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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work; A Review

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posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 06:41 PM

“take-charge”, ruthless, demanding, manipulative and apparently “results-oriented” managers, often psychopaths

Sounds like my old boss.

For me, I have previously worked for two major financial institutions, and I would have to agree with pretty much everything in your post/article.

The only difference is the terminology.

I used to call them Sharks.

All of these institutions are run by psychopaths. From the ones at the top, to the ones at the bottom trying to get to the top.

Thankfully, I got the hell out of there and moved on to a completely different career.

I couldn't look at myself in the mirror anymore.


[edit on 22-2-2010 by kommunist]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 07:56 PM
Another trait of a pschopath that is often overlooked is adaptability. They are chameleons. They can change to suit their environment.... I suppose that is what the excerpt was trying to point out when it mentioned "flexibility and flux."

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 08:10 PM

Originally posted by LadySkadi
reply to post by Jakes51

However, it is not just the work world, but the world in general. An honest person will get eaten up by the wolves. So, it is as though the competitive nature that is instilled in us since children, almost foments psychopathic tendencies in us all to survive. If one is not willing to act like the wolves, then they will be devoured by them. I suppose it is the law of nature? However, I agree with you, that fairness, integrity, compassion, and accountability seems very distant at the moment. As things get harder and more difficult, the more ruthless people will become to survive.

A true and telling observation, Jakes51. It is a message worth a good deal of thought. I do believe competition and striving for excellence, challenging self and others, etc. to be good and necessary attributes and of course integrity, compassion and accountability (as you mentioned) but is it not possible to have all of these traits? Or, must one sacrifice them to be one of the gang? Depends on how much power one wants, I presume. One doesn't acquire power by being a "nice guy" in most cases.

[edit on 22-2-2010 by LadySkadi]

Yes, there is nothing wrong with competition and striving for excellence as you put. However, it is wrong if you resort to ruthless tactics to attain those attributes. For instance, by kicking someone when they are down, manipulation, lying, cheating, or basically resorting to any method of treachery to meet an objective is counterproductive and harmful.

Also, as you put, it is hard to have all the attributes listed. Yes it is, however, we can strive for them to the best of our abilities. That doesn't apply to the psychopath, because they have no concept of the attributes listed in my initial response. Their sole purpose in life is for self-preservation at all costs, regardless of who they cut-down along the way. It is truly disgusting. I look at these psychopaths one way, they may live high-off-the-hog for awhile and get everything they want. However, sooner or later, the jig is up and people figure them out. Prime examples would be Lehman Brothers, Enron, and Bernie Madoff. Here is a good video about the psychopaths and their lack of empathy at Enron.

All went about acquiring wealth and success through illicit means and manipulation. The honest man has a leg-up on them, because he has the benefit of a conscience. Whereas, those mentioned above, who were brilliant in their own right could be considered as having one crucial disadvantage; they are insane. By all means, interact with the wolf, study them, but by no means stoop to their level. Be better than them, and allow them to trip over their own feet with time.

That is why one should be an eagle and not a wolf.

[edit on 23-2-2010 by Jakes51]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 08:18 PM
I'll give you a quick explanation of sociopaths:

Of the various personality/ behavioral disorders, sociopath-- or antisocial personality is one of the only three that CANNOT be rehabilitated successfully. (The others are schizoid and borderline- personality disorders).

Anyway, you're probably wondering, what makes a sociopath? Well one thing is clear: they walk though life unable to trust anyone. Why? Because they never learned to trust. It all points to abandonment and abuse of some sort from an early age (think < 6 months of age). Maybe maybe the mother was a drugged up prostitute that left the baby with random family members, or maybe a wealthy socialite who frequently got jealous of her child's nannies (for developing stronger bonds with their kids) and replaced them frequently-- completely screwing up any ability of trust/develop sound attachments.

Theoretically, if you look at Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development, Trust vs. Mistrust is the first developmental stage everyone has to achieve in order to carry on a healthy progression/development through life. If you can't get that stage down at all, you won't properly be able to make it through the next life stages properly.

They can be at any edge of society, politics, schools, your job, church, home, your block, they can be CEO's, thieves, your worst enemy posing as your best friend... and the list of possibilities can go on forever.

There is nothing you can do to change them, they are exactly who they are-- in a world where it's them vs. everyone else, in the search of a peace and love they can only provide for themselves.

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 08:35 PM
reply to post by helster83

Well, being someone who has been diagnosed with both Borderline personality and Bi-polar disorder, I can tell you, it's a completely different way of thinking. Borderline personality disorders cause people to be very distrustful as well.

The only thing that really separates a sociopath from a psychopath is one thing. If you anger a sociopath, you can threaten him/her with physical violence and they will calm down. A psychpath doesn't care. You can punch a psychopath in the side of the head, and he/she is liable to look at you and start laughing and saying, "I liked that!! Why don't you do it again?"

