How can you tell if your boss is a psychopath?
September 21, 2001 1:48 AM   Subscribe

How can you tell if your boss is a psychopath? "They have traits similar to ideal leaders. You would expect an ideal leader to be narcissistic, self-centred, dominant, very assertive, maybe to the point of being aggressive. Those things can easily be mistaken for the aggression and bullying that a psychopath would demonstrate. The ability to get people to follow you is a leadership trait, but being charismatic to the point of manipulating people is a psychopathic trait. They can sometimes be confused." (via null device)
posted by skallas (16 comments total)
Yeah, an old system used for classifying presidents puts them into a matrix of active/passive and positive/negative. Turns out Nixon and Lincoln were both active-negative. I'll see if I can find a link...
(But more importantly, why would one want to classify presidents?)
posted by j.edwards at 1:51 AM on September 21, 2001

Anyone else wonder why the first half of the article pushes all the buttons the second half warns against, and why all pyschopaths are, apparently, male?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:39 AM on September 21, 2001

Great link, Skallas.
I've been looking for a free online version of this test for years. Anyone know where to get one?
Andrew: Brave of you to bring it up. Although there a few female psychopaths(and terrorists)the ratio must be about 50 to 1 - wild guess.
Women must have their own brand of sociopathy(the DSM-IV agreed term for the outmoded psychopathy is "antisocial personality disorder")but I bet it's more sophisticated, less translatable into violent action and not as narcissistic.
It's time we faced up to the fact that women, because they are more intelligent and less insecure and more civilized than men, are just...superior.

Look at the statistics for violent crimes. Women may be just as cruel - they are human like us, after all - but they find alternative(some would say more effective)ways of expressing it.

Good on you!

(Hangs head in shame)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:26 AM on September 21, 2001

Women are not superior to men. They are not more intelligent. They are not more civilized.

Men are not superior to women. They are not more intelligent. They are not more civilized.

They are just different.
posted by Irontom at 5:32 AM on September 21, 2001

"Anyone wonder...why all pyschopaths are, apparently, male?" andrew cooke

"When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking." -- Elaine Boosler
posted by Carol Anne at 5:34 AM on September 21, 2001

Women less insecure than men? More intelligent? More moral? Er, wouldn't take that to the bank without large amounts of research to back it up. I've heard that women tend to direct their anger within, men without as a general tendency. I suppose we would have to know, however, why people become psychopaths. Rational strategy? Genetics? The article implies it isn't just upbringing.

(Though I have heard that sociopaths number 10% of the population, a figure that sounds rather astounding.)
posted by Charmian at 6:25 AM on September 21, 2001

Ha ha... an ex-boss of mine suffered from severed Narcissistic Personality disorder. Working there was soooo bad...

Here's the info:

Diagnosis: A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. requires excessive admiration
  5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
She had all nine points... it made working there *very* difficult.
posted by misanthropy at 8:39 AM on September 21, 2001

Jeez louise, I got like *five* of them above me in the food chain. When they get mental, I go into "butler mode" - very calm, yes sir, no ma'am, and anything that has gone to shit is my fault, no excuse, many apologies, whatever needs to be done to fix it will be done immediately. It takes to fire out of them, and protects the people I rely on from having to get continuously reamed but nutjobs.

Welcome to middle management, marketing-commo department :)
posted by UncleFes at 9:30 AM on September 21, 2001

I can see why the real definition of psychopath hasn't caught on. I think it goes too much against the grain of the religious strains in our culture (people beyond rehabilitation, unreachable, thus unredeemable.)

Re: the article, and the letters that Hare gets. So what do people do if their kid is a psychopath/has antisocial personality disorder? What do people do when they have sociopathic relatives?

And the DSPD project does sound very, very dangerous indeed. People locked up on the basis of a test?

Also, the article doesn't appear to imply that psychopaths are male. In the hypothetical statements, it's implied that some are female, and Hare gives advice about the portrayal of a female psychopath. It may be that more female psychopaths are subclinical.

Also note that according to Hare's own site, the PCL-R has only been fully validated with adult male "forensic" (in custody) subjects.
posted by Charmian at 9:31 AM on September 21, 2001

I'm going to kill each and every one of you.
posted by Skot at 9:36 AM on September 21, 2001

Women are not superior to men.

Of course we are! We have breasts.
posted by lia at 10:26 AM on September 21, 2001

many people beleive women would make the best crew for a long range interplanetary mission (mars). Not a female contingent within the crew, a female crew.
"all-woman groups are far more likely to choose non-confrontational approaches to solve interpersonal problems,"
However, the men have other ideas.
posted by asok at 10:48 AM on September 21, 2001

all-woman groups are far more likely to choose non-confrontational approaches to solve interpersonal problems,"

Heh, like teasing someone until they get an eating disorder (Elaine Benes, ca. 1998).

I work in an office that's 95% women, and the hissing and claw-sharpening has gotten so loud at times that I have had to turn up the radio. Don't ever kid yourself that women are not as capable as men, or even more so, in the role of shit-disturber.
posted by UncleFes at 11:09 AM on September 21, 2001

Narcisstic personality disorders. This site has a lot of stuff on it. Somewhat disorganized. Rather, actually extremely depressing, especially the view of narcisstic personality disorder and its treatment.
posted by Charmian at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2001

Not to be too self-promoting, but I linked this very article two threads ago, in the first post of my "Big Brother 2" post (which was a big hit!). Skallas, you link thief! :)
posted by hincandenza at 12:31 PM on September 21, 2001

hin, I was just following orders. The Null Device made me do it. Well, not really. That's where I first saw it.
posted by skallas at 2:21 PM on September 21, 2001

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