Psychopaths Caused the Financial Crisis … And They Will Do It Again and Again Unless They Are Removed From Power

Bloomberg notes:

The “corporate psychopaths” at the helm of our financial institutions are to blame [for the financial crisis].

Clive R. Boddy, most recently a professor at the Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths are the 1 percent of “people who, perhaps due to physical factors to do with abnormal brain connectivity and chemistry” lack a “conscience, have few emotions and display an inability to have any feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people.”

As a result, Boddy argues in a recent issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, such people are “extraordinarily cold, much more calculating and ruthless towards others than most people are and therefore a menace to the companies they work for and to society.”

How do people with such obvious personality flaws make it to the top of seemingly successful corporations? Boddy says psychopaths take advantage of the “relative chaotic nature of the modern corporation,” including “rapid change, constant renewal” and high turnover of “key personnel.” Such circumstances allow them to ascend through a combination of “charm” and “charisma,” which makes “their behaviour invisible” and “makes them appear normal and even to be ideal leaders.”

***

Until the last third of the 20th century, he writes, companies were mostly stable and slow to change. Lifetime employment was a reasonable expectation and people rose through the ranks.

This stable environment meant corporate psychopaths “would be noticeable and identifiable as undesirable managers because of their selfish egotistical personalities and other ethical defects.”

For Wall Street — a rapidly changing and highly dynamic corporate environment if there ever was one, especially when the firms transformed themselves from private partnerships into public companies with quarterly reporting requirements — the trouble started when these charmers made their way to corner offices of important financial institutions.

Then, according to Boddy’s “Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis,” these men were “able to influence the moral climate of the whole organization” to wield “considerable power.”

They “largely caused the crisis” because their “single- minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment and self- aggrandizement to the exclusion of all other considerations has led to an abandonment of the old-fashioned concept of noblesse oblige, equality, fairness, or of any real notion of corporate social responsibility.”

***

He says the unnamed “they” seem “to be unaffected” by the corporate collapses they cause. These psychopaths “present themselves as glibly unbothered by the chaos around them, unconcerned about those who have lost their jobs, savings and investments, and as lacking any regrets about what they have done. They cheerfully lie about their involvement in events, are very convincing in blaming others for what has happened and have no doubts about their own worth and value. They are happy to walk away from the economic disaster that they have managed to bring about, with huge payoffs and with new roles advising governments how to prevent such economic disasters.”

The Independent reports:

Mr Boddy is not alone. In Jon Ronson’s widely acclaimed book The Psychopath Test, Professor Robert Hare [the world's leading expert on psychopathy] told the author: “I should have spent some time inside the Stock Exchange as well. Serial killer psychopaths ruin families. Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.”

***

A senior UK investment banker and I [were] discussing the most successful banking types we know and what makes them tick. I argue that they often conform to the characteristics displayed by social psychopaths. To my surprise, my friend agrees.

He then makes an astonishing confession: “At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles.”

Here was one of the biggest investment banks in the world seeking psychopaths as recruits.

***

A 2,200-page report by Anton Valukas, the Chicago-based lawyer hired by a US court to investigate Lehman’s failure … revealed systemic chicanery within the bank; he described management failures and a destructive, internal culture of reckless risk-taking worthy of any psychopath.

So why wasn’t Mr Fuld spotted and stopped? I’ve concluded it’s the good old question of nature and nurture but with a new interpretation. As I see it, in its search for never-ending growth, the financial services sector has actively sought out monsters with natures like Mr Fuld and nurtured them with bonuses and praise.

***

Take Sir Fred Goodwin of RBS, for example. Before he racked up a corporate loss of £24.1bn, the highest in UK history, he was idolised by the City. In recognition of his work in ruthlessly cutting costs at Clydesdale Bank he got the nickname “Fred the Shred”, and he played that for all it was worth. He was later described as “a corporate Attila”, a title of which any psychopath would be proud.

Psychopaths Have Different Brain Chemistry from the Rest of Us

In October, we observed:

I noted last year:

Vanderbilt researchers have found that the brains of psychopaths have a dopamine abnormality which creates a drive for rewards at any cost, and causes them to ignore risks.

