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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

The Psychopath in the Corner Office

Traits based approach for detecting corporate psychopaths

News Books Classification of Corporate Psychopaths Recommended Links Recommended Papers Analogy between corporate and psychopathic behavior
Office Stockholm Syndrome Corporate Psychopath Trait Enumeration Learned helplessness High Demand Cults Leaders Practices as a Model of Corporate Psychopath Behavior The Fiefdom Syndrome Abusive, Authority Based Relationships
Anger trap Manipulator Bosses Toxically Incompetent Managers Paranoid Managers Narcissistic Managers Workspace Bullies
Understanding micromanagers Fighting control freaks Documenting Micromanager Behavior Surviving a Bad Performance Review Groupthink Nikolai Bezroukov's Short Introduction to Lysenkoism
Communication with corporate psychopaths Coping with the toxic stress in IT environment Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Quiz Humor Etc


A la guerre, comme a la guerre

French proverb

"The main lesson I have learnt is that when dealing with a sociopath, the normal rules of etiquette do not apply. You are dealing with someone who has no empathy, no conscience, no remorse, and no guilt...It is a completely different mindset. Words like 'predator' and 'evil' are often used."

Field

In this page we will try to classify traits that are typical for corporate psychopaths. this is a very limited approach but it has certain value as a early warning system.

Introduction

Psychopathic managers prevent subordinates doing their jobs and prevent employees fulfilling their duties. Most employees in IT are competent and have both the desire and ability to do good work. What is missing in some organizations is an environment that encourages and enables the expression of that competence. In his book, Hall (1988a) states,

If we are to achieve excellence in our organizations and communities, we must be willing to reorient
We must make a presumption of competence in the workplace rather than incompetence, for high-level performance rests on the simple, yet not widely accepted, premise that people will behave competently if we will but let them. (pp. 29-30)

No matter what is precise classification all toxic managers are cruel with subordinates and created out of the work environment "living hell". Incompetent, dishonest but scheming they charm the higher ups and climb on the back of others to achieve power. But it is important to understand that toxic managers would never achieves their goals and climb up the ladder without the disorganization and willful ignorance of his supervisors typical for some large corporations (Enron is a typical example here). Fish rots from the head.

The condition itself has been recognized for centuries, wearing evocative labels such as "madness without delirium" and "moral insanity" until the late 1800s, when "psychopath" was coined by a German clinician. This condition can be studied by watching film that depict a large variety of psychopath and allow some generalization based on this experience (which is much better/safer method to get some level of awareness, then facing one in you own office).

But the term (and its later 1930s synonym that is more applicable to corporate environment, sociopath -- "socialized psychopath") had always been a sort of catch-all, widely and loosely applied to violent and unstable criminals who seemed. See Psychopathic corporation page for the exploration of connection between corporate psychopaths and modern government organizations and megacorporations.

The key feature of such people that do not treat others as humans, they treat them as animals. Later this condition was expanded to include certain type of managers that consistently demonstrate cult leader qualities and which became a standard feature of most corporation to the extent that we can consider corporations to be a breeding grounds for psychopathic personalities. Such "office cult leaders" like many high demand cult leaders need only followers and try to completely enslave their victims.

"The psychopath has no allegiance to the company at all, just to self,".... "A psychopath is playing a short-term parasitic game."

In 1980, Hare created a list of static traits, which, revised five years later, became known as the PCL-R. Popularly called "the Hare," the PCL-R measures psychopathic personality on a forty-point scale. Despite obvious shortcomings and severe limitations typical for any traits-based classification, once it emerged, it helped to make the meaning of the term more uniform. This is covered in more detail at Classification of Corporate Psychopaths

While the executive with sociopathic traits is pretty common most such individuals don't typically wind up in prison. They are called socialized psychopaths or sociopaths. In fact, many are promotes explicitly due to callousness and ruthlessness they demonstrate and wind up in the cushioned leather chairs of the executive office(Chain Saw Al):

In 2005, the business magazine Fast Company included Dunlap in the article 'Is Your Boss a Psychopath', noting he "might score impressively on the Corporate Psychopathy checklist." The magazine's editor. John A. Byrne, noted: "In all my years of reporting, I had never come across an executive as manipulative, ruthless, and destructive as Al Dunlap. Until the Securities and Exchange Commission barred him from ever serving as an officer of a public corporation, Dunlap sucked the very life and soul out of companies and people. He stole dignity, purpose, and sense out of organizations and replaced those ideals with fear and intimidation."

In popular literature, psychopath is often defined as someone who displays several distinguishing characteristics, such as deceitfulness, compulsive lying (lying even when they're is no real need to hide the truth), impulsivity and a lack of remorse. Compulsive lying and cruelty to animals in adolescence are two pretty reliable indicators of this condition. Right wing authoritarians (RWA) also display many similar traits, but in no way they are psychopaths. As The Washington Monthly noted

...their pure combined essence:

Female sociopaths are more dangerous then men

Typically sociopaths demonstrates a superficial charm, which they exercise ruthlessly in order to get what they want. In this sense women are a much more dangerous type of psychopath. That implies that working women, especially in IT have an enemy more formidable than men. Female psychopaths usually see everything in terms of competition and female aggression. They have zero respect for their own gender. Just the opposite, they often hate it. Statistics suggest that a woman is the target in eight of every ten cases of bulling. But, paradoxically, in six of 10 cases, it is a woman who is the bully. They despise and attack female subordinates and try to undermine their more successful/competent female peers.

In the latter case, they assume that they have achieved their success by using charm/sex/chicanery. They also use their gender as a bulletproof vest against males, claiming discrimination when it is convenient to them. This dirty trick of "fake victim" works wonders in modern bureaucratic organizations. Female-to-female aggression is also observable in primates. Dominant female try to suppress reproductive success of competitor females in various ways including subjecting them to constant stress via harassment and intimidation and/or attacking offspring:

Holmstrom (1992) summarizes his review by saying that indirect strategies were observed among female great apes during the following three circumstances:
  1. In the power struggle among females, by cannibalistically feeding on the competitor's offspring;
  2. against the male, in sexual contexts by refusal of cooperation to sexual access; also in competition for food, and feeding on the male's offspring;
  3. through the offspring, by rearing the young and transmitting models of behavior from one generation to the next. The female thus prevents and restrains certain kinds of action in the offspring, permitting and favoring others. Accordingly, the social intelligence of higher primates should not be underestimated. As Byrne and Whiten (1987) have shown, chimpanzees are also fully capable of faking nonverbal signals, in order to deceive competitors.

Litmus test for a corporate psychopath

There is a not so obvious link of corporate psychopath and cult leaders. They generally demonstrate the same methods: they never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They dominate and humiliate their victims trying to convert them to slaves.

Surprising percentage of corporate psychopaths are women, They does not see others around her/him as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims and, in corporate environment, slaves.

List of common sociopathic traits which might help to alert you to the danger

  1. Compulsive, pathological lying. And due to this frequent self-contradiction especially about the fact of personal history; invented past and or excessive boasting about his successes (often of sexual nature); they are compulsive liars and lie even when there is no obvious need to it...
  2. Manipulative/Arrogant/Callous
  3. Impatient/Impulsivness/Exaggerated sexuality ( Impulsiveness is less common for corporate sociopaths; those prone to this are weeded early by corporate culture). But exaggerated security is very common and is a good warning sign. They tend to be impulsive risk takers
  4. Highly unreliable (betray friends, colleagues, bosses, etc without any remorse)
  5. Prone to fly into rages (See Borderline Rage but unlike "natural variety is consciously controlled and used as a sharp weapon)
  6. Inability to accept any responsibility for their actions. Typically they has little or no concern about the consequences of their actions. That actually make them effective sexual predators as a side effect.
  7. Sociopathic executives are fearless and can even demonstrate "courage under fire." They can take great risks, endangered the very company they serve. In case of crisis they can behave rationally and are not prone to panic. In a way they need to a constant thrill in their life. Otherwise they feel bored.

Corporate America is a veritable hive of white-collar crazies. Identifying, defining, and diagnosing exact personality disorders your boss suffers from can be a tricky business. Still one sign is universal: the workplace in such cases quickly becomes overflowing with tension.

These white-collar psychopaths or sociopaths are "individuals who most often do not act out in a criminal way, yet can be just as manipulative and cunning" as a serial killer. Their personality attributes "typically include superficial charm, unreliability, untruthfulness, and insincerity, [a] lack of guilt, remorse, or shame, [and] a need to engage in thrill-seeking behavior," as well as pathological lying, egocentricity, selfishness, and rejection of authority and discipline, according to the authors. In short, they are corporate con artists. They're the tech administrators who over-order company laptops and hawk them on eBay, or employees who sabotage bosses' and coworkers' careers by appropriating their ideas and denigrating their performance to supervisors. They're the outgoing employees who act friendly to their colleagues only to stab them in the back at every opportunity.

Middle management may be the natural habitat of the white-collar psychopath: Psychopaths are known for their extroversion, their charm, and their polished social skills, and complete disregard of people while trying to achieve corporate goals. Such traits are rewarded within many organizations.

PPP pattern and the penetration in the organization

In Snakes in Suits, the authors argue that corporate psychopaths follow a "PPP" pattern that involves three types of players:

Their penetration in organization is usually staged in several phases:

If you are the target this is a permanent position

One needs to understand that being a target of a psychopath is a permanent position. One horrifying detail in the definition of personality disorders is rigidility and inflexibility of patterns of thought and action (a good example is compulsive lying -- a defining feature of a sociopath that distinguishes them from authoritarians) (Wikipedia ) :

Personality disorders form a class of mental disorders that are characterized by long-lasting rigid patterns of thought and actions. Because of the inflexibility and pervasiveness of these patterns, they can cause serious problems and impairment of functioning for the persons who are afflicted with these disorders.

Personality disorders are seen by the American Psychiatric Association as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it. These patterns are inflexible and pervasive across many situations. The onset of the pattern can be traced back at least to the beginning of adulthood. To be diagnosed as a personality disorder, a behavioral pattern must cause significant distress or impairment in personal, social, and/or occupational situations.

Related term Antisocial personality disorder is defined as:

Antisocial personality disorder (abbreviated APD or ASPD) is a psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM-IV-TR recognizable by the disordered individual's impulsive behavior, disregard for social norms, and indifference to the rights and feelings of others.

The World Health Organization's ICD-10 diagnostic manual uses [term] dissocial personality disorder instead.

Such people distort and change meaning for the most ordinary social interactions: A simple difference of opinion, for example, can quickly escalate into a major and violent conflict.

As insightful page The toxic manager in the office a guide to toxic managers and toxic management in a toxic work environment states "We've all encountered them. Moody, aggressive, unpredictable, incompetent, always blaming other people. A compulsive liar with a Jekyll and Hyde nature, the individual, male or female, is always charming and plausible when management are around." Unpredictable outbursts of hostility, conflicting demands, inconsistent orders, random decision-making, inability to plan strategically, inability and unwillingness to communicate and co-operate, obstructive ... the list goes on.

Any psychopath does not see people as valuable, but only tools to be used in his game. As such they are capable if immense cruelty.

After some conversations with corporate psychopath you feel like you left the ring after facing opponent twice heavier then you and not playing by the rules. Everything will be your fault. You have a "negative attitude", you're a "poor performer", you're "not up to the job", and so on. If you get as far as alerting personnel or human resources management, it'll be a "personality clash". In truth, this is a projection of the psychopaths own negative attitude, poor performance, and incompetence.

If you are targeted by one it is important to understand that that psychopaths completely lack empathy for other people. That means that their are oblivious to sufferings they inflict. Absolutely oblivious. They tend to be rigid and inflexible, have hidden agendas, and have an unusually hard time recognizing or respecting boundaries. They're weighed down by irrational beliefs such as "To be criticized means I'm a failure" or "If I follow orders, I'm weak". Disturbingly, individuals with personality disorders not only tend to dismiss the idea that they have a problem, but often see their unpleasant traits as strengths and take pride in them. For this reason, many such individuals respond poorly to therapy -- if they agree to seek treatment at all.

For example, do you have a manager who focuses so single-mindedly on rules, regulations, and productivity to the extent that actual real work grinds to a halt? Is she unsatisfied with any solution you proposed, work compulsively till all hours, avoid making decisions, and insist that her way of doing things is the only way? If so, your boss may be suffering from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. This is not the same as obsessive-compulsive illness -- you're not likely to see her obsessively washing her hands. The best defense strategy: find a transfer or a new job. If you need to stay avoid arguments, keep a low profile, and steer clear of conflicts that you'll never win.

If you think you work for one of these individuals, the authors say, don't be fooled by "props" like the ready smile and good eye contact. Instead, watch your back. Seriously consider switching jobs. Lock your desk, secure your computer password, keep your personal life private, and notify your coworkers and supervisors of any inappropriate behavior on the part of this colleague. As the authors caution, "Anything you say can and will be used against you."

It is very important to keep log of all your boss actions as it helps to see patterns. This one of few useful advices for anyone who is in danger of being victimized by a white-collar con artist.

Documenting the psychopath behavior

Documenting the psychopath behavior in your journal helps to view his behavior in historical perspective: suddenly you start to see patterns in attacks, outbursts and intimidation tactics used.

Documenting the psychopath behavior in your journal helps to view his behavior in historical perspective: suddenly you start to see patterns in attacks, outbursts and intimidation tactics used.

Proper methods are well described in literature for psychological research. Limited amount of materials related to PIMM can be found at Documenting Micromanager Behavior page on this site.

Please note that psychopath in management position almost always have patsies: they try to create a group of followers organized as cult. Such cults are not religious, it's simply exploitative groups characterized by high level of manipulation and extreme dependency. So they try to create the situation what you alone face a group (there is strength in numbers).

The advice "watch your back" is prudent if you report to a psychopath, and one way to do this is a to keep journal that will help you see patterns that you may overlook otherwise.

Useful tips to documenting your boss behavior can be obtained by watching films that depict a large variety of psychopaths and allow some generalization based on this experience (which is much better/safer method to get some level of awareness, then facing one in you own office).

One of the simplest way of documenting behavior is correlating it with the list of traits that we present below.

Categories of behaviors that can you use in documenting psychopath behavior patterns

Like any other human condition psychopathy can be present in individuals in various degrees. Selection in corporate environment is such that psychopaths with too pronounced features, especially those who can't mask them are weeded off or are confined to the lower levels of hierarchy. So in a corporate environment we face a special "borderline" types with well above average adaptability. They also are not uniform as group, but still can be singles out by dominant stereotypes of behavior.

There were several attempts to classify corporate psychopaths into various categories. Most are naive and all (including presented here) are completely unscientific. We know way too little about this condition to have reliable scientifically based classification. But even unscientific is better then nothing as at least it provide some framework that help too deal with this phenomenon/

Please be aware, that many of self-help books represent Cargo Cult Science and vastly underestimate/misinterpret the danger. That actually is applicable to this page too as by and large it is a summary of available research interpreted through the prism of personal experience. While the author has training as a psychologist he never worked in this capacity. It goes without saying that good books on this topic are pretty rare. I have some book recommendations but they are of course far from being absolute.

Again this typology and characteristics listed ad defining each type are imprecise and unscientific; psychopaths are very variable and it is often difficult to fit your particular psychopathic boss into any of those classes. And you generally should not. This is exercise better reserved for modern "factories of illusion" (self-help books publishers) who are producing tons of low quality staff each year describing particular types although they are just facets of a generic psychopathic personality. In no way you should be blindly trusted either books or Web pages (including this one) in important career-affecting decisions.

Although you see manifestation of this personality disorder on your own skin, precise diagnostics is pretty difficult and you need to do your own leg work and collect evidence to understand what makes particular psychopath tick what are his favorite tactics. They key characteristic is the desire for domination and control. That's given. That's why there are often micromanagers.

You probably are better off consulting specialist and asking for a competent advice. At least you can enroll in community college and take course in criminal psychology: criminals and corporate psychopaths are just two sides of the same coin. Both this this page and relevant books should all be taken with a grain of salt. The author have spend more then seven years working as senior research associate in the psychology but like in programming that was a different area and this experience just ensured the knowledge of jargon, but does not guarantee talent or insight needed for this area.

Also few people have skills of clinical psychologists to correctly identify often complex blend of features in toxic manager. But you should try you best and keep log to detect the repetitive patterns. Mistakes are unavoidable though. For example sometimes it was looks like the manager is a bully, but more precise analysis of behavior can suggest that you are dealing with paranoid incompetent micromanager (PIMM) and the most prominent feature is not open aggression (bulling) but deep paranoia and obsessive control.

