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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  If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths 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

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.  We also touch an important theme of connection of psychopaths in corner office and neoliberalism. As Paul Verhaeghe noted Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

For a short introduction to neoliberalism we will reproduce fragments so the article Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems
 by The Guardian,  April 15, 2016

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now.

***

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

In The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises’s book Bureaucracy, The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as “a kind of neoliberal international”: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement’s rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

Introduction


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

Neoliberalism -- An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities  

Paul Verhaeghe

Neoliberalism is a social system that rewards and promotes psychopathic personalities. Among its results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now so to report to a psychopathic manager is no longer something extraordinary. Neoliberalism sees competition (as in the "law of jungles") as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. Attempts to limit "dog eat dog" competition between people are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimized, public services should be privatized. The organization of labor and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalize and reproduce neoliberal dogmas much like people of the USSR enslaved by Bolsheviks reproduced communist dogmas and did not view themselves as slaves.   The salaried employees begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

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 behaviour as a norm. Complete lack of remorse and empathy. as manipulative and cunning" as con artists. Their personality attributes typically include superficial charm, unreliability, untruthfulness, and insincerity. Pathological egocentricity, selfishness, and rejection of authority and discipline,
  3. Impatient/Impulsiveness/Exaggerated sexuality ( Impulsiveness is less common for corporate sociopaths; those prone to this are weeded early by corporate culture). But exaggerated sexuality is very common and is a good warning sign. They tend to be impulsive risk takers in life as well as in sex.
  4. Unreliability, untruthfulness, and insincerity. Please understand that betrayal is a typical behaviour for them, and they resort to it in situation were normal person would never do without any remorse...
  5. Prone to fly into rages. See Borderline Rage "natural emotion 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 very effective sexual predators as a side effect.
  7. "Courage under fire." In high tension situations they behave rationally and are not prone to panic.

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:

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[Aug 23, 2016] How Abusive Employers Combined With Job Insecurity Lead to Suicides

Notable quotes:
"... During the 15 months that I worked at Pitt, I felt the brunt of this lady's abuse. She'd call me into the office, launch into a blistering tirade, and I would sit there, stunned. And, to her, that was another cause for anger. Why was I just sitting there and not reacting? ..."
"... The authors fail to get to the real fundamentals of this phenomenon. The two ends of the spectrum that they delineate can be housed under a single umbrella, that of neoliberalism. And it is obvious that neoliberalism can kill. And Durkheim would have agreed readily that ideas can kill, and not just via suicide. ..."
"... Give yourself a break inode_buddha. Thirty years ago, you, and myself as well, made a rational decision as to what direction to take. At the time, construction and the associated trades were honourable and respectable. A decent living could be made, and a future was in sight. Neo-Liberalism has, since then, destroyed most things that benefited anyone other than the criminal management classes. Humanity has had to stand up and fight for decency and equality throughout history. ..."
"... I have to tell you, as a small business owner myself, this "regulations are burdensome" argument is a crock. Lobbyists in DC learned decades ago that the best way to put a sympathetic face on their efforts to get waivers for big businesses is to have small business owners act as their mouthpieces. And there are enough extreme libertarians everywhere that it's not hard to find someone to screech that the regulations he is subject to are horrible irrespective of how much a burden they really are. ..."
"... "Perhaps this world is another planet's hell." – Aldous Huxley. Yes, it is definitely. Perhaps pretty soon they will start strip search employees when they come to work. ..."
"... Increasing numbers of suicides are one outcome of these environments. But as the writers point out, there are a number of other symptoms associated with these toxic workplaces, none good. They range from physical and mental health issues, to various forms of addiction, burnout, and secondary effects on employees' personal lives and those of their family members or partners. ..."
"... I agree that neoliberal ideology, globalization, and the basic structures of our debt-based economy all play a key role in enabling the intentional development of these organizational environments. ..."
"... I believe the roots of the problem lie in a broader and deeper systemic failure. ..."
"... market failure ..."
"... This article highlights suicide, but drug and alcohol abuse are just as much a result of poor employment outcomes as suicide and for the same reasons. ..."
Aug 22, 2016 | naked capitalism

Yves here. It's hardly a secret that employers have become more abusive towards employees because they can get away with it. The difficulty of finding new employment, particularly for mid and senior level jobs, combined with the fact that most workers (even comparatively well paid ones) are only a paycheck or two away from financial desperation, means bosses have tremendous leverage over workers. And more and more firms embrace coerciveness as a virtue. In the past, it's more often taken the form of cultishness, which is a very effective business model, as Goldman and Bain attest, but more recently, outright mistreatment is becoming common. For instance, Amazon has so successfully cultivated a "culture of fear" that t he overwhelming majority of employees cry at work .

Note the claim in the article about elevated suicide rates at Apple supplier Foxconn is contested; some contend that statistically, its rate of suicides is no higher than for other employers. However, many of the dorms apparently had mesh canopies to prevent suicides, so one wonders if direct comparisons are apt.

By Sarah Waters, a Senior Lecturer in French Studies, University of Leeds and Jenny Chan, a Departmental Lecturer in Sociology and China Studies, University of Oxford. Originally published at The Conversation

A Paris prosecutor recently called for the former CEO and six senior managers of telecoms provider, France Télécom, to face criminal charges for workplace harassment. The recommendation followed a lengthy inquiry into the suicides of a number of employees at the company between 2005 and 2009. The prosecutor accused management of deliberately "destabilising" employees and creating a "stressful professional climate" through a company-wide strategy of "harcèlement moral" – psychological bullying.

All deny any wrongdoing and it is now up to a judge to decide whether to follow the prosecutor's advice or dismiss the case. If it goes ahead, it would be a landmark criminal trial, with implications far beyond just one company.

Workplace suicides are sharply on the rise internationally, with increasing numbers of employees choosing to take their own lives in the face of extreme pressures at work. Recent studies in the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, India and Taiwan all point to a steep rise in suicides in the context of a generalised deterioration in working conditions.

Rising suicides are part of the profound transformations in the workplace that have taken place over the past 30 years. These transformations are arguably rooted in the political and economic shift to globalisation that has radically altered the way we work.

In the post-war Fordist era of industry (pioneered by US car manufacturer Henry Ford), jobs generally provided stability and a clear career trajectory for many, allowing people to define their collective identity and their place in the world. Strong trade unions in major industrial sectors meant that employees could negotiate their working rights and conditions.

But today's globalised workplace is characterised by job insecurity, intense work, forced redeployments, flexible contracts, worker surveillance, and limited social protection and representation . Zero-hour contracts are the new norm for many in the hospitality and healthcare industries , for example.

Now, it is not enough simply to work hard. In the words of Marxist theorist Franco Berardi, "the soul is put to work" and workers must devote their whole selves to the needs of the company.

For the economist Guy Standing, the precariat is the new social class of the 21st century, characterised by the lack of job security and even basic stability. Workers move in and out of jobs which give little meaning to their lives. This shift has had deleterious effects on many people's experience of work, with rising cases of acute stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, burnout, hopelessness and, in some cases, suicide .

Holding Companies to Account

Yet, company bosses are rarely held to account for inflicting such misery on their employees. The suicides at France Télécom preceded another well-publicised case in a large multinational company – Foxconn Technology Group in China – where 18 young migrant workers aged between 17 and 25 attempted suicide at one of Foxconn's main factories in 2010 (14 of whom died ).

The victims all worked on the assembly line making electronic gadgets for some of the world's richest corporations, including Samsung, Sony and Dell. But it was Apple that received the most criticism, as Foxconn was its main supplier at the time.

... ... ...

upstater , August 22, 2016 at 10:36 am

One of our son's best friends from high school was a funny, bright kid that got a BS/MS in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) a few years ago. He did his first coop at a software firm in Boston that dealt with electricity demand management.

Then he went to work for Apple, first as a coop then as an employee.

Last April the poor kid killed himself in a conference room at Apple's HQ .

By the time his name was announced to the media, everything about him on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc had disappeared. They scrubbed him off the internet. We don't know if he posted anything before his death, but our son said his pages were pretty generic for a 25 year old.

Let it suffice to say something went terribly wrong in the libertarian paradise of Silicon Valley, really just a ritzier version of FoxConn. Having known him through high school and occasional visits thereafter, one never would have thought such an end would have been possible.

RIP, Ed.

Swendr , August 22, 2016 at 2:10 pm

It's happening on the job, at school, and damn near any other social institution where the stakes can be ratcheted up in intensity. Suicide is one end of the spectrum of dysfunction. Going postal is another. Our elites don't like wet work much, so they find other ways to get rid of the undesirables. I doubt they planned it this way, but isn't it sweet that all you have to do is stop being fake-nice as a boss and the problem takes care of itself?

nobody , August 22, 2016 at 11:40 am

It's not only corporations, of course, that have problems with endemic abuse and need to be taking responsibility, nor is the issue restricted to institutions where profits take precedence über alles. Here is the link for the site "Academia Is Killing My Friends," which is described in the "About" section like this:

I am a final year PhD student in the Social Sciences. Last year a fellow PhD student committed suicide after being harassed by a lecturer. I got angry and made this site. This site is a response to the cultures of violence, fear and silence I have witnessed and experienced in my academic community. Sexual harassment, mental illness and unpaid labor are the accepted and expected norms. Abusive academics are well known and yet remain in the community. We are powerless and afraid of backlash, unemployment and failure. All of this gets worse as public spending is cut and universities become increasingly neoliberal institutions. This site is a 'fuck you' to the silence and fear. It is, I hope, a space where we can share our stories of abuse, exploitation and suffering in academia.

There are now 104 stories and counting. An excerpt from a recent post (#103):

I started out an idealistic and hopeful student. Worked to pay for college, good grades, got into a good PhD program. Worked hard, had a good mentor, published, moved on to postdoc. I thought that I could keep working hard, publish and move into some reasonable career trajectory. Right?

Well, we all know why we're here. I can't even go into the details. It's a familiar story – sexism, racism. Abuse by an advisor, with nowhere to turn. Rampant discrimination and harassment. When I looked for help (from the wrong people, apparently), I was told to suck it up, work harder. Constant financial worries. Every little setback used up my savings. I got sick and never really recovered… stress and overwork guaranteed that. I was good at living modestly, but that wasn't enough to sustain me. Now, I'm just trying to pick up the pieces. I feel floored by the lack of opportunities and support through most of my career. I had no idea how much a career in academia would rely on having money to begin with. I feel like this work has stolen my life away. And I'm not the only one – I know plenty of people who have had a similar experience. The best people leave early.

Worst of all, I don't even feel that I can tell my story. Nobody wants to hear it. Nobody would lift a finger to protect me from retribution. Nobody wants to address problems like this. I feel so much grief for the good I might have done in another profession, the life I could have lived. I don't know what to do with this grief.

nobody , August 22, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Where did the link go? Well, here it is:

http://academiaiskillingmyfriends.tumblr.com/

Arizona Slim , August 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Some of the worst abuse I ever experienced was in academia. Here's an example:

During the mid-1980s, I was on the staff of a journal at the University of Pittsburgh. My boss, the departmental librarian, must have come from the Attila the Hun School of Management, because that's how she treated people. Shortly after I started my job, I got on her bad side. I have no idea why this happened. Thirty years late, I still can't figure it out.

It may have had something to do with the introductory meeting we were supposed to have with the journal's publisher.

Well, being the good little employee that I thought I was, I had my office clock set to the correct time. I didn't know it at the time, but the library clock was 10 minutes fast. Yep, the same trick that bars pull on their customers. Getting them out the door before the official closing time.

So, I got to the library a few minutes before 9 a.m. Plenty of time to for the boss and me to walk over to the publisher's office. Bossola was SEETHING. I was LATE! Just look at that CLOCK! It was already after nine!

Over to the publisher's office we walked, and guess what. They weren't even ready for us. So we sat in the waiting area for a while.

The publisher and his staff couldn't have been nicer. The polar opposite of my boss.

During the 15 months that I worked at Pitt, I felt the brunt of this lady's abuse. She'd call me into the office, launch into a blistering tirade, and I would sit there, stunned. And, to her, that was another cause for anger. Why was I just sitting there and not reacting?

During her final tirade, when she told me to start looking for another job, I'd had enough. I told her that I was going to start looking for another city.

Well, guess who sat there, stunned.

She insisted that I didn't have to do anything THAT drastic. But my mind was made up. I was done with her, done with Pitt, and done with Pittsburgh.

Three and a half months and several wonderful bicycling miles later, I landed in Tucson, and I'm still here. Without that nasty boss, I probably wouldn't be in this wonderful city.

As for Ms. Nasty, she left Pitt and went on to become the head librarian at Chatham College, which was nearby. Small women's college. Known for its caring, friendly, and supportive environment. Ms. Nasty didn't last very long there.

And she didn't last very long at St. Michael's College in northern Vermont. I think that she was fired from that institution, but I'm not sure. Let's just say that I hope she was, because she deserved a taste of her own medicine.

Softie , August 22, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Here is a story that scared shit of Academia's organized crime ring for a little while in the early 90s.

"The University of Iowa shooting took place at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa on November 1, 1991. The gunman was Gang Lu, a 28-year-old former graduate student at the university. He killed four members of the university faculty and one student, and seriously wounded another student, before taking his own life."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Iowa_shooting

Nelson Lowhim , August 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Damn. Thing is I've heard this from Actuarials and docs. It's everywhere the "well, just work harder". But some of it is on the employees. None have the frame of mind to kick back, to unionize, and hard (when was unionizing ever easy?). None. All have the neoliberal view that: work hard and you'll be fine. And so when that button is pushed, they go for broke until burned out. It's that or be labeled lazy. Well, being unemployed is also an issue, but there's also the matter of having the language to fight back, to not feel guilty for working less than 100 hours a week etc.

PlutoniumKun , August 22, 2016 at 5:15 pm

I think an important point about Unions which people forget is that they provide an opportunity for people to vent and let off frustration. I've been a Union rep at various places and many times I would have people come in to have a rant about a certain manager or policy. At the end I would say 'do you want to make a formal complaint?' and the answer would be no – the person just wanted to get it off their chest in a confidential manner.

And to know that if they needed it, there was back up. Non-union places I've worked in, even good ones, lack that safety valve.

FluffytheObeseCat , August 22, 2016 at 7:14 pm

The last post on this tumblr is from February of 2016. It's been inactive for half a year. The links may be valuable however.

inode_buddha , August 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm

I'm in the process of paying a personal price for this BS as I type this, having walked off the job a few months ago. I'm not gonna drive 30 miles each way for 1/2 of what I should be making only to be treated like shit by management brown-nosers. Bad news is, I'm mid-career and not a spring chicken. Considering leaving the field altogether or doing my own startup. But if I had known then what I know now, I would have had the voice recorder app on my phone, recording everything….

thump , August 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for posting about the blog "Academia is Killing My Friends," but I couldn't find the link, so here it is:

http://academiaiskillingmyfriends.tumblr.com/

larry , August 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm

The authors fail to get to the real fundamentals of this phenomenon. The two ends of the spectrum that they delineate can be housed under a single umbrella, that of neoliberalism. And it is obvious that neoliberalism can kill. And Durkheim would have agreed readily that ideas can kill, and not just via suicide.

PQS , August 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Ugh. After twenty years in commercial construction, I thought our industry was an outlier for abuse, psychotic management, and general HR mayhem. Apparently not. Arizona Slim, I could have profiled Mrs. Nasty at any number of firms I worked for…she's not unusual.

I stay at smaller companies with good people for less money because I just can't handle the high pressure and abusive environment of Big Time Construction Firms. I also have zero interest in big projects anymore – too many psycho Owners who appear to delight in torturing the contractor as a hobby. The men I work with think I'm nuts to turn down some work. I tell them, there's no reward for it. No pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no big promotion – just health problems and more commuting for the same old, same old.

inode_buddha , August 22, 2016 at 1:59 pm

You too? Abuse, and psycho management is why I'm considering leaving the trade altogether, too bad I've invested 30 years and a few schools into it…. but of course, nobody *made* me invest in myself and believe in the american dream /sarc

ambrit , August 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Give yourself a break inode_buddha. Thirty years ago, you, and myself as well, made a rational decision as to what direction to take. At the time, construction and the associated trades were honourable and respectable. A decent living could be made, and a future was in sight. Neo-Liberalism has, since then, destroyed most things that benefited anyone other than the criminal management classes. Humanity has had to stand up and fight for decency and equality throughout history.

redleg , August 22, 2016 at 8:20 pm

The decent living in the construction trades, for me anyways, has started and (so far) ended as a contract employee. I'm at the cusp of 50 and am looking at disaster if I can't find something permanent. My spouse has her dream job (that unfortunately comes with mediocre pay) so moving the fam for a job is our of the question. I'm one dropped contract away from my professional expiration date – too old for entry level, not experienced enough for management, unable to move to a better job market if such a thing existed.

But at least I paid off my student loans, so that's not hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles.

ambrit , August 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Living on the road, out of town, at the jobsite, etc. etc. There's a reason why so many of the Superintendents and Foremen I've encountered on big jobs drink to excess.

I've had my share of Mz/Mr Nasty bosses. The worst thing one can do to one of these persons, as I learned one afternoon, is to laugh at them when they "put you in your place." The program is going south anyway. If the wherewithall is available for a drive home, go ahead and let 'them' know you're not going to put up with abuse anymore. (Easier said than done, I'll agree, but, as long as you and yours aren't starving, why not? You'll sleep better at night. Take my word for it.)
Smaller outfits are, from my experience, easier to get along with because the manager is often the owner or family and not divorced from the ground floor experience. Reason is used instead of formula.