As PhysOrg writes:

Abnormalities in how the nucleus accumbens, highlighted here, processes dopamine have been found in individuals with psychopathic traits and may be linked to violent, criminal behavior. Credit: Gregory R.Samanez-Larkin and Joshua W. Buckholtz

The brains of psychopaths appear to be wired to keep seeking a reward at any cost, new research from Vanderbilt University finds. The research uncovers the role of the brain’s reward system in psychopathy and opens a new area of study for understanding what drives these individuals.

“This study underscores the importance of neurological research as it relates to behavior,” Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said. “The findings may help us find new ways to intervene before a personality trait becomes antisocial behavior.”

The results were published March 14, 2010, in .

“Psychopaths are often thought of as cold-blooded criminals who take what they want without thinking about consequences,” Joshua Buckholtz, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology and lead author of the new study, said. “We found that a hyper-reactive dopamine reward system may be the foundation for some of the most problematic behaviors associated with psychopathy, such as violent crime, recidivism and substance abuse.”

Previous research on psychopathy has focused on what these individuals lack—fear, empathy and interpersonal skills. The new research, however, examines what they have in abundance—impulsivity, heightened attraction to rewards and risk taking. Importantly, it is these latter traits that are most closely linked with the violent and criminal aspects of psychopathy.

“There has been a long tradition of research on psychopathy that has focused on the lack of sensitivity to punishment and a lack of fear, but those traits are not particularly good predictors of violence or criminal behavior,” David Zald, associate professor of psychology and of psychiatry and co-author of the study, said. “Our data is suggesting that something might be happening on the other side of things. These individuals appear to have such a strong draw to reward—to the carrot—that it overwhelms the sense of risk or concern about the stick.”

To examine the relationship between dopamine and psychopathy, the researchers used positron emission tomography, or PET, imaging of the brain to measure dopamine release, in concert with a functional magnetic imaging, or fMRI, probe of the brain’s reward system.

“The really striking thing is with these two very different techniques we saw a very similar pattern—both were heightened in individuals with psychopathic traits,” Zald said.

Study volunteers were given a personality test to determine their level of psychopathic traits. These traits exist on a spectrum, with violent criminals falling at the extreme end of the spectrum. However, a normally functioning person can also have the traits, which include manipulativeness, egocentricity, aggression and risk taking.

In the first portion of the experiment, the researchers gave the volunteers a dose of amphetamine, or speed, and then scanned their brains using PET to view dopamine release in response to the stimulant. Substance abuse has been shown in the past to be associated with alterations in dopamine responses. Psychopathy is strongly associated with substance abuse.

“Our hypothesis was that psychopathic traits are also linked to dysfunction in dopamine reward circuitry,” Buckholtz said. “Consistent with what we thought, we found people with high levels of psychopathic traits had almost four times the amount of dopamine released in response to amphetamine.”

In the second portion of the experiment, the research subjects were told they would receive a monetary reward for completing a simple task. Their brains were scanned with fMRI while they were performing the task. The researchers found in those individuals with elevated psychopathic traits the dopamine reward area of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, was much more active while they were anticipating the monetary reward than in the other volunteers.

“It may be that because of these exaggerated dopamine responses, once they focus on the chance to get a reward, psychopaths are unable to alter their attention until they get what they’re after,” Buckholtz said. Added Zald, “It’s not just that they don’t appreciate the potential threat, but that the anticipation or motivation for reward overwhelms those concerns.”

Has anyone tested the heads of the too big to fails for this dopamine abnormality?

What are the odds that they have it? And if they have it, what are the odds that they will voluntarily start acting responsibly, especially given the broken incentive system?

Experts also tell us that many politicians also share traits with serial killers. Specifically, the Los Angeles Times noted in 2009:

Using his law enforcement experience and data drawn from the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit, Jim Kouri has collected a series of personality traits common to a couple of professions.

Kouri, who’s a vice president of the National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.

These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.

But — and here’s the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion — these traits are also common to American politicians. (Maybe you already suspected.)

Yup. Violent homicide aside, our elected officials often show many of the exact same character traits as criminal nut-jobs, who run from police but not for office.

Kouri notes that these criminals are psychologically capable of committing their dirty deeds free of any concern for social, moral or legal consequences and with absolutely no remorse.

“This allows them to do what they want, whenever they want,” he wrote. “Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society including political officeholders.”

***

”While many political leaders will deny the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials and lawmakers at all levels of government.”

