whom he earned his doctorate, at the University of British Columbia. Researchers interview an inmate for up to three hours, and compare the inmate’s statements against what is known of his record and his personal history. The interviewer “scores” the subject on each of the twenty items:

among other tendencies—with zero, one, or two, depending on how pronounced that trait is.

Most researchers agree that anyone who scores thirty or higher on the PCL-R is considered to be a psychopath. Kiehl says, “Someone who scores a thirty-five, a thirty-six, they are just different. You say to yourself, ‘Aha, here you are. You are why I do this.’ ”

Harenski recently interviewed a Western inmate who scored a 38.9. “He had killed his girlfriend because he thought she was cheating on him,” she told me. “He was so charming about telling it that I found it hard not to fall into laughing along in surprise, even when he was describing awful things.” Harenski, who is thirty, did not experience the involuntary skin-crawling sensation that, according to a survey conducted by the psychologists Reid and M. J. Meloy, one in three mental-health and criminal-justice professionals report feeling on interviewing a psychopath; in their paper on the subject, Meloy and Meloy speculate that this reaction may be an ancient intraspecies predator-response system. “I was just excited,” Harenski continued. “I was saying to myself, ‘Wow. I found a real one.’ ”

... ... ...

Psychopaths are as old as Cain, and they are believed to exist in all cultures, although they are more prevalent in individualistic societies in the West. The Yupik Eskimos use the term kunlangeta to describe a man who repeatedly lies, cheats, steals, and takes sexual advantage of women, according to a 1976 study by Jane M. Murphy, an anthropologist then at Harvard University. She asked an Eskimo what the group would typically do with a kunlangeta, and he replied, “Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking.”

The condition was first described clinically in 1801, by the French surgeon Philippe Pinel. He called it “mania without delirium.” In the early nineteenth century, the American surgeon Benjamin Rush wrote about a type of “moral derangement” in which the sufferer was neither delusional nor psychotic but nevertheless engaged in profoundly antisocial behavior, including horrifying acts of violence. Rush noted that the condition appeared early in life. The term “moral insanity” became popular in the mid-nineteenth century, and was widely used in the U.S. and in England to describe incorrigible criminals. The word “psychopath” (literally, “suffering soul”) was coined in Germany in the eighteen-eighties. By the nineteen-twenties, “constitutional psychopathic inferiority” had become the catchall phrase psychiatrists used for a general mixture of violent and antisocial characteristics found in irredeemable criminals, who appeared to lack a conscience.

In the late nineteen-thirties, an American psychiatrist named Hervey Cleckley began collecting data on a certain kind of patient he encountered in the course of his work in a psychiatric hospital in Augusta, Georgia. These people were from varied social and family backgrounds. Some were poor, but others were sons of Augusta’s most prosperous and respected families. Cleckley set about sharpening the vague construct of constitutional psychopathic inferiority, and distinguishing it from other forms of mental illness. He eventually isolated sixteen traits exhibited by patients he called “primary” psychopaths; these included being charming and intelligent, unreliable, dishonest, irresponsible, self-centered, emotionally shallow, and lacking in empathy and insight.

“Beauty and ugliness, except in a very superficial sense, goodness, evil, love, horror, and humor have no actual meaning, no power to move him,” Cleckley wrote of the psychopath in his 1941 book, “The Mask of Sanity,” which became the foundation of the modern science. The psychopath talks “entertainingly,” Cleckley explained, and is “brilliant and charming,” but nonetheless “carries disaster lightly in each hand.” Cleckley emphasized his subjects’ deceptive, predatory nature, writing that the psychopath is capable of “concealing behind a perfect mimicry of normal emotion, fine intelligence, and social responsibility a grossly disabled and irresponsible personality.” This mimicry allows psychopaths to function, and even thrive, in normal society. Indeed, as Cleckley also argued, the individualistic, winner-take-all aspect of American culture nurtures psychopathy.

The psychiatric profession wanted little to do with psychopathy, for several reasons. For one thing, it was thought to be incurable. Not only did the talking cure fail with psychopaths but several studies suggested that talk therapy made the condition worse, by enabling psychopaths to practice the art of manipulation. There were no valid instruments to measure the personality traits that were commonly associated with the condition; researchers could study only the psychopaths’ behavior, in most cases through their criminal records. Finally, the emphasis in the word “psychopath” on an internal sickness was at odds with liberal mid-century social thought, which tended to look for external causes of social deviancy; “sociopath,” coined in 1930 by the psychologist G. E. Partridge, became the preferred term. In 1958, the American Psychiatric Association used the term “sociopathic personality” to describe the disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In the 1968 edition, the condition was renamed “general antisocial personality disorder.”

Cleckley’s book fell out of favor, and Cleckley described himself late in life as “a voice crying in the wilderness.” When he died, in 1984, he was remembered mostly for his popular study of multiple-personality disorder, written with Corbett Thigpen, “The Three Faces of Eve.”

