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on 24 August 2015
Superb! A complete eye-opener to me, having experienced a corporate P (psychopath) but not knowing what the heck I was dealing with.

In short look for a charming, brilliant actor, the life and soul of the party, very popular, the centre of attention, a lot of fun and with the gift of the gab - but amoral, ruthless, with no pity, no remorse, very shallow emotions, no fear (or love) and manipulative and back-stabbing.

They're best mates with authority figures and anyone useful to them (people who lend them credibility, who have useful skills or who're plugged into the gossip network etc.).

They make themselves invincible by ensuring that they're very popular, best friends with the Bosses and and part of the information flow (e.g. they're in the 'in-team'). They turn the Bosses and the group against anyone they want to destroy by subtly distorting information (e.g. smear campaigns) in order to undermine that person's credibility.

Most people will almost worship the P whilst a few 'dissenters' who see behind the mask will despise them, which is one of the ways an outsider can guess that there's a P in an organisation.

The 'psychopathic fiction' is the story they try and create in everyone's mind about how they're a future leader.

This book led to LOTS of online research (there are plenty of forums for survivors of psychopaths), some of which follows:

They're very easily bored (which can make them restless and high-energy and in need of constant stimulation).

Their charm is almost superhuman and they can persuade anyone that they're 'right'.

They don't have deep emotions and show zero shame, embarrassment or remorse if they're caught doing anything wrong, simply continuing as if nothing happened and as if it was all the target's fault.

Their whole life is an act so their whole life is a lie. But 'charismatic' / 'corporate' / 'successful' psychopaths give the appearance of being 'honest' whilst slanting their words to gradually manipulate the people around them, using truths, half-truths and outright lies when necessary and also acting in completely amoral ways.

'Love-bombing' is overwhelming a target with drama, excitement and attention so that he/she doesn't get a chance to breathe, followed by the rapid declaration of being 'soul-mates' and then instant marriage.

The 'psychopathic bond' is the bond that a target ends up in with the completely fictional 'Mask' (from 'The Mask of Sanity' by Harvey Cleckley) that the psychopath creates. The psychopath reflects back to us the best parts of our character and our personality ('mirroring') and also our needs and desires (he does this through keen observation and self-taught 'cold-reading' techniques since he has no emotions and no empathy and therefore has to work out what's going on around him). We therefore end up in love or best friends with an illusion tailor-made for us - and because it fits us so perfectly it becomes a very powerful bond.

A 'relationship' with a pschopath goes through three stages - Idealize, Devalue, Discard (love-bombing followed by a descent into hell followed by the psychopath moving on to the next relationship).

The 'Pity Play' is when it's all going pear-shaped and the psychopath subtly invokes our pity as a 'get out of jail free' card.

They have a parasitic lifestyle and use others for status, respectability, s*x, money, contacts, shelter etc.

They don't learn from punishment, perhaps because they have no fear and love taking risks. So if there's a P in your organisation and his behaviour's being monitored you can bet your bottom dollar any bad behaviour will resume once the monitoring’s finished.

Because they have no deep emotions and no empathy they see people as objects in the same way that we see tables and chairs as objects, and so have no hesitation in manipulating us just as we'd move tables or chairs around the room.

They often make intense eye-contact (a steady, unblinking, level stare but not all the time) - I've definitely experienced this. I think it's to do with tuning into us 100% in order to figure out what makes us tick.

They have no long-term goals, no master plans for their lives, but instead live more in the moment, trusting that their natural abilities will see them through.

They're unflappable and show no anxiety. They also show very little real distress after major life events e.g. the breakup of a relationship.

They have to 'win' at all costs (there's nothing else in their lives except the 'game' they're playing.) This 'winning' can mean destroying other people and if they can't have something (popularity, love, happiness) then some psychopaths will make sure the person they target also doesn't have it (even though the target might have done nothing to them.)

They 'gaslight', telling their target black is white and white is black until they no longer believe their own perceptions.

They 'hoover', sucking the target back into the toxic relationship by trying to make contact in many very subtle ways.

