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Documentary: I am fishhead – are corporate leaders egotistical psychopaths?


This documentary raises some interesting questions, but ultimately does not go far enough in exploring how society’s current structures tend to reward social irresponsibility and encourage the placement of non-empathetic, ruthless and emotionally impaired people in positions of authority, not simply in the business and banking world but in government. Still well worth watching for Peter Coyote’s masterly opening piece to camera, even if nothing else hits quite as hard as it should.


21 Comments

  1. @Harry & nomad, re success of psychopaths in corporations. “There are no more Tories in England, there are only Liberals and corporate fascists”. — George Orwell

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  2. Harry Stotle says

    Here is the link to Babiek, et als, paper (20i0) – ‘Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk’
    https://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/babiak2010.pdf

    These researchers conclude, ‘results provide evidence that a high level of psychopathic traits does not necessarily impede progress and advancement in corporate organizations (cf., Babiak & Hare, 2006). Most of the participants with high psychopathy scores held high-ranking executive positions, and their companies had invited them to participate in management development programs. This was in spite of negative performance reviews and other 360 data that were in the hands of corporate decision makers.’

    The study sample was taken from 7 companies, ranging in size from 150 to over 40,000 people worldwide.
    Four of the companies were global, but only their U.S. branches were included.
    The companies were scattered across the U.S.; four located along the eastern seaboard, one in the south, and two in locations across the country.
    The participants consisted of 203 managers and executives (77.8% males; 22.2% females) identified for participation in the management development (MD) program of their respective companies.

    So yes, there are sociopaths in the upper echelons of the corporate world, who may even be over-represented, and its certainly true to say that many corporations are amoral – but what I thought was missing from the film is the simple fact individuals with a personality disorder, such as psychopaths, are made not born.

    Two exemplars who’s faces flashed across the screen (amongst others) included Hitler and Charles Manson.
    The clue to understanding such people is knowing more about their early experiences.
    Inevitably such experiences are universally negative amongst those who fail to develop empathy – and as we all know lack of empathy leads to all sorts of horrible shit.

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  3. Ivan Ilyin on Contemplative Love. Just now discovered him via the Saker. I cannot read Russian and know only fragments of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn; nevertheless I would place him up there with them — and with the great Russion theorist of cooperative evolution Kropotkin. Their common theme is the creative power of love which is strongest when it works through weak and fallible creatures. One headline on a search engine calls him Putin’s Philoosopher. This I can well believe, having long ago concluded that Putin is one of the tiny handful of world leaders who are not running a psychopathologically criminal regime.

    http://thesaker.is/ivan-ilyin-on-contemplative-love/

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    • Vexarb:

      How horrible is the life of a man who has been separated from this gift [love]! What a void, what depravity his life turns into!

      Yes, there is not much love in people. They have excluded it from their cultural behaviour, from science, from faith, from art, from ethics, from politics, and from education. And, as a result, modern humanity has entered a spiritual crisis, unheard of in its depth and scope.

      Much as I was trying to say below, only more eloquent. Thanks for the link. Since I read E F Schumacher way back when: I’ve long thought that love capital (or empathy capital: much the same thing …as empathy engenders love) is the only real viable unit of currency for our economy and ecology. That would truly be worth valorising and the profits of love being “owned” (as a common resource) and distributed socially?

      Meanwhile, back in the “real” world: I was reading on RT earlier that the Orange Sociopath-in-Chief is doubling the money for nukes …to enrich all his Pentagram-industrial-complex sociopath buddies… and they call me MAD!!!

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  4. Personality fragments re-enact a hated, feared and denied past, and operate as a diversionary covering over where the problem belongs and where – only where – it can be resolved, rather than repackaged.

    Rationalisations are not aligned with Reason of a true sanity. They are defences against feelings that cannot yet be faced. And so insane ‘rationalisations’ protect the system of order imposed upon feared or hated life. A death system that operates the sacrifice of a true life while seeming to empower and protect a slave. This substitution for life learns survival in growing the mask that hides. The smile, the sympathy, the concern, the outrage, all operate within the mask. If the mask is threatened with exposure, a facet of the masking will be sacrificed to protect the whole. And so some forms of lovelessness are targeted with special attention while others remain socially approved or endorsed… for now. ‘Someone has to pay’, to keep a death-mask ‘alive’ as power over feared-true. Unresolved psychic-emotional (relational) conflict works the undercurrent reality to the mask of appearances.

    The hiding of hated or feared truth runs as a protected lie, and the protection of the hidden from the exposure in truth is mind-control. Those who elect to be controlled do so because it saves them from responsibility for their own life.

    Mind-control is thinking that runs as if it your own, if you have never stepped outside its rule. The rule that you would have over life determines the terms of your subjection under what you have made of it. Most of this is inducted before our verbal consciousness develops. The thinking mind does not intend deceit so much as grow upon a false foundation – in support of a segregating and separating sense of self. Fear and guilt denial running as self-assertion.

