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Haven Neal

Professor Campbell

UWRIT 1104

27 March, 2018

Sharks in Suits: When Psychopaths go to Work

Have you ever met a psychopath? You might think the answer obvious. You would know

a psychopath if you saw one, right? You might think it would be easy to tell a psychopath from a

normal person. Hollywood would have you believe psychopaths are noticeable like the

unassuming Norman Bates or the flesh-hungry Hannibal Lecter(consider explaining who these

people are or using more common examples..i dont know who these people are). But would you

be able to tell a psychopath from a normal person if they wore a nice suit, sat in a big office and

were in charge of a successful business? Studies have shown that one in five CEOs are

psychopaths. Chances are, if you work in the business industry, you have met a psychopath.

Good introduction, got my attention.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior,

impaired empathy, impaired remorse, bold, disinhibited and egotistical traits. Psychopathy is a

spectrum, and we all fall on it somewhere. What separates us from psychopaths is the ability to

feel empathy. It is among the most difficult disorders to spot. A psychopath can appear normal,

even charming. However, underneath the charm they can be manipulative, volatile and often but

not always criminal. What makes some psychopaths successful and others turn to a life of crime

is determined by a number of things. IQ and education is one part of it. People who go down the

dark road are less likely to have received a good education, and may have had traumatic family

experiences. According to Dr. Swart, the spectrum of psychopathic traits is like knobs you can
turn up and down. What tends to happen in lawyers and surgeons is they’ve turned up the ones

that are really vital to being a good lawyer or surgeon and turned down the ones that aren’t as

helpful. The brain of a psychopath is very immature. Their brains function similarly to a very

immature, adolescent one. The limbic system, the part of the brain associated with bonding,

emotion, and memory, is damaged and not at the stage is should be in most psychopaths.

Interesting, could go into more detail here.

Not all psychopaths are in jail. Some are in the boardroom. Data suggests that the same

traits that lead some people to kill without remorse are the same traits that lead others to win

without remorse. In a corporation, one’s ability to advance is determined in a large measure by a

person’s ability to favorably impress his or her direct manager. Many of these psychopathic traits

could be very useful to an executive. Some helpful characteristics they have are charm, a strong

sense of self-worth, an ongoing need for simulation and even somewhat negative traits like lack

of remorse, impulsivity and lack of empathy can help a psychopath forge a successful career.

Psychopaths have a resilience to chaos. They thrive on chaos and they know that other people

find it stressful. A psychopath will purposefully create chaos just because they find it easier to

cope than other people. It is easy to mistake classic psychopathic traits for admirable leadership

qualities. The psychopath’s ability to manipulate can look like good influence and persuasion

skills, the mark of an effective leader.

Although psychopaths only represent a relatively small percentage of the staff, they can

do enormous damage when in senior management positions. Psychopaths are most common at

higher levels of corporate organizations and their actions can cause a ripple effect throughout an

organization. Examples of detrimental effects are increased bullying, conflict, stress, staff

turnover, absenteeism and reduction in production. Job satisfaction is a determining factor in the
commitment, efficiency and productivity of employees within an organization. Corporate

psychopaths seek only their own rewards which creates poor communication, inadequate

training, lack of information and lack of help in the workplace. Because of this, job satisfaction

tends to be lower in the presence of managers who are corporate psychopaths. Low job

satisfaction ultimately leads to turnover which directly affects the profitability of an

organization. Psychopaths are cunning, untrustworthy, unethical, parasitic and utterly

remorseless. There is nothing they will not do and no one they will not exploit, to get what they

want. A psychopathic manager with his eye on a colleague’s job, for instance, will doctor finical

results, plant rumors, turn coworkers against each other and shift his persona as needed to

destroy his target. He will do all of this, and his bosses will never know. That is what makes

them particularly dangerous to organizations. Psychopaths do well in certain risk-taking

professions however on the whole, they tend to cause far more damage to colleagues and other

business associates than good.

Companies can do several things to contain psychopaths at work. One being, make it easy for

workers to express concerns about colleagues. Have an anonymous tip line. Regular employees

are less useful to a psychopath than leaders so, the psychopath’s mask will often come off in

front of staff, and employees will pick up on the psychopath’s game before management does.

Second, they can cross-check their impressions of high-potentials with colleagues who know

them well. A psychopath will tell you everything you want to hear, and it may be quite different

from what he tells others. However, the best way to prevent psychopaths from being in the

workplace is not hiring them in the first place. The best way to do this is with the B-Scan-360.,

an instrument for rating psychopathic-related features in corporate workplaces. The B-Scan-360


is a rating scale in which various members of an organization rate their coworkers, that is, their

supervisors, peers, and subordinates using the four-factor as the PCL-R.

overall good work, I enjoyed reading and thought the topic was very interesting. There are a lot

of areas where you could go into more detail, like comparing psychopaths to “normal” people to

get a better sense of what a psychopath is.