Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The corporate sociopath

From the Boston Globe's short excerpt/review of Babiak, P. et al., “Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk,” Behavioral Sciences & the Law (March/April 2010):
Watching the news some days, you’d think a lot of companies were run by psychopaths. And, according to a recent study, some might well be. One of the authors of the study was hired by companies to evaluate managers — mostly middle-aged, college-educated, white males — for a management development program. It turns out that these managers scored higher on measures of psychopathy than the overall population, and some who had very high scores were candidates for, or held, senior positions. In general, managers with higher scores were seen as better communicators, better strategic thinkers, and more creative. However, they were also seen as having poor management style, not being team players, and delivering poor performance. But, apparently, this didn’t prevent some of them from being seen as having leadership potential. The authors conclude that “the very skills that make the psychopath so unpleasant (and sometimes abusive) in society can facilitate a career in business even in the face of negative performance ratings.”
Does this mean that there is something right about sociopaths, or that there is something wrong about business?

32 comments:

  1. that personality type just fits that area best probably

    if there's any sociopaths reading this, how does this picture make you feel

    http://i45.tinypic.com/9fqybs.jpg

    would you be the ones taking the pictures probably?

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  2. I am the Service and Production Manager for the largest producer of bottled water in the U.S. Before that I started as a laborer for one of the largest concrete companies in the U.S. Within 12 years I had 2 bosses ( the owners of the company), and had over 350 people below me. Needless to say the transition from construction has been difficult,but we(Sociopaths ) can adjust or rather force adjustments. As a teen, I was told I had a severe adjustment disorder. I dont adjust to my surroundings, I make my surroundings adjust to me. I do, by manipulation or intimidation. We are wolves amongst sheep.

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  3. Nice.

    Your subordinates are not loyal to you. Nor are they sincerely interested in providing the company with their best productivity and talents. You treat people like sheep & that's the kind of output you will get. This is ultimately a liability.

    Congratulations. Apparently your managerial style is in the majority, so you are in good company amongst yourselves. Pat yourselves on the back at the next manager's meeting.

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  4. "Apparently your managerial style is in the majority, so you are in good company amongst yourselves. Pat yourselves on the back at the next manager's meeting."

    True..but they also want to out-do each other. They don’t care about their colleagues or praising someone else at their level. They are self centered. But they get the job done and that’s all that really matters and if they are high up the latter it’s unlikely they will be confronted with the way they run their ship.

    I worked for a large law firm. Not suggesting lawyers are sociopaths but you can imagine for yourself the environment. And they want your loyalty for sure and for you to realize how blessed you are to work for them. Honestly, I was loyal to the money more than the cause, at least that's how it turned out to be.

    Grace

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  5. let me be clear..I was loyal to my salary.

    Grace

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  6. Grace,

    Yep, I've been the personal assistant to too many EVP's. They are fiercly competitive and will step over each other and stab each other in the back. When our bank's CEO left, it was crazy watching these fools vie for the position.

    But...

    To each other's faces they are oh. so. charming. And yes, they pat each other on the back in their meetings. Which is why I tell them to go congratulate themselves.

    You totally made my point, however. Employees who sense they are not valued may find the only value in their job is the paycheck. A sad commentary in my book. You want employees actually contributing to your company out of a sense of teamwork and pride. You want their best, their creative ideas, their talent, no?

    But you devalue them, intimidate, etc. I guarrantee you won't get the kind of productivity that can really make your department, division, region, company, or whatever, the very BEST it could be.

    This concept completely escapes most managers, and so they deal with high turnover rates, disgruntled employees, and an overall hostile, negative environment. Typical day in a typical job at a typical company.

    No one really wants to change this mindset and see just how far investing in their employees can really pay off in the long run.

    Short sited, short term. That's why we're in the mess we're in.

    Ugh.

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  7. I think there's something wrong with business. A LOT wrong with business!

    There is a great documentary called "The Corporation" by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, and the analogy which runs through the documentary is that the pattern in which corporations conduct business matches the diagnostic criteria for sociopathy on every measure. No surprise that the managers of these corporations rate higher than average on the sociopathy scale. I would expect that (A) people with higher than average sociopathic tendencies would be more likely to be attracted to such positions, and (B) such positions would nurture a person's sociopathic traits and stifle their compassion.

