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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work [Paperback]

Paul Babiak , Robert D. Hare
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jun 2007

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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About the Author

Paul Babiak, Ph.D., is an industrial and organizational psychologist and president of HRBackOffice, an executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in management development and succession planning. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company. He lives in Dutchess County, New York, with his wife.

Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., is the author of Without Conscience and the creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy. He is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and president of Darkstone Research Group, a forensic research and consulting firm. He has won numerous awards for his research, lectures widely on psychopathy, and consults with law enforcement organizations, including the FBI. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a study of the pathological personality 23 July 2007
This is an astounding, essential reference when it comes to understanding and dealing with psychopathological individuals in the workplace. They are FAR more prevalent than most people imagine, and especially in positions of power and authority, to which they naturally gravitate.

As the authors point out, psychopaths rarely take the form of 'Hannibal Lectur', but are much more likely to come in the guise of a slick, fast talking, charismatic high-flyer, who ruthlessly backstabs and manipulates his way into positions of power, for personal gain. Basically, they are invisible to anyone who does not have the knowledge of how they operate (ie: the majority), and this is what makes them so lethal.

Psychopathy is not a 'mental illness', it is a personality disorder, and as such, psychopaths are usually free of the normal quirks and neuroses of normal people, and instead operate under the blinding inertia of unquestioning self-confidence, without a hint of self-examination or internal doubt - for the psychopath, emotions are simply used as a dramatic tool, in order to evoke pity, guilt, fear or self-doubt in others, for manipulation purposes; and are completely lacking in connection to any deeper meaning.

This book is founded on extensive experience and clinical studies; eg. the Hare Psychopathy Checklists PCL-R; and builds on the established work of Hervey Cleckley ('Mask of Sanity', also recommended). It pulls back the curtain, shows all the tricks, how they work in practice in the modern corporate environment, and how to defend against them.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for diagnosis... 23 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The subject of this book will come as no surprise to the corporates amongst us. It has been quite clear that in leaving management to the talentless we have encouraged a class of psychopaths to colonise us. However, apart from those with a professional interest, most people will turn to this book at the point where they understand their career is being destroyed by a psychopath, and here is where my disappointment lies.

Whilst I think the book helps the diagnostic process, and the examples enable the reader to confirm for themselves the behaviours as psychopathic, the people who would get the most out of this book work in HR. Given that they hire these head-cases in the first place, I can but suggest this as required reading on one of those many HR qualifications that people seem to get, but this remains a bit frustrating for those dealing with a workplace psychopath.

There are two main reasons for this. First is the professional over-caution suggested before coming to a diagnosis. When so many of the examples indicate HR professionals and psychologists have been long fooled by the cunning ways of the psychopath, and bystanding co-workers (or extras, as the authors correctly describe them) seem to have more of an idea, this doesn't seem much consolation. The second is the absence of any serious advice on how to deal with them effectively. By adopting the strategies in this book, you MAY survive one, but not without spending years avoiding them by keeping an artificially low profile (they ruin you anyhow that way), or learning how to cope with copping it in the neck on a regular basis. This really isn't good enough. Even the long running scenario in the book ends in the triumph of psychopathy.

Is this all there is?
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Essential Works on Psychopathy 14 Mar 2008
"Snakes in Suits" is one of the most essential works on psychopathy, as well gives the reader the working knowledge of how psychopaths operate in the job industry, especially in the corporate workplace. Not only will this book to help the reader to understand how corporate psychopaths operate, but it will give a great deal of insights and helpful tips on how to deal with them and how to protect oneself from them.

I give high praises to Hare for this work on the subject. This book is well written and easy to read as well an eye opening experience. I surly would recommend this book.

Psychopaths are ruthless, emotionless, and consciousness individuals to which they only serve themselves at the expense of others. All words coming out of their mouths would be lies, and if you are appeared as "important" or special to them, it is a safe bet that they are using you.

With this book as a tool and a guide, the readers would be able to identify each pathological individual and understand them more clearly as well to protect oneself from them. I would recommend the readers to study other works that discussed with the certain aspects of the study on the psychopaths, including "Without Conscience" (by Robert Hare), "The Mask of Sanity" (by Hervey Checkley), "The Sociopath Next Door" (by Martha Stout), "In Sheep's Clothing" (by George Simon), and Andrzej Lobaczwski's "Political Ponerology." With these works, one will have a good deal of working knowledge of the phenomenon of psychopaths in our world, in our governments, in our workplace, in our neighborhood, and even in our homes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone wanting to know why big corporations are...
This book examines in more detail a particular aspect of the psychopathy issue that is usually overlooked by the literature on the subject. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Phung Minh Hoang
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, packed with information.
Great book with lots of Psychological information, entwined with stories that give the book a more informal approach to the subject. Easy to read and very insightful.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs K Dawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Chillingly accurate and very highly recommended
This is a book for everyone, in order for readers to gain a real and core awareness of the dark dynamics that underlay the nature of these predators and the chaos, damage and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Heather77
4.0 out of 5 stars Snakes in Suits
I enjoyed this Kindle book and found it to be informative but just one small fault, it inclined to repeat the same thing too often.
Published 4 months ago by june m proctor
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing insight into psychopaths
Using a mix of research and anecdotal stories it manages to convey the complexity of the subject. Highly compelling and I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in this... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sarah A
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful handbook as you go through life
Unfortunately, there are more sociopaths around than you might think.

This book performs a useful social service in pointing this out. Read more
Published 5 months ago by V. MOORE
3.0 out of 5 stars So true
Most of the source material is American, but this is still an intriguing and at times disturbing read. Any office worker would benefit from this book.
Published 5 months ago by Roy Pinney
4.0 out of 5 stars good read, scarily dejavu to former colleague or two!
eye opener, good stories & interesting scenarios too, though maybe could go more in-depth about putting controllers in their place, but good for price.
Published 6 months ago by David
2.0 out of 5 stars unconvincing
The authors aren't necessarily stretching the truth here, but they put so many disclaimers and hypotheticals into the work that it's hard to decide what's really being said. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I gave it as a present to my solicitor who absolutely lovd it.Recommend it. You wont find this book easily in the high street.
Published 7 months ago by Wera Petersen-Lloyd
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