I used to hold the same belief about construction being the bilge of the work world. Then I worked for the USPS for almost three years. Then the dreaded Lowes Home Improvement set its avernal brand sizzling on my soul.

Ah my, what a picaresque novel all this would make.

PQS , August 22, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Picaresque novel or hilarious TV show. I've written the scripts in my head a thousand times….clueless architects, raging Owners, ridiculous Inspectors, overfed upper management/sales staff, etc. etc.

I agree that laughter is truly the best medicine in this business. As a friend once told me, "Sometimes you gotta let the crazy people be crazy."

Jim Haygood , August 22, 2016 at 8:42 pm

'what a picaresque novel all this would make"

Charles Bukowski [lowbrow NC spell checker don't know him] has covered the USPS bit.

Over to ambrit for the Lowe's sequel. :-)

ambrit , August 22, 2016 at 10:09 pm

Hmmm..

Some titles: "Faking, Inc.," "Department of Imaginary Tools," "Bargain Employee of the Month," and the annual winner, "Going Out of Business Sale: Season Three."
Since I'll need to go back to work for a few years, until my miniscule SS kicks in, I might do a Home Depot Equal Opportunity for Exploitation Edition.

(When I grow up I want to be a Day Trader! Maybe I'll take a flutter in pork bellies on the Chicago Exchange.)

Arizona Slim , August 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm

In her own strange way, Ms. Nasty had quite a positive effect on my life. As our relationship deteriorated, I started piling up the savings. I was planning my escape, even before that final tirade.

My last six weeks at Pitt were amazing. After I tended my resignation (on Friday, February 13, 1987), the whole department was impressed with how relaxed and happy I was. It was as if a different Slim had moved into my body.

Yes, there was that farewell luncheon where Ms. Nasty refused to raise her glass in a toast, but you know what? I was going to be out the door in a few hours, so I no longer cared. In fact, I found her refusal rather amusing.

What came next was even better. That pile of savings was deployed for something I really enjoyed. Long-distance bike touring! Rode thousands of miles in a little over three months! And then I settled here in Tucson!

Where I found a job similar to my Pitt job, but with a nice boss. That was my last FT job. I've been a freelancer since 1994.

So, Ms. Nasty, thanks for the motivation. And I do hope that you learned how to be nice to people who are, ahem, beneath you.

Synoia , August 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

That's what Labor (or socialist) political parties used to do, and Corbyn's trying to re-institute in the UK.

One cannot be pro-trade (as currently defined) and pro democratic not pro citizen, not pro-labor.

The US has never permitted socialism, and prefers crony capitalism, which is actually close to fascism.

The whole defense Military Industry Complex of Government and Industry is a definition of fascism in the US. I place no regard on Ike's warning about the MIC as he did noting until the end of his reign, and then made a speech.

Roquentin , August 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm

At long last I've finally managed to get out of a job I couldn't stand after working there for nearly a decade. The pay was ridiculously low, even relative to the industry standard. Management routinely promoted narcissistic, ignorant cronies who never told them the word "no." I couldn't be happier it's finally over. They've had so much turnover in the past couple of years entire departments are composed of entirely new people. The CEO cares about nothing except looking good to the shareholders and owners, and that's pretty much the attitude from the top on down. Look good to the people with power and to hell with the rest.

I'd be surprised if the company still existed 5-10 years from now.

DarkMatters , August 22, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Soooo glad I'm retired. I was starting to see more and more of this over the last couple of decades, and it escalated as times worsened. I wish libertarians and free-marketers would contemplate the situations described here, and consider what kind of a world it would be if financial oligarchs held even more power. What hope would there be to counter this sort of abuse?

Nelson Lowhim , August 22, 2016 at 4:19 pm

This works perfectly into their view of "weaker" elements being discarded. Pretty fascist at the end of the day.

kareninca , August 22, 2016 at 7:56 pm

I wouldn't exactly call myself a libertarian (I'm not sure what I am), but I think that the libertarian response would be that if there were fewer pointless regulations people would be much more readily able to work for themselves, and not for an abusive boss. It is unbelievably hard to start a business now, even a solo one, due to regs. And I'm not talking about reasonable regs (don't dump toxins in waterways). I'm talking about regs that have been invented by big existing businesses to keep upstarts from starting.

A number of years ago there was an article about someone who tried to start a storage company in the CT/RI area and how they eventually gave up because the regs made the process insane; there's not much that's simpler than a storage company. Most small business owners I know tell me they could not start now because it has all gotten too complicated; they have been able to cobble together responses to the new regs as they go, but starting at this point would be impossible for them.

Picture what it would be like if you could look at your skill set, and go out and work for yourself without a huge amount of extremely complex taxes and paperwork. A strange thought, isn't it?

I'm not saying this would be an option for most people ( not at all ), but it does not now even exist as an escape valve. Now you have to have millions in start-up funds to start some BS company (e.g. one more stupid company that delivers food to patron's homes) that isn't actually meant to make money (it just exists to get money from investors), and you need that much to deal with the paperwork.

And, if someone wants to pop up and say "the paperwork is not so bad and complicated," please remember that you are a NC poster and are in the top ten percent of the population for ability to deal with paperwork.

Yves Smith Post author , August 23, 2016 at 5:41 am

I have to tell you, as a small business owner myself, this "regulations are burdensome" argument is a crock. Lobbyists in DC learned decades ago that the best way to put a sympathetic face on their efforts to get waivers for big businesses is to have small business owners act as their mouthpieces. And there are enough extreme libertarians everywhere that it's not hard to find someone to screech that the regulations he is subject to are horrible irrespective of how much a burden they really are.

Specifically, regarding a storage business, I can't fathom your view that storage companies should not be regulated. If I am putting my valuable stuff in the hands of someone else, I sure as hell want protection that they won't cut all the locks and run off with everything, or find more legitimate ways of stealing, like create excuses to jack up my storage costs by 10X and hold my goods hostage. And what about requiring them to have adequate fire protection and security? Even if they aren't crooks, cheap and reckless will also result in my property being stolen or damaged.

In general, entrepreneurship is way oversold in America to legitimate the bad treatment of workers: "If things are as bad as you say, why put up with it? Go start your own business!" That's ridiculous since staring your own business requires that you be both a good salesman and a good general manager, and good salesmen are almost without exception terrible managers, as anyone in Corporate America will tell you. And it's extremely hard to make partnerships work unless the principals worked together in the same company for years (ie, they grew up with the same training and rules, and so will default to the same assumptions as to how things are done). Even in consulting, I've seldom seen people who come of of different large firms work well together absent a strong organization around them.

The proof that pretty much no one should go into business for themselves is 9 out of every 10 businesses fail within three years. The percentabe is no doubt higher if you extend the time frame to five years. I've started two successful businesses in the US and one that didn't work out in Oz, but an overseas launch is much harder and it seemed too dodgy to go beyond the two years I'd invested (as in I might have made it a go had I kept on, but I decided it was more prudent to cut my losses).

And I don't know where you get your information about new business from. It's pretty clear you aren't in that world. You don't need millions in funds. The overwhelming majority of new ventures are funded from savings, credit cards, and loans from friends and family.

And if you aren't able to handle regulatory filings (or find a lawyer or accountant who can help) you aren't competent to be in business for yourself. Running a business means you run into obstacles all the time and need to find ways around them. Do you not think that private firms also require paperwork, like vendor approval processes and documenting your invoices? If you can't handle paperwork, you need to stay on a payroll.

cyclist , August 23, 2016 at 10:47 am

While I agree with Yves that there is too much libertarian bitching about regulations, there are a lot of really stupid laws on the books that we could easily do without. As an example, I was recently looking at an RFP from a public agency in the state of MI. One of the requirements for bidders responding was to provide a notarized affidavit that the company was not controlled by the Republic of Iran! Apparently this is Michigan Public Act 517 of 2012. BTW, the winning bidder, a large US corporation, certified they are not secretly controlled by the evil Ayatollahs.

jrs , August 22, 2016 at 8:39 pm

yes but most people won't be able to work until they are dead, because they aren't able to or because noone is going to hire them (it's why people collect social security at 62, it's not because this is the smartest financial plan, it's clearly not) and I hope most don't take the "therefore middle aged or senior aged suicide" route.

If you are able to work until you die a natural death good for you I guess (even better to be able to choose to retire of course), but it's not going to be an option for many people even if they want it to be, health or the job market WILL force them out.

Softie , August 22, 2016 at 2:46 pm

"Perhaps this world is another planet's hell." – Aldous Huxley. Yes, it is definitely. Perhaps pretty soon they will start strip search employees when they come to work.

ambrit , August 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm

"Out of the Silent Planet" by C. S. Lewis.

Chauncey Gardiner , August 22, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Excellent and timely article. As the writers observe, the problem is global in nature. If you work in or have worked in corporate America, you likely have personally experienced or seen the results of the deliberate creation of a stressful professional climate and workplace environment, abusive psychological bullying, and intentional destabilization of employees.

Increasing numbers of suicides are one outcome of these environments. But as the writers point out, there are a number of other symptoms associated with these toxic workplaces, none good. They range from physical and mental health issues, to various forms of addiction, burnout, and secondary effects on employees' personal lives and those of their family members or partners.

Although it seems that individuals with psychopathic characteristics often rise in management in many of these organizations, I believe the roots of the problem lie in a broader and deeper systemic failure. I agree that neoliberal ideology, globalization, and the basic structures of our debt-based economy all play a key role in enabling the intentional development of these organizational environments.

nobody , August 22, 2016 at 6:13 pm

It may be a global problem, but it seems particularly acute in the US. Ian Welsh's observations ring true to me:

One of the most striking things about much of American culture is the simple meanness of it. The cruelty… There is also a culture of punching down… America has a high-violence, high-bullying society… [Y]ou can have a high-violence society in which it is considered unacceptable to attack the weak (doing so is viewed as cowardice), but that's not the case in America. In American culture, the weak are the preferred target. Failure is punishable by homelessness, suffering, and death… You'd better get down on your knees and do whatever your boss wants, because if you're fired or let go you may never work again, and if you do hang on at a bottom-wage job, well, your life will suck… Having learned that the right way to treat anyone who is weaker than them is with demands for acquiescence and dominance displays, to many Americans, to interpret any sign of weakness as requiring them, as a moral duty, to dominate and hurt the weak person. People become what is required of them. They learn from authority figures how to behave… The entire process makes America a far more unpleasant place to live or visit than is necessary. The structure of dominance, meanness and cruelty is palpable to the visitor, and distressing; even as it warps the best inhabitant.
Tony Baloney , August 22, 2016 at 7:02 pm

You nailed it "nobody".

James Kroeger , August 22, 2016 at 10:01 pm

I believe the roots of the problem lie in a broader and deeper systemic failure.

Yes, a systemic failure, but to be more precise, it is ultimately a particular kind of market failure that gives employers an incentive to abuse their employees.

The best way to understand what I mean is to imagine a labor market where there are always more jobs available than there are people to fill them. In an economy that is experiencing a chronic labor shortage, employers would have a market incentive to actually start treating their employees with respect.

In markets where labor surpluses are carefully maintained (virtually every market you've ever known), business owners/managers feel free to express anger at any employee shehe feels a 'power advantage' over. They sense they have this advantage when/if they believe the employee fears losing hiser job more than the employer fears losing the employee.

It really would force a profound change in employer-employee relations, generally. Employers would be compelled by the marketplace to not only find ways to motivate their employees to work hard, but also to find ways to make them feel content , psychologically.

In an economy that is experiencing a sustained labor shortage, the crudest and least sympathetic methods of motivating employees would be gradually phased out.

'Bottom feeders' in the competition for scarce labor would have a constant incentive to try to retain employees, and to 'go the extra mile' to work with people who are having problems. Individuals who are having personal problems would not be simply cast aside, as they are now.

The national government could do something to help those businesses that are struggling within very [price-] competitive markets, providing counseling services, etc., to help those employees who are struggling with various problems outside of the job environment.

In our current labor surplus economy, lawsuits may give some employers an incentive to treat their people with respect, but it won't get anywhere close to providing THE solution to the problem that we would experience if we were to create and indefinitely maintain a labor shortage in the economy.

so , August 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

humans sure do have a long way to go.

Jim Haygood , August 22, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Low end, dead end, godsend, pretend
it don't matter anyway

Perfect chorus of a country song.

perpetualWAR , August 22, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Quiet desperation. Isn't that the life of most Americans?

ambrit , August 22, 2016 at 10:17 pm

And to think that Pink Floyd recorded the verse; "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way." Back in 1968.
Quiet desperation is a characteristic of a declining society.

redleg , August 23, 2016 at 12:08 am

As far as I can tell quiet desperation is the life of most people.
This article highlights suicide, but drug and alcohol abuse are just as much a result of poor employment outcomes as suicide and for the same reasons.
When people stop being quietly desperate is when change happens.
I refer to CCR's Effigy although as a Gen-X -er I Prefer the Uncle Tupelo version

veganjules , August 22, 2016 at 10:17 pm

Guys. You're also forgetting that if the U.S. took in the Nazi Scientists and Death Specialists and used them and their techniques to crush real democratic, fair, egalitarian societies in Latin America (Chomsky) and then learned to transmute overt war (+nazi techniques) and colonialism into Finance (Hudson)–then we are currently dealing with something 'worse than Nazi Germany' (my 90 year old neighbor).

[Jul 16, 2016] Female Sociopaths - different but just as dangerous!

www.decision-making-confidence.com
Particular Characteristics of Female Sociopaths Vs Males

Incidence

How many female sociopaths are there? Robert Hare believes that about 1% of the population fits the profile of psychopath, and male psychopaths are 7 times more common than female psychopaths.

But there are some things to keep in mind here. When most people think of 'sociopath' they typically think 'male' and 'serial killer'. They do not generally think of women psychopaths. This can lead to a situation where they are dealing with a psychopath in their life but do not realize who they are dealing with.

Add to this the fact that sociopaths have been called chameleons for their ability to blend into society and it adds to the difficulty in counting them.

Plus, whether you consider it sexist or not, the female aspect needs to be considered when talking about manipulation. Women have been known to 'bat their eyelids' and show their cleavage or 'show a bit of leg', for example, to good effect.

How female sociopaths show up in society

The most obvious group are the serial killers. And yes, there have been lots of female serial killers as well as males!

Unlike the males however, there is usually not a sexual element to their crimes. It's much more usual to be money or power related. And the female sociopaths typically know their victims; it's rare for them to kill strangers. An interesting group are the female sociopaths who become nurses or doctors. These cold-blooded killers hide themselves where nobody would suspect them, in a caring profession!

And then they set to work. For example, Beverley Allitt, a 23-year-old nurse in the UK killed 4 and attacked 9 other children within a couple of months before she was caught. A Texas nurse Genene Jones is believed to have killed between 11 and 46. It's of this group that people usually say "But they seemed like such nice people!"

Another subset are those who kill one or several husbands for the inheritance and life assurance.

Obvious Delinquents

Some female sociopaths demonstrate antisocial behavior as children and as adolescents. Lying, stealing, truancy, cruelty to animals and siblings, drug abuse, early sexual activity. Of course, there may be frequent run-ins with the law. Their parents are very often distraught because there is so little they can do. As adults, these female sociopaths may end up abusing alcohol and drugs and end up in and out of prison.

Some therapists believe that there is such a disregard for society among them that a sociopath that has not broken the law just hasn't been found out yet!

Cult leaders

Many of the women who lead destructive cults are sociopaths.

There seems to be two themes among female sociopaths that are not so prevalent in male led groups, one being the avoidance of sex and the other being food.

The women psychopaths may target women who want to get away from sex for whatever reason. Instead they offer female nurturing and support.

As well as offering meals when potential 'clients' have none, there are cults based on eating healthily or losing weight. This is typical of cults, they offer something people want but behind the outer facade is a second set of ideas or principles. People enter for one thing and end up having the leader control their lives.

Socialized sociopaths

These are the ones that are so difficult to count! Despite their sociopath symptoms, they manage to integrate themselves into society to varying degrees. Everything from solitary lives where they live on the money they make from crimes for which they are not caught, to getting married, settling down and having children.

It's interesting to read or listen to the stories of some of these female sociopaths. Typically, they realize as children that they are different in some way. They think differently and make different decisions. Then they begin to understand that they are not so 'affected' by emotions. It's seems that it's common for them to think that this is because they are smarter than those around them.

They begin from an early age to look for clues to recognize the emotions that others are actually having. They learn to mimic the emotions so as not to stand out, or to please others. They learn to create relationships that are beneficial for them.

Female sociopaths have all the symptoms of sociopaths. The lying, the parasitic lifestyle, the need for excitement and the desire to control. It's possible that there are many female sociopaths who live, for all intents and purposes, what looks like a normal life from the outside. They are content to just blend in and do what "normal" people do.

Others however, want more. More money, more power, more control, more excitement. And they get themselves into trouble because of the impulsivity or the failure to control their emotions, or the irresponsibility.

One of the ways this shows up is in problems in their marriage. In true sociopath style, they attract a man, create an intimate relationship, influence his decision making and get married. It's common for them to isolate the man from his friends and family to varying degrees. They can be very domineering and controlling, using sex as a means to manipulate. The man may suffer verbal abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse and even physical abuse.

