06 Jan Workplace Psychopathy – Have You Been a Victim?
Statistically, it’s impossible to be sure how many people in the general population are truly psychopaths. Yet I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you have encountered a workplace psychopath at some point in your career.
Trigger warning: I will be treading into some very dark and disturbing content here, including abuse. If at any point you are concerned this could be triggering for you, turn this episode off.
✔️ Some people use “psychopath” and “sociopath” interchangeably, but this is not correct. I am using the term psychopath intentionally in this episode.
✔️ Psychopaths can be superficially charming and they can be talented liars. They can also be One-Eyed Jacks: many people may be fooled by their façade but what if YOU have seen the other side of their face?
✔️ Don’t allow yourself to be gaslighted, either by yourself or others. Also use caution. If you are worried that someone might try to harm you, make sure you stay safe. Psychopaths can lash out if they are worried that you might expose them for who and what they are.
✔️ Someone may have a carefully constructed persona that includes charity work, volunteerism, constant church attendance, etc., yet still be engaged in horrible activities in secret.
Links I discuss in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey consulting podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello and thanks for tuning in. Today I will be talking about workplace psychopathy. So we’re going to be treading into some dark and scary corners. If at any point you feel triggered, or you start to feel like this is getting too heavy for you, turn it off, come back next week for something different, but you know, obviously don’t don’t put yourself in any emotional harm’s way. By the way, Dr. Phil has been doing a great series on his podcast called toxic personalities in the real world. Of course, I’ll drop a link to it in the write up for this podcast episode. If you haven’t checked it out. You definitely should. He covers topics like if I encounter a malignant narcissist, how would I know? And what what should I do? If I encounter someone who might have borderline personality disorder? How would I handle it? So there’s some really great information there. Now onto workplace psychopathy. I want to be clear and saying that I am using the term psychopathy very carefully and intentionally. Some people will sort of interchangeably use psychopath and sociopath, but I’m picking psychopath for a very specific reason. So what’s the difference? Alright, so if we go to goodtherapy.org, they talk about this very topic, what’s the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? So in their definition, a sociopath describes someone with a SPD who has a pattern of antisocial behaviors and attitudes such as manipulation, deceit, aggression, and lack of empathy for others. They go on to list some characteristics of a sociopath clearly does not care about others hot headed, acts impulsively prone to fits of rage, rationalizes their behavior, and sometimes forms emotional attachments. Now they go on to suss it out just a little bit more, and they say that a sociopath understands that what they’re doing is technically wrong, but they have rationalize their behavior in their own minds. a psychopath, on the other hand, doesn’t see their actions as wrong at all. The psychopaths lack of conscience means they don’t feel guilt, while a sociopath may experience guilt, so I’m using psychopath for particular reasons. I’m not just sort of banding and about to be used interchangeably with someone who could be diagnosed as a sociopath instead, before I get into more of the meat and potatoes of this episode, there’s a clip I want to play for you. I watched this season of American Crime Story Impeachment, where Sarah Paulson basically becomes unrecognizable as Linda Tripp. And Clive Owen plays Bill Clinton. When I first heard about the casting, I thought this sounds bonkers. I can’t I can’t even imagine this being pulled off in any believable way. Yet, somehow it works. So instead of me relaying this scene to you, I’m going to play a short clip from the show. The backstory behind this dialogue happens when Linda Tripps daughter is talking to her about why she did what she did. What was this quest, this Don Quixote type quest to expose Bill Clinton and Linda Tripp is talking about her father and how our father was this rampant philanderer who cheated on her mother constantly until he finally just up and left the family. And everyone knew everyone except Linda and her mother knew that the Father was out cheating with I guess anything that had legs in the town, but nobody told them. And in this scene, she explains why it happened that way. I barely survived that. Because they liked him. They liked him more than her or me. He was a cheater. He was a liar. And nobody held it against him. That’s the truth. I mean, men like that and like Bill Clinton ruin lives. And they get away with it, they just do. When I watched that scene, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I just sat there in my chair, paralyzed and I thought that that says it all. It really says so much. And I guess unless you’ve been through it, it’s hard for you to be into it because it hits different if you’ve had an experience like that. I had an experience with a workplace psychopath. Obviously I’m going to be necessarily vague. I will just refer to her as Jane Doe. Not a real name, obviously, not going to say how we knew each other, what the circumstances were, how long I had to deal with this person, any of that. I will just refer to her as Jane Doe. And Jane had a sort of toady or flunky type person that did some of her bidding, but he never really rose to the threshold of being a workplace