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yalensis , July 5, 2014 at 4:12 am...
This guy got his rocks off by pitting his underlings against each other: Turning friends into enemies, etc. He did this through a combination of (temporary) favoritism, using office spies, power plays, and also employing an "office wife" to spread gossip about people behind their back.
It was very effective: in the end, nobody trusted anyone, everybody hated everybody, the whole team became completely dysfunctional because people would rather root for others' failures than try to achieve something themselves; hence, nothing ever got done, and some very talented brains were completed wasted with this intrigue and B.S.
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March 1, 2004 | iveybusinessjournal.comToxic managers are a fact of life. Some managers are toxic most of the time; most managers are toxic some of the time. Knowing how to deal with people who are rigid, aggressive, self-centered or exhibit other types of dysfunctional behaviour can improve your own health and that of others in the workplace. This author describes the mechanisms for coping.
Toxic managers dot the landscape in most organizations, making them seem, at times, like war zones. These managers can complicate your work, drain your energy, compromise your sanity, derail your projects and destroy your career. Your ability to deal with these corporate land mines will have a significant impact on your career. Those who are able to recognize toxic managers quickly and understand what makes them tick will be in the best position to protect themselves. Difficult managers are a fact of life and how they affect your life depends upon the skills you develop to deal with them.
The issue is not simply a matter of individual survival. Toxic managers divert people's energy from the real work of the organization, destroy morale, impair retention, and interfere with cooperation and information sharing. Their behaviour, like a rock thrown into a pond, can cause ripples distorting the organization's culture and affecting people far beyond the point of impact.
Senior management and HR can significantly improve an organization's culture and functioning by taking steps to find and contain those who are most destructive. Leadership can spare an organization serious damage by learning how to recognize problematic personality traits quickly, placing difficult managers in positions in which their behaviour will do the least harm, arranging for coaching for those who are able to grow, and knowing which managers are time bombs that need to be let go.
This article will help you learn how to avoid becoming a scapegoat, to survive aggressive managers' assaults, and to give narcissistic and rigid managers the things they need to be satisfied with you. It will also help senior management and HR to recognize toxic managers before they do serious damage. The basic theme of the article is that to deal effectively with toxic behavior you need to understand what lies underneath it, design an intervention to target those underlying factors, and have sufficient control of your own feelings and behaviour so that you can do what is most effective, rather than let your own anger or anxiety get the best of you. In other words, you need to develop your emotional intelligence.
We think of psychopaths as killers, alien, outside society. But, says the scientist who has spent his life studying them, you could have one for a colleague, a friend – or a spouse
There are a few things we take for granted in social interactions with people. We presume that we see the world in roughly the same way, that we all know certain basic facts, that words mean the same things to you as they do to me. And we assume that we have pretty similar ideas of right and wrong.
But for a small – but not that small – subset of the population, things are very different. These people lack remorse and empathy and feel emotion only shallowly. In extreme cases, they might not care whether you live or die. These people are called psychopaths. Some of them are violent criminals, murderers. But by no means all.
Professor Robert Hare is a criminal psychologist, and the creator of the PCL-R, a psychological assessment used to determine whether someone is a psychopath. For decades, he has studied people with psychopathy, and worked with them, in prisons and elsewhere. "It stuns me, as much as it did when I started 40 years ago, that it is possible to have people who are so emotionally disconnected that they can function as if other people are objects to be manipulated and destroyed without any concern," he says.
Our understanding of the brain is still in its infancy, and it's not so many decades since psychological disorders were seen as character failings. Slowly we are learning to think of mental illnesses as illnesses, like kidney disease or liver failure, and personality disorders, such as autism, in a similar way. Psychopathy challenges this view. "A high-scoring psychopath views the world in a very different way," says Hare. "It's like colour-blind people trying to understand the colour red, but in this case 'red' is other people's emotions."
At heart, Hare's test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn't apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list includes: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, cunning/manipulative, pathological lying, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, a tendency to boredom, impulsivity, criminal versatility, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Hare says: "A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, once said: 'Bob, when I meet someone who scores 35 or 36, I know these people really are different.' The ones we consider to be alien are the ones at the upper end."
