Review in Forensic Psychology Journal: Criminologists Must Consider Psychopathy to Sufficiently Explain Corporate Crime
Historically, the images of psychopaths in the public consciousness have tended to focus on sensationalized serial killers, whether fictional like Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and Patrick Bateman in American Psycho or real like Ted Bundy.
But, the spate of high-profile examples of white collar corruption in recent years, from the collapse of Lehman Brothers to the Bernie Madoff multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, has thrust questions about corporate psychopathy to the forefront.
Increasingly, people are recognizing the exponentially greater damage that can be done when “snakes in suits” exert their influence over powerful institutions as compared to when lone individuals commit gruesome, but isolated, acts. In the latter case, several people and families may be tragically affected. In the former, entire economies affecting millions, if not billions of people can be put at risk.
In the wake of this increased awareness, the Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice features a two part review by Angela Dawn Pardue, MS and Matthew B. Robinson, Ph.D. of Appalachian State University and Bruce A. Arrigo, Ph.D. of University of North Carolina entitled “Psychopathy and Corporate Crime: A Preliminary Examination.”
A look at the review’s two parts:
In this part, the authors:
- “Introduce and discuss the concepts of corporate crime and psychopathy”
- “Examine the leading theories of corporate crime within the discipline of criminology”
- Explain why existing models of corporate crime, which lack sufficient focus on psychopathy, fail to provide adequate understanding.
In this part, the authors:
- More thoroughly cover psychopathy and its signs and symptoms
- Explain how those signs and symptoms were manifest in many recent cases of corporate crime in a variety of industries
- Advocate that criminology focus more on psychopathy as an important aspect when explaining corporate crime
The review not only calls to mind Snakes in Suits by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak, but also The Corporation, a film in which Hare himself is featured. Since modern corporations, at least in the United States, are afforded “corporate personhood,” the filmmakers asked what kind of person a corporation is. They run down the characteristics of a psychopath, showing how each is displayed in the operations and behavior of today’s corporations.
Because corporations have such enormous power in our world today, it is crucial that public awareness continue to be fostered about the catastrophes that can ensue when pathological people ascend corporate hierarchies. Kudos to the authors of “Psychopathy and Corporate Crime: A Preliminary Examination” and to the Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice for taking on this critical subject, so deeply relevant to ponerology.
And kudos, as well, for reminding us that there is a field – criminology – tasked with investigating why not only shootings and robberies, but also larger-scale economic and political crimes, take place and that, in order to thoroughly do so, criminologists must never ignore the potential role of pathologies like psychopathy and certain personality disorders.
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Tags: american psycho, bernard madoff, corporate crime, corporate personhood, corporate psychopathy, criminology, economic collapse, hannibal lecter, hierarchy, journal of forensic psychology practice, lehman brothers, patrick bateman, paul babiak, personality disorders, ponzi scheme, psychopathy, robert hare, serial killers, silence of the lambs, snakes in suits, ted bundy, the corporation, white collar crime
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