Here are categories of behaviors that can you used in documenting psychopath behavior patterns:

  1. Pathological Lying. This is a defining feature of a corporate sociopath. Like spiders they cannot live without spinning a web of lies, creating complex artificial reality. Usually can give such authors as Hemingway run for the money in the ability to invent stories. Has no problem lying coolly and easily "in the eyes" or even under the oath. Sometimes it looks like they cannot themselves distinguish facts and fiction. It is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Talented actors they can create, and get other caught up in a complex "artificial reality" with realistic but invented details of their biography and abilities. Extremely convincing and able to pass lie detector tests. Often lie about their academic achievements and pretend to have degrees that they never obtained. Compulsive, (using which corporate psychopath create "invented past"), was first described in the medical literature in 1891 by Anton Delbrueck. if has been defined as "falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime." The defining characteristics of pathological lying are that:

    1. The stories told are not entirely improbable and often have some element of truth. They are not a manifestation of delusion or some broader type of psychosis: upon confrontation, the teller can admit them to be untrue, even if unwillingly.
    2. This tendency is compulsive and long lasting; it is not provoked by the immediate situation or social pressure as much as it is an innate trait of the personality.
    3. There is an internal, not an external, motive for such a behavior: e.g. long lasting extortion or habitual spousal battery might cause a person to lie repeatedly, without the lying being a pathological symptom.
    4. The stories told tend toward presenting the liar favorably. For example, the person might be presented as being extremely devoted to "the cause", super-knowledgeable in some area, has tremendous success with women/men or having as friends some influential or famous people.
  2. Dominating and expect unconditional surrender. They are very harsh in testing loyalty from their devotees and expect them to feel guilt for their failings. Expects unconditional surrender.
  3. Complete, Absolute Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt. A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. 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. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
  4. Callousness/Lack of Empathy. Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them. Their skills are used to exploit, abuse and exert power. Since most normal IT professionals cannot believe their boss would callously hurt them, they rationalize the behavior as necessary for their (or the group's) "good" and deny the abuse. When you became aware of the exploitation it really looks like "office rape" and corresponds to the behavior of serial rapist.
  5. Carefully hidden chronically unstable, antisocial, or socially deviant lifestyle; often have early behavior problems/juvenile delinquency. Often demonstrate aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, compulsive stealing, etc. Usually has a history of behavioral difficulties. Ten to "gets by" by conning others. Often has problems in making and keeping friends due to pathological lying.
  6. Glibness/Superficial Charm. Perfectly able to used superficial charm to confuse and convince their audience. Easily provide captivating invented stories suitable for the circumstances. Demonstrate self-confidence. they can . Very good in verbal confrontations, well trained to destroy their critics verbally or emotionally.
  7. Extremely Manipulative and Conning. Never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors permissible. While they appear to be charming to strangers, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They dominate and humiliate their victims converting them into office slaves.
  8. Grandiose Sense of Self. Feels entitled to certain things as "their legitimate rights." Craves adulation and attendance. Tend to creates and maintain group polarization, "us-versus-them" mentality. Systematically works on alienation of subordinates from the rest of the company and instilling the view of "others" as hostile and threatening.
  9. Shallow, Often Non-genuine Emotions. When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion, it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
  10. Need for Stimulation. Corporate psychopaths are not necessary living on the edge like regular criminals, yet they like testing subordinates reactions with bizarre rules, punishments and behaviors. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Verbal conflict is what replaces some of them sexual life.
  11. Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature. Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Try to instill the belief that they are well-connected. Demonstrate no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
  12. Failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions. Irresponsibility/Unreliability. Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blame their followers or others outside their group. Blame reinforces passivity and obedience and produces guilt, shame, terror and conformity in the followers.
  13. Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity. Women frequently practice office promiscuity using sex as an instrument to climb the ladder. This is usually kept hidden from all but the inner circle.
  14. Lack of realistic planning, parasitic lifestyle. Tends to live by present moment, attempt to steal and provide to superiors as own ideas and achievements of subordinates. Highly sensitive to their own pain and health.

Other Related Qualities:

General Recommendations

The first and foremost recommendation is to keep up your guard. Nitpicking may not only drive you crazy but could be harmful to your career as if you overreact it exposures you to the to the threat of being fired for insubordination.

Avoid taking the toxic bosses actions personally and remind yourself that you are not stuck in a hostile work environment. Take actions for self-protection and establish personal boundaries rather than to change the other person. Remember that all of them are "Mayberry Machiavelli" and are ready to stub you in the back.

Try to set boundaries, making clear when it's inappropriate for to intrude on your work. You also may need to remind your boss of your accomplishments if you find an obsessive-compulsive boss is undercutting your work. You may want to divide up your work, so your obsessive-compulsive boss can obsess freely over some parts of the job while you can concentrate on the tasks at hand. You can scale down you works activities and try to attend the university courses at the evening to enhance you marketability at the job market (which you need to enter sooner or later).

In any case, learning to cope with psychopathic manager is a difficult tasks as many "features" of this type of persons became known only after painful personal encounters. It is one thing to read the page like this and another to encounter this animal at the close range. That's why you should stay only as long as absolutely necessary and should try your best to transfer to another department or other company. Remember you can't change this type of individual. Among possible defense moves we can mention to stick to your agenda, documenting every step and pointing abrupt changes of direction as well as providing feedback about projects you involved with.. Try to avoid getting sucked into his or her unreasonable demands. You don't want to end up being emotionally blackmailed.

The problem is that "toxic managers" are really toxic: they instantly destroy trust and tend to infect their departments with bad attitudes. It's really like a disease: they spread despair, anger and depression, which show up in lackluster work, absenteeism and turnover. They are also a major course of workplace burnout: toxic burnout. Coping with a toxic boss can take a severe toll on your life. It is like living with an abusive parent or husband; there are periods of calm where they are happy and not picking on you, but you always know that at some point it will start again.

The price of putting up with it is high. Researchers in Finland found that workers who felt they were being treated fairly on the job had a lower incidence of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in Western societies. [ABC, Oct. 26, 2005]. Often there is little you can do except to keep your head down and stay away from that manager as much as possible.

The best is to understand your tradeoffs and work not so much for the company as for improving your marketability for the next job. Forget about loyalty in such situation: set strict limits for yourself and stick to them. Stop working overtime, don’t take on extra tasks, never work through lunch. Have outside confidant: a person outside the company to listen to you, support you and, ultimately, to help you get out. The fact that they severely cripple the organization to which they belong is well known fact and does not require additional commentary.

Toxic behavior of superiors create level of anger when revenge became to sweet and pain that strips people of their self esteem and that disconnects them from their work too severe. Never go this road. Still for some people urge of revenge proves irresistible. That's why toxic managers are probably the leading causes of sabotage in modern organization (competing with outsourcing/Offshoring). "Fish stinks from the head!" and the higher toxic managers is, the more widespread is the damage he/she causes. Often large badly managed companies and government agencies attract such managers as due to their incompetence they simply would not survive out in the startup business community.

The best defense is finding a new, better job. You should start working in this direction immediately as this increase your psychological comfort. If job market is good it might be easier then you think.

Psychopathic bosses are really dangerous to your health (being chased by a wolf in a fenced space is not an experience one can endure for a long time, no matter how fast you can run), but don't struggle alone. Books, friends, church can help...

Try to set red flags for upper management and HR indirectly, otherwise be ready that your boss will retaliate against you.

Protect your privacy

Create a plan to counter the damage to self-esteem:

Summary


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[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.
Truthout

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. 

Survey Small business owners appear poised to flip the switch to growth mode Hoocoodanode

10/25/2013

adornosghost wrote on Fri,

1 currency now -yogi wrote:

Audit the Fed.

I agree, but if you want capitalism (think hard about that one) you need a central bank to smooth the natural chaos and sociopathic behavior.

1 currency now -yogi :

adornosghost wrote:

you need a central bank

Bullshit. They are the sociopaths. You don't choose 'democracy for all except bankers'.
 

[May 19, 2013]  Bernanke Economic Prospects for the Long Run

5/18/2013 | Hoocoodanode

sm_landlord 

GrandOldTurkey wrote:

And the federal government will ask you what say in your prayers....

Educational Video:
YouTube - Defense Against the Psychopath (Full length Version) 

[May 18, 2013]  Corporate psychopathy Talking the walk.  by Babiak P, Neumann CS, Hare RD.

 [Behav Sci Law. 2010 Mar-Apr] - PubMed - NCBI

Source

HRBackOffice, Hopewell Junction, New York 12533-6800, USA. Babiak@HRBackOffice.com

Abstract
There is a very large literature on the important role of psychopathy in the criminal justice system. We know much less about corporate psychopathy and its implications, in large part because of the difficulty in obtaining the active cooperation of business organizations. This has left us with only a few small-sample studies, anecdotes, and speculation. In this study, we had a unique opportunity to examine psychopathy and its correlates in a sample of 203 corporate professionals selected by their companies to participate in management development programs. The correlates included demographic and status variables, as well as in-house 360 degrees assessments and performance ratings. The prevalence of psychopathic traits-as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) and a Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL: SV) "equivalent"-was higher than that found in community samples. The results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) indicated that the underlying latent structure of psychopathy in our corporate sample was consistent with that model found in community and offender studies.

Psychopathy was positively associated with in-house ratings of charisma/presentation style (creativity, good strategic thinking and communication skills) but negatively associated with ratings of responsibility/performance (being a team player, management skills, and overall accomplishments).

 

[Mar 15, 2013] The corporate psychopath exposed  By Simon Hooper

Nov 24, 2004 | CNN.com

You can guess how Joel Bakan feels about modern companies from the title of his book: "The Corporation: The pathological pursuit of profit and power".

For Bakan, a Canadian law professor, his eponymous subject is a self-interested, manipulative, amoral and irresponsible character which, were it a person, would be diagnosed as clinically insane.

Bakan's polemical portrait, also adapted into a two-and-a-half hour documentary, is a tale of Enron-esque corruption, the erosion of workers' rights, the unethical exploitation of the developing world and an unhealthy involvement in political process.

"The problem with corporate capitalism is that selfishness and greed have become these unmodified values," Bakan told CNN.

"If you are in business then your moral imperative is to create wealth for your shareholders.

"What you have is a legally created person who is legally required always to act in its own self interest and the idea is that if a human person was only able to act in its own self interests we'd generally diagnose that person as a psychopath.

"We can go through the characteristics that define this particular disorder, one by one, and see how they might apply to corporations."

At the heart of Bakan's argument is the idea that, since its legal personification during the mid-1800s, the corporation has risen relentlessly to become the dominant institution in western society -- the equivalent of the church, the monarchy or the Communist Party during other historical eras.

Initially created as instruments of government policy, as illustrated by the great trading companies of the 17th and 18th centuries, Bakan argues that companies now exist purely to pursue profits with no interest or obligation to the societies in which they exist.

"Corporations have become so powerful that we've deregulated many of their activities, we've handed over many of our social services to them through privatization and we've loosened up merger and acquisition requirements to let them get as big as they want."

But can a corporation really have a personality? Bakan argues that the essentially anti-social nature of a company will predominate even if those in charge have good intentions. As for Corporate Social Responsibility, Bakan describes the concept as an "oxymoron."

"You might as well ask a great white shark to be nice to fish or a fox to go vegetarian," he argues in the film.

But John Micklethwait, the author of "The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea" and U.S. editor of "The Economist", disagrees.

"The corporation is legally a person, but the real question is whether it's ultimately fair to compare them to people," he says.

"The best way to think of the company is as a technology and, like all other forms of technologies, it can be used for good or evil. It doesn't have a mind of its own. The mind is driven by the people who run it. What the company is is a devastating piece of technology."

Micklethwait also believes Bakan has under-estimated the historical significance of companies and over-stated the influence of their modern successors.

"When people talk about companies now being more powerful than ever before, that is straightforwardly wrong," he says.

"Microsoft makes a huge amount of money but it doesn't actually run a country in the same way the East India Company did. Wal-Mart is roughly the same size as a country like Colombia, which may be dysfunctional but it can send you to prison, it can put you in the army and it can do a whole host of things a company can't do."

For Micklethwait the main issue is less the flawed corporate world than the absence of a credible alternative.

"When people question corporations they have to ask, 'What else?' Corporations have got defects but look at the countries that have not got corporations. The number of companies a country has is not a bad indicator of how free it is."

And while Bakan while criticize the way big business operates, he accepts society is at a crossroads in terms of alternative visions.

"We accept that the corporation is a self-interested mechanism and we accept that it's a very efficient tool for creating wealth, he says. "But we need to balance the creation of profit and the creation of wealth against the destruction of other values."

-- CNN's Paula Sailes contributed to this report.

Related Qualities:

  1. Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
     
  2. Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
     
  3. Authoritarian
  4. Secretive
  5. Paranoid
  6. Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
  7. Conventional appearance
  8. Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
  9. Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
  10. Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
  11. Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim

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.

TRANSCRIPT

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:

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

 

FBI — The Corporate Psychopath

Façade

It is fascinating that psychopaths can survive and thrive in a corporate environment. Day-to-day interactions with coworkers, coupled with business policies and procedures, should make unmasking them easy, but this does not always hold true. Large companies’ command-and-control functions ought to make dealing with them simple and direct; however, this may not be the case.

Psychopathic manipulation usually begins by creating a mask, known as psychopathic fiction, in the minds of those targeted. In interpersonal situations, this façade shows the psychopath as the ideal friend, lover, and partner. These individuals excel at sizing up their prey. They appear to fulfill their victims’ psychological needs, much like the grooming behavior of molesters. Although they sometimes appear too good to be true, this persona typically is too grand to resist. They play into people’s basic desire to meet the right person—someone who values them for themselves, wants to have a close relationship, and is different from others who have disappointed them. Belief in the realism of this personality can lead the individual to form a psychopathic bond with the perpetrator on intellectual, emotional, and physical levels. At this point, the target is hooked and now has become a psychopathic victim.

Corporate psychopaths use the ability to hide their true selves in plain sight and display desirable personality traits to the business world. To do this, they maintain multiple masks at length. The façade they establish with coworkers and management is that of the ideal employee and future leader. This can prove effective, particularly in organizations experiencing turmoil and seeking a “knight in shining armor” to fix the company.

Con

How is it possible for psychopaths to fool business-savvy executives and employers? They often use conning skills during interviews to convince their hiring managers that they have the potential for promotion and the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do an outstanding job. Using their lying skills, they may create phony resumes and fictitious work experience to further their claims. They may manipulate others to act as references. Credentials, such as diplomas, performance awards, and trophies, often are fabricated.

Open quotes
Psychopathic
manipulation usually begins by creating a mask, known as a psychopathic fiction, in the minds of those targeted.
Close quotes

Once inside the organization, corporate psychopaths capitalize on others’ expectations of a commendable employee. Coworkers and managers may misread superficial charm as charisma, a desirable leadership trait. A psychopath’s grandiose talk can resemble self-confidence, while subtle conning and manipulation often suggest influence and persuasion skills. Sometimes psychopaths’ thrill-seeking behavior and impulsivity are mistaken for high energy and enthusiasm, action orientation, and the ability to multitask. To the organization, these individuals’ irresponsibility may give the appearance of a risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit—highly prized in today’s fast-paced business environment. Lack of realistic goal setting combined with grandiose statements can be misinterpreted as visionary and strategic thinking ability; both are rare and sought after by senior management. An inability to feel emotions may be disguised as the capability to make tough decisions and stay calm in the heat of battle.

Damage

Evidence suggests that when participating in teams, corporate psychopaths’ behaviors can wreak havoc. In departments managed by psychopaths, their conduct decreases productivity and morale. These issues can have a severe impact on a company’s business performance.

There also is the risk for economic crimes to be committed. For the corporate executive and the criminal justice professional, the issue is the possibility of fraud. Today’s corporate psychopath may be highly educated—several with Ph.D., M.D., and J.D. degrees have been studied—and capable of circumventing financial controls and successfully passing corporate audits.

Investigation

Investigators should familiarize themselves with the typical traits and characteristics of psychopaths. They must understand the manipulation techniques used to create and manage the psychopathic bonds established with victim organizations. Their reputations, as judged by those in power with whom they have bonded, known as patrons, often provide added protection from closer investigation. As a result, the investigator may need to build a case with management for the use and broad application of more sophisticated techniques

The Stack The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson - Businessweek

The Psychopath Test:
A Journey Through the Madness Industry
By Jon Ronson
Riverhead; 288 pp; $25.95

The very first thing to know about psychopaths, at least according to Jon Ronson, is that they’re very charming. They’re also usually smart, easily bored, and ruthless power mongers who watch suffering with interest, have an inflated sense of self-worth, lie compulsively, and rarely take blame for their mistakes. For those reasons and others they tend to congregate in places such as London and New York. And a relatively high percentage end up running big companies.

Ronson, the author of The Men Who Stare at Goats, wraps The Psychopath Test around the research of Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who is the authority on psychopaths and co-author of Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. Hare is also the author of the definitive psychopath test—Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)—which has become the SAT for diagnosing nutjob behavior. Throughout decades of research, he’s found that many corporate leaders score way above average.

Actually, alarmingly high. While studies suggest that about 1 percent of the general population qualifies as genuinely psychopathic, Hare believes that about 4 percent of people with substantial decision-making power can be classified as such, and their influence is outsized. Hare even tells Ronson he wishes he’d spent less time studying psychopaths in prison and more time studying those who work in the markets. “Serial killers ruin families,” Hare says. “Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.” Although Ronson leans heavily on Hare’s research, he explains that other psychologists feel the same way. “The higher you go up the ladder,” says Martha Stout, a former Harvard Medical School professor and author of The Sociopath Next Door, “the greater the number of sociopaths you’ll find there.” (Ronson uses the terms socio- and psychopath interchangeably.)

To test the thesis, Ronson visits “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap, former chief executive officer of Sunbeam and author of Mean Business, who is both celebrated and reviled for his ability to fire people in large numbers. Ronson finds him at his Florida mansion, which is decorated with sharks and lions and panthers and eagles and hawks, and a lot of gold. Naturally, Ronson brings with him a copy of the PCL-R. Dunlap scores pretty high.

The history of psychotherapy also has its low points. Ronson spends a fair amount of time milking them—from Walter Freeman lobotomizing patients with ice picks to Elliott Barker’s efforts to cure psychopaths in the 1960s at a Canadian hospital for the criminally insane. Freeman thought it would be a good idea to lock them in a room naked and dose them with government-grade LSD. It wasn’t.

As wardens have long known, Ronson explains, psychopaths are incurable. Their deformity is physical—a temporal lobe of their brains does not seem to transmit or respond to normal emotional cues, such as fear or a terrible product launch. It’s almost a relief to know there is a physical difference that allows so many CEOs to stare into a camera and say they won’t be cutting the dividend, right before they cut the dividend.

Psychopaths have other advantages, too. According to Ronson, they learn to mimic emotion to manipulate their victims. “Try to teach them empathy and they’ll cunningly use it,” he writes. To such monsters, therapy is grist and workplace harassment videos are little more than training tools. There is nothing to do, really, but lock them up, or put them in charge.

This makes perfect sense. Agonized intellectuals full of sympathy for the common man aren’t meant for the corner office. Such persons would be useless making repetitive decisions about whom to fire and whom to give raises and how much to spend on marketing to children. Human resources executives have known this for a long time, especially those who sat through management courses in business school. As they probably learned, psychologist and management guru David McClelland divided workers’ personalities into three categories: those who need power, those who need to achieve, and those who want to be liked. He developed his own test and found that those with a high need to achieve and a high need for affiliation—in other words, really great people—made excellent customer service reps. Those who thirst for power—and couldn’t care less about what people think of them—end up running things.

Perhaps those who never make it to the top may be reassured to know they weren’t born with a horrifying emotional deformity. Those who have what it takes may consider The Psychopath Test a career guide. Given the proliferation of counterintuitive advice books offering such models as warriors and zombies, Ronson’s book may spark its own follow-up title: The Psychopath CEO: Empowering Tools and Career-Changing Lessons from the Insane Asylum.

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

NYTimes.com

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way.

The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

... ... ...

What are three quick ways to become a leader?

a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit.

b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them.

c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

Psychological manipulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simon[2] identified the following manipulative techniques:

[Oct 08, 2012] Good Boss, Bad Boss--There's Not Much Difference - Good Boss, Bad Boss--There's Not Much Difference

What Bill Jobs a psychopath?

CNBC/ Yahoo! Finance

The following CNBC guest blog is from Gautam Mukunda, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School and the author of "Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter."

Would you want your CEO to be someone who lied constantly? Who humiliated his employees?

Whose obsession with the paint colors in a factory had helped produce significant cost overruns on a major project?

No one would want a leader with such a record. He would surely be a disaster.

But the CEO I'm describing, of course, is Steve Jobs, who built Apple (aapl) into the most valuable company in history.

Anyone would want that result. But would you have hired the person who produced it?

This is just an example of a larger phenomenon.

(Read More: Top Performing CEOs of the Dow 30)

The best and worst leaders are often surprisingly similar, and our efforts to block the worst from power may also hinder us from getting the best ones. For both great and awful leaders, if the people charged with choosing a leader had known what he or she was going to do (not the results of his or her decisions, but the decisions themselves) in advance, they would likely have picked someone else. Abraham Lincoln was nominated by the Republican Party in 1860 because he was seen as the most conservative (that is, the least anti-slavery) major Republican. He was thought to be more acceptable to moderates than the supposedly more radical William Henry Seward, a far more accomplished politician who was Lincoln's main rival for the Republican nomination.

But when the crisis came, rather than let the South secede in peace, it was Lincoln - not Seward - who was willing to plunge the country into war. And though the circumstances were drastically different, by comparison, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he replaced most of its board of directors and eliminated 70 percent of its products - a change in strategy so radical even his handpicked board never voted to support it. We know how those stories worked out, of course, and we remember Lincoln and Jobs as geniuses. But their stories didn't have to go that way.

(Read More: Portfolio's Best American CEOs of All Time)

Think about it like this; when a leader takes a brave and iconoclastic stand, defies the opinion of the experts, and takes her company (or country) to incredible success, we say she must have incredible insight. She knew the right thing to do when no one else did. But most of the time, if all the experts disagree with someone - they're right. That's why they're experts. And there's no consistent way to tell, in advance, when the experts are right and when they're wrong. How could there be? If there were, everyone (including those same experts) would use it! So the best leaders do things that no one else would do, and the successes when they're right take them to glory. And the worst leaders do things that no one else would do, and the failures when they're wrong take them to infamy. That's the first of the two key similarities of the best and worst leaders.

The second is their paths to power. After all, leaders aren't chosen randomly. Lots of people want to lead, so every organization, from a company to a country, has a process it uses to choose among candidates for leadership. A bad leader can be catastrophic, so most organizations put a lot of effort into filtering out people they don't want.

(Read More: First Jobs of Famous CEOs)

Yet somehow, both the best and worst leaders are able to evade those filters, gaining power despite their willingness to do things that the very people who chose them would oppose. Often, that translates into a relatively short career. If we're talking about a president, he or she probably spent little time in senior political offices before entering the White House - like Lincoln, who had only two years in Congress. If it's a CEO, then he or she was probably a founder, hired from outside the company, inherited the job or reached the top in some other way that allowed her to hide what she will do.

So the worst leaders are generally those who were not thoroughly evaluated before they were given power. Sometimes unfiltered leaders are incompetent or otherwise incapable. Sometimes they simply make mistakes that someone else would have avoided. But the best leaders, too, make unique choices and are able to do so because they weren't thoroughly evaluated - it's just that their choices work.

So these two opposite ends on the spectrum of leader success are often two sides of the same coin.

[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?

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 02, 2011] The Other One Percent: Corporate Psychopaths and the Global Financial Crisis

Anyone who has ever worked in a large corporation has seen the empty suits that seem to inexplicably rise to positions of power. They talk a great game, possessing extraordinary verbal acuity, and often with an amazing ability to rise quickly without significant accomplishments to positions of great personal power, and often using it ruthlessly once it is achieved.

Their ruthless obsession with power and its visible rewards rises above the general level of narcissism and sycophancy that often plagues large organizations, especially those with an established franchise where performance is not as much of an issue as collecting their rents.

And anyone who has been on the inside of the national political process knows this is certainly nothing exclusive to the corporate world.

Dec 02, 2011 | Jesse's Café Américain

Anyone who has ever worked in a large corporation has seen the empty suits that seem to inexplicably rise to positions of power. They talk a great game, possessing extraordinary verbal acuity, and often with an amazing ability to rise quickly without significant accomplishments to positions of great personal power, and often using it ruthlessly once it is achieved.

Their ruthless obsession with power and its visible rewards rises above the general level of narcissism and sycophancy that often plagues large organizations, especially those with an established franchise where performance is not as much of an issue as collecting their rents.

And anyone who has been on the inside of the national political process knows this is certainly nothing exclusive to the corporate world.

Here is a paper recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics that hypothesizes along these lines. It is only a preliminary paper, lacking in full scholarship and a cycle of peer review.

But it raises a very important subject. Organizational theories such as the efficient markets hypothesis that assume rational behavior on the part of market participants tends to fall apart in the presence of the irrational and selfish short term focus of a significant minority of people who seek power, much less the top one percent of the psychologically ruthless.

Indeed, not only was previously unheard of behavior allowed, it became quite fashionable and desired in certain sections of American management where ruthless pursuit of profits at any cost was highly prized and rewarded. And if caught, well, only the little people must pay for their transgressions. The glass ceiling becomes a floor above which the ordinary rules do not apply.

If you wish to determine the character of a generation or a people, look to their heroes, leaders, and role models.
This is nothing new, but a lesson from history that has been unlearned. The entire system of checks and balances, of rule of law, of transparency in government, of accountability and personal honor, is based on the premise that one cannot always count on people to be naturally good and self-effacing. And further, that at times it seems that a relatively small group of corrupt people can rise to power, and harm the very fabric of a society.

‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’

Edmund Burke

'And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.'

Lord Acton

These things tend to go in cycles. It will be interesting to see how this line of analysis progresses. I am sure we all have a few candidates we would like to submit for testing. No one is perfect or even perfectly average. But systems that assume as much are more dangerous than standing armies, since like finds like, and dishonesty and fraud can become epidemic in an organization and a corporate culture, finally undermining the very law and principle of stewardship itself.
'Our government...teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.'

Louis D. Brandeis

MF Global, and the reaction to it thus far, is one of the better examples of shocking behaviour that lately seems to be tolerated, ignored, and all too often met with weak excuses and lame promises to do better next time, while continuing on as before.
"These corporate collapses have gathered pace in recent years, especially in the western world, and have culminated in the Global Financial Crisis that we are now in.

In watching these events unfold it often appears that the senior directors involved walk away with a clean conscience and huge amounts of money. Further, they seem to be unaffected by the corporate collapses they have created. They present themselves as glibly unbothered by the chaos around them, unconcerned about those who have lost their jobs, savings, and investments, and as lacking any regrets about what they have done.

They cheerfully lie about their involvement in events are very persuasive in blaming others for what has happened and have no doubts about their own continued worth and value. They are happy to walk away from the economic disaster that they have managed to bring about, with huge payoffs and with new roles advising governments how to prevent such economic disasters.

Many of these people display several of the characteristics of psychopaths and some of them are undoubtedly true psychopaths. Psychopaths are the 1% of people who have no conscience or empathy and who do not care for anyone other than themselves.

Some psychopaths are violent and end up in jail, others forge careers in corporations. The latter group who forge successful corporate careers is called Corporate Psychopaths...

Psychologists have argued that Corporate Psychopaths within organizations may be singled out for rapid promotion because of their polish, charm, and cool decisiveness. Expert commentators on the rise of Corporate Psychopaths within modern corporations have also hypothesized that they are more likely to be found at the top of current organisations than at the bottom.

Further, that if this is the case, then this phenomenon will have dire consequences for the organisations concerned and for the societies in which those organisations are based. Since this prediction of dire consequences was made the Global Financial Crisis has come about.

Research by Babiak and Hare in the USA, Board and Fritzon in the UK and in Australia has shown that psychopaths are indeed to be found at greater levels of incidence at senior levels of organisations than they are at junior levels (Boddy et al., 2010a). There is also some evidence that they may tend to join some types of organisations rather than others and that, for example, large financial organisations may be attractive to them because of the potential rewards on offer in these organizations."

Clive R. Boddy, The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis, Journal of Business Ethics, 2011

[Mar 21, 2007] The Raw Story Six ways to spot the workplace psychopath lurking in your office by Hazel Parry

(Rawstory.com) Dr John Clarke, for years an expert in the criminal mind, remembers the day he suddenly realized that there might be psychopaths at large in millions of offices around the world. "I was giving a lecture on criminal psychology and gave a psychopath checklist," he said. "At the end, a woman came up and said 'You have just described my boss'."

What Clarke discovered was that the psychopath is not just a person you find in prison, in a courtroom or in the pages of a thriller. He or she is scheming in workplaces all over the world. Research claims that 1 per cent of the adult working population are workplace psychopaths. In offices large and small, in boardrooms and on shop floors the psychopath lurks; lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, victimising and destroying co- workers - all without any guilt or remorse.

Worse than that, says Clarke, these so-called organizational psychopaths thrive in the corporate world where their ruthlessness and desire to succeed is not only mistaken as ambition and good leadership skills but is rewarded with promotion, bonuses and pay rises.

Take for example the average job advertisement, says Clarke. "They say things like 'You know you are best, you are able to influence people, you are determined to win at any cost for the organisation.' These sorts of statements appeal to a lot of people, but they particularly appeal to the psychopath." "What an organisation is doing when they place an ad like this, is indirectly encouraging a psychopath to apply."

In an interview the psychopath is a charmer coming across as the perfect person for the job. "They are very good talkers and will often make up things in their resume so the interview panel is taken in by them," says Clarke. "They appear to be charming, intelligent and sophisticated and it is only if you dig a little deeper you can see what sort of person they are." The workplace psychopath will do anything to get the power, the status and the salary they crave.

"The workplace psychopath thinks the same as the criminal psychopath. They are all out for themselves," says Clarke. "However, the difference is that where the violent criminal psychopath physically destroys their victims, the workplace one psychologically destroys them."

Clarke, a PhD in psychology from the University of Sydney, is the author of the recently-published The Pocket Pscyho (Random House), a survival guide on how to protect yourself from the organizational psychopath.

According to Clarke you can spot the workplace psychopath by the following behavior patterns and personality traits.

Workplace psychopaths operate by making friends with someone high up who can protect them. They undermine their boss while at the same time being friendly towards them and work their way up the corporate ladder. For those targeted by the psychopath, the consequences can be devastating. "They take away people's belief in themselves and their abilities. They take away their trust in other people," said Clarke. "The victim becomes cold, cynical, bitter and almost unable to function." Clarke says there are two weapons we can use to protect ourselves from the workplace psycho: education and teamwork.

In circumstances when the employer fails to act, Clarke recommends the victim should move jobs.

Why? Because you cannot change a psychopath, and rehabilitation only makes them worse. "They don't care. They don't think of themselves as psychopaths. They don't think they are doing wrong. They just think they are smart and if everyone else had the same intelligence, they would do the same thing," says Clarke. "When you rehabilitate them, you teach them social skills and show them how to deal with people appropriately. They will then use those social skills to better manipulate people." © 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

The Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath

Psychopathy is characterized by diagnostic features such as superficial charm, high intelligence, poor judgment and failure to learn from experience, pathological egocentricity and incapacity for love, lack of remorse or shame, impulsivity, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, manipulative behavior, poor self-control, promiscuous sexual behavior, juvenile delinquency, and criminal versatility among others (Cleckley, 1982; Hare et al., 1990). As a consequence of these criteria the psychopath has the image of a cold, heartless, inhuman being.

BizzBangBuzz by technology attorney business lawyer mediator Anthony Cerminaro July 2005

"The psychopath has no allegiance to the company at all, just to self," ... "A psychopath is playing a short-term parasitic game." That was the profile of Fastow and Dunlap -- guys out to profit for themselves without any concern for the companies and lives they were wrecking. In contrast, Jobs and Ellison want their own companies to thrive forever -- indeed, to dominate their industries and take over other fields as well. "An entrepreneurial founder-CEO might have a narcissistic tendency that looks like psychopathy," Babiak says. "But they have a vested interest: Their identity is wrapped up with the company's existence. They're loyal to the company."

[Feb 1, 2007] Big Bully

Only recently has society begun to deal with female bullying, perhaps more insidious because it rarely involves fists. Rather pointed barbs and cruel remarks are used, frequently leaving much more lasting damage.

[Feb 1, 2007] Lovefraud Blog » Blog Archive » Red flags for workplace sociopaths

Workplace habits of a career sociopath

[Feb 1, 2007]The Psychopath The Mask of Sanity

In short, the psychopath - and the narcissist to a lesser extent - is a predator. Only real feelings they seem to have - the thing that drives them and causes them to act out different dramas for effect - is a sort of "predatorial hunger" for what they want.