In 1960, Robert Hare took a job as the resident psychologist in a maximum-security prison about twenty miles outside Vancouver. On his first day, a tall, slim, dark-haired inmate came into his office and said, “Hey, Doc, how’s it going? Look, I’ve got a problem. I need your help.” Hare later wrote of this encounter, “The air around him seemed to buzz, and the eye contact he made with me was so direct and intense that I wondered if I had ever really looked anybody in the eye before.” Hare asked the inmate, whom he called Ray in his account, to tell him about his problem. “In response, he pulled out a knife and waved it in front of my nose, all the while smiling and maintaining that intense eye contact,” Hare wrote in his 1993 book, “Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.” Ray said he was planning to use the knife on another inmate, who was making overtures to his “ ‘protégé,’ a prison term for the more passive member of a homosexual pairing.” Ray never harmed Hare, but he successfully manipulated him throughout Hare’s eight months at the prison, and two and a half years later, after Hare had joined the faculty at the University of British Columbia, Ray, now paroled, tried to register there with a forged transcript.

Hare wasn’t familiar with the psychopathy literature when he was working at the prison. Later that year, he moved with his family to London, Ontario, where he pursued a Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario. (When his brakes failed at the first steep hill on the trip east, he recalled that Ray had worked on his car in the prison garage.) His dissertation was on the effects of punishment on human learning and performance. One day in the library, he came across “The Mask of Sanity.” Reading Cleckley’s case histories put Hare in mind of Ray, and of other types he had encountered in the maximum-security prison. Were these men psychopaths? Over the next year, Hare read not only Cleckley but also the early literature Cleckley had synthesized. After receiving his doctorate, in 1963, and returning to Vancouver, he set about what would be his life’s work: the study of psychopathy, and the creation of the Psychopathy Checklist, the twenty-item diagnostic instrument that Kiehl is using at Western.

Thanks to the checklist, scientists working in different places can be confident that the subjects they are studying are taxonomically similar. The PCL also has a wide variety of forensic applications. It is employed throughout Canada in parole-board hearings and is gaining popularity in the U.S. In the thirty-seven states that allow the death penalty, a high psychopathy score is often used by prosecutors as an “aggravating factor” in the penalty phase of capital cases. Psychopathy scores have also been used in child-custody cases; a high score may result in one parent’s loss of custody. Hare’s influence on the field of psychopathy is profound. Today, Hare’s former students hold important administrative positions throughout the Canadian prison system, and are prominently represented in the next two generations of psychopathy researchers around the world.

One day when Kent Kiehl was eight years old, his father, Jeff, a copy editor at the Tacoma News Tribune, came home talking about a local man named Ted Bundy. “This was a guy who had grown up just down the street,” Kiehl told me, “and he had supposedly killed all these women.” Bundy, whose family moved to Tacoma when he was a child, is known to have sexually assaulted and murdered at least thirty women in the nineteen-seventies. But to outward appearances he was an exceptionally promising young man. He had received glowing letters of recommendation both from a psychology professor at the University of Washington, where he was an undergraduate (“he is exceedingly bright, personable, highly motivated, and conscientious”), and from the Republican governor of Washington, Dan Evans, for whom he worked. His good looks, charm, and verbal skills—qualities that made him such an effective predator—convinced many in the Tacoma community that he was innocent, up until the time he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, in 1979. Bundy was executed in Florida in 1989.

... ... ...

Another hypothesis is that psychopaths lack fear of personal injury and, more important, moral fear—fear of punishment. David Lykken pioneered this theory in the nineteen-fifties, and it has been taken up by James Blair, Christopher Patrick, and others. The updated version of this model posits that psychopathy is a result of a dysfunction of the amygdala, the almond-shaped bundle of gray matter situated in the midbrain, which is another area instrumental in emotional processing.

... ... ...

Today, Kiehl and Hare have a complementary but complicated relationship. Kiehl claims Hare as a mentor, and sees his own work as validating Hare’s checklist, by advancing a neurological mechanism for psychopathy. Hare is less gung ho about using fMRI as a diagnostic tool. “Some claim, in a sense, this is the new phrenology,” Hare said, referring to the discredited nineteenth-century practice of reading the bumps on people’s heads, “only this time the bumps are on the inside.” (Hare himself is a “strong proponent” of brain-imaging technology, but he noted that scans in isolation will always be insufficient.) Hare sees himself as a generalist, and Kiehl as “more of a data-driven guy.” Hare added that, while Kiehl’s brashness sometimes puts people off, “that’s why Kent gets things done.”

Robert Hare is bearded and slight, and has a detached, feline manner. He is in his early seventies, and his position at the University of British Columbia is emeritus. I met him in May, at a Homewood Suites hotel in Albany, where he was conducting a two-day seminar in psychopathy and the use of the checklist, sponsored by the New York State Office of Mental Health’s Bureau of Sex Offender Education and Treatment. A substantial percentage of sex offenders are psychopaths. New York State recently began creating special programs housed in psychiatric facilities for sex offenders who have completed their prison terms but are judged too dangerous to release.

Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist now exists in three variations. (There’s one for juveniles, the PCL-YV, and one designed for the general population—the “screening” version.) He collects a royalty fee every time the official PCL scoring sheet is used. The complete psychopathy kit, which includes a book-length manual on how to administer the checklist, costs two hundred and sixty-three dollars. It has been translated into more than twenty languages. The Albany seminar was one of roughly half a dozen that Hare conducts each year. He was giving a talk on psychopathy and culpability in Las Vegas the following week; then he was off to Rome, to instruct the carabinieri in the use of the checklist, and in profiling psychopaths. In Albany, his audience was composed mostly of psychologists and other mental-health professionals.

Hare sees himself as continuing the work that Cleckley started—warning society of a devastating and costly mental disorder that it mostly continues to ignore. Hare’s forensic experience has taught him that psychopathy is of vital concern to mental-health workers in prisons as well as to people in law enforcement and on parole boards; people who come into daily contact with dangerous and destructive individuals need an instrument that will allow them to identify psychopaths and make risk assessments based on their predictive behavior. (According to several national and international studies, psychopathic criminal offenders are three times more likely to return to prison within a year of their release.) Mary Ellen O’Toole, one of the F.B.I.’s top criminal profilers, whose job is “to investigate the most extreme and violent crimes from all over the world, including serial murders, serial rapes, child abductions, school shootings, workplace violence, domestic homicides, and other crimes of extreme and/or bizarre violence,” told me that she uses her psychopathy training, some of which came under Hare, when she is investigating crime scenes. She looks for evidence of, “for example, lack of remorse, thrill seeking, or impulsivity that could be consistent with the traits and characteristics of psychopathy.” This information, in turn, can be useful in “the investigation, the interview, even the prosecution of the offender.”

Hare wants to disassociate psychopathy from the DSMs catchall diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. “It’s like having pneumonia versus having a cold,” he said. “They share some common symptoms, but one is much more virulent.” Before the fourth edition of the DSM came out, in 1994, Hare published several articles pointing to field research that showed a difference between psychopathy and A.P.D. John Gunderson, the psychiatrist who chaired the personality-disorders work group for the revision, told Hare that, intellectually, he had “won the battle,” Hare recalls; even so, in DSM-IV “psychopathy” appears only as a synonym for A.P.D. (Gunderson says this was a function of institutional inertia.) Hare has continued to follow preparations for the next edition, due out in 2012, and recently sent an e-mail to a senior member of the task force inquiring about what revisions, if any, were planned for A.P.D. The reply, Hare said, was noncommittal.

Hare has published two books that translate some of the concepts of psychopathy for a general audience and attempt to teach people how to identify the “successful psychopaths” in their midst. In the introduction to “Without Conscience,” he writes, “It is very likely that at some point in your life you will come into painful contact with a psychopath. For your own physical, psychological, and financial well-being it is crucial that you know how to identify the psychopath.” Among the professions likely to attract psychopaths, he writes, are law enforcement, the military, politics, and medicine, although he notes that these have norms and are self-policing. The most agreeable vocation for psychopaths, according to Hare, is business. In his second book, “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work,” written with Paul Babiack, Hare flirts with pop psychology when he points out that many traits that may be desirable in a corporate context, such as ruthlessness, lack of social conscience, and single-minded devotion to success, would be considered psychopathic outside of it.

On the evening of the first day of the seminar, Hare and I went out for dinner at Smokey Bones, a rib joint. As I sped along Wolf Road, a traffic light ahead turned yellow. I momentarily thought about flooring it, and probably would have, if not for my passenger; instead, I slowed down and stopped. But the car on my left went flying by, through what was now a red light.

“Wow, look at that,” Hare said. “Now, that man might be a psychopath. That was psychopathic behavior, certainly—to put others in the intersection in danger in order to realize your own goals.”

But the problem is that “psychopathic behavior”—egocentricity, for example, or lack of realistic long-term goals—is present in far more than one per cent of the adult male population. This blurriness in the psychopathic profile can make it possible to see psychopaths everywhere or nowhere. In the mid-fifties, Robert Lindner, the author of “Rebel Without a Cause: A Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath,” explained juvenile delinquency as an outbreak of mass psychopathy. Norman Mailer inverted this notion in “The White Negro,” admiring the hipster as a “philosophical psychopath” for having the courage of nonconformity. In the sixties, sociopathy replaced psychopathy as the dominant construct. Now, in our age of genetic determinism, society is once again seeing psychopaths everywhere, and this will no doubt provoke others to say they are nowhere, and the cycle of overexposure and underfunding will continue.

Hare is urbane and well read, and during dinner he seasoned his clinical descriptions of the psychopath with references to characters from film and literature. Harry Lime, the villain played by Orson Welles in “The Third Man,” is one example. “Iago was a classic psychopath,” he added. “The way Shakespeare wrote him. In films and plays he is portrayed as evil-seeming, but he isn’t written that way.” Hare was friendly but wary of me—several times he said, “I have to see your eyeballs before I can tell you that.” We talked about the checklist. “Am I happy about the way the checklist can be used?” Hare asked rhetorically. “No, not always. Am I happy it is used to help condemn people to death? No, I am not.” Nor does he approve of its use in child-custody cases. However, he believes that, when properly used as a predictor of risk in forensic settings, the social benefits of the checklist far outweigh its drawbacks. Hare rejects the notion that a distinction ought to be made between a violent psychopath, like Ted Bundy, and a nonviolent one who commits financial crimes. Both, he said, are willing to do whatever it takes. He went on, “Can you say Ted Bundy caused more disaster than the guys at Enron? How many destroyed lives and suicides followed as a result of so many people losing their savings?”

