02 August 2009

Documentary - Psychopaths In the Workplace; Australian Workplace Bullies and Corporate Psychopaths

REPOSTED - Corporate Psychopaths

12:56 mins - Windows media - Real Player

Is your boss manipulative? Intimidating? Totally lacking in remorse? Yet superficially charming?

Then you could be working with a workplace psychopath. The latest figures suggest one in ten managers are psychopaths, and this week Catalyst goes deep inside their minds - what makes them tick, how do you spot them; and how do you avoid being crushed by them. We’ll also run a handy test – tune in to find out if your boss is an office psychopath.

Narration: It begins as a phone call - and then a meeting - usually late at night.

A corporation has a problem and they need Dr John Clarke's help. They need a psychopath- buster.

Dr John Clarke: The common misconception with psychopaths is that they're all violent extreme kind of criminals. The majority of them are living and working around us in jobs psychologically destroying the people that they work with.

Narration: There's a growing realisation psychopaths are thriving in today's workplace. According to the textbooks, every large company has them.

Jonica Newby, reporter: This is where I work. It's the ABC building in Sydney. Now the figures are that 0.5% of women are psychopaths, and 2% are men. So that means there are up to 25 corporate psychopaths somewhere up there.

Narration: But who are they? What makes them tick? And how do you avoid being the next victim of the workplace psychopath.

Psychologist John Clarke started out profiling criminal psychopaths, but four years ago, he began to realise there was a much bigger problem.

Dr John Clarke: I was giving a lecture on criminal psychopaths and someone came down after that lecture and said that their boss had the same characteristics as what I'd just described for a criminal one.

Narration: "Annette" knows just what he's talking about. Like most victims we contacted, she would only tell her story anonymously.

She was a confident, career minded public servant when she first met her new boss.

Annette: I got a shock when he took me into his office and shut the door - he just exploded. It was sort of like well what do we want you for.
And then when he let me out again it was all smiles.

Dr John Clarke: There are 20 characteristics to define a psychopath. Really the fundamental factor is an absolute lack of remorse or guilt for their behaviour, pathological lying, manipulative, callous, egotistical, very kind of self centred individual, glib and superficial charm

Narration: The workplace psychopath's textbook strategies feature in a new David Williamson play, Operator.

Psychopath: Francine. They tell me that you're the person who really runs things here, so I thought I'd better say hello as quickly as possible.

Francine: Now you're just trying to flatter me.

Psychopath: Not at all. Three different people have told me that with your capabilities you could step straight out of a support role into top management.

David Williamson: They are so devious. They're so good at saying things you want to hear to your face at the same time they're knifing you in the back.

Psychopath: Could you do me a big favour?

Francine: What?

Psychopath: Write me an email that sort of recounts what happened here today.

Francine: I don't like putting things in writing.

Psychopath: I won't ever show it to anyone without getting your permission first.

I know I shouldn't be showing it to you ...

Dr John Clarke: They steal other people's work. They spread rumours about people, character assassination. A range of different strategies they will use to move up through the company.

David Williamson: They are worrying. I mean, if you strike one you may not realise it for quite a while until they do some devious act that stabs you in the back and can quite psychologically crush you.

Narration: Annette's boss was typical - charming his superiors and acolytes, while isolating and undermining his victims.

Annette: I wasn't allowed to have a phone when I was working, you know, my phone calls were monitored just this constant wearing down and harassment and you know, it was just awful.

Narration: By the time she complained, she'd been so discredited behind her back, no one would support her.

Annette: They didn't believe me. They're going, "He's such a funny guy, he's so nice"

In the end I had to go in and, and see him. And I was just crying my eyes out and I was just tears running down my face. And he walked me out through the chairs, through the desks, out through the long way through the office in case anyone had missed the spectacle of me just breaking down. I was devastated. I was just broken.

Narration: But how can someone act in such a seemingly inhuman way?

The truth is, psychopaths are fundamentally different to the rest of us.

Research is showing they're deficient in a crucial skill that evolved to ensure we don't abandon our friends and family - empathy.

Dr John Clarke: Empathy really is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. It's very very important in terms of survival of the human species because if nobody really cared or understood what other people were feeling it would just cause breakdown of society.

Narration: Empathy is not just an abstract idea ...

... it's something you can measure physiologically.

Jonica Newby, reporter: Well, I'm about to be tested for one of the key characteristics of a psychopath.

Dr John Clarke: Now I'm just going to show you some pictures. Sit back, relax, and we'll see what happens.

Narration: As I watch the pictures, probes are detecting whether I release minute traces of sweat - whether I have an emotional response - empathy.

Psychopaths generally don't react.

Jonica Newby, reporter: So how'd I go?

Dr John Clarke: Very well. What we can see as we scroll through is for the non-emotional pictures there is no response. And when we get to here with the pictures of people crying you can see an involuntary physical emotional response.

Jonica Newby, reporter: So I'm not a psychopath.

Dr John Clarke: Definitely not.

Narration: Psychopaths generally don't react.

This lack of emotional response extends deep into the brain.

When most of us see another persons distress, our emotional centre, the limbic system, is aroused. We feel a little of what others are feeling.

But a 2001 US study revealed the psychopath has very little limbic system response to emotional information.

John Clarke: And that's what allows them to manipulate and control other people because they're able to do that on a very rational logical level but at the same time they don't feel the emotion or empathy for the other person.

Narration: No one knows how much of this deficit is genetic, and how much shaped by childhood.

But by the time they are adults, psychopaths aren't simply uncaring. They are physically incapable of feeling other people's pain.

Annette: My hair was falling out, you know, and I uh.. you know, I had diarrhoea, I couldn't sleep, my life got that awful and black it seemed a better option to just be dead and stop it.

Man: Someone I like and respect a lot almost died last night.

Psychopath: Let's get real here. Melissa was reckless, incompetent and stuffed up in a big way. And when you stuff up big time you get depressed.

