November 3, 2012

How to tell a psychopathic businessman running for office from just your average criminal

Eric Barker, Barking up the Wrong Tree - Many psychopathic traits are more common in business leaders than in mentally disturbed criminals.

Via The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success:

In 2005, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon of the University of Surrey conducted a survey to find out precisely what it was that made business leaders tick. . .Their analysis revealed that a number of psychopathic attributes were actually more common in business leaders than in so-called disturbed criminals— attributes such as superficial charm, egocentricity, persuasiveness, lack of empathy, independence, and focus— and that the main difference between the groups was in the more “antisocial” aspects of the syndrome: the criminals’ lawbreaking, physical aggression, and impulsivity dials (to return to our analogy of earlier) were cranked up higher.
How can this be?

Companies offer money, power, status and control — things any psychopath, white collar or not, is drawn to.

Via The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success:

The psychopath seeks reward at any cost, flouting consequence and elbowing risk aside. Which, of course, might go some way toward explaining why Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon found a greater preponderance of psychopathic traits among a sample of CEOs than they did among the inmates of a secure forensic unit. Money, power, status, and control— each the preserve of the typical company director, and each a sought-after commodity in and of itself— together constitute an irresistible draw for the business-oriented psychopath as he or she ventures ever further up the rungs of the corporate ladder.
Wouldn’t people notice these awful traits?

No. Because when business leaders have them, we give them different names:

4 comments:

Caro said...

The sooner we stop admiring these people, the sooner we'll start demanding our fair share from them.

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

Anonymous said...

Quite nice. It's another example of the way in which taxonomies and labeling are exploited to serve class interests.

In this case, it serves the interests of the psychopaths that run our world by de-pathologising their trait labels, allowing them to avoid being diagnosed accurately. That helps them keep out of locked wards, which is where they belong.

Anonymous said...

How does this relate to religious leaders? Of course some have money, but in most case merely Power and Status.

Are these a type of passive-aggressive psychopaths?

(Apologies to the many wonderful religious who have done, and do practical Good in this world. This comment is directed elsewhere.)

Capt. America said...

How does this relate to religious leaders?

Everything we know and are came in through what we Buddhists call the sense doors. Our minds build the world from this and form the narrative we call consciousness. The universe outside our minds is a very strange and unknowable place. Religious leaders presume to persuade or force their version of a world on others. The worst force, the better persuade, but the goal is basically nuts, isn't it?