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Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Main Entry: >
often capitalized
German, from Schaden damage + Freude joy
: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others


A very apt word describing sociopath sadism.

Schadenfreude (IPA: [ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏ̯də] Audio (German) (help·info)) is enjoyment taken from the misfortune of someone else. The word referring to this emotion has been borrowed from German by the English language[1] and is sometimes also used as a loanword by other languages.

Philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno defined schadenfreude as “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate.”[2]

Spelling, etymology, and English equivalents

In German, Schadenfreude is capitalized, as are all nouns in the German language. When used as a loanword in English, however, it is not, unless the origin of the word is meant to be emphasized. The corresponding German adjective is schadenfroh.

The word derives from Schaden (damage, harm) and Freude (joy); Schaden derives from the Middle High German schade, from the Old High German scado. Freude comes from the Middle High German vreude, from the Old High German frewida, from frō, (happy). A distinction exists between "secret schadenfreude" (a private feeling) and "open schadenfreude" (Hohn, a German word roughly translated as "scorn") which is outright public derision.

Little-used English words synonymous with schadenfreude have been derived from the Greek word ἐπιχαιρεκακία.[3][4] Nathan Bailey's 18th-century Universal Etymological English Dictionary, for example, contains an entry for epicharikaky that gives its etymology as a compound of epi (upon), chaira (joy), and kakon (evil).[5][6] A popular modern collection of rare words, however, gives its spelling as "epicaricacy." [7]

A more common English expression with a similar meaning is 'Roman holiday', a metaphor taken from the poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" by George Gordon, Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be "butcher'd to make a Roman holiday" while the audience would take pleasure from watching his suffering. The term suggests debauchery and disorder in addition to sadistic enjoyment.[8]

Another phrase with a meaning similar to Schadenfreude is "morose delectation" ("delectatio morosa" in Latin), meaning "the habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts".[9] The medieval church taught morose delectation as a sin.[10][11] French writer Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) maintained that the appeal of sadism is morose delectation.[12][13]

The Buddhist concept of mudita, "sympathetic joy" or "happiness in another's good fortune," is cited as an example of the opposite of schadenfreude.[14][15] Alternatively envy, unhappiness in another's good fortune, could be considered the counterpart of schadenfreude.

Literary and philosophical discussion of the emotion of schadenfreude


In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle used the term epikhairekakia (alternatively epikairekakia; ἐπιχαιρεκακία in Greek) as part of a triad of terms, in which epikhairekakia stands as the opposite of phthonos, and nemesis occupies the mean. Nemesis is "a painful response to another's undeserved good fortune," while phthonos is "a painful response to any good fortune," deserved or not. The epikhairekakos person actually takes pleasure in another's ill fortune.[16][17]

Seventeenth Century

During the 17th century, Robert Burton wrote in his work The Anatomy of Melancholy, "Out of these two [the concupiscible and irascible powers] arise those mixed affections and passions of anger, which is a desire of revenge; hatred, which is inveterate anger; zeal, which is offended with him who hurts that he loves; and ἐπιχαιρεκακία, a compound affection of joy and hate, when we rejoice at other men's mischief, and are grieved at their prosperity; pride, self-love, emulation, envy, shame, &c., of which elsewhere."[18]

Scientific studies of schadenfreude

A New York Times article in 2002 cited a number of scientific studies of schadenfreude. Many such studies are based on social comparison theory, the idea that when people around us have bad luck, we look better to ourselves. Other researchers have found that people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel schadenfreude than are people who have high self-esteem.[19]

One recent (2006) experiment suggests that men, but not women, enjoy seeing "bad" people suffer. The study was designed to measure empathy, by watching which brain centers are stimulated when subjects inside an MRI observe someone having a painful experience. Researchers expected that the brain's empathy center would show more stimulation when those seen as "good" got an electric shock than they would if the shock was given to someone the subject had reason to consider bad. This was indeed the result for their female subjects, but for male subjects the brain's pleasure centers also lit up when someone else got a shock that the male thought was well-deserved.[20]

[Jun 18, 2008] Bad guys really do get the most girls by Mason Inman

NICE guys knew it, now two studies have confirmed it: bad boys get the most girls. The finding may help explain why a nasty suite of antisocial personality traits known as the "dark triad" persists in the human population, despite their potentially grave cultural costs.

The traits are:

At their extreme, these traits would be highly detrimental for life in traditional human societies. People with these personalities risk being shunned by others and shut out of relationships, leaving them without a mate, hungry and vulnerable to predators.

But being just slightly evil could have an upside: a prolific sex life, says Peter Jonason at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. "We have some evidence that the three traits are really the same thing and may represent a successful evolutionary strategy."

Jonason and his colleagues subjected 200 college students to personality tests designed to rank them for each of the dark triad traits. They also asked about their attitudes to sexual relationships and about their sex lives, including how many partners they'd had and whether they were seeking brief affairs.