***

Studies also show that the wealthy are less empathic than those with more modest wealth, and so:

The idea of nobless oblige or trickle-down economics, certain versions of it, is bull,” Keltner added. “Our data say you cannot rely on the wealthy to give back. The ‘thousand points of light’—this rise of compassion in the wealthy to fix all the problems of society—is improbable, psychologically.”

Given that many in Congress and top government posts are multi-millionaires, the study might help explain why politicians seem only to work to make themselves wealthier and to help their wealthy buddies.

We will remain disempowered if we assume that the super-elites are “like us”. Unless we learn to spot “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, we will continue to fall prey to their scams.

Unless We Remove the Psychopaths from Power, They Will Cause More and More Destruction

The inmates are still running the asylum.

Anyone who knows Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein or the other Wall Street “leaders” can tell you that they haven’t changed a bit since 2008. They are not repentent for their role in the financial crisis. They don’t feel bad that the taxpayers have had to bail them out again and again … and that they have used that money to enrich themselves and stick it to the little guy.

As the Independent notes:

Mr Ronson reports: “Justice departments and parole boards all over the world have accepted Hare’s contention that psychopaths are quite simply incurable and everyone should concentrate their energies instead on learning how to root them out.”

But, far from being rooted out, they are still in place and often in positions of even greater power.

As Mr Boddy warns: “The very same corporate psychopaths, who probably caused the crisis by their self-seeking greed and avarice, are now advising governments on how to get out of the crisis. Further, if the corporate psychopaths theory of the global financial crisis is correct, then we are now far from the end of the crisis. Indeed, it is only the end of the beginning.”

I’ve been saying the same thing since 2008:

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

Its like a thief who has been arrested 5 times for burglary. Even though he says all the right things to the judge at sentencing, the judge is still going to throw the book at him.

If the thief is appointed to head a government commission on corruption, do you think people will have confidence in the commission or its proposed actions?

***

[Those in power] may be saying nice things about fixing the economy, shoring up the financial system and helping American citizens, but people don’t believe them anymore. They’ve been proven liars one too many times.

***

The only thing that can restore confidence in the economy and the financial system is to replace the whole lot of them (tar and feather them) with honest leaders who will do what’s best for the people.

Forget the “toxic debt” that the talking heads keep referring to. The only way to restore confidence is to get rid of the “toxic leaders” who caused the mess.

I noted in October:

The main demand of the Egyptian protesters was that Hosni Mubarak and his cronies leave power.

Why should the demands of the American protesters be held to a higher standard?

As former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson notes, the American finance industry has effectively captured our government in a “quiet coup”, a state of affairs that is at the center of many emerging-market crises, and that recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.

***

The U.S. has become a kleptocracy, an oligarchy, a banana republic, a socialist or fascist state … which acts without the consent of the governed. There is a malignant symbiotic relationship between the governmental leaders and their cronies, which makes a handful rich at the public trough (in the same way that the Mubarak family raked in between U.S. $40 and $70 billion dollars through bribes and cronyism).

Remember, Mubarak pretended that he was going to offer concessions or negotiate several times. But the protesters would have none of it. They demanded Mubarak leave.

The same government despots (Bernanke and the rest of the knuckleheads at the Fed, Geithner, and various other Goldman alums and proteges of Robert Rubin) and the same Wall Street manipulators (Blankfein, Dimon, etc.) are still on their thrones causing mischief. Nothing will change while these guys are still in charge.

Why can’t Americans – like the Egyptians – demand that the bums be thrown out?

While America’s protesters don’t need to give any list of official demands (see this, this and this), breaking up the unholy alliance which is destroying our country and removing vampires from both government and Wall Street who are most responsible for blocking reform is a perfectly good demand all by itself. As Gordon Duff – senior editor at Veterans Today – says, it’s “time for regime change” in the U.S.

Postscript: The fact – as discussed above – that top leaders may have psychopathic characteristics may be helpful in assessing questions such as:

Category: Bailouts, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

11 Responses to “Psychopaths Caused the Financial Crisis”

  1. escapeartist says:

    If you suddenly go missing BR, we’ll assume you’ve been indefinitely detained.

    What’s a little NDAA among psychopaths?

  2. theexpertisin says:

    It appears that the 1970′s and early 80′s brilliant idea present within the university curriculum to resolve ethical issues, VALUES CLARIFICATION, was a bust.