    Capitalism itself is a sociopathic system.

    !H!

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  8. A CHALLENGE/EXPERIMENT FOR ALL SOCIOPATHS!

    Here's an excerpt from an email I just sent to M.E.:

    Hello M.E.

    I have been following your blog, on and off, since the early days of its existence. I would like to invite you to engage in a challenge / experiment. I suspect that by taking a sufficient dose of MDMA, you will temporarily experience what it's like to be an "empath". MDMA is the pure ingredient in the drug ecstasy. When "empaths" take it, it vastly increases their love, compassion, good-will, kindness, etc. Strangers and even enemies become intimate friends. If you took MDMA, likely you would not experience such feelings to that degree of intensity. But I believe you would experience a "normal" level of compassion, love, etc.

    I know you don't see your sociopathy as a problem and have no desire to become an "empath". But perhaps you would be interested in trying MDMA as an experiment to see whether or not it would do what I suspect it would, and also to get a glimpse of what it's like to be an "empath". The results of this experiment would certainly make for an interesting blog entry!

    Are you up for such a challenge? If so, here's some advice.

    1. Do not take ecstasy. Take pure MDMA. (In general, ecstasy comes in a pill and MDMA comes in a powder. But make sure to ask for pure MDMA and to get it from someone you trust not to rip you off.)

    2. Do a large dose. MDMA, like alcohol, works in proportion to body weight. I have read on harm reduction websites that 2mg of MDMA per kg of your body weight is a good ratio for a safe but intense high. However, take note that MDMA has a more potent effect on females relative to males, due to hormonal differences in our brains related to oxytocin. So, as a male, you always want to skew upwards a little. Plus, if you're a sociopath, you probably want to take a much higher than average dose, to make sure it effects you. This shouldn't be a problem for you, since sociopaths are known for their enjoyment of risk taking! (Not to spoil your fun, but MDMA is a relatively safe drug, even at higher than recommended doses.)

    3. In order to increase your chances of experiencing compassion, love, etc., you should do more than merely take the MDMA and sit back and let the high take its course. Below are some recommendations of things you can do to increase your chances of having the "empath" experience.


    [Highlights of those recommendations in next post...]

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  9. > Have one or more people with you during your MDMA experience who you are on 'friendly' terms with (who consider you their friend, and who you might consider your friend). Try to choose people who you think you would feel affinity, affection, friendship-love, etc. for, were you to have access to such feelings.

    > Reflect on the people (or animals) who you have caused pain/suffering to during your life. Try to imagine how they might feel. Dwell on this, and see how you react.

    > Watching sad movies (fictional), especially movies which depict people’s experiences with aftermath of victimization and trauma.

    > Watching documentaries which show the suffering of people. Topics such as war, genocide, famine, homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse, rape, etc. It would be best to avoid abstract, analytical, information-heavy documentaries, and to instead use documentaries that focus on portraying the personal suffering of the victims.

    > Watching documentaries which show the abuse of animals by humans. This may be especially effective given the fact that the participants have (hopefully) established a fond connection with an animal. Ideally, the participant should have a few minutes to interact with the animal before watching the documentary, and the animal should be in the room (maybe even on their lap) while the participant watches the documentary. Two documentaries I recommend are “Meet Your Meat” (which is only 12 minutes, and can be found on YouTube) and “Earthlings” (a feature length film which can also be found on YouTube). Both are extremely potent in their ability to evoke sympathy in even the relatively cold-hearted.

    > Holding and petting the animal they have established a caring connection with while imagining the animal being hurt and abused by someone.

    > Looking at pictures of people they have a relationship with in their lives (their kids, etc.) and imagining them being hurt or abused by someone.

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  10. A CHALLENGE/EXPERIMENT FOR ALL SOCIOPATHS!

    Excuse me but you are suggesting that M.E. take drugs in order to alter his perceptions? It would be completely synthetic, untrustworthy and stupid. Because your personality, brain chemistry and all that jazz can influence the reactions of what you will experience even with MDMA. Unless, of course, you’re just joking. I think sociopaths understand empathy very well and that's how they are able to manipulate us. I just think their brain chemistry is different. I’m not defending them believe me I have been hurt by one. And don't be too certain they don't have their own hell to contend with because I'm sure they do. ..especially as they get older.