Had a bad experience?

Have you had a run-in with a sociopath? The more people know about these demons the better! Tell your story here

When there are children involved it gets infinitely more complicated. Especially in separations and divorces. The female sociopaths have no difficulty (remember no remorse, guilt or pity for anybody) in using the children as pawns or objects to try to continue to manipulate the man.

They will extract information from the children about the father to use against him, they will influence how and what the children think about the father, and they may prevent the father from having any contact with the children. The welfare of the children is not considered. What's important is that they continue to maintain control and power.

In family matters where the police or the courts involved, they have no difficulty in lying, inventing stories and doing whatever is necessary to get what they want. They can play the victim role very well, as most sociopaths do, and will use society's preferences towards women and mothers to their advantage.

Some female sociopaths simply go from one relationship to another. They use their sociopathic charm, good looks and female wiles to create a relationship, take what they want and then disappear, leaving a trail of brokenhearted and confused men behind them. Men who are somewhat poorer after the experience!

This piece was originally written about a male but I think it works equally well like this!

She will choose you, charm you with her words, and control you with this presence. She will delight you with her wit and her plans. She will show you a good time, but you will always get the bill. She will smile and deceive you, and she will scare you with her eyes. And when she is through with you, and she will be through with you, she will desert you and take with her your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what you did wrong.

From an essay signed, "A psychopath in prison".

Testosterone

Apparently both male and female psychopaths have high levels of testosterone. It has been found that in normal populations, higher levels of testosterone are associated with higher sex drive, more sexual activity and more attractiveness to the opposite sex.

This will make female sociopaths more appealing to males. Add to this the lack of inhibition, and the grandiose sense of self and you have a lethal combination! Think femme fatale!

It may also explain the lack of desire to have children and the failure to look after them if they do. It's not uncommon for female sociopaths to leave young children unattended, for example, because they have other more important things to do.

How we perceive women

We normally think women are empathic and nurturing and don't expect to see cold-hearted, uncaring, callous behaviors in women.

We don't consider that they could be more devious, manipulative, destructive, vindictive and downright nasty than their male counterparts.

But just ask any man who has been a victim of female sociopaths...!

Learn what to do if you think you might be in a relationship with a sociopath and how to stop mind control...

[Jul 16, 2016] Confessions of a Sociopath A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

Just a reminder: like in any fashionable themes that are authors who try to did gold out of it. This is one of the genre:. From comments: "As a training psychologist, I was very disappointed with this memoir. I'm very interested in sociopathy and from how this is written, it seems that Thomas is more likely to be a narcissist than a sociopath. I don't think this book is an accurate account of sociopathy and I'm questioning the formal diagnosis. Additionally, It seemed that Thomas kept repeating the same points over and over, which made it very difficult to read at times. It also was difficult due to my growing distaste for Thomas as an individual (mostly due to her conceitedness - another reason I believe she's a narcissist). However, I will give the book a few stars for being written well and keeping my attention enough to at least finish the book."
Notable quotes:
"... I think everyone learns to lie about his or her emotions to a certain extent; I just take it a step farther. People ask, "How are you?" and you respond, "fine," even though you had a fight with your spouse that morning, have a sick child, or any multitude of things that make it hard for you to feel fine about almost anything in your life. You could honestly answer the question, but you don't because overt displays of strong emotion in ordinary social interactions are not accepted. Most of the time I don't need to show any emotion at all, and I try to limit the times that I do by begging off attending funerals, weddings, etc. When I do show up to these functions, I try to mimic the other attendees. If I'm dealing with a person one-on-one, I just try to reflect their emotions; usually they're distracted enough by their own overflowing emotions not to notice my lack of them. ..."
"... The author goes into some detail in trying to distinguish psychopaths, sociopaths, and person with anti-social personality disorder; but for the majority of the world these distinctions are exercises in semantics only. ..."
"... I've dealt with sociopathic and psychopathic individuals, and they aren't these brilliant, charming, care free people that this book would like you to believe. I'm sorry, but she is not a sociopath. So she is full of herself and likes to toy with the lives of others, apparently she has never met a high school aged girl. If she had, she would see that she is stuck in her own adolescence. She truly wants to believe that she is a sociopath because then she is not like the majority of people. ..."
"... As she says, 1 in 25 people are statistically sociopaths. I'm guessing she hasn't even verified those statistics. What sample size is it derived from? Is the sample really indicative of the entire earth's population? ..."
"... I didn't learn anything from this book; it contains the usual suspects in terms of how she defines herself, the kinds of things she does, etc. This book was written for those who are not familiar with sociopathy, and since it's a pop psych deal all over social media, the author is capitalizing; there are statements in that book that seriously cast doubt on her claims, and others that pinpoint, so it seems to be she did a lot of research to write this, rather than glean her own experience. Considering her penchant to drone about her intelligence, her special abilities, and her success, sociopaths lie, manipulate, and cheat to the nth degree; this is what I'm getting from this; sociopaths are easily detectable, at least to me; I think my discernment skills are far superior to those of the author. One star for the subject, it is familial, and one star for the brazen ability to recognize she cannot fool all, but can fool many. ..."
"... The females are less inclined to criminal behavior and better able to pretend to empathy they don't possess, but they do not have the loyalty or empathy the rest of us have, which means they cannot learn from their behavior the way the rest of us can. ..."
"... I'm sorry to say, this book was a disappointment. It was a long, painful, boring read. First of all, Ms. Thomas isn't a very good writer. Full of run-on sentences and endless, dull descriptions of how great she thinks she is because she lacks empathy and a conscience (she seems to think of these as traits only weak or stupid people have, reminding me of Ayn Rand without an iota of the latter's intelligence), Thomas comes off more as an obnoxious, self-centered, common narcissist than a true sociopath. ..."
"... Thomas (who owns the website Sociopath World) is not a criminal. She may well be sociopathic in that she seems to take pleasure in cheating, manipulating, hurting, and discarding others, once gleefully watched a possum drown, and admits she enjoys ruining the reputations of people she has worked with. She clearly has no empathy and seems to have no emotions. ..."
"... M. E. Thomas is clearly a malignant narcissist, but by calling herself a "sociopath" you feel like you've been the victim of a bait-and-switch (which is in itself sociopathic, I suppose). ..."
"... The only reason I didn't feel completely ripped off was because the yard sale copy of this book set me back only $1; if I'd purchased it at full price, I'd be pretty annoyed right now. It was all I could do to even finish this book. It was that boring. Don't waste your time. If you want to read a good book about sociopathy, read Marsha Stout's The Sociopath Next Door instead. If you really need to read something that comes "out of the horse's mouth," you'd do better with Sam Vaknin ..."
"... I so wish i hadn't wasted my money on this book. The writing was weak and she often contradicts herself and i was utterly bored half way through. Her examples of her sociopathic behaviour aren't very radical - provoking her father to anger in teen years, taking a neighbors bike without permission and returning it (so naughty!), following a man who angered her with murderous intent for a block or so until she lost him. 300 pages of self-aggrandizing that comes across as juvenile and insecure. Perhaps she is malicious and conniving and maybe even a sociopath whatever that actually is (I am not a fan of the DSM), but ultimately its not that interesting, definitely not enlightening. ..."
www.amazon.com

Amazon.com Books

As M.E. Thomas says of her fellow sociopaths, "We are your neighbors, your coworkers, and quite possibly the people closest to you: lovers, family, friends. Our risk-seeking behavior and general fearlessness are thrilling, our glibness and charm alluring. Our often quick wit and outside-the-box thinking make us appear intelligent-even brilliant. We climb the corporate ladder faster than the rest, and appear to have limitless self-confidence. Who are we? We are highly successful, noncriminal sociopaths and we comprise 4 percent of the American population."

Confessions of a Sociopath -part confessional memoir, part primer for the curious-takes readers on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes them tick while debunking myths about sociopathy and offering a road map for dealing with the sociopaths in your life. M. E. Thomas draws from her own experiences as a diagnosed sociopath; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and scientific literature to unveil for the very first time these men and women who are "hiding in plain sight."

Q&A with M. E. Thomas

Q. Were you always aware that you were different?

A. Yes, though when I was young, I thought maybe it was just because I was smarter than everyone else. I saw things that other children did not see, was aware of the adult world in a way that even my smart siblings were not-awkward interactions from the end of an affair, why my grandpa treated my dad differently from his other children (he was adopted), and so on. I knew other people did not see these things because I would reference them and get blank stares in return. I learned to keep things to myself, even to pretend I didn't see them. Those were probably some of my first attempts to wear a mask of normalcy.

Q. What are the common characteristics/behaviors shared by most sociopaths? Do they describe you, too?

A. Lack of remorse or concern for hurting or stealing; being deceitful, manipulative, impulsive, irritable, aggressive, and consistently irresponsible; failure to conform to social norms; and being unconcerned about people's safety, including their own. You need to have at least three of these to be a sociopath. I have them all, to varying degrees.

Q. You believe that sociopaths have a natural competitive advantage. Why?

A. Sociopaths have several skills that lend themselves to success in areas such as politics and business: charm, an ability to see and exploit weaknesses/flaws (which in politics is called "power-broking" and in business, "arbitrage"), confidence, unflagging optimism, an ability to think outside the box and come up with original ideas, and a lack of squeamishness about doing what it takes to get ahead.

Q. If you don't have a sense of morality, or feel the emotions that most people do, how are you able to operate in the world without being detected?

A. I think everyone learns to lie about his or her emotions to a certain extent; I just take it a step farther. People ask, "How are you?" and you respond, "fine," even though you had a fight with your spouse that morning, have a sick child, or any multitude of things that make it hard for you to feel fine about almost anything in your life. You could honestly answer the question, but you don't because overt displays of strong emotion in ordinary social interactions are not accepted. Most of the time I don't need to show any emotion at all, and I try to limit the times that I do by begging off attending funerals, weddings, etc. When I do show up to these functions, I try to mimic the other attendees. If I'm dealing with a person one-on-one, I just try to reflect their emotions; usually they're distracted enough by their own overflowing emotions not to notice my lack of them.

Q. Research shows that one in twenty-five people is a sociopath, yet most of us believe we've never met one. Are we just kidding ourselves? Are you able to spot them?

A. Statistically, everyone has met at least one sociopath; in fact, most people will have a close encounter with a sociopath at some point in their lives, either as a friend, family member, or lover. Sometimes I can tell who they are. I find that many successful sociopaths will leave deliberate clues as to what they are, the thought being that only other sociopaths would recognize them. I think sociopaths, like serial killers, often have a yearning to be acknowledged for who they are. They want people to admire their exploits, and that is hard to get when they are completely hidden, so they make small compromises.

By Sara on December 15, 2015 Format: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Questioning the legitimacy of "sociopath" diagnosis

As a training psychologist, I was very disappointed with this memoir. I'm very interested in sociopathy and from how this is written, it seems that Thomas is more likely to be a narcissist than a sociopath. I don't think this book is an accurate account of sociopathy and I'm questioning the formal diagnosis. Additionally, It seemed that Thomas kept repeating the same points over and over, which made it very difficult to read at times. It also was difficult due to my growing distaste for Thomas as an individual (mostly due to her conceitedness - another reason I believe she's a narcissist). However, I will give the book a few stars for being written well and keeping my attention enough to at least finish the book.
3.0 out of 5 stars D_shrink VINE VOICE on March 31, 2013

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )

At least she is coming out to all but her family. This is written as a confessional/memoir of its author Monica E. Thomas,a pseudonym, necessitated by the subject matter and to protect her present socioeconomic life.

Having just read the reviews written before mine, it would seem I am the first to have actually read the entire book, well, at least, so far.

I would agree with the other reviewers that the book is technically well written, but does get long in the tooth by the half way mark, with many points being repeated several times which lengthened the book with no apparent advantage that I could ascertain; otherwise I would have given 4 stars.

I would agree that the author as self described is unlikeable, but whom I found very interesting simply because I am a retired psychologist and spent the last ten years working with female murderers. The author goes into some detail in trying to distinguish psychopaths, sociopaths, and person with anti-social personality disorder; but for the majority of the world these distinctions are exercises in semantics only.

To help clarify this point, as the author takes some time discussing her rational for the distinction. A psychiatrist, Hervey Clecky wrote the magnum opus on psychopathology in 1941 in a book called MASK OF SANITY; he might be better known to you for his book on multiple personality disorder which was turned into a movie in 1957 called THE THREE FACES OF EVE.

A Dr. Robert Hare building upon Clecky's work devised a 20 question scale to judge antisocial personality disorder. He only used convicts to base his results on, so it is not representative of the general population and certainly doesn't have the background of the MMPI. Hare felt that there were differences between people who committed violent and aggressive act and those who did not. He felt that the aggressive ones should be considered to have ASPD and the others would simply be called sociopaths. The term psychopaths had fallen out of favor.

However, much of the world still considered all three terms to be interchangeable, and if you look up psycho/sociopath in the APA Dictionary it will refer you to Antisocial Personality Disorder. The author particularly chose to make this distinction to differentiate her disorder from those with the more severe form. Basically the author feels that being diagnosed as a sociopath doesn't mean you are bad, but simply that you don't act in socially approved manner unless it benefits the actor.

At one point the author describes her entire dysfunctional family and wonders if she might have turned out differently if raised in a different environment. You know, the argument of nature versus nurture.

1.0 out of 5 stars By N@t@ni on September 12, 2013 Format: Hardcover
Yawn M. E. is a self serving, arrogant and shallow author... her memoir does not show any insights by carefully and thoughtfully analyzing one's life and behavior. Her memoir is simply a regurgitation of already published data, and boring stories to relate to such data and to rationalize poor behavior. She has to hit us over the head about how brilliant she is, and how successful she is, and how much better she is because she is a sociopath, when one wonders if she is just an arrogant and unlikable person. If she demonstrates a typical non-dangerous sociopath, we don't really need to read a book about it, we see it every day and just avoid such people. She talks about power struggles in the most inane and trite situations possible, reeking of low self esteem. She makes gross generalizations about "empaths", which are generally overstated and wrong. This memoir at best, reads like a narcissist's journal entry/book report and at worst, just a terribly boring book.
1.0 out of 5 stars By Dr. Charles Finley on September 26, 2013 Format: Hardcover
Pointless Endeavor I was going to give this book two stars simply because it was written better than some of the garbage available today such as 50 shades of anything, yet cannot because the content is monotonous trash. I would never recommend this book to anyone. It is certainly a work of fiction and the author is even more boring than she is self absorbed. The author doesn't display the true traits of a sociopath. She sounds more narcissistic than anything else. She contradicts herself numerous times throughout the book alluding to why she isn't really a sociopath. It's amusing that sociopaths and psychopaths are being glamorized these days as if they don't have a disorder and they are instead instilled with super human powers.

I've dealt with sociopathic and psychopathic individuals, and they aren't these brilliant, charming, care free people that this book would like you to believe. I'm sorry, but she is not a sociopath. So she is full of herself and likes to toy with the lives of others, apparently she has never met a high school aged girl. If she had, she would see that she is stuck in her own adolescence. She truly wants to believe that she is a sociopath because then she is not like the majority of people.

As she says, 1 in 25 people are statistically sociopaths. I'm guessing she hasn't even verified those statistics. What sample size is it derived from? Is the sample really indicative of the entire earth's population? I only ask these questions because I am sure that she hasn't despite her self-proclaimed brilliance. Getting fired from a law firm and teaching at a 4th tier law school doesn't make you a model of success. Even Dr. Phil could see through miss JRL's ploy for fame. Sorry M.E. Thomas but you aren't special, unique, or different than everyone else. We all have these same feelings. Your actions are driven by the very insecurities that you claim you don't have. Welcome to the real world.

1.0 out of 5 stars By BookReader on June 10, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition

I'm an empath and proud to be one!

I thought this book is interesting. I purchased it because recently I had a bad experience befriending someone who I believe is a sociopath. This friend eerily has every trait of one. I trusted this person. He was charming, witty and a sponge. He is a fifty year old man who hasn't worked since his early twenties. He lies a lot and quite a master at it. But I didn't realize this until later after I was allowing him to use my internet/ WiFi for free for well over a year. I found myself paying for his bills and feeding him and even giving him the use of my new car. This guy didn't have anything and had an excuse for everything. I began to open my eyes and see that his friendships were solely based on merits of what they offered him. They were merely vehicles to get what he needed. After he started making comments to me that when I die, he was going to grab up all my possessions before my daughter had chance, red flags started going off in my head. He claimed he was teasing, but a tease is the truth behind a smile. He liked talking a lot about my death and harped on my material things. He became possessive of my things as if it was his. He even tried to control my spending. I might add, we were never more than friends and we never shared the same dwelling. Finally after catching him in several lies, I dropped our friendship. That's when he underhandedly took my personal information and gave it out over social media to hurt my business.

His grandiose arrogance I think is his weakness, though, he doesn't see it that way. His arrogance blinded him into to believing that I couldn't connect the dots. That's when I started looking further into personality disorders. I honestly believe he is a sociopath.

All his friendships are superficial. He only becomes friends with those who can benefit his needs. He's a pathological liar. He will steal from you and take whatever he wants and is very aggressive and feels he is entitled. He is charming and smart and loves to brag about his intelligence. He snarls his nose at his friends, thinking he is far superior. Even though he doesn't have a job and is dependent of others' financial support. I sit in my house everyday feeling like a prisoner. He knows when I'm home and when I leave. He watches me like a hawk. He's a collector of information of his neighbors. He studies people and pits out his next victim.