psychopath. He was not really well-liked. And I think most people knew that he was a snake in the grass, and they just steered clear of him. But with Jane, it was a completely different story. Jane was so well liked and so well respected. But it was a veneer. Jane had done a really excellent job of constructing this identity. She was active in her church, she did a lot of volunteer and charity work, she gave to charity. And believe me, she wasn’t shy about letting people know that she gave to charity and did all these volunteer activities either. It wasn’t exactly kept in the dark. It was generally a bit more of a humble brag. She always carried herself well, always had her hair and makeup just so, even if she was under the weather with a cold where most people would have you know blotchy skin and their nose is all red from blowing their nose all the time and they’re just like I showed up today, but I don’t want to be here. Not Jane. Even in the middle of being under the weather and feeling terrible, she still would have you know, immaculate clothing, nice haircut, nice makeup, all of that. I mean, there was a definitely well constructed, well thought out image that went with Jane. And the people around her bought into it hook, line, and sinker and they looked at her like she was I don’t know Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer or something. Oh, Jane. Isn’t she just the nicest person you’d ever want to meet? Oh, she went and volunteered at the hospital this weekend? Oh, oh, I mean, it was like they were just falling all over her. And there was always something about Jane… I couldn’t in the beginning put my finger on it. But there was something from the get go that my spidey senses found off-putting about her. It was like my gut instinct or my spirit, something was telling me like this doesn’t match. The outside mask doesn’t match the inside heart. Man. It wasn’t until later that I really understood why Jane absolutely, positively was a One Eyed Jack. She had this side of her face that oh, I’m just so sweet. And I’m just so loving. Oh, I love the Lord. And I go to church all the time. And I do all this volunteer work. And aren’t I so sweet? Aren’t I so great. But I saw the other side of her face. And I’m telling you it was pure evil. In the same way that I’m not using the term psychopath lightly like oh, he’s such a psycho. No, I’m using it very intentionally and not lightly. I’m not using the term evil lightly either. When I saw the other side of her face, it was evil. And it most certainly reminded me of that bit of dialogue in the film One Eyed Jacks, which by the way, you know, guys, I’m full of film recommendations. If you’ve never seen One Eyed Jacks which Marlon Brando both starred in and directed, you need to see it. It’s a great film. There’s this piece of dialogue where he tells one of the characters, you may be a one eyed Jack around here, but I’ve seen the other side of your face. And that’s how I felt when I saw the other side of Jane’s face and all this Mother Teresa and Albert Schweitzer crap went right down the drain. And it was like, Oh my God, who is this person. And it felt to me, like the veneer was not real. The evil that I encountered in Jane, for my money, that’s who she really, actually, truly was. So one thing I want to say about this is don’t allow for gaslighting, whether it’s you gaslighting yourself or whether it’s other people in the environment trying to gaslight you, and then you internalize it, and you get all up in your head and you start to have self doubt. Well, did he really say that? Maybe I just took it wrong. I don’t gosh, you know, everybody just loves her and they’ve never had a negative encounter with her before. Is it just me and what’s going on here? If you’re not confident in yourself, then you can start to nitpick your own experience. Maybe Maybe I just didn’t understand and maybe maybe she was having a bad day or maybe I just didn’t get it. Now in my situation there really wasn’t any room for gaslighting. There really wasn’t any room for self doubt because the things that Jane said to me on more than one occasion, by the way, were so hideous that there was there was no ability to misinterpret it. There was no ability to walk it back or try to put some other spin on it. It was it was pretty brutal. Here’s the thing, someone can have this great reputation in the community, they can be well liked, whether we’re talking about somebody in your workplace, in the neighborhood, at church or some kind of social club that you belong to. Everybody else may be like, Oh, I just can’t imagine that John Doe would ever say something like that to you. He’s just such an upright, upstanding family, man, I just can’t imagine that. Or Jane is just so nice. She’s just sweet as peach pie. Why the other day she was volunteering at the hospital, I just can’t imagine that she would say something that terrible to you. I mean, I just don’t get that at all. You can just feel free to tune that out because those people have not seen the other side of the face, but you have. Just remember, things are not always the way that they may seem on the surface. Again, some of this may be triggering, so at any point in time, if you start to hear something that you feel like is too much, turn the episode off or hit the fast forward button. But I’m going to read a portion of this article from The Washington Post about the BBC star Jimmy Savile. Here we go. There was always something off about Savile who hosted the BBC Jim Jim will fix it palled around with the royal family reportedly spent holidays with the Thatcher’s and was knighted not only by Queen Elizabeth but by Pope John Paul a second, but most forgave his idiosyncratic nature. He was after all, a great man. He raised $5.2 million for a hospital in Leeds, one of the