This explains everything!
August 29, 2002 5:35 PM   Subscribe

This explains everything! Mystified by the recent flurry of corporate meltdowns? Do you find yourself thinking: "Are those CEOs CRAZY?" Well maybe they are!
posted by BGM (14 comments total)
"These are callous, cold-blooded individuals. They don't care that you have thoughts and feelings. They have no sense of guilt and remorse."

sounds like every ex- Ive had.. and he says its only %1 of the population.
posted by stbalbach at 5:38 PM on August 29, 2002

uh-oh... they're on to me, hmmm, what other professionals can a psychopath hide-out in? oh yeah, medicine and law enforcement.
posted by jkaczor at 5:53 PM on August 29, 2002

So the government is going to be dictating to corporations who they can and cannot promote to positions of importance? Uhh...
posted by ac at 6:01 PM on August 29, 2002

But the arrogant, manipulative behaviour of psychopaths often makes them prime candidates for promotion within large corporations built on ruthless competition. As well, psychopaths have been known to excel as politicians and lawyers, Dr. Hare said, drawing loud laughter from the crowd.

i find this depressing. Accurate, but depressing.

On an unrelated note, if we remove the psychopaths from big business, where will we get our Evil Geniuses from?
posted by quin at 6:11 PM on August 29, 2002

Keep in mind this is a Canadian researcher, so clearly this would only affect companies whose stocks are valued in pelts.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:16 PM on August 29, 2002

Why does this make me think about the shrub?
posted by gordian knot at 6:19 PM on August 29, 2002

Not just a Canadian researcher, but a Newfoundland one at that.
posted by loukas_c at 7:03 PM on August 29, 2002

hey, what better place to study psychopathic behaviour than Newfoundland...

(yai'd beeettter watch oooot bay, he's not had his brew yet, ah'll betchya he goes psycho, eh?)
posted by jkaczor at 8:22 PM on August 29, 2002

ac: So the government is going to be dictating to corporations who they can and cannot promote to positions of importance? Uhh...

Jeezus, I think you'd better head over to the schizophrenia thread and take your medicine- you're hearing voices! Nowhere in the article does it mention or even suggest "the government is going to be dictating... who they can and cannot promote...". Rather, Dr. Hare only said that corporations ought to consider screening for psychopathic personality traits before handing over the reins to a multi-million or multi-billion dollar company. What kind of silly straw man argument were you trying to create with that little bit of rhetorical sleight-of-hand? I mean, unless your true argument is "We need more psychopaths in business, and don't let the dad-blasted gub'mint get in the way of THAT!", I can't see how you find fault with the idea that corporations should also screen their executives for possible red flags that suggest psychopathic personality traits.

I'd read a book of Dr. Hare's last year, "Without Conscience", and it made perfect sense. You do meet people who have varying shades of psychopathic thinking. It's not all just Hollywood films where some evil genius delights in insane torture; sure, sometimes it's two-bit violent criminals, people who get disproportionately angry over the littlest slight (beating another driver when they get cut off, or assaulting someone for "looking at them funny"). Sometimes it's a woman who travels state to state, marrying gullible men and taking their life savings before moving on. And sometimes, it's really just a dude who will gladly steal $100 million while defrauding a company straight into the ground, and never lose a wink of sleep over it- always able to look straight into your eye or the teevee camera and say "I'm innocent, I did nothing wrong." Not so much because they are great liars, but because they truly and completely believe it- they're like bratty children in grown-up bodies, the reality inside their head shifts and changes from moment to moment. Dr. Hare describes convicts who can get mouth-foamingly angry one minute, then placidly calm the next- sounding as normal and rational as the next person. They could threaten their lawyer with death, and then 5 minutes later be talking to them perfectly calmly, as if they hadn't just terrified the crap out of the person, as if no one will notice or remember their anger just a moment ago, as if it never existed. The portrait he paints based on profiles of criminals is both chilling as well as simply unfathomable.

Apparently, the idea crops up among some that psychopaths might be useful, in part because of their irrational lack of fear, and in war time situations that has been tried. Rather than being fearless heroes, they often were dangerously unpredictable and unreliable. So the idea that psychopaths might make good CEOs for their ruthlessness falls apart when exposed to previous attempts as well as recent history.

gordian knot: Why does this make me think about the shrub?
I made that observation early last year; comments like the ones he made about Karla Faye Tucker, among many other more generically political statements, reflect what to me appears to be an unreal inability to empathize. Maybe he's just a spoiled prince, or maybe he's a borderline psychopath. Granted, the Freeper fuckwits have proclaimed "Bubba" and "Hitlery" to be psychopaths, so I guess pop diagnosis of political leaders is fraught with the perils of subjectivity. :)
posted by hincandenza at 10:57 PM on August 29, 2002

Oops, I figured the people granting themselves huge salaries were narcissists ... thanks for setting me straight.
posted by sheauga at 11:35 PM on August 29, 2002

Narcissists. Excellent article. In particular read the interesting story of Society Diva Jocelyne Wildenstein
posted by stbalbach at 6:00 AM on August 30, 2002

hincandeza: OK, I'm a moron. Apologies.
posted by ac at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2002

Arianna Huffington did a column on this theme earlier this month:
'One Flew Over The CEOs' Nest'
posted by Owen Boswarva at 1:15 PM on August 30, 2002

I think presidential candidates should also be screened for psychopathic behaviour. At the next presidential debate I'd like to see one of the moderators hold up an ink blot, ring a bell, and see if any of the candidates start salivating.
posted by obedo at 9:43 PM on August 31, 2002

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