It has often been noted that psychopaths have a distinct advantage over human beings with conscience and feelings because the psychopath does not have conscience and feelings. What seems to be so is that conscience and feelings are related to the abstract concepts of "future" and "others." It is "spatio-temporal." We can feel fear, sympathy, empathy, sadness, and so on because we can IMAGINE in an abstract way, the future based on our own experiences in the past, or even just "concepts of experiences" in myriad variations. We can "predict" how others will react because we are able to "see ourselves" in them even though they are "out there" and the situation is somewhat different externally, though similar in dynamic. In other words, we can not only identify with others spatially - so to say - but also temporally - in time.

The psychopath does not seem to have this capacity.

They are unable to "imagine" in the sense of being able to really connect to images in a direct "self connecting to another self" sort of way.

Oh, indeed, they can imitate feelings, but the only real feelings they seem to have - the thing that drives them and causes them to act out different dramas for effect - is a sort of "predatorial hunger" for what they want. That is to say, they "feel" need/want as love, and not having their needs/wants met is described as "not being loved" by them. What is more, this "need/want" perspective posits that only the "hunger" of the psychopath is valid, and anything and everything "out there," outside of the psychopath, is not real except insofar as it has the capability of being assimilated to the psychopath as a sort of "food." "Can it be used or can it provide something?" is the only issue about which the psychopath seems to be concerned. All else - all activity - is subsumed to this drive.

In short, the psychopath - and the narcissist to a lesser extent - is a predator. If we think about the interactions of predators with their prey in the animal kingdom, we can come to some idea of what is behind the "mask of sanity" of the psychopath. Just as an animal predator will adopt all kinds of stealthy functions in order to stalk their prey, cut them out of the herd, get close to them and reduce their resistance, so does the psychopath construct all kinds of elaborate camoflage composed of words and appearances - lies and manipulations - in order to "assimilate" their prey.

[Feb 1, 2007] predators

The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. Magazine: Psychology Today, January/February, 1994. Adobe Acrobat .pdf version of this article.

Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. These often charming -- but always deadly--individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; their game is self-gratification at the other person's expense. Many spend time in prison, but many do not. All take far more than they give.

The most obvious expressions of psychopathy--but not the only ones -- involve the flagrant violation of society's rules.

... ... ..

Psychopaths show a stunning lack of concern for the effects their actions have on others, no matter how devastating these might be. They may appear completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they have no sense of guilt, are not sorry for the ensuing pain, and that there is no reason now to be concerned.

... ... ...

Their lack of remorse or guilt is associated with a remarkable ability to rationalize their behavior, to shrug off personal responsibility for actions that cause family, friends, and others to reel with shock and disappointment. They usually have handy excuses for their behavior, and in some cases deny that it happened at all.

DECEITFUL AND MANIPULATIVE

With their powers of imagination in gear and beamed on themselves, psychopaths appear amazingly unfazed by the possibility--or even by the certainty--of being found out. When caught in a lie or challenged with the truth, they seldom appear perplexed or embarrassed--they simply change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so they appear to be consistent with the lie.

... ... ...

IMPULSIVE

Psychopaths are unlikely to spend much time weighing the pros and cons of a course of action or considering the possible consequences. "I did it because I felt like it," is a common response. These impulsive acts often result from an aim that plays a central role in most of the psychopath's behavior: to achieve immediate satisfaction, pleasure, or relief.

POOR BEHAVIOR CONTROLS

Besides being impulsive, psychopaths are highly reactive to perceived insults or slights. Most of us have powerful inhibitory controls over our behavior; even if we would like to respond aggressively we are usually able to "keep the lid on." In psychopaths, these inhibitory controls are weak, and the slightest provocation is sufficient to overcome them.

As a result, psychopaths are short-tempered or hotheaded and tend to respond to frustration, failure, discipline, and criticism with sudden violence, threats or verbal abuse. But their outbursts, extreme as they may be, are often short-lived, and they quickly act as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

... ... ...

Although psychopaths have a "hair trigger," their aggressive displays are "cold"; they lack the intense arousal experienced when other individuals lose their temper.

... ... ...

LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY

Obligations and commitments mean nothing to psychopaths.

[Jan 17, 2007] Carl von Clausewitz biography.

[Jan 17, 2007] psychopathy

An interesting observation: those who cannot love want power.

In truth, psychopathy knows no boundaries.

First of all, it is found among all social classes. Such character disordered people are not only the charming con men and dangerous gold diggers that Dr. Hare warns us about, not only are they the lower-class, drunken, drug abusing "sociopaths" which Dr. Black writes about, they are also people who hold high positions in society, as Jungian author Guggenbuhl-Craig has said, because those who cannot love want power.

Some may disagree, but it has been well known that the socially adept psychopath, while his personal life may lie in disarray, is not incapable of reaching the heights of power (Hitler was a very good example of this). Hervey Cleckley also wrote about the socially adept psychopath in great detail.

Only as of late, with all the Enron scandals and related crimes, people are waking up to the fact that the most dangerous psychopath of all is the educated, socially adept psychopath, in fact, Dr. Hare recently said that he would probably be able to find many psychopaths involved in the stockmarket. It is time for American to "wake up" says Dr. Wolman, because we are being threatened by a serious epidemic of psychopathy.

In addition, the majority of psychopaths (4% of the population, although some think this is a modest estimate) are not just serial killers or greedy, cut-throat CEOs, but many are abrasive personalities who enjoy making life difficult for others. These psychopaths enjoy controlling others and "winning," and creating an environment of hostility and bitterness.

As a result of all the contradictions within the subject of psychopathy, I leave it up to you, the reader, to investigate the various links I've included below.

[Jan 14, 2007] Living & Working with Difficult Personalities

Here the author is limiting term to deceitful and manipulative type of psychopaths. But the real definition is people who do no think about others as people and can treat them as animals.

Dealing with a sociopath

[Jan 5, 2007] Management Fad Adoption: An Exploration of Three Psychogenic Influences Kerry David Carson Paula Phillips Carson University of Louisiana at Lafayette Patricia A. Lanier Southeast Missouri State University Ross D. Judice Acadian Ambulance & Air Med Services

A useful depiction of a paranoid psychopaths.

December 2002 (the Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management – Winter 2002 – Vol. 3(2) Page 174) A second type of neurotic leader identified by Kets de Vries (1994) is the suspicious type. These managers feel like they can't trust anyone, so they are constantly on their guard. Therefore, they are always preparing to retaliate against all assaults from menacing forces. To help them prepare for assaults, they seek large inputs of information. Because of their hypersensitivity, distrustfulness, and suspiciousness, they try to control their work environment by being over-involved in rules and details.

According to Westen & Shedler (1999), individuals with a paranoid personality disorder are hostile people who express anger out of proportion to the situation. This anger is a result of their perception that others are trying to do them harm. They tend to misinterpret others' intentions as malevolent, frequently getting into power struggles and arguments. Once a conflict arises, the paranoid executive will tend to hold a grudge and be very critical of the other person, losing all capacity to see anything good in the other person. Projecting unacceptable feelings onto others, they tend to come across as self-righteous and moralistic. Once a major problem arises they see it as disastrous and unsolvable, but they won't confide their concerns to others for fear of betrayal.

The suspicious executive mistrusts everyone. S/he can be described as intense, cynical, inflexible, and distrustful. Because of their continuing paranoia, which is typically unjustified, suspicious personalities defend against any perceived threat--real or imagined. Stubborn and rigid, they rarely relax or let up their guard.

They maintain that hypervigilance is their key to survival. Everyone in the organization is seen as a potential menace, so the suspicious executive keeps a safe distance from colleagues. This distance makes interactions seem impersonal and callous. They seem void of kindness, sentimentality, and compassion. On the occasions when suspicious personalities exhibit humor, it is usually thinly veiled hostility--expressed in a stabbing and sarcastic manner (Carson & Carson, 1997; Carson & Carson, 1998).

Suspicious executives need to control in order to ensure their safety and security. When they are not in charge, the suspicious personality feels vulnerable. However, they hide such concerns because to expose weaknesses would give others an upper hand. Therefore, the paranoid tries to conceal feelings of foreboding, tension, and distress. They bluff their way through danger by acting fearless, inaccessible, and potentially vengeful. To protect themselves, suspicious executives emphasize organizational structure, centralized power, environmental intelligence, and diversification (Kets de Vries & Miller, 1984).

Management fashions are adopted by suspicious executives to reduce risk, increase control, and augment power. Fashions are then dropped to cover up failed initiatives, thus avoiding criticism and attack (cf. Carson & Carson, 1997; Carson & Carson, 1998).

[Dec 26, 2006] Management by Baseball PART III: Approaches for Coping
with Sociopathic Bosses

In the last pair of entries I discussed in general organizations run by a head-man who behaves like a sociopath, and the Yankees in particular.

It's not a very common model, although a surprising number of them move to the top of their field, and some even endure. The Yankees have a wonderful record of success, and if you're a stockholder, you probably think General Electric has a fair track record (though if you're a buyer of any of their consumer products, you almost certainly don't). Others, Like Sunbeam, fail.

But what do you do if you are in an organization run like this; how do you cope? I promised some partially-effective approaches. There's nothing in my tool kit that's assuredly successful. Here are my suggestions, in decending order of effectiveness.

1. Don't ever hire on under any circumstances. If you're up for a job in an organization you don't work for, and the job is one someone just got fired from, nose around. The head-man in a sociopathic organization will be very seductive (and his hench folk will, too). He may have a good cop, a very empathetic co-dependent whose main purpose is to bring in fresh meat to get chewed up. The good cop will tell you the incumbent was incompetent, and they really need you to bring some class to the organization. Some additional warning signs: much higher than market scale pay; a sense of urgency; reports oozing from the head-man and his good cop about this and that incompetent who had to be let go; a level of pursuit that's almost like flirting. The good cop will always be able to convince herself that The Boss is about to turn a corner, and if not, he'll at least have a toy to toy with who isn't her. If you think there's even the vaguest chance the organization is sociopathic, insist on getting everything promised to you in writing.

To most sociopathic-acting bosses, signed contracts, like any kind of accountability, are like garlic to a vampire...not fatal but very repulsive, and you can out them with the polite request for one.

The ones who are true sociopaths, btw, will go ahead and sign one anyway, not caring about the consequences, so it's not a perfect strategy.

2. Get the heck out as soon as you can do it on your own terms. It appears the Yanks G.M. Brian Cashman is doing just that. Having come up from a lowly office job to G.M. of a most successful franchise, Cashman is now in a position to shop his services elsewhere. There's not much more he can do in New York -- they've won the Series with him in the position. Steinbrenner has worn out Cashman's loyalty, if you can believe the story linked to here. He has a good reputation, although some probably believe anyone of reasonable skill could succeed given the Yankees' resources. It makes sense for Cashman to move on and see if he can prove himself with a franchise that doesn't behave as though it has unlimited funds. Sadly, once a functionally-sociopathic boss no longer has the power to fire you, he will almost invariably try to mess with you in other ways...tarnish your reputation, try to undermine other job opportunities, withhold agreed-upon exit wages or threaten to go back on other agreements. In the Yankees case, it looks like Cashman has to be released to go elsewhere because Steinbrenner has an option on him for another year after this one, and it's pretty common for the functionally-sociopathic boss to resent an employee he likes to terrorize escaping from his clutches, exposing his impotence.

3. Build a plan to overthrow the head-man and save the organization. This has been my pattern. I don't recommend it. Too much trouble and likely to fall on deaf ears. I did succeed in helping to bring down one such boss who behaved as though he was a sociopath, by making a point of contacting every one of his serial victims and getting them to write letters to the C-level guy the head-man reported to. There were other factors, but because some of the victims had been treated in a way many courts would consider sexual harassment and because this man carried a concealed weapon sometimes, there were enough cautionary indications that when the company had a thin business excuse, they let him go, though it was after I was already gone. The problem with this kind of rescue behavior is an organization that deserved it would rarely have allowed a person like this to run the lives of 100 people in the first place.

4. Don't be a "Tall Poppy", and keep your exit plan current and polished. The Australians have an expression, "Don't be a tall poppy". It means don't attract attention. In the sociopathic organization, acting fearless, refusing to respond to the head-man's routines, makes you a tall poppy. Being entertainingly fearful (in response to the head-man's initiatives), like asking for reviews or asking how you can please him more by being better or by cowering or hiding when he's in one of his (frequently staged) rages or scolds also makes you a tall poppy.

The model is to act fearful, but in a moderate, boring way that doesn't attract his attention. Don't run out of the room and hide, but don't be conveniently near, either. And always have an exit plan ready, evolving week to week. Plan on not being able to have a reference from this company.

Do good (not great) work; you don't want to be recognized as an achiever, because the boss who behaves like a sociopath will frequently sacrifice or simply serially humiliate an achiever to terrorize other employees.

This avoidance is a strategy I don't care for at all; I think it makes people lose their edge, because once most people get used to dogging it, it's harder to excel, to ratchet it back up. In the Permafrost Economy, some people have so few choices that this one becomes viable, though. It's conceivable you may outlast a functionally-sociopathic boss without doing anything intentional designed to shorten his tenure.

... ... ...

[Dec 26, 2006] Coping With Psychopaths @ Work

For some reason sociopath is strongly associated with Mayberry Machiavellis type of people. IMHO the term is much broader then that. The key problem for social psychopaths is their inability to treat other as humans, just as an objects.

[Dec 14, 2006] The serial bully: Identifying the psychopath or sociopath in our midst including the socialised psychopathic manager

"All cruelty springs from weakness."
(Seneca, 4BC-AD65)

"Most organisations have a serial bully. It never ceases to amaze me how one person's divisive, disordered, dysfunctional behaviour can permeate the entire organisation like a cancer."
Tim Field

"The truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it, ignorance my deride it, but in the end, there it is."
Winston Churchill

"Lack of knowledge of, or unwillingness to recognise, or outright denial of the existence of the serial bully is the most common reason for an unsatisfactory outcome of a bullying case for both the employee and employer"
Tim Field

I estimate one person in thirty, male or female, is a serial bully. Who does the following profile describe in your life?

The serial bully:

Responsibility

The serial bully appears to lack insight into his or her behaviour and seems to be oblivious to the crassness and inappropriateness thereof; however, it is more likely that the bully knows what they are doing but elects to switch off the moral and ethical considerations by which normal people are bound. If the bully knows what they are doing, they are responsible for their behaviour and thus liable for its consequences to other people. If the bully doesn't know what they are doing, they should be suspended from duty on the grounds of diminished responsibility and the provisions of the Mental Health Act should apply.

[Dec 14, 2006] Guardian Unlimited Archive Search

Clarke says workplace psychopaths have the same psychological make-up as killers. The only difference is that they have the ability to hide their psychopathic tendencies behind the front of a respectable, white-collar job. Employers should beware liars, cheaters, smooth-talkers, people who appear bored, those who change jobs quickly and those who believe they should be higher up in the company; all are potential psychopaths. (Note that recent studies have discovered that 15% of top executives misrepresent their education, and one-third of all CVs contain lies.)

Psychopaths aren't mad: they're sane, rational, often highly intelligent individuals. What separates them from the norm is a series of character traits - among them impulsiveness, egocentricity, lack of empathy and irresponsibility - which make them a highly dangerous and destructive force in society. No-one is certain exactly what causes a person to be

psychopathic, although it is now generally believed that psychopaths are born, not made. As yet, psychopathy can neither be cured nor successfully treated.

[Dec 14, 2006] Executive Psychopaths By Gardiner Morse

(Harvard Business Review) Chances are good there’s a psychopath on your management team. Seriously. I’m not talking about the “psycho” boss that employees like to carp about—the hard-driving supervisor who sometimes loses it. He’s just difficult. Nor am I referring to the sort of homicidal “psychopath” Hollywood likes to serve up—Freddy Krueger, say, or Brando’s Colonel Kurtz. Neither is, clinically speaking, a psychopath.

I’m talking about the real thing, the roughly 1% of the population that is certifiably psychopathic. True psychopaths are diagnosed according to very specific clinical criteria, and they’re nothing like the popular conception. What stands out about bona fide psychopaths is that they’re so hard to spot. They’re chameleons. They have a cunning ability to act perfectly normally and indeed to be utterly charming, as they wreak havoc on the lives of the people around them and the companies they inhabit.

Many of psychopaths’ defining characteristics—their polish, charm, cool decisiveness, and fondness for the fast lane—are easily, and often mistaken for leadership qualities That’s why they may be singled out for promotion. But along with their charisma come the traits that make psychopaths so destructive: They’re cunning, manipulative, untrustworthy, unethical, parasitic, and utterly remorseless. There’s nothing they won’t do, and no one they won’t exploit, to get what they want. A psychopathic manager, with his eye on a colleague’s job, for instance, will doctor financial results, plant rumors, turn coworkers against each other, and shift his persona as needed to destroy his target. He’ll do it, and his bosses will never know.

