In Praise of the Psychopath


One of the most misused and least understood words in the English language is ‘psychopath’.

Thanks to the media, as well as the arts, the word is confused with ‘violent psychopath’.

Many years ago when I was still cavorting on the corporate stage, I asked one of my American ‘matrix’ bosses (who went on to head up one of the world’s biggest banks) what his ideal senior manager was. He studied me intently and replied, ‘An entrepreneurial psychopath with an MBA’…………..

‘Well,’ I thought, ‘at least I’m half qualified.’…..

If you’ve ever come across someone who exudes confidence, shows no fear, is quick to make decisions, is considered charming but has that edge of ruthlessness and is the best man or woman to have by your side in a crisis, the odds are that they have a psychopathic personality.

If someone ever calls you ‘psycho’ and you haven’t murdered your neighbour or drowned your young children’s kittens, take it as a compliment.

So what is suddenly making me think about the psychopathic personality? It is no more than the election to very high political office of a leader who is probably the most misunderstood individual to step onto the world stage in recent years.

I have already listed some psychopathic traits but if I add to them the fact that psychopaths don’t waste time, and only focus on the positive whilst being very assertive with a clear view of what they wish to achieve and remain totally controlled even when under pressure, you may already have guessed which brand-new leader I am referring to. Add to that the fact that psychopaths don’t become depressed or blame themselves if things go wrong because they never take things personally, but can be quite affable and lovable when they want to be – you know exactly to whom I am referring.

Company CEOs and many senior politicians are definitely psychopaths, which brings me to yet another trait which they all share and that is an ego with its own postcode! These people love themselves – they are narcissists of the first order. That means that you will not be surprised when I tell you that surgeons and lawyers, especially the ones who have climbed the greasy pole of stardom also tend to be psychopaths.

The Merrill-Reid Social Styles Model splits individuals into four main groups: Drivers, Expressives, Analyticals and Amiables. The psychopaths are the Drivers. They enjoy power – especially over their disciples or followers. Notice that I didn’t say ’employees’ or anything silly like that. These people enjoy being worshipped and looked up to. Those egos need sustenance! They demand worship!

So, don’t be surprised by Donald Trump signing executive orders like confetti. It is what he does. He needs to do it and to be seen to do it.

He does not want to be seen to procrastinate and is driven to get the job done as soon as possible without worrying too much about any collateral damage. Focus is not on the people, but on the end-result.

British Prime Minister Theresa May could not help but be charmed by Mr Trump on her recent visit to the United States. That is because many ‘Drivers’ such as Mr Trump can turn on the charm like a chocolate fountain – but that charm tends to be no more than a ‘learned behaviour’. Emotion-based traits do not come naturally or easily to the average psychopath but have to be studied gradually and learned to be used as no more than a ‘tool’ when needed.

Finally, a word of warning. When any individual who relies on learned behaviours in order to fit in with conventional society (or politics!) is ever put under extreme pressure, it is the learned behaviours which disappear and they revert to type – and the sparks begin to fly. In other words – no more Mr Nice Guy…….

I believe that we are in for a very interesting time.

p.s. If you are concerned about Theresa May being a psychopath – you will be pleased to know that she is most definitely an Analytical. That means procrastination – usually in the guise of  ‘I like all the information in front of me before I make a decision’. Just like that nice Gordon Brown.  As for Tony Blair? You decide.

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