But is psychopathy a disorder – or a different way of being? Anyone reading the list above will spot a few criteria familiar from people they know. On average, someone with no criminal convictions scores 5. "It's dimensional," says Hare. "There are people who are part-way up the scale, high enough to warrant an assessment for psychopathy, but not high enough up to cause problems. Often they're our friends, they're fun to be around. They might take advantage of us now and then, but usually it's subtle and they're able to talk their way around it." Like autism, a condition which we think of as a spectrum, "psychopathy", the diagnosis, bleeds into normalcy.
We think of psychopaths as killers, criminals, outside society. People such as Joanna Dennehy, a 31-year-old British woman who killed three men in 2013 and who the year before had been diagnosed with a psychopathic personality disorder, or Ted Bundy, the American serial killer who is believed to have murdered at least 30 people and who said of himself: "I'm the most cold-blooded son of a bitch you'll ever meet. I just liked to kill." But many psychopathic traits aren't necessarily disadvantages – and might, in certain circumstances, be an advantage.
For their co-authored book, "Snakes in suits: When Psychopaths go to work", Hare and another researcher, Paul Babiak, looked at 203 corporate professionals and found about four per cent scored sufficiently highly on the PCL-R to be evaluated for psychopathy. Hare says that this wasn't a proper random sample (claims that "10 per cent of financial executives" are psychopaths are certainly false) but it's easy to see how a lack of moral scruples and indifference to other people's suffering could be beneficial if you want to get ahead in business.
"There are two kinds of empathy," says James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the University of California and author of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. "Cognitive empathy is the ability to know what other people are feeling, and emotional empathy is the kind where you feel what they're feeling." Autistic people can be very empathetic – they feel other people's pain – but are less able to recognise the cues we read easily, the smiles and frowns that tell us what someone is thinking. Psychopaths are often the opposite: they know what you're feeling, but don't feel it themselves. "This all gives certain psychopaths a great advantage, because they can understand what you're thinking, it's just that they don't care, so they can use you against yourself." (Chillingly, psychopaths are particularly adept at detecting vulnerability. A 2008 study that asked participants to remember virtual characters found that those who scored highly for psychopathy had a near perfect recognition for sad, unsuccessful females, but impaired memory for other characters.)
...And in his youth, "if I was confronted by authority – if I stole a car, made pipe bombs, started fires – when we got caught by the police I showed no emotion, no anxiety". Yet he is highly successful, driven to win. He tells me things most people would be uncomfortable saying: that his wife says she's married to a "fun-loving, happy-go-lucky nice guy" on the one hand, and a "very dark character who she does not like" on the other. He's pleasant, and funny, if self-absorbed, but I can't help but think about the criteria in Hare's PCL-R: superficial charm, lack of emotional depth, grandiose sense of self-worth. "I look like hell now, Tom," he says – he's 66 – "but growing up I was good-looking, six foot, 180lb, athletic, smart, funny, popular." (Hare warns against non-professionals trying to diagnose people using his test, by the way.)
"Psychopaths do think they're more rational than other people, that this isn't a deficit," says Hare. "I met one offender who was certainly a psychopath who said 'My problem is that according to psychiatrists I think more with my head than my heart. What am I supposed to do about that? Am I supposed to get all teary-eyed?' " Another, asked if he had any regrets about stabbing a robbery victim, replied: "Get real! He spends a few months in hospital and I rot here. If I wanted to kill him I would have slit his throat. That's the kind of guy I am; I gave him a break."
And yet, as Hare points out, when you're talking about people who aren't criminals, who might be successful in life, it's difficult to categorise it as a disorder. "It'd be pretty hard for me to go into high-level political or economic or academic context and pick out all the most successful people and say, 'Look, I think you've got some brain deficit.' One of my inmates said that his problem was that he's a cat in a world of mice. If you compare the brainwave activity of a cat and a mouse, you'd find they were quite different."