That makes them particularly dangerous to organizations, says Robert Hare, a University of British Columbia psychologist whose psychopathy checklist, the PCL-R, is used worldwide to screen for psychopathic personalities. Hare believes that psychopaths are increasingly common in business because they’re attracted to the pace and volatility of today’s hypercompetitive workplaces. And because companies unwittingly nurture them. Hare and his colleague Paul Babiak, a New York-based industrial psychologies, think they’re rising through the ranks. To find out, this summer Hare and Babiak began testing a screening tool specifically devised to expose psychopathy at work.

Some of these people are undoubtedly in your organization, and you certainly don’t want to promote them. How do you tell a true high-potential from the likely psychopath? Hare’s track record in the field suggests that the experimental screen he and Babiak are currently testing, the 360-degree B-Scan, could become the standard tool for exposing corporate psychopaths. But it will be some months before the preliminary data are in and the tool’s validity can be evaluated.

In the meantime, companies can do several things to contain psychopaths at work. Hare and Babiak say. First, make it easy for rank-and-file workers to express concerns about colleagues. Have an ombudsman or an anonymous tip line. Because regular employees are less useful to a psychopath than leaders, the psychopath’s mask will often come off in front of staff, and employees will pick up on psychopath’s game before management does.

Second, thoroughly cross-check your impressions of your high-potentials with colleagues who know them well. A psychopath will tell you exactly what you want to hear, and it may be quite different from what he tells others. When the stories don’t jibe, take a closer look.

Finally, be self-aware. Leaders are famously conscious of their strengths but often clueless about their vulnerabilities. A psychopath will manipulate you by exploiting personal weaknesses. Learn about your weaknesses (a coach can help), and beware when someone seeks advantage by playing on them.

Reprinted with permission by Harvard Business Review www.hbr.org/

[Dec 10, 2006] The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing The Experience and Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

A reader from Santa Fe, NM , July 16, 1998 A good description of the problem and some solutions This book contains well-written descriptions of obsessive-compulsive disorder -- it's informative, clear, and a pleasure to read. And for those of us who either suffer from these disorders or are close to someone who does, it's an eye-opener: you are NOT the only person who's ever had to deal with this problem, and there IS hope for curing it! For all these reasons, I highly recommend the book. Two cautions, however: (1) The book gave a good description of the ways of treating OCD as of the date it was written. Since then, however, there have been many new developments, so, if you're specifically interested in treatments, you'll need to look up some more recent books and articles. (2) "Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder" (OCPD) is a related but different condition, and it's possible that someone who exhibits similar symptoms but doesn't have full-blown OCD suffers from this instead. (My mother has never gone in for compulsive hand-washing, but she's rigid, intolerant, controlling, and a pack rat on a truly monumental scale. That's OCPD.) The treatments for the two conditions differ -- drugs are more helpful for OCD than OCPD, for example. As with any mental condition, it's absolutely necessary to have a thorough professional diagnosis; don't just march into your doctor's office demanding Prozac, or stock up on St. John's Wort at your local herbalist's.

[Nov 5, 2006] ABC Radio National - Background Briefing 18 July 2004 - Psychopaths in Suits

Dr Paul Babiak: Insincere, arrogant, untrustworthy, manipulative, insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, remorseless, shallow, meaning the person seems not to have feelings, is incapable of experiencing or understanding the feelings of others.

"Insincere, arrogant, untrustworthy, manipulative, insensitive to the thoughts
and feelings of others…"

Tends to blame others for things that go wrong, has low frustration tolerance and is therefore impatient with things.

Erratic, unreliable, unfocused, and is selfish, parasitic, they take advantage of the goodwill of people they work with as well as the company itself.

... ... ...

If this sounds like someone you know, grab and pen and try this quick quiz. Answer Yes or No to the following ten questions:

  1. Does your boss or workmate come across as smooth, polished and charming?
  2. Do they turn most conversations around to a discussion about them?
  3. Do they discredit or put others down in order to build up their own image and reputation?
  4. Can they lie with a straight face to their co-workers, customers, or business associates?
  5. Do they consider people they’ve outsmarted or manipulated as dumb or stupid?
  6. Are they opportunistic, ruthless, hating to lose and playing to win?
  7. Do they come across as cold and calculating?
  8. Do they sometimes act in an unethical or dishonest manner?
  9. Have they created a power network in the organisation, then used it for personal gain?
  10. Do they show no regret for making decisions that negatively affect the company, shareholders, or employees?

[Oct 10, 2006] Beware danger at work Office hours Jobs Editorial

They're charming and plausible, but they hide a dark secret. Kate Hilpern on psychopathic colleagues and why there are more of them than you might imagine
September 27, 2004 (The Guardian ) If you've ever secretly harbored thoughts that a colleague - or even your boss - behaves like a psychopath, you may be closer to the truth than you dared to imagine. A study has found that there are far more sub-criminal psychopaths - self-serving, narcissistic schemers who display a stunning lack of empathy, but are not criminally inclined - at large in the population than had previously been thought. Some even end up in managerial positions.

"The world of unfeeling psychopaths is not limited to the popular images of monsters who steal people's children or kill without remorse," explains Robert Hare, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Canada, who conducted the study. "After all, if you are bright, you have been brought up with good social skills, and you don't want to end up in prison, so you probably won't turn to a life of violence. Rather, you'll recognise that you can use your psychopathic tendencies more legitimately by getting into positions of power and control. What better place than a corporation?"

"Corporate psychopaths" tend to be manipulative, arrogant, callous, impatient, impulsive, unreliable and prone to fly into rages, according to Professor Hare. They break promises, and take credit for the work of others and blame everyone else when things go wrong. "Psychopaths are social predators and like all predators they are looking for feeding grounds," he says. "Wherever you get power, prestige and money, you will find them."

But with today's employers increasingly focusing on anti-bullying policies, how do they get away with it? Paul Babiak, an organisational psychologist, explains that psychopaths have the ability to demonstrate the traits that the organisation wants and needs, as well as coming across as smooth, polished and engaging. They can appear to employers to be the perfect manager. "The psychopath is the kind of individual that can give you the right impression, has a charming facade, can look and sound like the ideal leader, but behind this mask has a dark side," he says. "It's this dark side of the personality that lies, is deceitful, is manipulative and that bullies other people."

Dr Babiak claims to have dealt with corporate psychopaths who not only demonstrate the defining characteristics of lack of remorse and empathy, but also enjoy causing others pain. "I have seen individuals fire people and take great pleasure in doing it," he says.

Frances Collins was driven out of her job after just a few months, whilst her psychopathic boss remained in his. "One shining example of his lack of empathy was the day of my graduation," she says. "There was an event happening at work that day, which I had worked extremely hard to help them prepare for. It was all set to go like clockwork, so I was able to take the day off. On the same day, I found out that my stepdad had cancer, so wound up having to comfort my mother, as well as deal with my graduation. When I returned to work, and my boss discovered this, he simply pulled me up on the fact that I hadn't rang to check if the event had gone OK."

He would turn up to work at 10am and leave by 4pm almost every day, "due to family issues," she says. "Yet it was almost as if no one else had a family or life, for that matter. Then, when people complained that the communications team was never there, he tried to imply that it was myself or the other PR officer at fault when we were out covering his meetings."

In some organisations, corporate psychopaths pose a threat not only to individuals, but also to the entire workforce, according to Dr Babiak. They build up a power base and turn everyone in the organisation paranoid, everyone becomes afraid of everyone else and the work culture begins to reflect the personality of the leader.

Dr Babiak adds that bullying isn't the only characteristic displayed by the corporate psychopath. "Many even promote fraud in the organisation and steal the company's money," he says. Recent research by accountants MacIntyre Hudson demonstrates just how much of a concern to companies this is. Almost four out of 10 business owners in Britain view the possibility of fraud - particularly being ripped off by one of their own employees - as the single biggest threat to their company, the study found.

In an attempt to root out such undesirable employees, Dr Babiak and Prof Hare have teamed up to design a test aimed at enabling companies to detect corporate psychopaths before they can do serious damage in the workplace. The "Business Scan 360" test will assess managers who come across as ideal corporate leaders, but who may carry psychopathic traits. Colleagues and a supervisor of the person being tested will be asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire that considers four aspects of the subject's personality - anti-social tendencies, organisational maturity, interpersonal relations, and personal style.

But the idea is not to smoke out these people and give them the boot, insists Prof Hare. "Some organisations would value some of the traits, such as being remorseless and manipulative. Used-car salesmen, for example, will probably need to be cut-throat," he says. "The major problem is that psychopaths get into organisations as they interview well and can convince people that they are right for the job. But as soon as the person is hired all sorts of problems start."

Tim Field, author of Bully in Sight and a recognised expert on bullying in Britain, believes the test is good news for victims of corporate psychopaths. "'At the moment, there is very little that they can do to regain control of their career other than leave their job altogether," he says.

"You cannot negotiate or mediate with this kind of bully for two reasons. First, because they have a different kind of mindset to everyone else and second, because they are very good at pulling the wool over their employers' eyes. In fact, if you try to negotiate or mediate, they will simply see you as vulnerable, which can put you in even more danger. They get their kicks out of causing other people pain, so a vulnerable person is a prime target."

Mr Field's own research has identified four types of "serial bully" in the workplace, and the one he claims is most dangerous is what he calls the "sociopath". "The sociopath - which is short for 'socialised psychopath' - is basically my term for the corporate psychopath," he says. "I just chose to emphasise the 'socialised' aspect because these people have brought their behaviour to just within what is socially and legally acceptable."

Sociopaths, he says, tend to sit at middle, or just above, middle management and while Professor Hare has found they often gravitate towards roles in business, the media, law and politics - where scheming and bullying is just part of everyday working life - Mr Field has spotted them in others sectors too. "I get a lot of calls from victims in the caring professions - nursing, social services and education, for example. I believe that's because they prey on vulnerable people and vulnerable people often choose to work in this sector."

Corporate psychologist Ben Williams agrees that the corporate psychopath is at large in management throughout Britain. "But I would argue that there are fewer than in the past because we now have laws against discrimination and unfair behaviour," he says.

Others disagree. The quickly changing corporate world is increasingly susceptible to the psycho in a suit, Dr Babiak believes. The old, staid, bureaucratic organisation filled with rules, policies and procedures was too frustrating and unattractive to the psychopath, he says. "Now, because the pace of business has accelerated so much, only organisations that move fast can survive. It also makes it more fun to work there, not just for you and I, but for the psychopath as well."

Not all corporate psychopaths get away with their antics, however. Alan Ross recalls working for a particularly mercenary one in an investment bank. "I was just out of university and she almost screwed me up completely," he says. "She had ambitions to move into a new area of work and did this primarily by getting her researchers - us - to translate and plagiarise equity research from all the continental banks and sell it as her own research. This proved highly successful and she was getting a name for herself as an expert."

Just before she was offered a major job in her new "expert" role, however, Ross decided to put an end to her reign of terror. "First we supplied a dossier to a magazine, which duly printed an exposé of her. Finally, to rub it right in, we sent copies of the article to every fund manager she ever had dealings with - ie all the bank's best and wealthiest customers. Job done - she was suspended pending an investigation and then sacked."

· Some names have been changed.

[Oct 10, 2006] The Monster Blog Your Boss A Psychopath

psychopaths –- defined as those unburdened by conscience who selfishly use people “callously and remorselessly for their own ends” –- don’t merely exist in corporate America, but are now more than ever harbored in the business environment.

In his study involving a half-dozen companies, renowned industrial psychologist Paul Babiak found that the rapid changes the economy has recently undergone have fed corporate psychopaths, who thrive on the thrills of fast transformations.

Apparently, these people succeed because those around them assume they are not fundamentally different from the average compassionate person and that they do care about others’ feelings. This assumption allows corporate psychopaths to prey on those around them. “They have an element of emotional intelligence, of being able to see our emotions very clearly and manipulate them,” says Michael Maccoby, a psychotherapist interviewed for the article who has consulted for major corporations.

But how do you know if your boss is afflicted with this state of mind? Take this quiz, which is based on the standard clinical test for psychopathy. The quiz focuses on the so-called nonviolent “corporate psychopath.” Fast Company notes that this quiz is a “strictly amateur exercise.”

[1] Suspect flattery. Sincere compliments from a coworker or a boss are nice, but outrageous flattery is often an attempt to draw you into a psychopath's snare. If you feel your ego is being massaged, you may be dealing with a psychopath. Be careful.

[2] Take labels and titles with a grain of salt. Just because someone is older, has a higher position or more degrees, or is wealthier than you are does not mean his or her moral judgment is better than yours.

[3] Always question authority when it conflicts with your own sense of right and wrong. This may be hard to do, but it is crucial to your own career and well-being.

[4] Never agree to help a psychopath conceal his or her suspicious activities at work.

[5] If you are afraid of your boss, never confuse this feeling with respect.

[6] Realistically assess the damage to your life. If it's too great, you may have to leave. Remember that living well is the best revenge.


I had a job I loved for six months got a substantial raise after three months and then a management change. I was assigned to a woman who had a reputation for not keeping assistants. I went in with an open mind the first week of June. She never gave me a chance - gave me assignments and then told me she never told me to do it; talked about me within earshot; consistently set me up to fail. I finally resigned after seven weeks. I have never ever worked for a more manipulative person. However, anyone who did not work for her would say she was the nicest person - always remembering birthdays etc. Yes, a definite psychopath. Thanks for the enlightening article.

My boss is a psychopath. He is the most ruthless, selfish person I've ever met. It is so difficult working for him. He takes credit for everything others do. He sounds so elegant when he talks in public, he would fool you all. Gosh, now that I know he is actually a psycopath, kind of scares me but he fits this article to the letter!

I joined the "managed by a psycho boss" society years ago - assumed a new position with a new manager who spent the first 6 months trying to get me fired. In my case, I beat him at his own game - developed strong one-on-one relationships with his clients who praised my work and "his obvious good management". It fed the ego need and he backed off. But I watched the charm and venom pattern - co-workers and even management really didn't know how to respond to it, which kept him on the payroll for years. But happily, time wounds all heels and his maniacal need to skirt chase resulted in eventual HR actions and dismissal.

[Oct 1, 2004] Is there a psychopath in your office? by Barbara Bartlein

The Business Journal of Milwaukee

Masters of manipulation, it is estimated that approximately only 1 percent of the general population are psychopaths. Yet their numbers are overrepresented in business, politics, law enforcement agencies, law firms and the media, according to research done by Dr. Robert Hare, at the University of British Columbia and his colleague, Dr. Paul Babiak.

"In the business world, if I was a good psychopath and I was well educated, bright, intelligent, grew up in the proper way, knew how to talk and dress and how to use a fork, I'm not going to go out and rob banks," reports Hare. White collar crime offers more "acceptable" opportunities.

Recent events in the business world do raise questions of a darker side to leadership. There are thousands of people who were affected by Kenneth Lay's decision to unload more than $1 billion of Enron stock between January 1999 and July 2001 while telling employees and investors to buy more. Executives at Global Crossing were receiving bonuses and stock options as the value of the company was shrinking.

The business world offers unique opportunity for a psychopath to ooze charm, manipulate people, and misrepresent his or her way to the top. But one of the problems in identifying the organizational psychopath is that they often display characteristics that are commonplace for high-level executives. Many managers and executives display personalities that are grandiose and narcissistic. That doesn't mean they are psychopaths.

According to Hare and Babiak, there are five distinct phases for psychopathic behavior that put him or her in a power position.

This new research puts an interesting spin on the claims for some in the leadership field that a leader must have charm and charisma. Perhaps, it is time to rethink some of the essential personal characteristics necessary for great leadership.

Barbara Bartlein is president of Great Lakes Consulting Group L.L.C. She can be reached at 888-747-9953 or barb@barbbartlein.com or visit her Web site at www.ThePeoplePro.com.

[May 28, 2006] globeandmail.com The psychopath in the corner office by ALEXANDRA GILL

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

One of history's most scandalous cases of corporate skulduggery culminated in a righteous clap of thunder this week, after former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were found guilty on multiple counts of conspiracy, securities and wire fraud.

"Justice has been served. The jury's verdicts help to close a notorious chapter in the history of America's publicly traded companies," Rep. Michael Oxley, the Ohio Republican who co-wrote the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reforms, told reporters.