    Unfortunately, greed, in various forms, is probably hardwired into all of us.

    Do we rid ourselves of…..us? The challenge is to keep this tendency under control, and to minimize those who do not.

  3. formerlawyer says:

    Take a look at the “Corporation” a 2003 documentary that made this very point.

    http://www.thecorporation.com/

    The film is available at:
    http://www.thecorporation.com/index.cfm?page_id=10

    Or for those with limited funds, online at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa3wyaEe9vE

    This film lead to a book: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakman

    http://www.amazon.com/Corporation-Pathological-Pursuit-Profit-Power/dp/0743247469/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325697607&sr=8-1

  4. Pyotr Zumwalt says:

    Wake up. Sociopaths have always been with us, and they have always had their own social networks. One modern difference is this: contemporary media glorify sociopathic mores. We have our organic sociopaths and we also have wannabes. There is a difference between moral deafness and moral depravity. Unfortunately, the latter has become associated with socioeconomic success. It is thus premature to blame economic debacles on sociopaths. The role of those who merely emulate sociopathy is likely more significant. Disaster reflects only the material consequences of iniquity, not the internal and subjetive consequences as they impact the damaged consciences of perpetrators.

  5. MrBean says:

    Mr Ritholtz,

    I am sadden by the publication of the diatribe on corporate psychopaths. The piece is alarmist and extremely prejudiced as well as misleading. You are one who prides himself on his ability to think and use logic yet what you have published is anything buy logical. Guilt by association, appeals to authority, the list of false arguments continues to quite a length. These logical flaws are, by themselves, interesting, but sadly so.

    One of the major problems with personality disorders is the association to genetics. Hence we are given that some disorders is associated with X percentage of the population as extrapolated from the number of known cases in the literature. One can see that if there were some nine million plus individuals affected with the personality disorder of psychopath this might easily be deemed a serious epidemic. What’s more, there seems to be far more males than females with this particular disorder. You can see, then, that if we instituted some sort on national testing to prevent those with the disorder from holding any management position, public official position, police position, or political position, we might run afoul of constitutional issues. Indeed, such a policy might be deemed as persecution to those with any mental disorder including depression.

    But it is the misunderstanding that your piece engenders that is most disturbing. An undergraduate course on personality will reveal a number of truths. Personality is measured on a continuum, that is, the behavior as it is observed at it least proclivity to its most extreme form. When we observe such personality traits as introversion and extroversion, we can notice that individuals exhibit a relative strength of behavior that can be plotted with the observations of others into a distribution curve. We ascribe the relative strength to individual differences. That is what our distribution curve tells us, that individuals are different in the degree of some quality being measured. But you article makes no mention of such distributions. A psychopath is a psychopath is a psychopath and they all act exactly the same. As you can see, such is not the case.

    A further problem is one of authority, that is, whom should we believe? Clive Boddy is a marketing manager and professor, not a psychologist. His book may or may not be correct in its assumptions that many bankers are psychopaths as we only have his word for it. How many managers, particularly CEO, CFO, etc, as well as individuals positions as managers in banks have been tested and positively identified as psychopaths? Oh yes, there was the anecdotal “evidence” given and we all know that is how science makes its discoveries. No testing nor proof needed, correct? Yes, Boddy may have read a fair number of books on the subject but that is not the question. I have read five or six thousand books in my life time, ninety percent of the non fiction science, but so what? I may be something of an expert on many subjects, but I am not fully trained or certified in any one area. Research is not the same as practical experience. I doubt that Mr Boddy has been trained in psychological testing let alone employed in that field. So when quoting him it is wise to do so only in reticence, with a certain amount of caution. Unlike economics where any crackpot can utter all manner of stupidity and not cause much harm, psychology is a science and great harm can be done by those with the best of intentions while holding insufficient knowledge.

