When you hear the words “executive” and “psychopath” together, you can’t help but think of the film American Psycho: a career yuppie on 1980s Wall Street who was actually a vicious killer. But it seems that there is no need to bother Christian Bale and its cinematic interpretation to realize a phenomenon that is far from fiction: a research by the forensic psychologist Nathan Brooks reported by The Independent has come to the conclusion that out of five CEOs of corporate companies, one has obvious psychopathic traits. Like any research, it should be taken with due caution, but in some places it seems really plausible.
Translated in a less terrifying way: poor aptitude for empathy, superficiality, self-centeredness and a tendency to lie are the main characteristics of CEOs according to the Bond University researcher. 21 percent of the 261 professionals taken into consideration prove it.
A percentage similar to that of prisons
The alarming fact is that the percentage recorded is comparable to that found in prisons. In short, mental illness is said to be as widespread among company managers as it is among prisoners. The average in society does not exceed 4 percent. According to Dr. Brooks the reason for this phenomenon would be to be found in the executive selection methodologies which often do not take into account the personality of the subjects, but focus only on the job skills.
This hypothesis was also confirmed by the other two researchers who participated in the study, Katarina Fritzon of Bond University and Simon Croom of the University of San Diego. The results of the survey were presented at the annual meeting of theAustralian Psychological Society in Melbourne.
The characteristics of the successful psychopath
Thinking about it, perhaps it is also the role that determines a natural selection of the types of individuals: in business, in order to be successful, it seems inevitable to have certain character characteristics: «Psychopaths usually tend to be charming and flashy.
This allows them to achieve success in the short term, only to remedy failures later on,” he told the Australian site news.eu Atkanta’s Emory University researcher, Scott Lilienfeld. The consequences of this disorder are diverse and range from difficulties in relating to colleagues and subordinates, to a poor ability to manage instinctive reactions. In some cases these behaviors can also lead to violent attitudes.
The professions most at risk
However, it seems that company executives are not the only category at risk. There are other professions that are more exposed to the concentration of psychopathic traits. The Independent has compiled a ranking: after CEOs, it is lawyers and people who work in the media such as TV and radio who most manifest these trends. Here are the 10 professions with the most psychopaths:
7. Police officer
8. Minister of the clergy
10. Government employee
This special top ten shows that it’s not just those in responsible jobs who are more exposed. In fourth place is the work of the clerk and to close the ranking there are state employees who thus testify that really no one is immune to the problem.