"This is a sign to any and all pending white-collar cases that corporate crime does not pay," said Anthony Sabino, a law professor at St. John's University in New York. "It is a huge memo to corporate officers and other chieftains. Stay within the law, and don't cheat your shareholders and don't lie to the market, or your next address is the federal penitentiary."

Among all the crowing, it was almost forgotten that some of the major players, including Enron's former chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, made plea bargains with federal prosecutors in exchange for their testimony.

"It often is those with a heavy dose of psychopathic features who forget any pledges or notion of loyalty as soon as there is a chance to save their own skin," notes Robert Hare, co-author of a chilling new book called Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work.

Prof. Hare, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, is one of the world's leading experts on psychopathy. In 1980, he defined the mental disorder for modern scientists with an internationally recognized diagnostic tool called the Psychopathy Checklist.

Paul Babiak is a New York-based industrial and organizational psychologist who studies psychopathic behaviour in corporations.

Together, they have designed a new tool, the Business Scan 360 Test or B-Scan, which could help to determine if the arrogant, bullying SOB who occupies the corner office is just your average boss from hell or a malevolent psychopath, capable of causing untold damage.

The story of how these cunning creatures successfully slither into high-powered managerial roles is bracingly told in Snakes in Suits. Prof. Hare and Mr. Babiak include numerous case studies and tips for peeling back the charming façade worn by those completely untrustworthy colleagues in the next cubicle. The book may even prompt you to take a closer look at the narcissistic neighbour across the street.

In Prof. Hare's estimation, the average incidence of psychopathy in North America is 1 per cent of the population. That would mean there are about 300,000 psychopaths in Canada -- and close to 3,000 reading this very newspaper today. Perhaps you know one. Or are one.

There's no need to run for your life. The corporate psychopath is not necessarily a shower-stalking killer. Nor is he (or she) a "psycho," the pejorative term for someone who is psychotic.

Psychosis is a serious mental illness defined by paranoid delusions and a disconnection with reality. Psychopathy, on the other hand, is a personality disorder, characterized by a deep lack of conscience, empathy and compassion.

(Then again, there's Patrick Bateman, the Wall Street banker on a sadistic murder streak in the Brett Easton Ellis novel American Psycho, who displayed elements of both. "That was good," Prof. Hare says of the character, with a shiver of repulsed awe.)

Corporate psychopaths are greedy, selfish, deceptive, unreliable and prone to fits of rage. They are also charming and confident, give perfect interviews and quickly become everybody's favourite employee. They are social predators and quite possibly capable of murder.

But if they're bright, and have been brought up with good social skills, they will probably shun violence and use their psychopathic tendencies to win power, prestige and money.

Where do they go? Increasingly, straight to the top of today's flexible, fast-paced, high-risk corporations, where callousness and egocentricity have become acceptable trade-offs for fearless leaders who can rattle cages and get things done quickly.

Dave's first day on the job created much excitement as he was shown around the department and introduced to the staff. There was a buzz about the new person who had been hired away from a larger player in the industry, and who would help them regain some of the lost ground resulting from the problematic new product introduction cycles. Everyone came out to greet Dave, and all who met him immediately liked him. He had personality and good looks, not to mention his strong technical background in the company's major research area, and he projected rock-solid confidence.

After introducing Dave around to most of the department, Frank took him to his new office.

"Oh," muttered Dave, a bit disappointed in what he saw. "I thought it would be a little closer to the action," he paused, "and a tad bigger."

"Well, we're growing very rapidly and office space is at a premium," offered Frank, wondering why he was feeling apologetic, "but you'll be moving around here soon enough, as we occasionally shuffle staff around. In fact, it's quite the joke here."

Dave wasn't amused, but as he turned to face Frank, he threw on a smile and said, "That's great! So I better settle in and start being productive." -- from Snakes in Suits

"Dave" is a real corporate executive, studied by Mr. Babiak, who triggered shockwaves of trouble at a highly profitable U.S. electronics company in the mid-1990s.

After Mr. Babiak was called in by the company to assess the problems, and had pinpointed the trouble maker, he contacted Prof. Hare. They didn't know each other at the time, but Mr. Babiak had read a lot of Prof. Hare's research on psychopathic behaviour -- which, until then, had focused on the criminal justice system.

Prof. Hare, who is a member of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's research-advisory board on serial killers, was intrigued.

"I always said that if I wasn't studying psychopaths in prison, I'd do so at the Vancouver Stock Exchange," he says, recalling the days when the VSE was still up and tumbling like the Wild West.

Prof. Hare and Mr. Babiak became good friends. They shared materials. Prof. Hare included a short case study on Dave in his 1999 book Without Conscience. A much longer version of Dave's story is woven through this new, co-written book.

In the meantime, Dave is still running amok at the top of the business world, and Mr. Babiak is still tracking his illustrious career.

"Not everyone is so lucky," Prof. Hare says. "Some flame out or are caught or quietly move on to another organization. But in other cases, they become the boss -- or marry the boss."

It is not difficult to imagine how Dave and others like him arrived at their opportunistic positions to deceive. The past two decades have been tumultuous times for large corporate organizations. With dot-coms booming and collapsing, older firms merging or shrinking, the accelerated pace of change has inadvertently increased the number of attractive opportunities for psychopathic personalities.

The thrill-seeking nature of these entrepreneurial pretenders draws them to situations where a lot is happening. Being consummate rule-breakers, they find the flexibility of these flatter companies and lack of formal rules to their liking.

"When dramatic organizational change is added to the normal levels of job insecurity, personality clashes and political batting, the resulting chaotic milieu provides both the necessary stimulation and sufficient cover for psychopathic behaviour," Prof. Hare and Mr. Babiak write.

While Nicole Kidman was preparing for her role as a psychopathic deviant in the 1993 thriller Malice, she requested a private meeting with Prof. Hare. She wanted to let the audience know, early in the film, that she was not the sweet, warm person she appeared to be. He gave her a spooky scenario to practise.

"You are walking down the street and come across an accident," he told her. "A young child has been struck by a car and is lying in a pool of blood.

"You walk up to the accident site, look briefly at the child, and then focus on the grief-stricken mother. After a few minutes of careful scrutiny, you walk back to your apartment, go into the bathroom, stand in front of the mirror and practise mimicking the facial expressions and body language of the mother."

The psychopath's understanding of emotion is purely intellectual. They can understand sadness, fear, guilt and regret on a cognitive level, but because of a genetic deficiency, often influenced by social environments, the feelings are missing.

This hollow core is the key element that differentiates the corporate psychopath from your typical Machiavellian. It is a systemic way of being, in all aspects of life.

"We're not talking about somebody like Jimmy Pattison, one of our very tough entrepreneurs," Prof. Hare says. "He takes a tough stand at work, but he's not psychopathic. There are a lot of Machiavellian people who can adopt a given persona in a business environment, but have a good family life and genuinely love their family and friends."

But because some organizations seek people who can make hard decisions, keep their emotions in check and remain cool under fire, it makes it that much easier for the real deal to con his way into an organization, cultivate the pawns and patrons that can assist his ascent, outflank those who could stop him and wrest control.

The difference between a genuinely strong leader and the corporate psychopath is that the latter has no conscience or concern for anyone but himself. He will use his influence to abuse the trust of colleagues, manipulate supervisors and cut a swath of destruction through the workplace.

Public-relations director John Lute, of Toronto's Lute & Company, is reluctant to label anyone a psychopath, but he says he has been bitten by these sorts of snakes before. "You certainly see a lot of guys who think that they're smarter than anybody else and it's a real problem," he says.

There was one incident about five years ago that still burns. "He was certainly clever," Mr. Lute says of the snake. "He believed that everybody was stupider than he was. The basic rules of human behaviour didn't really apply to him, especially when he was dealing with inferiors.

"He screwed up on one project and pinned it on me. It did permanent damage to my relationship with the CEO. I had to move on and write it off."

And the snake? Is he still with the company? "Oh, yeah," Mr. Lute chuckles ruefully.

Is the modern corporation psychopathic in its very nature? The Corporation, the award-winning Canadian documentary, has suggested that it is.

The film even uses an interview with Prof. Hare to bolster its position that the "institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath."

Dysfunctional as some corporations might be, however, Prof. Hare has trouble with the metaphor. "To refer to the corporation as psychopathic because of the behaviours of a carefully selected group of companies is like using the traits and behaviours of the most serious high-risk criminals to conclude that [every] criminal is a psychopath," he writes in the book.

Instead, there are routine procedures that can help detect the psychopathic saboteurs before they do too much damage -- including exhaustive background checks, rigorous auditing of expenses. But as Prof. Hare and Mr. Babiak have discovered, these checks aren't enforced nearly often enough.

In 2003, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) reported that 37 per cent of 3,600 companies in 50 countries had suffered from fraudulent acts, with an average company loss of more than $2-million. (The actual average loss, Prof. Hare says, was likely much higher, because most frauds are never reported, or are written off as commercial losses.) One-quarter of the frauds recorded were committed by senior managers and executives.

Despite public outrage over the recent spate of high-profile scandals, the incidence of corporate fraud is getting worse. For the same PWC global survey last year, the percentage of fraudulent acts increased to 45 per cent.

Prof. Hare and Mr. Babiak have designed a test that may some day decrease the incidence of fraud. Their Business Scan 360, or B-Scan, is a 111-point questionnaire that can help companies detect the corporate psychopaths in their midst. It is filled out by colleagues who work not just above or alongside the suspect, but also below.

"At Enron and WorldCom, there were certainly people at the top of both cases who were aware of a lot of things that were happening," says Prof. Hare, who also advocates a more aggressive role for stockholders. "But below them, there were people who knew precisely what was going on."

Last September, federal Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro shocked the country when he declared that the Liberal sponsorship scandal could be viewed as either "a triumph of entrepreneurship" (in the wake of federalism's near-defeat in the 1995 Quebec referendum) or a "triumph of theft."

The line separating virtue and vice is a thin one, not just in the corporate world, but in politics and society at large.

Prof. Hare argues that an emphasis on style over substance is moving society in a direction that makes it easier for a psychopath to express himself without incurring the wrath of the law.

Does he think things are so bad that it's becoming advantageous for people who are not psychopathic to adopt a psychopathic attitude? "Yes, I would say, definitely."

Because psychopathy is to some extent influenced by external factors, he explains, the lack of stringent rules in some freewheeling corporations, or society in general, might be responsible for triggering psychopathic tendencies that would otherwise be held in check.

Picture an on-the-brink member of a street-crime gang: He might not mess with other members of the gang because he knows the boss would whack him. "But once that guy at the top is gone . . . ," Prof. Hare says with a shrug -- then, all bets are off.

Not everyone is so pessimistic. "No matter what the rules are, there are always going to be bad apples," says Stan Magidson, head of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt's business law practice in Western Canada and the former director of takeover/issuer bids, mergers and acquisitions at the Ontario Securities Commission. "But new rules go a long way to attempt to ensure the integrity of financial reporting by public corporations.

"I'm not seeing a bunch of psychopaths running Canadian companies and running amok," he says. "Quite the contrary -- I'm seeing a real focus in boardrooms and senior management to ensure that systems are in place to prevent malfeasance."

So far, though, those fraud statistics don't seem to be improving. In Prof. Hare's view, the prognosis is grim.

"I think things are going to get worse and worse," he says. "The way things are going now, I'm not optimistic that there is suddenly going to be a turnaround."

Somewhere in a large corner office, a corporate psychopath is stretching his legs out on a desk and quietly chuckling.

Alexandra Gill is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail in Vancouver.

Danger signs

If the corporate psychopath sounds like someone you know, grab and pen and try this quick quiz, including the kinds of questions used in Paul Babiak and Robert Hare's Business Scan 360.Answer Yes or No to the following questions:

  1. Does the boss or workmate in question come across as smooth, polished and charming?
  2. Do they turn most conversations around to a discussion about them?
  3. Do they discredit or put others down in order to build up their own image and reputation?
  4. Can they lie with a straight face to their co-workers, customers, or business associates?
  5. Do they consider people they've outsmarted or manipulated to be stupid?
  6. Are they opportunistic, ruthless, hating to lose and playing to win?
  7. Do they come across as cold and calculating?
  8. Do they sometimes act in an unethical or dishonest manner?
  9. Have they created a power network in the organization, then used it for personal gain?
  10. Do they show no regret for making decisions that negatively affect the company, shareholders or employees?

If you scored at least 6 out of 10, there's a good chance you've already met what is known as an industrial or "corporate psychopath."

Source: Paul Babiak, PhD, and Robert D. Hare, PhD. Copyright 2005 Multi-Health Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

[Sep 17 2005] Fast Company Sound Off

Name: Richard Rhodes
Email: rrhodes2005@Hotmail.Com
Posted: Sat Sep 17 2005 08:42 EST
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Engineer

Having worked closely with some Psychopaths, I was interested in this subject. But what the article does not mention is the cloning tendency that Psychopaths show. They seem to hire similar people, and because a Psychopath only shows its true personality downwards in the organisation, he or she does not threaten his/her Psychopath superiors. This is the reason why Psychopaths promote other Psychopaths and the leadership positions remain infested with those of the same class. "Mafia" means a loose association of criminal groups, sometimes bound by a blood oath and sworn to secrecy.

While this word is used almost exclusively for plain organised criminals, many companies have similar secret organisations inside and are led by Psychopaths. Most of us have realised this situation long time ago when we see that incapable people are in leadership positions, treat people badly and to the eyes of their superiors they look inoffensive.

But, how much do Psychopaths cost to corporate America? Think only about the high turnover in a department and re-hiring could cost a company up to three times the annual salary of the employee. In my last job, a department of 15 people, with an average salary of 100,000 a year per person, was run by a Psychopath. In 15 months the company lost 9 people who were completely pissed off.

This kind of situation is a big waste of human capital and talent that could be advantageous for a competitor. Big corporations should rethink about if is better to tolerate Psychopaths or to have the means to detect them before they damage the companies competitive position.

Profile of the Sociopath

Psychopath.... Often you aren't even aware they've taken you for a ride -- until it's too late.

Psychopaths exhibit a Jekyll and Hyde personality. "They play a part so they can get what they want," says Dr. Sheila Willson, a Toronto psychologist who has helped victims of psychopaths. The guy who showers a woman with excessive attention is much more capable of getting her to lend him money, and to put up with him when he strays. The new employee who gains her co-workers' trust has more access to their chequebooks. And so on. Psychopaths have no conscience and their only goal is self-gratification. Many of us have been their victims -- at work, through friendships or relationships -- and not one of us can say, "a psychopath could never fool me."

Think you can spot one? Think again. In general, psychopaths aren't the product of broken homes or the casualties of a materialistic society. Rather they come from all walks of life and there is little evidence that their upbringing affects them. Elements of a psychopath's personality first become evident at a very early age, due to biological or genetic factors. Explains Michael Seto, a psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental health in Toronto, by the time that a person hits their late teens, the disorder is almost certainly permanent. Although many clinicians use the terms psychopath and sociopath interchangeably, writes psychopath expert Robert Hare on his book 'Without Conscience', a sociopath's criminal behavior is shaped by social forces and is the result of a dysfunctional environment.

Psychopaths have only a shallow range of emotions and lack guilt, says Hare. They often see themselves as victims, and lack remorse or the ability to empathize with others. "Psychopaths play on the fact that most of us are trusting and forgiving people," adds Seto. The warning signs are always there; it's just difficult to see them because once we trust someone, the friendship becomes a blinder.

Even lovers get taken for a ride by psychopaths. For a psychopath, a romantic relationship is just another opportunity to find a trusting partner who will buy into the lies. It's primarily why a psychopath rarely stays in a relationship for the long term, and often is involved with three or four partners at once, says Willson. To a psychopath, everything about a relationship is a game. Willson refers to the movie 'Sliding Doors' to illustrate her point. In the film, the main character comes home early after just having been fired from her job. Only moments ago, her boyfriend has let another woman out the front door. But in a matter of minutes he is the attentive and concerned boyfriend, taking her out to dinner and devoting the entire night to comforting her. All the while he's planning to leave the next day on a trip with the other woman.

The boyfriend displays typical psychopathic characteristics because he falsely displays deep emotion toward the relationship, says Willson. In reality, he's less concerned with his girlfriend's depression than with making sure she's clueless about the other woman's existence. In the romance department, psychopaths have an ability to gain your affection quickly, disarming you with words, intriguing you with grandiose plans. If they cheat you'll forgive them, and one day when they've gone too far, they'll leave you with a broken heart (and an empty wallet). By then they'll have a new player for their game.

