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Success Factors, pt. 1: The Psychopath


Some recent literature on has focused on the topic of work and how to it relates to children and life in general. Topics included how to train kids to adapt to modern working society as well as how to explain the concept of “employment” to a child. A child’s daily life is whimsical and timeless. Perhaps the true indicator of adulthood is when you consciously become aware that your life has shifted from timelessness to scheduling. Adult life is stringently scheduled and almost always do adult schedules operate around the idea of work. Employment has become the primary determinant for scheduling other, non-work related adult activities such as vacations, personal appointments and even things as routine as dinner and watching TV. There are four kinds of people in the modern workforce: the psychopath, the delusional, the realist, and the apathetic. In this new 4-part series, we’ll look at each segment of the population as it relates to employment.

Part 1: The Psychopath

The psychopath is the individual who intentionally schedules every facet of their life around their career. This is the individual who will willing forego life events in favor of their career. For the psychopath, their career is their top priority…sometimes it’s their only priority. The psychopath is not the type of person who gets sidetracked and often works too late or too much due to volume of work. Indeed it is quite the opposite. The psychopath makes a concerted effort to focus the majority of their life on their career.

The rationale for this behavior is two-fold. In some respects, financial gain drives the psychopath to continue their diligent work habits to extremes. More commonly, the psychopath is the type of person who has trained their mind to believe that there is some intrinsic value in their career. The psychopath model of employee fits brilliantly into the construct of capitalism. Although work has no inherent value as it relates to the human experience, the psychopath has evolved in such a way that they extract more pleasure from overwhelming professional stress than they do from things like family, recreation, or tranquility.

This person is labeled as a “psychopath” because the learned behavior of placing such extreme priority on work closely mirrors the DSM definition of a psychopath. You’ll find that traits readily identifiable in a diagnosed psychopath are easily spotted in the so-called “workaholic” as well. In fact, the average human the rate of psychopaths in normal society is about 1% however that figure rises to 4% of CEO’s and business leaders. The reason for this is because the characteristics of a psychopath are the very same characteristics that benefit capitalist society. Do you know someone who’s perceived as professionally successful and married to their job? See how many of the below criteria are found within that individual’s personality.

  • Cunning/manipulative behavior
  • Lack of empathy
  • Glibness
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Impaired interpersonal functioning i.e. lack of intimacy
  • Shallow affect

Yet outside of the clinical definition of psychopath, is the colloquial one. The common references to psychopathy do not typically describe a diagnosable mental instability, but attempt to highlight what the average person might call “insanity.” Although insanity is strictly a legal term, it’s been morphed into a word used to describe someone who’s apparent lifestyle choices represent a departure from normalcy. For the workaholic psychopath, their conscious decision to minimize the variety of life experiences in favor of work may appear insane to someone else.

What this really boils down to is utility. When the bulk of your adult life is spent engaged in your career, where is the utility there? When aspects of your existential being that formerly made you…YOU, have vanished in favor of your career, are you still able to have a sense of utility? If your day job is now your sole source of personal identity, then you’ve reached this point of insanity. If you have effectively trained your mind to believe that whatever it is you do all day for money is somehow the nexus of your entire existence, then you are the psychopath, either clinically, colloquially, or both. Congratulations.


  1. Pingback: Success Factors, pt. 2: The Delusional - Dad for Beginners

  2. Pingback: Success Factors, pt. 3: The Realist - Dad for Beginners

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