Man: She nearly died.

Psychopath: She's a loser. Who f...... cares?

Narration: But without a brain scan, how do we spot a psychopath before its too late? One answer seems to be; look up.

John Clarke suspects corporations today aren't just failing to screen for psychopaths, they're unwittingly selecting them.

Dr John Clarke: You see this advertisement here. "An ability to do whatever it takes to meet a deadline". So that would appeal to a psychopath because they are prepared to do whatever it takes whatever the cost. If we look at this one - "The opportunities are endless you just need to know how to win it" - well they know how to win everything pretty much.

David Williamson: They present very confidently. They are full of self-esteem. They have no doubts; no hesitations and so interviewing panels often find them very attractive.

That's what many corporations see as being a good executive.

Narration: But some corporations are now realising they have a problem. That's why they call secretly on criminal profiler, John Clarke.

Dr John Clarke: The companies don't like to admit they have a psychopath and so the first meeting, it's often on a Friday night or late at night after the employees have gone home.

Narration: Issues range from fraud, to broken promises, to losing staff.

Executive: I just can't seem to keep staff and it's all coming from his section.

Dr John Clarke: Which is costing you money.

Executive: Exactly.

Dr John Clarke: The first thing I do is really get an assessment from the people working below, at the same level and above the individual. And so if there are huge discrepancies in opinion that's reason to start delving deeper.

Narration: Dr Clarke then administers a standard psychopath assessment. Remember those questions you answered earlier? They're a modified, cut down version.

Here are the final two:

Is your boss opportunistic, ruthless, hating to lose and playing to win?

Does your boss consider people they've outsmarted as dumb or stupid?

If your boss scored 5 out of 6 or more, you could be working with a workplace psychopath.

Now for the bad news.

Dr John Clarke: It's almost impossible to rehabilitate the psychopath. In fact, there are studies in the United States, which suggest that rehabilitation in fact makes them worse because it teaches them new social skills they can use to manipulate the people around them more effectively.

Narration: Once identified, there are strategies to manage the psychopath or move them on.

But what if you're the victim, and the corporation backs your boss?

Stay too long, and you risk a severe psychological breakdown. That's what happened to Annette.

Annette: I loved my job but in the end I, I fell apart. I was just so, so broken and you know, I just walked out and there was no coming back.

I'm unemployable now, you know. I just, I can't take another knock like that,

Dr John Clarke: When I tell them that one of the options is to leave the company there's shock, and then they go on to how unfair it is but then there's devastation when they do realise that that might be the most appropriate option to take because the situation is not going to change.

Narration: Far from getting their comeuppance, in these days of short term goals and high staff turnover, psychopaths often rise to the top.

In making this story, we spoke to many victims, none who could be identified for fear of defamation or worse - all devastated - all with a similar message.

Annette: I think you should run, you should run. There are some bosses out there that are deadly.

Dr John Clarke: I want people to be aware that they're not going crazy. It's the workplace psychopath that's the problem, not them.

David Williamson: That's not to say that every manager is like that. But it's that one out of ten that has the potential to really wreck a company, wreck the coherence of a company and wreck lives.




>> Add a Comment
MR S - 29 Jun 2009 9:22:02pm

I have been dealing with a psychopath at work now for a month. It's a new job for me, and he obviously sees me as a threat. He's systematically undermined me, turned people against me and done a whole host of underhanded things. I'm actually lucky in that, I'm not the only person he's done it to. So now, there's a little clique of victims that can compare experiences and build alliances against him. He's actually leaving for a management role in a bank and has claimed "I'm going to make the people I manage lifes' hell", which I can believe!!! These people aren't human, there is no boundaries to which they adhere and no lines in which they wont cross to defeat their 'enemy' or percieved threat. The thing I've found is, you can't give them an inch, or anything inwhich they can use against you; as inevitably, they will. Death to psychopaths! <<>> Reply

raider - 25 May 2009 10:08:57am

Thank You DR. Clarke. These subhumans are toxic.
>> Reply

left the company - 23 May 2009 10:09:19am

Yeah, they're handicapped. And what Bernie said.

>> Reply

Foot soldier - 22 May 2009 1:22:46am

Well done Aunty. Typical of your informative/educative and socially responsible programing.

Agree with Dave (31st December), a follow-up is needed with more detailed facts about these psychopathic people and information about what is being done to 'deal' with these people and support good employees of these typically large corporate organisations. Interesting to note that most of the perpetrators mentioned below in other comments are female! Interesting given academic studies show that 0.5 of corporate psychopaths are female and 2% are men. The other interesting theme noted from the comments is most people who wrote comments experienced the corporate psychopath in an office environment. I am a nurse, and experienced the corporate psychopath both within health and in the university environment. I survived the battle to fight the war. I lost at first, but eventually won the bigger fight. The perpetrator was the same person in both cases. That person was eventually 'outed', and followed a gruelling process for that person who lost much credibility, income and employment position. Psychologically I was a wreck, and after 4 years, I am making MY WAY as a contract nurse, ensuring I do not belong to any one organisation or work for any one employer. Its an isolating experience but safer this way! I am regaining my confidence slowly and beginning to once again believe in myself - I have to for my children's sake. I look forward to the day when I can trust again, and move to work with others in a permanent position for an organisation. To those seeking help while currently going through it - YOU are the most important person here. YOUR sanity is at stake and subsequently your income, etc. I urge you, move on before you are so badly damaged you are paralysed. There is life outside your curent employment, and many lovely people. There is another way. You have skills, knowledge and experience - think laterally - use them in other ways - and move on. You have the strength.
>> Reply

one of the victims - 21 May 2009 8:18:42pm

I am aghast, didn't know there was a psychological term for this until someone mentioned it to me the other day and i 'googled' it. This is my boss to a tee. I knew in some part of me that i couldn't suddenly go from brilliant to pathetic in my job overnight as i have never had so many complaints about the level of my work, but as we naturally do i found myself in a lot of doubt and devastation. What is more concerning is that there seems not much way out for the 'victims' unless they leave their employment and loose their job security, so a balance of the lesser of the two evils in this current time. And as is so often the case, the bosses of these people never know and don't believe it, so one has no where to turn. I pray God's justice be done to these people - karma has a way of working itself out.
>> Reply

