You are a psycho

April 18, 2013

Law is the second most psychopathic profession, says expert

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Ever wondered whether the guy or gal across the office might actually be the next Charles Manson or Pol Pot? Well, there’s a good chance they could be.

Because according to recent media speculation, lawyers are more likely than anyone except CEOs to be psychopaths.

Psychopathy – defined as ‘an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse’ – is the subject of a widely reviewed book by Kevin Dutton, called ‘The Wisdom of Psychopaths.’

In the book, Dutton examines how certain behaviours demonstrated by successful professionals are actually psychopathic in nature. Specifically, he identifies

seven core principles of psychopathy that… can help us get exactly what we want; can help us respond, rather than react, to the challenges of modern-day living; can transform our outlook from victim to victor, but without turning us into a villain.

These ‘Seven Deadly Wins’ Dutton identifies are ruthlessness, charm, focus, mental toughness, fearlessness, mindfulness and action.

The connection between corporate leaders and psychopathy surfaced a year or two ago in Jon Ronson’s ‘The Psychopath Test’, a book that includes the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, an assessment designed to diagnose an individual’s level of psychopathy.

We’ve (liberally) interpreted some of the characteristics to create a series of statements, below.

Agree strongly with more than half, and you’re well on your way to Psychoville.

1.You have a grandiose sense of self-worth. And why not? Your practice/department/ firm would be a lot worse off without you.

2. You often get bored when a deal drags on – say, any longer than a couple of weeks.

3. You don’t mind lying. In fact, you lie to colleagues and clients so often you no longer realise you’re doing it.

4. You rarely feel guilty about anything you do at work. After all, this is business, right?

5. You don’t empathise with your team members. What’s the point? They need to look after themselves.

6. You have been, or intend to be, married more than once. You’ve slept with a couple of people in your firm.

7. You send strongly-worded emails on impulse.

8. Your long term goals are imprecise. But you know that whatever happens you’ll be very, very important indeed.

9. Most of the mistakes made on your projects are made by those either above or beneath you – not you.

10. Your emotional range is short and shallow. Emotion’s just one of those things you don’t deal in.

Worked it out yet? Good. Remind us not to take a shower if you’re within shouting distance of the bathroom. AB

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