Richard Feynman was a psychopath

The boss, a psychopath?

Supervisors spend a large part of their working time astonishing employees with their questionable habits. For example, they assess you with this piercing look when you cross each other in the corridor. Or they greet you with such exaggerated enthusiasm that the slime drips down onto the carpet. They burst into laughter at the end of their jokes, dwarfing any neighing horse. During important presentations by employees, they demonstratively type on their smartphones as if the end of the war in Syria were in their hands.

Do you just have an aha moment, dear readers? Then I might give you an explanation today: If this behavior is accompanied by narcissism or egoism - qualities to which superiors have a particularly close relationship - it could be that your boss is dealing with a psychopath.

A recent study found that 21 percent of CEOs have a "clinically significant level" of psychopathic traits. One in five superiors is a psychopath - roughly the same number as prison inmates, according to the researchers (the psychological ratio is 1: 100 in the normal population). Narcissism, superficial charm, a lack of empathy, selfishness, manipulative behavior - all signs of psychopathic traits.

Disease or job description?

With their research, the study authors want to help employers find a way to filter out potential psychopaths before employment. Forensic doctor Nathan Brooks, who conducted the study with the Universities of San Diego and Bond in Australia, recommends companies to improve recruiting. Instead of focusing on job skills first, the candidate should be subjected to a psychological personality test.

I'm confused. Didn't the scientists mess up something? In profit-oriented, listed companies, aren't people with the aforementioned characteristics who are most likely to be considered for the managerial job? Aren't CEOs required to fire people without a guilty conscience? To achieve quarterly figures at any cost? Finding opportunities to grow sales, even if they are not always flawless? Do you want to strain your morals a little for business advantages?

"Typical psychopaths create a lot of chaos and tend to play other people off against each other," continues Nathan Brooks. Isn't he declaring a large part of us to be psychopaths? Just recently I completely mixed up a couple of important business appointments (chaos), which is why my husband had to help out with dog herding. That he was forced to change his own agenda was irrelevant (lack of empathy) - my job performance is more important (egoism). So that I could wrap him around my finger with the sweet promise (superficial charm) of a wild weekend (manipulative behavior), I blamed my planning errors on a work colleague (playing people off against each other). And because I am convinced that my methodical approach reveals managerial qualities (narcissism), I will soon apply for a senior management position. Thank you, Mr. Brooks, for the useful study!

Tamara Wernli works as a freelance news presenter and columnist for the Basler Zeitung. This is where this article appeared first. In her column “Tamara's World” she writes weekly on gender and social issues

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