Jean - 10 May 2009 2:05:40pm

I have a new supervisor psychopath in my section of my workplace a Indian women. I'm just a temp Mon-Friday and know anytime that I can be asked your contract is over, though I've been with this organisation for 2 years.
My personal superviosr psychopath has many complaints about her and many people do not like her attitude and talk about it behind her back.
My Supervisor Psychopath exaggerates situation and makes it bigger than what it really is, is pushy, has unrealistic goals for each of us that is ridicules, lectures, tells lies, is very stressed and unable to relax. told me she doesn't have time for anything let alone dream, when our section had a good giggle at my nightmare which was I was sacked because I couldn't type fast enougth, which I giggle at too! My staff used sacasm directed at her and embrasses her for example saying "we have matching pimples", and when she got busy one day someone asked her "did you have your "Wit Bix this morning" and other staff member offered her a Vallum! From this she giggled herself and run off and I did not see her again all day. However I have noticed 1 change she has stopped yelling at her staff for some strange reason. I wander if she got told of by the co-ordinator or manager about her behaviour.
>> Reply

The Stoat - 05 May 2009 12:39:51pm

I have recently experienced working with a psychopath in the workplace and been, yet another, victim of her behaviour.
I came to the position with 20 years of experience in my job and therefore, felt confident that I could successfully meet the challenge of a new work environment. Despite an extremely heavy workload in the first 1/2 year in the job because of a review of the workplace, I felt that I was meeting my obligations with aplomb.
It was not until the second 1/2 of the year that I realised that I had been targeted by my immediate boss. It came to light that I had been successfully undermined for some time when I was called into the HR sector of the workplace and accused of incompetence in all spheres. I was, of course, devastated and broke down in tears.
When I had resumed some semblance of calm, I sought to address these accusations in a letter and at a meeting of all relevant management. I 'won' this battle but should have known that it would not end there...
My boss now saw this as a war, which she must win at all (any) cost. She easily fits the profile of a pyschopath, being willing to compromise all standards in a bid to 'win'. I think what really hurt me the most was her undermining of me with both peers and clients. Unfortunately, by the time I realised that my character had been assassinated I was - at best - an object of pity in the workplace: I was humiliated.
I felt powerless and began to suffer sleeplessness and, when asleep, subject to nightmares. I knew that I was spiralling into depression. Fortunately for me, my husband eventually understood my predicament (it's hard to explain as it all seems so paranoid to others)and, being financially stable, agreed that I should resign and take 'time out' to recover.
I, like many others previously recorded, would recommend you do the same if you are in this predicament. What is worse: being temporarily unemployed or permanently unemployable? I have been unemployed for just over a week now (after holidays) and, although I have my moments, the nightmares are easing and I am beginning to feel more like my old self.
This experience has been sobering to say the least and I will always be more guarded in future, but I am hopeful.
Thank you for allowing me to have my say and providing me with invaluable information that made me see that I am not 'losing it' and to the person who put me onto this site.
>> Reply

morrie - 05 May 2009 12:03:10pm

I have recently experienced working with a pychopath who was my immediate boss. She quite easily fits the profile - willing to do anything to 'win'. Despite others knowing of this, her behaviour is so insidious that she (up until the present) always prevails. Unfortunately, by the time I was aware of her activities, I was so undermined and my character so assassinated that I became - at best - an object of pity. I chose to resign from this position - for I would rather be unemployed in the short term than be unemployable in the long term. I am now getting to sleep at night and the nightmares are abating, the spiral into depression having been stalled. However, this has been a sobering experience and I will always be more guarded in future. I hope that once too many people have resigned from working under this person that the alarm bells will begin to ring for administration, but I'm not holding my breath. I tried to put forward my case but the damage had already been done and hence, my word was discredited before I even opened my mouth. If you have been in this situation I also recommend that you RUN! Thank you to the person who pointed me in the direction of this website.
>> Reply

Moving on - 30 Apr 2009 11:53:33am

It is scary that this interview was conducted in 2005, yet there are so many recent posts. It just shows how real the issue is.

I can relate to so many of your posts… the manipulation & the deceit. Like many of you, my Manager is very charming & has the CEO & other staff buttered up, resulting in my complaints largely falling on deaf ears. I am treated like a nuisance, a disgruntled employee who has had a mere personality clash with their Manager. I sought help from a psychologist & they have helped me see that the problems are not mine. The 2 best bits of advice that I have been given which I want to share with you all are:

1) Remember the person you were before you met the 'psychopath' and base your confidence and self belief on that.
2) Empower yourself by creating choices.(eg. get skilled in another area and open up your job choices)

I was really struggling, and the best thing I did for myself was to seek help from a psychologist & take the pressure off myself to stay and fight. I am now planning an overseas trip & looking at further study and work options so that I can leave my current workplace. I am trying my very best to take a positive out of a negative. It is hard, I still have my moments, but I have belief in myself that I can do it.

I wish you all the best. Believe in yourselves, we will find light at the end of the tunnel.