This book helped me to understand the mind of the sociopath. However, I don't agree entirely with the writer's view on empaths. She boast that empaths bring havoc to the business world because they allow their emotions to get in the way of decision making.

First, I'd like to say that most sociopaths do not function well in this world. They are cunning, underachievers, narcissist, unable to hold down any kind of job, yet they have this since of value that their opinion and intelligence far exceeds anyone else even though they have never kept even the most mundane jobs for more than a few short mouths. Instead of focusing on a career, they use all their energy into manipulating their victims.

They can be violent but they are all a predator and can't be trusted. I believe a sociopath's spurious confidence blinds them, keeping them from seeing the true reality. The reality is that a person or empath, has great leader ability. They are able to understand the heart of this country and will take in consideration that their decision making is not based on selfish motivation but based on heart and endeavor to help others rise above the occasion. Empaths are the ones who make this country. And yes, I am an empath and I am proud to be one!

I gave the writer a three star. I feel that's a fair mark. It's sort of hard to reward someone who's character is questionable.

2.0 out of 5 stars By TK on April 23, 2016 Format: Paperback

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I didn't learn anything from this book; it contains the usual suspects in terms of how she defines herself, the kinds of things she does, etc. This book was written for those who are not familiar with sociopathy, and since it's a pop psych deal all over social media, the author is capitalizing; there are statements in that book that seriously cast doubt on her claims, and others that pinpoint, so it seems to be she did a lot of research to write this, rather than glean her own experience. Considering her penchant to drone about her intelligence, her special abilities, and her success, sociopaths lie, manipulate, and cheat to the nth degree; this is what I'm getting from this; sociopaths are easily detectable, at least to me; I think my discernment skills are far superior to those of the author. One star for the subject, it is familial, and one star for the brazen ability to recognize she cannot fool all, but can fool many.

4.0 out of 5 stars By M'ette on March 21, 2016 Format: Paperback

Narcissism is the most prominent indicator of a sociopath, especially at an older age!

A reviewer describes this person as a malignant narcissist which would be an apt description for a layperson to make, but having been married to a very intelligent sociopath for nearly ten years, and currently having one as a mother-in-law, I can claim that without doubt that the lack of conscious marks a sociopath as a sociopath.
The females are less inclined to criminal behavior and better able to pretend to empathy they don't possess, but they do not have the loyalty or empathy the rest of us have, which means they cannot learn from their behavior the way the rest of us can.

My mother-in-law knows something is missing but she doesn't know what that is, not having the education to tell her. She can pretend to be a kind old lady, but she very quickly loses patience with this effort and has alienated everyone who has has dealt with her for any length of time at all. She is, at heart, mean, nasty and cold. I do not think she has the capacity to be different or be kind.

She is nearly a century of age and cannot learn differently. People are agast to see her coming because they have never been around someone so narrowly selfish, self-serving and manipulative. They try to be kind and professional in dealing with her, and being a sociopath, she is unaware of genuine feelings, and believes they actually like her.

These people are out there, in droves, and dealing with one is like nothing else one would ever experience. When I saw this side of my ex-husband I was shocked to the core and felt like I'd been unknowingly married to an insect for years!

His mother was glad I divorced him, and while she loves him, has no illusions about what her son is. That takes courage and keen insight.

Lauren Bennett on February 20, 2016 Format: Paperback

A couple of weeks ago I went to a yard sale and a book caught my eye, because of its subject matter–a copy of M. E. Thomas' autobiography, Confessions of a Sociopath: a Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight.

Ever-fascinated with all things Cluster B, including first-person accounts by narcissists, psychopaths and other antisocial types, I got busy reading that same evening. It took me two weeks to finish the book, when normally I'd devour a book of this length and subject matter in just a few days.

I'm sorry to say, this book was a disappointment. It was a long, painful, boring read. First of all, Ms. Thomas isn't a very good writer. Full of run-on sentences and endless, dull descriptions of how great she thinks she is because she lacks empathy and a conscience (she seems to think of these as traits only weak or stupid people have, reminding me of Ayn Rand without an iota of the latter's intelligence), Thomas comes off more as an obnoxious, self-centered, common narcissist than a true sociopath.

Thomas (who owns the website Sociopath World) is not a criminal. She may well be sociopathic in that she seems to take pleasure in cheating, manipulating, hurting, and discarding others, once gleefully watched a possum drown, and admits she enjoys ruining the reputations of people she has worked with. She clearly has no empathy and seems to have no emotions.

She crows on endlessly about how her lack of a conscience or any empathy has freed her from having to worry about what others think and therefore indicates what she thinks of as her superior intellect. But like the narcissist she really is, she overvalues her achievements and intelligence. She works as an attorney but doesn't seem to be able to stay employed for long, and really doesn't have any other impressive achievements under her belt. Her "theories" about sociopathy are nothing more than rehashes of what other people have already described in psychology texts, and less readable than theirs. Overall, Thomas comes off as self-congratulating, obnoxious, unlikeable, and very shallow. She also comes off as rather dumb.

M. E. Thomas is clearly a malignant narcissist, but by calling herself a "sociopath" you feel like you've been the victim of a bait-and-switch (which is in itself sociopathic, I suppose). The cover of the book is a picture of a sinister female mask on a white background, and you open the book expecting something more than you actually get, at least some sort of depth or insight into her own behavior. But Thomas has no real insight and the book reads more like a resume of her fake "achievements" than a psychological memoir. She talks about her family, who she describes as neglectful, but she doesn't seem to think they were particularly abusive. She takes arrogant pride in her "sociopathy," repeating the word again and again throughout the text, as if to drive home the fact that she really is one, when it seems that she "protesteth too much" and underneath all that bluster, suspects she may not be one. That kind of insecurity over the possibility of not really being what one says they are is a lot more typical of NPD than psychopathy or sociopathy, who don't care what others think of them. Thomas also talks about wanting to have a family and her religion (Mormonism) a lot. Maybe her religion keeps her from acting out against others in more heinous ways and gives her a sort of "cold" conscience, but I sure hope God doesn't let her have children. She doesn't seem capable of maintaining a relationship, so that doesn't exactly work in her favor.

Although narcissists are thought of as having no emotions, it isn't really true that they don't, and there are narcissists and sociopaths who have been able to write about themselves in an emotionally engaging, albeit dark and depressing, way. There is rage and hurt seething behind the surface of their words. But Thomas writes in a cold, emotionless way, probably because she's such a bad writer. As a result, you feel about as excited reading her "memoir" as you'd feel reading the most boring high school textbook–and learn a whole lot less.

The only reason I didn't feel completely ripped off was because the yard sale copy of this book set me back only $1; if I'd purchased it at full price, I'd be pretty annoyed right now. It was all I could do to even finish this book. It was that boring. Don't waste your time. If you want to read a good book about sociopathy, read Marsha Stout's The Sociopath Next Door instead. If you really need to read something that comes "out of the horse's mouth," you'd do better with Sam Vaknin. [...]

0 out of 5 stars By H. Swanby on January 22, 2016 Format: Paperback

300 pages of dull narcissism

I so wish i hadn't wasted my money on this book. The writing was weak and she often contradicts herself and i was utterly bored half way through. Her examples of her sociopathic behaviour aren't very radical - provoking her father to anger in teen years, taking a neighbors bike without permission and returning it (so naughty!), following a man who angered her with murderous intent for a block or so until she lost him. 300 pages of self-aggrandizing that comes across as juvenile and insecure. Perhaps she is malicious and conniving and maybe even a sociopath whatever that actually is (I am not a fan of the DSM), but ultimately its not that interesting, definitely not enlightening.

4.0 out of 5 stars
By White Rabbit on January 8, 2016 Format: Paperback

Entertaining Self-Aggrandizement Thinly Veiled as Pseudo-Analysis

This was a super-fast, easy, entertaining read, but it reminded me of the glib answer to the interview question "what's your weakness?" : "I'm a perfectionist." The author is undoubtedly bright, although probably not nearly as "brilliant" as she avows on every page. By structuring her personal & professional life to avoid any long-term serious human interaction or competition, she intentionally insulates herself from any real challenges to her thinking or persona. For instance, by bragging that her starting salary as a new lawyer was 170k, she dates herself precisely to the "fattest" 7 years the legal profession has ever had. She did not land that job because she was so brilliant, but because law firms during that period were hiring any carbon-based life form. Also, her assessment that sociopaths are "too rational" (i.e., not guided by emotion or constrained by herd mentality/morality) gets it diametrically wrong. Those sociopaths who either turn criminal (& are found out) or carve out less "successful" lives actually suffer from too LITTLE rational thinking, analysis, and sober calculation, not too much. This is likely correlated to their own inflated ego/self-assessment (as this author exemplifies), or imperviousness/reduced sensitivity to pain/negative consequences, and it leads to failure to accurately assess/predict the negative consequences of their actions, from underestimating the likelihood of getting "caught" to not being able to sustain any romantic relationship longer than the author's case of 8 months. Thus I think it is not "too much logic" that is the root of the problem (but merely its outside manifestation), but bad math, which is rather ironic for someone who envisions/imagines herself to be a brilliant differential engine unhampered by bloody wet emotion. What perpetuates both the sociopathological & narcissistic self-perspective (which, incidentally, is far more common and far more adaptive than the author thinks) is the carefully constructed bubble of invincibility these people construct around themselves, often choosing to rise no higher than the pond in which they assure themselves they are the biggest or flashiest fish. It is easy to imagine yourself King of the Jungle when you surround yourself with declawed kittens. Nonetheless, interesting breezy read, although the book would have better without the utterly banal and transparently false hand-wringing/crocodile tears of the Epilogue.

[Jul 16, 2016] Are you a female sociopath - Telegraph

telegraph.co.uk

By Helena Kealey

5:24PM BST 06 Oct 2014

Comments Comment

Witness the rise of the female sociopath. Cruel, calculating and calm under pressure; these emotionally detached women are in our lives, on our television screens and with the release of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl this weekend, making waves in our cinemas. Sociopaths can be charming, funny and even practised at appearing sympathetic. In fact, one per cent of all women are sociopaths. To put that in context, one to two per cent of the population has red hair. It's likely that you know one, and it's even possible that you are one. Take this test to find out if you are in the emotionally detached one per cent. To take the quiz on your phone: click here.

[Jul 16, 2016] Rethinking Female Sociopathy, Part One

Notable quotes:
"... Rethinking Female Sociopathy ..."
shrink4men.com
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier

January 4, 2012 | shrink4men.com

Shrink4Men: Helping men break free from abusive relationships since 2009

... ... ...

What are the characteristics of a sociopath?

Psychologists Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare both developed sociopathy checklists. The following characteristics are culled from their work.

Sociopaths have Jekyll and Hyde personalities and can be superficially charming. Their outward appearance is often very conventional or they disguise themselves as helpless victims. Alternately, sociopaths may come across as grandiose and narcissistic. Sociopaths come in all shapes, sizes, sexes, ethnicities and walks of life.

Sociopaths seem to have contempt for their victim's feelings and believe their victims deserve to be hurt, taken advantage of and exploited. They have no empathy or very selective empathy (e.g., your wife shows empathy toward someone who hurts or bullies you). They lie, cheat, manipulate, and/or verbally and/or physically intimidate others to get their way or to "win." To a sociopath, the ends justify the means.

Sociopaths may refuse to recognize that others have rights and believe they're entitled to violate the rights of others. In fact, they often try to control and humiliate their victims. They see people as objects and value others based upon their utility and ease of exploitation rather than fellow human beings. People are either targets and opportunities for exploitation. They don't have friends, but rather victims and accomplices who later become victims.

Sociopaths often have a gross and exaggerated sense of entitlement. They seem incapable of true love relationships and often confuse love with ability to control and exploit someone. They are unable to form healthy attachments with others.

Sociopaths seem to be able to lie very easily. You can have a video or audio recording of them perpetrating a crime or some abusive act and they will still pee on your leg and tell you it's raining. They often believe their own lies and may even be able to pass a polygraph. They seem to lack the capacity for remorse or guilt. For example, many of my clients are more likely to squeeze blood from a stone than to receive a sincere apology from their wives, girlfriends or exes.

When sociopaths seem to be expressing positive feelings it is typically because they are mimicking others to appear socially and psychologically normal. For example, a man on the Shrink4Men forum found a note his wife wrote to herself reminding herself to act nice and to pretend to be interested in her husband's day in order to get something she wanted from him. Warm and loving behavior may be a manipulation in order to be better able to exploit their victims. For example, they pull you close to be able to get a better swing at you – emotionally or physically.

Sociopaths have a need for extreme stimulation in order to feel emotion and are prone to feeling chronically bored. Some may resort to physical violence, gambling, drugs and alcohol, and/or promiscuity; while others create unnecessary conflict and drama for stimulation.

Sociopaths blame others for their bad behaviors and do not take personal responsibility for their actions. At their core, they are filled with rage, which is often split off and projected onto their victims. Sociopaths have poor behavioral and emotional controls and can be impulsive. They often alternate rage and abuse with small expressions of love and approval to keep their victims under their control.

Sociopaths lack boundaries and do not care how their behavior affects others. They may become enraged and/or desperate when their victims try to enforce boundaries on their abusive behaviors. They have difficulty maintaining friendships, and, is it any wonder given how they treat others?

They typically end relationships and/or try destroying former friends who have seen behind their masks. Some may have long-term friendships, but they either seem to be long-distance or friendships with incredibly damaged individuals with low self-esteem who admire the sociopath, i.e., sycophants.

Some may have a history of childhood emotional and behavioral disturbances while others do not. Some sociopathic individuals come from otherwise healthy and loving families.

Sociopaths are often irresponsible and unreliable. They have a history of breaking promises yet become enraged and vengeful if they believe someone has broken a promise to them. They have unrealistic life plans and often live beyond their means. Many live what can be described as a parasitic life in that they get through life by exploiting others.

Sociopaths may have diffuse identities. Many dramatically change their appearance or outward persona in order to exploit new victims or to avoid punishment. For example, when many of my clients met their wives and girlfriends, they feigned similar interests, beliefs, etc., and pretended to be someone they weren't in order to secure the relationship.

Sociopaths are ungrateful and contemptuous of people who try to help and understand them. Oftentimes, they do not believe anything is wrong with them, which is why therapy rarely works. If they acknowledge a problem, they usually blame others for it. Or, if they are formally diagnosed with a mental illness or other personality disorder, they may use their diagnosis to absolve them of their abusive behaviors.

Sociopaths typically do not trust others. They can be authoritarian, paranoid and secretive. They seek relationships with others who will accept, tolerate, condone or admire their bad behavior. They like nothing better than to have a willing victim.

Sociopaths often try to control every aspect of their victims' lives. They can be pretty territorial about their victims, which their victims often confuse with love and jealousy. It's not about love. You're their half-dead mouse and they don't want any other predators messing with "their property." A good example of this is when a woman becomes unhinged when her ex begins dating or gets remarried - especially if she's already moved onto to another victim, er, I mean, relationship .

Lastly, and I think this characteristic will resonate with many of you, sociopaths have an emotional need to justify their crimes and demand that their victims show them gratitude, love and respect. In other words:

Sociopaths expect that their victims show gratitude for being victimized by them.

In a few days, I will post the second part of Rethinking Female Sociopathy , so please check back.

[Jul 16, 2016] Female sociopaths display all the symptoms of a sociopath: lying, a parasitic lifestyle, the need for control, and the craving for excitement.

Notable quotes:
"... "She will choose you, charm you with her words, and control you with her presence. She will delight you with her wit and her plans. She will show you a good time, but you will always get the bill. She will smile and deceive you, and she will scare you with her eyes. And when she is through with you, and she will be through with you, she will desert you and take with her your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what you did wrong." ..."
"... Most of us think of women as sensitive and nurturing. We don't expect to see uncaring, cold-hearted, callous behaviors in women. It's hard to imagine them being more conniving, controlling, destructive, malicious and downright mean than the male sociopath. ..."
male%20sociopaths%20display%20all%20the%20symptoms%20of%20a%20sociopath:%20lying,%20a%20parasitic%20lifestyle,%20the%20need%20for%20control,%20and%20the%20craving%20for%20excitement.%20https:

Female sociopaths display all the symptoms of a sociopath: lying, a parasitic lifestyle, the need for control, and the craving for excitement. Many live what looks like a typical life from the outside, content with blending in and doing what "normal" people do.

Others need more... more money, more control, more power, more excitement. They often get into trouble as they become impulsive, unable to control their emotions and behaving irresponsibly.

These behaviors often bring problems witin their marriage. Showing true sociopath style, they entice a man, create an intimate relationship, manipulate his decisions, and get married. They may try to isolate the man from his family and friends. They become bossy and controlling and will use sex as a tool to manipulate. The man is often subjected to emotional, verbal, psychological, and physical abuse.

If there are children of the marriage, it becomes ever more difficult. If there is a separation or divorce, the sociopath will easily use the children as pawns or objects as a way to continue to control the man.

They will not hesitate to obtain information from the children to use against their father, will lie to brainwash them into thinking Daddy is "bad" and will keep the father from having contact with them. They do this to keep their power and control and the wellbeing of the children is never a concern.

