Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Snakes in Suits"

From the "Year in Ideas" special issue of the New York Times magazine, two psychologists, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, have developed the "B-Scan," an instrument designed to detect whether the CEO of an organization is a psychopath. The instrument is currently being field tested.
Babiak, as quoted in the Vancouver Sun, "The psychopath is the kind of individual that can give you the good impression, has a charming facade, can look and sound like the ideal leader, but behind the mask has a dark side. And it's this dark side of the personality that lies, is deceitful, is manipulative, that bullies other people, that promotes fraud in the organization and steals the company's money...." He fears that psychopaths are increasingly attracted to the business world because, as per a news report in Science, "the rapid pace of technological change, downsizing, and sudden growth make for a chaotic environment ripe for mistrust and manipulation."
Babiak and Hare have a book in the works titled "Snakes in Suits."
In the brief news reports available on the web there is nothing specific about the prevalence of such "snakes" in health care. If the hypothesis that a fast-paced, technological, and chaotic environment attracts psychopaths is correct, however, health care should have its fair share.


Egan Allen said...

I laughed aloud when I read this last Sunday. I have known a half-dozen or so CEOs and could see the utility for such a scale.


Judith Nudelman said...

The psychopaths not the only personality disorder manifested in the leaders of the healthcare industry. Malignant narcissism, histrionic and borderline personality disorders abound.

Anonymous said...

To add to this post a bit, other studies have shown that anyone desiring sales as a profession has some degree of some borderline personality disorder. Furthermore, different levels of corporate management have some degree of what is illustrated in this post. It's quite frightening, and hard to discriminate from true evil.