Psychopathy is a fascinating subject. Traditionally it was believed that all psychopaths were criminals and all criminals psychopaths, despite being initially disputed by Hervey Cleckley in his book The Mask of Sanity
which was originally published way back in 1941. It is now estimated that around 1 in 4 UK prisoners is a psychopath - or at least scores high enough on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist
to be considered a psychopath. This means two things, firstly that about three quarters of the prison population aren't psychopaths and secondly that because psychopathy doesn't correlate exactly with criminality, that there are psychopaths that are not criminals. Indeed the FBI
estimates that about 1% of the general population in the US are psychopaths (curiously with a smaller prison percentage of just 10 to 15% of offenders - but that's another story for another day).
In fact, psychopaths, because of their very nature can become hugely successful. Professor Clive Boddy estimates that, in an average company, at the bottom levels of the organisation about 1% of the employees can be considered to be psychopaths, but this rises to 3.5% at senior management level. This does vary across professions - i.e. the percentages are much lower in caring professions, but noticeably higher in psychopath-attractive professions like law, banking and politics where the psychopathy percentage at senior management level can be around 7 to 10%. (Indeed one banker said that his bank that specifically used Hare's PCL-R to recruit staff because driven people with an inflated opinion of self and minimal empathy can tend to make good brokers.
So, what exactly are the traits of psychopathy? Well there are many, many signs which come under the factors of 'aggressive narcissism' and 'socially deviant lifestyle', (which isn't as salacious as you think it is). A full list can be found here
), but for today we are going to focus on the first factor. Aggressive narcissism includes things such as superficial charm, an over-inflated opinion of self worth, pathological lying, being manipulative, lack of personal responsibility and also a lack of remorse or empathy.
Mitt Romney once famously said that corporations are people and, indeed, in 2010 the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission
ruled that corporations are persons and, at least in the case of psychopathy, Boddy agrees with this. In his book, Corporate Psychopaths
, Boddy argues that once a psychopath or psychopaths take over the running of a company, that company will change to reflect the personal purview of those psychopaths, citing MGN under Robert Maxwell and ENRON as examples of companies that have taken on corporate psychopathy profiles from their senior management.
His study shows that several things happen when a company is run by a psychopathic CEO. Firstly the incidence of bullying (generally in the form of public humiliation and abuse), skyrockets - in an Australian study he showed that 26% of all bullying in a company came from corporate psychopaths and 36% of bullying in a follow up British study. Allied to this is a sudden drop in morale and a concomitant rise in staff turnover - in one study, Boddy found that a massive 86% of staff in a charity that had a psychopath CEO left in the space of less than two years. The final flag is that the corporation's direction will change to come in line with that of the often ethically impaired, psychopath - which is exactly what happened with ENRON and, some may suggest, happened with a certain British redtop newspaper scandal.
That's all very lovely and interesting I hear you say, but what on earth does this have to do with roller derby? Well, derby leagues are like companies, they have members and boards, income, expenditure, mission statements and so forth and this is where Boddy's work is so useful because tell tale signs he identified in the corporate world can be seen in roller derby. Has there been a recent increase in bullying? Have lots of skaters suddenly left your league? Has practice attendance sharply dropped? Are people afraid to speak their voice? Is league moral low? If so then maybe, just maybe, your league is suffering from corporate psychopathy and, while the guilty people are not necessarily (but often are) criminal, they definitely are toxic and need to be dealt with for the sake of the league. It doesn't matter how skilled or pivotal a player they are on the track, in the long run the league will be worse off.
For those who have had their curiosity aroused, here are a few online psychopathy tests you can take as an educational tool to see where you score on the spectrum.
and my personal favorite
Any my score? I could tell you... but then I'd have to kill you x