The study found that those who scored higher on the dark triad personality traits tended to have more partners and more desire for short-term relationships, Jonason reported at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society meeting in Kyoto, Japan, earlier this month. But the correlation only held in males.

James Bond epitomises this set of traits, Jonason says. "He's clearly disagreeable, very extroverted and likes trying new things - killing people, new women." Just as Bond seduces woman after woman, people with dark triad traits may be more successful with a quantity-style or shotgun approach to reproduction, even if they don't stick around for parenting. "The strategy seems to have worked. We still have these traits," Jonason says.

This observation seems to hold across cultures. David Schmitt of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, presented preliminary results at the same meeting from a survey of more than 35,000 people in 57 countries. He found a similar link between the dark triad and reproductive success in men. "It is universal across cultures for high dark triad scorers to be more active in short-term mating," Schmitt says. "They are more likely to try and poach other people's partners for a brief affair."

Barbara Oakley of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, says that the studies "verify something a lot of people have conjectured about".

Christopher von Rueden of the University of California at Santa Barbara says that the studies are important because they confirm that personality variation has direct fitness consequences.

"They still have to explain why it hasn't spread to everyone," says Matthew Keller of the University of Colorado in Boulder. "There must be some cost of the traits." One possibility, both Keller and Jonason suggest, is that the strategy is most successful when dark triad personalities are rare. Otherwise, others would become more wary and guarded.

Related Articles

From issue 2661 of New Scientist magazine, 18 June 2008, page 12

[May 23, 2008] The Resiliency Advantage Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure, and Bounce Back from Setbacks Al Siebert Books

A practical book the provides valuable tools for confronting life's difficult challenges!!!, December 29, 2006

By Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews

Self-rate yourself on a scale from 1 (meaning little agreement) to 5 (meaning strongly agree) on the following ten items:

(1) In a crisis or chaotic situation, I calm myself and focus on taking useful actions.
(2) I'm usually optimistic, seeing difficulties as temporary and believe things will eventually turn out well.
(3) I can tolerate high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity.
(4) I'm good at bouncing back from difficulties and quickly adapt to new developments.
(5) I'm self-confident and have a healthy concept of who I am.
(6) I prefer to work without a written job description since I'm more effective when I'm free to do what I think is best in each situation.
(7) I trust my intuition and "read" people well.
(8) I'm a good listener and have good empathy skills.
(9) I've been made stronger and better by difficult experiences.
(10) I've converted misfortune into good luck and even found benefits in bad experiences.

A low score of (under 25) means your resiliency skills are weak and you would greatly benefit from this amazing, easy-to-read, psychobabble-free book by Dr. Al Siebert, a clinical psychologist and Director of "The Resiliency Center". (`Resiliency' means (i) coping well with ongoing negative change (ii) sustaining good health and energy under constant pressure (iii) bouncing back from setbacks and adversities (iv) changing to a new way of living and working when an old way no longer works (v) and doing all this without acting in harmful ways.)
A middle score of (25 to 45) means your resiliency skills are adequate but probably can be greatly enhanced by using this book.
A high score of (over 45) means you have good resiliency skills and this book will validate many things you are doing right.

This book in a nutshell presents five resiliency "levels" or skills (level four is divided into 4 sub-levels while level 5 is divided into 3 sub-levels) so, in affect, the reader is presented with ten essential resiliency skills that Siebert has distilled from "the emerging new science of resiliency psychology." This book, besides other important things, shows you how to:

(1) Sustain strong, healthy energy in non-stop pressure and change
(2) Bounce back quickly from setbacks
(3) Gain strength from adversities
(4) Convert misfortune into good fortune
(5) Overcome tendencies to feel like a victim, and stay detached from victim reactions of others
(6) Overcome the three main resiliency barriers.

Who is this book written for? Siebert explains: "The resiliency guidelines in this book focus mainly on resiliency in the workplace, but they apply broadly to all aspects of life." (Actually, I think Siebert is being too restrictive in saying that these principles "focus mainly on resiliency in the workplace." Personally, I think these principles are essential to know so as to effectively play the game of life.)

What will this book NOT tell you? It "will not tell you what to do or how to act or think...Resilient people are those who decide that somehow, some way, they will do the very best they can to survive, cope, and make things turn out well." This book helps you develop your own unique way of being resilient by being both self-reliant and socially responsible.

As a physically disabled person, my personal favorite chapter was entitled "Mastering Extreme Resiliency Challenges." Included here are true stories from 9/11 survivors. I feel Siebert outdoes himself in this penultimate chapter.

Finally, this book has some key features. Important definitions, exercises, and other important and essential information are isolated from the main narrative as inserts so as to highlight key ideas. Each chapter is broken up into sections with anecdotes, examples, and true stories instead of having one long narrative. At the end of each chapter are insightful "Resiliency Development Activities" that help you utilize and think about the information from each chapter.

In conclusion, this is truly a helpful and unique book. Discover for yourself why this book was named the winner of the 2006 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the "Self Help" category at BookExpo America (the largest book publishing event in the United States) and why it was endorsed by the past president of the American Psychological Association!!