'Narcissistic supply' is the attention that Narcissists and possibly some Ps need. Ps at the centre of attention however usually need the attention so that they can be at the centre of the information flow and thus control everyone. Sounds crazy, huh? Not until you've witnessed a P deliberately making themselves immensely popular (and therefore untouchable) will you realise how clever it is.

They have an empathy switch so they can switch their empathy on or off at will (e.g. they stand before us with 'love' and 'interest' in their eyes as they tune into us and mirror us, then switch their empathy off once they've walked away before stabbing us in the back). Psychopaths have 'cold' intellectual empathy whereas normal people have 'warm' emotional empathy.

Scared? You should be. If you enter into a head-on battle with a P you will lose. Not until you've experience their superhuman charm and the way they diligently get the authority figures, the high-status figures and then anyone else with any worth on their side will you realise what you're up against. They've spent their whole lives lying and deceiving and they're very, very good at it. Not unless you become a P yourself will you beat them at their game. And even if you're honest and trustworthy you only have to say one word out of place and your credibility will be undermined. No credibility = no influence = game over. That's how good at the 'game' they are. They have to win. The 'game' is the only thing they have in their lives.

Full-blown psychopaths are 'clinical' psychopaths; those with less severe traits (but still very dangerous) are 'sub-clinical'. Maybe 5 - 15% are subclinical psychopaths ('Comprehensive Handbook of Personality and Psychopathology: Personality and Everyday Functioning’ ). 1% of the population are clinical Ps; 4% are clinical Ps in the upper reaches of corporations.

What can you do?
As mentioned in other reviews, run. Or keep your head low. Good luck with that (it's called the 'gray rock' technique - act like a gray rock). The best thing to do is to educate other people but that won't help anyone right now. The authors suggest documentation but to be honest they haven't any other real answers and that's because at the moment there are none. Ps are the perfect predators, right at the centre of the information network, full of charm and perfect liars, perfect deceivers and perfect actors. It's like being enmeshed in a spider's web - the more you struggle, the more entrapped you become.

Definitely read this book. Do some online research. Try and raise awareness of the problem.

Hope this helps someone with a P in their life who chances to come across this post. Hopefully I've given you a head start, raised some red flags or even given you that 'light bulb' moment.

******
Updated to make it more readable as I originally wrote this in a rush. Also, the authors have a fictional narrative interwoven into the book, and that doesn't really work, but apart from that this is based on solid research from the world's top expert on psychopathy and is a life-changer.
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on 23 November 2011
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? Are we condemned to be victims of nasty types because a criminal mind is cleverer than a rounded, normal one? Having already been a victim of one of these cretins, with a promising career ruined to show for it, I was hoping for more decisive strategies now I find myself faced with another. He isn't interested in me (my career is already ruined), but I was hoping for some psycho-busting techniques that would provoke him into outing himself, or provide better protection for my co-workers than simply sucking it up.
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on 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. It describes in some detail the scary surreal reality that the psychopath inhabits, in which conscience and emotion are somehow 'pretend' - how their brains are activated in a completely different pattern (as shown on ECG studies) - everything is a coldblooded 'game' of oneupmanship and self-interest, regardless of consequence.

Thoroughly recommended to anyone in a position of responsibility of assessing people - recruitment or management; and also to anyone studying psychopathy and its implications in the real wold.
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on 14 March 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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on 8 February 2009
This is an important and necessary companion to Dr Hare's earlier 'Without Conscience', which was a loud wake-up call to those who were unaware of the psychopath problem and just how prevalent it was. Where the first book fell short was that it outlined the problem effectively and convincingly but failed to deliver adequate advice in how to deal with the situation. The result for the reader was a sort of learned helplessness.

'Snakes In Suits' makes up for this failing, with detailed guidelines in identifying psychopathy and dealing with it, particularly emphasising the corporate world but with implications going far beyond.

Among the shortcomings of the book though is a poor fictional or semi-fictional narrative, the segments of which appear sandwiched between chapters. It does its job but is simply not well-written. Another drop in quality is a tendency to draw on newspapers and anecdotes for source material, which somewhat cheapens the impact of the book. The reader can buy their own tabloid if that is what they want.

