What do you think of when you hear the word “Psychopath”? Some kind of insane axe murderer?
Psychopaths often don’t look or seem anything at all like we imagine.
The scientific definition of a psychopath is a person who has shallow emotions or a severe lack of empathy. Certainly sounds like some people I’ve worked with!
Kevin Dutton, who is a research Psychologist at the University of Oxford, has spent years studying and learning about the brains of psychopaths.
He has put together a list of the most probable or common career fields that psychopaths tend to work in. Is your job one of them?
Corporations in America are known for their cold, cutthroat tactics. We even refer to successful people who’ve made a name for themselves in this area as sharks.
Sounds like a perfect place for psychopaths to thrive, doesn’t it?
Now certainly some CEOs are perfectly normal people, but there are several studies suggesting that 4% of them are actually psychopaths. That’s 4 times more than in the general population.
We all like to make jokes about lawyers being heartless or deceitful, but there may be some truth in the humor.
Lawyers can show signs of psychopathy, which can make dishonesty, greed and cruel ambition easy to shrug off as casual behavior. One lawyer said when interviewed that:
“Deep inside me there’s a serial killer lurking somewhere. But I keep him amused with cocaine, Formula One, booty calls, and coruscating cross-examination.”
3. Media (Radio/TV)
Seems sort of obvious, right? Of course not everyone in media is some sort of psychopath, but if you think hard about some of the most famous media personalities out there currently, it starts to make a lot of sense!
4. Sales People
In his book, Working With Monsters: How to Identify and Protect Yourself from the Workplace Psychopath, John Clarke claims that working with a psychopath on your team may actually be beneficial.
“The psychopath is very likely to be a good salesperson, if they are intelligent as well as glib and superficial,” Clarke writes.
“In fact, a study done in 2001 by Marc Hamer found that superior sales performance was associated with higher levels of narcissism (egocentric and grandiose), sociopathy and cognitive empathy.”
The downside is that they may cause more conflict and confrontation than good, they’re also more likely to take advantage of the system than just work within it.
Although Doctors and Nurses were found to be in careers with some of the least psychopaths, surgeons are a different breed.
In a 2014 piece in Pacific Standard, Wen Shen states “the trouble with surgeons [is]…[m]any are abrasive, abusive, and wildly self-centered—so much so that observers have speculated that they suffer from psychiatric disorders.”
She believes this may be rooted back in the days when surgery was preformed without anesthesia.
Surgeons were required to preform to a “soundtrack of screams” while staying stoic and calm. Today we are looking for kinder, more patient surgeons with better bedside manner.
As freelance writer Jeff Cash once said:
“A hint of psychopathy is actually a prerequisite for public purpose journalism… Psychopathy can creep in all too easily in the world of journalism, as any reporter who’s had an after-hours fight with some obnoxious public relations officer can attest to. (That’s pretty much all of them, by the way).
Seeing your name in a national newspaper on a daily basis is enough to turn even the most humble being into a fountain of narcissism. And if you think that’s bad, just imagine how much appearing on national television would contribute to one’s superiority complex.”
Makes sense to me!
7. Police Officer
Perhaps the most alarming on the list, our men and women in blue can be some of the highest perpetrators of psychopathic behavior.
According to Police Domestic Violence: A Handbook for Victims, “women suffer domestic abuse in at least 40 percent of police officer families.”
The families of police officers are also “two to four times more likely to experience domestic violence than the general population”.
While members of the clergy are meant to be leaders in moral temperance and love for mankind, we have seen evidence of their psychopathy in the past with child sex abuse scandals, and then the blatant silence and cover ups following said scandals.
The church may draw psychopaths because of the vulnerability of members and ease of access to possible victims.
Many modern evangelical preachers and famous televangelists have been called Megalomaniacs by critics. This includes Ted Haggard, Bill Gothard, Creflo Dollar, and Geronimo Aguilar.
Chef Gordon Ramsay once told Vanity Fair that “Chefs are nutters. They’re all self-obsessed, delicate, dainty, insecure little souls and absolute psychopaths.
Every last one of them.” If you’ve never worked in a kitchen, you may find it an odd profession to include psychopaths, but as chef Anthony Bourdain explains, “Some chefs borrow money, they do everything they can, they kill themselves, it’s the culmination of a career working 100 hours a week or more.
They finally open a place and within eight minutes of opening, some asshole has posted on Yelp, ‘Worst meal ever.’ You can understand why they go insane, and do everything they can to ameliorate that.”
10. Civil Servants
It would make sense that people who work say, at your local DMV might be psychopaths, wouldn’t it?
Jobs in civil service often include power and authority over others, two things that psychopaths love and crave.
Dennis Rader, the man who dubbed himself the BTK killer, was a census field operations supervisor in Kansas.
Later on he was a dogcatcher. From wikipedia: “Neighbors recalled him as being sometimes overzealous and extremely strict; one neighbor complained that he euthanized her dog for no reason.”
That definitely seems like the behavior of a psychopath to me!