Sociopaths and Suicides

Two weekends ago I was in London and had the opportunity to catchup with a very good friend of mine.  He works with a well-known American internet company and inevitably the conversation got around to office politics.  As anyone who works in large listed companies knows, the office politics could be soul destroying.

It’s hard to ignore the recent spate of banker suicides.  Counting New York, London and Hong Kong, I think the most recent count is about 12.  Ignoring the suspicious circumstances behind one or two of the suicides in particular, they have spurred discussions on stress in the workplace.  I watched Wall Street 1 and 2 on the flight back to Singapore and it made me think that it’s not about the money.  Money is simply a way of keeping score.  It’s about power.  Positions of power are attractive to sociopaths.  Martha Stout, psychologist and clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, tells us in her book The Sociopath Next Door that one out of every 25 human beings has no conscience, no sense of right or wrong, no empathy, no ability to understand emotion–no soul.  Worse, while they can mimic emotion, they see other humans as mere pawns or saps, to be used for their benefit or amusement, or both.  These sociopaths are drawn to positions of power like moths to a flame.       

In the first Wall Street, Gecko says that he likes money men that are young, hungry and without emotion.  I smiled when he said that because we have all worked with people like that.  People who would do any and everything to get ahead.  They say that they have no emotion but I honestly think that they delude themselves.  They are driven by a single emotion and that is fear.  I've seen it in so many forms, so many times.

My friends working in financial services in particular, give me story after story.  Their office politics sees verbal abuse being the norm, daily stress that takes some staff to the edge of mental breakdowns, and moments when verbal wars get physical.  For those of us who are not sociopaths, that type of environment is anything but healthy. Fatca Law Singapore

My final words to my friend working at the American internet company? Work hard.  Learn what you can and then get out before the stress pushes you over the edge…


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