But these are quibbles. 'Snakes In Suits' may lack the elegance and economy of the earlier book, but it more than fills in the gaps and provides an effective map through the perils of psychopathy in everyday life. If you get this, it is worth purchasing 'Without Conscience' also at some point; and to complete the picture Phillip Zimbardo's 'The Lucifer Effect' is a must.

These books portray a very dark world but they also give us clues how to live in it, and it is interesting that the one piece of advice common in all three is that we need to know who we are. Now if only schools put self-knowledge on the curriculum...
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on 16 October 2010
A great title, who wouldn't be intrigued by the prospect of finding out about the psychopaths at work? However, I found the book to be very light, more in the dreaded vein of "pop-psychology" rather than a serious useful work. Yes the authors did cover the key elements but the over generalisation and over dramatic tone of the work undermined what is a serious subject. The authors had worked hard, but it seemed their effort had gone into making a 100 pages of useful text expand into the 200+ pages they finished with. To be fair to them, publishers seem to struggle with the concept that 100 pages of useful text will sell just as well, if not better than 200, 300 page works that are over long. For anyone interested in this area I would suggest reading Robert Hare's original work, "Without Conscience". For a useful view of people in work who are exhibiting potential psychological disorders, Manfred Kets de Vries has produced some more considered and better written works in this area. For a related piece of work which demonstrates how a really good book can also be short, look at David Owen's work "The Hubris Syndrome" which is superb.
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on 4 November 2007
we know politics and often we are the victim of them and many go on doing them with a feeling of sin and hopelessness believing that this is the only way one can survive. This book is for all the 94% of the population who are not psychopaths. This books written in simple language with wonderful examples and It surely gives you the ability to recognise the psychopaths and most importantly how to survive the dangerous psychopaths who always hides in the magic of slogans to bite the next victim.
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on 6 April 2015
Very readable and full of valuable insights into the way psychopaths in everyday life tend to operate and think. It made me realise just how often I've met and had dealings with people who are probably high on the spectrum - they're more common than you might think. What makes this book particularly valuable is that it tells you how to protect yourself by building defences against the psychopaths' tactics. Forewarned is forearmed. The sad truth is that you can't just trust everybody you meet - you have to look for hard evidence that they're actually trustworthy. Talk is cheap and a psychopath will look you full in the face and boldly lie.
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on 20 June 2013
At the moment I am only half-way through the book. I will finish it just to see if they ever actually say anything of value - but so far, definitely not. I wish I had paid more attention to the negative reviews. So if you are reading this before buying - be warned!

The basic problem is the whole book (so far) is incredibly vague. If the authors had any scientific credibility I would expect to find some facts and figures, rather than sweeping generalisations. They occasionally refer to their 'research', but never tell the reader anything about methodology, sample sizes or whatever. You simply have to take their word for it they know what they are talking about. The very opposite of scientific/factual. There are NO meaningful examples or case studies. Instead there are fictionalised stories (corny ones too) that supposedly illustrate their points. But this smacks of making up 'evidence' to suit their own opinions. There are also examples from newspapers etc that may or may not be psychopaths.

One of the key failings is they repeatedly warn the reader not to jump to the conclusion that anyone who (say) plays office politics must be a psychopath. Apparently you have to be suitably qualified to spot them. But most of their examples are completely ambiguous - we have to accept their diagnosis.
EG one author met a psychopath in a work environment, but only realised much later. This begs the question HOW did he realise???

As far as I can see, all this book does is (1) regurgitate & confirm many stereotypical assumptions about psychopaths at work (2) it's based on "trust us, we're the experts" rather than any evidence.
Anecdotal rubbish!
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on 2 February 2014
Unfortunately, there are more sociopaths around than you might think.

This book performs a useful social service in pointing this out. However, I found that the descriptions of what these people get up to VERY circuitous and sometimes a bit confusing. This diminished the usefulness of the book.

There were also not enough illustrations of the kind of circumstances in which sociopathic behaviour can be spotted even by those who are not looking for it - so the book will help only those who are tenacious enough to spend time re-reading bits of it.

The hurt and damage done by these individuals is so great that an easier handbook for those who may encounter them in the workplace would have been welcome. So, only three stars.
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