Snakes in Suits
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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work is a non-fiction book by industrial psychologist Paul Babiak and psychopathy expert Robert D. Hare. The text was initially published by HarperBusiness on May 9, 2006.
The text covers the nature of psychopaths in the context of employment and purports to explain:
- How psychopaths manipulate their way into work and get promoted,
- The effects of their presence on colleagues and corporations, and
- The superficial similarities (and fundamental differences) between leadership skills and psychopathic traits.
The work is interlaced with fictional narratives illustrating how the factual content applies to real-life situations. Characteristics of manipulators are described as shifting to meet stereotypical gender expectations: a female psychopath might make full use of the passive, warm, nurturing, and dependent sex-role stereotype in order to get what she wants out of others and a male psychopath might use a macho image, intimidation, and aggression to achieve satisfaction of his desires.
The authors posit that around 3–4% of more senior positions in business are psychopaths.
Five phase model
- Entry - psychopath will use highly developed social skills and charm to obtain employment into an organisation. At this stage it will be difficult to spot anything which is indicative of psychopathic behaviour, and as a new employee you might perceive the psychopath to be helpful and even benevolent.
- Assessment - psychopath will weigh you up according to your usefulness, and you could be recognised as either a pawn (who has some informal influence and will be easily manipulated) or a patron (who has formal power and will be used by the psychopath to protect against attacks)
- Manipulation - psychopath will create a scenario of “psychopathic fiction” where positive information about themselves and negative disinformation about others will be created, where your role as a part of a network of pawns or patrons will be utilised and you will be groomed into accepting the psychopath's agenda.
- Confrontation - the psychopath will use techniques of character assassination to maintain their agenda, and you will be either discarded as a pawn or used as a patron
- Ascension - your role as a patron in the psychopath’s quest for power will be discarded, and the psychopath will take for himself/herself a position of power and prestige from anyone who once supported them.
- The Mask of Sanity by Hervey M. Cleckley, first published in 1941.
- Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare, first published in 1993.
- Evil Genes by Barbara Oakley, published in 2007.
- The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, published in 2011.
- Snakes in suits and how to spot them, Whittell, Giles (2002-11-11) The Times.
- the-disturbing-link-between-psychopathy-and-leadership, Forbes magazine, 2013
- ‘Snakes in Suits’ unmasks corporate psychos Today 5 Jun 2006
- Hill-Tout J The psychopaths in suits BBC 14 Jan 2004