>> Reply

Jane - 16 Apr 2009 1:10:57pm

This is an excellent discussion. Twice in my career, I've worked with bosses who are psychopaths. The first time, I reported the abusive behavior to HR and, while that eventually led to the boss's leaving months later, he retaliated in the short term and made me so miserable that I left. Never again would I report someone. I'd just get out fast. The second time, I and several others were targeted and laid off as part of a restructuring. That's OK with me; I'm out of there. I loved the job and the colleagues but not the new boss, who's trying to make herself look good. I have since heard from other colleagues who are really suffering as they're now targets of this individual. It's sad.
>> Reply

Graeham Yass - 03 Apr 2009 3:25:09pm

The transcript of this interview has been invaluable for me. I am sure I am working for a psychopath; exhibited by constant lying and stealing ideas to present to the board as his own whilst at the same time berating be in emails that are "blind copied" to the world. when talking to me in public or with customers/suppliers he is charming and eloquent but privatly just tells me to "f....k off" at every opportunity. The business he has run has collapsed and my division is up 300% over two years but I could not believe it when took credit for my work, berated me to the board and colleagues and has explained away his failures. it is so frustrating it has made me ill; I feel powerless. I only have work email and he reads all my correspondence so will post again when I obtain one. Does anyone have any suggestions??
>> Reply

Anna Cotinaut - 03 Apr 2009 12:54:34pm

I lived with a psychopath who delighted intelling me of how he demolished poeple ate work to take over their positions. he became angry when his deciet and maipulation ahd no effect.This was a great eye opener
>> Reply

Anna Cotinaut - 03 Apr 2009 12:52:53pm

I used to live with a psychopath , he delighted in telling me the stories of his demise of colleagues so as to take over their positions and secure his own. He was angry and abusive when his manipulation and deciet had no effect. His mother is dying of cancer in another country and he has no feelings to see her before her death. He lived off me financially . thank goodness for this documentary it is an eye opener.
>> Reply

Anna Cotinaut - 03 Apr 2009 12:49:22pm

It would be great to also run the psychopath that people live with. Since these people exist in the corporation it is likey they also live with people god forbid.
I have been in a relationship with one such person he was my second marraige and lived off me financially. He was abusive to me and the children he ran hot and cold and we had to walk around on eggshells, the arguments and chaos was certainly a feature. A compulsive liar. He prided himself on removing the property staff from a major institution and he is now the property manager in place. Before he left he informed me he was commencing the demise of a colleague he felt was a threat to him. He had no remorse his mother who is currently dying of cancer and he has no feelings to take time off to be with her. He abondoned his 6 year old child to live and work in another country and for a long time treated her with creulty until she grew up and he was left with a choice of being decent or not seeing her at all.
Emotionally i have been destroyed I have lost my confidence and jobs continually not understanding why i was in a heightened state of anxiety and fear. Thanks to this dooumentary I can start to rebuild myself up to today I felt all the chaos was my responsibility I see now that my responsibility was not doing something sooner.
>> Reply

victim - 03 Apr 2009 11:15:19am

Being a victim of abuse by my team laeder and now manager for ten years I thought I was alone. I went to her boss and then to HR to find that she had already waeved her web. As a result no job opportunies came my way and even when I applied I was 'unsuccessful'. Bad reviews, being told that I was disliked by all of my peers and fellow employees I did not crack. Instead one day she slipped and someone saw her, I was saved mentally just knowing that someone knew it was true.
>> Reply

Victim - 29 Mar 2009 11:20:41am

I am being sued by a psychopath because I complained about him to his employer. He alleges my complaint affected his career (which it didn't)and hurt his feelings. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants. As well as the mental anguish, I could lose my entire life savings. The law does not allow me to use his mental disorder in the defence of a defamation suit, even though his personel file shows a track record of psychopathic behaviour for the last 6 years. If anyone has any advice I would be happy to hear it.
>> Reply

Rosie - 24 Mar 2009 2:01:51am

What an education and for such an important topic the ABC should keep on top of this. Whilst I have never known one in my 35 yrs of corporate experiences in UK and WA I do feel that my husband worked under a number of them in WA over 20 yrs at the same national corporation. A professional with international experience his work could not be faulted so they targetted and harassed him on little things. He had support from colleagues so was lucky. Despite many reports to Worksafe for Bullying in the Workplace (he was OH&S rep)they did nothing as they wouldn't take on a big corporation. He has now retired from there and has a dream job. He was lucky as he didn't succumb to depression etc.
>> Reply

Davis - 23 Mar 2009 12:52:46pm

It's so wonderful to see 'Jerks at Werx' being seen for what they are, but help for victims is hard to come by. The best advice I have seen is that the smart people leave - not always seen as economically viable nor the best way to deal with ratbags because 'I haven't done anything wrong, I'm a hard worker and I'm fully qualified and capable in the role I am in' tends to guide many vistims because surely the good people around me can see the truth of the matter and right will out'. Right will probably not surface in time to save many victims who are left unable to function anywhere, any more.
The potential, both personal and commercial that is stunted by Psychopatths is immense. Obviously better KPI's are needed to weed them out of work.

Many bullies have similar traits, especially the upwardly mobile bully who targets a superior. It seems incredible, but it happens.

The other incredible phenomenon is the pack of psychopaths that can inhabit workplaces. They can be either mangers or workers. They have cliques that work to control and intimidate en masse. More should be done to research the cultures that allow these cliques to survive and flourish at work.

Peace on Earth to all readers.
>> Reply

Pete - 23 Mar 2009 2:44:37am

After just watching a rerun of this show i am positive my ex-wife is a psychopath. I left her because of all those reasons that psychopath is a psychopath . Loveless and selfcentred just to name a few . The problem is that she still uses and emotionaly abuses the children . Is there anybody that could offer any sort of advice .Pete
>> Reply

Another victim - 17 Mar 2009 1:13:53pm

An ex-colleague of mine forwarded the link of this article to me - this person knew the hell I had gone through under my "Corporate Psychopath" and after reading this article, it is such a relief that my suspicious now have a foundation! It's not me or the 4 other people before who left this role. It's the fact that there is a corporate murderer at the top killing off her staff members...emotionally and mentally. It is just sad that a number of high performing organisations seem to thrive with such "leaders" and the attitude is, if you can't take it, then leave it. Perhaps it's time to shake it up a little more and find a nice little island to ship these psychos off to! After all, we are not fans of letting repeat offenders off likely in this country, perhaps we can apply the same rules here.