The problem with their game is that we don't often play by their rules. Where we might occasionally tell a white lie, a psychopath's lying is compulsive. Most of us experience some degree of guilt about lying, preventing us from exhibiting such behavior on a regular basis. "Psychopaths don't discriminate who it is they lie to or cheat," says Seto. "There's no distinction between friend, family and sucker."

No one wants to be the sucker, so how do we prevent ourselves from becoming close friends or getting into a relationship with a psychopath? It's really almost impossible, say Seto and Willson. Unfortunately, laments Seto, one way is to become more suspicious and less trusting of others. Our tendency is to forgive when we catch a loved one in a lie. "Psychopaths play on this fact," he says. "However, I'm certainly not advocating a world where if someone lies once or twice, you never speak to them again." What you can do is look at how often someone lies and how they react when caught. Psychopaths will lie over and over again, and where other people would sincerely apologize, a psychopath may apologize but won't stop.

Psychopaths also tend to switch jobs as frequently as they switch partners, mainly because they don't have the qualities to maintain a job for the long haul. Their performance is generally erratic, with chronic absences, misuse of company resources and failed commitments. Often they aren't even qualified for the job and use fake credentials to get it. Seto talks of a patient who would get marketing jobs based on his image; he was a presentable and charming man who layered his conversations with educational and occupational references. But it became evident that the man hadn't a clue what he was talking about, and was unable to hold down a job.

FACTNet Message Board Beware of the SOCIOPATH ! they are human poison for the soul!

Sociopath vs. Arrogance By Kim Walters

.... .... ...
Perhaps Dostoevsky himself wanted to weigh in on the mind of the sociopath and the journey toward their violent lives. Due to his vivid description of Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky shows his readers first hand what a sociopath is like. First one must understand that there is no such affliction as sociopath. The technical name is antisocial personality disorder and there are certain criteria a person must meet in order to receive this diagnosis. It is reserved for the most violent criminal minds and therefore is taken very seriously by the psychiatric community. In order to be diagnosed, one must have been previously diagnosed as having a conduct disorder by the age of fifteen. This is what many refer to as the child version of antisocial personality disorder. “Along with depression and anxiety, the individual also exhibits an increase in antisocial behavior, aggression, destruction of property, and deceitfulness or theft” (Strickland). They may also act out against smaller things that they can control, such as smaller siblings and/or animals.

Am I Married To A Sociopath

Dear Dr. Irene,
First, many thanks are in order!!! Because of your wonderfully comprehensive website, I have identified "the problem" with my nine year marriage. Understanding the dynamics that make the abusive cycle "work", gave me an option I never knew I had: namely to stop allowing my husband to control and abuse me any more!

When I realized I was responsible for protecting myself and our two young children from this, I had some hard choices to make. I had to take action and stop hiding behind my anger and hurt feelings and instead use them to motivate and guide me to better, healthier choices!!!!! In short, I had to ask my abuser to leave and prepare myself to leave if he refused. Pretty scary stuff! It was very painful and frightening to face the truth and decide to do whatever it took to provide a safe and sane home for me and my kids. And I also realized this might be his only chance to see the consequences of his abuse and make a choice to change himself. He agreed to leave after many attempts to change my mind, the worst being, "How can you destroy our family?" I had to be clear on what I wanted and what I could do to change it. I had to tell him his abuse of our family is the reason for the separation, and he has to look in the mirror and finally see how his choices affect others. He cried, he pleaded, he manipulated. But I stood firm! The only way to stop this cycle is to refuse to participate in it and seek help for myself.

I come from an abusive home (big shocker, huh?) where my mother and father married young. By the age of 23 my mom was widowed with two young children. My father killed himself (the ultimate act of selfishness and rage). Mom was an alcoholic and drug addict. She raised me and my sister (or should I say we raised ourselves) in an extremely chaotic environment of anger, shame, emotional and physical abuse. She was very neglectful and given to outbursts of rage when we needed her in any way. This left us to fend for ourselves in many overwhelming, frightening ways and exposed us to predatory abusive men who sexually molested us. Needless to say, I had to do a tremendous amount of work to survive this childhood with my sanity intact. And I did. I survived by being creative and resourceful and knowing deep down that I deserved much better (a divine gift!). Yes.

By the time I met my husband, I had done a lot of living and was determined to choose a spouse wisely. He by contrast, came from a conservative, well-educated European family that seemed very close and healthy. I guess anything would have looked good compared to my home life - and he seemed wonderfully supportive of me. Yet, I had warnings in my feelings about him, but the good codependent I was, I ignored them. Everything about him just LOOKED so good! I had learned to question so much of my internal world (part of why I survived in the first place), I chalked my insecurities up to being afraid to be happy! He more than encouraged me in that direction. He would speak of wanting to protect me and take care of me, and LOVE me as I had never been loved before. Yet his actions were making me uncomfortable.

On the surface things looked great - all my girlfriends wanted to know if he had a brother! He was extremely charming and thoughtful in ways that impressed me. He showered me with gifts and attention. But, he seemed to want his own way in many things and was insistent I comply. I remember sleeping with him the first time because he persisted and persisted until I allowed him to do it. It didn't feel good. It felt bad. But I was still unhealthy enough to think I had to give him what he wanted in order to be loved. He was controlling in ways that made me feel belittled and child-like. He didn't listen to my wants or needs, but told me I had been in such a screwed up family, that I couldn't know what was best for myself. It angered me to be so discounted, but I was afraid he was right. Here was this handsome, older, successful man, with no addictions and a nice family background wanting ME! Still, I often felt a lack of connection to him. He became cool and removed, working long hours and berating me for my lack of appreciation. He was demanding and self absorbed. He felt himself to be a superior person, able to make up his own rules as he went along, and I went with him. I remember wanting to run away on the night before our wedding. I felt so anxious and afraid. My mother told me it was nonsense, and seemed to think it was just jitters. She didn't want to listen to me, she wanted me off her hands and married to this successful man, so she could feel she had done her job well as a mother.

So, I married him. I cried on the honeymoon and felt terribly depressed. He was annoyed and angry that I didn't respect him enough to enjoy all the relatives we stayed with in Europe. I was unhappy. But when I returned home everyone thought we had to have had the most marvelous time, and I went along with the ruse. Life became increasingly more difficult as he did things that resulted in my feeling very insecure and fearful. He would go on business trips and stay out all night and not call when he said he would. My anger and unhappiness with any action of his was "ridiculous!" He seemed to go out of his way to encourage the very feelings he claimed to be so suffocated by. I was really confused!

He became completely selfish after the birth of our first child, almost like a rebellion against the neediness of our baby. He wouldn't help me at all, and threatened he would take away our baby if I couldn't handle it. I became so depressed, I thought of committing suicide and sought professional help. My therapist never recognized my abuse and saw my problems as a result of my childhood, further validating my husband's explanation that the problem was all in my head. I thought I would go insane, and just getting through each day was a challenge. His angry outbursts escalated, and he withdrew all affection and support unless I behaved as he thought I should. He accused me of trying to control him often, when I was really just trying to find out when he'd be home for dinner. He took away my credit cards and debit card because he said I was ruining us financially with my spending (hard not to spend money when you have a family to clothe and feed!) and generally made my life hell.

I discovered at that time that he was lying to me about a number of things, namely his spending and whereabouts. I was devastated and confronted him. He lied even when I begged him for my sanity's sake to tell me the truth. We became, unexpectedly, pregnant again. I felt really trapped at that point. He was terrible to me throughout that pregnancy, and didn't seem to care about me at all. My tears didn't move him; he would ignore me and be annoyed that I was upset AGAIN. He began to use physical force to get me to comply with his wishes, holding me down, blocking my path and raising his fist to me. He would agitate me to the point that I would explode with anger and say terrible things to him. He told me I was abusive to him - and I agreed!

I read, "The Intimate Dance of Anger" and learned to express myself more clearly. I changed the way I responded, and was careful to not use my anger as a weapon against him - but, surprise - it didn't make things any better! His behavior became more brutal and cruel. He began humiliating me in front of the children, screaming curse words and foul names. He withdrew from me sexually and told me I was too fat and ugly to be wanted. Any small thing could set him off. He made mean "jokes" about me, threw things and hit me "by accident" and a whole host of rotten, inhuman behaviors. Meanwhile, he became more and more successful in the business world. He treated me so well in the company of folks he wanted to impress. He bragged about my success as an pianist (don't even ask me how I managed to perform! 'cause I sure don't know!) and was proud to appear as "the family man".

We had a terrific life from the outside: beautiful, smart kids, a lovely home, exotic trips to islands, all the stuff that looks good. But inside I was dying. I began to hate him and wish any plane he was on would just explode. I dreaded the dinner hour and any time we spent together. I despised him for exploiting me, and had fantasies of dying to show him how much he would regret what he did to me. I began to do things I knew would anger him (smoking cigarettes, spending time with friends, spending money), and just didn't care anymore. I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't, so I figured I might as well enjoy my life.

I lied to him to avoid confrontations, I hid purchases and distanced myself emotionally in every way I knew how. I struggled to keep up the facade, be a good mom to my kids and have a life of my own. I never let him see me cry, and felt I was living with a stranger. He would explode with rage over trivial things, and used the children to manipulate and control me. At that point I'd had enough. I'd had enough of his pathetic self-centeredness, his control and his tantrums. I didn't want to live like that.

Despite all I'd done to please him and make him treat me lovingly, his actions and words told me over and over again how much contempt and hatred he had for me. He hated me for needing him, but couldn't resent me if I didn't need him. He hated my new "selfishness," but couldn't feel sorry for himself without it. He actually enjoyed making me suffer, seemingly getting high off of my misery. There was not a single area of my life or my person that he hadn't sought to use for his own means: to exploit, to destroy.

After surviving the hell of my childhood, I was in hell again. That's what tipped me off to what was really happening. I felt just as I'd felt as a kid; enraged, shamed, blamed, powerless, helpless, hurt and unhappy. I prayed for help, to know and understand why this had "happened" and how I could make it stop.

Then I found your site, Dr. Irene. I sat in front of the computer, dumbfounded by what I was reading. I joined the online support group and began to tell others how I felt. I read about my husband in their posts. I got mad as hell! Mad at him for abusing me (now I could call it by it's proper name), mad at me for taking it!

A new idea began to grow in my cramped brain - freedom!!! I could set myself free. I called my local shelter and made an appointment to see a counselor. I told him to get help or get out. I went to see a lawyer. And I got my hands on every book I could find that dealt with abuse. (see some books here)

I was so scared. I felt overcome by emotions of grief and sadness at the loss of my dream with him. When I faced the truth, it tore me up so badly I wasn't sure I could make it. I felt so fragile and afraid. Yet, a new feeling was taking root for the first time in my life: I could make it on my own! I didn't need to stay with an abuser to survive, I needed to get away! I knew deep down that it was time to live my life on my own terms. Time to find out what that meant for me and what I needed to do to get there. Time to take back my dignity, my self-respect, and give myself the love I deserve!!!!

My husband is now in therapy and living in a hotel. He says he's a changed man (overnight no less!) and is reading "Angry All the Time". He is finally seeing the damage he has done, and is not blaming me. He wants to come home, but it's early on in the process, and that is unacceptable to me.

I want him to get the help he needs so he can be a loving father to our children, and have a life he can feel. I am struggling with guilt over wanting to end our marriage, even if he gets better. I don't know if I can ever feel loving towards him again, or trust him at all. I fear he is pathologically unable to perceive needs and wants other than his own. I feel that he "acquired" me to experience emotions he couldn't generate on his own and that his ability to be honest with himself is seriously disabled. He is so emotionally and spiritually handicapped, I can't imagine his recovery (if he can sustain it) lasting less than the rest of his life. Even if he really wants it (and I have no way of knowing if he really does or is just trying to win me back), can he ever have anything to offer me that I would want? Could he be sociopathic and able to function in the outside world as well as he has? Are some abusers incapable of empathy? These questions trouble me greatly as I have the well being of my children to protect, and do not want them growing up in a divorced home unless absolutely necessary. I am also fearful of seeking legal separation because I don't want to incite him at this critical time. Maybe I just don't know what I want! Maybe I still want to have hope that this could become a success story and not end in divorce. What do you think?

Thank you so much for reading this long story - and for any response you can give! Christina

Dear Christina,

What do I think? I think that you are no less than a truly amazing woman. I thank you for writing me; it is hearing about accounts like yours that make my hours working on this site so overwhelmingly fulfilling.

Now, what do I think about your situation and your husband? I think you don't yet know what to do!

You have every right to feel exactly the way you feel. You do not trust his recovery, and you should not trust his recovery. He needs to earn your trust. Maybe he will get OK, and maybe he won't. Time will tell. You will know.

About sociopathy: I cannot make any comments regarding your husband and sociopathic traits or tendencies. Clinicians recognize that antisocial personality disorder is very difficult to treat. Angry individuals vary in their degree of sociopathy. In general, the more sociopathic the individual, the worse the prognosis.

The angry people I work with are clearly selfish. They are also ordinarily compassionate and well-meaning. I have yet to meet one who was not. The problem arises when the angry person believes the partner is not meeting a perceived need/want the angry person rightly or wrongly (usually wrongly) feels should be met. Flip! All reason, all empathy goes out the window. All that exists now is anger. The partner deserves to be punished for withholding: "Hurt the horrible partner for hurting me," or so the irrational thinking goes. Other times, the intent is less to hurt the partner than it is to hole up to lick one's wounds. Their self-absorbed withdrawal however hurts those around them - a byproduct of wound licking.

Irrational thinking is workable. Like anything else, the more ingrained the thinking style, the more time and effort it takes to dislodge. But it is do-able - when the individual is highly motivated. (Look what you did when highly motivated!)

On sociopathy: I've never met a person truly without conscience. I've met many who have no conscience when angry. I've met people who pretend not to have remorse when questioned because they don't want to admit to a "weak" feeling. But, I've never met anyone without any remorse. So, I don't know if these awful, ice-cold people exist, or if they just spend most of their time being very, very angry. Perhaps I am naive. Or, perhaps the angry people in my practice (who have to put up with me) are self-selected, i.e., I scare off the more pathological candidates. Or, as I suspect, it could be that sociopathy, when viewed from the surface, is different from sociopathy when viewed from the context of a more trusting relationship.

I am printing an excerpt from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on antisocial personality disorder. ("Antisocial" is the newer technical term for sociopathy.) Make up your own mind on your husband's sociopathy. For the record, most of my angry people meet these criteria. That's really funny, since I don't think I've never met a "real" sociopath, whatever that is! For the record, a really, really good antisocial person is successful at whatever he or she does and - does not get caught!

Keep up the wonderful work. Though I suspect at this point, you cannot do anything else.

My warmest regards, -Dr. Irene

See Christina's March 2000 update here

Recommended Links

Softpanorama Top Visited

Softpanorama Recommended

Etc

Terms and Definitions

Urban Dictionary Pointy Haired Boss

A sociopathic boss that is also the most inept, stupid human being alive.

Refer's to Dilbert's boss, but also by association to all other mindbogglingly
stupid bosses lacking foresight, technical knowledge, leadership skills,
morality or tact.

"I'll get next weekend off, but I'll have to work on the PHB."

"My new job's ok, except there's a classic Pointy Haired Boss in my department."

Quiz

Quiz Is Your Boss a Psychopath

Among questions

[7] Is he callous and lacking in empathy?

Does he not give a damn about the feelings or well-being of other people? Is he profoundly selfish? Does he cruelly mock others? Is he emotionally or verbally abusive toward employees, "friends," and family members? Can he fire employees without concern for how they'll get by without the job? ...

[8] Does he fail to accept responsibility for his own actions?

Does he always cook up some excuse? Does he blame others for what he's done? If he's under investigation or on trial for a corporate crime, like deceitful accounting or stock fraud, does he refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing even when the hard evidence is stacked against him?

Etc

Profile of the Sociopath

Psychopath.... Often you aren't even aware they've taken you for a ride -- until it's too late.

Psychopaths exhibit a Jekyll and Hyde personality. "They play a part so they can get what they want," says Dr. Sheila Willson, a Toronto psychologist who has helped victims of psychopaths. The guy who showers a woman with excessive attention is much more capable of getting her to lend him money, and to put up with him when he strays. The new employee who gains her co-workers' trust has more access to their chequebooks. And so on. Psychopaths have no conscience and their only goal is self-gratification. Many of us have been their victims -- at work, through friendships or relationships -- and not one of us can say, "a psychopath could never fool me."