[edit on 22-2-2010 by SpeakerofTruth]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 08:58 PM
reply to post by SpeakerofTruth

I wasn't aware of those distinctions between the two, but the developmental behavior still applies to both, the inability to trust which thwarts the ability to feel empathy, sympathy, love for others-- what I think is in a sense, punishment on everyone else in their paths for feeling so unloved. (failure at trust vs. mistrust stage).

Behavioral modification might work differently on both, but it doesn't change the intention or means they have of getting the things out of life they want, and that may be why they are intertwined so often? Maybe they rationalize problems/ issues differently? IQ deviation? Since one would be brow beaten and stop and the other would be conserving their energy to strike back later.

[edit on 22-2-2010 by helster83]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 09:32 PM
reply to post by LadySkadi

No surprise for me. I've figured business people and politicians to be psychos for a long time. I totally revile these bottom-feeders.

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 09:55 PM
did u ever stop to think that evil people use socialism, i.e. helping those in need and not for profit, because they fear a society where the common good based on the necessity and need of all it's citizens is not done at the expense and profit of others. they embrace socialism to tarnish it and discredit it so the present system of selfishness and greed seems to lead to prosperity and peace. but if i beat u with a stick every time u try to clean a wound eventually you're going to think and believe that leaving an open wound is good and pleasant because im not beating you every time u try to clean it. eventually you could die from that wound and not even know it. that's what's happening to this society.

[edit on 22-2-2010 by randomname]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 10:28 PM
reply to post by kommunist

I hear ya. Had a boss or two (okay, at the same company) like that myself. Oh and a co-worker or two. Gah. That place was a danger-zone. When I eventually moved on, it was like a breath of fresh air. I do take an inordinate amount of satisfaction in its near collapse back in the '00-'01 economic tumble...

[edit on 22-2-2010 by LadySkadi]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 11:41 PM
reply to post by randomname

I had not thought of that.
Thanks for bringing it up.

[edit on 22-2-2010 by LadySkadi]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 11:44 PM
reply to post by helster83

I thought there was a difference between psychopaths and sociopaths, the difference being that psychopaths are born that way while sociopaths are products of their environment.

Edit: Looked it up on wikipedia:

Psychopathy vs. sociopathy

Hare writes that the difference between sociopathy and psychopathy may "reflect the user's views on the origins and determinates of the disorder."
David T. Lykken proposes psychopathy and sociopathy are two distinct kinds of antisocial personality disorder. He believes psychopaths are born with temperamental differences such as impulsivity, cortical underarousal, and fearlessness that lead them to risk-seeking behavior and an inability to internalize social norms. On the other hand, he claims sociopaths have relatively normal temperaments; their personality disorder being more an effect of negative sociological factors like parental neglect, delinquent peers, poverty, and extremely low or extremely high intelligence. Both personality disorders are the result of an interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental factors, but psychopathy leans towards the hereditary whereas sociopathy tends towards the environmental.

[edit on 22-2-2010 by TheLaughingGod]

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 11:47 PM
reply to post by TheLaughingGod

There is a difference.
In relation to the book... the author's provide this bit of distinction:

Psychopaths may be distinguished from sociopaths in one fundamental respect. Whereas sociopaths have no allegiance to, and even contempt for, any values or rules or laws of a wider society beyond their own small sub-group, such as a gang or cult, psychopaths have no allegiance to anything transcendent beyond themselves. Within gangs and cults, at war with society, there are certain codes and sociopaths are capable of holding to forms of allegiance and adherence to transcendent—beyond the individual--values and rules at least of the sub-group. Psychopaths, are total and ultra-individualists and narcissists, and have no allegiances beyond themselves and their own notions of their own narrow and selfish interests. Both psychopaths and sociopaths may not only find the business world a “target-rich” environment, they also can find religious, non-profit, educational, legal, military and political organizations attractive as well.

posted on Feb, 22 2010 @ 11:55 PM
reply to post by LadySkadi

Thanks for the quick answer Ladyskadi, I've been interested by this subject for a while now, I started reading a book called The Mask of Sanity maybe two years ago, I never finished however, maybe it's time.

Here's a link if anyone else is interested:

For those of you who are seeking understanding of psychopathy, Hervey Cleckley's book The Mask of Sanity, the absolutely essential study of the psychopath who is not necessarily of the criminal type.

posted on Feb, 23 2010 @ 12:11 AM
reply to post by TheLaughingGod

Yeah, sociopaths, borderline personalities and schizoids are all very much products of their environments, usually either stemming from extreme praise or complete rejection. It varies with the individual.