And for those who have come out of this awful experience alive, I take my hat off to you.
>> Reply

a survivor - 25 Jun 2009 2:29:27pm

My experience took place in a remote area, and unfortunately we were sent 2 psychopaths who relished each other's support, and went to work on the only female in the workplace.
I was totally mystified by their behaviour and most of all had no idea of the backstabbing that was going on that lost me the support of colleagues and management in a place where I had spent a wonderful, positive 20 years. I still don't know what they said but the attitude of the 'firm' towards me was evidence enough.

Being abandoned (on the word of these outsiders) by those who had previously respected and valued my contribution to the team was a shock, however the unfairness of having little option other than to leave when you have been the victim, is the worst, as it takes away your security and could ruin lives.

Personally my life outside the organisation has been wonderful, and opened up many opportunities that have proven to be life altering. I try to be sympathetic to those psychopaths who live in such a negative world, disliked by all they have failed to charm. In a small community it's not easy to maintain this behaviour without people realising what you are like after a while. As long as I harbour resentment, they are still controlling me, and that isn't going to happen.
Your suggestion of sending them to an island is not original. Whoever thought of it before sent them to my island!
No more please!
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cindy - 12 Mar 2009 2:09:17pm

This so typify's my office. our supervisor seems all nice to your face and will then persist to go into the back room with 'her crew' (the followers) to have hour long talking sessins about you. Three members of staff have now complained to the manager but he wont do anything about it as he needs her to run the office (she has him rapped around his finger) , and when ever we do complain our manager just turns around and puts it back on us, as if its somethign we have done wrong, suggesting we take her out for tea and get over it. Theres got to be some entity we can report this to? Im not sure if she is just feeling threatened as the main people in the office she singles out are people with a higher education qualification, and all her followers dont, so maybe insecurity? I just remind myself that i am the righteous one and karma will come around to her one day.
>> Reply

victim - 03 Apr 2009 11:17:37am

I do believe that we work in the same place.I hope there is Karma and it happens soon.
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Bernie (not my real name) - 24 Feb 2009 11:37:31am

Yep me too, my boss is a classic. Given psychopathic characteristics and the requirements of organisations, they are a perfect fit. Even if everyone who can do anything about them knows, they are so valuable as predators, eliminators of human problems and super active achievers that they provide a valued service in organisational life. They are a price organisations are willing to pay.

Play the game to win. Why, because it can be fun.

Slow it all down, be polite and supportive, formal and legal, get really into the detail and complexit. They have no idea what you will do next, don't let them know your plans, change your plan without notice, don't settle, ask to think and consult, be committed to the best outcome for all. Just hit the ball back gently over the net, postpone/decrease stimuli wherever possible, reduce face to face dealings, deal through others.

With no instant gratification they will give up and go away.

Now provide them a face saving out and you win.

Work long term and they have no defence.

Keep records, wait, wait, wait and then.... I'll let you know what's next ...
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Marg - 27 May 2009 1:48:36pm

Bernie, I tried all of this as I desperately needed to keep my job.

They don't give up and go away....they just make it worse. After almost suffering a nervous breakdown, and conytinued thoughts of taking my life....I left.

Although the nightmares still continue to haunt me after 4 years, it was the best thing I ever did to just up and leave.
>> Reply

Geoff - 16 Feb 2009 8:27:43pm

Most interesting story.. Iam the victium of a corporate Psychopath. I found he confided in me in private and then denied it later on...he gave me such a hard time that when my time ended no one in the section would support me.. they considerd his versions of various accussions were correct.
They thought he was a fun guy he convinced his management that he was right. when backed into a corner he was abusive and angry.. he made sure that all staff heard his outburst and moved the situation that I was in the wrong. In private meetings he put down other members of staff.. he would made unconfortable and inappropiate gay comments to me... in the end I was terminated from my employment.. I am now suffering severe depression and am finding it difficult to move on a get a job... I would like to take legal action but the money is a problem
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trish - 15 Feb 2009 10:30:22am

Very interesting reading this article and discussions. I work with one at the moment, thankfully this person is not my boss so they have had limited succes in effecting me. However I see fairly regularly the impact on their immediate staff and it is very frustrating, we work in a small office and it is not easy to address the issues.

This person's narcissism is so bad they they believe they are superior to the CEO although is charming to his face. How common is this and the fraudulent behaviour?

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Australia Bully Manager - 11 Feb 2009 1:55:48am

Great article- thank you!
I have been the focus of a jealous, intimidating, undermining & incompetent workplace manager for over a year. It has since come to light that this woman has seen over 8 staff leave due to her psychopathic impact.
I am desperately trying to find a new job. I am also trying to lend a ear to 2 other staff members who have issues in the workplace. The CEO, HR & other all back each other & ignore complaints & OH&S issues. Yes- It is Toxic. I have taken a lot of leave, yet no one even is questioning what is going on with all the staff.
To anyone else in this position- I feel or you... but get out quickly- i regret waiting so long (& thus into a recession job market)due to thinking I was the one going mad!
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Andrew - 23 Jan 2009 7:26:00pm

I have a workplace psychopath at the engineering company where i work.

She decided that i would be her victim on day one and constantly harasses me. She also makes complaints against me to the boss. The key problem is that he takes her word as gospel.

She tried to get me sacked after 3 months, however i survived after proving myself. This has only intensified her determination. She made a complaint against me again today. we had an argument and after she won it, she then decided to get revenge on me (who takes revenge for winning an argument???) by complaining about me on an unrelated matter.

Luckily my immediate supervisor, as well as the other job team leaders in the business back me and share my concern about this individual.