Think you can spot one? Think again. In general, psychopaths aren't the product of broken homes or the casualties of a materialistic society. Rather they come from all walks of life and there is little evidence that their upbringing affects them. Elements of a psychopath's personality first become evident at a very early age, due to biological or genetic factors. Explains Michael Seto, a psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental health in Toronto, by the time that a person hits their late teens, the disorder is almost certainly permanent. Although many clinicians use the terms psychopath and sociopath interchangeably, writes psychopath expert Robert Hare on his book 'Without Conscience', a sociopath's criminal behavior is shaped by social forces and is the result of a dysfunctional environment.

Psychopaths have only a shallow range of emotions and lack guilt, says Hare. They often see themselves as victims, and lack remorse or the ability to empathize with others. "Psychopaths play on the fact that most of us are trusting and forgiving people," adds Seto. The warning signs are always there; it's just difficult to see them because once we trust someone, the friendship becomes a blinder.

Even lovers get taken for a ride by psychopaths. For a psychopath, a romantic relationship is just another opportunity to find a trusting partner who will buy into the lies. It's primarily why a psychopath rarely stays in a relationship for the long term, and often is involved with three or four partners at once, says Willson. To a psychopath, everything about a relationship is a game. Willson refers to the movie 'Sliding Doors' to illustrate her point. In the film, the main character comes home early after just having been fired from her job. Only moments ago, her boyfriend has let another woman out the front door. But in a matter of minutes he is the attentive and concerned boyfriend, taking her out to dinner and devoting the entire night to comforting her. All the while he's planning to leave the next day on a trip with the other woman.

The boyfriend displays typical psychopathic characteristics because he falsely displays deep emotion toward the relationship, says Willson. In reality, he's less concerned with his girlfriend's depression than with making sure she's clueless about the other woman's existence. In the romance department, psychopaths have an ability to gain your affection quickly, disarming you with words, intriguing you with grandiose plans. If they cheat you'll forgive them, and one day when they've gone too far, they'll leave you with a broken heart (and an empty wallet). By then they'll have a new player for their game.

The problem with their game is that we don't often play by their rules. Where we might occasionally tell a white lie, a psychopath's lying is compulsive. Most of us experience some degree of guilt about lying, preventing us from exhibiting such behavior on a regular basis. "Psychopaths don't discriminate who it is they lie to or cheat," says Seto. "There's no distinction between friend, family and sucker."

No one wants to be the sucker, so how do we prevent ourselves from becoming close friends or getting into a relationship with a psychopath? It's really almost impossible, say Seto and Willson. Unfortunately, laments Seto, one way is to become more suspicious and less trusting of others. Our tendency is to forgive when we catch a loved one in a lie. "Psychopaths play on this fact," he says. "However, I'm certainly not advocating a world where if someone lies once or twice, you never speak to them again." What you can do is look at how often someone lies and how they react when caught. Psychopaths will lie over and over again, and where other people would sincerely apologize, a psychopath may apologize but won't stop.

Psychopaths also tend to switch jobs as frequently as they switch partners, mainly because they don't have the qualities to maintain a job for the long haul. Their performance is generally erratic, with chronic absences, misuse of company resources and failed commitments. Often they aren't even qualified for the job and use fake credentials to get it. Seto talks of a patient who would get marketing jobs based on his image; he was a presentable and charming man who layered his conversations with educational and occupational references. But it became evident that the man hadn't a clue what he was talking about, and was unable to hold down a job.

FACTNet Message Board Beware of the SOCIOPATH ! they are human poison for the soul!

Sociopath vs. Arrogance By Kim Walters

.... .... ...
Perhaps Dostoevsky himself wanted to weigh in on the mind of the sociopath and the journey toward their violent lives. Due to his vivid description of Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky shows his readers first hand what a sociopath is like. First one must understand that there is no such affliction as sociopath. The technical name is antisocial personality disorder and there are certain criteria a person must meet in order to receive this diagnosis. It is reserved for the most violent criminal minds and therefore is taken very seriously by the psychiatric community. In order to be diagnosed, one must have been previously diagnosed as having a conduct disorder by the age of fifteen. This is what many refer to as the child version of antisocial personality disorder. “Along with depression and anxiety, the individual also exhibits an increase in antisocial behavior, aggression, destruction of property, and deceitfulness or theft” (Strickland). They may also act out against smaller things that they can control, such as smaller siblings and/or animals.

Am I Married To A Sociopath

Dear Dr. Irene,
First, many thanks are in order!!! Because of your wonderfully comprehensive website, I have identified "the problem" with my nine year marriage. Understanding the dynamics that make the abusive cycle "work", gave me an option I never knew I had: namely to stop allowing my husband to control and abuse me any more!

When I realized I was responsible for protecting myself and our two young children from this, I had some hard choices to make. I had to take action and stop hiding behind my anger and hurt feelings and instead use them to motivate and guide me to better, healthier choices!!!!! In short, I had to ask my abuser to leave and prepare myself to leave if he refused. Pretty scary stuff! It was very painful and frightening to face the truth and decide to do whatever it took to provide a safe and sane home for me and my kids. And I also realized this might be his only chance to see the consequences of his abuse and make a choice to change himself. He agreed to leave after many attempts to change my mind, the worst being, "How can you destroy our family?" I had to be clear on what I wanted and what I could do to change it. I had to tell him his abuse of our family is the reason for the separation, and he has to look in the mirror and finally see how his choices affect others. He cried, he pleaded, he manipulated. But I stood firm! The only way to stop this cycle is to refuse to participate in it and seek help for myself.

I come from an abusive home (big shocker, huh?) where my mother and father married young. By the age of 23 my mom was widowed with two young children. My father killed himself (the ultimate act of selfishness and rage). Mom was an alcoholic and drug addict. She raised me and my sister (or should I say we raised ourselves) in an extremely chaotic environment of anger, shame, emotional and physical abuse. She was very neglectful and given to outbursts of rage when we needed her in any way. This left us to fend for ourselves in many overwhelming, frightening ways and exposed us to predatory abusive men who sexually molested us. Needless to say, I had to do a tremendous amount of work to survive this childhood with my sanity intact. And I did. I survived by being creative and resourceful and knowing deep down that I deserved much better (a divine gift!). Yes.

By the time I met my husband, I had done a lot of living and was determined to choose a spouse wisely. He by contrast, came from a conservative, well-educated European family that seemed very close and healthy. I guess anything would have looked good compared to my home life - and he seemed wonderfully supportive of me. Yet, I had warnings in my feelings about him, but the good codependent I was, I ignored them. Everything about him just LOOKED so good! I had learned to question so much of my internal world (part of why I survived in the first place), I chalked my insecurities up to being afraid to be happy! He more than encouraged me in that direction. He would speak of wanting to protect me and take care of me, and LOVE me as I had never been loved before. Yet his actions were making me uncomfortable.

On the surface things looked great - all my girlfriends wanted to know if he had a brother! He was extremely charming and thoughtful in ways that impressed me. He showered me with gifts and attention. But, he seemed to want his own way in many things and was insistent I comply. I remember sleeping with him the first time because he persisted and persisted until I allowed him to do it. It didn't feel good. It felt bad. But I was still unhealthy enough to think I had to give him what he wanted in order to be loved. He was controlling in ways that made me feel belittled and child-like. He didn't listen to my wants or needs, but told me I had been in such a screwed up family, that I couldn't know what was best for myself. It angered me to be so discounted, but I was afraid he was right. Here was this handsome, older, successful man, with no addictions and a nice family background wanting ME! Still, I often felt a lack of connection to him. He became cool and removed, working long hours and berating me for my lack of appreciation. He was demanding and self absorbed. He felt himself to be a superior person, able to make up his own rules as he went along, and I went with him. I remember wanting to run away on the night before our wedding. I felt so anxious and afraid. My mother told me it was nonsense, and seemed to think it was just jitters. She didn't want to listen to me, she wanted me off her hands and married to this successful man, so she could feel she had done her job well as a mother.

So, I married him. I cried on the honeymoon and felt terribly depressed. He was annoyed and angry that I didn't respect him enough to enjoy all the relatives we stayed with in Europe. I was unhappy. But when I returned home everyone thought we had to have had the most marvelous time, and I went along with the ruse. Life became increasingly more difficult as he did things that resulted in my feeling very insecure and fearful. He would go on business trips and stay out all night and not call when he said he would. My anger and unhappiness with any action of his was "ridiculous!" He seemed to go out of his way to encourage the very feelings he claimed to be so suffocated by. I was really confused!

He became completely selfish after the birth of our first child, almost like a rebellion against the neediness of our baby. He wouldn't help me at all, and threatened he would take away our baby if I couldn't handle it. I became so depressed, I thought of committing suicide and sought professional help. My therapist never recognized my abuse and saw my problems as a result of my childhood, further validating my husband's explanation that the problem was all in my head. I thought I would go insane, and just getting through each day was a challenge. His angry outbursts escalated, and he withdrew all affection and support unless I behaved as he thought I should. He accused me of trying to control him often, when I was really just trying to find out when he'd be home for dinner. He took away my credit cards and debit card because he said I was ruining us financially with my spending (hard not to spend money when you have a family to clothe and feed!) and generally made my life hell.

I discovered at that time that he was lying to me about a number of things, namely his spending and whereabouts. I was devastated and confronted him. He lied even when I begged him for my sanity's sake to tell me the truth. We became, unexpectedly, pregnant again. I felt really trapped at that point. He was terrible to me throughout that pregnancy, and didn't seem to care about me at all. My tears didn't move him; he would ignore me and be annoyed that I was upset AGAIN. He began to use physical force to get me to comply with his wishes, holding me down, blocking my path and raising his fist to me. He would agitate me to the point that I would explode with anger and say terrible things to him. He told me I was abusive to him - and I agreed!

I read, "The Intimate Dance of Anger" and learned to express myself more clearly. I changed the way I responded, and was careful to not use my anger as a weapon against him - but, surprise - it didn't make things any better! His behavior became more brutal and cruel. He began humiliating me in front of the children, screaming curse words and foul names. He withdrew from me sexually and told me I was too fat and ugly to be wanted. Any small thing could set him off. He made mean "jokes" about me, threw things and hit me "by accident" and a whole host of rotten, inhuman behaviors. Meanwhile, he became more and more successful in the business world. He treated me so well in the company of folks he wanted to impress. He bragged about my success as an pianist (don't even ask me how I managed to perform! 'cause I sure don't know!) and was proud to appear as "the family man".

We had a terrific life from the outside: beautiful, smart kids, a lovely home, exotic trips to islands, all the stuff that looks good. But inside I was dying. I began to hate him and wish any plane he was on would just explode. I dreaded the dinner hour and any time we spent together. I despised him for exploiting me, and had fantasies of dying to show him how much he would regret what he did to me. I began to do things I knew would anger him (smoking cigarettes, spending time with friends, spending money), and just didn't care anymore. I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't, so I figured I might as well enjoy my life.

I lied to him to avoid confrontations, I hid purchases and distanced myself emotionally in every way I knew how. I struggled to keep up the facade, be a good mom to my kids and have a life of my own. I never let him see me cry, and felt I was living with a stranger. He would explode with rage over trivial things, and used the children to manipulate and control me. At that point I'd had enough. I'd had enough of his pathetic self-centeredness, his control and his tantrums. I didn't want to live like that.

Despite all I'd done to please him and make him treat me lovingly, his actions and words told me over and over again how much contempt and hatred he had for me. He hated me for needing him, but couldn't resent me if I didn't need him. He hated my new "selfishness," but couldn't feel sorry for himself without it. He actually enjoyed making me suffer, seemingly getting high off of my misery. There was not a single area of my life or my person that he hadn't sought to use for his own means: to exploit, to destroy.

After surviving the hell of my childhood, I was in hell again. That's what tipped me off to what was really happening. I felt just as I'd felt as a kid; enraged, shamed, blamed, powerless, helpless, hurt and unhappy. I prayed for help, to know and understand why this had "happened" and how I could make it stop.

Then I found your site, Dr. Irene. I sat in front of the computer, dumbfounded by what I was reading. I joined the online support group and began to tell others how I felt. I read about my husband in their posts. I got mad as hell! Mad at him for abusing me (now I could call it by it's proper name), mad at me for taking it!

A new idea began to grow in my cramped brain - freedom!!! I could set myself free. I called my local shelter and made an appointment to see a counselor. I told him to get help or get out. I went to see a lawyer. And I got my hands on every book I could find that dealt with abuse. (see some books here)

I was so scared. I felt overcome by emotions of grief and sadness at the loss of my dream with him. When I faced the truth, it tore me up so badly I wasn't sure I could make it. I felt so fragile and afraid. Yet, a new feeling was taking root for the first time in my life: I could make it on my own! I didn't need to stay with an abuser to survive, I needed to get away! I knew deep down that it was time to live my life on my own terms. Time to find out what that meant for me and what I needed to do to get there. Time to take back my dignity, my self-respect, and give myself the love I deserve!!!!

My husband is now in therapy and living in a hotel. He says he's a changed man (overnight no less!) and is reading "Angry All the Time". He is finally seeing the damage he has done, and is not blaming me. He wants to come home, but it's early on in the process, and that is unacceptable to me.

I want him to get the help he needs so he can be a loving father to our children, and have a life he can feel. I am struggling with guilt over wanting to end our marriage, even if he gets better. I don't know if I can ever feel loving towards him again, or trust him at all. I fear he is pathologically unable to perceive needs and wants other than his own. I feel that he "acquired" me to experience emotions he couldn't generate on his own and that his ability to be honest with himself is seriously disabled. He is so emotionally and spiritually handicapped, I can't imagine his recovery (if he can sustain it) lasting less than the rest of his life. Even if he really wants it (and I have no way of knowing if he really does or is just trying to win me back), can he ever have anything to offer me that I would want? Could he be sociopathic and able to function in the outside world as well as he has? Are some abusers incapable of empathy? These questions trouble me greatly as I have the well being of my children to protect, and do not want them growing up in a divorced home unless absolutely necessary. I am also fearful of seeking legal separation because I don't want to incite him at this critical time. Maybe I just don't know what I want! Maybe I still want to have hope that this could become a success story and not end in divorce. What do you think?

Thank you so much for reading this long story - and for any response you can give! Christina

Dear Christina,

What do I think? I think that you are no less than a truly amazing woman. I thank you for writing me; it is hearing about accounts like yours that make my hours working on this site so overwhelmingly fulfilling.

Now, what do I think about your situation and your husband? I think you don't yet know what to do!

You have every right to feel exactly the way you feel. You do not trust his recovery, and you should not trust his recovery. He needs to earn your trust. Maybe he will get OK, and maybe he won't. Time will tell. You will know.

About sociopathy: I cannot make any comments regarding your husband and sociopathic traits or tendencies. Clinicians recognize that antisocial personality disorder is very difficult to treat. Angry individuals vary in their degree of sociopathy. In general, the more sociopathic the individual, the worse the prognosis.

The angry people I work with are clearly selfish. They are also ordinarily compassionate and well-meaning. I have yet to meet one who was not. The problem arises when the angry person believes the partner is not meeting a perceived need/want the angry person rightly or wrongly (usually wrongly) feels should be met. Flip! All reason, all empathy goes out the window. All that exists now is anger. The partner deserves to be punished for withholding: "Hurt the horrible partner for hurting me," or so the irrational thinking goes. Other times, the intent is less to hurt the partner than it is to hole up to lick one's wounds. Their self-absorbed withdrawal however hurts those around them - a byproduct of wound licking.

Irrational thinking is workable. Like anything else, the more ingrained the thinking style, the more time and effort it takes to dislodge. But it is do-able - when the individual is highly motivated. (Look what you did when highly motivated!)

On sociopathy: I've never met a person truly without conscience. I've met many who have no conscience when angry. I've met people who pretend not to have remorse when questioned because they don't want to admit to a "weak" feeling. But, I've never met anyone without any remorse. So, I don't know if these awful, ice-cold people exist, or if they just spend most of their time being very, very angry. Perhaps I am naive. Or, perhaps the angry people in my practice (who have to put up with me) are self-selected, i.e., I scare off the more pathological candidates. Or, as I suspect, it could be that sociopathy, when viewed from the surface, is different from sociopathy when viewed from the context of a more trusting relationship.

I am printing an excerpt from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on antisocial personality disorder. ("Antisocial" is the newer technical term for sociopathy.) Make up your own mind on your husband's sociopathy. For the record, most of my angry people meet these criteria. That's really funny, since I don't think I've never met a "real" sociopath, whatever that is! For the record, a really, really good antisocial person is successful at whatever he or she does and - does not get caught!

Keep up the wonderful work. Though I suspect at this point, you cannot do anything else.

My warmest regards, -Dr. Irene

See Christina's March 2000 update here




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The Last but not Least


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