The Complexities of Being a Sociopath (UK National Workplace Bullying Advise Line)
The Socialised Psychopath or Sociopath
Also known as the corporate psychopath, workplace psychopath, industrial psychopath and administrative psychopath.
Motivation: power, gratification, personal gain, survival
Mindset: manipulation, deception, evil
Malice: high to very high; when held accountable, off the scale
Jekyll & Hyde personality
always charming and beguilingly plausible, especially to those who are capable of protecting or enhancing the sociopath’s position
excels at deception (this must never be underestimated, but always is)
excels at evasion of accountability
is extremely and successfully manipulative of people’s perceptions and emotions (eg guilt and anger)
silver-tongued, has an extreme verbal facility and can outwit anybody (including a top barrister) in verbal conflict
will often engineer himself or herself into a position of authority as gatekeeper of the organisation and thus the person through whom all information must flow, and the person to whom all requests for services must be referred – which he or she then takes delight in denying
is adept at offering weak and inadequate people the positions of power, control, security, influence or respect that they crave but who lack the necessary competencies to achieve – such people are unaware that their consequent dependence on the sociopath makes them permanent manipulatees, pawns and expendable agents of harassment
identifies those essential to the sociopath’s survival and manipulates their perceptions them by making them feel special and thus obligated to reciprocate with support and protection
manipulates others into making fools of themselves in situations where they cannot back down or from which they cannot withdraw – these people become increasingly susceptible to further manipulation and are then trapped as pawns in the sociopath’s game
is likely to be surrounded by people who, having been subjected to control, manipulation and punishment by the sociopath, look wretched and who start to exhibit behaviour best described as disordered, dysfunctional, sullen, aggressive, defensive, hostile, retaliatory, counterproductive or cult-like and for whom disbelief, disavowal and denial are instinctive responses
creates an environment where levels of denial are so great that those involved are oblivious of the foolishness and self-evident absurdity of their denials when presented with the facts, with the result that non-involved observers are led to question whether such levels of denial merit psychiatric intervention
is contemptuous of disrepute to their organisation and of collateral damage and of the destructive consequences for all direct and indirect parties
is always surrounded by and leaves behind a trail of dysfunctional organisations, destroyed businesses, ruined careers, stress breakdowns and unexplained suicides
despite a trail of devastation to individuals, organisations, families and communities, the actions of a socialised psychopath may go undetected or unrecognised for years
a history of conducting frivolous, vexatious and malicious legal actions, especially (but not exclusively) against anyone who can recognise the sociopath for what he is
only after the sociopath is exposed and relieved of position, or they move on, can the full depth of their destructive behaviour be fathomed and the consequences calculated
is skilled at identifying, undermining, discrediting, neutralising and destroying anyone who can see through the sociopath’s mask of sanity
at all times restricts the actions and rights of others (especially those holding the sociopath accountable) whilst aggressively protecting his or her right to do anything without being hampered by social norms or legal requirements
pursues endless vindictive vendettas against anyone perceived as a threat or who attempts, knowingly or unknowingly, to identify or reveal or expose the sociopath, or who makes efforts to hold the sociopath accountable
is adept at appropriating rules, regulations, procedures and law to manipulate, control and punish accusers regardless of relevance, logic, facts or consequences
persists in and pursues vindictive vendettas using self-evidently false evidence or information, even after this is brought to the attention of the sociopath
will often manipulate minor bullies of the Wannabe type (who on their own might or would not merit the label ‘serial bully’) into acting as agents of harassment and as unwitting or unwilling conductors of vendettas
is adept at placing people in situations where the sociopath can tap into each person’s instinctive urge to retaliate in order to use them as his or her instruments or agents of harassment
gains gratification from provoking others into engaging in adversarial conflict
once conflict has been initiated, the sociopath gains increased gratification by exploiting human beings’ instinctive need to retaliate – this is achieved by encouraging and escalating peoples’ adversarial conflicts into mutually assured destruction
revels in the gratification gained from seeing or causing other people’s distress
when faced with accountability or unwelcome attention which might lead to others discerning the sociopath’s true nature, responds with repeated and escalating attempts to control, manipulate and punish
is adept at reflecting all accusations and attempts at accountability back onto their accusers
is adept at creating conflict between those who would otherwise pool negative information about the sociopath
has no limits on his or her vindictiveness
the need to control, manipulate and punish develops into an obsession with many of the hallmarks of an addiction
is skilled at mimicry and can plausibly and spontaneously regurgitate all the latest management jargon
exhibits minimal professional skill level and competency
exploits his or her intelligence to excel at talentless mediocrity
is always identifying the behaviours and strategies to which other people respond with the desired effect
is able to anticipate and credibly say what people want to hear
is easily able to win people over before betraying them or deceiving them or ripping them off
easily manipulates and bewitches an immature or naive or vulnerable or emotionally needy person to be their spokesperson or agent of aggression
exploits anyone who has a vulnerability
is pushy and extremely persuasive
is sexually inadequate and sexually abusive
is likely to protect anyone accused of or suspected of sexual abuse of pedophile activity, and will frustrate or obstruct investigations into that person
maybe associating with, or actively involved in, abuse or pedophile activity
has no emotions, no emotional processing capability and no ability to understand other’s emotions
is incapable of understanding, initiating or sustaining intimacy