It would, says Hare, probably have been an evolutionarily successful strategy for many of our ancestors, and can be successful today; adept at manipulating people, a psychopath can enter a community, "like a church or a cultural organisation, saying, 'I believe the same things you do', but of course what we have is really a cat pretending to be a mouse, and suddenly all the money's gone". At this point he floats the name Bernie Madoff.
Zero HedgeFew who are paying attention to world events through a lens more precise than the Main Stream Media (MSM) would deny that the vast majority of humans are being badly abused by their leadership in a variety of venues ranging from local, regional, national, and international politicians and bureaucrats, financial managers, corporate controllers, religious leaders, media moguls and warlords.
The vast majority of humans appear to be oblivious to this abuse and passively accept what is being done to them. Why is that? In one word - conditioning.
The vastly increased access to information that the internet enabled is responsible for a large number of people at least becoming aware of this abuse. However even among this more aware group, taking effective action to stop the abuse is sorely lacking. Why is that? In one word - conditioning.
There is a much smaller group that are proactively attempting to counter the abuse through group protest, but they are losing the struggle. Why is that? In one word - conditioning.
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The most rigid and destructive conditioning is imposed on us during our schooling. That schooling is starting earlier and lasting much longer than previously in history and while we are being 'schooled' we are not considered full adults with the responsibilities and freedoms such status implies.
Why is that? Could it be that control in our society is much more rigid than ever before? Those that control us realize that a rebellion of youth is the most dangerous kind. How better to minimize the impact of people in their prime than by keeping their status at 'children' with little access to power until well past their prime years? If people cave in to 'slave hood' during their prime years, how likely are they to rebel once they are past their prime; especially if they are burdened with excessive debt from their education?
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In current society peer pressure during childhood, and early adulthood, is immense. To survive in this setting we must pay close attention to others around us for clues regarding what is and is not acceptable. Because of this pressure the bulk of our energy goes into human interactions and we are pretty much oblivious to everything but our immediate environment. "Use it or lose it", is sage advice. Because of concentrating on human relations during their formative years, most people have little if any connection to the natural world.
Try to imagine what people would be like if, as youngsters, they spent time exploring and living in nature while being responsible for their own survival and actions instead of hanging out at the mall or partying with their pals.
Is it fair to say that those that hang with the crowd are unlikely to be aware of, or able to understand, large scale events not part of their immediate environment?
What about someone who is tasked with surviving in the greater world using only their own skills? Would they stand a better chance of grasping what is going on?
Is this phenomena related to the common use of a 'rite of manhood' by many cultures where young adults leave the security of their group to face the wilderness on their own?
Do the majority of people in modern societies never go through this enabling rite of passage and instead go from the security of their parent's care to the security of the big brother state? Does this explain why some people never seem to reach adulthood?
Substantial time on the lookout, without peer pressure, made me realize how confining trying to fit into the crowd is. Most people don't even sense this pressure because it is all they know. It's like the air we breathe. It's just there until it isn't, then we die; unless we are prepared for an airless environment.
Most people also don't realize how much of their time and energy it takes to be 'social'. Being removed from 'socializing' is enormously stressful if it is all you know.
Many aspiring lookout men needed to come down off the mountains prematurely because they could not stand being alone. Those that adjusted to the isolation came to treasure the freedom of being comfortable for extended periods with just their own company. The amount of time that then becomes available for other, possibly more worthwhile pursuits, is substantial.
In the forefront of these benefits is having the time to look inside youself without constantly being subjected to the opinion of others. Building friendships takes time and effort and becoming your own friend is no exception. Most of us never get the opportunity to do this.
Those that desire to control human behavior understand that people that are not comfortable with themself are much more susceptible to being controlled because they are lonely and need to seek comfort and friendship outside themselves. Virtually every sales campaign, ranging from that of the door to door salesmen to world leaders, is then enabled to easily sell you a bill of goods by convincing you that what they have to offer is going to become your best friend and make your life less lonely.
Short excursions or holidays into nature, most often with others fitted into a busy schedule, do little to increase our awareness of the greater reality that humans exist within. Thanks to modern technology very few of these excursions actually take people far from the human controlled environment they are conditioned to.