Female sociopaths have no problem lying, making up stories and doing whatever is necessary to get what they want. This works well in family matters where police or courts are involved. They are very convincing when playing the victim, and use society's favoritism towards women and mothers to their full advantage.

Many female sociopaths go from one relationship to another. They use their sociopathic charm, good looks and female allures to build a relationship, take what they want, and disappear. Men are disposable! They leave behind a trail of broken hearts and baffled men, many who are poorer after the experience!

The writing below was cited from "Decision Making Confidence"

"She will choose you, charm you with her words, and control you with her presence. She will delight you with her wit and her plans. She will show you a good time, but you will always get the bill. She will smile and deceive you, and she will scare you with her eyes. And when she is through with you, and she will be through with you, she will desert you and take with her your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what you did wrong."

Most of us think of women as sensitive and nurturing. We don't expect to see uncaring, cold-hearted, callous behaviors in women. It's hard to imagine them being more conniving, controlling, destructive, malicious and downright mean than the male sociopath.

However, just ask any man who has been a victim of a female sociopath...

If you're a man in an abusive relationship, it's important to know that you're not alone. It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life. Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won't be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they're male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim.

An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you're asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. She may also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or strike you with an object, abuse or threaten your children, or harm your pets. Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence.

Domestic violence and abuse can have a serious physical and psychological impact on both you and your children. The first step to stopping the abuse is to reach out. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone else you trust, or call a domestic violence helpline.

Admitting the problem and seeking help doesn't mean you have failed as a man or as a husband. You are not to blame, and you are not weak. As well as offering a sense of relief and providing some much needed support, sharing details of your abuse can also be the first step in building a case against your abuser and protecting your kids.

When dealing with your abusive partner:

  • Leave if possible. Be aware of any signs that may trigger a violent response from your spouse or partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call the emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they do a female victim.
  • Never retaliate. An abusive woman or partner will often try to provoke you into retaliating or using force to escape the situation. If you do retaliate, you'll almost certainly be the one who is arrested and/or removed from your home.
  • Get evidence of the abuse. Report all incidents to the police and get a copy of each police report. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses. Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries. Remember, medical personnel are unlikely to ask if a man has been a victim of domestic violence, so it's up to you to ensure the cause of your injuries are documented.
  • Keep a mobile phone, evidence of the abuse, and other important documents close at hand. If you and your children have to leave instantly in order to escape the abuse, you'll need to take with you evidence of the abuse and important documents, such as passport and driver's license. It may be safer to keep these items outside of the home.
  • Obtain advice from a domestic violence program or legal aid resource about getting a restraining order or order of protection against your spouse and, if necessary, seeking temporary custody of your children.

Help for abused men: Moving on from an abusive relationship

Support from family and friends as well as counseling, therapy, and support groups for domestic abuse survivors can help you move on from an abusive relationship. You or your children may struggle with upsetting emotions or feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. After the trauma of an abusive relationship, it can take a while to get over the pain and bad memories but you can heal and move on.

Even if you're eager to jump into a new relationship and finally get the intimacy and support you've been missing, it's wise take things slowly. Make sure you're aware of any red flag behaviors in a potential new partner and what it takes to build healthy, new relationships.

In the U.S. and Canada: Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-888-799-7233

[Jul 15, 2016] The female sociopath

Notable quotes:
"... Unlike these women, the functional sociopath isn't "dismissible" as a slave to her emotions. She is not outwardly violent. Patently remorseless, clear-eyed and calculating, she is chameleonic in the extreme, donning one feigned feeling after another (interest, concern, sympathy, simpering insecurity, confidence, arrogance, lust, even love) to get what she wants. ..."
"... "You might call it seduction," she suggests, but really "it's called arbitrage and it happens on Wall Street (and a lot of other places) every day." Whatever you choose to call it, its appeal is undeniable when linked to the professional and personal advancement of women. "In general, the women in my life seemed like they were never acting, always being acted upon," Thomas laments. ..."
"... With it, researchers over the last decade have estimated that sociopaths comprise three to four percent of the U.S. population, or roughly 10 million people who regularly demonstrate a lack of empathy, a conniving and ruthless attitude towards interpersonal relationships, and immunity to experiencing negative emotions. A mere 1.5 million of them are women. ..."
digg.com

...Gone Girl, one of the most popular and addictive novels of the past decade, as Amy Dunne - the beguiling and cerebral housewife who stages her own murder and frames her philandering husband. Amy's creator, the novelist Gillian Flynn, has proudly described her character as a "functioning sociopath," which she is quick to distinguish from "the iconic psycho bitch." The iconic psycho bitch, Flynn explains, is crazy because "her lady parts have gone crazy." Think of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, so consumed with desire for Michael Douglas that she boils his daughter's pet rabbit to death; think of Sharon Stone and Jennifer Jason Leigh (and Kathy Bates and Rebecca De Mornay) chasing men through dim rooms with sharp objects.

Unlike these women, the functional sociopath isn't "dismissible" as a slave to her emotions. She is not outwardly violent. Patently remorseless, clear-eyed and calculating, she is chameleonic in the extreme, donning one feigned feeling after another (interest, concern, sympathy, simpering insecurity, confidence, arrogance, lust, even love) to get what she wants.

And why should she feel bad about it?

For M.E. Thomas, author of Confessions of A Sociopath, such affective maneuvers are tantamount to "fulfilling an exchange." "You might call it seduction," she suggests, but really "it's called arbitrage and it happens on Wall Street (and a lot of other places) every day." Whatever you choose to call it, its appeal is undeniable when linked to the professional and personal advancement of women. "In general, the women in my life seemed like they were never acting, always being acted upon," Thomas laments.

Sociopathy's silver lining was that it gave her a way to combat that injustice, in the boardroom of the corporate law firm she worked for in Los Angeles, but also in the bedroom, where she marveled at how her emotional detachment let her commandeer her lovers' hearts and minds. Somewhere along the way, pathology became recoded as practice - a set of rules for how to manage the self and others.

She is the apotheosis of the cool girl power that go-getter "feminists" have peddled to frustrated women over the last half-decade.

No wonder the female sociopath cuts such an admirable figure. Intensely romantic, professionally desirable, she is the stuff of fiction, fantasy, and aspirational reading. And while actual female sociopaths like Thomas are rare, and sociopathy isn't even recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the female sociopath looms large in our cultural imagination. Amy Dunne may stand as the perfect example - a "Cool Girl" on the outside, ice cold within - but she is not alone. Of late, she has faced stiff competition from fictional females like Lisbeth Salander, the ferocious tech genius in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or Laura, the shape-shifting alien who preys on unwitting men in Under the Skin. Network television has been even kinder to the female sociopath, placing her at the center of workplace dramas like Damages, Revenge, Bones, The Fall, Rizzoli and Isles, Person of Interest, Luther, and 24. Here, she has mesmerized audiences with how nimbly she scales the professional ladder, her competence and sex appeal whetted by her dark, aggressive, risk-taking behavior, and lack of empathy.

And so we lean in to the cultural logic of the female sociopath, for she is the apotheosis of the cool girl power that go-getter "feminists" have peddled to frustrated women over the last half-decade. The female sociopath doesn't want to upend systems of gender inequality, that vast and irreducible constellation of institutions and beliefs that lead successful women like Gillian Flynn to decree that certain women, who feel or behave in certain ways, are "dismissible." The female sociopath wants to dominate these systems from within, as the most streamlined product of a world in which well-intentioned people blithely invoke words like arbitrage, leverage, capital, and currency to appraise how successfully we inhabit our bodies, our selves. One could easily imagine the female sociopath devouring books with titles like Bo$$ Bitch, Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, The Confidence Gap, and Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman to hone her craft - to learn how to have it all. From atop the corporate ladder, she can applaud her liberation from the whole messy business of feeling as a step forward for women, when it's really a step back.

The result is a self-defeating spectacle of feminism that finds a kindred spirit in Rosamund Pike on the cover of W, erasing her own perfect face to reveal that what lies beneath might be nothing. Like Gone Girl's Amy Dunne, who confesses that she "has never really felt like a person, but a product" - plastic, fungible, ready to be consumed by anyone, at any time - the female sociopath is a product of a broken promise made to women, by women. She is a product poised to disappear into the immense darkness from which she came.

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them

Female sociopaths are rare, making up only 15% of all those diagnosed.

Ask any psychiatrist, and he will tell you that the female sociopath is a rare, almost mythological, creature. Ask Dr. Robert Hare, perhaps the most prolific researcher in criminal psychology and creator of the Hare Psychopath Checklist (PCL-R), and he will place the ratio of male to female sociopaths at seven to one - practically unworthy of discussion, let alone veneration. The PCL-R, which Hare developed during his work with inmate populations in Canada, is widely considered the gold standard for identifying and discussing anti-social behavior - and by the same token, for identifying and discussing what constitutes "normal" social behavior. With it, researchers over the last decade have estimated that sociopaths comprise three to four percent of the U.S. population, or roughly 10 million people who regularly demonstrate a lack of empathy, a conniving and ruthless attitude towards interpersonal relationships, and immunity to experiencing negative emotions. A mere 1.5 million of them are women.

[Jul 15, 2016] Female Sociopaths - different but just as dangerous!

Notable quotes:
"... Some female sociopaths demonstrate antisocial behavior as children and as adolescents. Lying, stealing, truancy, cruelty to animals and siblings, drug abuse, early sexual activity. Of course, there may be frequent run-ins with the law. Their parents are very often distraught because there is so little they can do. As adults, these female sociopaths may end up abusing alcohol and drugs and end up in and out of prison. ..."
"... Female sociopaths have all the symptoms of sociopaths. The lying, the parasitic lifestyle, the need for excitement and the desire to control. It's possible that there are many female sociopaths who live, for all intents and purposes, what looks like a normal life from the outside. They are content to just blend in and do what "normal" people do. ..."
"... One of the ways this shows up is in problems in their marriage. In true sociopath style, they attract a man, create an intimate relationship , influence his decision making and get married. It's common for them to isolate the man from his friends and family to varying degrees. They can be very domineering and controlling, using sex as a means to manipulate. The man may suffer verbal abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse and even physical abuse. ..."
"... When there are children involved it gets infinitely more complicated. Especially in separations and divorces. The female sociopaths have no difficulty (remember no remorse, guilt or pity for anybody) in using the children as pawns or objects to try to continue to manipulate the man. ..."
"... In family matters where the police or the courts involved, they have no difficulty in lying, inventing stories and doing whatever is necessary to get what they want. They can play the victim role very well, as most sociopaths do, and will use society's preferences towards women and mothers to their advantage. ..."
"... Apparently both male and female psychopaths have high levels of testosterone. It has been found that in normal populations, higher levels of testosterone are associated with higher sex drive, more sexual activity and more attractiveness to the opposite sex. This will make female sociopaths more appealing to males. Add to this the lack of inhibition, and the grandiose sense of self and you have a lethal combination! Think femme fatale! It may also explain the lack of desire to have children and the failure to look after them if they do. It's not uncommon for female sociopaths to leave young children unattended, for example, because they have other more important things to do. ..."
"... We normally think women are empathic and nurturing and don't expect to see cold-hearted, uncaring, callous behaviors in women. We don't consider that they could be more devious, manipulative, destructive, vindictive and downright nasty than their male counterparts. But just ask any man who has been a victim of female sociopaths...! ..."
www.decision-making-confidence.com
Incidence

How many female sociopaths are there? Robert Hare believes that about 1% of the population fits the profile of psychopath, and male psychopaths are 7 times more common than female psychopaths.

But there are some things to keep in mind here. When most people think of 'sociopath' they typically think 'male' and 'serial killer'. They do not generally think of women psychopaths. This can lead to a situation where they are dealing with a psychopath in their life but do not realize who they are dealing with.

Add to this the fact that sociopaths have been called chameleons for their ability to blend into society and it adds to the difficulty in counting them.

Plus, whether you consider it sexist or not, the female aspect needs to be considered when talking about manipulation. Women have been known to 'bat their eyelids' and show their cleavage or 'show a bit of leg', for example, to good effect.

How female sociopaths show up in society

The most obvious group are the serial killers. And yes, there have been lots of female serial killers as well as males!

Unlike the males however, there is usually not a sexual element to their crimes. It's much more usual to be money or power related. And the female sociopaths typically know their victims; it's rare for them to kill strangers. An interesting group are the female sociopaths who become nurses or doctors. These cold-blooded killers hide themselves where nobody would suspect them, in a caring profession!

And then they set to work. For example, Beverley Allitt, a 23-year-old nurse in the UK killed 4 and attacked 9 other children within a couple of months before she was caught. A Texas nurse Genene Jones is believed to have killed between 11 and 46. It's of this group that people usually say "But they seemed like such nice people!"

Another subset are those who kill one or several husbands for the inheritance and life assurance.

Obvious Delinquents

Some female sociopaths demonstrate antisocial behavior as children and as adolescents. Lying, stealing, truancy, cruelty to animals and siblings, drug abuse, early sexual activity. Of course, there may be frequent run-ins with the law. Their parents are very often distraught because there is so little they can do. As adults, these female sociopaths may end up abusing alcohol and drugs and end up in and out of prison.

Some therapists believe that there is such a disregard for society among them that a sociopath that has not broken the law just hasn't been found out yet!

Cult leaders

Many of the women who lead destructive cults are sociopaths.

There seems to be two themes among female sociopaths that are not so prevalent in male led groups, one being the avoidance of sex and the other being food.

The women psychopaths may target women who want to get away from sex for whatever reason. Instead they offer female nurturing and support.

As well as offering meals when potential 'clients' have none, there are cults based on eating healthily or losing weight. This is typical of cults, they offer something people want but behind the outer facade is a second set of ideas or principles. People enter for one thing and end up having the leader control their lives.

Socialized sociopaths

These are the ones that are so difficult to count! Despite their sociopath symptoms, they manage to integrate themselves into society to varying degrees. Everything from solitary lives where they live on the money they make from crimes for which they are not caught, to getting married, settling down and having children.

It's interesting to read or listen to the stories of some of these female sociopaths. Typically, they realize as children that they are different in some way. They think differently and make different decisions. Then they begin to understand that they are not so 'affected' by emotions. It's seems that it's common for them to think that this is because they are smarter than those around them.

They begin from an early age to look for clues to recognize the emotions that others are actually having. They learn to mimic the emotions so as not to stand out, or to please others. They learn to create relationships that are beneficial for them.

Female sociopaths have all the symptoms of sociopaths. The lying, the parasitic lifestyle, the need for excitement and the desire to control. It's possible that there are many female sociopaths who live, for all intents and purposes, what looks like a normal life from the outside. They are content to just blend in and do what "normal" people do.

Others however, want more. More money, more power, more control, more excitement. And they get themselves into trouble because of the impulsivity or the failure to control their emotions, or the irresponsibility.

One of the ways this shows up is in problems in their marriage. In true sociopath style, they attract a man, create an intimate relationship, influence his decision making and get married. It's common for them to isolate the man from his friends and family to varying degrees. They can be very domineering and controlling, using sex as a means to manipulate. The man may suffer verbal abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse and even physical abuse.

When there are children involved it gets infinitely more complicated. Especially in separations and divorces. The female sociopaths have no difficulty (remember no remorse, guilt or pity for anybody) in using the children as pawns or objects to try to continue to manipulate the man.

They will extract information from the children about the father to use against him, they will influence how and what the children think about the father, and they may prevent the father from having any contact with the children. The welfare of the children is not considered. What's important is that they continue to maintain control and power.

In family matters where the police or the courts involved, they have no difficulty in lying, inventing stories and doing whatever is necessary to get what they want. They can play the victim role very well, as most sociopaths do, and will use society's preferences towards women and mothers to their advantage.

Some female sociopaths simply go from one relationship to another. They use their sociopathic charm, good looks and female wiles to create a relationship, take what they want and then disappear, leaving a trail of brokenhearted and confused men behind them. Men who are somewhat poorer after the experience!

This piece was originally written about a male but I think it works equally well like this!

She will choose you, charm you with her words, and control you with this presence. She will delight you with her wit and her plans. She will show you a good time, but you will always get the bill. She will smile and deceive you, and she will scare you with her eyes. And when she is through with you, and she will be through with you, she will desert you and take with her your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what you did wrong.

From an essay signed, "A psychopath in prison".

Testosterone

Apparently both male and female psychopaths have high levels of testosterone. It has been found that in normal populations, higher levels of testosterone are associated with higher sex drive, more sexual activity and more attractiveness to the opposite sex. This will make female sociopaths more appealing to males. Add to this the lack of inhibition, and the grandiose sense of self and you have a lethal combination! Think femme fatale! It may also explain the lack of desire to have children and the failure to look after them if they do. It's not uncommon for female sociopaths to leave young children unattended, for example, because they have other more important things to do.

How we perceive women

We normally think women are empathic and nurturing and don't expect to see cold-hearted, uncaring, callous behaviors in women. We don't consider that they could be more devious, manipulative, destructive, vindictive and downright nasty than their male counterparts. But just ask any man who has been a victim of female sociopaths...!

Learn what to do if you think you might be in a relationship with a sociopath and how to stop mind control...

