Snakes in Suits

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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work is a book by industrial psychologist Paul Babiak and psychopathy expert Robert D. Hare, first published in 2006. It explores how psychopaths manipulate their way into corporations and up the corporate ladder, and the consequences of their presence for colleagues and corporations. It presents interesting composite case studies based on real-world examples.

The book contains information that allows the reader to analyze his or her current and prospective work environments – as well as coworkers, bosses, and job candidates – and distinguish between psychopathic behavior and genuine leadership. Helpful practical tips along with diagnostic information are given to this end.

The study of corporate psychopaths in this book adds a great deal to the understanding of 'successful psychopaths' – the psychopaths who, rather than going to jail for violent or petty crimes, rise to high places and exert great influence. (The 'successes' among psychopaths can also be found in the worlds of politics and religion. Political Ponerology by Andrew M. Lobaczewski explores the bigger picture of psychopaths in positions of power, in particular on the national level, where a pathocracy may form as psychopaths become the ruling elite.)

The blurb on the jacket of Snakes in Suits gives a good overall description of the contents:

Let's say you're about to hire somebody for a position in your company. Your corporation wants someone who's fearless, charismatic, and full of new ideas. Candidate X is charming, smart, and has all the right answers to your questions. Problem solved, right? Maybe not.

We'd like to think that if we met someone who was completely without conscience – someone who was capable of doing anything at all if it served his or her purposes – we would recognize it. In popular culture, the image of the psychopath is of someone like Hannibal Lecter or the BTK Killer. But in reality, many psychopaths just want money, or power, or fame, or simply a nice car. Where do these psychopaths go? Often, it's to the corporate world.

Researchers Paul Babiak and Robert Hare have long studied psychopaths. Hare, the author of Without Conscience, is a world-renowned expert on psychopathy, and Babiak is an industrial-organizational psychologist. Recently the two came together to study how psychopaths operate in corporations, and the results were surprising. They found that it's exactly the modern, open, more flexible corporate world, in which high risks can equal high profits, that attracts psychopaths. They may enter as rising stars and corporate saviors, but all too soon they're abusing the trust of colleagues, manipulating supervisors, and leaving the workplace in shambles.

Snakes in Suits is a compelling, frightening, and scientifically sound look at exactly how psychopaths work in the corporate environment: what kind of companies attract them, how they negotiate the hiring process, and how they function day by day. You'll learn how they apply their "instinctive" manipulation techniques – assessing potential targets, controlling influential victims, and abandoning those no longer useful – to business processes such as hiring, political command and control, and executive succession, all while hiding within the corporate culture. It's a must read for anyone in the business world, because whatever level you're at, you'll learn the subtle warning signs of psychopathic behavior and be able to protect yourself and your company – before it's too late.

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