Psychopaths in the Boardroom?

My colleague Prof. Mark Boguski at the Harvard Medical School shared a provocative quote: True?

Not all psychopaths are in prison. Some are in the Boardroom.

Over at MedPageToday, they just completed an intriguing and informative series of articles about the psychology of psychopaths. According to Prof. Boguski:

…our 3-part series on psychopathy just concluded yesterday on MedPageToday.

Here’s a summary of some of our tweets about it:

WANTED: Charming, aggressive, carefree people who are good at looking out for #1


Corporate psychopaths: the sour cream rises to the top

What’s the difference between successful & unsuccessful psychopaths?

Psychopaths know the words, but not the music

Chainsaw Al redefines psychopathic traits as exemplary leadership qualities

Not all psychopaths are in prison. Some are in the Boardroom.


  1. #1 Pierce R. Butler
    June 24, 2011

    Not true. The modern corporate environment doesn’t suit psychopaths; the sociopaths outcompete them at every turn.

  2. #2 Family Physicians
    June 29, 2011

    Very true Pierce, they’re no match against sociopaths.

  3. #3 cwgauthier
    July 1, 2011

    “Pyschopath” and “sociopath” are both non-clinical, interchangeable terms referring to a person suffering from “Antisocial Personality Disorder”. In fact, “psychopath” was the preferred clinical term, vs. sociopath, until the 1980’s when the third edition of the DSM was published. Even today, “psychopath” is used, casually, by mental health professionals to refer to people about whom you would say “uh-uh, they’re SOCIOpaths”.

    It isn’t as though people need a psych degree to know these things. If you’re going to be technical nitpickers, at least do it right. Is Googling so difficult?

  4. #4 Jeff
    July 1, 2011

    This is from Prof. Boguski at Harvard Medical School. Explain to readers your qualifications. Thank you.

  5. #5 PsychLobster
    July 27, 2011

    … What.

    Psychopathy in psychology in my experience just means psychopathy as measured by Hare’s Psychopathy Check-List. It’s a distinct phenomenon. I wouldn’t know what sociopathy could mean in this context.

    Corporate world? Also, politics.

  6. #6 Kat
    October 1, 2011

    No matter if they’re a sociopath, psychopath, or a schizophrenic, you shouldn’t be surprised that they’re in the board room rather than prison. A great deal of personality disorders are based on fantastic characteristics that are used for negative purposes. Depending on the individual’s self-control, these skills can easily work to their advantage. Unfortunately climbing to the top of of a career may involve a lot of decisions that someone with a larger conscience could not handle in a way someone with a personality disorder could. Narcissists also tend to be very successful themselves because of their magnetic charm and persuasion.

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