Is Your Boss a Psychopath?

Snakes in SuitsWhen I started the day I had no intention of writing a blog about bosses with psychopathic tendencies but my day took a turn when a young woman I have worked with and care for sent me a pained message saying her boss was doing to her exactly what I had experienced a few years ago.  My heart ached for her but from my experience and what I’ve seen happen to others in similar situations I had to say, “the job isn’t worth your mental health so find a way to cut your losses and get out.”

“Psychopath” isn’t actually in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual anymore.  I think we call them something much more politically correct now.  “Anti-social is the term.”  For the purpose of this commentary I will continue to use the term psychopath because I think “anti-social” is sort of like saying a junkyard dog doesn’t get along well with people.

There might be some good things about having a leader who is a psychopath because they are quick thinkers, organised and able to separate themselves emotionally from situations when important decisions are to be made.

Hiring boards should know that the psychopaths also shine in interviews because they are manipulative and charismatic.  A good reason to consider hiring the third choice I would think.  In the long run, it might cost less in staff turnover and lawsuits for wrongful dismissal.

The numbers in some articles on the subject are alarming but we should not be so surprised in this “Trumpian” era when the masses follow so easily the figures which are charming and know how to stir up the crowd rather than those who sensible and appeal to good sense and good morality.

One interesting story I found on the subject I read on Charity Villiage by Susan Fish four years ago, shortly after leaving a work situation akin to hell.  It explains the high incidence of psychopathic personalities working in the not for profit sector and gives a good account of what it is like to work for them but the bottom line is basically, “you might as well get out because you won’t change their ways or their poor treatment of you and they likely have the board fooled too.”

An article in Forbes by Victor Lampan about psychopaths in business has similar warnings and details but also offers some “steps companies can take to help prevent costly and damaging hiring and promotion mistakes.”  The Forbes article also highly recommends the book Snakes in Suits by Robert D. Hare

My great sorrow in this is for those who suffer at the hands of the psychopath with mental distress and job loss but I also fear for the likes of the agencies where they work.  Good people with vision and compassion are being pushed out of the field which is supposed to be helping people and are replaced by pariah who care only for themselves, lie, cheat, steal and steamroll their way through life.




About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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2 Responses to Is Your Boss a Psychopath?

  1. Hi, Thought you’d like to know that the DSM is no longer used. The US moved to the ICD-10, which does have a psychopathy diagnosis.

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