But i don't know how long i can stand up to this bullying.
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Lisa - 14 Mar 2009 5:15:03pm

I am working with one currently. She is constantly harases me and others. She is lying all the time. She is inconpetent with her work but she always tells her superiors that her mistakes made by me. I have worked so hard because she always gives me incorrect information or wrong information which has increaed my work load. Although someone can back me up as they have experienced same thing as I have been constantly experienced on a daily basis, I don't know how long it can last.
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Dude - 09 Jan 2009 10:57:17pm

I had never experienced a "workplace psychopath" until 3 years ago. After researching the internet to obtain some understanding of these people I became amazed that so many of these low life mongrels exist. I am a long serving Police Officer who works in a small "specialist" area. Our OIC fits all the criteria of an "attention seeking" workplace psychopath. The working environment is absolute hell to say the least. This person exhibits swinging moods, bizarre behaviour, extreme self pity, manipulation and deceit. This persons constant whining is immense and very difficult to take everyday. I have experienced difficulty sleeping at night over a long period of time because of the behaviour. When this person goes on holidays the workplace becomes relaxed and everyone is so happy. Everyone in our office "suffered in silence" for a very long period of time until we all started realising that we all felt the same. Thankfully higher management have now become aware of the behaviour of this person, however I have now leart that it's not an easy issue to deal with. This person is shameless and is fighting "tooth and nail" to keep their position and is stooping to very extreme manipulation and deceit in doing so. I just hope this person moves soon.
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Jasmine - 02 Jan 2009 8:26:19pm

Hi ABC.. can you please leave this important story and website page up, as it is an excellent reference.
Also it would be great if you would consider doing an updated story on this subject also update with Dr John Clarke, in what he think has gotten worse over the 4yrs since this interview, and WHY?!
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Alicia - 14 Nov 2008 12:58:27pm

I am currently studying personality in psychology and am about to do a research proposal on workplace psychopaths. I am motivated to do this personally as I have been the victim of workplace psychopaths not once but twice, and have seen many others suffer the same fate as me long after I have left an organisation.

This is a real problem, one that is an 'underbelly' of the workplace. Education campaigns or wider community knowledge about this fact of the workplace really needs to be addressed. As too many people that I have spoken to that are going through or have gone through it, feel that the problem is with themselves. It wrecks self esteem and impacts greatly on the quality of life, something really needs to be done about this problem.
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Dave - 31 Dec 2008 3:10:43pm

Good Luck and keep the end goal in sight.
I think Corporations, starting with HR (the buggest bungling idots that make situation worse) need to change mindset about thinking the bully must be supported and not the victim. Call me crazy, but if someone has the guts to complain it is 99% valid.
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Geoff - 16 Feb 2009 8:31:07pm

would like to speak to you about my experiences
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Merrin - 23 Mar 2009 3:12:59am

If you're needing any material for your research I'd be happy to help out. I had a nightmare with a workplace psychopath. I put in a workcover application and after going to hell and back the claim was accepted. Good luck with your research - may the force be with you!
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Alison - 14 Nov 2008 8:40:55am

I left a job because of a 'workplace psychopath'. Fortunately for me I was resilient and got on with my life and career. I thank her for the psychopatic attitude as it was a steep learning curve I will never forget and has been a lesson in how NOT to treat people particularly from a management point of view!
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krentz - 12 Nov 2008 8:50:15am

When you consider that these people literally don't care at the end of the day, consider their psychopathy as a distinct advantage over the general population, whom they view as either moronic, stupid, or wrong, and are incapable of empathising with others, at the end of the day there is nothing to sympathise with.

These people are not having a hard time, they just leave us with all their crap. They are not "cruel" or "nasty", as these are emotive words, and they do not feel (much) emotion. They just do whatever they can to get whatever they want, and damn the rest. As luck would have it, emotions are easy to manipulate, and so that's what happens most of the time.

Luckily I'm very aware of the nature of psychopathy and quite perceptive regarding people so I am unlikely to fall into the same trap many others have done. Unfortunately, this will seem like a declaration of war to most psychopaths, and they love challenge and competition. Protect your own best interests - that's the best advice I can give you. Remember that healing takes time and there is always light at the end of the tunnel, you might just have to travel a long time to find it.
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Suzette monohan - 10 Dec 2008 11:19:57am

i agree with what you said but I am in the same boat as many out there seem to be and i have decided to become a psychopath in theory not practice so that I can undermine the other psycho thats driving me crazy at work.I reckon its better to go outside of the usual norms and head straight to the core issue MADNESS and freak them out and let them run out of the building for a change.........
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Kathy - 13 Dec 2008 7:27:18pm

Unless you are a psychopath you cannot compete with them - you will be the one that ends up emotionally destroyed. Also you are lowering yourself to their standard. The only thing to do is avoid them as much as possible. It is better to find a better place to work. Walk away with your sanity, don't waste your precious time and energy playing their stupid mind games.
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Dave - 31 Dec 2008 3:08:11pm

Maybe you could help others to avoid these evil be5turds? or are you one who sits back and does nothing whilst victims suffer?
These psychos need to be outted & brought to management attention.
Maybe you could thank god for not getting in their radar, but I am sure a kind word, offer of insight to the victim would be appreciated.
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Alison - 09 May 2009 12:50:39pm

Good advice Dave (posted 31 Dec). I agree. Get rid of them as they don"t care if they get rid of you for their own insecurities and reasons! "The greatest evil is when good people do nothing" a famous quote. I truly believe in that. Don"t be AFRAID. The truth IS the truth. Keep evidence and fight back. I wish all you fellow sufferers the very best outcome, believe in yourselves (you are not going mad) and be kind and gentle to yourselves .Get good support to help you. Unless you remember you have rights as a human being on this planet nothing will change.
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Ben - 10 Nov 2008 11:29:40pm

Please read this report again, but this time replace “psychopath� with mentally handicapped person. I find it sadly ironic that this report shows so little sympathy.
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Dave - 31 Dec 2008 2:57:56pm

We are dealing with Psychopaths here, not some helpless child, but a cold calous calculating evil being.
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Corporate Psychopaths - 08 Nov 2008 12:11:55am

Once I realised my boss was a corporate psychopath, it was almost a relief and everything began to make sense. Unfortunately it was too late for me and many colleagues in terms of the mental abuse she caused. She appeared so charming to others, yet I can only describe her as being a truly wicked person. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I took her to court. I agree that they cannot be changed. they are fundamentally nasty people. The only solution is recognise the traits early and leave the company quick.
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Carol Poland - 26 Dec 2008 11:06:39am

It is a relief to know someone else is a victim and has taken legal action against this type of abuse.
I am very interested to know details of the court proceedings and the outcome and whether our justice system recognised the actions of a psychopath to be a criminal offence.

