Psychopaths in power: Why do toxic people easily rise to the top?

2023-09-21 16:01:00, Kuriozitete Francesc Miralles

Psychopaths in power: Why do toxic people easily rise to the top?

In his book "DisConnected", Steve Taylor talks about how narcissists and psychopaths often find themselves in positions of power, whether in politics, business or other areas of life. Taylor, who is a professor of psychology at the University of Leeds in England, uses the term "pathocracy" to describe countries or organizations that are controlled by these types of people, who have little or no empathy for the suffering caused by their decisions.

Taylor believes that this cruel behavior is the result of their disconnection from humanity. It is the opposite of compassion, which allows us to feel and be affected by the suffering of others. Leaders who are narcissistic or psychopathic rule in a patriarchal and hierarchical manner, and have an aggressive attitude toward those who oppose them.

Anyone can probably name more than one example that fits this pattern. In his book "The Intelligence of Psychopaths", psychologist Kevin Duton argues that psychopathic traits are very common in successful leaders, as the anomaly they suffer from helps them get to the top. According to the Oxford and Cambridge researcher, the leaders of the pathocracies have these 6 traits in common:

1. Social impact

Narcissists and most psychopaths love to be the center of attention. They carry themselves well in front of the public, who see them as charismatic.

2. They are not afraid

Such a leader naturally expresses what the ordinary citizen would not dare to say. The same applies to his actions, which is why this type of leader usually carries out risky actions.

3. They are immune to stress

These leaders thrive on adversity, protest, and disagreement, and like to swim against the current. They feel at home when surrounded by chaos. This gives them a competitive advantage over softer opponents.

4. Machiavellian egocentrism

Whoever runs a pathocracy aims to find their place in history, no matter what the cost to the victims, who are considered collateral damage for a greater good.

5. Lack of conformity and rebellion

This trait has been observed in Eduard Limonov, the founder of the Bolshevik Party, who was described as a man who did not give a damn about the consequences of his actions. The attempted invasion of Russia by Napoleon or Hitler are 2 other well-known examples.

6. The cold

Taylor uses the term "detachment" to explain these leaders' lack of sensitivity to the suffering of others.

Teylor emphasizes that many of them had a traumatic childhood, either because of parental neglect or from being witnesses or victims of violence. Once they develop psychopathic behavior, many therapists believe that it is almost impossible to treat them, precisely because they do not believe they are wrong, much less sick.

But on the other hand, psychopaths can be transformed by direct contact with the victims of their actions, as seen in meetings between terrorists and relatives of their victims. But is it generally possible to change the approach of a pathocratic leader?

History suggests not. For example, in 1939, Mahatma Gandhi decided to write to Hitler after learning of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. He began the letter empathetically: "Dear friend, will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately avoided the method of war, and has done so with considerable success?".

We do not know whether or not the letter reached Hitler, who never replied. But a year later, Gandhi tried again with a second letter in which he pleaded with Hitler to end the war, appealing to his humanity. Both efforts failed, which suggests that it is not at all easy to convince these people to reflect./ " El Pais " - Translated and adapted by CNA

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