It is one thing to climb to the top of a mountain, conquer it, and then immediately return to civilization. It is something totally different to stay in that wilderness environment for extended periods with the time to come to know those other species that are at home in those environs. It makes one realize that humans are not the 'be all, end all' of life on earth. Humility is born which serves us very well. In this environment one soon comes to realize those species include the earth itself. Seeing the constant breathing of weather and daily and seasonal shifts of energies makes one realize everything is made of the same stuff and 'lives' in its own unique way.
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Humans are far more difficult to control if they live in small clusters, all over the place, while paying little or no attention to the MSM. The propagandists can then no longer create a single message that will motive the whole herd of humans to act identically by broadcasting their one piece of propaganda from a single location that reaches everyone.
Propaganda still works, but it must be tailored properly to fit each unique situation in order to get consistent results. If there is no central broadcasting service the message must also be taken to each unique location individually. This is an impossible situation for our rulers and is the reason we are all so heavily conditioned to….
- Need to be in close quarters with other humans.
- Need the approval of others.
- Think alike.
- Think we must be/are part of a team.
- Become isolated emotionally from ourselves and each other, even while packed on top of each other, so only big brother can offer us comfort.
- Desire specialized knowledge which results in only being able to survive as part of the 'urban' team.
- To desire a 'carrot' of reward that only 'winning', at any cost(?), within the crowd can present.
- Depend on centralized services, especially sources of energy.
- Depend on the rule of 'human' law to protect us from each other.
The most destructive conditioning takes place in our schools, right at the time we are most susceptible to it, during our formative years. During that period we have little experience of our own to compare to what we are told, and raising questions about the validity of the taught 'truth' is ruthlessly punished in order to force us to depend on the wisdom of others instead of our own intuition.
We are ruthlessly regimented to follow orders so that we eventually become incapable of thinking for ourselves and become dependent on the 'boss' to do our thinking for us. The intellectual box we become stuck within is then defined by the boss.
Specialization in training, and limiting access to information, (compartmentalization) is critical to our conditioning. If we cannot think for ourselves, and only understand part of the puzzle, and are incapable of deducing or intuiting answers to unknowns, we are trapped within our dependence on others.
I have personally met a number of world shaker class intellectuals that are extremely brilliant in their own field, but figuratively can't tie their own shoe laces. This situation is not accidental. If only the boss has the full picture, the boss becomes the only one who can act effectively. Everyone else then becomes totally dependent on the Boss. Specialization has its place, but having a well rounded toolkit of life skills is essential to individual freedom.
Being away from civilization where the boss is not handy to hold your hand is a disaster waiting to happen if you cannot think for yourself. Then, unless you quickly learn to identify problems before they destroy you, and also learn to fix problems you can't avoid intuitively without an instruction manually from the boss, you will not survive long.
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No one is perfect and you will make mistakes when you think for yourself. Mistakes are often painful, but if you accept the possibility of making mistakes, and are willing to learn from them when you make them, you will eventually become a very robust and capable person. What doesn't break you strengthens you.
If you are afraid of making mistakes you are stuck on the safe (?) road built by our bosses. You still might not be safe, but at least you can then blame your mistakes on someone else.
I have learned far more from my mistakes than from my successes. I am now very thankful for my mistakes, even though some were very painful to navigate.
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Feb 28, 2014 | DW.DE
Film is a particularly suitable medium for depicting psychopathy, says Samuel Leistedt, a forensic psychiatrist at the Marronniers hospital in Tournai, Belgium. Many films featuring psychopaths have also become Hollywood classics and blockbusters: "Psycho," "Silence of the Lambs" and "There Will Be Blood," to name a few.
Leistedt and his team compiled a database of 400 films, although less than a third were selected for analysis based on the realism of the characters. Their study, which was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, found that psychopaths in the movies have become more clinically accurate over time.
"I identify the really well-constructed characters, which were so realistic that you could meet them in your practice," says Leistedt, who co-authored the study with colleague Paul Linkowski.
