Jan 22, 2022Liked by Mathew Crawford

I am a retired clinical psychologist who worked for several years in the correctional system in Australia. (And BTW, I was trained in the use of the Hare psychopathy assessment, and found it very interesting and useful). And I will tell you now, one of my greatest learnings from that period of my life was that there are more psychopaths on my side of the bars than inside. And I don't mean the correctional officers - though you might find the odd one there. Look at the management...

That figure of 20% among inmates is not correct. True psychopathy among inmates is actually fairly rare (probably higher if you are talking about a maximum security unit though). OTOH, the highest numbers of psychopaths are among the powerful elite - whether business or government or institutional. I think it is the power that attracts them. That, plus the fact that you need to have a certain amount of moral flexibility to get to the top. I have never personally worked in parliament, but from what I have heard, it is almost impossible to succeed if you have ethical principles that you stick to.

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The questions about corporate values and creating a healthier model resonates with the career course of John Perkins. He's best known as The Economic Hitman who has dedicated himself exposing corruption then finding better social structures. He's a fab writer and thinker and Economic Hit Man is an essential for understanding predatory finance on the global stage.


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Jan 22, 2022·edited Jun 30, 2022Liked by Mathew Crawford

In my youth I was an investment banker with a top New York firm. I hailed from Houston, grew up in a middle class Catholic family (Dad was a senior manager at Exxon but not quite corporate executive level) and got an engineering degree at Rice. Spent a couple years out of college at Exxon, then went to Wharton and from there, Wall Street.

I was always struck by how different the people in finance were from the folks I grew up with. It wasn't really intelligence, although that may have been some of it. After all, Rice is an elite school and I would say the intellectual caliber there was at least as high as at Wharton, although arguably a bit lower than the investment banking average. It was more a certain coldness, a lack of empathy in my finance colleagues that struck me as being bizarre. Cold fish. Not true of all of them but true of a pretty high percentage, certainly much higher than in the general population.

After about ten years I left investment banking and returned to the land of the humans. Much happier for it. I remember joking with friends (not in the business) that many of the folks I used to work with would have made great hit men. I may have been on to something.

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I wonder how this might be thought of in context to The Road to Serdom chapter, Why The Worst Get On Top. Time to reread it with this reference point.

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Sep 30, 2022Liked by Mathew Crawford

Thank you for yet another thought provoking article. I intend to read your follow on article "a study of corporatism" next. Considering that companies across the world share a mandated obligation to its shareholders to generate profits, and that companies are lifeless legal fictions incapable of human emotions, is it any wonder that psychopaths excel at the helm of these companies? Psychopath CEOs are perfectly equipped to deal with the mental conflict that justify the inhumane actions attributed to so many companies around the world as simply a "cost of doing business". As long as these actions generate an ever increasing profit, no actions are off the table. The history is littered with the conduct of some of these morally corrupt companies many still in existence today. Does anyone really believe that the biggest drug companies in the world is concerned about your health? Or that Monanto is concerned about the quality of your food or the environment? Do I even have to mention "Round-up"? These companies continuously to operate with limited impunity. The equation is simple, if you make sure your profits are directed to the decision makers its a symbiotic existence. If along the way you are fined a record amount and found guilty of fraudulent activities to keep up appearances by those regulating these companies, it matters not because you will be allowed to continue to operate and continue to generate record profits. These companies and the kunlangeta CEOs are like 2 peas in a pod.

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I take issue with the statement that they are almost all men. To the extent that's true it's only because of discrimination against women. As they enter the fields rife with psychopaths you will see more of them, people like Hilary (we came we saw he died) Clinton, Kamala (prosecute those pot smokers while I have a toke) Harris and Madeline (500,000 Iraqi children was worth it) Albright

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"kunlangeta" could equally translate to (clinical) Narcissist. Certainly, huge overlap between Psychopath, Sociopath and Narcissist. Having had one extremely nasty encounter with a Narcissist (who I had known all my adult life) had one useful outcome - once you've had dealings with one, you can spot them a mile off.

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Sep 27, 2022Liked by Mathew Crawford

This is fascinating to me. A friend of mine (who we had tons of conversations about narcissists), worked with CEOs and by his count, it's seemed like nearly all of them were narcs.

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“When the system is rigged, when ordinary citizens are powerless, and when whistle-blowers are pariahs at best, three things happen:

First, the worst people rise to the top. They behave appallingly, and they wreak havoc.

Second, people who could make productive contributions to society are incentivized to become destructive, because corruption is far more lucrative than honest work.

And third, everyone else pays, both economically and emotionally; people become cynical, selfish, and fatalistic. Often they go along with the system, but they hate themselves for it. They play the game to survive and feed their families, but both they and society suffer.”

Charles H. Ferguson, Inside Job

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"What is it about the human condition, or this era of civilization, that pushes the most potentially destructive people to the top of decision-making hierarchies?"

Opportunity and power. Psychopaths are uniquely suited to take advantage of any and all opportunity. The success of a psychopath allows other psychopaths' opportunity to gain as well.

I read a substack that mentioned evolutionary theory in regard to altruism vs seflishness (Dove vs Hawk). I thought this was an interesting take on the problem:


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The Last Psychiatrist! Fascinating work, greatly missed. After the unrelenting and extremely successful psy-ops of the last two years, it is clear to me that the "bad guys" know far more about human nature than the rest of us, and don't hesitate to use it against us.

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A more basic question: how do we know about the percentage of psychopaths in each sex? I don’t know the answer, but some evil women have made it into pinnacle government positions in recent years. Also there have been about 30 seasons of “Snapped”.

I love the Eskimo term. Thanks.

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The film 'The Corporation' has a good look at this.


Well worth watching.

Begins with the idea of giving the corporation a psychological test.

And links the formation of corps (bodies) to the emancipation laws in America through the American legal system and much much more.

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One thing I've noticed over years of working is that a group can be toxic, usually with the tacit approval of the leader, and when that's the case it's nearly impossible to reform it. I know of a case at USMA in which a toxic company of cadets was disbanded and not recreated, under a new mascot, motto and leader, till a few years later.

You can't heal a toxic organization and if you find yourself in one, best thing is get out.

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Very good stuff Matthew; also saw your superb piece on corporatism; you might be interested in this: https://mistermicawber.substack.com/p/what-is-a-cult-what-is-fascism?r=110wl5&s=w&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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And we have morons writing books like "the wisdom of psychopaths"

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