[Apr 21, 2016] For Mental Health, Bad Job Worse than No Job

Notable quotes:
"... Unemployed people who found a job that rated well in these areas reported a substantial improvement in their mental health. By contrast, newly employed people who felt overwhelmed, insecure about their employment, underpaid, and micromanaged reported a sharp decline in their mental health, including increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even those who couldn't find a job fared better. This last finding was "striking," Butterworth says. "This runs counter to a common belief that any job offers psychological benefits for individuals over the demoralizing effects of unemployment." ..."
"... Policymakers should address the impact that the workplace has on mental - and not just physical - health, Butterworth says. "In the same way that we no longer accept workplaces that are physically unsafe or in which employees are exposed to dangerous or toxic substances, there could be a greater focus on ensuring a more positive psychosocial environment at work." ..."
March 14, 2011 | Health.com

With unemployment still high, job seekers who have been discouraged by a lack of work might be inclined to take the first opportunity they're offered. That will help pay the bills, but it could cause other problems: A new study suggests that some jobs are so demoralizing they're actually worse for mental health than no [...]

With unemployment still high, job seekers who have been discouraged by a lack of work might be inclined to take the first opportunity they're offered. That will help pay the bills, but it could cause other problems: A new study suggests that some jobs are so demoralizing they're actually worse for mental health than not working at all.

The findings add a new wrinkle to the large body of research showing that being out of work is associated with a greater risk of mental health problems. In the study, which followed more than 7,000 Australians over a seven-year period, unemployed people generally reported feeling calmer, happier, less depressed, and less anxious after finding work, but only if their new jobs were rewarding and manageable.

"Moving from unemployment to a poor-quality job offered no mental health benefit, and in fact was more detrimental to mental health than remaining unemployed," says the lead author of the study, Peter Butterworth, PhD, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University, in Canberra.

The study was published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Butterworth and his colleagues analyzed data from an annual survey in which participants described their mental state, their employment status, and-for those with a job-details of the working conditions that they enjoyed (or didn't enjoy, as the case may be). The survey respondents were asked how strongly they agreed with statements such as "My job is complex and difficult" and "I worry about the future of my job."

The researchers focused on four job characteristics that are closely linked with mental health: the complexity and demands of the work, job security, compensation, and job control (i.e., the freedom to decide how best to do the job, rather than being ordered around).

Unemployed people who found a job that rated well in these areas reported a substantial improvement in their mental health. By contrast, newly employed people who felt overwhelmed, insecure about their employment, underpaid, and micromanaged reported a sharp decline in their mental health, including increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even those who couldn't find a job fared better.

This last finding was "striking," Butterworth says. "This runs counter to a common belief that any job offers psychological benefits for individuals over the demoralizing effects of unemployment."

Although certain types of jobs-such as working in a customer-service call center-are more likely to be downers, the working environment tends to have a greater impact on mental health than the job description itself, Butterworth adds.

Managers are especially important to employee well-being, says Robert Hogan, PhD, an expert on personality in the workplace and a former chair of the department of psychology at the University of Tulsa. "Bad bosses will make anybody unhappy," Hogan says. "Stress comes from bad managers."

Policymakers should address the impact that the workplace has on mental - and not just physical - health, Butterworth says. "In the same way that we no longer accept workplaces that are physically unsafe or in which employees are exposed to dangerous or toxic substances, there could be a greater focus on ensuring a more positive psychosocial environment at work."

[Apr 12, 2016] Mind Games Emotionally Manipulative Tactics Partners Use to Control Relationships and Force the Upper Hand

Notable quotes:
"... They view relationships as power struggles and always want to be on the winning side of it. They have impaired consciences and don't mind fighting dirty. They can lie with a straight face and have a professional-level poker face. ..."
www.amazon.com
To an abuser, emotional manipulation serves one goal and one goal only. It's the determination to win and possess the most power in a relationship. They believe that when they have such power, they will be happy... and it's all at your expense. It's an amazingly unhealthy approach to a relationship, and anything for that matter. If you approach something solely to win, that means you put winning as a higher priority than someone's feelings and ultimately wellbeing.

If you approach an argument solely to win, then you ignore the underlying issues and are not resolution-focused. And if you approach a relationship solely to win, then you are spitting on the underlying concept of a relationship.

You are mistaking it for a battle of vulnerability and control, while relationships should be the polar opposite. Relationships are a give-and-take and require compromise. Relationships are not a zero-sum game, and they do not function like a dom-sub relationship from the BDSM world. Abusers forget this, or worse... they realize it and know exactly what they are doing when they manipulate you.

Abusers embody a frightening combination of traits that make them dangerous.

They are focused and intentional about what they want from you. They have a penchant for deception and backhanded tactics of questionable morality. They view relationships as power struggles and always want to be on the winning side of it. They have impaired consciences and don't mind fighting dirty. They can lie with a straight face and have a professional-level poker face.

They live in a zone of danger where they are smart enough to be able to fool you yet dumb enough to not see the damage they are doing.

But let's get one thing straight. Your abuser wants power over you, and this means one simple truth. They don't love you. They just don't, or else they would treat you better and respect you. They may think they love you, but that's a testament to their skewed understanding of love and how relationships work. At best, the} believe they know what's best for you and seek to control every aspect of your life.

If they don't love you, what do they love? What motivates them?

They love controlling someone. That's what gives them pleasure, and they will go to any lengths to maintain that pleasure. That's why they make you feel downtrodden on a daily basis and constantly tell you that you aren't good enough or smart enough. You hear it so much, you begin believing it instead of trusting yourself and your self-esteem... and that's exactly where your abuser wants you. It makes them feel better about themselves and happy to be adored.

.... ... ...

Emotional manipulation is rarely as direct and obvious as you might think. Perhaps it might be obvious to the casual bystander, but when you're emotionally invested, everything simply appears incredibly complex and layered.

[Apr 12, 2016] Surviving Sara Marrying a narcissistic sociopath

Notable quotes:
"... Some of the chapters were next to impossible to write because of the nature of the situations I found myself in, and how personal the memories were, and I hesitated including them in this book, however I felt it was needed to show the lengths Sara would go to to manipulate, degrade and brainwash me, ultimately leading to the destruction of our marriage. It took me a very long time to recognize and admit I was a victim of abuse, especially from a woman. ..."
"... Being a man's man, that wasn't easy. After my admission, I had to take a look back at the big picture and realize my intentions were always good, but I was just manipulated, brainwashed and beaten down to the point of alienating virtually everyone away from me. ..."
"... This was the life I lived for 12 years.... ..."
"... As time went on, and we spent virtually every waking moment together, I began to feel the suffocation of a poisonous relationship creeping in, but by the time I realized this, I was too deep into it and didn't know what to do; the brainwashing had begun. ..."
"... Admittedly, there was a fairly significant amount of fear I developed towards Sara. Along the way, I had friends I turned to here and there, but eventually, telling people some of the things that were going on was far too embarrassing to share. ..."
Amazon.com

Author's Note The events that happened throughout this book are all true, recalled from the best of my memory and/or old journals I had kept. Those who read it, may not like everything they read, but unfortunately sometimes the truth is the hardest thing to hear. All of the dialogue has been reconstructed from memory; it may not be word for word, but the nature of what was said is accurate. It was suggested by some of my closest friends and family that I take my unbelievable story and life lessons learned with Sara and not only write them down, but publish a book for others to read and try to grasp the hell I lived. I know I'm not alone in what I had gone through and there are other people out there who are living a similar life that I lived. I thought that if I wrote this book, sharing the struggles I faced being married to someone who was mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically abusive (not to mention controlling, completely unpredictable and manipulative), there may be some small chance that one of these people living in a similar hell may read it and find that there is a way out. There is hope for a better life.

I will say, wiiting these memories, (or in most cases nightmares) down was very therapeutic but not often easy. I do not regret anything I wrote in this book. I wanted everything to be honest, factual, uncensored and descriptive, and I believe in order to do it right, it couldn't have been done any other way. Some of the chapters were next to impossible to write because of the nature of the situations I found myself in, and how personal the memories were, and I hesitated including them in this book, however I felt it was needed to show the lengths Sara would go to to manipulate, degrade and brainwash me, ultimately leading to the destruction of our marriage. It took me a very long time to recognize and admit I was a victim of abuse, especially from a woman.

Being a man's man, that wasn't easy. After my admission, I had to take a look back at the big picture and realize my intentions were always good, but I was just manipulated, brainwashed and beaten down to the point of alienating virtually everyone away from me. I was lost and spiraling quickly down a very dark, destructive path. I am still working on standing tall and holding my head up after many years of abuse. I am not ashamed of myself any longer, and have become comfortable speaking out on this subject. I am a much different man today than I was back then. This is my story. This was the life I lived for 12 years....

... ... ...

My point? We were like any other teenage romance. It was not uncommon for us to do sweet gestures for each other like writing little notes in our lockers at school to each other, or meeting each other for lunch. I'm sure we made some people sick. Then things began to slowly change. As time went on, and we spent virtually every waking moment together, I began to feel the suffocation of a poisonous relationship creeping in, but by the time I realized this, I was too deep into it and didn't know what to do; the brainwashing had begun.

Admittedly, there was a fairly significant amount of fear I developed towards Sara. Along the way, I had friends I turned to here and there, but eventually, telling people some of the things that were going on was far too embarrassing to share. I kept things to myself and tried to work through them alone, or just simply ignore them...

[Apr 07, 2016] Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised

csj.org

Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a "cult scale" or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.

  1. The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
  2. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
  3. Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
  4. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry-or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
  5. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar-or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
  6. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
  7. The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
  8. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
  9. The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
  10. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
  11. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
  12. The group is preoccupied with making money.
  13. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
  14. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
  15. The most loyal members (the "true believers") feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

This checklist will be published in the new book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It was adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.

[Apr 07, 2016] The Confidence Game Why We Fall for It... Every Time by Maria Konnikova

Hardcover: 352 pages, Viking (January 12, 2016)
Notable quotes:
"... I went back and saw ways I got conned in matters of the heart while dating; in buying things; in following certain leaders in church. ..."
"... As a former prosecutor of elder abuse crimes (both physical and financial), I have a lot of experience with people who "fall for it." But that certainly doesn't mean everyone does. Nor does it mean that the ones who don't "fall for it" are more cynical, less humane, less open to true friendship, etc. In fact, Konnikova's description of victims of con artists as being more open and in touch with their humanity sounds like the manipulation of a con artist. ..."
"... As a scientist, used to sorting through ambiguous evidence and well-meaning but underdetermined interpretations, I find this book excellent. The author no doubt has to cast speculations of her own, and overplay some connections and implications, but the connections between gullibility, optimism, cults, and scams strike me as well articulated. ..."
"... But you are not at all privileged to launch unsolicited attacks on the personal attributes of the author. (Your line "until she matures as a thinker and researcher....." was completely uncalled-for, and hints more at your feelings of insecurity and inadequacy than anything else.) ..."
"... Three-card monte gets some attention - but that's not that interesting to me...I know why they succeed, because people want to see if THEY can beat the game - it's not a con as much as a battle of wits, which the rube always loses (I was cheated on a rigged carny game years ago - they suck you in with a few easy wins, then it gets progressively harder to win the stuffed animal). ..."
"... as long as there's an advantage to fooling somebody, people will try to fool other people. ..."
"... A confidence game starts with basic human psychology. The con identifies what the victim wants and how to play on that desire to achieve what the con-artist wants. Size someone up well, and you can sell them anything; it helps to have someone in the throes of some sort of life turmoil - the conman preys on what people wish were true, reaffirming their views of themselves and giving their lives meaning. Doing so requires the creation of empathy and rapport - laying an emotional foundation before any scheme is proposed. ..."
"... The con is an exercise in soft skills - trust, sympathy, persuasion. He doesn't steal - we give. We believe because we want to, and we offer whatever they want - money, reputation, trust, fame, support, and don't realize what is happening until it is too late. No one is immune to the art of the con - it is not who you are, but where you happen to be at the moment in your life (eg. undergoing misfortune). ..."
"... The con is the oldest game there is, and it's likely to be entering a new age - thanks to new opportunities brought by increasing technology that make it far easier to establish convincing false identities (eg. LinkedIn), as well as identify those who might be more likely conned (dating sites that identify widows and divorcees). ..."
"... Con artists aren't just master manipulators - they are expert storytellers (eg. 'I'm supporting my mother, who now has AIDS,' 'I had PTSD from Iraq,' etc. Once we've accepted a story as true we will probably unconsciously bend any contradictory information to conform to the conclusion we've already drawn - it's known as 'confirmation bias.' Ultimately, what a confidence artist sells is hope. Many cases go unreported - most cases, by some estimates. AARP found that only 37% of victims over 55 will admit to having fallen for a con, and just over half those under 55 do so. Most con artists don't ever come to trial because they aren't brought to the authorities to begin with. ..."
"... The first commandment of the con man - 'Be a patient listener.' (Victor Lustig, con artist) Emotion is the primary hook used, much more powerful than logic. Cons tend to thrive in the wake of economic or natural disaster illness, personal travail. Sadness makes us more prone to risk taking and impulsivity - perfect for certain types of cons. Con artists love funerals and obituaries, divorces, layoffs, and general loneliness. He does everything in his power to bring our self-perceived better-than-averageness perceptions to the fore - eg. 'How intelligent you are, Professor Frampton.' And we believe it, because we want it to be. ..."
"... They recognize common traits, like our tendency to see others as similar to ourselves, our illusion of control, and our unwillingness to think badly about ourselves. These traits aren't weaknesses; without them, we'd be functionally paralyzed. Effective swindlers work by turning our best characteristics and human capabilities against us. ..."
"... Fraudsters prey on traits that open us to community, family, and fiscal reward. As Konnikova writes: "The same thing that can underlie success can also make you all the more vulnerable to the grifter's wares. We are predisposed to trust." With swindles, as with propaganda, those who think themselves most immune are, actually, most vulnerable. ..."
"... "It's not that the confidence artist is inherently psychopathic, caring nothing about the fates of others. It's that, to him, we aren't worthy of consideration as human beings; we are targets, not unique people." ..."
"... Konnikova suggests it's difficult to prevent con-games without isolating ourselves and descending into cynicism. In the later chapters, though, she reverses the trend, showing how skilled, self-aware people can resist flim-flam artists' techniques. Not hypothetically, either: she shows how real people, cult busters and cultural anthropologists and police, have maintained their sanity when confronted by seemingly insurmountable double-dealing. Resistance is possible. ..."
"... Even if we never vote for crooks, invest with Bernie Madoff, or buy salvation sellers' wares, the potential for confidence games still surrounds us. Konnikova provides needed tools for self-awareness, clear boundaries, and bold self-defense. Swindles are inevitable; victimhood isn't. ..."
amazon.com
Dan E. Nicholas, February 4, 2016
And some are not even bad people. She says it's when folks who lack ...

I'm reading and loving this book. I'll expand my review when I'm completely done in a couple days but just have to say: get it. Read it. Learn about yourself; if you dare. (I gave it four stars rather than five to protect myself!)

I was shocked how well she documents that it is we the conned that want the con to be real. The Grifter doesn't even have to always be that skilled. I went back and saw ways I got conned in matters of the heart while dating; in buying things; in following certain leaders in church.

Stunned to learned that 1% of the population is psychopathological in the way their brains are wired, some folks just can't feel or give meaning to your pain or the pain of others. And some are not even bad people. She says it's when folks who lack this "proper" wiring aim to use it for financial gain or to win and break hearts? Awful.

I fell in love with a Man Eater once. Looking back I see how it was my fault in setting up my own fall. I want things to look like they would work. The bad rests on me now. She's still a Man Eater. But the wounds I earned with my stupidity. I went on to find success with love but I've some scars for sure due to female cons running scams unwittingly online with dating sights.

She shows we can be wise without being cynical. I like that.

Wild'n'Free
Disappointing but with some qualities, November 28, 2015

Konnikova promises a lot in the titles to her books. I read Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes and was disappointed. I did not learn to think like Sherlock Holmes; not by a long shot. In this book, Konnikova has come closer to delivering the "Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time" but I disagree with her observations and conclusions.

As a former prosecutor of elder abuse crimes (both physical and financial), I have a lot of experience with people who "fall for it." But that certainly doesn't mean everyone does. Nor does it mean that the ones who don't "fall for it" are more cynical, less humane, less open to true friendship, etc. In fact, Konnikova's description of victims of con artists as being more open and in touch with their humanity sounds like the manipulation of a con artist.

Not that I think Konnikova is a con artist. She is just a very ambitious young woman and a self-promoter. I have read a lot of her magazine articles and have enjoyed many of them. Unfortunately, her organizational and analytical skills as a writer do not make her a good writer of books. Viewed as a series of magazine articles with the inevitable repetitions this book holds up fairly well.

But as a book, it lacks a great deal. It certainly deserves 3 stars, but its failure to respond to bigger questions with bigger answers makes it fall short. For me, it was an uneven, often repetitious, fairly shallow approach to a fascinating subject. Until she matures as a thinker and researcher, Konnikova does better when she sticks to the magazine articles that she handles so well.

SundayAtDusk says:

"In fact, Konnikova's description of victims of con artists as being more open and in touch with their humanity sounds like the manipulation of a con artist."

Excellent observation and excellent review.

JohnVidale says:

As a scientist, used to sorting through ambiguous evidence and well-meaning but underdetermined interpretations, I find this book excellent. The author no doubt has to cast speculations of her own, and overplay some connections and implications, but the connections between gullibility, optimism, cults, and scams strike me as well articulated. The field of psychology is messy, but this book was very interesting and enlightening, clear as is possible (aside from chapters organized like magazine articles), and the connection between empathetic people and people who get scammed seems completely reasonable, albeit with a less than perfect correlation.

