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Henry Stein October 25th, 2008 12:23 PM

More Than Greed?
Fixing our growing world-wide economic crisis will probably require tighter government oversight and regulation of financial practices. This "blowing away the smoke" approach is necessary, but perhaps not deep enough to "put out the fire." Economic theories and financial systems have certainly contributed to the widespread economic disasters, but the character and motives of the people managing large sums of money needs to be explored and understood if we wish to address the deeper roots of the problems. The popular buzz word explaining the psychology of Wall Street running wild and reckless is greed. Although this term seems accurate, it does not come close to describing the underlying psychopathology of many of the individuals or the devastating impact on large segments of society.

On December 12, 2004, the New York Times published an article by Michael Steinberger titled "Psychopathic CEO's," wherein he speculates on the motives of "lavishly compensated CEO's who cheat and lie," Relying on the research of Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, he suggests that many captains of industry are "sub-criminal psychopaths," not serial rapists or murderers, but smooth-talking, energetic, charming, manipulative, narcissistic, and ruthless. He emphasizes that the frenzied nature of modern business, constant down sizing, relentless merging and acquiring, provides a very fertile environment for havoc-wreaking psychopaths who thrive on chaos and risk-taking. As Hare put it in one interview, "If I couldn't study psychopaths in prison, I would go down to the Stock Exchange."

Three years layer, on December 19, 2007, FastCompany,com published "Is Your Boss a Psychopath?" by Alan Deutschman. He describes a lecture that Hare gave in 2002 to 150 police and law enforcement officials, including a proposal that "recent corporate scandals (Enron and WorldCom) could have been prevented if CEO's were screened for psychopathic behavior." Hare claims that "We are worshipful of top executives who seem charismatic, visionary, and tough. So long as they are lifting profits and stock prices, we are willing to overlook that they can also be callous, conning, manipulative, deceitful,verbally and psychologically abusive, remorseless, exploitative, self-delusional, irresponsible, and megalomaniacal. So we collude in the elevation of leaders who are sadly insensitive to hurting others and society at large." Babiak elaborates by comparing the narcissist, who simply thinks only of himself, to a psychopath who enjoys hurting others.

Transposing Hare's and Babiak's assumptions from business and finance to government, it is appalling to contemplate the implications of people in positions of economic and political power who are possibly borderline psychopaths. When you add up the massive physical, mental, and economic suffering caused by war, torture, layoffs, depleted retirement investments, foreclosures, poverty, and insufficient medical care, a disturbing questions arises. Are these conditions intended by psychopaths in positions of economic and political power?

PruffTup73 November 15th, 2009 03:25 PM

More Than Greed
I have got the audio song more than words by frankie j but how do u add songs onto this website?

Henry Stein November 16th, 2009 11:54 AM

Re: More Than Greed?
I don't think it is possible to add audio files to this site. Are you suggesting that the lyrics of "More Than Words," or that the personality of Frankie J reflect narcissism and psychopathology?

wilderness artist November 22nd, 2009 07:40 PM

Re: More Than Greed?
I cannot believe the wonder of synchronicity ... Well, yes, I can, because it keeps happening to me. I started my final essay for an art therapy class two weeks ago, and thought I sounded like a fanatic. I put it aside to attend the American Holistic Medical Association's Conference in Cleveland, and several of the keynotes and workshops supported the theme of my essay. Then I attended a lecture by Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Professor of Psychology at Harvard. That lecture validated my essay. I pulled a name from a hat for a presentation, and it was Adler. I had never heard of Adler, and I grinned from ear to ear as I read what he was all about. Research on him led me here, back to more validation for my essay. Delving into things is great fun! (Your post is scary, but so is my essay ...) The only answer is individualized Alderian-style self discovery and "revolt" by, first and foremost, turning off the TV set so each person can discover themselves.

George Neeson December 5th, 2010 09:04 AM

Re: More Than Greed?
I am concerned that our economic institutions, lacking checks and balances other than "success", foster unbridled egocentricity. Thus it is probable that people seeking unbridled authority (which they may feel wealth grants), may seek to take undue and unfair privilege in our free market economy. We should not be surprised to see this happening from an Adlerian perspective. The real issue is to attempt to find a means of redeeming this very successful means of advancing productivity and human well being, while identifying those who are unduly exploiting their own self interest, or that of the corporate structure. The underlying principles of this system have produced a period of remarkable advancement for humanity. It is no surprise to see some individuals or groups within this movement making their own self interest the principal goal. Corporations must also address the "self-other" task. So the question, which is of extreme complexity becomes, how do we as mankind, identify corporations (or for that matter countries), that address their own self interest at such a level as to create unacceptable detriment to humanity? Then having identified these groups (if this can be done), what methodologies are available to deter these behaviours while still respecting reasonable individual freedom? Surely what needs to be changed is not the symptom of egocentricity, but rather its source. It is interesting that many great world religions (even north American Indian!) try to address this issue. It seems that what needs to be addressed is the wrong mindedness of individuals. If we could promote the teaching of Adler or even that of the "Great Spirit" of the plains Indian peoples, and have people look inward before outward, the issue of corporate greed and wrong mindedness could be addressed. However it must start within my self and your self also. Sadly, I have only small hope that this can occur.

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