Our Life is Not Determined By What Happens But How We React, October 28, 2005

By Norman Goldman "Editor of" (Montreal)

After reading Dr. Al Siebert's enlightening book, The Resiliency Advantage, I was reminded of the old adage that was often drummed into me by my parents, that our life is not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitudes we bring to life. Thinking positively creates a chain reaction pertaining to our thoughts, events and outcomes-a kind of catalyst that can create extraordinary results.

Siebert begins his book by telling his readers how he came to the conclusion that clinical psychology and psychiatry are not mental health professions but rather mental illness professions. There does not seem to be any focus on what makes individuals mentally healthy, but rather on what causes mental illnesses and how do we go about treating these illnesses.

This prompted Siebert to do extensive research as to why some people survive many of life's ordeals while others seem to continually flounder. As a result of his thirst for knowledge of the subject matter he developed a good understanding of what he calls "the survivor personality."

In 1996 he published his first book on the topic, "The Survivor Personality," and we now have the follow up, The Resiliency Advantage, that reflects the tremendous amount of knowledge Siebert accumulated in his search for the causes and effects of the survivor personality.

According to Siebert there exist several levels of resiliency that he deals with in depth in his book: optimizing your health, emotions and well-being; developing good problem solving skills; strengthening your inner selfs; unleashing your curiosity and enjoy learning from the school of life; power of positive expectations; integrating paradoxical abilities; allowing everything to work well or the synergy talent; the talent for serendipity.
In order to reinforce the learning of these principles, Siebert provides many exercises, as well as brief case histories showing just how they work out in practice.

There is some excellent material in this book, particularly the sections dealing with learning from failures, benefits of curious and playful questioning, the power of positive expectations, hope, optimism, and self-reliance. It is also heartening to learn, as the author points out, that resiliency psychology, a relatively new discipline, is making good progress and is now recognized as quite vital in understanding how it can help people fare better during adversity and recover more quickly from life's ordeals.

Writing about new disciplines is always a challenge, given the negative feedback one often receives from the traditionalists. However, Siebert has risen to the occasion with his breezy style of writing, and he admirably presents an accessible work that could have easily strayed, leaving his readers with a sense of boredom.

Norm Goldman Editor of Bookpleasures

[May 22, 2008] Carolyn Baker - BEWARE OF THE PSYCHOPATH MY SON, By Clinton Callahan

[The following is extracted from two articles: Twilight of the Psychopaths, by Dr. Kevin Barrett and The Trick of the Psychopath's Trade by Silvia Cattori. Both articles are recommended. Both articles reference the book Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes, by Andrzej Lobaczewski. Cattori's article is longer and includes an interview with the book's editors, Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See.]

I make the effort to share this information because it gives me, at last, a plausible answer to a long-unanswered question: Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice? It doesn't seem to matter what creative plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. Since the dawn of civilization, this pattern repeats itself over and over again.

The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder. Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination. The inventor of civilization - the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers - was almost certainly a genetic psychopath. Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for power in civilizational hierarchies - especially military hierarchies.

Behind the apparent insanity of contemporary history, is the actual insanity of psychopaths fighting to preserve their disproportionate power. And as their power grows ever-more-threatened, the psychopaths grow ever-more-desperate. We are witnessing the apotheosis of the overworld - the overlapping criminal syndicates that lurk above ordinary society and law just as the underworld lurks below it.

During the past fifty years, psychopaths have gained almost absolute control of all the branches of government. You can notice this if you observe carefully that no matter what illegal thing a modern politician does, no one will really take him to task. All of the so called scandals that have come up, any one of which would have taken down an authentic administration, are just farces played out for the public, to distract them, to make them think that the democracy is still working.

One of the main factors to consider in terms of how a society can be taken over by a group of pathological deviants is that the psychopaths' only limitation is the participation of susceptible individuals within that given society. Lobaczewski gives an average figure for the most active deviants of approximately 6% of a given population. (1% essential psychopaths and up to 5% other psychopathies and characteropathies.) The essential psychopath is at the center of the web. The others form the first tier of the psychopath's control system.

The next tier of such a system is composed of individuals who were born normal, but are either already warped by long-term exposure to psychopathic material via familial or social influences, or who, through psychic weakness have chosen to meet the demands of psychopathy for their own selfish ends. Numerically, according to Lobaczewski, this group is about 12% of a given population under normal conditions.

So approximately 18% of any given population is active in the creation and imposition of a Pathocracy. The 6% group constitutes the Pathocratic nobility and the 12% group forms the new bourgeoisie, whose economic situation is the most advantageous.

When you understand the true nature of psychopathic influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless - they literally have no conscience.

In his book Political Ponerology, Andrej Lobaczewski explains that clinical psychopaths enjoy advantages even in non-violent competitions to climb the ranks of social hierarchies. Because they can lie without remorse (and without the telltale physiological stress that is measured by lie detector tests), psychopaths can always say whatever is necessary to get what they want. In court, for example, psychopaths can tell extreme bald-faced lies in a plausible manner, while their sane opponents are handicapped by an emotional predisposition to remain within hailing distance of the truth. Too often, the judge or jury imagines that the truth must be somewhere in the middle, and then issues decisions that benefit the psychopath. As with judges and juries, so too with those charged with decisions concerning who to promote and who not to promote in corporate, military and governmental hierarchies. The result is that all hierarchies inevitably become top-heavy with psychopaths. Since psychopaths have no limitations on what they can or will do to get to the top, the ones in charge are generally pathological. It is not power that corrupts, it is that corrupt individuals seek power.