I recognise my Ex Husband as having the profile of a Corporate Psycopath and describe him as being a callous, unscrupulous, cruel, evil person.

Throughout 32 years of marriage he treated me as if I was an employee and he had no concept of how to interact as a husband or father.
Divorcing him did not provide me with an escape from the abuse.
I believe he is the perpetrator of extreme emotional and psychological abuse and his actions, which also involve fraud should be recognised as criminal offences.

I look forward to your reply, which will help me to move forward in the right direction.

I am not being frivolous or vindictive. I am wanting to deal with the facts and the abuse in a positive way.

Carol Poland

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Lesley Bouren - 07 Mar 2009 4:10:52pm

I wouldlike a reply to this article as My daughter who is 25 hasjust been put through hell by her now former boss and itr sounds like dajavu this person just fired her on the spot she decided that after 8 months they were not sutable. How did you go with the court action as she contenplating court action against her is it worthwhile? Lesley B
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Justice - 15 Mar 2009 1:31:42pm

Good on you. What is the result of the court action?
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Jason - 08 Oct 2008 2:39:12pm

This is a great story. Pls don't delete it. I have been emailing my freinds and relatives so that they are aware of this.
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Joe L - 22 Dec 2008 2:29:48am

I agree this is great and great aid in workplace. Just wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to deal with boss that is a work psychopath.
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almost victim - 16 Apr 2009 12:01:43pm

My psychopath boss is new to the boss game and was easily spotted as she chose to target everyone subordinate at once. Unfortunately, her bosses love her (more psychopaths?) so she is not going anywhere anytime soon. We are protected by our union so she can't just fire anyone, either. Unions were formed for a reason, afterall. We are mostly women and we confide in each other. Thwarting her is a group effort and supporting each other makes the constant harassment more tolerable. We consulted higher ups in the union, from outside our organization, and we were advised to "keep the devil we know" as getting rid of her would be next to impossible and her replacement might be even smarter and nastier. My advice is talk, talk, talk to each and support each other and under no circustances let the psycopath get you alone! Find a buddy to go into the office with you as a witness. You have that right. And DON'T let them see you sweat...stay calm and be prepared.
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Dave - 31 Dec 2008 2:55:54pm

Agree... please leave this post up, as it is an excellent article/transcript, of very valid important information.
Well done ABC for the story... now, what about a follow up?
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Redacted - 25 Jun 2009 5:01:30am

I to have experienced workplace bullyimg like what is described (for that is what it is) However it is not just Bosses that do this.

My miss fortune was to upset (as they see it) a member or two of a Faternal society by standing my ground when the intent was to teach me a lesson or in their slang break my back.

Then the abuse started, roumors spread, jokes made at my expensive, all behind my back. False tails that I bullied people.
Machinery I used damaged and it implided I did it. My car tyres let down, tyres puntured. Vehicle keyed and sprayed, but with paint that can be cleaned off (This way the victim can be made to seem a fool by making a mountain out of a mole hill.) After all what damage was done, see the paint comes off with petrol. do you see how this attack works?))

Look up Gang Stalking, Brighting, Mobbing, Gaslighting.

It is a sad fact that there is a subculture of these Psycopaths in society that have got organised, read books and study tactics. They see themselves as normal, to them it is the victim that is defective. But as stated hear they have no true Empathy, they can fain emotion, friendship, affection.

In most cases appear extremely bright, Intelligent, illuminated. They have though drove all emotion out of their souls in their desire to improve their minds and as they see it perfect themselves. But they gather and co-operate like a Pack of Rabid wolves that can think.

They actually see their role as one of fighting for the common under dog. Righting wrongs by bullying people into shape, making them good people.

But intruth they get excited almost erotically on stealling from a mark (The person under attack maybe called a Mark, Marked one, Beyond the Pale, The green Man, Marked with chalk or caled the Project, work in progress).

A person given the task of knocking a peron maybe called a riviter or Hammer smith. (Yes they have their own slang language a tactic taken from the Art of war, It is designed to enable them to talk in a way by insinuation of a idea, so someone over hearing can not understand the hidden message.) It is a method taught by experience of doing or having done to you.

The ultimate high for them is to drive a Victim to self harm through trickery or depression. Being able to kill without even touching the victim is the greatest high or to them the mark of a Grand wizard.

Not all Faternal people are like this Just a organised group within. Wolves hidding amongst the Sheep from the Sheppard.

Sorry to have to write in such away but I need to proctect my children, my family and those who risked their lives to save me. before they drove me off the edge!

Sufferers need to organise, just learn from the fight against slavery! don't re-invent the wheel look to history for how to fight back!
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rubymoon - 27 Jun 2009 8:29:01pm

I endured workplace bullying and unconscionable harrassment for 18 months. I loved my job and was given awards for exceeding expectations and setting new standards. My manager was a psychopath, i attended to all the policy and procedure and was promptly ignored by 1 CEO, 1 contracts senior manager,1 senior training manager and four branch managers. They speak proudly about policy that does not work and is never attended to. The psychopath continued. Broken and debilitated i took 6 weeks off. Another manager asked me to work for her in safety. Shortly after the psychopaths entire staff resigned due to bullying and threats. There is not support or help available and 'work cover' said i would have little hope of winning in court. So i resigned and i have never felt better.
Hopefully if senior managers are observant they will notice staff resignations over and over again.