    Robert Hare is only one of many recognized authorities on the subject of psychopaths. He is of the belief that it is a genetic disposition although there is no evidence to support such a claim. Interestingly enough is that the only personality trait that has been truly linked to genetics is introversion and extroversion and that is a very weak link. Understand that is “test” for determining whether one is or is not a psychopath is dependent on observation and the judgment of the qualified interviewer. Again, this goes to authority, that is, someone who is trained and exercises judgment according to the precepts learned and is assumed qualified, through appropriate examination, to be able to conduct such an interview according to the generally accepted guidelines. Ah, we assume that the judgment rendered is within specified limits. Sort of like a group of physicists standing around judging the speed of light without any instruments. Such judgment is imprecise and will vary due to individual differences. The DSM IV is, very simply stated, a grouping of statistically significant characteristics, which by themselves have little meaning and grouped together indicate a particular behavioral pattern. But these patterns often overlap, no one of them definitive. The maladies are added and removed according to demand by the profession. Hence, homosexuality was once considered a mental disorder, nor it is considered a normal behavior. You can see, then, that there is a problem in defining human behavior according to its current social relevance.

    So, we ask ourselves, are all CEOs psychopaths? What about all bankers, should we consider the employment in a certain field as evidence of mental and behavioral disorder? What of your own position, are you free from all taint of psychosis? Have you not appealed to the lynch-mob mentality, urged people on for a modern day “witch hunt”? I have included a couple of items, one being a book review and the other from the popular web site, Wikapedia. Please take the time to read them.

    Your faithful reader

    The Sociopath Next Door (Paperback)
    A popular romp through sociopathy bringing conceptual ideas to the layperson; those most affected.

    An amalgam of themes, seemingly enlarged and emboldened bringing the CEO, the professional carer, the headmaster and the “poor me” to life but within certain shortsighted parameters. These are not spelt out but careful reading within the subtext allows them to finally emerge. They are archetypes of people the reader may either know or have met. This is a welcome shift from the Hare over concentration on serial killers.

    However socipathy is not a genetic condition as the author assumes drawing on the Hare brained world. These tendencies are socially constructed resulting from negative life experiences. There is no gene for sociopathy nor will there ever be. The analysis is deeply and fundamentally flawed because it is based on this act of faith. Sociopathy is not a drive that flourises as a result of the “Bad Seed”.

    Serious students need to turn to Renee Spitz, John Bowlby, Harry Harlow to gain a wider understanding of the social construction of anti social personality disorders. James Gilligan and Alice Miller provide a far more comprehensive understanding of how people with no empathy are able to survive and thrive.

    This is pop psychology aimed at those people who have been fleeced by a sociopath, the most vulnerable who will imbibe any explanation seemingly chiming with their experiences. This ironically is a sociopathic book.

    The people most vulnerable from those with an empathy bypass, the victims of the con drift into composed dream worlds where they are easy prey. Vulnerable when they are emotionally capsizing; bereaved, divorced, stressed, pressurised, over weight, lacking in confidence and feeling old, all can be targetted and manipulated.

    Correspondingly those people who have ASPD also despise people who are witty, clever, good looking, empathic and intelligent. These are the main targets within an office environment. The work of Tim Bell in highlighting “mobbing”, workplace bullying, coupled with the analysis of Heinz Leymann are far more important and cogent than this piece of pop psychology.

    The book highlights how people move into the care industry to wield power over weaker individuals. The fake health professional arises in different guises. They abound as psych nurses, psych doctors, PCT Managers and so forth. They also come together in university departments, the feminist, marxist, pro trade union, let’s save the world sectors are replete with people creating this disguise. This is not a form of behaviour the Right has a monopoly over. Although arguably those on the left who display ASPD are undermining their belief systems far more effectively than Hayek, Friedman or Smith.

    The need to cauterise empathy is embedded within the social sphere. The CEO perceives people as chess pieces because he is a product of his family, schooling and belief systems. This is not genetic but socially constructed. It allows capitalism to work because it is a redundant quality when dealing with objects. This form of behaviour becomes lauded and is socially embedded.

    There is a nod to culture in the book but this eventually signposts another theoretical malaise. Attachment theory and the effects of childhood abuse are swept away by the author as non starters. This is a serious theoretical problem highlighting the extreme limitations of the authors personal therapeutic practice. She has already created a series of assumptions before listening to the evidence of the client. This would create untold psychological damage to someone who came for help. This is a huge problem in the psychotherapeutic field as counsellors/therapists with pre conceived assumptions do not listen, they only force the client into a pre-existing framework whether the client fits or not. This causes alienation and further wounded feelings of not being understood.

    People who exhibit ASPD tendencies do have emotional worlds, they are replete with rage and revenge. These are not positive emotions but they highlight the rationale for an appetite for destruction. Most people people vaciliate in and out of empathy according to internal/external forces. The ASPD personality oscillates between hatred, supplication and revenge.

