What a coincidence that there are two sensational stories in the news about female killers who have, apparently, acted against every emotional instinct in order to benefit themselves. I'm referring, of course, to Dina Rodrigues and Najwa Petersen. "Psychopathic" is about the only explanation we can give to murders that are planned and executed in cold blood against victims who should not, by all the rules of humanity, be murdered. One word is not much of an explanation, is it? What does "psychopath" mean, anyway?
The ever-helpful Wikipedia defines psychopaths like this:
A psychopath has no concern for the feelings of others and a complete disregard for any sense of social obligation. They seem egocentric and lack insight of any sense of responsibility or consequence. Their emotions are thought to be superficial and shallow, if they exist at all. They are considered callous, manipulative, and incapable of forming lasting relationships, let alone showing any kind of meaningful love. They typically never perform any action unless they determine it can be beneficial for themselves.
I'm amazed that such people live to adulthood without being murdered by their families!
Female psychopaths are rare. As actual murderers, they are more often found in movies than in real life. You can pretty much assume that a serial killer is a psychopath. But that doesn't mean that all psychopaths are bizarre murderers. There are about 75 known serial killers in the whole world, I am told here, but up to 5% of the world's population would test positive for psychopathy by the standard psychological tests now in use.
So, where are the missing millions if they're not behind bars? All around us, apparently, and especially in the work place. The thing is, the talents that go with psychopathy are charm, intelligence, and an awesome ability to manipulate others. Haven't we all come across them, the whizz-kids who can do no wrong in the boss's eyes but leave a trail of emotional and financial devastation behind them?
I'd really like to know from the HR practitioners out there how thorough the recruitment process is when it comes to weeding out these bad seeds. And maybe, in the interests of self-defence, one of these books would be useful to help the rest of us recognise and disarm the corporate psychopath before the damage is done.