Edinburgh: Surviving Psychopaths – And What To Do When Your Boss Is A Sociopath!
Word has been spreading about what an excellent event this was – a great speaker, fascinating topic and standing room only.
Mary Turner Thomson inspired us with her amazing personal story of resilience, stimulating a lot of questions and discussion towards the end of the evening. After discovering that her husband of 6 years was a bigamist and a psychopath, Mary’s whole world turned upside down. She’d been totally taken in by his lies and lost most of her money to him. While her first response had been to withdraw into herself, she realised she was not living a good example to her children on how to stand up to this adversity, and she decided to tell her story and break the silence. In her research to write her book about her experience, she discovered a whole new world for her of psychopaths and how they gain control over and manipulate people. Her book has been made into 7 documentaries so far and is potentially being made into a TV series. You can see more on her website at www.maryturnerthomson.com
There are Psychopaths, Sociopaths, Narcissists, and Machiavellians, all of which are medically categorised under the term ‘antisocial personality disorder’ and score highly (over 21 up to 40, the maximum score), on the Psychopath Check List (Revised) (PCL (R)) devised by Dr Robert Hare, the leading world expert on psychopathy. Then there is also the Apath, who is a ‘normal’ person within the close community of the psychopathic person who facilitates what they do, often to avoid being a victim themselves. One key factor determining psychopathic behaviour is the lack of empathy, and lack of emotion and feeling for others.
Surprisingly, as many as 1 in 100 people score over 21 on the psychopath test, and a disproportionately high number are found in prison (25% of the prison population), boardrooms and several industries including financial services. Sometimes the inexplicable behaviour of someone at work could be an indication of a psychopathic tendencies, so it is worth being aware of how a psychopath typically ‘works’ people.
First, they ‘love bomb’ you – shower you with compliments, everything you do is wonderful, plenty of flowers or presents if it is a romantic rather than work relationship. They find out what you like, what you read, and show similar interests to you. You think they are the nicest, most charming person and start to fall under their spell. It is called being bonded, so you start to trust them and believe what they say to the extent that you distrust yourself (or anyone else) and what you see for yourself. Then they start to undermine you, question you and then build you up again, but the strategy destroys your self-esteem and builds your belief in what they tell you, and you don’t leave because you are held there by your own belief in what has gone before.
How does it show up in the workplace? There is an online movie, ‘I AM FISHHEAD’, which is well worth watching. Corporate Psychopaths, “Snakes in Suits”, typically don’t acknowledge responsibility, have no real feelings of empathy, manipulate and bully, have a need for stimulation, have no remorse, enjoy making people feel bad, and sabotage co-workers.
What should you do if your colleague or boss may be a psychopath? First, be AWARE and never trust them. Psychopaths do not feel guilt or remorse and they will never change. It is worth recording everything, keep notes and evidence to back up your perspective – get things on email and try to have witnesses to conversations. Start looking for a new role, so you can be in a more positive environment where you are not being undermined, but do it quietly and plan your exit. Keep in mind you want to stay professional at all times, because part of the strategy of a psychopath is to show you up in a bad light, needle you into responding angrily when there are witnesses around. Learn stress reduction techniques so you can stay calm no matter what the provocation. Learn to let it go and put it behind you, focus on the future, and let go of any anger, frustration and feelings of unfairness so you can be free of the chains and choose to be positive. Remember to get help and support others as well.
You can purchase Mary’s book ‘The Bigamist’ on Kindle, or in Paperback, from Amazon.