One classic, idiopathic prototype, which closely resembles a clinical case, is the psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh. He is portrayed by Spanish actor Javiar Bardem in "No Country for Old Men."
"A guy I met in my practice was exactly like that. He was a hitman in Belgium, working for a criminal organization. He was very cold and very scary," Leistedt says.
Not all psychopaths are serial killers, rapists or mafia hitmen though. Some are neither violent nor criminal. Manipulative corporate raiders such as Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's film, "Wall Street," can still destroy other human beings, yet manage to sleep soundly at night.
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko in Wall Street
Not all psychopaths are serial killers, rapists and mafia hit men: Some could be corporate raiders
"Gordon Gekko is probably the best example of this kind of successful, manipulative psychopath. They will not kill you, but they are very charming. They lie, they like power," says Leistedt.
Interestingly, the few psychopathic women in the film study are mainly the manipulative type. Actress Sharon Stone's character in "Basic Instinct" uses her sexuality to entrap victims and kills them with an ice pick, even though physical aggression is rare among women.
"Female psychopaths are more manipulative than male ones. The motivation for murder is different, like the black widow who marries a wealthy old man and puts poison in his drink," he explains.
The counterpart to the clever manipulator is the "macho male," who possesses more brawn than brains.
"The most beautiful example of macho is the famous gangster in Chicago, Al Capone. He's aggressive, but not very smart," Leistedt adds.
Absence of empathy a key personality trait
Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men
Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men" is the "perfect villain with a bad haircut"
The defining personality trait of all psychopathic types, in film as well as life, is lack of empathy, says Dietmar Kanthak, a film critic at the Bonn-based daily Der General-Anzeiger. He describes Javiar Bardem's portrayal of Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men" as "the perfect villain with a bad haircut."
"He kills like Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Terminator' - like a machine. He's got this intelligence, this will to get a job done. He has no empathy at all," he adds.
Other psychopathic traits include lack of remorse and guilt.
"They can mimic emotions. Intellectually they are able to explain what sadness is, but they are not able to feel sadness or anxiety," explains Leistedt.
Psychopathic brains are different
Diagram of amygdalae in the brain
The amygdalae, deep in emotional brain, remain dormant in psychopaths
The inability to feel emotion could have a biological basis. When psychopathic subjects are shown powerful images of pain, terror or suffering, their brain activity hardly registers on an MRI scan.
The amygdalae - two small almond-shaped structures at the heart of what is called the emotional brain - remain cold.
"It's like the brain is paralyzed or asleep. These are very important structures in terms of emotions and fear. When you see a snake, for example, your amygdala will normally activate a lot," Leistedt says.
The MRI scans show how psychopathic and non-psychopathic brains differ, but do not explain the reasons for the difference. It's not known to what extent a relatively inactive amygdala may be inborn or genetic, since social deprivation, childhood traumas or head injuries can also leave a neurological imprint on the brain.
Psychopaths versus sociopaths
Many of the film psychopaths in the study are actually sociopaths. They commit the same brutal crimes as true psychopaths who have no feelings. The difference is that sociopaths may still be capable of feeling human emotion and remorse. One classic case is the real-life Louisiana death row inmate Matthew Poncelet. He is portrayed by Sean Penn in "Dead Man Walking."
"He has access to emotions - to sadness, to guilt. He is anti-social, a drug addict, but not a psychopath," says Leistedt.
Sean Penn (left) as sociopath Matthew Poncelet, and Susan Sarandon, in Dead Man Walking
Sociopath Matthew Poncelet (left) in "Dead Man Walking" is able to access his emotions
Cinematically, Matthew Poncelet is one of the most realistic characters in the study.
"We don't know if he's guilty or not, and then afterwards you see the evidence of his killing two teenagers. You get the whole complexity of this character," says film critic Kanthak, who believes that films can enable moviegoers to understand the psychology of psychopaths.
"The best films try to explain these characters. They try to present them in all their complexity - all their faults, all their wickedness: but they're still human beings, aren't they?" he adds.
Lewis Yablonsky carried a switchblade before he became a sociologist.