    The assertion “sociopathy” does not occur in Far Eastern cultures is completely false. It is embedded and endemic. Read the works of Yukio Mishima, he describes this emotional state constantly in Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea, Acts of Worship, Patriot and Forbidden Colours. This man exposes the emotional, albeit ice tundra worlds of the isolated unempathic individual, this sociopath is based upon himself.

    When Mishima is ingested a vast vista of emotions tumble out. Perhaps gazing at the aftermath of the Japanese prisoner of war camps, the Rape of Nanking and the vivisection experiments of the Japanese death camp doctors may assist in corrective thinking? I have worked with Vietnamese drugs workers and a vast array of nationalities who display ASPD. Unfortunately it is endemic in the charitable sector.

    The revenge motif, people exhibiting psychological violence, acting out a previous life of humiliation. This is a key psychological concept in sweeping away this pop notion of “sociopaths”. Their lives may appear ordered on the outside to the unaware stranger but this is camouflage. Concealed to hide their inner turmoil.

    Humiliated in the past as children, they become fully armoured as adults so as not to get hurt again. In future they will win every battle through deceit, ruse, guile, camouflage and strength. Can they be saved by psychotherapy?

    They do not attend therapy until they are exposed, exhausted, uncovered as a swindler, faker, charlatan or bully. Pretending to seek redemption is a huge problem for the practitioner. It takes different therapeutic techniques to engage and ensure change is initiated. These people resent those who can feel, they replace this with objects paraded as idealisations. They know they are empty because they are an advertising man’s dream. They live a fakir’s life, trapped within objects. Their world is a child’ life of toys. They are dressed up as adults but stuck in a malevolent stage of childhood; objectified, then reflecting this objectification onto others.

    These are the emotionally stunted actors, paraded as the signifiers of dreams the advertising/media industry holds as stars shining as beacons. The sociopath is a true believer, they can be identified by their reading matter, music taste, social/political views. These will be caricatures of some accepted lore of left/right/feminist/free market/socialist/patriarchal/fundamentalist dogma. They can exist on the right or left of the political spectrum. Although the former is their comfort zone, I have met plenty of false consciousness lefties who believe in a Bolshevik ideal. Naturally they direct operations espousing themselves as both brothers and sisters.

    ASPD is gender blind, an ice cold tundra of frozen emotional wastes shrouding a volcanic anger and a deep chasmic sense of entitlement throbbing just below the surface…anger and jealousy make a sociopath active, two of the most basic destructive emotions, the significant clue to the origins.

    This book pretends to open a door but in reality it leads straight into a blind alley.