    Sometimes I think the only way a sociopath can ever experience some part of empathy or appreciate it, as far as relationships anyway, is to not expect them to...but I could be wrong and I certainly wouldn't want to experiment with that..it's just a thought.

    Sounds interesting though reminds me of the movie total recall.

    Grace.

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  11. Did I just see someone suggest that we take an illegal drug for his own experiment. . .

    Wow, maybe this site isn't dead afterall. . .

    That, or M.E. is fucking with us.

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  12. SARCASM ALERT!!! (I have to add the warning for the sarcasm impaired who frequent the comments section of this site.)

    I like your comments BizyB. They were idealistic but meh, nobody's perfect. :-)

    As for !H!... Do you have a bleeding heart my child? The only cure for a bleeding heart is to hand it over to someone who knows what to do with them. People like yours truly. So go on then, fork it over! I hear bleeding hearts also go well with fava beans and a nice Chianti and I'm starving! ;-)

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  13. I've got to admit, I am curious about about the experiences of any sociopath who HAS ever taken E.

    I would guess it would only amplify the love of oneself (can E amplify feelings that aren't even there?)

    But who knows, I suppose it's theoretically possible that perhaps it could trigger DEEPLY repressed emotion.

    I kinda doubt it though; if it did I would think the medical community would be using it more often in therapeutic settings.

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  14. I would also like to say the new theme is cheesy as all hell. Lightning bolts? Really?

    This looks more like a ghost-hunter/paranormal site than anything.

    I liked the old one better.

    But who cares. I know you don't.

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  15. !H! said..
    I think there's something wrong with business. A LOT wrong with business!


    i think it's the empaths who are the bigger problem. they engage in bad politics and base most decisions on the whims of their emotions, the main one being the fear (probably not unfounded) that others are out to screw them over and take away their power. it's an effect of the peter principle.

    having worked for incompetent, frightened and greedy individuals (not a pretty mix), and a couple of pathological narcissistic ones, i don't see how a sociopath could do worse. logic, even cutthroat logic, would be a nice change. any logic.. :(

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  16. logic, even cutthroat logic, would be a nice change. any logic.. :(

    This is so true! The management at my last job was so obviously inept that it often boggled my mind. They too were driven by fear, but they were also driven by self deception, so they hid their fear from themselves, projected it out onto others and clung to arcane rules as their security blanket. This lead to needless inconsistencies and arbitrary decisions that made little sense outside of their insecure little minds. Working with imbeciles was truly galling.

    I have not been fortunate to work under very many people who are worthy of my respect. I did however get to work under one manager who had a reputation for being smart, arrogant and conniving. He was always charming, although I never had a problem seeing thru that. It was clear that his business decisions had less to do with what was good for the personnel in the office and more to do with what was best for him. It worked too, because he has since been promoted to a position which puts him line for the presidency of the company. I never liked him, but I did respect him.

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  17. Grace said..
    Excuse me but you are suggesting that M.E. take drugs in order to alter his perceptions? It would be completely synthetic, untrustworthy and stupid. Because your personality, brain chemistry and all that jazz can influence the reactions of what you will experience even with MDMA.


    I would guess it would only amplify the love of oneself (can E amplify feelings that aren't even there?)

    i've heard of drugs being used to enhance or trigger spiritual experiences, and that afterward you can have the experience without the drugs. the drugs possibly activate dormant areas of the brain, or maybe it's only a flashback or memory of the "spiritual" moments experienced under the influence of drugs?

    whichever, i think i would rather drop acid than take MDMA and go swimming in a tsunami of drug induced mindless emotions where i love everybody and their grandmothers and their grandmothers' dogs and the fleas on the dogs' backs. shouldn't real empathy have wisdom at its core?

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  18. Medusa said..
    I would guess it would only amplify the love of oneself (can E amplify feelings that aren't even there?)


    until you amplify them you might not know if they're there or not. also research has shown that the brain is more plastic than we realized, so maybe personalities aren't frozen but can evolve depending on our willingness to allow in new experiences? i suppose drugs can make us more willing. :)

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  19. Daniel Birdick said...
    I have not been fortunate to work under very many people who are worthy of my respect. I did however get to work under one manager who had a reputation for being smart, arrogant and conniving. He was always charming, although I never had a problem seeing thru that. ...I never liked him, but I did respect him.


    i worked for someone like that too. this person had a reputation for being two faced and a backstabber, and someone you couldn't trust to back you up. while it was true in many ways, what i think people really mistrusted was that she didn't have established allies or allegiance to any particular clique. she was a lone shark. you couldn't control or predict her by way of her allies. but she always performed her duties on time and played by the rules. that made my life easier, which is all i care about at work ha.