You can take away my job but you can't take away my freedom.


  1. Please listen the only way to win in this situation is to either walk, quit- or go through the process complaint at work and HR and then go to an Attorney with evidence emails, anything that show them doing things and then go to the EEOC. I am in the middle of this, I decided to stay and fight and it is a really really horrible long process and since it is so long there are other woman effected by this psychopath so my case is getting stronger. The company still makes me report to the psycho even in the middle of Law Suit just to prove a point? and the incompetent psycho is being figured out as time goes by UNFORTUNATELY for me I have a doctor a Psychologist and an attorney all helping me and guiding me through til this ends. Which we don't when, it has been 6 months since filing with EEOC and they DO see reason to investigate which is a good first step, however the system is so backed up it take another 6 months to year before that is done and my attorney says wait because when they are done with investigation they will hopefully see "cause" and then he will file a Suit. They know I have an atty they have an outside Corporate Atty telling them no doubt get her to quit hurry get her out of there before she files retaliation complaint, which I have. I pray a lot and know that when this is over I am going to write about it because it is happening to so many people and they are so demeaned and feel so helpless and worthless after being managed by someone like this that it is really hard to stay strong and fight, or fight at all. The company is so hell bent on winning even when soooo wrong they continue to harass me and push my buttons in hopes I leave. They even have nerve to call me into a meeting with Operations Manager and have him ask me "no mind you this is 11 months into first complaint" he has the nerve to ask me last week "what exactly has he done to harass you" they will do anything to make you doubt yourself downplay. It is like watching North Country but in an 2009/2010 "underhanded sick" really bad movie! But in the long run Karma will win, I am planning what I am going to do when I leave for career etc. I still do my job which is sales and I take care business and of course I want to quit EVERYDAY. But I have come so far now I can't. So it is a tough decision to decide to take on Corporation for Harrasment, Gender bias, hostile work environment. It will definetly be devasting if after all of this I don't get some recovery for the actions. But I will write a book and I will somehow get compensated for this and support others if they decide to take a stand against these (pretend to be competent, bullying reputation ruining psychopaths)

  2. Defamation has always been a difficult law to pursue despite many abuses felt by employees on basic issues of job titles to more subtle abuses of race. However UK and US law has great strength.Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, traducement, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image. It is usually a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).In common law jurisdictions, slander refers to a malicious, false,[not specific enough to verify] and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images.Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Related to defamation is public disclosure of private facts, which arises where one person reveals information that is not of public concern, and the release of which would offend a reasonable person. "Unlike [with] libel, truth is not a defense for invasion of privacy."[not verified in body.False light laws are "intended primarily to protect the plaintiff's mental or emotional well-being."[5] If a publication of information is false, then a tort of defamation might have occurred. If that communication is not technically false but is still misleading, then a tort of false light might have occurred.In most civil law jurisdictions, defamation is dealt with as a crime rather than a tort.A person who destroys another's reputation may be referred to as a famacide, defamer, or slanderer. The Latin phrase famosus libellus means a libelous writing. The biggest favour I can give for anybody seeing defamation or slander is to use foresight and file witness statements, make notes, record and process through a case far ahead of seeing the lawyer. Often victims remain victims of bad employers with abusive staff because the victim does not have the foresight to provide proofs for the honourable Court processes. Simply GET THE PROOFS OF DEFAMATION QUICKLY AND BEFOREHAND and then file a lawsuit with confidence.

    Best Wishes,

    Dinesh R Makwana

  3. Hi Everyone,

    I'd like to share my utube video with you guys called "Defense Against the Psychopath" which you can find here -


    It may help you understand alot of things you didn't before or help connect some dots. We need all the help we can get when dealing with human predators or those without conscience.

    I hope it helps. That's why I put it together. People need real answers that make sense. That's why they ask questions. We don't need anymore fairy tales.

  4. Such wonderful comments here and advice! Just thought I'd add a few things - for one I think we are taught early that everyone is just like us more or less. They look human sooo, they must have a conscience or just be somewhat messed up and maybe I can help them, fix them, appeal to their softer side, impress them, etc., etc. It won't work when dealing with a psychopath or for anyone that does not have a conscience operating. You will know them by what they "do" not what they say and the pattern of behavior tells us all we need to know. We can put our magical thinking aside.

    We have definitely been taught down through history, in any institution of power you'd want to look at, by psychopaths at the helm, to never see them coming and to be their narcissistic supply, eat crumbs for food and love abuse, hoping for something to fall down out of the sky in the end that rewards us for our altruistic actions and it just doesn't happen. In the end we waste our lives and they eat us.

    Each of us, teaches whoever it is in our lives - how to treat us. If we allow this or that, then they know they take another mile or pound of flesh. Any con artist majorly disrespects you because they can fool you in the first place and if they can fool you twice or three times, they think you are an idiot and deserving of being used, abused and walked on.

    Intuition is a wonderful thing. It's very primal and given to us as a defense weapon. We've been taught by psychopaths to not pay much attention to it and to go more with the emotional response, the thrill, the base lower nature instant gratification response and it works. It works very well on us. But what if we use time to our advantage and not take everything at face value and back off, talk less, listen more, watch, observe and keep our thoughts to ourselves? What if, we see that even our predators have weaknesses themselves? And they do. Their ego is a huge blind spot.

    Some really excellent reading is "Snakes in Suits" by Dr. Robert Hare and "Without Conscience" by him also. Genius in all respects.

    Fight the battles you can win, but also know your limitations and do not enter into any fight in a weakened or disadvantaged position. Sometimes when dealing with psychopaths who are over you, the best thing you can do is leave. Not that fighting isn't a good thing to do but in all things - wisdom must be present.

    "People of the Lie" by Dr. Scott Peck is also a very very good read. The more knowledge you have, the greater your chance of survival.