Many people at some point have likely wondered if their boss is a psychopath. It turns out that if your boss is a politician, there’s a good chance he or she is. Several of the characteristics that define a psychopath also correspond to the same traits that make for effective leaders.
According to The Atlantic:
It’s important to understand that psychopathic behavior and affect exist on a continuum; there are those who fall into the grey area between “normal” people and true psychopaths.
In other words, you don’t have to be an ax-wielding murderer to possess some of the classic psychopathic traits: lack of remorse and empathy, a sense of grandiosity, superficial charm, conning and manipulative behavior and refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions. For politicians, possessing excessive charm and a calculating mind would be considered assets.
The question, then, is whether it is reasonable to believe that people with serious abnormalities in the way they interact with the world can be found running for (and winning) office. However unsettling as this may be, the answer seems to be yes. It’s possible for psychopaths to be found anywhere — including city hall or Washington, D.C.
Research has shown that disorder may confer certain advantages that make psychopaths particularly suited to a life on the public stage and able to handle high-pressure situations: psychopaths score low on measures of stress reactivity, anxiety and depression, and high on measures of competitive achievement, positive impressions on first encounters, and fearlessness.
But who says this is a bad thing so long as the politicians get the job done sans killing spree? As the psychologist William James said, possessing some of the psychopathic traits create “the best possible conditions for the kind of effective genius that gets into the biographical dictionaries.”
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