    Psychopathy, as measured on the PCL-R, is negatively correlated with all DSM-IV Axis I disorders except substance abuse disorders. Psychopathy is most strongly correlated with DSM-IV antisocial personality disorder.
    The official stance of the American Psychiatric Association as presented in the DSM-IV-TR is that psychopathy and sociopathy are misnomers. The World Health Organization takes a different stance in its ICD-10 by referring to psychopathy, antisocial personality, asocial personality, and amoral personality as synonyms for dissocial personality disorder.
    Among laypersons and professionals, there is much confusion about the meanings and differences between psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality disorder, and the ICD-10 diagnosis, dissocial personality disorder. Hare takes the stance that psychopathy as a syndrome should be considered distinct from the DSM-IV’s antisocial personality disorder construct,[19] even though ASPD and psychopathy were intended to be equivalent in the DSM-IV. However, those who created the DSM-IV felt that there was too much room for subjectivity on the part of clinicians when identifying things like remorse and guilt; therefore, the DSM-IV panel decided to stick to observable behaviour, namely socially deviant behaviours.
    As a result, the diagnosis of ASPD is something that the “majority of criminals easily meet.”[20] Hare goes further to say that the percentage of incarcerated criminals that meet the requirements of ASPD is somewhere between 80 to 85 percent, whereas only about 20% of these criminals would qualify for a diagnosis of what Hare’s scale considers to be a psychopath.[21] This twenty percent, according to Hare, accounts for 50 percent of all the most serious crimes committed, including half of all serial and repeat rapists. According to FBI reports, 44 percent of all police officer murders in 1992 were committed by psychopaths.[22]
    Another study using the PCL-R to examine the relationship between antisocial behaviour and suicide found that suicide history was strongly correlated to PCL-R Factor 2 (reflecting antisocial deviance) and was not correlated to PCL-R factor 1 (reflecting affective functioning). Given that ASPD relates to Factor 2, whereas psychopathy relates to both factors, this would confirm Hervey Cleckley’s assertion that psychopaths are relatively immune to suicide. People with ASPD, on the other hand, have a relatively high suicide rate.[23]
    Since psychopaths frequently cause harm through their actions, it is assumed that they are not emotionally attached to the people they harm; however, according to the PCL-R Checklist, psychopaths are also careless in the way they treat themselves. They frequently fail to alter their behavior in a way that would prevent them from enduring future discomfort.
    In practice, mental health professionals rarely treat psychopathic personality disorders as they are considered untreatable and no interventions have proved to be effective.[24] In England and Wales the diagnosis of dissocial personality disorder is grounds for detention in secure psychiatric hospitals under the Mental Health Act if they have committed serious crimes, but since such individuals are disruptive for other patients and not responsive to treatment this alternative to prison is not often used.[25]
    Because an individual’s scores may have important consequences for his or her future, the potential for harm if the test is used or administered incorrectly is considerable. The test can only be considered valid if administered by a suitably qualified and experienced clinician under controlled conditions.[2][3]
    Hare wants the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to list psychopathy as a unique disorder, saying psychopathy has no precise equivalent[2] in either the DSM-IV-TR, where it is most strongly correlated with the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, or the ICD-10, which has a partly similar condition called dissocial personality disorder. Both organizations view the terms as synonymous. But only a minority of what Hare and his followers would diagnose as psychopaths who are in institutions are violent offenders.[26][27]
    The manipulative skills of some of the others are valued for providing audacious leadership.[28] It is argued psychopathy is adaptive in a highly competitive environment, because it gets results for both the individual and the corporations[29][30][31] or, often small political sects they represent.[32] However, these individuals will often cause long-term harm, both to their co-workers and the organization as a whole, due to their manipulative, deceitful, abusive, and often fraudulent behaviour.[33]
    Hare describes people he calls psychopaths as “intraspecies predators[34][35] who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, sex and violence[36][37][38] to control others and to satisfy their own selfish 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”.[3] “What is missing, in other words, are the very qualities that allow a human being to live in social harmony.”[39]

    ~~~

    BR: Dude needs his own blog . . .

  6. [...] This post at Barry Ritholtz’s blog, which appears to come from washingtonsblog, links to a Bloomberg interview with an expert arguing that “psychopaths” caused the financial crisis: The “corporate psychopaths” at the helm of our financial institutions are to blame [for the financial crisis]. [...]

  7. pilastr says:

    Yeah this is more substantive than the generic anti-corporate and requisite psychosis metaphors. What seems different is that the psychosis isn’t metaphorical; it is quantifiable, therefore admissible in court as part of malfeasance lawsuits, shareholder actions, etc.

    In other words, a wedge by which to attack destructive individuals where there have so far been too few.

  8. Stokeybob says:

    I can’t say where their heads are at but I’m pretty sure this is the weapon they are wielding.

    No matter how much real money people can put together to build their countries the way they want there are those that can print up what ever it takes to dictate their way.

    Maybe this will help make the danger of fiat money clear.

    Imagine you and me are setting across from each other. We create enough money to represent all of the world’s wealth. Each one of us has one SUPER Dollar in front of him.

    You own half of everything and so do I.

    I’m the government though. I get bribed into creating a Central Bank.

    You’re not doing what I want you to be doing so I print up myself eight more SUPER Dollars to manipulate you with.

    All of a sudden your SUPER Dollar only represents one tenth of the wealth of the world!

    That isn’t the only thing though. You need to get busy and get to work because YOU’VE BEEN STIFFED with the bill for the money I PRINTED UP to get YOU TO DO what I WANTED.

    That to me represents what has been happening to the economy, and us, and why so many of our occupations just can’t keep up with the fake money presses.

    http://photos.imageevent.com/stokeybob/followthemoney/Supersingle640x537.jpg

  9. [...] Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University has come up with an intriguing hypothesis; corporate psychopaths are responsible for the recent and ongoing global financial [...]

  10. [...] Post Wall Street, he would have framed the question differently. [...]