One in Five CEOs are Psychopaths


I can see how that could happen, since corporate culture selects on factors other than morality, and for some factors morality can be a handicap (e.g., dumping toxic waste to save money and increase profits: if the benefit to the bottom line is great enough, any who seriously objected would just lose their job; or consider an outrageous increase in price for a lifesaving drug: a psychopath would have no problem with that—did have no problem with that).

Harriet Agerholm reported in The Independent last September:

Around one in five corporate bosses are psychopaths – a proportion similar to that among prisoners – according to a new study.

Research conducted by forensic psychologist Nathan Brooks from Bond University found 21 per cent of 261 corporated professionals had clinically significant psychopathic traits.

Characteristics such as an inability to empathise, superficiality and insincerity are all associated with the condition.

Mr Brooks said the findings suggested businesses should screen employees according to their personality features, rather than simply their skills.

A type of “successful psychopath” who may be inclined to unethical or illegal practices has been allowed into the top ranks of companies because of the way firms hire, according to Mr Brooks.

Along with researchers Katarina Fritzon of Bond University and Simon Croom of the University of San Diego, Mr Brooks presented the study at the Australian Psychological Society’s annual congress in Melbourne.

“We’ve looked at around 1,000 people, and the supply chain management study that involved 261 corporate professionals – was the most interesting,” he told ABC.

Mr Brookes says that figure “shared similarities to what we would find in a prison population”.

In the general population, around 1 per cent are psychopaths, although some studies put the figure at 4 per cent.

Scott Lilienfeld, from Atkanta’s Emory University, who was also presenting on psychopathy at the APS Congress, told Australian news site “[Psychopaths] are over-represented in certain occupations: politics, business, high-risk sport. The research on that is in the preliminary stages. . .

Continue reading.

That link in the article goes to “Help! My boss is a psychopath,” an interesting article from 2015.


via 1 in 5 CEOs are psychopaths, according to a new study — Later On

Photo credit: Cesar Vargas via photopin (license)

16 thoughts on “One in Five CEOs are Psychopaths

  1. I can certainly get behind this assessment. There is much truth in it. I know that I could not willfully disregard human life for profit, but then I’m empathetic and some have suggested that I am too empathetic for my own good. “I’ll take having a serious amount of humanitarian feelings for my fellow human beings over having a serious lack of it for $200 Alex!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shelby, the more I learn about the real American history (not the kind they teach you in school), the more I believe there is some kind of Darwinian selection operating in the US that increases their proportion of sociopaths (psychopaths). American elites were rewarded and prospered for their unspeakable treatment of Native Americans, African Americans and third world peoples of all backgrounds. With the advent of industrial capitalism, the reward people earn for breaking all rules for ethical behavior became even greater. As a childhood friend put it when I was 12: “Never give a sucker an even break.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Important subject indeed. I would suspect the percentage of psychopaths might even be greater in business because diagnosing psychopathic personality disorder is a rather difficult undertaking. More intelligent psychopaths are quite likely to lie on a personality inventory to present themselves in a more “normal” light one would imagine. That said it is likely psychopaths in positions of power have fomented incredible amounts of mayhem and human suffering over time, which is the danger of hierarchical power structures.

    To me the equally frightening related issue is that from my persecutive it appears that: “ideology makes psychopaths of us all.” That is to the true believer under the banner of Mother Church during the Holy Inquisition, under banner of various kings and feudal masters, or under the flags of modern nation states, “normal” – non-psychopathic men, suspend their empathy and are able to commit the most callus and heartless acts of cruelty and murder on command. This combination of psychopaths in positions of power and control, and the pathologic suspension of empathy that ideology fosters in “normal” people, have left a history of carnage in and by the West that is truly almost beyond comprehension.

    One cannot help but imagine that our military, intelligence, political and Wall Street institutions are home to both plenty of individuals who would either score high on psychopathic traits, or are simply the more “normal” types who would kiss the wife & kids goodbye and then go drop nuclear bombs on millions of people in Moscow if simply given the order to do so. We face a rather frightening dilemma. We can’t identify psychopaths simply by looking at them. However, we can identify ideologies that justify and rationalize the use of mass murder, and we can refuse to comply with such madness. We can do so no matter how “charismatic” the leader is who is giving the orders to kill our fellow human beings. He may be a card carrying psychopath, or he may be an “ideological psychopath.” Either way the world is in ruins and it is we “normal people” who are committing the violence as surrogates to the powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the nice thoughtful comment, Intergenerational. Have you ever read The Mass Psychology of Fascism? It was written by Wilhelm Reich in 1933. One of the questions he seeks to answer in this book is why citizens of democratic society continuously elect sociopaths to rule them. He blames it mainly on authoritarian child rearing styles. It’s one of the dozen or so books that’s had the most impact on me.


      • I agree. My coment wasn’t meant derisively. That’s why I added a smile. I was disturbed for years when so few people agreed with this sentiment. I used to get reprimanded by people for expressing the opinion that many CEO deserved serious time either in jail or in a psychiatric hospital.


  3. Nuclear waste is a killer. It is quite obvious what Fukushima has done to Tokyo. Abe now admits Tokyo was irradiated by Fukushima.

    My sister-in-laws’ 35 yo nephew was recently diagnosed with AML leukemia.
    The tragedy I see now, is in nuclear states like the united states becoming authoritarian. The Japanese authoritarian Abe has no remorse for what the nuclear cabal from his country, has done to Japan and the world.

    We are now seeing countries that are being destroyed or have been virtually destroyed by nuclear reactors in the 21st century.

    1. In all honesty, historians would look back and say the USSR was certainly financially brought to its knees by Chernobyl.