    In a world of denial and deceit, some become aware that this is so – and of these some choose to use such insight to gain power for themselves, while others choose to release denial and deceit from their mind. No one can release what they are not the owner of, and so while this ‘deceit’ is seen in ‘others’ and attacked or judged, it will never be recognized in ourselves – where our part in its entanglement with us remains active.

    Moral judgement of others is judging ourself in others and casting out as if to get rid of it. But we do not live anyone else’s life and nor does anyone else live ours. Trying to act as if we have moral integrity is revealing the belief in lack. But those who rest in a congruency of thought, word and deed have a natural capacity to see the worth in others – regardless the presentations of the person. I do not say we are without a voice, a witness, an ability to communicate in terms of what we accept true and stand in.

    Manipulation by guilt is most evident in the assignment of blame to others, or circumstances. As long as we subscribe to the mind of guilt, we operate as if golems under its schizophrenic divisions. But nor can guilt be escaped by rational repackaging under clever evasive manoeuvres. But it can be faced, by not been hidden, protected and denied. That freedom rises from owning our errors, is as sure as slavery comes from trying to escape them. For what is sought escape from is made real by the very attempt. Escapees must believe their minds. They must believe such slavery is freedom, and they must attack and deny the true to protect their slavery. Until a profound misidentification is corrected.

    However, life is not lived in abstracted generalisations neatly packaged to pass off as currency. We have real relationships that are acknowledged and honoured and lived, or we have the world of private judgements upon others running as if the right and the power – in power struggle.

    If we recognize ‘psychopathy’ or the sickness of mind that denies the heart, then we can open to our healing. But this is a systemic sickness of a personality effect. Blaming and ‘treating’ or killing the messenger is the persistence of the system in further fragmentations of violence. If you wont give vengeance up. It wont give you up.

    The messenger will always be faithful to what we seek to find. If you send out messengers of hate – they come back with witnesses for the prosecution. The unwillingness to reinforce hate comes from recognizing it within us, not from wanting to change. mould or heal others.

    So the perception of a hateful and deceitful world, is an opportunity to a deeper self-honesty, or to persist in the thinking of such a world. We may be resistant to look within, but even a little willingness aligns with the renewing of our mind – as an aligned expression of the heart – and not its masked denial.

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  5. Fair dinkum says

    We are not born with a personality (persona meaning mask). We develop one through our interactions with those around us. If those around us are struggling with their masks, we can catch their dis-ease.
    Psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists live entirely behind their masks, they have no ‘character’, only persona. The masks they wear deflects/repels any love that comes their way. People with character can feel Love.
    Those who are not consumed by their masks are looking for Truth and purpose.
    Thus we have religion, capitalism, communism, hedonism and even atheism.
    Connectedness is a psychologists way of saying Love.
    We can be sure that a high percentage of those amongst the One Per Cent live entirely behind their masks.
    Building a fortune leaves no time for Love.

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    • Indeed we cannot enter the human experience without living through separation trauma, and growing, inheriting, imbibing and identifying in the mask of defence that enables ‘survival’ within the framing of loveless power. The entanglement of separation drama – ie: in the triangle of victim, perpetrator and saviour, plays out as ‘power struggle’. But also as rage fed vengeance, cold hearted refusal and rejection, of a set mind. The mask is many layered.

      One of the masking strategies (for survival of the mask) is of seeing everyone else sinful or weak in their masking AS IF free of one’s own and AS IF we hold the answer of what should be, or the narrative meanings that account for what is asserted to be real.

      The following is the first part of my morning reading. It addresses what I need to hear – to be free of the mask – though in its symbolism it assigns the empty shell as the true receptivity, and the filling with ‘thinking’ as the masking (false) identity.
      – “There is a voice within you that claims to be you. This voice does not try to deceive you, because this voice does believe it is you. Therefore, all that it whispers into your mind, it whispers in belief that it is truth.
      But, the reason that this voice is not truth is because this voice cannot see you. It cannot know you, because it cannot see you. Therefore, this voice is mistaken. All that it tells you, believing it is true, is based on a mistake, and so it is mistaken also.
      The voice that thinks it is you has convinced you that it is you also, and so you listen to this voice as if it is you. You are loyal to its thoughts. If this voice tells you that you must defend yourself in this way or that, you defend yourself as it says, for you believe that following the voice is your own defense of yourself. But since the voice is not you, it is not you that you defend in following it. Since this voice is the voice of a mistake about who you are, in listening to the voice, you defend a mistake and believe it is true.
      To listen to this voice and do as it says is to defend that you are what you are not. To listen to this voice and do as it says is to choose to remain blinded to your Truth.-
      (~ NTI).

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    • “We are not born with a personality (persona meaning mask). We develop one through our interactions with those around us.”
      While that may be true, personality is a different issue from whether or not one is a psychopath. Psychopaths are fundamentally different from the rest of us, psychologically speaking. They are not like us. They are in effect mutants. They have no empathy, just like the institutional edifices they have built for us. That lack of empathy gives them a great advantage over us and makes their ruthlessness boundless and completely indifferent to the harm they cause others. That is their super power. They are X-men.

