Politicians aren’t psychopaths, but their staff are.
In his book in the book The Wisdom of Psychopaths Kevin Dutton lists the professions attracting the most psychopaths.
Politicians don’t feature – but civil servants do, at 10th on the list.
A psychopath displays amoral or antisocial behaviour, and egocentricity. They lack empathy and cannot establish meaningful personal relationships.
It appears from the list that ‘psychopathic professions’ tend to reward egocentric behaviour. They’re mainly about the person in the job, or about positions of power and decision-making.
In contrast, the least psychopathic professions are those focused on helping other people, like nursing. They also appear to include jobs involving concentrated skills, like arts and crafts, where contact with others is not a prerequisite.
The difference is intriguingly ironic; to carry out their self-obsession psychopaths need other people. My view is that psychopathic tendencies are easily discovered, so they are only tolerated in professions where skills more than compensate for the self-obsession; such as with chefs and lawyers.
So why don’t politicians appear in the most psychopathic professions? Our own research shows that politicians are more extroverted than average. But extroversion is effectively an enjoyment of people – not an approach that is inherently self-obsessed. In fact, politicians appear to have more close fiends that most people – so they might have less trouble forming meaningful relationships than most of us.
Why do bureaucrats feature as a psychopathic profession? I suggest that it’s because the sense of decision-making over the lives of others generates an illusion of high self-importance. My experience is that there are more willful individuals in bureaucracy than in everyday life. It may be that the environment created there by genuine psychopaths draws out the worst of strident individualistic expression in many of us.
The top 10 most psychopathic professions:
3. Media (TV/radio)
7. Police officer
10. Civil servant
The top 10 least psychopathic professions:
1. Care aide
6. Charity worker
8. Creative artist