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Psychopaths in work, life, etc.


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I just realized I work with a psychopath. A friend and I were trading work stories, and they casually dropped, "Yeah, that's because he's a psychopath." My friend is a very intelligent, accomplished psychologist who proceeded to explain psychopathy to a dumb biologist (me). I was floored. They said psychopaths don't respond well to therapy and they're just probably going to stay that way.

 

It just explains so, so, so much of the workplace dysfunction. Two feuding psychopaths using everyone as pawns. I got sucked into it early on, thinking he was looking out for the new hire. In reality, he saw I had skills that could benefit him and he was trying to steal me away from my then superior so I could work on his projects. Ultimately, I got assigned to the one normal supervisor (yay!).

 

Even so, it kind of makes work Hell. Have you all dealt with workplace psychos? How did it go? How did you manage it?

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mmm Ive encountered Sociopaths certainly but not sure if Ive ever had the misfortune of dealing with Psychopathy. That said, i think there are varying degrees to which one can be Psychopathic. I was watching a documentary a while back that explained that Psychopaths process information really quickly, and that Formula 1 drivers and Fighter Pilots exhibit Psychopathic brain qualities. In that you need to be mildly Psychopathic to remain calm whilst controlling a vehicle that is traveling at those speeds, trajectories, etc...

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It just explains so, so, so much of the workplace dysfunction. Two feuding psychopaths using everyone as pawns. I got sucked into it early on, thinking he was looking out for the new hire. In reality, he saw I had skills that could benefit him and he was trying to steal me away from my then superior so I could work on his projects. Ultimately, I got assigned to the one normal supervisor

Ruh roh, I think this describes what is going on at our work place, and why I'm leaving. That describes my "rival" supervisor to a T. He's constantly trying to steal all the good resources for himself in this grand scheme to steal our manager's job. And then he sort of tells me his grand plans for himself to be this master architect with me as his right-hand man (which really would be me doing all the work making him look good).

 

My manager is also using me to make him look good, but he's at least smarter about not monologuing his evil plans for world domination. He is manipulative, though, but I think he's pretty transparent and don't fall for his crap. In the end, though, he's kind of screwed without me because I'm the only competent supervisor he has, which is why he won't let me out of this supervisor role to do real work.

 

Ultimately, I found a new job that I start in 2 weeks. I can't take the toxic work environment anymore. Everyone is burned out working for the little Napoleon. Fortunately, I was able to use my connections in another organization and make the jump. I'm not sure I'm going to like the job all that much, but if I do well, it might enable me to work myself into a more desirable role.

 

Edit: after doing some reading, my rival is a psychopath, my manager is a Machiavellian. My manager's manager is a narcissist. Good God, when are my 2 weeks up!

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I've unfortunately discovered in the past five years that whenever you make progress in your career, you quickly become the target of the types of people discussed here so far. Without going into a lot of detail, I fell victim to this scenario a few years ago. I dearly miss the actual job, but in no way miss the petty politics that took up around 75% of my time at work.

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I don't think my boss is a psychopath, but he definitely leans on me a lot and it's become apparent over time that he's incredibly insecure and more than happy to hog the spotlight because it makes him feel better about his place in the company.

 

What's strange is that he's very good at his job and is in no danger of getting canned, yet he feels the opposite. He would rather take on 90% of the work rather than delegate to people like me and then, of course, complain about all he has to deal with.

 

I've learned to just stay out of his way. I'm there if he needs me but I've given up on trying to be more involved. I've created a good niche for myself and I'm very good at what I do, but the reality is that he'll always be thinking I want his job (and I don't ).

 

I've also learned that the number one thing that makes people ***holes at work is when they're asked a question they can't answer. I used to go straight to him if I was stumped on a particular problem, but I've since found that its better to exhaust every other option before going to him because when I do he feels like I'm challenging him.

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In my experience, people who are after your job will more-often-than-not avoid asking you questions. Jealousy tends to dissuade this, kind of proving to themselves that they can do something better than you and don't need input, and to not let on that there might be something that you know that they don't. they will blame you for things you didn't do on days you don't work, and never when you are around to defend yourself.

 

There will be nonverbal communicational cues as well...you will just kind of "feel" it, a vague sense of distrust or threat when they are around. They will display cues themselves as well. On the few instances when asking questions is unavoidable, they might avoid eye contact, or walk away from you before you complete your answer, or their own statement, and their pace being noticeably hasty. Rude yes, but the body language could be telling you something. I trust body language more than the actual words coming out of their mouths. This model tends to fit jealous men more than women I think, but applicable to both.

 

If they are less straight-forward and more tricky, instead of avoiding questions they will ask "elusive" or strange questions. They want to see how you answer to try and make you mess up, or twist something around. If that's the case they won't avoid eye contact but rather kind of stare at you for a moment while they try and process their little trap. The questions they ask are never the true, correct, direct, or "most efficient" questions to ask that would actually solve the problem, which is indicative of some sort of agenda or hidden motive. Converse to the above model, I think this model fits women more than men, but again applicable to both.

