Is your boss a psychopath? Seriously, it can happen. Research conducted by British psychologist Belinda Bored in 2005 shows that 1 in 200 people in the UK have psychopathic tendencies. Statistics also show that nearly 1 in 100 US citizens have psychopathic tendencies as well; that’s 8 million people! So whats the difference between these two country’s psychos? Apparently, the American ones are more extroverted, LOL.
Anyways, these results sound alarming, surely there’s not murders and crazy people walking the street; but that’s the thing about this personality disorder, you don’t have to be a crazy or evil to be a psychopath. When most people hear the term ‘psychopath’ they think of a killer, or someone horrible; psychopaths are not crazy, they know right from wrong; however, they are capable of irrational and unexpected behaviour.
It’s easy to understand how widespread this mental illness is when you realize that it is determined by a number of traits which we all have, with psychopaths these traits are just found in a greater degree. These people usually struggle at interpersonal relationships, emotion, and self-control; they also gain satisfaction through anti-social behaviour; they rarely experience shame, guilt or remorse for their actions.
As a personality disorder, basic traits that psychopaths have are characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy and the tendency for strong amoral conduct while having the ability to appear outwardly normal. Most psychopaths suffer from a number of personality disorders to various degrees, which include being:
Antisocial behaviour is something that many of the locked up psychopaths share, but there is something different about the general population who share the same psychopathic tendencies, they are able to adjust to social situations.
This breed of people (1/200 UKians, and 1/100 USAers) are now dubbed ‘corporate/successful psychopaths’ and believe me, they excel in their field.
Belinda Bored surveyed a tight group of control subjects; incarcerated criminals, mental patients, and business executives, what she found was a high degree of psychopathic traits in the UK’s top-ranking business executives. Research shows that these ‘successful/corporate psychopaths’ who showed a high amount of narcissistic and compulsive behaviour are not only a corporate success, but they gain high-up positions within their organization such as VPs or CEOs.
These people are captains of their industry and they are also known as ‘industrial psychopaths.’ It’s believed that they gain their positions in the corporate world due to their lack of empathy and tendency to make a likable first impression. They have a superficial charm about them, as well as a willingness to say anything without concern for accuracy or truth. They aren’t afraid to step over people to get a job or what they want.
“Psychopaths use charisma, manipulation, intimidation, sexual intercourse and violence to control others and to satisfy their own needs … Lacking in conscience and empathy, they take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without guilt or remorse … What is missing, in other words, are the very qualities that allow a human being to live in social harmony.” Researcher Robert Hare (creator of the widely used Hare Psychopathy Checklist)
This only justifies the thought that the combination of intelligence, appearance, and lack of conscience makes a deadly combination, and a great corporate boss.
So when it comes to psychopathy, scientists don’t know how it happens. They know there is no cure, and determining if it is nature or nurture is comparable to the chicken vs the egg debate. Psychopaths come from all walks of life, there are as many of them who come from diverse and sad upbringings, as there are from loving and happy families.
“Clinicians generally believe that there is neither a cure nor any effective treatment for psychopathy; there are no medications that can instill empathy, while psychopaths who undergo traditional talk therapy only become more adept at manipulating others.” Christopher J. Patrick in his Handbook of Psychopathy,
So maybe it’s not just your boss who’s a psycho. Take the personality disorder test: