SNAKES IN SUITS PDF
Nice Suit. Would a Snake Wear Such a Nice Suit? 5. 2. Who Are These People? This book Sna Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. SNAKES IN SUITS When Psychopaths Go to Work Paul Babiak, Ph.D., and Robert D. Hare, Ph.D. In memory of Cheryl, and P Paul Babiak, Ph.D., and Robert D. Hare, Ph.D. First, some core psychopathic personality traits—we might call them talents—may seem attractive in job. Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. — Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare. Selected excerpts: Psychopaths are without conscience and incapable of.
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Snakes in Suits: book summary and review. Also available in PDF. Snakes and Suits has a refreshing viewpoint on psychopaths within business environments rather than the majority of research on psychopaths within prison. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Psychopaths are described as incapable of Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work - Kindle edition by Paul Babiak, Robert D. Hare. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC.
Snakes in Suits Key Idea 3: Psychopaths can wear suits and ties. Just like any other predator, a psychopath also knows where to find his victims. Favorite targets include affinity groups like charities or religions, because such groups are built on mutual trust, which is easy to take advantage of.
Consider the example of conman Bryan Richards, who became a prominent member of a small-town religious community by claiming he was a Christian.
Big companies are also attractive targets for psychopaths because their employees need to trust each other, and the corporate world often offers handsome rewards like money, power and prestige. However, the organizational controls in big businesses make it difficult for psychopaths to thrive. This is where corporate psychopaths come in. As you can imagine, employing corporate psychopaths can ruin companies.
Their abusive behavior increases employee churn, as motivated, talented employees leave. So how do corporate psychopaths weasel their way into companies? The answer is simple: through lies and charm. As pathological liars, psychopaths can easily make up impressive resumes and concoct stories of their prior experiences to suit the role at hand. Since interviewing and selecting candidates is always a subjective process, psychopaths can also greatly benefit from their ability to charm interviewers.
Snakes in Suits Key Idea 4: Are you valuable to a psychopath? Once psychopaths have entered an organization, they start assessing the utility of everyone there. This is made easier by the fact that new employees are actually expected to actively seek out and meet everyone in the company in their first months.
Psychopaths can thus easily assess the utility of coworkers, bosses and support staff, and then charm the relevant ones. The difference is that psychopaths have no intent of ever delivering any actual work. When meeting their new colleagues, a psychopaths is primarily interested in identifying and bonding with pawns that can provide him with useful resources: money, information, expertise, influence, and so forth.
A corporate psychopath can, for example, deliberately build a bond with technically proficient coworkers with the goal of manipulating them to do his own work. Psychopaths often target people who have informal power in an organization, meaning those who are well-liked and whose opinions are valued. In one example, a psychopath bonded with a secretary just to hear gossip circulating around the company and also to spread glowing rumors about himself.
Through their charm, charisma and ability to change their personality, psychopaths convince pawns that they are their trusted companions.
Often, the pawns become so enamored and loyal that they refuse to believe anyone who speaks ill of the psychopath. In addition to pawns, psychopaths also look for patrons. Eventually, the psychopath is likely to depose the patron, who has expended his or her organizational influence to promote and protect the psychopath. Thus the patron becomes a patsy. Snakes in Suits Key Idea 5: The organizational environment also hinders the psychopath.
In addition to pawns and patrons, psychopaths also put people in companies into other categories. If a psychopath sees that an employee has no utility to offer, that person is deemed a low-utility observer, and ignored.
Companies typically also have some form of organizational police in departments like Human Resources or Security. Unfortunately, they often lack the necessary management support to take action, especially as psychopaths often have supporters in upper-management positions. The shared work environment makes the sudden shunning and abandonment all the more obvious. Snakes in Suits Key Idea 6: Psychopaths should be stopped at the gates. How can organizations protect themselves when psychopaths come charging at their gates?
Naturally, the best defense is to never let them in at all, so the interviewers who make hiring decisions have a great responsibility. Unfortunately, discerning impostors from promising candidates is not easy: psychopaths are pathological liars, have no social inhibitions or fears, and are experts at reading people, making them very impressive or even downright dazzling in interviews.
Luckily, there are ways that interviewers can avoid being taken in by a psychopath. First of all, make a plan of the topics you want to cover in the interview and stick to it. Psychopaths are experts at avoiding inconvenient questions and changing the topic to something more beneficial to them. But even psychopaths who have jobs like to mooch off others in overt and covert ways; they take from coworkers and employers alike.
Psychopaths lack empathy and possibly even the most basic understanding of human feelings. Also, they seem unable to construct an accurate emotional facsimile of others, wrongly concluding that the emotional life of everyone else is as shallow and barren as their own. People do not exist in their mental world except as objects, targets, and obstacles.
Psychopaths also lack feelings of remorse and guilt, part of the internal moral sense that prevents the rest of us from acting out some of the fantasies we occasionally have about using, manipulating, or hurting others. Some might suggest that psychopaths are such effective predators because they are not plagued by doubts and concerns raised by a conscience. In addition to their parasitic nature and lack of empathy, there is evidence that psychopaths need considerable novel stimulation to keep from becoming bored.
This need, which recent research suggests may be rooted in their brain physiology, often leads them to search for new and exciting opportunities and to move casually from relationship to relationship.
Psychopaths search for easier routes to the same ends. Psychopathy is characterized by casual sexual relationships that are devoid of genuine, long-term emotional and personal attachments to partners. Frequent liaisons, the use of sex as a weapon, and the callous treatment of intimates are common features of psychopathic individuals, both male and female.
Recent theory and research in evolutionary psychology suggests that there are genetic reasons for such attitudes and behaviors. The psychopathic pattern appears to be quite different, but equally or even more successful: This pattern involves the use of a persistent and callous pattern of deception and manipulation to attract potential mates, a readiness to abandon them and their offspring, and the need to move on to fresh mating grounds.
Psychopaths have a great sense of superiority and entitlement, and think nothing of helping themselves to property that belongs to others. Their grandiose sense of self-importance leads them to believe that other people exist just to take care of them. Because they see most people as weak, inferior, and easy to deceive, psychopathic con artists will often tell you that their victims deserved what they got. Sometimes their sense of superiority is so great that they will say that they are conferring a gift by letting their victims support them.
This is obvious in the many cases of cult leaders who are charlatans or outright psychopaths, but can be seen in more subtle cases as well. This is the beginning of the manipulation phase. Perhaps one of the most effective skills psychopaths use to get the trust of people is their ability to charm them. A psychopath can appear strong, naive, dominant, honest, submissive, trustworthy, worldly, or whatever he or she believes will get others to respond positively to manipulative overtures.
For example, they might foster impressions of a suffering artist, a misunderstood spouse, a successful businessperson, a celebrity, a member of a respected profession, or a person with connections to the rich, famous, or infamous.
Although many of his victims wondered about his French accent, they succumbed to his charming ways, and were bilked of large sums of money after investing in a variety of his get-rich schemes. Once arrested, Ortuno posted bail and promptly disappeared, only to reappear in Vancouver as Christopher Rocancourt, a Formula One racing driver. He was arrested but still managed to appear on 60 Minutes, claiming that he never stole, only borrowed.
In Vancouver, he was sentenced to time in custody and extradited to the United States. Authorities in several countries wish to question him about a variety of unsolved crimes, including fraud, smuggling, bribery, and perjury.
Psychopaths do naturally what some politicians, salesmen, and promoters have to work hard to achieve: While lack of empathy and guilt allows psychopaths to identify their victims in the assessment phase, these traits also help them to con and manipulate shamelessly during the manipulation phase. One might think that a long series of lies would eventually become transparent, leading to unmasking the psychopath, but this is rarely the case. Their often theatrical, yet convincing stories and entertaining explanations reinforce an environment of trust, acceptance, and genuine delight, leading most people to accept them exactly as whom they appear to be—and almost unconsciously excuse any inconsistencies they might have noted.
If challenged or caught in a lie, psychopaths are not embarrassed. They simply change or elaborate on the story line to weave together all the misarranged details into a believable fabric. Some psychopaths are so good at this that they can create a veritable Shangri-la view of their world in the minds of others; a view that they almost seem to believe themselves.
Surprisingly, psychopaths will lie even to people who already know the truth about what they are saying. Amazingly, more often than not, victims will eventually come to doubt their own knowledge of the truth and change their own views to believe what the psychopath tells them rather than what they know to be true.
Such is the power of psychopathic manipulation. It is not clear whether psychopaths lie because it is an effective tactic to get what they want, or the act of lying is pleasurable, or both.
It could be that psychopaths fail to learn the importance of honesty in their youth, and learn, instead, the utility of lying to get what they want from others. In the typical child, lying and distortion lessen with age, while psychopaths just get better at them.
The difference between psychopathic lies and those told by others is that the latter typically are less callous, calculated, damaging, and destructive to others. They also are far less pervasive than psychopathic lies. For example, poker players, men trying to talk a woman into having sex, adolescents working their parents over to obtain permission to go to a party, a businessmen trying to close a deal, and a politician trying to get elected or to explain his actions may use a variety of lies to attain their goals.
They have an impressive supply of excuses for why they are not to blame for anything that they have said or done to hurt someone else. They do this by positioning their blame of others as a display of loyalty to the listener. That is, psychopaths appear to be helping or protecting the individual from harm by passing the blame onto a third party. Blaming the system, the company, or society as a whole for their own behavior is also a common response.
In many organizations, coworkers can always be found who distrust the company or are angry about something that happened to them. Psychopaths can use these genuine feelings to generate support for their own position.
Even if those with a psychopathic personality admit to involvement in a crime, they will minimize their role, as well as the negative impact on the victims. Psychopaths may even blame the victims for their own misfortune, offering convincing reasons why they got what they deserved!
As it does in the assessment phase, lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse plays an important role during the manipulation phase—by facilitating behavior that is callous and insensitive to the rights and feeling of others.
This can lead to the psychological and physical abuse of family, friends, and innocent strangers.
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Later we will discuss in detail the impact of psychopathic abuse on the victim. The level and intensity of psychopathic intimidation often keeps those who have been abused from coming forward. In psychopathic crimes, abuse can extend far beyond property damage or assault, sometimes intensifying into sadistic attacks on victims.
In one such incident, a newspaper reported that an eighty-year-old woman had lost her life savings in a venture promoted by a middle-aged woman who had offered to care for her. Following the report, another scamster, posing as a lawyer who specialized in helping victims of fraud, convinced the devastated woman he could get her money back.
You know the rest. Abandonment is most often abrupt—the psychopath just disappears one day—and it can occur without the current victim even realizing the psychopath has been looking for someone new to use. In crimes such as identity theft, credit card fraud, and construction swindles, the psychopath effectively disappears, typically reappearing with a new identity in another geographic location.
Most people feel at least a twinge of guilt or regret, and will want to apologize if they have hurt someone. In part, this is because the past and future are less important to them than is the present. It also makes it easy for psychopaths to view others as objects or pawns to be moved around at will. As a consequence, people have value only for what they can provide.
Once used, they are discarded. To be able to abandon people in such a callous and harmful manner one must be immune to the feelings of those one hurts. Psychopaths can easily do this because their emotional and social attachments to others are poorly developed; weak at best. Consider these words by Jack Abbott, a psychopathic killer who was championed by Norman Mailer and released from prison, only to kill again: I can imagine I feel these emotions know, therefore, what they are , but I do not.
He gave her the following scene: A young child has been struck by a car and is lying in a pool of blood. After a few minutes of careful scrutiny, you walk back to your apartment, go into the bathroom, stand in front of the mirror, and practice mimicking the facial expressions and body language of the mother. The results of this research are consistent with the clinical view that psychopaths do not respond to emotional situations and material in the way that the rest of us do.
In several functional magnetic resonance imaging f MRI brain imaging studies, Hare and his associates found that emotional words and unpleasant pictures did not produce in psychopaths the increases in the activity of brain limbic regions normally associated with the processing of emotional material. Instead, activation occurred in regions of the brain involved in the understanding and production of language, as if the psychopaths analyzed the material in linguistic terms.
Think of Spock in Star Trek. His response is a cognitive or intellectual appraisal of the situation, without the visceral reactions and emotional coloring that others normally experience. This hollow core serves them well, though, by making them effective human predators. Not only are psychopaths unconcerned about the impact of their own behavior on others—or of possible retribution—they more often than not will blame their victim if they are caught or charged with a crime.
In fact, it is not uncommon for criminal psychopaths to state that they are suffering more in prison than their victims did during the original crime— and they the psychopaths deserve some sympathy or special treatment. Unfortunately, many co-opt socially supportive belief systems—typically religious beliefs of every kind—declaring that they have found God, repented their sins, and are ready to reenter society. Thinking that he perhaps had offended her, Hare began to explain his comments.
The prosecutor interrupted by saying that she was in agreement with what he had said, and that she had heard the same hollow line from many repentant offenders. As described by her, the scenario typically went like this: Typically, though, while we may seem irresponsible in one part of our life, we may be very responsible in others, unlike the psychopath, who is chronically irresponsible in all aspects of life. First, psychopaths have many short-term relationships over the course of their lives, a direct result of the Assessment-Manipulation-Abandonment process.
This results in a series of traditional and common-law marriages, short-term live-in relationships, and so forth.
They often leave behind a trail of jilted lovers, possibly abused ex-spouses, and unsupported children. Many avoid prison by taking part in court-mandated treatment programs that do them or their partners no good. Second, psychopaths typically do not have practicable long-term career or life goals. Even psychopaths who choose a criminal career lack clear goals and objectives, getting involved in a wide variety of opportunistic offenses, rather than specializing the way typical career criminals do.
That their predatory lifestyle may bother their friends, family, or even fellow criminals is of little importance to them. Depending on the situational demands, though, they can spout or make up what seem like reasonable, attainable goals in order to impress or manipulate others. He had overslept and was running late. Normally in and at his desk before Frank arrived, Dave swore to himself and headed for the visitor lot where he knew there would be openings available.
He knew Dorothy from her reputation as the hotshot marketing associate. Todd, from site security, was making his rounds. Dave gave him a mean look, closed his car door, and started to walk toward the building entrance. Today, she had walked this route four times and was beginning to wonder if Dave was coming in or not. Dave looked up. Grabbing his notebook, he headed for the cafeteria for coffee. How was your weekend? On the way to the cafeteria, Dave always made it a point to stop by every desk.
In his brief three months, he had met and introduced himself to almost every employee. He had his lists. There were the losers, of course. Guess I met another loser this morning, he thought, chuckling.
But Dave also knew who the winners were, and the wannabes, of course—there were several of them in this fastgrowing company. Nice, he thought, smiling. The group that had formed on the lawn collectively gasped as Ted, their neighbor, was led away in handcuffs by the police. She glanced at the neighbors who looked away out of respect and embarrassment. Ted was chairperson of the block association that helped to protect the residents from burglars and their children from predators.
His wife baked cakes to raise money for the building fund and was just a delightful person. No one could fathom what this was all about. Apparently he was able to hide everything from them. Psychopaths, Psychopaths Everywhere? Andrew Cunanan, a restaurant employee in San Diego, had moved to Miami and was trying to enter the social scene when he allegedly met famous designer Gianni Versace at a party.
While accounts suggest that Mr. Versace might have snubbed him, this is unlikely, given the gracious, social nature of Versace. For reasons that have never been fully explained, Cunanan, who had already brutally murdered two alleged lovers in San Diego, was able to elude authorities by moving to Miami, despite an arrest warrant, newspaper coverage, and a manhunt.
In Miami, he approached Versace, who was returning home after a morning walk, and fatally shot him at point-blank range. Cunanan was discovered hiding out in a houseboat less than three miles from the murder scene. On a recent Oprah Winfrey program discussing a book entitled Blood Brother: Peterson was able to present the convincing face of a concerned husband, even participating in the search for his missing pregnant wife, all the while planning a future with his unsuspecting girlfriend.
In home movies, he came across as a normal, fun-loving husband and soon-to-be father. The real Scott Peterson, though, can be appreciated by anyone who watched his television interview or listened to the taped phone conversations his girlfriend made once she discovered that he was married and that his wife was mysteriously missing.
Is it ever possible to discern the potential for cold-blooded violence before it is too late? As far as we know, neither Andrew Cunanan nor Scott Peterson exhibited any murderous tendencies early on. Perhaps with more information about their personality and interactions with others over the years, their crimes might become less inexplicable.
The problem is that without prolonged and perceptive interactions with these individuals, we typically are not sure what this character is, particularly when it is obscured by a charming physically and socially attractive exterior. Where Was the Emotional Connection? Many trial watchers came to see Scott Peterson as a manipulative, charming, pathological liar with a grandiose sense of self and an inability to empathize.
Reid Meloy said. Peterson seemed in utter denial as he talked about getting out of prison and leading a quiet, simple life somewhere, she said. He actually seemed excited about it. This is your life.
After arriving at 4 A. Psychopaths are very effective at masking their true selves from those they wish to manipulate and con. Individuals who are ignored can therefore be in a good position to watch psychopathic individuals manipulate others. With the knowledge of how it is done, they may be able to get glimpses behind the mask. They may not all have textbook learning about personality theory, but they have an intuitive feel that they put to good Psychopathic Manipulation 69 use.
They use their knowledge of personality to control your view of them and ultimately to control you. To recognize how psychopaths control the opinions others have of them, it is important to understand the differences among three points of view. And, third, there is the attributed personality or reputation—the view, based on what we say and do, that others form of our personality.
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Our private or inner personality is complex and made up of our thoughts, attitudes, perceptions, judgments, drives, needs, preferences, values, and emotions.
Our private self also includes the products of our imagination, including fantasies, hopes, and ambitions, all of which are idealized visions of who we are and who we want to be. In many people, the private self consists of positive traits and characteristics, and we believe that these positive self-perceptions represent who we are. We want others to appreciate these traits, and we can get very upset if someone suggests they are not true.
For example, if you believe that you are a loyal, compassionate person, then you would be concerned by anything someone said about you that suggested otherwise. While we may try to improve some of these characteristics, we would just prefer to ignore some others altogether. These unpleasant or darker traits include harmful things we do to people, illicit or violent thoughts and fantasies we have, and our general insecurity, greed, and illusions about ourselves and our place in the world.
Well-developed and researched psychological tests can help shed some light on our hidden traits. This brings us to the third view of personality; how others view and describe us. This is the reputation others assign to us based on what they see, hear, and experience when interacting with us.
To summarize our model of personality so far: We have a private self made up of positive traits we value and want others to appreciate, and a collection of negative traits and characteristics we prefer to keep to ourselves. When we interact with others, we present a carefully crafted persona or public self comprised of a selection of traits and characteristics from our private self that we want others to see. Occasionally, material from our private, dark side slips into the public view without our being aware; at other times, we may be aware of traits that slip through, and we feel embarrassed or guilty.
This may cause them to form an incorrect impression of our personality. For example, Caroline is a very attractive and intelligent thirty-year-old British woman.
Her father was a barrister and her mother a successful stage actress. Caroline went to several of the best schools but seldom stayed at any one of them for very long. She moved in fashionable circles, where she had many brief affairs. She is a delightful conversationalist, exuding an engaging charm and wit that keeps you captivated for hours.
Her description of her current circumstances and the events that led up to it has an almost romantic quality. Caroline likes the fast life and loves excitement. She later turned him in as part of a plea bargain when she was caught a second time. Although he lost his family, his job, and his reputation, she was unmoved: She had vague plans to become a stockbroker or a real estate agent.
Meanwhile, she was working on a scheme to be deported, in hopes that it will lead to a reduced sentence. Your reputation may not coincide with the public self you are trying to project, or the internal personality you personally experience. In an ideal world, all three views of the personality would line up. We would be happy with our private self, feel comfortable revealing it through our persona, and feel safe in the knowledge that those with whom we interact come to know us for who we truly are.
But the world is not such a perfect place and people are not perfect beings. Sales representatives, human resources staff, and other professionals who spend much time interacting with people become good at judging personality traits and characteristics. But to their credit, psychopaths have the deserved reputation of being good judges of the personalities of others—perhaps because they work hard at it—and have the uncanny ability to project the most effective persona, depending on the situation, to get what they want.
How do they do it? To psychopaths, your face, words, and body language are your autobiography, printed in large type. Let the Games Begin: While this assessment progresses, the psychopath begins to focus efforts on building a close, personal relationship on which later manipulations will rest. As noted above, one need not be rich and powerful to attract the attention of a psychopath on the make; almost everyone has some sort of utility for an enterprising psychopath.
As interaction with you proceeds, the psychopath carefully assesses your persona. Your persona gives the psychopath a picture of the traits and characteristics you value in yourself. Your persona may also reveal, to an astute observer, insecurities or weaknesses you wish to minimize or hide from view.
As an ardent student of human behavior, the psychopath will then gently test the inner strengths and needs that are part of your private self and eventually build a personal relationship with you by communicating through words and deeds four important messages. In other words, the psychopath positively reinforces your self-presentation, saying, in effect, I like who you are.
Unfortunately, many people we deal with in our personal and professional lives are so selfabsorbed and narcissistic that they rarely see our persona because of the preoccupation they have with their own. A friend of mine came in and we started talking, getting to know each other. Well, I started to get to know him better.
Because the more he told me about himself, the more leverage I had. The more I know about the guy, the more I know what buttons to push. So, I started pushing those buttons. He had a lot of unresolved issues from his childhood, so I tried to get to the root of the problem and started to get him to feel very angry, very hostile toward his family. So it started to become a plan. And plus that sense of control, power. I was the puppetmaster pulling the strings. We invest considerable mental energy in presenting our persona every time we interact with someone.
We rarely want to share parts of our private self with business associates and acquaintances; we reserve this for close friends and serious relationships.
Using this information, the psychopath crafts a simulated persona—a mask—that mirrors or complements these characteristics. Subtly, through clever banter, the psychopath begins to share bits of personal information, seemingly letting down his or her guard with us. Meeting someone who shares the same values, beliefs, and life experiences is not very common, so it is wonderful when it does occur.
It is easy to open up to someone like this, and soon we are sharing more and more of our inner thoughts and feelings. To our great pleasure, we want to believe that this person understands us at a much deeper level than anyone else we have met. Having parts of your private self understood and accepted by someone means you can relax, let down your guard, and begin to trust that this person is different—he or she may like you for who you really are, behind your own mask or persona.
Your secrets are safe with me. Giving Them What They Want Like many writers, John Steinbeck understood the ways in which psychopaths—in this case, a female—can use sex-role tools. Cathy learned when she was very young that sexuality with all its attendant yearnings and pains, jealousies and taboos, is the most disturbing impulse humans have.
And in that day it was even more disturbing than it is now, because the subject was unmentionable and unmentioned.
Everyone concealed that little hell in himself, while publicly pretending it did not exist—and when he was caught up in it he was completely helpless. Cathy learned that by manipulation and use of this one part of people she could gain and keep power over nearly anyone. It was at once a weapon and a threat. It was irresistible. And since the blind helplessness seems never to have fallen on Cathy, it is probable that she had very little of the impulse herself and indeed felt a contempt for those who did.
And when you think of it in one way, she was right. True friends, of course, share information—often intimate information—about themselves with each other. Relationships develop and mature as people share more and more of their private lives with their partners, including their inner desires, hopes, and dreams. This psychological bond capitalizes on your inner personality, holding out the promise of greater depth and possibly intimacy, and offering a relationship that is special, unique, equal—forever.
This is not easy to carry out, but the psychopath exerts notable effort communicating that he or she is exactly the person you have been looking for in a friend, partner, or new hire.
I am the perfect friend. Once this is accomplished, the psychopathic bond—your fate— is sealed. Later interactions merely reinforce the foundation formed during this early part of the manipulation process.
It was built on lies, carefully woven together to entrap you. It is a convenient fabrication. Second, these relationships are not based on informed choice. The psychopath chooses you and then moves in. While genuine relationships change over time—love may turn to hate, marriages end in divorce—the initial starting point was based on real data, as it was known at the time. People change over time, and sometimes grow apart. The psychopath, though, will not invest more than minimal energy in maintaining the relationship unless you can offer something really special, which is not usually the case.
Hence, when the relationship ends, you may be left wondering what just happened. This victimization goes far beyond trying to take advantage of someone on a date or during a simple business transaction.
Healthy, real relationships are built on mutual respect and trust; they are based on sharing honest thoughts and feeling. The mistaken belief that the psychopathic bond has any of these characteristics is the reason it is so successful. This bonding can take place very quickly, even during the space of one cross-country airplane ride.
There are two payoffs: We have reviewed many cases of individuals involved with psychopaths. Those who have been in long-term relationships with psychopaths often describe them as the supreme psychologist or mind reader. How to avoid being ensnared in this one-sided relationship will be discussed later. She liked what she read and smiled to herself. She had shown her boss that she could get all of her regular work done with time to spare to work on her own ideas. The sun had long set and the cleaning staff had all left the building.
She enjoyed her work and putting in long hours did not bother her. Engrossed in her thoughts, she had not noticed what time it was. On company time? The morning coffees had turned to the occasional lunch, and they had drinks together once after a company function. They shared stories about the company and laughed about some of the more colorful staff, but nothing out of the ordinary or inappropriate.
One hand washes the other, you know. He poured the money onto the table in the kitchen and the committee members began separating the bills and coins into piles for counting and depositing in the safe.
The normally talkative members of the collections committee always grew silent as they counted.
The totals, written on small notes, were collected and handed to the new church treasurer, who made the entries into the ledger. As the group rolled the coins into paper wrappers, the treasurer added up the numbers. This had been a rough month for the parish.
Many were shocked about what had happened, but all had come to the painful realization that they had been taken in by one of their own. Sam had been that person. He had joined the church nine months earlier and had become an active parishioner. He was bright, well liked, and, above all else, trusted. So much so that several members had invested their own money in some business deals he had going.
The early dividends were sizable—and had been for some time, judging by the high-quality clothes Sam wore, the luxury car he drove, and the big house he owned across town.
He would move into town, join a church or temple with a large congregation and several donation-funded community outreach programs, and then become increasingly active as a volunteer. Conversations would naturally turn toward how he made a living, and Sam would share his story. Some invested in the programs he managed, and after the dividends started coming in, many more followed.
His obvious skill at managing money made him a natural candidate for church treasurer. They had grown tired of no-interest savings accounts and high-interest loans eating away at their weekly intake from parishioners.
Financially, things could not get better. But then, one day, Sam disappeared. When the mortgage company called to say the last payment check had bounced, people grew concerned.
Discovery of the emptied bank account and safe-deposit box led them to call the local police. Few suspected that theirs was the fourth religious group he had targeted during the past three years.
Sam kept up on the progress the police were making—or not making—in tracking him down by reading the press coverage on the Internet. Sam smiled as he put on his tie, picked up his suit jacket, and headed out for Friday services.
When trying to manipulate several people simultaneously, particularly in a group of peers, there is the risk that someone will suspect the truth and raise doubts about their aims, possibly jeopardizing their plans. Some psychopaths, however, enjoy the challenge of running several different deceits concurrently while assuring that their victims never share information with other potential targets, or better yet, never even meet one another.
The sad fact is that few victims—coworkers, partners, and spouses—report them to the authorities or to their friends, for that matter because of the shame they feel for being conned. Psychopaths know and use this to their advantage. Administrators and staff in prisons and psychiatric hospitals are painfully aware of how psychopaths operate in groups. Given this knowledge, they effectively make use of the group dynamics and role expectations of the different players.
Once in the hospital, they manage to manipulate and control other patients. On Monday he preyed on his fellow man. As described by Douglas Todd and Rick Ouston in the Vancouver Sun, Bryan Richards, whose real name is Richard Bryan Minard, is a smooth-talking, woman-chasing, Net-scamming evangelist who blew into a small Canadian town with a convincing line that he was a Christian, just like the members of the unsuspecting group he had targeted.
His checks bounced. As long as the psychopath can accurately espouse these beliefs while in the presence of group members, the true motives are less likely to be discovered. Religious belief groups, open to new members joining their group from all lifestyles, readily assume that those who join them hold similar beliefs and values, and tend to focus on professed beliefs and values and to forgive past transgressions. These noble qualities, unfortunately, make them easier targets for manipulation by unscrupulous fraudsters.
Heaven on Earth? The phony evangelist portrayed by Burt Lancaster in the movie Elmer Gantry, would have thought he was in con paradise if he too could have delivered his pitch to millions of people at one time. All too often, the modern counterpart of this charismatic spiritual leader is a charlatan, a cynical manipulator capitalizing on an opportunity almost too good to be true: How else to explain the attraction of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the giggling s cult leader with scores of Rolls-Royce automobiles and hundreds of needy followers?
Indeed, informal observation of a number of such groups suggests that something like the one-third rule may apply. The interesting part is that when the scams, deceptions, and depredations are revealed, many of the initial opinions remain unchanged. Reid Meloy and M. Many reported feelings of general anxiety, being ill at ease, repulsion, fascination, and stimulation.
They described the psychopath as an intraspecies predator. Getting Down to Business Business organizations pose the next level of challenge for the psychopath. Although they can potentially present severe constraints to psychopaths wishing to misuse coworkers, managers, or the company itself, they do offer tremendous opportunity.
To start, business organizations have a fundamentally different reason for existence than other groups. Although it is not out of the question that some psychopaths work in a small neighborhood bakery, most tend to take on jobs in companies where they can take advantage of others, make a big killing, and hide as well. For example, the bakery might evolve into a major, national player in the baked goods industry. Initially, the owners may decide to open a second shop across town.
Reality, unfortunately, provides some support for this view, but the picture is somewhat more complex than this. Years of research on prison populations bear out the criminality and violence implied by the term psychopath.
We now know that both male and female psychopaths commit a greater number and variety of crimes than do other criminals. Their crimes tend to be more violent than those of other criminals, and their general behavior more controlling, aggressive, threatening, and abusive. On the other hand, much of the violence of other criminals tends to be reactive—a typical response to threats or situations that generate an intense emotional state.
This type of violence, which includes what is often described as a crime of passion, typically is followed by feelings of remorse and guilt for the harm done to others. Perhaps most dangerous of all from a public safety point of view, psychopathic criminals recidivate at a much higher rate, and do so much earlier, than do other criminals.
The recidivism rate refers to the percentage of offenders that commit a new crime subsequent to release into the community. Psychopaths make up about 15 percent of the prison population. Many of the remaining 85 percent of individuals in prison might be described as sociopaths or as having antisocial personality disorder, similar, but different disorders often confused with psychopathy see sidebar.
Although the prevalence of psychopathy in the general population is relatively small—only about 1 percent—the social, economic, physical, and psychological damage done by individuals with this disorder is far out of proportion to their numbers. They are responsible for at least half of the persistent serious and violent crimes committed in North America. Yet, as we shall see, not all psychopaths turn to a life of crime, and not all criminals are psychopaths.
Psychopathy, Sociopathy, and Antisocial Personality Disorder Many people are confused about the differences among psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorder. Although the terms frequently are treated as if they are interchangeable—by the general public and professionals alike—they refer to related but not identical conditions.
Who Are These People? Psychopaths are without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves. Sociopathy is not a formal psychiatric condition. It refers to patterns of attitudes and behaviors that are considered antisocial and criminal by society at large, but are seen as normal or necessary by the subculture or social environment in which they developed. Sociopaths may have a well-developed conscience and a normal capacity for empathy, guilt, and loyalty, but their sense of right and wrong is based on the norms and expectations of their subculture or group.
Many criminals might be described as sociopaths. Some of those with APD are psychopaths, but many are not. The difference between psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder is that the former includes personality traits such as lack of empathy, grandiosity, and shallow emotion that are not necessary for a diagnosis of APD. APD is three or four times more common than psychopathy in the general population and in prisons.
The prevalence of those we would describe as sociopathic is unknown but likely is considerably higher than that of APD. One may argue that psychopaths who live freely in society simply have not yet been caught committing a crime or engaging in socially destructive behavior. Still, just having a psychopathic personality disorder does not make one a criminal.
Some psychopaths live in society and do not technically break the law—although they may come close, with behavior that usually is very unpleasant for those around them. They do not make warm and loving parents, children, or family members. They do not make reliable friends or coworkers. Many psychopaths adopt a parasitic existence, living off the generosity or gullibility of others by taking advantage of and often abusing the trust and support of friends and family.
They may move from place to place and from one source of support to another. You probably know one. You could work for, work with, or be married to someone with a psychopathic personality and not know that there is a formal psychological term for the individual who causes you so much pain and distress.
So how do psychologists and psychiatrists accurately decide whether someone has a psychopathic personality? In the early days of research on psychopathy, there was no widely acceptable standard of measurement. The psychiatric criteria for use in diagnoses were vague, sometimes confusing, and could vary depending on the personal experiences of the researcher or diagnostician.
Offenders and patients were sent to psychiatric hospitals for treatment if they were believed to have some form of mental illness. He watched them charm, manipulate, and take advantage of other patients, family members, and even hospital staff. They lacked insight concerning themselves and the impact of their behavior on others, but this seemed not to concern them at all.
They did not understand and cared little about the feelings of others, lacking both remorse and shame for the harm they did others. They were noticeably unreliable, even about important things relevant to their current situation, and seemed to have no real life goals or plans. They were insincere, although often appearing to be very sincere to those with little experience interacting with them, particularly new staff members.
Reviews of their records showed them to be antisocial and violent for reasons that often seemed random and senseless. They could be egocentric in the extreme, and were seemingly unable to experience deep human emotions, especially love and compassion. In fact, they seemed unable to feel intensely any of the emotions that others experience, except perhaps primitive or proto-emotions such as anger, frustration, and rage.
Psychopaths are often entertaining and can tell creative, believable stories. On the surface, then, they appear normal, sane, and in control; in fact, many are quite likable. Cleckley, however, never intended his list of observations to be a formal checklist for diagnosis, and had never tested his model statistically. As a clinician with many years of exposure to psychopaths, he reported those traits that seemed to him to characterize the syndrome.
While there, I took an interest in the behavior of psychopaths, whom I occasionally met as part of my work. Cleckley had noted that psychopaths used language somewhat differently from most other people; their sentence structure, choice of words and tempo or beat were different. They would often describe their most atrocious crimes with dispassion and disinterest, showing no emotion at all.
Just hearing these matter-of-fact descriptions sent chills Who Are These People? I wanted to look deeper into the brain for some answers.
In these early experiments, I would present psychopathic and nonpsychopathic offenders with words differing in emotional content and measured their physiological responses. There was no standard and reliable assessment instrument available to researchers to measure the disorder.
The diagnostic skills of the investigator, on which accuracy relied, could not be assured. Without a consensus, how could a researcher in Canada be sure that a researcher somewhere else in the world could reproduce his research results? I needed to create a research-worthy measure of psychopathy, and this new instrument had to be valid, reliable, and psychologically sound. For twenty years now, statistical studies on many criminal populations all over the world have consistently shown the PCL-R to be the gold standard for measuring psychopathy.
Are psychopathic features the product of nature or nurture? As with most other things human, the answer is that both are involved. Several recent twin studies provide convincing evidence that genetic factors play at least as important a role in the development of the core features of psychopathy as do environmental factors and forces.
Snakes in Suits: Summary + PDF
Evidence of this sort does not mean that the pathways to Who Are These People? To use a simple analogy, the potter is instrumental in molding pottery from clay nurture , but the characteristics of the pottery also depend on the sort of clay available nature.
The PCL-R is a clinical rating scale, not a self-report test. The person who is being evaluated does not answer questions, as is the case with other psychological tests. Then, for each trait or characteristic, the psychologist or psychiatrist must make a judgment as to whether or not each applies to the person being assessed. For each trait, several criteria and tests must be applied. If the rater judges that a person clearly has a given trait, then 2 points are added to the total score; if a trait applies only partially or sometimes, then only 1 point is added to the total.
Because there are twenty traits on the PCL-R, someone can receive a total score from 0 meaning no psychopathy to a high of 40 a perfect match to the prototypical psychopath. As noted earlier, a particular area of interest has been the manner in which psychopaths process emotional material, including emotional words and pictures. The results of several brain scan experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or f MRI indicate that psychopaths do not show the same patterns of brain responses to verbal and visual emotional material as do nonpsychopathic individuals.
Whereas normal people showed a different brain response to emotional words and pictures than to neutral material, psychopaths responded the same to each type of material. Psychopaths processed what should be emotional material as if it were neutral in content. Sometimes answering one question raises others.
Are their brains wired differently? Is their obvious emotional poverty the result of their upbringing? Since the initial studies on the PCL-R, a large number of researchers have used the instrument to assess criminal psychopaths in many countries and settings. Although the PCL-R was developed with offender populations, it also has been used with other groups, including psychiatric patients and the general population.
The interpersonal domain de- Who Are These People? More extensive descriptions are provided in the book Without Conscience.
Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work
Most people in the general population would score less than 5 on the PCL-R, whereas the average score for male and female criminals is about 22 and 19, respectively.
About 15 percent of male offenders and about 10 percent of female offenders obtain a score of at least Most people in the general population would score less than 3 on the PCL: SV, while the average score for criminals is around A cut score of 18 is typically used for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Whatever cut score is used, individuals who meet or exceed the score clearly are different from those with lower scores.
Am I a Psychopath? Think of psychopathy as a multidimensional continuum, much like blood pressure, which can range from dangerously low to dangerously high. We might refer to individuals with really low or high systolic and diastolic blood pressure as hypotensive and hypertensive, respectively. Similarly, the number and severity density of psychopathic features ranges from near zero, perhaps sliding into sainthood, to abnormally high, rising into big trouble.
Their behavior would depend on the particular mix of features they have. There was a buzz about the new person who had been hired away from a larger player in the industry, and who would help them regain some of the lost ground resulting from the problematic new product introduction cycles. Everyone came out to greet Dave, and all who met him immediately liked him. So, I better settle in and start being productive!
He would pick up Dave around and take him to lunch in the company cafeteria— actually a high-quality restaurant offering free food to employees. And perhaps, if he could, he would take him over to the executive wing and introduce him to Jack Garrideb, founder and CEO, if he were in and available.
The morning went quickly and Frank immersed himself in his work. Marge, his secretary, startled him when she came to the door about Vicki and Frank had started with Garrideb Technologies on the same day, and they had been friends since.
The company culture was friendly, relaxed, and informal, but the executive wing was always daunting because of the Off and Running 33 big-company aura everyone thought they had to project to visitors or potential clients.
The bus dropped her and her daughter off at the brightly lit main square where the evening crowds of tourists and vacationers walked and talked. Her night job depended on these people, and she was looking forward to a good night. A crowd had formed at the corner of Main and First, blocking her way.
Winding through the crowd she saw that a game of three-card monte was in progress. Tourists are warned to avoid this swindle, but there is always someone in the crowd who is sucked in. The game works like this: the dealer has three cards faceup on a small table; one is a king, queen, or jack, and the other two are number cards.
If there are no takers, he displays the cards and starts again. No one but the dealer ever wins this game. Ellyn, still holding her daughter, made it to the front.
The dealer smiled and began talking directly to her daughter. The dealer quickly tried to move them about, but Ellyn and a few others saw every move. Ellyn had her rent money with her, and doubling at least some of it would surely help with the bills.
She thought and thought. The dealer balked—he would have to double her money if she won—but the crowd spoke up. The dealer looked nervous. Reaching into her shirtfront and down into her bra she retrieved some cash.Hear their bones break, their windpipes snap. How else to explain the attraction of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the giggling s cult leader with scores of Rolls-Royce automobiles and hundreds of needy followers? He pushed aside the suggested interview questions HR had prepared for him and asked Dave to tell him about himself.
There is the risk to the careers of those subjected to the emotional or physical abuse of a psychopathic coworker. So how do corporate psychopaths weasel their way into companies? Chameleons, of course, have the capacity to assume the coloration of their environment in order to survive.