    2. Kazakhstan was pretty well gone from nuclear pollution by 1995.

    3. The Ukraine is now in a state of seemingly permanent civil war as a result of Chernobyl.

    4. Belarus is quite simply a nuclear hellhole and there is no way to put lipstick on that pig.

    5. Japan is at least 10 to 20 times more irradiated than Chernobyl from Fukushima Daiichi at this point. It is not over there either. The Japanese have spent a half trillion dollars on Fukushima. Japan is going bankrupt.

    6. Somalia has taken in millions of tons of nuclear waste, both high level and low level, from France and England and other European countries, before those countries renounced nuclear in the 1990s.
    Somalia is a failed country with several factions constantly at civil war. So many sick and wretched people there. The only thing that most Somalis dream about is a way to get out of somalia.

    The antinuclear kids who supported Jill stein and Bernie Sanders(who would have won by the way, if given a real chance), are now branded snowflakes and social justice warriors. They are antinuclear greens not Marxists or communists. The green parties around the world set the precedent for no nuclear reactors or wastes anywhere. There is no such thing as a pronuclear green. That is simply propaganda.

    Many greens do advocate some sort of access for healthcare to people in the world. Perhaps that is why they are demonized in the united states so badly. People being able to see a dorcor without paying 300 to a thousand dollars for an office visit.

    The new president of Austria is a green. He is not a communist he simply does not want any nuclear reactors or waste in or around his country. The German greens and other European greens have established the same precedent for no nukes in their countries, that has been carried on by conservative and more liberal govts for years. France and England are just one nuclear accident away from total obliteration. Few people understand how delicate nuclear reactors really are.

    I do not think the nuclear industrial complex is compatible with democratic processes. The failure to dismantle all the nuclear reactors and find a way to dispose of the waste, is becoming the death knell for life on earth.

    There are rich and ideologues who do not like democracy. They consider an educated middle class and a working class as disposable. We need them more than ever to find a way out of the mess the world is in from the continuing nuclear Armageddon.

    The irony of trump tower 20 miles from Indian point never ceases to amaze me. There will be no survivalist communities or handmade world fantasy scenarios, if or when this civilization fails.

    I would say that the African country of somalia is also a nuclear energy failed state. I say that because countries with nuclear energy and nuclear reactors have been exporting nuclear waste largely illegally for 46 years. Somalia has taken in millions of tons of nuclear waste, both high level and low level, from France and england and other European countries before those countries renounced nuclear since the 1990s.

    Somalia is a failed country with several factions constantly at civil war. There are multitudes of sick and men, women, and children people there from diseases that are radionuclide in origin. The only thing that most Somalis dream about is a way to get out of somalia.

    The Japanese, the Belarus owns, the Ukrainians now impress young people who are poor or considered undesirable to help clean up nuclear messes. Those 19 to 30 year old kids exposed to that kind of nuclear filth will not live to be 40.

    I have seen the same suggestion in the united states In the new altright journals like zero hedge and especially by some trump dittoheads that speak on fox news and among altright dittoheads and avowed racists on the altright forum of enenews.

    They are suggesting to use the forced labor of 19 to 30 year old kids who are unemployed, homeless or have had trouble with the law in the united states to clean up superfund sights. How evil is that? Why not give unemployed people jobs cleaning up nuke sights-superfund sights and stop spending taxpayer money to subsidize bloated military budgets and new or old nuclear reactors?

    But noooooo! trumpites and conservatives want to do away with public education in the united states . They want to do away with public libraries and the united postal service which Thomas Jefferson, john Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and later Horace Mann supported in the United states.

    Now they want to use american citizen, young people to cleanup nuclear messes against their will. It is getting to the point that I do not really want to see how far the alternative right, the hippocritical teapartiers the racism , the non free speech zealots, the law and order zealots who have already turned this country into a virtual police state, will go.

    When we do have another major nuclear meltdown in the United States, and I expect one soon, the united states will be the largest nuclear failed state.

    Fascism will not save America as it is not saving Japan. The fascists in japan are trying to reopen nuclear plants and want to build more. Fascism is not saving The Ukraine, it is destroying it. Fascism and totalitarianism did not save the former Ussr . Fascism is destroying what is left of Belarus.

    The same is probably true of England and France. If either of those countries have major a nuclear accident, a national emergency will be declared, authoritarianism and catastrophe-vulture capitalism will take over as it has in Japan, Belarus, and the Ukraine. The vulture capitalism and corruption will gut the countries leading a final downward and destructive spiral.

    Russia has its apocalyptic nuclear wastelands no one will speak of.

    There are large parts of Normandy in France, that are almost uninhabitable nuclear waste dumps. England has sellafield which is barely habitable. If it catches fire northern England and Scotland will have to be evacuated.

    America has Hanford. A good part of eastern Washington with Kennewick, and Richland washington being part of that..
    America has WIPP and los Alamos in New Mexico. There are major parts of Nevada that are barely habitable at this point with nuclear contaminated soil and water. The largest nuclear waste dump, by a major city in the world, is right outside of St Louis Missouri. It is on fire and burning as I write.

    The Mafia has dumped so much nuclear waste into municipal dumps around Naples, Italy, that the cancer rate Has quadrupled led there in 10 years

    Nuclear nations with any sense will begin immediately shutting down nuclear reactors, building renewables, and safely burying what nuclear waste they have, deeply within the earth. The sad note is the assholes do not even know how to safely bury nuclear waste deeply in the earth yet. They had better start learning.


  4. Wow, Dale. Thanks. Great update on the devastation caused by the nuclear landscape. I first became involved in the antinuclear movement in 1976 when I first learned about it from a PBS documentary. I first became aware of the Hanford mess in 1983 when I moved to Seattle and started working with downwinders with cancer and other chronic illnesses and birth defects. The whole nuclear power industry has been a scam – nuclear energy has never been commercially viable without massive government subsidies.


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