If you’re one of those people who still thinks anyone should be able to recognize a psychopath, wake up: Not all psychopaths are beady-eyed serial killers. The psychopath you see every day could be your boss.
Snakes in Suits is the new book by Dr. Robert Hare, the international expert on psychopaths, and Dr. Paul Babiak, an industrial-organizational psychologist. (I wrote about the book last Sunday as well.) Buried on page 193 is a shocking statistic: 3.5% of business executives are psychopaths.
Hare and Babiak conducted original research with 200 high-potential executives. The 3.5% who scored as psychopaths were “superficial, grandiose, deceitful, impulsive, irresponsible, not taking responsibility for their own actions, and lacking goals, remorse and empathy.”
The authors also wrote, “From the cases we have reviewed from others in the field, as well as from readers, this level of incidence seems correct.”
Triple threat in the office
Let’s put this into context. Hare believes that approximately 1% of the general population of North America are out-and-out psychopaths. But 3.5% of the people running American businesses—more than triple the number of psychopaths in the rest of society—are doing it without a conscience.
It also fits with what Lovefraud readers tell me. Since Lovefraud launched almost a year ago, more than 100 people have contacted me with their stories. Several people have said that the psychopaths in their lives are corporate executives. At least four people are dealing with psychopaths who are medical doctors.
These people use the mantle of respect that comes with their positions to cover their treachery. And they do it well enough to keep getting promoted.