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  6. Big B says

    Capitalism itself is nothing more or less than the systematic engineering of egocentricity: so is it any surprise that the most proficient narcissistic egotists (sociopaths; psychopaths) rise (or capture) the heights of control; the elite and most influential positions of power? From whence they seek to consolidate and pseudo-immortalise their position and legacy, through dynasty and epoch-making? Pretty soon, you’ve got a kakistocracy: rule by the worst – or by the best-suited and most adapted to adapting the system to their own ends …through monopolising wealth and its creation; monopolising the power to create money (as interest bearing debt); monopolising private property rights (landowning; asset owning; patent and copyright owning; resource owning; rent seeking; etc); monopolising government; culture; judiciary; etc …and imposing order through the monopoly of implicit and explicit state sanctioned violence. The system is rigged by and for the worst: by rewarding and amplifying the worst of their psychological traits?

    As the macroeconomic system nurtures and rewards psychopathy; the micro (or meso)-economic system produces (or attempts to produce in ever limited numbers) the mirror-image of the ruling class. The personified basic economic unit of the capitalist mode of production; in its current neo-classical incantation [sic] is Homo Economicus …a vain hedonistic egocentric person; rationally self-maximising greed and disaffected consumption …alienated from and by themselves; from each other (community); from Nature (environment); reacting through violence and crime (a sign of desperation); dependency on drugs (a sign of sanity); …or in the way prescribed systemically – “distracted from distraction by distraction” [Eliot] conspicuously consuming commodities and experiential in the Society of the Spectacle. In other words: the perfect subservient wannabe vassal – maintained and maintaining the dealer/addict or “perpetually immature” patriarchal/filial hierarchy.

    Somehow, if we all act according to this socially constructed and socially acculturated rational normalcy: if left unencumbered, market forces will be guided by an Invisible Hand that will ensure that the greatest common good will materialise – as if by magic? Determined by our acceptance – at least in part – of socialised psychopathy?

    So if we all act nice, and affect our social network to the third degree – but no further – all will be well? I’m a huge believer in the power of social interaction, the power to change from within rippling out. Commons and commoning are the Zeitgeist buzzwords. But if we ever get real about emancipation and egalitarianism – sooner rather than later; we will have to socialise the means of production: all of it – without exception. As Alan Woods said to Hugo Chavez – “You can’t have half a revolution.” Capitalism wants to make rational sociopaths of us all: consuming the Earth, our planet. If we give in: Is it any surprise the psychopaths win?

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    • @BigB: “unencumbered, market forces will be guided by an Invisible Hand that will ensure that the greatest common good will materialise – as if by magic? ”

      Echoed by Darwin, who was influenced by Laissez-faire Capitalist doctrine to replace Divine Providence, and substitute the more realistic notion of Random Mutation with Emergence of the Best Adapted. I quote from memory the end of the Origin of the Species: “How blind, blundering, wasteful and unutterably cruel are the workings of Nature…. and yet, from famine, from struggle, from death in all its hideous forms, emerge Beings most Wonderful.” As if by magic?

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      • Vexarb: exactly …in modern parlance competitive game theory produces the best result for all if they act in their own best interest (Nash Equilibrium) Perfect, if you want your outcome to be species extinction! Cooperative game theory (socialism) produces far better results: and emancipates humanity from competitive social-Darwinism. I just checked the headlines to see if capitalist imperialism had produced a peaceful egalitarian world overnight – as if by magic? Nope! Perhaps tomorrow …after one more round of austerity, more imperialism, neo-colonialism, alienation, exploitation …etc.

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  7. rtj1211 says

    The biggest is not actually the psychopaths but the weaklings who follow them for a quiet life. There are not so many psychopaths that they cannot be overcome, but when they coopt weaklings against those who stand up for decency, then they can win.

    So really the issue is how to stop sufficient numbers of the easily led falling into the hands of psychopaths……

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    • except that its not just psychopathic individuals. its a system that indoctrinates, rewards and promotes psychopathy. and it is deeply entrenched and supported by numerous institutions, the msm and political think tanks.

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    • “So really the issue is how to stop sufficient numbers of the easily led falling into the hands of psychopaths……”

      Good idea! Here are three psychopaths. Why dont you start by standing up to them? And you can only do that by getting your elected officials to stand up to them. How you gone do that?
      “For God’s sake, don’t elevate the likes of former CIA directors Michael Hayden and John Brennan and the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to the position of “senior statesmen.”
      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48588.htm

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  8. hey hey hey. i didnt watch it. but it seems to express my recent epiphany. we live in a psychopathocracy. some call it an oligarchy. thats true. some, i think erroneously, call it a dictatorship. but the most salient feature of our warmongering, people oppressing leadership is its psychopathology.

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