"My need for self-protection stemmed, in part, from my teenage years as a dice and card hustler," Dr. Yablonsky once wrote, recalling his days at South Side High School in Newark.
"During this phase of my life I hung out with many individuals who I would, later on, after my formal education, characterize as sociopaths."
He made good money cheating at cards and dice. He went on to make a remarkable career hanging out with and writing about sociopaths - gangsters, drug dealers, murderers - as well as more ordinary characters, like unhappily married couples.
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Dr. Yablonsky emphasized street-level immersion over academic remove, and he often said that his rough childhood had helped him see the complexity in people and inspired his belief in treatment over punishment. When he was a boy, in the 1930s, he was beaten by whites who mocked his Jewishness and by blacks who mocked his whiteness, he recalled. He rode along in his father's laundry truck in tough neighborhoods, he said, in part to prevent people from stealing the truck. He often marveled that, unlike so many of the people he grew up with, he did not go to prison.
"My greatest achievement in life," he liked to say, "was getting out of Newark."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has appropriately been called a bully. This has implications well beyond Christie. His calling out has the potential to shift the growing public conversation about bullying from a psychological narrative about abusive individuals to a new discourse on institutionalized bullying, carried out by ruling institutions and elites.
The current focus on bullying - like much of the discussion about guns and gun violence - has tended to focus on individuals and mental health. It is a therapeutic narrative. Bullying is seen primarily as a psychological problem of individuals. The victim needs therapy, better communication or adaptation skills. Bullies are characterologically flawed and need therapy or perhaps legal punishment.
But there is little or no discussion of larger social or cultural forces in the United States and the American institutions or leaders who bully other countries or workers and citizens at home. Institutionalized bullying is endemic to a capitalist hegemonic nation like the United States and creates death and suffering on a far greater scale than personal, everyday bullying, as important and toxic as the latter might be.
Moreover, much of the everyday bullying that is the current media focus must be understood as the inevitable consequence of a militarized corporate system that requires a popular mind-set of bullying to produce profit and power. The individual bully is the creation of the bully nation.
The United States openly views itself as the world police force, a benign hegemon morally ordained to impose its interests and values on the rest of the world and justified in the name of freedom, human rights and antiterrorism to do to weaker countries what it wants. It spends more on weapons than its next 20 largest competitors combined. President Obama proclaimed "[S]o long as I'm Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known." To peasants living in small countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia - where the United States has sent armed forces, used drones to bomb, and often overthrown the government - polls show that a majority of people see the United States as the greatest threat to their security, and fear it. Hegemony here seamlessly unfolds as morally sanctioned, institutionalized bullying.
America makes heroes of bomber pilots like John McCain and offers them as role models for children and adolescents to emulate. They see the media applaud the bullying behavior of their own government that dispatches police, soldiers, FBI and CIA agents into foreign nations to kill and wreak havoc - from Afghanistan to Somalia to Columbia. If you kill enough, whether in a just war or not, you may win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
If bullying brings esteem to a nation, then surely that is a behavior to strive for. Potential recruits for an aggressive military need to be immunized against scruples over violence and bullying. This becomes an implicit part of their education, whether or not it is ever publicly admitted. Accordingly, schools and adult authorities often turn a blind eye toward bullying. After two world wars, the Army lamented that a majority of combat soldiers never fired a weapon. They called for a change in the training of soldiers and the education and upbringing of children to correct that. By that measure, they have been successful. In Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan, the majority of combat soldiers killed.
Sports has played a vital part in preparing children for institutionalized aggression, bullying and combat. In football, the goal is to attack the opponent and knock them down, a hard hit that keeps the opponent dazed on the ground is sometimes encouraged by coaches and cheered by the crowd. In schools and campuses, the athletes are often the popular heroes and also the bullies, involved too often in sexual violence or drinking binges in bars that lead to fights or crimes.
