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10% of Wall Street are psychopaths.

Stashed in: Startups, Economics!, Influence!, Greed!, Authenticity, Personality, Business Advice, Empathy, Regret, Ethics, Forgive, @daltonc, Republicans, Svbtle, Psychology!, Narcissists!, Sociopaths, Morals, Factoids

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James Silver writes:

Wall Street and its collective psyche have taken some very public lumps lately, with an executive director resigning from Goldman-Sachs via The New York Times because of the "decline in the firm's moral fiber," and the headline-generating article in CFA Magazine by Sherree DeCovney claiming that 10 percent (at least) of the people in the financial services industry are psychopaths (subscription required). That 10 percent figure could go a long way toward explaining the resignation, couldn't it? Perhaps. But, before deciding the answer to that question, it will be helpful to understand what psychopathy is.

While the common perception of a psychopath is an axe-wielding serial killer, that is not usually the case. Psychopaths are not all violent criminals (though some are). Psychopathy is a psychological condition based on well-established diagnostic criteria, including superficial charm, conning, and manipulative behavior, lack of empathy and remorse, and a willingness to take risks.

People are rated on a scale of 0 to 40 points; presumably, everyone scores a few points, and true psychopaths score in the top 25 percent of the scale.

Determining whether a person is a psychopath is usually done by using a test like the Psychopathy Checklist - Revised (PCL-R), developed by Robert Hare and his colleagues. People are rated on a scale of 0 to 40 points; presumably, everyone scores a few points, and true psychopaths score in the top 25 percent of the scale. Using such formal diagnostic criteria, researchers have estimated that about three million Americans (one percent of the population) are psychopaths. Based on this statistic alone, there are psychopaths on Wall Street.

We define psychopaths and sociopaths as people without empathy and remorse.

This article says that 1% of Americans are psychopaths and 15% of Americans are almost psychopaths.

What's interesting is that Mitt Romney might be in that 16%. He seemingly has no empathy for many Americans, nor does he seem to have any remorse for anything he has done in the past. He will say ANYTHING to get elected, and people who have met him have talked of his charm.

I found this article while reading Dalton Caldwell's article on startup advice.

I've worked with a lot of people who are on the sociopath sliding scale! The thing is, generally they seem to not come to a particularly good end in life -- because they don't have true friends, and many of them don't have real interests.

Psychopathy and sociopathy are both antisocial personality disorders, but they are not the same.

Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by at least 3 of the following:

  1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.

  2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.

  3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them.

  4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.

  5. Incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment.

  6. Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior that has brought the person into conflict with society.

Sociopaths are definitely more charming than the psychopaths.

I'd say that Mitt Romney in particular is guilty of #1 (no empathy), #5 (no remorse), and #6 (blames others).

And that genuinely concerns me.


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