 

It's unfortunate that I have so much experience in this area.

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The guy that I worked for in my recent job was brilliant and was an awesome guy, but he put too much responsibility on himself. He started the business in his garage nearly thirty years ago and still had the mindset that he had to either do everything or be involved in every little step. Since I had to touch base on anything and everything with a guy that was way too busy to spend more than five minutes with me, I rarely got anything productive done.

 

Eventually, I think he realized it and hired someone else to supervise a lot of the day to day tasks while he worked more on big picture things. Which in theory was a great idea, but the guy he hired was a mess. He'd worked at an exponentially larger company for decades and still had that overly corporate mindset that wasn't a fit at a smaller place with a start-up atmosphere. He'd also been working much of that time in Japan, where I think he had come to love the workaholic culture that sucked up to him both as a Westerner and as the supervisor. Also not a great fit at all at a relatively laid back Southern tech start-up. I actually liked the guy a lot, but his work style was just a mess and I could tell was going to overly stress me out. When he gave me crap for not working on a project over a holiday weekend when he was fully aware I had out of town plans, I knew that wasn't going to work.

I took a new job a few months ago for pretty much an identical place doing an identical job. Mostly because they offered much better pay, but also partially because I didn't want to face a future of working with the new guy at the old job. My supervisor at my new job is as laid back as could be, possibly to a fault. He does kind of remind me of a high school teacher that's biding their time until they can retire, as I can tell the guy is just worn out and ready to just relax after years of work and travel for work. I love the freedom and autonomy that he gives me, but sometimes I feel like I'm shooting in the dark because the only response I ever get for stuff is "hey, that's cool." It gets annoying because the guy that owns the company is nit-picky as could be, and I often get criticized by him for things that my direct supervisor never brought up that I've never known about.

All of that is to say that I don't think there is such thing as a perfect supervisor. All of us have our faults. If I could figure it out somehow I'd love to just work for myself and be responsible only to myself, but that's kind of a pipe dream anyways.

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I don't' know about psychopaths, but at my last job the manager i was usually assigned under, and the owner of the business before that, definitely showed signs of borderline if not full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. Not sure where the line is between that and what most people call "control freak," but you don't fire a hard worker with a college education for not calling in, once, after an auto collision no less, unless you have some issues.

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The guy that I worked for in my recent job was brilliant and was an awesome guy, but he put too much responsibility on himself. He started the business in his garage nearly thirty years ago and still had the mindset that he had to either do everything or be involved in every little step. Since I had to touch base on anything and everything with a guy that was way too busy to spend more than five minutes with me, I rarely got anything productive done.

 

The last person I worked for was like that. She's a real estate agent and had had assistants before, but I think they were more like gophers for her. When she hired me she claimed to want someone who could get organized, create new systems, and eventually run the office and a team. I took that at face value, and she could NOT handle it. It got to the point where we had to have 2 meetings a day - one in the morning to tell her what I was going to do that day and one before she left to go over what I did (always the exact same list, btw.) And it still wasn't enough. She would pop into my office 5-6 times a day to double check things. Then eventually she fired me because she "just couldn't handle it anymore".

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Odine, is there a difference between psychopath and sociopath? Perhaps I am misusing the term psychopath.

 

I've just withdrawn from engaging with my coworkers unless I need to. I chatted with another person at my job level, he is looking to transfer as well. Out of the 6 people there, I think 4 of us want to transfer out.

 

The personality swings are absurd. Verbally berating me, telling me he is going to get me fired, then the next day asking if I'm okay when a tornado passes by me. It's kind of like the PMS stereotype, you just never know what to expect on any given day.

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I'm no expert but it's my understanding that:

 

Sociopaths are compulsive liars. But they can be very charismatic and fun to be around whilst at the same time burning every bridge around them. And sometimes they are totally unaware what they're doing is fucked up. To them they are normal and their lies are truths to them. But that is only part of sociopathy. They also exhibit weird behaviour that we wouldn't consider "normal". I don't know how to explain it better as I'm not a mental health professional.

 

Psychopaths get off on power and control to varying degrees. They have no empathy, in fact I think it's impossible for them to have empathy. So they litterally have no feelings regarding other people and hurting them at all. Sociopaths might feel bad for hurting someone but continue doing it. Psychopaths have no bad feelings about it at all. An example of psychopathic behaviour would be the girl who convinced her boyfriend to kill himself and he did. Also the information processing in a psychopaths brain is totally different but I'm not certain of the specifics. Just like clinical depression causes people to process information much more slowly, psychopathy is the opposite.

 

 

True psychopaths are rare in nature. It's more likely that your boss has a borderline personality disorder or something but I could be wrong

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