Only recently would they expect sanctions against bullying. Indeed, the more they bullied, the more popular they would be. Even before World War I, President Theodore Roosevelt insisted that elite universities like Harvard would have to enhance their football teams if America were to dominate the world. He declared: "We cannot afford to turn out college men who shrink from physical effort or a little physical pain." For the nation needed men with "the courage that will fight valiantly against the foes of the soul and the foes of the body."
The aggression and competiveness of bullying pervades civilian life as well as military. As the beacon for the rest of the world to emulate, the culture the United States wishes to export is capitalism. Capitalism's staunchest defenders proclaim competition to be its fundamental operating principle. The monopolistic corporations and the wealthiest 1% have been the most aggressive, bullying anyone who stood in their way by outsourcing their jobs, lowering wages, stripping away benefits and firing those seeking to organize unions.
The bully demonizes their victim. In American capitalism, elites have long defined the losers in the competitive struggle with the words used by Mitt Romney to defame the 47%: undeserving "moochers." They are weak and lazy and don't have the stuff to prevail. As victims, they deserve their fate and must submit to the triumphant. Those, like the wolves on Wall Street who bully their way to the top, should be there; those who couldn't or don't, belong where they are.
Bullying is the means through which the corporate empires were built. Carnegie and Rockefeller intimidated and threatened their rival capitalists to cede them an ever-larger share of the market. They brought in Pinkerton goons to beat striking workers into submission. Workers were forced to either sign "yellow dog" contracts and pledge not to join unions, or be thrown into the street. Similar bullying practices continue today. Corporations warn entire communites they will shut down factories and undermine the local economy if they do not accept low wages and minimal regulations. Banks entice consumers to borrow through predatory loans and then raise interest rates and threaten foreclosure. The corporations are clear they have the power and will not tolerate challenges from weaklings who fail to know their place.
Bullying enhances the ideology that the strong are strong and the weak are weak, and each deserves to be where they are. This attitude pervades America's culture, government, military, corporations, media, schools, entertainment, athletics and everyday life. The first step to a solution is shifting the conversation to institutional bullying, moving beyond simply a therapeutic narrative to a political one aiming toward transformative social change. As long as the United States embraces militarism and aggressive capitalism, systemic bullying and all its impacts - abroad and at home - will persist as a major crisis.
Here's some gratifying news for any employees out there who are feeling bullied by a tyrannical boss: That aggressive behavior may have little to do with you, and a lot to do with your boss's feelings of incompetence. A new study in Psychological Science found that when managers are made to feel insecure about their job performance, their aggressiveness skyrockets. "Power holders feel they need to be superior and competent. When they don't feel they can show that legitimately, they'll show it by taking people down a notch or two" [New Scientist], says study coauthor Nathanael Fast.
The researchers got 410 volunteers from various workplaces to fill out questionnaires about their position in the workplace hierarchy, how they felt about their job performance, and their aggressive tendencies. They also conducted a series experiments on the volunteers. In one, they manipulated the subjects' sense of power and self-worth by asking them to write about occasions when they felt either empowered or impotent and then either competent or incompetent. Previous research has suggested that such essays cause a short-term bump or drop in feelings of power and capability [New Scientist]. Next they asked the volunteers to set the level of punishment for (imaginary) university students who got wrong answers on a test. Those people who felt more powerful and more incompetent picked the harshest punishments, the study found.
So what's to be done with a bullying boss? Coauthor Serena Chen says a little ego stroking may make life easier for everyone. "Make them feel good about themselves in some way," Chen said, suggesting this might mean complimenting a hobby or nonwork activity provided it is "something plausible that doesn't sound like you're sucking up" [San Francisco Chronicle].
80beats: Teenage Bullies are Rewarded With Pleasure, Brain Scans Show
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Softpanorama hot topic of the month
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Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers : Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy
War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotes : Somerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose Bierce : Bernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes
Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law
Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds : Larry Wall : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOS : Programming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC development : Scripting Languages : Perl history : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history
The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-Month : How to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite
Most popular humor pages:
Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor
The Last but not Least
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FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to advance understanding of computer science, IT technology, economic, scientific, and social issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law according to which such material can be distributed without profit exclusively for research and educational purposes.
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Last modified: September, 12, 2017