A person who grows up always being treated as "God's gift" will often develop one of the three untreatable disorders. Conversely, the person who grows up being neglected often times will as well.

One does it because they become, at least in a sense, enraged at the realization that not everyone in the "real world" is going to treat them as "God's gift." The other does it because all they have is more of a sense of neglect and isolation than what they got while growing up.

[edit on 23-2-2010 by SpeakerofTruth]

posted on Feb, 23 2010 @ 12:14 AM

Originally posted by antonia
Psychopaths do not generally think they are "evil" people. They lack a developed since of right and wrong. I think many of them simply cannot distinguish between what is and is not an appropriate action.

...there are many instances of psychopaths that are fully aware that what they're doing is wrong because they cover their tracks and some succeed for a very long time... btk comes to mind - ted bundy - the green river killer - even ol' crazy ed gein knew he had to hide what he was doing... the mindset is the same whether they're murdering people or rippin' them off or "just" being a tyrant / control freak...

Originally posted by antonia
i think it would useless to walk up to one of these people and tell them what they are doing is "evil". they simply cannot understand that concept.

...i agree it would a waste of time to tell them that their behavior is atrocious - but - not for the same reason...

posted on Feb, 23 2010 @ 12:30 AM

Originally posted by AccessDenied
Fabulous topic.

This totally explains a few happenings in my life and at the time I never put two and two together. I never really thought of psychopaths as able to really excel in the community, or beyond.
My stereotype of them blinded me. You just showed me the bigger picture.

Well, firstly, you have to get beyond this idea that people who are "mentally ill" are somehow unintelligent. Actually, research has shown the opposite to be true. "Mentally ill" people tend to have superior intellects. That is a contributing factor to their "sickness."

Now, there are some psychopaths, sociopaths, bi-polars, et cetera, who aren't productive. However, that is typically by choice, not necessity.

[edit on 23-2-2010 by SpeakerofTruth]

posted on Feb, 23 2010 @ 12:34 AM
But if these psychopaths are only interested in their own survival, can't they just get a job somewhere and live a quiet live? You don't need a 6 digit year-end bonus to survive...

I have once heard it mentioned that psychopaths are so numb that only extreme emotions make them feel alive, and that a war is for them what a festival is for us.

Perhaps it's too painful a thought to fathom, and we are telling ourselves that such intentional evil can't exist in humanity... or it's gotta be aliens or Reptillians or something.

posted on Feb, 23 2010 @ 12:39 AM
reply to post by Angus123

Well, I cannot speak for psychopaths, yet.
However, having already been diagnosed with two mental "disorders" or "illnesses" whichever you prefer, I am probably on the cusp of being a sociopath. I can tell you this, it isn't fun.

It isn't fun getting up every morning and asking yourself, "Why the # am I even here?" It isn't fun being a stranger in an even stranger land. It isn't fun thinking about things that doesn't even cross most peoples mind once in their life, much less every day. It isn't fun knowing that people know something is a little "off" about you, but they can't pinpoint exactly what it is.

Just take my word for it. It isn't fun, period. You may thik you would like to know what it's like, but you don't. Believe me.

posted on Feb, 23 2010 @ 12:56 AM
How to Spot a Snake
According to the authors, psychopaths tend to be more predatory in nature. This applies to the corporate psychopath, who will do anything from laying on the charm to threatening and bullying a coworker in order to get whatever he or she wants.

Babiak and Hare warn: "Psychopaths are skilled at social manipulation, and the job interview is a perfect place to apply their talents." Often they are able to provide a well-rounded resume displaying the traits of the perfect job candidate, able to charm even the most seasoned of interviewers in HR.

Once entering the job, they quickly blend into the corporate environment, becoming "social chameleons" as they figure out all the angles and quickly begin their manipulation to the top. Known for their self-centeredness, once comfortably employed, psychopaths move into a three-stage behavior pattern of assessment, manipulation and abandonment.

Unfortunately, many do not see this pattern for what it is and mistake some of the traits as the individual's attempt to become an ideal employee and leader. (1)

Anybody work with or know people who resemble this description?

What do you think?

[edit on 23-2-2010 by LadySkadi]

posted on Feb, 23 2010 @ 01:05 AM
reply to post by Conspiracy Pianist

Well, a sociopath, if they do feel, they feel deeply. I mean, if you have ever heard that song Scars by Poppa Roach, it gives you a good inclination of the life a sociopath lives. They have to tear their heart out just to feel.

If they ever get to the point to where they do love someone, which isn't often, they love deeply. They hate deeply. They do everything deeply if they do it at all. It's an all or nothing at all thing with a sociopath.A true sociopath doesn't have the ability to just let emotions flow normally....

[edit on 23-2-2010 by SpeakerofTruth]

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