There really isn’t any job a psychopath wouldn’t do so long as it benefits them in some way. Psychopaths can be business owners, surgeons, lawyers, data entry clerks, waste managers, salesmen, politicians, waiters, and even therapists. And despite popular belief, a person doesn’t have to be a serial killer or mob boss to be a psychopath.
The term psychopath is over-used in our culture and has come to represent something that it doesn’t actually mean. Episodes of Criminal Minds, for example, frequently highlight the extreme violent behaviors of the disorder to maintain a dramatic effect. However, many psychopaths do not commit heinous crimes. Some are involved only in white-collar crimes while others don’t even do any obvious criminal behavior at all.
What is a psychopath? The term is encompassed under the definition of Anti-Social Personality Disorder along with sociopaths. However, psychopaths and sociopaths are not interchangeable terms. Think of them as two separate parts of a whole personality disorder. A psychopath has the ability to create an entire persona in direct contrast to who they really are. It is as if they are an entirely different person without dissociative or multiple personality elements.
- In a work environment, they can appear to be very responsible, charismatic, friendly, too good to be true, and a hard worker. Their resume, which has been custom-designed to match the job description, will leave employers feeling like they are getting the better end of the bargain. They can talk whatever talk is needed to get the job, to excel at the job, and to get promoted. However, there is a darker side to be wary of.
- Psychopaths will appear to work well within a team environment, but really, they take advantage of their peers. The work generated by a psychopath is frequently at the expense of someone else and not a product of their own efforts. Back-stabbing, gossip, and manipulation are common tactics utilized to undermine authority, gain dominance, and eliminate competition. In the mind of a psychopath, Rules are for fools to follow, so they are exempt from abiding by them. There is no social, corporate, or legal restriction that will keep psychopaths in line. Because they have no conscious, they are only bound by what guidelines they choose.
- The goal for a psychopath is to gain as much power and control as possible with the least amount of effort. To a superior, a psychopath presents the better side in order to gain trust and confidence. Their magnetic personality is appealing to upper management as they easily fit into any environment. As a quick study of personalities, the psychopath is able to transform their appearance and body language into something that is appealing in as little as 30 seconds.
- But to co-workers, the psychopath presents the darker side. They are often caught stealing new ideas, destabilizing the team atmosphere, and refusing to complete assignments. This leaves the co-workers to pick up the slack in an effort to maintain the collaborative work environment – which psychopaths are all too willing to allow them to do. However, if a co-worker complains about the arrangement, the psychopath will instinctively go on the defensive and lash out, sometimes with such force as to cause the “instigating” co-worker to get fired. This enlists fear in the other co-workers who are then more willing to comply with the psychopath’s demands.
Diagnosing a psychopath should be left to a professional, but even professionals sometimes do not see the deception. It requires an ability to assess the person in multiple environments before some of the fraud can be seen. Even then, it may be hard to tell. The best advice available if you feel you may be working with an individual who fits this description is to simply avoid them. At the end of the day, it is better to be safe, than sorry.