How can we distinguish between psychopaths and healthy people? What is the portrait of a true psychopath?

Such a dangerous question has almost never been successfully asked. The reason is that we mistakenly confuse healthy for normal. Human psychological diversity is the health of our race. There is no normal because healthy humans continuously evolve beyond all normalizing standards. The terrorism of searching through hierarchies for anyone deviating from normal is no different from witch hunts or Inquisitions. You must remember that hierarchies thrive on such low dramas, torturing victims until they confess to evil beliefs. Not so long ago the church and state ongoingly acquired significant income and property through witch hunts and Inquisitions. This continued for over two hundred and fifty years. Ten generations of Europeans understood pogrom as normal life. Let us not return to that nightmare. Testing for normal is guaranteed to backfire in our face. There is no normal. But there is conscience.

We have very little empirical evidence to support the idea that true psychopathy is the result of an abused childhood, and much empirical evidence to support that it is genetic. The neurobiological model offers us the greatest hope of being able to identify even the most devious psychopath. Other recent studies lead to similar results and conclusions: that psychopaths have great difficulty processing verbal and nonverbal affective (emotional) material, that they tend to confuse the emotional significance of events, and most importantly, that these deficits show up in brain scans! A missing internal connection between the feeling heart and the thinking brain is detectable.

Psychopaths are incapable of authentic deep emotions. In fact, when Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language. They did not have an emotional reaction until they intellectually concluded that it would be better if they had one, and then they whipped up an emotional response just for show.

The simplest, clearest and truest portrait of the psychopath is given in the titles of three seminal works on the subject: Without Conscience by Robert Hare, The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley, and Snakes in Suits by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak. A psychopath is exactly that: conscienceless. The most important thing to remember is that this lack of conscience is hidden from view behind a mask of normality that is often so convincing that even experts are deceived. As a result, psychopaths become the Snakes in Suits that control our world.

Psychopaths lack a sense of remorse or empathy with others. They can be extremely charming and are experts at using talk to charm and hypnotize their prey. They are also irresponsible. Nothing is ever their fault; someone else or the world at large is always to blame for all of their problems or their mistakes. Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, identifies what she calls the pity ploy. Psychopaths use pity to manipulate. They convince you to give them one more chance, and to not tell anyone about what they have done. So another trait - and a very important one - is their ability to control the flow of information.

They also seem to have little real conception of past or future, living entirely for their immediate needs and desires. Because of the barren quality of their inner life, they are often seeking new thrills, anything from feeling the power of manipulating others to engaging in illegal activities simply for the rush of adrenaline.

Another trait of the psychopath is what Lobaczewski calls their special psychological knowledge of normal people. They have studied us. They know us better than we know ourselves. They are experts in knowing how to push our buttons, to use our emotions against us. But beyond that, they even seem to have some sort of hypnotic power over us. When we begin to get caught up in the web of the psychopath, our ability to think deteriorates, gets muddied. They seem to cast some sort of spell over us. It is only later when we are no longer in their presence, out of their spell, that the clarity of thought returns and we find ourselves wondering how it was that we were unable to respond or counter what they were doing.

Psychopaths learn to recognize each other in a crowd as early as childhood, and they develop an awareness of the existence of other individuals similar to themselves. They also become conscious of being of a different world from the majority of other people surrounding them. They view us from a certain distance.

Think about the ramifications of this statement: Psychopaths are, to some extent, self-aware as a group even in childhood! Recognizing their fundamental difference from the rest of humanity, their allegiance would be to others of their kind, that is, to other psychopaths.

Their own twisted sense of honor compels them to cheat and revile non-psychopaths and their values. In contradiction to the ideals of normal people, psychopaths feel breaking promises and agreements is normal behavior.

Not only do they covet possessions and power and feel they have the right to them just because they exist and can take them, but they gain special pleasure in usurping and taking from others; what they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far sweeter than those they can earn through honest labor. They also learn very early how their personalities can have traumatizing effects on the personalities of non-psychopaths, and how to take advantage of this root of terror for purposes of achieving their goals.

So now, imagine how human beings who are totally in the dark about the presence of psychopaths can be easily deceived and manipulated by these individuals, gaining power in different countries, pretending to be loyal to the local populations while at the same time playing up obvious and easily discernable physical differences between groups (such as race, skin color, religion, etc). Psychologically normal humans would be set against one another on the basis of unimportant differences (think of Rwanda 1994, think of Israelis and Palestinians) while the deviants in power, with a fundamental difference from the rest of us, a lack of conscience, an inability to feel for another human being, reaped the benefits and pulled the strings.

We are seeing the final desperate power-grab or endgame (Alex Jones) of brutal, cunning gangs of CIA drug-runners and President-killers; money-laundering international bankers and their hit-men - economic and otherwise; corrupt military contractors and gung-ho generals; corporate predators and their political enablers; brainwashers and mind-rapists euphemistically known as psy-ops and PR specialists - in short, the whole crew of certifiable psychopaths running our so-called civilization. And they are running scared.

