Statistics say that around 1 in every 200 people is a clinical psychopath, which is a great deal more than you might have personally estimated, and an almost guaranteed confirmation that you have run into one in your life. Though not every person clinically in this category is going to attempt you any harm, you probably don’t want to make it a habit of running into them.
A study has found that on average, 1 in every 5 company CEOs is a clinical psychopath. It sounds like some sort of joke, or perhaps a snarky remark made between overworked, underpaid employees. But it just so happens to be true. An Australian study conducted investigated the behavioural traits of 261 professionals in senior positions, namely CEOs, in the United States. The conclusions were that roughly 21% of those studied had behavioural characteristics that significantly put them into the clinical psychopath category.
What Is A Psychopath?
Now, the important thing to keep in mind, at this point, is that perhaps a very specific idea of what a psychopath is has been put forward by popular movies and literature. Which is to say that one expects to see a psychopath chasing others down corridors, axe in hand, sneering grin plastered on face. In reality, however, psychopathic behaviour is not as alarming as this. Instead, a few specific characteristics define the label, which also happen to define the requirements of being a good leader.
It is therefore not surprising then that 21% of company CEOs are labelled in this manner, and likewise that many politicians exhibit psychopathic behaviour, often very publicly.
Manipulation is a very common trait of a person who fits into the clinically psychopathic category. Or more specifically, manipulation that is used as a means to gain personal benefits. Plus, manipulation is likewise used to avoid accountability, skirt around questions, and dodge being pinned down for wrong doings. Yes, at this point it should be clear that such traits are often associated with those in politics. Politicians talk a great deal, they talk about things that matter, about money, about regulating online casinos, about making people happy, but at the end of the day, a lot of what they are saying is just hot air, and they are simply using their innate skill to manipulate people into hearing what they want, even if there is no real substance behind it.
The much discussed Donald Trump is well known for avoiding direct answers in interviews, and changing topics to avoid having to admit to wrong doing. Of course, he is also well known for his short temper, and social media tirades. Although, interestingly enough, this second type of behaviour is not, in fact, specifically associated with a clinical psychopath.
In an interview with Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad that took place in April 2018 similar manipulative behaviour can likewise be seen. When posed with difficult questions, the Syrian president is quick to change topics and calmly avoid giving a direct or straight answer. Which is not to say that the man is a certified psychopath, but simply that there are similarities in the behaviour.
For a bit of perspective, here are specific manipulation techniques common to those with psychopathic tendencies. If put under pressure, a psychopath will often attempt to avoid accountability by using the technique refereed to as gas lighting. Telling you that you are crazy for making an accusation, or that you’re imagining their guilt is common. In this way, you are made to question your own stance in the conversation, as opposed to focusing on their guilt.
Projection is another technique, whereby the accused will instead attempt to project their guilt onto someone else. Responsibility is simply lifted from them, and cast onto a sacrificial scapegoat. Anything to avoid having to be personally accountable.
Circular conversations are perhaps one of the most dangerous, and disorienting tactics. Faking confusion, changing topics and generally disrupting the conversation is the goal, and is often done so masterfully as to leave anyone involved dazzled, stunned and so perplexed they don’t even know where to begin. Generally only those who know what they’re in for are able to counteract this manipulation.
Nit picking, generalising and otherwise derailing a conversation are all manipulation techniques, and often used in combination with the above. Anything to avoid the accusations reaching a conclusion. The conversation could be drawn out for hours via senseless nit picking, killing the whole situation with fatigue alone.
Of course, not everyone who is guilty of the above is a clinical psychopath; so don’t be too quick to drop accusations. But if the above seems deliberate, you may well have intentional, psychopathic manipulation on your hands. Or a born politician.