Joe Madison says:

I have the same question as Ellis Reppo: If this book is only average, can you recommend a good one? I have not read The Confidence Game, but I have a psych degree and a longstanding interest in persuasion. I often find popular psych books to be like you describe The Confidence Game (repetitive, without great breadth of understanding), and so your own book recommendations would be of real value. Thanks!

pat black says:

There's one called Eyeing the Flash: The Making of a Carnival Con Artist. A case study, if you will, of a 17-year-old middle class math whiz who became a midway con man in 1960s midwest

JLMK

I'd stick to making an unbiased appraisal of the merits of the book if I were you, and cut out the ad hominem nonsense. As a reviewer you are privileged to make an opinion on the book's attributes, how it answers the questions raised by the author, etc.

But you are not at all privileged to launch unsolicited attacks on the personal attributes of the author. (Your line "until she matures as a thinker and researcher....." was completely uncalled-for, and hints more at your feelings of insecurity and inadequacy than anything else.)

Kirk McElhearn says:

Read David Maurer's The Big Con. It explains how the cons work, rather than focusing on lots of psychological studies that Konnikova looks at, trying to suss out why we respond the way we do.

Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE on November 27, 2015

Entertaining and interesting look at conmen and the rubes who buy what they sell

This is a fun book that covers a lot of ground about 'cons,' from the personalities of those who can commit them, to the marks and rubes who get taken advantage of.

You would think in our informed culture, we couldn't be fooled, but we know that's not the case. Author Maria Konnikova does a good job presenting all sides of these stories and it's often entertaining reading about the pure brazeness of it all. I had not heard of many of the conmen (and women) that she describes and I always like reading new stories.

I do wish there had been more recent accounts - there are so many cheaters like Lance Armstrong that aren't exactly doing it for profit, and more attention to them would have been interesting. Three-card monte gets some attention - but that's not that interesting to me...I know why they succeed, because people want to see if THEY can beat the game - it's not a con as much as a battle of wits, which the rube always loses (I was cheated on a rigged carny game years ago - they suck you in with a few easy wins, then it gets progressively harder to win the stuffed animal).

I think the book is not disorganized, but it does cover a lot of ground, and the different names and situations can be difficult to follow at times. Interesting and entertaining, yes, but just be ready to pay attention.

Ultimately, it's an interesting sociological study - as long as there's an advantage to fooling somebody, people will try to fool other people. I would not use this book as the primary source - I think a reader should have interest in this specific topic first, and not use this book to try to get interested. It's a little too specific to get a reader invested who comes to the topic totally new.

Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAMEon January 12, 2016
Rogues Regularly Triumph Over The Meek

Author Maria Konnikova has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia, along with considerable experience researching topics in and writing about psychology. This, her second book, is about conmen - elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust, not just your dime a dozen cheats and swindlers. Their 'bible' is Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

A confidence game starts with basic human psychology. The con identifies what the victim wants and how to play on that desire to achieve what the con-artist wants. Size someone up well, and you can sell them anything; it helps to have someone in the throes of some sort of life turmoil - the conman preys on what people wish were true, reaffirming their views of themselves and giving their lives meaning. Doing so requires the creation of empathy and rapport - laying an emotional foundation before any scheme is proposed.

The con is an exercise in soft skills - trust, sympathy, persuasion. He doesn't steal - we give. We believe because we want to, and we offer whatever they want - money, reputation, trust, fame, support, and don't realize what is happening until it is too late. No one is immune to the art of the con - it is not who you are, but where you happen to be at the moment in your life (eg. undergoing misfortune).

By the time things begin to look dicey, the victims tend to be so invested, emotionally and often physically, that they do most of the persuasion themselves. The con-artist may not even need to convince his victims to stay quite - they usually are more likely than not to do so themselves. When we hear others talking about their unbelievable deal or good fortune, we realize at once they've been taken for a sucker, but when it happens to us, it's simply because "I'm lucky and deserving of a good turn."

The best of cons are never discovered - we simply write our loss off as a matter of bad luck.

Psychopaths make up an estimated 1% of male population; among women, they are almost nonexistent. Grifters also are highly likely to be narcissist and Machiavellian. Narcissism entails a sense of grandiosity, entitlement, an overly inflated sense of worth, and manipulativeness. Machiavellian has come to mean a specific set of traits that allows one to manipulate others - employs aggressive, manipulative, exploiting, and devious moves. They are also more likely to attempt to bluff, cheat, bargain, and ingratiate themselves with others, and more successful at doing so.

Leadership and high-profile roles, salesmen/marketers, and the legal profession are all more likely to be populated by confidence men.

Researcher James Fallon believes that certain critical periods in childhood can nudge one more or less towards full-blown psychopathy - luck out, you become a high-functioning psychopath, get the bad draw and you become a violent psychopath. Fallon believes the first three years of life are crucial in determining one's psychopathic future.

The con is the oldest game there is, and it's likely to be entering a new age - thanks to new opportunities brought by increasing technology that make it far easier to establish convincing false identities (eg. LinkedIn), as well as identify those who might be more likely conned (dating sites that identify widows and divorcees). Since 2008, consumer fraud in the U.S. has risen more than 60%, with online scams more than doubling. In 2012 alone, the Internet Crime Complaint Center reported almost 300,000 complaints of online fraud, with over $500 million lost. Between 2011 and 2012, the Federal Trade Commission found that a little over 10% of American adults (25.6 million) had fallen victim to fraud. The majority of the cases involved fake weight-loss products, second place went to false prize promotions, and in third place was buyers' clubs in which what seemed like a free deal actually involves membership charges you didn't even know you'd signed up for. Fourth was unauthorized Internet billing, and finally work-at-home programs.

Con artists aren't just master manipulators - they are expert storytellers (eg. 'I'm supporting my mother, who now has AIDS,' 'I had PTSD from Iraq,' etc. Once we've accepted a story as true we will probably unconsciously bend any contradictory information to conform to the conclusion we've already drawn - it's known as 'confirmation bias.' Ultimately, what a confidence artist sells is hope. Many cases go unreported - most cases, by some estimates. AARP found that only 37% of victims over 55 will admit to having fallen for a con, and just over half those under 55 do so. Most con artists don't ever come to trial because they aren't brought to the authorities to begin with.

Most people require three things to align before going from legitimacy to con-artistry - motivation (underlying predisposition created by psychopathy), narcissism, and Machiavellianism - along with opportunity and a plausible rationale. In corporate fraud, for example, few choose to con in a vacuum - they also perceive an aggressive sales environment (opportunity) and a feeling they must do something to stand out. For a significant percentage of the conning population, surroundings matter. About half those who commit fraud cite intolerable competitive conditions as justification. They can rationalize away just about any behavior as necessary.

In one study of 15,000, only 50 could consistently detect liars - they relied on detecting incredibly fast facial movements as their clues. One of those 50 is now employed in law enforcement, and she told the author that smart psychopaths are super liars and have no conscience, and are very hard for her to identify.

The first commandment of the con man - 'Be a patient listener.' (Victor Lustig, con artist) Emotion is the primary hook used, much more powerful than logic. Cons tend to thrive in the wake of economic or natural disaster illness, personal travail. Sadness makes us more prone to risk taking and impulsivity - perfect for certain types of cons. Con artists love funerals and obituaries, divorces, layoffs, and general loneliness. He does everything in his power to bring our self-perceived better-than-averageness perceptions to the fore - eg. 'How intelligent you are, Professor Frampton.' And we believe it, because we want it to be.

Consistency plays a crucial role in our ongoing evaluations of a person we're helping - 'If I've helped you before, you must be worth it.'

Overall - some good points about con-men - but far too reliant on anecdotes.

Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE. November 2, 2015

Know How Crooks Think, So They Can't Outthink You

Our world positively teems with swindlers, ripoff artists, and con-men. From ordinary curbside Three-Card Monte to charming, narcissistic domestic abusers, to Ponzi schemers and Wall Street market riggers, the confidence game exudes from society's very pores. Psychologist turned journalist Maria Konnikova wants to unpack what makes us susceptible to con artists, a journey that leads through all human psychology, sometimes vulnerable to diversions and cow paths.

Konnikova's first book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, dealt with how crime fighters organize thoughts, observe reality, and undermine criminal mentality. This book essentially addresses the same issues from the opposite angle: how criminals create situations that need busting. Konnikova's conclusions may seem surprising, until we consider them further. Vulnerability to confidence artists and other professional chiselers actually means our psyches are healthy.

Confidence artists work with an encyclopedic understanding of human psychology with which research scientists are only now catching up. They recognize common traits, like our tendency to see others as similar to ourselves, our illusion of control, and our unwillingness to think badly about ourselves. These traits aren't weaknesses; without them, we'd be functionally paralyzed. Effective swindlers work by turning our best characteristics and human capabilities against us.

We must recognize, therefore, that making ourselves insusceptible to cons isn't actually desirable. Fraudsters prey on traits that open us to community, family, and fiscal reward. As Konnikova writes: "The same thing that can underlie success can also make you all the more vulnerable to the grifter's wares. We are predisposed to trust." With swindles, as with propaganda, those who think themselves most immune are, actually, most vulnerable.

The answer lies in understanding ourselves and the swindlers better. They don't see us like we see ourselves. They don't want to. We must cultivate complex understanding of different human thought patterns, and a stronger sense of ourselves. Konnikova again: "It's not that the confidence artist is inherently psychopathic, caring nothing about the fates of others. It's that, to him, we aren't worthy of consideration as human beings; we are targets, not unique people."

All isn't bleak. Throughout most of this book, Konnikova suggests it's difficult to prevent con-games without isolating ourselves and descending into cynicism. In the later chapters, though, she reverses the trend, showing how skilled, self-aware people can resist flim-flam artists' techniques. Not hypothetically, either: she shows how real people, cult busters and cultural anthropologists and police, have maintained their sanity when confronted by seemingly insurmountable double-dealing. Resistance is possible.

As Konnikova explains confidence artists' psychological techniques, her focus expands to include much about recent discoveries in psychology and behavioral economics. She wants readers to emerge with as thorough an understanding of human minds as the fraud merchants enjoy. This sometimes makes her technique sprawling (this book runs over 300 pages plus back matter, unusually long for its genre.)

Reading Konnikova sometimes requires especial concentration and focus.

She richly rewards those who stick with her narrative, though. I've recently seen one friend lose rafts to shady investments and two others get burned by charming, narcissistic romantic partners. Even if we never vote for crooks, invest with Bernie Madoff, or buy salvation sellers' wares, the potential for confidence games still surrounds us. Konnikova provides needed tools for self-awareness, clear boundaries, and bold self-defense. Swindles are inevitable; victimhood isn't.

[Mar 22, 2016] 5 Things Real-Life Psychopaths Do

Feb 19, 2016 | Psychology Today
Here are five things psychopaths do:

1. They're extremely charming.

Psychopaths are almost always well-liked. They come across as delightful people great at making small talk. Their quick wit tends to draw people to them. They usually have interesting stories as well. Their convincing tales portray them in a favorable, yet believable light. People walk away from conversations with a psychopath feeling pretty good.

2. They don't experience remorse.

A lack of guilt might be the first red flag that signals someone might be a psychopath. Psychopaths aren't capable of feeling any genuine remorse. They don't accept any responsibility for hurting other people's feelings. Instead, they blame other people and deny responsibility. A psychopath may say that someone "deserved" to be treated poorly. Or, they may shrug off reports that they offended someone by saying, "She needs to be less sensitive," or "I guess he can't handle the truth."

3. They're really arrogant.

Psychopaths have an inflated sense of importance. Much like narcissists, they think the usual rules don't apply to them. They also tend to have grandiose ideas about their potential. They believe they deserve to be the CEO, or they're convinced they're the best at everything they do.

4. They take big risks.

Psychopaths have little regard for safety, especially other people's. They often lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead. This behavior can be especially toxic. While not all psychopaths engage in illegal activity, those who do plan their crimes well in advance. Their misconduct is usually well-organized, and they leave few clues behind. Psychopaths tend to be very intelligent, which makes them great con artists.

5. They're master manipulators.

They don't experience genuine emotions toward others. But they can mimic other people's emotions, and often they come across as very genuine. As a result, their loved ones often have no idea they're incapable of truly caring for other people.

Psychopaths are really good at manipulating other people's emotions. They flatter others in a subtle yet effective manner, and before long they persuade others to do things they wouldn't normally do. They also use guilt trips or gain sympathy to meet their needs.

[Feb 16, 2016] How to Identify a Psychopath (with Pictures)

wikiHow

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist was initially developed to assess the mental condition of people who commit crimes, and it is commonly used to diagnose people who may exhibit the traits and tendencies of a psychopath. Most mental health professionals define a psychopath as a predator who takes advantage of others using charm, deceit, violence and other methods to get what they want. Identify a psychopath by using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist and trusting your own intuition.

[Feb 05, 2016] Pathological Liar – Impulsive, Compulsive Lying, Self-Deception

depressiond.com
Pathological Liar – All About PATHOLOGICAL LYING, Lying, Self-Deception, Types, Classification, from Pseudologia Fantastica to Habitual Lying.
  1. Pathological Liar – Definition

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

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

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

  2. Low Self-Esteem And Pathological Lying

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

  3. Pathological Liar – Causes

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

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

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

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

    • Habitual Liar

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

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

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

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

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

    • Impulsive Pathological Liar – Impulse Control Disorders & Lying

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

    • Substance Abuse Associated Pathological Liar

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

  5. Signs of Lying

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

    7 Signs of Lying

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

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

Pathological lying - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Dec 09, 2015] Meet the Malignant Narcissist

jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"A personality disorder characterized by grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one's superiority; a lack of empathy, lack of truthfulness, and the tendency to degrade others."

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

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/embed/x54z2pRAvtg?rel=0"

[Dec 07, 2015] A Dangerously Flawed View of Capitalism

www.counterpunch.org
I recently bought a collection of DVDs from the website Acorn that sells a lot of PBS stuff. The collection was called The Golden Age of Television and included a bunch of critically acclaimed dramas originally written for TV. The dramas were broadcast live, and with one exception, only once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

friedad 23 Oct 2015 18:27

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

Hemulen6 23 Oct 2015 15:06

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

AlexLeo -> rebel7 23 Oct 2015 13:34

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

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

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

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

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

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


weematt -> Barry1858 23 Oct 2015 09:04

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exploitation takes place at the point of production.

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

Karl Marx [Value, Price and Profit]

John Kellar 23 Oct 2015 07:19

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


Rchrd Hrrcks -> wumpysmum 23 Oct 2015 04:17

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


wumpysmum Rchrd Hrrcks 23 Oct 2015 03:51

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


Alyeska 22 Oct 2015 22:18

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

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

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


rtb1961 22 Oct 2015 21:58

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

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

Mkjaks 22 Oct 2015 20:35

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

toffee1 22 Oct 2015 19:13

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

patimac54 -> Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 17:39

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

TettyBlaBla -> FranzWilde 22 Oct 2015 17:25

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

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

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

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

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

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


Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 16:41

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


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

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

Preoccupations

By Margaret Morford > Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

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

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

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

Preoccupations

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

See More "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Let me provide the spoiler at once: Not entirely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the transcript!

* * *

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

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

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

Oh. An Episcopalian secretary.

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

So, speaking of bologna…

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the clip:

... ... ...

Raging Debate

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

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

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

PhilofOz

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

Facts about sociopaths/psychopaths:

  • The term "sociopath" is often interchangeable with "psychopath," with a related term being the disorder -- antisocial personality disorder.
  • A sociopath, once in the adult stage of life, cannot be rehabilitated. When diagnosed early he or she can be somewhat rehabilitated. In the adult stages of life sociopaths can be taught to enter into mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Sociopaths and psychopaths are considered to be social predators. Sociopaths are skilled liars and con artists. They are cunning and manipulative, with some being violent.
wendigo

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

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

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

The Burning Platform

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

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

[Jan 22, 2015] Links for 01-22-15

Economist's View

pgl -> anne...

The largest building in New Jersey is the Goldman Sachs building at 30 Hudson in Jersey City. They built it so their folks in Manhattan could work there so it is huge. But lot of these fat cats decided they were not crossing the Hudson River. So they now have two enormous and overpriced office buildings both underutilized. so yea - they need to rip off the rest of the world. That how things shake out in this part of the world.

Owen Paine -> Owen Paine ...

The aim of the corporate liberation movement Is to shift all regulation of market activity to themselves and their own voluntary collisions

pgl -> Owen Paine ...

You have this backwards as usual. No one wants to be regulated. But then most companies love it when government stifles their competitors with regulations.

Owen Paine -> pgl...

"No ( corporation) wants to be regulated" but " corporations ..love it " when regs stifle " competitors "

Very deep insight. I must chew on that cud for a few months

Its quite self contradictory though isn't it. Unless you fix competitor and cooperator roles for each limited liability agency

Btw fwiw
You might consider that competitor and cooperator are not fixed roles
Among the giant oligopoly corporations

Owen Paine -> Owen Paine ...

Once again we must start at the foundation

Corporations are social contrivances. Society husbands them out of expediency. For their instrumental usefulness

Liberating them is letting these huge sociopathic entities loose to roam the planet. In search of plunder

[Dec 17, 2014] Dilbert comic strip for 05-20-2012 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive

[Dec 17, 2014] FBI — The Corporate Psychopath

fbi.gov

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.