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  20. Working with imbeciles was truly galling.

    lol. i'm learning to accept that this is how it is.

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  21. "It worked too, because he has since been promoted to a position which puts him line for the presidency of the company. I never liked him, but I did respect him."

    You got that right DB. Respect is very important to these people because it represents your admiration for them and it confirms to them they are right on target. They don't even care if you like them or not. Not always a bad way to approach a business environment as long as someone like myself has a good grip on working with someone like that and the pay was great.

    As far as the drugs go..I wonder if a sociopath, one who is relatively happy and is aware of his/her behaviors, would even care to experience empathy. I think they see empaths as week and overactive. Would you guys be interested?

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  22. anonymous, if there was a drug that would let you experience sociopathy, would you take it?

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  23. I know you're not asking me, but I MOST DEFINITELY WOULD.

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  24. That was me Zoe, Grace

    Forgot to note my name.

    If it took more than tokin on a joint..no way. Not me. Plus what if I got stuck like that?..lol I can just pretend to be a sociopath...that's easier than a sociopath pretending to be an empath. Not sure on that one tho..sounds good anyway.

    Grace

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  25. lol I can just pretend to be a sociopath...that's easier than a sociopath pretending to be an empath.

    Hah. I REALLY doubt that.

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  26. it just sounded good...I woundn't care to anyway.

    Grace

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  27. I can just pretend to be a sociopath...that's easier than a sociopath pretending to be an empath.

    Grace, it depends on who the audience for this pretense is. Although I am not pathological, I do believe that it would be impossible to believably pretend to be empathic to myself. (See M.E.’s post on 6/10/10 for a clear understanding of my own relationship to empathy.) Of course I can pretend to others. I do that all the time. Why would someone pretend (lie) to themselves about something like this? Confusion. Angst. Ignorance. Take your pick.

    As for the article… does this mean that there is something right about sociopaths, or that there is something wrong about business?

    Neither. Sociopaths, normiopaths, business, etc. It’s all value neutral as far as I’m concerned. The only reason business might be a good fit for people with little conscience is because corporations are themselves purposefully designed to be without a pro-social agenda. Corporations are created to make money. Period. Ergo (don’t you just love that word?), corporations self select those who are likely to help fulfill its pro-profit agenda, sociopath and normiopath alike. That's the beauty of it. The company does not care if you have a conscience or not, only that you can put your morality aside to make a profit, if that is called for.

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. I am relieved to find a thread on this subject, since I have been looking for a discussion like this for a while. I would consider myself to be a sociopath, as would my psychologist, and have recently tried mdma. It was probably the best experience in my entire life. I felt emotions that I could have never even fathomed, and prayed that I could change who I was when the drug wore off since now I could understand what most people think like. Sadly this was not the case, and I went back to being myself, although I still use mdma frequently. I am really curious if there is anyone else like me in these forums who have tried it? Keep in mind that I have always wanted to change how I am, and maybe that contributed to how the mdma affected me.

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  30. Hello everyone! I am a sociopath. I really dont like people, boy howdy. Lets all go kill someone. It's fun, and easy too! I get away with it all the time. But, sometimes people get suspicious like when I crack up during the Texas Chainsaw Masacre, but I just tell them I am a Republican and they say somthing like "Oh, that explains it." Oh, BTW, about that MDMA challenge: I would like to try it because, well, who knows, maybe I'd like it. So um, please send me some. You can email it to RUSHFORPREZ@hotmail.com! Thanks a bunch. Although I don't realy mean it...

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  31. The most fun thing about having worked for sociopaths was my talent for being able to get them fired. I have gained more respect among my coworkers because of the undetectable way I find out enough information about them and by the time they figured out what was happening, they were already in their bosses' office receiving their pink slip. If you have a horrible boss, then you should get me a job with your company as your coworker. To all of the sociopaths who brag on here about your management styles, live in fear of people like me. Maybe I should publish a book.

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