PUBLISHED BY AGAVE PUBLISHERS LLC
THE CAPITALISTIC MARVEL AND THE PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF FINANCIAL LEADERS
When the rewards are greater – the grass is greener – the more likely male and female Machiavellians sniff out the trail of greatness. It is not merely chaos and the will to power that drive the Machiavellian, but also greed and the sense of invulnerability. Big business, including the corporations, large banks, non-democratic governments, and other competitive enterprises, often show an unusually large number of psychopaths with their hands on the throttle. For instance, Babiak and Hare (Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths go to Work, Harpor, 2006) have data indicating that corporations have about three to four times the number of psychopaths working in the capitalistic system than expected by chance.
From the sidelines our lot in life is constant exposure to the whirling derby of mental deviations, the vacillating episodes of mob violence, the psychopathic ascension of tyrannical leaders, the self-centered callousness of genius, and the self-absorption of pompous asses. Be it sometimes we, that trample and trade, we must also deal with ourselves.
It is not difficult to respond to the Machiavellian version of a new leader, who may be tainted by madness, but offers a raw vision and a personal flair that can rally people when the world is crumbling all around. Observing a number of political seekers tells us that the psychiatrist S. Nassir Ghaemi is correct; it may take the touch of madness for someone working the high wire of fate to break through to a new and different level of understanding. The typical admonitions and cautions of old systems, stale political parties, former war heroes, and likely losers simply won’t do. Folks are looking for the Churchills, the Lincolns, and the Gandhis for leadership, the roll of the dice. They are at first looking at the media, not the message. A candidate for political position may be a wobbly cannon, but some will believe that that dodging the cannonball is better than lobbing a small tennis ball toward the net. Somehow our genetic structure leads us to questionable individuals during periods of economic and social disruptions, and it gives us the courage to live outside the chicken coop and sample new possibilities. In the next few years we will see how willing people are to roll those dice.
One cannot usually tell when a Machiavellian will support our cultural values or go an independent way that we would like to avoid. Identifying a Machiavellian is the first step toward a decision, but the second step of giving or withholding support may be debatable in our minds. Let’s be clear: we will never know for sure what the best approach is. The drawing out of the recent national election has given us detailed exposure to individual personalities, but in the end many voters still could not be sure of their choice. At some point, like the characters risking their lives in the movies, Jackass, voters just go for it. We hope for the best and go for the change. That’s what life amounts to.
Del Wolf Thiessen, Professor Emeritus, Psychology, University of Texas at Austin October 24, 2014.