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

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

[Dec 17, 2014] Corporate Sociopaths and Horrible Bosses - 7 Ways to Survive Them

The Brainzooming Group

What are the characteristics of a sociopath in business?

...To gauge if you’re working with one, ask yourself if the person in question:

... ... ...

What are steps to dealing with a sociopath in business?

... ... ...

2. Don’t believe anything you can’t independently corroborate.

Operate with the understanding you can’t believe anything a corporate sociopath says. Because of this, continually gather information you’ll need to assess what’s going on. Be seen as a confidant within the organization. Ask open-ended questions, listen, and observe what’s actually happening.

3. Minimize one-off conversations and avoid decisions during them.

If you’re working with a corporate sociopath, to the extent you can, use one-on-one conversations to ask questions and engage in harmless small talk which may help you better understand the individual. Avoid using one-on-one conversations as decision making opportunities because you want witnesses for the decisions a corporate sociopath makes. Push decision making to meetings where others are present who can corroborate decisions and direction setting when they’re inevitably changed later.

4. Continually hone your flexibility and scenario planning skills.

When corporate sociopaths try in some unanticipated way to disrupt efforts where you’re making progress, you want to be able to adapt and keep going as readily as possible. It’s critical to do the strategic thinking that allows you to stay several steps ahead at all times.

5. Make smart trade-offs to keep the corporate sociopath placated and occupied.

If your boss is the offender, you can’t play the “avoid” and “small talk” cards all the time. Decipher what’s important and what isn’t to the organization – not to the corporate sociopath. What that insight, placate sociopaths on all minor things you can to ideally buy a little room for quiet defiance on things that really do count. If you’re in a position to do it, pair a lower impact team member with the sociopath to provide attention and crank through the busywork sociopaths create. In exchange, offer strong support and counsel to the person assigned to this role.

6. Carefully identify others who understand there’s a problem person in your midst.

Be on the lookout for others who hint at frustration or exasperation with a corporate sociopath. Probe, without saying or revealing anything self-incriminating, and see where their loyalties are and what perspectives they’ll express. It may be someone you can work with more closely to get things accomplished. Again, be careful it’s someone you can ABSOLUTELY trust.

7. Protect yourself at all times.

... ... ...

[Dec 17, 2014] Is Your Boss a Psychopath By Alan Deutschman

July 1, 2005 | Fast Company

Odds are you've run across one of these characters in your career. They're glib, charming, manipulative, deceitful, ruthless — and very, very destructive. And there may be lots of them in America's corner offices.

One of the most provocative ideas about business in this decade so far surfaced in a most unlikely place. The forum wasn't the Harvard Business School or one of those $4,000-a-head conferences where Silicon Valley's venture capitalists search for the next big thing. It was a convention of Canadian cops in the far-flung province of Newfoundland. The speaker, a 71-year-old professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia, remains virtually unknown in the business realm. But he's renowned in his own field: criminal psychology. Robert Hare is the creator of the Psychopathy Checklist. The 20-item personality evaluation has exerted enormous influence in its quarter-century history. It's the standard tool for making clinical diagnoses of psychopaths — the 1% of the general population that isn't burdened by conscience. Psychopaths have a profound lack of empathy. They use other people callously and remorselessly for their own ends. They seduce victims with a hypnotic charm that masks their true nature as pathological liars, master con artists, and heartless manipulators. Easily bored, they crave constant stimulation, so they seek thrills from real-life "games" they can win — and take pleasure from their power over other people.

On that August day in 2002, Hare gave a talk on psychopathy to about 150 police and law-enforcement officials. He was a legendary figure to that crowd. The FBI and the British justice system have long relied on his advice. He created the P-Scan, a test widely used by police departments to screen new recruits for psychopathy, and his ideas have inspired the testing of firefighters, teachers, and operators of nuclear power plants.

According to the Canadian Press and Toronto Sun reporters who rescued the moment from obscurity, Hare began by talking about Mafia hit men and sex offenders, whose photos were projected on a large screen behind him. But then those images were replaced by pictures of top executives from WorldCom, which had just declared bankruptcy, and Enron, which imploded only months earlier. The securities frauds would eventually lead to long prison sentences for WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and Enron CFO Andrew Fastow.

"These are callous, cold-blooded individuals," Hare said.

"They don't care that you have thoughts and feelings. They have no sense of guilt or remorse." He talked about the pain and suffering the corporate rogues had inflicted on thousands of people who had lost their jobs, or their life's savings. Some of those victims would succumb to heart attacks or commit suicide, he said.

Then Hare came out with a startling proposal. He said that the recent corporate scandals could have been prevented if CEOs were screened for psychopathic behavior. "Why wouldn't we want to screen them?" he asked. "We screen police officers, teachers. Why not people who are going to handle billions of dollars?"\

It's Hare's latest contribution to the public awareness of "corporate psychopathy." He appeared in the 2003 documentary The Corporation, giving authority to the film's premise that corporations are "sociopathic" (a synonym for "psychopathic") because they ruthlessly seek their own selfish interests — "shareholder value" — without regard for the harms they cause to others, such as environmental damage.

Is Hare right? Are corporations fundamentally psychopathic organizations that attract similarly disposed people? It's a compelling idea, especially given the recent evidence. Such scandals as Enron and WorldCom aren't just aberrations; they represent what can happen when some basic currents in our business culture turn malignant. We're worshipful of top executives who seem charismatic, visionary, and tough. So long as they're lifting profits and stock prices, we're willing to overlook that they can also be callous, conning, manipulative, deceitful, verbally and psychologically abusive, remorseless, exploitative, self-delusional, irresponsible, and megalomaniacal. So we collude in the elevation of leaders who are sadly insensitive to hurting others and society at large.

But wait, you say: Don't bona fide psychopaths become serial killers or other kinds of violent criminals, rather than the guys in the next cubicle or the corner office? That was the conventional wisdom. Indeed, Hare began his work by studying men in prison. Granted, that's still an unusually good place to look for the conscience-impaired. The average Psychopathy Checklist score for incarcerated male offenders in North America is 23.3, out of a possible 40. hic," the range for the most violent offenders. Hare has said that the typical citizen would score a 3 or 4, while anything below that is "sliding into sainthood."

On the broad continuum between the ethical everyman and the predatory killer, there's plenty of room for people who are ruthless but not violent. This is where you're likely to find such people as Ebbers, Fastow, ImClone CEO Sam Waksal, and hotelier Leona Helmsley. We put several big-name CEOs through the checklist, and they scored as "moderately psychopathic"; our quiz on page 48 lets you try a similar exercise with your favorite boss. And this summer, together with New York industrial psychologist Paul Babiak, Hare begins marketing the B-Scan, a personality test that companies can use to spot job candidates who may have an MBA but lack a conscience. "I always said that if I wasn't studying psychopaths in prison, I'd do it at the stock exchange," Hare told Fast Company. "There are certainly more people in the business world who would score high in the psychopathic dimension than in the general population. You'll find them in any organization where, by the nature of one's position, you have power and control over other people and the opportunity to get something."

There's evidence that the business climate has become even more hospitable to psychopaths in recent years. In pioneering long-term studies of psychopaths in the workplace, Babiak focused on a half-dozen unnamed companies: One was a fast-growing high-tech firm, and the others were large multinationals undergoing dramatic organizational changes — severe downsizing, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures. That's just the sort of corporate tumult that has increasingly characterized the U.S. business landscape in the last couple of decades. And just as wars can produce exciting opportunities for murderous psychopaths to shine (think of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic), Babiak found that these organizational shake-ups created a welcoming environment for the corporate killer. "The psychopath has no difficulty dealing with the consequences of rapid change; in fact, he or she thrives on it," Babiak claims. "Organizational chaos provides both the necessary stimulation for psychopathic thrill seeking and sufficient cover for psychopathic manipulation and abusive behavior."

And you can make a compelling case that the New Economy, with its rule-breaking and roller-coaster results, is just dandy for folks with psychopathic traits too. A slow-moving old-economy corporation would be too boring for a psychopath, who needs constant stimulation. Its rigid structures and processes and predictable ways might stymie his unethical scheming. But a charge-ahead New Economy maverick — an Enron, for instance — would seem the ideal place for this kind of operator.

But how can we recognize psychopathic types? Hare has revised his Psychopathy Checklist (known as the PCL-R, or simply "the Hare") to make it easier to identify so-called subcriminal or corporate psychopaths. He has broken down the 20 personality characteristics into two subsets, or "factors." Corporate psychopaths score high on Factor 1, the "selfish, callous, and remorseless use of others" category. It includes eight traits: glibness and superficial charm; grandiose sense of self-worth; pathological lying; conning and manipulativeness; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow affect (i.e., a coldness covered up by dramatic emotional displays that are actually playacting); callousness and lack of empathy; and the failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions. Sound like anyone you know? (Corporate psychopaths score only low to moderate on Factor 2, which pinpoints "chronically unstable, antisocial, and socially deviant lifestyle," the hallmarks of people who wind up in jail for rougher crimes than creative accounting.)

This view is supported by research by psychologists Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon at the University of Surrey, who interviewed and gave personality tests to 39 high-level British executives and compared their profiles with those of criminals and psychiatric patients. The executives were even more likely to be superficially charming, egocentric, insincere, and manipulative, and just as likely to be grandiose, exploitative, and lacking in empathy. Board and Fritzon concluded that the businesspeople they studied might be called "successful psychopaths." In contrast, the criminals — the "unsuccessful psychopaths" — were more impulsive and physically aggressive.

The Factor 1 psychopathic traits seem like the playbook of many corporate power brokers through the decades.

In the most recent wave of scandals, Enron's Fastow displayed many of the corporate psychopath's traits. He pressured his bosses for a promotion to CFO even though he had a shaky grasp of the position's basic responsibilities, such as accounting and treasury operations. Suffering delusions of grandeur after just a little time on the job, Fastow ordered Enron's PR people to lobby CFO magazine to make him its CFO of the Year. But Fastow's master manipulation was a scheme to loot Enron. He set up separate partnerships, secretly run by himself, to engage in deals with Enron. The deals quickly made tens of millions of dollars for Fastow — and prettified Enron's financials in the short run by taking unwanted assets off its books. But they left Enron with time bombs that would ultimately cause the company's total implosion — and lose shareholders billions. When Enron's scandals were exposed, Fastow pleaded guilty to securities fraud and agreed to pay back nearly $24 million and serve 10 years in prison.

"Chainsaw" Al Dunlap might score impressively on the corporate Psychopathy Checklist too. What do you say about a guy who didn't attend his own parents' funerals? He allegedly threatened his first wife with guns and knives. She charged that he left her with no food and no access to their money while he was away for days. His divorce was granted on grounds of "extreme cruelty." That's the characteristic that endeared him to Wall Street, which applauded when he fired 11,000 workers at Scott Paper, then another 6,000 (half the labor force) at Sunbeam. Chainsaw hurled a chair at his human-resources chief, the very man who approved the handgun and bulletproof vest on his expense report. Dunlap needed the protection because so many people despised him. His plant closings kept up his reputation for ruthlessness but made no sense economically, and Sunbeam's financial gains were really the result of Dunlap's alleged book cooking. When he was finally exposed and booted, Dunlap had the nerve to demand severance pay and insist that the board reprice his stock options. Talk about failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions.

While knaves such as Fastow and Dunlap make the headlines, most horror stories of workplace psychopathy remain the stuff of frightened whispers. Insiders in the New York media business say the publisher of one of the nation's most famous magazines broke the nose of one of his female sales reps in the 1990s. But he was considered so valuable to the organization that the incident didn't impede his career.

Most criminals — whether psychopathic or not — are shaped by poverty and often childhood abuse as well. In contrast, corporate psychopaths typically grew up in stable, loving families that were middle class or affluent. But because they're pathological liars, they tell romanticized tales of rising from tough, impoverished backgrounds. Dunlap pretended that he grew up as the son of a laid-off dockworker; in truth, his father worked steadily and raised his family in suburban comfort. The corporate psychopaths whom Babiak studied all went to college, and a couple even had PhDs. Their ruthless pursuit of self-interest was more easily accomplished in the white-collar realm, which their backgrounds had groomed them for, rather than the criminal one, which comes with much lousier odds.

Psychopaths succeed in conventional society in large measure because few of us grasp that they are fundamentally different from ourselves. We assume that they, too, care about other people's feelings. This makes it easier for them to "play" us. Although they lack empathy, they develop an actor's expertise in evoking ours. While they don't care about us, "they have an element of emotional intelligence, of being able to see our emotions very clearly and manipulate them," says Michael Maccoby, a psychotherapist who has consulted for major corporations.

Psychopaths are typically very likable. They make us believe that they reciprocate our loyalty and friendship. When we realize that they were conning us all along, we feel betrayed and foolish. "People see sociopathy in their personal lives, and they don't have a clue that it has a label or that others have encountered it," says Martha Stout, a psychologist at the Harvard Medical School and the author of the recent best-seller The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us (Broadway Books, 2005). "It makes them feel crazy or alone. It goes against our intuition that a small percentage of people can be so different from the rest of us — and so evil. Good people don't want to believe it."

Of course, cynics might say that it can be an advantage to lack a conscience. That's probably why major investors installed Dunlap as the CEO of Sunbeam: He had no qualms about decimating the workforce to impress Wall Street. One reason outside executives get brought into troubled companies is that they lack the emotional stake in either the enterprise or its people. It's easier for them to act callously and remorselessly, which is exactly what their backers want. The obvious danger of the new B-Scan test for psychopathic tendencies is that companies will hire or promote people with high scores rather than screen them out. Even Babiak, the test's codeveloper, says that while "a high score is a red flag, sometimes middle scores are okay. Perhaps you don't want the most honest and upfront salesman."

Indeed, not every aberrant boss is necessarily a corporate psychopath. There's another personality that's often found in the executive suite: the narcissist. While many psychologists would call narcissism a disorder, this trait can be quite beneficial for top bosses, and it's certainly less pathological than psychopathy. Maccoby's book The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Perils of Visionary Leadership (Broadway Books, 2003) portrays the narcissistic CEO as a grandiose egotist who is on a mission to help humanity in the abstract even though he's often insensitive to the real people around him. Maccoby counts Apple's Steve Jobs, General Electric's Jack Welch, Intel's Andy Grove, Microsoft's Bill Gates, and Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher as "productive narcissists," or PNs. Narcissists are visionaries who attract hordes of followers, which can make them excel as innovators, but they're poor listeners and they can be awfully touchy about criticism. "These people don't have much empathy," Maccoby says. "When Bill Gates tells someone, 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard,' or Steve Jobs calls someone a bozo, they're not concerned about people's feelings. They see other people as a means toward their ends. But they do have a sense of changing the world — in their eyes, improving the world. They build their own view of what the world should be and get others recruited to their vision. Psychopaths, in contrast, are only interested in self."

Maccoby concedes that productive narcissists can become "drunk with power" and turn destructive. The trick, he thinks, is to pair a productive narcissist with a "productive obsessive," or conscientious, control-minded manager. Think of Grove when he was matched with chief operating officer Craig Barrett, Gates with president Steve Ballmer, Kelleher with COO Colleen Barrett, and Oracle's Larry Ellison with COO Ray Lane and CFO Jeff Henley. In his remarkably successful second tour of duty at Apple, Jobs has been balanced by steady, competent behind-the-scenes players such as Timothy Cook, his executive vice president for sales and operations.

But our culture's embrace of narcissism as the hallmark of admired business leaders is dangerous, Babiak maintains, since "individuals who are really psychopaths are often mistaken for narcissists and chosen by the organization for leadership positions." How does he distinguish the difference between the two types? "In the case of a narcissist, everything is me, me, me," Babiak explains. "With a psychopath, it's 'Is it thrilling, is it a game I can win, and does it hurt others?' My belief is a psychopath enjoys hurting others."

Intriguingly, Babiak believes that it's extremely unlikely for an entrepreneurial founder-CEO to be a corporate psychopath because the company is an extension of his own ego — something he promotes rather than plunders. "The psychopath has no allegiance to the company at all, just to self," Babiak says. "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." So these types are ruthless not only for themselves but also for their companies, their extensions of self.

The issue is whether we will continue to elevate, celebrate, and reward so many executives who, however charismatic, remain indifferent to hurting other people. Babiak says that while the first line of defense against psychopaths in the workplace is screening job candidates, the second line is a "culture of openness and trust, especially when the company is undergoing intense, chaotic change."

Europe is far ahead of the United States in trying to deal with psychological abuse and manipulation at work. The "antibullying" movement in Europe has produced new laws in France and Sweden. Harvard's Stout suggests that the relentlessly individualistic culture of the United States contributes a lot to our problems. She points out that psychopathy has a dramatically lower incidence in certain Asian cultures, where the heritage has emphasized community bonds rather than glorified self-interest. "If we continue to go this way in our Western culture," she says, "evolutionarily speaking, it doesn't end well."

The good news is that we can do something about corporate psychopaths. Scientific consensus says that only about 50% of personality is influenced by genetics, so psychopaths are molded by our culture just as much as they are born among us. But unless American business makes a dramatic shift, we'll get more Enrons — and deserve them.

Alan Deutschman is a Fast Company senior writer based in San Francisco.

[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:

[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.

[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

[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.

Recommended Links

Softpanorama Top Visited

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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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