Far out Friday: Psychopathic professions

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Here’s a cosy thought: According to a survey conducted by psychologist Kevin Dutton, some of society’s most highly-regarded occupations – including police officers and surgeons – are held by a disproportionate number of psychopaths.

There is some good news though; while most people associate psychopaths with Hannibal Lecter-types, apparently not all of them kill people. About 15-25% of people in prison are psychopaths, but many people with psychopathic tendencies aren’t criminals - they just don’t feel all that bad if you die on the operating table while they pick away at your brain with a rusty scalpel.

According to Dutton’s study, the Great British Psychopath Survey, the ten professions most likely to be held by psychopaths are (in order from most likely to least):

  1.     CEO
  2.     Lawyer
  3.     Media (TV/Radio)
  4.     Salesperson
  5.     Surgeon
  6.     Journalist
  7.     Police Officer
  8.     Clergyperson
  9.     Chef
  10.     Civil Servant

And, just so you know where you’re safest, here are the professions with the least psychopaths:

  1.     Care Aide
  2.     Nurse
  3.     Therapist
  4.     Craftsperson
  5.     Beautician/Stylist
  6.     Charity Worker
  7.     Teacher
  8.     Creative Artist
  9.     Doctor
  10.     Accountant

Of course, none of this means that every lawyer - or journalist - is a psychopath (hey, stop rolling your eyes!), it’s just that there appears to be an overlap between psychopathic personality traits and the types of people who go into the above professions.

Now, where did I leave that pesky chainsaw…

  • Mark Thompson on 4/11/2013 11:39:19 AM

    My amateur's research shows that 1-3% of the population are sociopaths, but this figure blows out to 1/4 of the population of prisons. At the lower end of the scale they cannot connect with others with real empathy and they learn how to fake that emotion and sympathy can never be experienced. As they progress towards the homicide end of the sociopath's scale they tend to be manipulative liars and cheats and enjoy derailing the lives of others. Corporations will employ a new sociopath CEO, with the mantra 'is prepared to do anything', which results in firing good people, reducing costs and temporarily increasing profits. Once it is too late and the business is broken they fire the CEO. Mission accomplished. As a former cop I reckon that I have associated with all but one of the top 10 sociopaths; chefs.

  • Simon Dorahy on 1/11/2013 11:58:42 AM

    I think they are confusing the term "psychopath" with "sociopath". A psychopath is predominantly associated with violence, a sociopath on the other hand will handle business, social or other dealings completely divorced from emotion. Perfect example is Shane Warne who will experience a marriage break up, and then get 10 wickets in a test match the following week.

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