the male sociopath has often convinced a string of women to feel they are in love with him and despite being treated abominably they blindly continue to be loyal to him and minister willingly to his every demand
may start projects with apparent enthusiasm and energy but quickly loses interest
frequently takes unnecessary and uncalculated risks but takes no account of consequences
is reckless and untrustworthy with money
is likely to be illegally diverting or siphoning off significant sums of money to his or her own budget, project, account or cause
is unreliable and untrustworthy in every facet of life
is likely to be leaking confidential information or secrets to third parties
is likely to have committed or be committing criminal or near-criminal offences, eg fraud, embezzlement, deception
is likely to have committed or be committing breaches of harassment and discrimination law, employment law, contract law, etc
disregards rules, regulations, Health and Safety requirements, professional standards, codes of conduct and legal requirements, etc
cannot comprehend the deeper semantic meaning of language and is thus unable to understand or appreciate metaphor, hyperbole, irony, satire etc (these elicit either zero response or a hostile response)
likes, seeks, enjoys and relies on procedure, ritual and ritualistic practices
through arrogant overconfidence takes increasingly risky chances and eventually overplays their hand or makes a mistake which leads to the sociopath revealing him or herself
exhibits parasitical behaviour, takes everything and gives nothing
grabs headline credit for minimal, flukey or other peoples’ success whilst surviving off the backs of manipulatees who are exclusively blamed for all failures
rarely blinks, may have stary scary eyes that cut right through you, or may avoid eye contact completely
is callous, cold and calculating
is devious, clever and cunning
is ruthless in the extreme
regards people as objects and playthings to be discarded when surplus to requirements
displays zero empathy
completely without conscience, remorse and guilt
malicious and evil
Power over people
The serial bully is able to exert a hold over people for a variety of reasons.
Targets are disempowered such that they become dependent on the bully to allow them to get through each day without their life being made hell.
The serial bully is often able to bewitch an emotionally needy colleague into supporting them; this person then becomes the bully’s spokesperson and advocate. How people can be so easily and repeatedly taken in by the bully’s glib charm, Jekyll and Hyde nature, and constant lying is a mystery. Psychopaths are especially adept at conning people in this manner.
Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD)
The serial bully exhibits behaviours similar to or congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
The serial bully exhibits behaviours similar to or congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)
The serial bully exhibits behaviours similar to or congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Paranoid Personality Disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Some visitors to Bully OnLine have suggested that the bullies in their lives exhibit characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder.
Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder
There’s more on Personality Disorders at http://www.toad.net/~arcturus/dd/ourdesk.htm
Avoiding acceptance of responsibility – denial, counterattack and feigning victimhood
The serial bully is an adult on the outside but a child on the inside; he or she is like a child who has never grown up. One suspects that the bully is emotionally retarded and has a level of emotional development equivalent to a five-year-old, or less. The bully wants to enjoy the benefits of living in the adult world, but is unable and unwilling to accept the responsibilities that go with enjoying the benefits of the adult world. In short, the bully has never learnt to accept responsibility for their behaviour.
When called to account for the way they have chosen to behave, the bully instinctively exhibits this recognisable behavioural response:
a) Denial: the bully denies everything. Variations include Trivialization (“This is so trivial it’s not worth talking about…”) and the Fresh Start tactic (“I don’t know why you’re so intent on dwelling on the past” and “Look, what’s past is past, I’ll overlook your behaviour and we’ll start afresh”) – this is an abdication of responsibility by the bully and an attempt to divert and distract attention by using false conciliation. Imagine if this line of defence were available to all criminals (“Look I know I’ve just murdered 12 people but that’s all in the past, we can’t change the past, let’s put it behind us, concentrate on the future so we can all get on with our lives” – this would do wonders for prison overcrowding).
b) Retaliation: the bully counterattacks. The bully quickly and seamlessly follows the denial with an aggressive counter-attack of counter-criticism or counter-allegation, often based on distortion or fabrication. Lying, deception, duplicity, hypocrisy and blame are the hallmarks of this stage. The purpose is to avoid answering the question and thus avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour. Often the target is tempted – or coerced – into giving another long explanation to prove the bully’s allegation false; by the time the explanation is complete, everybody has forgotten the original question.
Both a) and b) are delivered with aggression in the guise of assertiveness; in fact there is no assertiveness (which is about recognising and respecting the rights of oneself and others) at all. Note that explanation – of the original question – is conspicuous by its absence.
c) Feigning victimhood: in the unlikely event of denial and counter-attack being insufficient, the bully feigns victimhood or feigns persecution by manipulating people through their emotions, especially guilt. This commonly takes the form of bursting into tears, which most people cannot handle. Variations include indulgent self-pity, feigning indignation, pretending to be “devastated”, claiming they’re the one being bullied or harassed, claiming to be “deeply offended”, melodrama, martyrdom (“If it wasn’t for me…”) and a poor-me drama (“You don’t know how hard it is for me … blah blah blah …” and “I’m the one who always has to…”, “You think you’re having a hard time …”, “I’m the one being bullied…”). Other tactics include manipulating people’s perceptions to portray themselves as the injured party and the target as the villain of the piece. Or presenting as a false victim. Sometimes the bully will suddenly claim to be suffering “stress” and go off on long-term sick leave, although no-one can quite establish why. Alleged ill-health can also be a useful vehicle for gaining attention and sympathy. For suggestions on how to counter this see the advice on the FAQ page.