Why does the Pathocracy fear losing its control? Because it is threatened by the spread of knowledge. The greatest fear of any psychopath is of being found out.

Psychopaths go through life knowing that they are completely different from other people. Deep down they know something is missing in them. They quickly learn to hide their lack of empathy, while carefully studying others' emotions so as to mimic normalcy while cold-bloodedly manipulating the normals.

Today, thanks to new information technologies, we are on the brink of unmasking the psychopaths and building a civilization of, by and for the healthy human being - a civilization without war, a civilization based on truth, a civilization in which the saintly few rather than the diabolical few would gravitate to positions of power. We already have the knowledge necessary to diagnose psychopathic personalities and keep them out of power. We have the knowledge necessary to dismantle the institutions in which psychopaths especially flourish - militaries, intelligence agencies, large corporations, and secret societies. We simply need to disseminate this knowledge, and the will to use it, as widely and as quickly as possible.

Until the knowledge and awareness of pathological human beings is given the attention it deserves and becomes part of the general knowledge of all human beings, there is no way that things can be changed in any way that is effective and long-lasting. If half the people agitating for truth or stopping the war or saving the earth would focus their efforts, time and money on exposing psychopathy, we might get somewhere.

One might ask if the weak point of our society has been our tolerance of psychopathic behavior? Our disbelief that someone could seem like an intelligent leader and still be acting deceptively on their own behalf without conscience? Or is it merely ignorance?

If the general voting public is not aware that there exists a category of people we sometimes perceive as almost human, who look like us, who work with us, who are found in every race, every culture, speaking every language, but who are lacking conscience, how can the general public take care to block them from taking over the hierarchies? General ignorance of psychopathology may prove to be the downfall of civilization. We stand by like grazing sheep as political/corporate elites throw armies of our innocent sons and daughters against fabricated enemies as a way of generating trillions in profits, vying against each other for pathological hegemony.

Nearly everyone who has been part of an organization working for social change has probably seen the same dynamic play out: The good and sincere work of many can be destroyed by the actions of one person. That doesn't bode well for bringing some sort of justice to the planet! In fact, if psychopaths dominate political hierarchies, is it any wonder that peaceful demonstrations have zero impact on the outcome of political decisions? Perhaps it is time to choose something other than massive, distant hierarchies as a way of governing ourselves?

So many efforts to provide essays, research reports, exposés and books to leaders so they might take the new information to heart and change their behavior have come to naught. For example, in the final paragraph of his revised edition of the book, The Party's Over, Richard Heinberg writes:

I still believe that if the people of the world can be helped to understand the situation we are in, the options available, and the consequences of the path we are currently on, then it is at least possible that they can be persuaded to undertake the considerable effort and sacrifice that will be entailed in a peaceful transition to a sustainable, locally based, decentralized, low-energy, resource-conserving social regime. But inspired leadership will be required.

And that is the just-murdered fantasy. There are no inspired leaders anymore. And in hierarchical structures there can't be. Assuming that you can elect men or women to office who will see reason and the light of day, and who will change and learn and grow, make compassionate decisions and take conscientious actions... is a foolish, childish dream. Continuing to dream it simply plays into psychopathic agendas.

Only when the 75% of humanity with a healthy conscience come to understand that we have a natural predator, a group of people who live amongst us, viewing us as powerless victims to be freely fed upon for achieving their inhuman ends, only then will we take the fierce and immediate actions needed to defend what is preciously human. Psychological deviants have to be removed from any position of power over people of conscience, period. People must be made aware that such individuals exist and must learn how to spot them and their manipulations. The hard part is that one must also struggle against those tendencies to mercy and kindness in oneself in order not to become prey.

The real problem is that the knowledge of psychopathy and how psychopaths rule the world has been effectively hidden. People do not have the adequate, nuanced knowledge they need to really make a change from the bottom up. Again and again, throughout history it has been meet the new boss, same as the old boss. If there is any work that is deserving of full time efforts and devotion for the sake of helping humanity in this present dark time, it is the study of psychopathy and the propagation of this information as far and wide and fast as possible.

There are only two things that can bring a psychopath under submission:

  1. A bigger psychopath.
  2. The non-violent, absolute refusal to submit to psychopathic controls no matter the consequences (non-violent noncompliance).

Let us choose path 2! If individuals simply sat down and refused to lift a hand to further one single aim of the psychopathic agenda, if people refused to pay taxes, if soldiers refused to fight, if government workers and corporate drones and prison guards refused to go to work, if doctors refused to treat psychopathic elites and their families, the whole system would grind to a screeching halt.

True change happens in the moment that a person becomes aware of psychopathy in all its chilling details. From this new awareness, the world looks different, and entirely new actions can be taken. Distinguishing between human and psychopathic qualities begins the foundation of responsibility upon which we have a real chance to create sustainable culture.

Clinton Callahan, originator of Possibility Management, author of Radiant Joy Brilliant Love, founder of Callahan Acad