Dec 5, 2012

Corporate leaders and psychopaths — what’s the difference?

Cool under pressure. Lack of empathy. Utilitarianism instincts. A new book examines the link between psychopaths and corporate leaders.

Hannibal Lecter

Some psychopaths are good guys, it can’t be denied. Like the dental surgeon who yanked out one of my molars recently. He kept wrestling it out of my bleeding gums despite the tears rolling down my face. I needed that guy to keep going when no one else could have. I couldn’t expect him to be the one giving me a pat and a cup of tea afterwards.



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16 thoughts on “Corporate leaders and psychopaths — what’s the difference?

  1. SBH

    “psychopathy occupies a kind of sliding scale” really? well bugger me, I thought we could just label people one thing or another and be done with it

  2. Hamis Hill

    If, as the father of economics Adam Smith argued entirely mathematically, 236 years ago, capitalists do have an interest to deceive and oppress the public, then wouldn’t psychopaths make the perfect managers for the “Idle Rich”?
    Why, after all this time, would anyone find this surprising?
    Is suppressing any modern inquiry(as part of the school curriculum for instance?) into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations part of the econo-socio-psychopathology of modern captitalism?
    Capitalists have an interest to dumb down the citizenry, the easier to deceive and oppress them?
    For example, the reduced spending on education under the Howard regime, well Duh! everyone can tell that has nothing to do with higher learning producing higher salaries, higher savings and lower interest rates.Right??
    In former times Chambers of commerce representing financial interests maintained a separation from Chambers of industry because, for the former, higher profits only came on the back of lower wages while captains of industry, like Henry Ford ( a bit of a psychopath?) knew that high wages created a demand for manufactured goods.
    Chambers of Commerce and Industry, in modern times have become captive to commercial interests at the expense of industry.
    The psychopaths at work? Work Choices and low wages anyone?
    No sound of pennies dropping?
    Or is it that the “commentariat” already understand all these economic truisms from the Ages of Enlightenment and find them all too, too tedious to repeat?

  3. Matthew of Canberra

    Insert derisive and dismissive response here.

    Chuckle about the things that people do go on about.

  4. AsGrayAs

    Actually, I think the label ‘psychopath’ is being kind. Sociopaths are FAR more dangerous (unpredictable, remorseless, utterly ruthless), and the definition of sociopathy aligns more closely with the idea we have of the Megalomaniac. That being the ‘classic’ power-hungry uber-rich, win-at-all-costs type.
    Feel free to check out for an unqualified simpleton’s perspective on the current breed of outspoken wealthy narcissists.

  5. Will Arnott

    I’m with Matthew

  6. POV 888

    Interesting article thanks. I can relate this to the premier of Queensland’s MO!

    I’ve read ‘Working with Monsters’ by Dr John Clarke in an attempt to understand the ‘culture’ of a previous workplace…it’s now a cold case!

  7. Andybob

    Perhaps the more pertinent questions are which of our corporate leaders lack appropriate masking traits that might otherwise cloak their pschopathic tendencies from general examination and what medications are appropriate to redress same, with names and positions held included.

  8. Mk8adelic

    Exhibit 1 r Murdoch?

  9. Steve777

    A survey of history reveals that most of the Kings, Conquerors and so-called ‘great men’ (and they were mostly men) over the ages were clearly psychopaths, who single-mindedly pursued power, ruthlessly eliminating rivals along the way, including close family. The big prize? Well those who got to the top could in effect have a harem, whatever the wider religious or social constraints of the time and place or whatever it was called (e.g. ‘the fine ladies of the court’). That’s why psychopaths have survived through the evolutionary sieve.

    A big advantage of capitalism? Well, the super alpha males become CEOs rather than warlords.

    “The difference between business leaders and the criminals or insane, the study found, was the level of “antisocial” feelings…”. Or maybe, as Salvadore Dali opined, “The only difference between myself and a madman is that I’m not mad”.

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