United Kingdom’s largest, he volunteered countless hours as a hospital aide, bussing patients to and fro, he helped scores of young doctors get their starts Sure, there were rumors, whispered that he whispers that he wasn’t everything. He seemed murmurs he was really a sexual predator and had abused dozens of children, but they never stuck. Not Jimmy Savile. People told themselves not fix it, Jim, end quote. I’m going to read just a little bit more from this Washington Post article. Again, please be advised that some of this is explicit and difficult to listen to. Savile, according to a UK National Health Service investigation, was a prolific pedophile. The Health Service investigation only confirmed behavior described in several earlier probes since his death in all, Savile is believed to have abused at least 500 girls and boys, some as young as two most between 13 and 15, as well as countless adults ranging up to 75 years old, with unfettered access to Leeds General Infirmary. The Health Service Report said he raped and fondled boys, girls, men and women in offices and corridors. He also allegedly committed sexual acts on dead bodies and even told several hospital workers that he made jewelry out of one man’s glass eyeball end quote. Pretty difficult to listen to, isn’t it? But yet when he was alive, oh, he couldn’t be bad. Look at all of this volunteer work. He does look at this money that he raises for charity. Oh, sure. He may be a little bit of a weirdo, but he couldn’t be doing anything all that bad. Now obviously, not every person that does charity work or volunteers time at a hospital is doing it for nefarious reasons. We’re not talking about the general population here. We’re talking specifically about psychopaths and predators and people who who are constructing an image of oh, I’m likeable, I’m trustworthy, but it’s really just so they can gain access to do evil deeds. And also, just to be clear, I’m not saying that the Jane Doe that I knew was using her volunteer activities to perform sexual assaults on people. I don’t have any evidence of her doing anything like that. I definitely think, however, that it was part of this carefully constructed image so that she could be verbally abusive and emotionally manipulative to other people and get away with it. Because when it comes down to your word against hers, most people are going to go gosh, you know, Jane is just so sweet. She does all this volunteer work. Are you sure you didn’t misinterpret it? Or are you sure you didn’t misunderstand? Honestly, it reminds me of back in 2010 when Kanye West tried to warn everybody about Matt Lauer and nobody wanted to listen. Kanye West talked about how he was mistreated. They were trying to coach him. They were trying to manipulate him in this Matt Lauer interview, and he tried to tell people about having seen the other side of Matt Lauer’s face and nobody wanted to listen because back then, Matt Lauer was like media gold. Everybody just loved him and he was so great. But then, fast forward to 2017 and we’re learning things that are absolutely horrifying. Stories about him giving sex toys to his colleagues, exposing himself, making incredibly nasty sexual comments to coworkers. There were stories that he used his office like some sort of sexual prison, he had this like button under his desk so that he could invite someone to come in and shut the door. And then he could lock it without ever getting up so that he could have all this privacy to sexually harass women in his office, you know, and when the news broke, the first thing I thought of was Kanye West telling everybody like, yeah, there’s a whole other side of this guy that y’all don’t know about. And I’m sitting here like, mmhmm, he tried to warn everybody and nobody wanted to hear it, because Matt Lauer had this squeaky clean image. So I say all of this to say, you know what you saw, you know what you heard, and I really don’t give a damn if this person is workplace psychopath or in some other walk of life that you’re dealing with. If they have been abusive to you, if they’ve pulled you aside and said something terrible, it really doesn’t matter what kind of image they’ve constructed for themselves socially, you know what you saw, and you know what you experienced, and those experiences are valid. If nobody in your life is willing to listen and validate that for you, I will be that person, because I’ve lived it. And I know how it feels to tell your story and not be believed until years down the road when other people are like, Oh, my God, you are right. Jane is a psychopath. And it’s like, uh-huh, imagine that. The next thing I want to say is try as much as possible, not to be alone with that person. Because a lot of these people thrive on secrecy. It’s like the the what I just said about Matt Lauer and the locking door, there are things that they will not do or say to you with an audience, because after all, they have this image, this facade that they want to maintain. And if they let the mask slip in front of an audience, then that might compromise them. And all of the work that they’ve put into this false image could go to hell in just a matter of seconds. So if you’re in situations where there’s always an audience around, even if they say something that’s a little bit smarmy, or passive aggressive, they may not completely unload on you the way that they would in private. And like in my situation with Jane, the times that she said things to me that were honestly unconscionable, it was always done in private, it nothing ever happened, where there was an audience of people who could say, Whoa, what the hell just happened. So as much as possible, try to keep yourself away from these one on one private encounters with this person. The next thing I will say is document document document. Now, I talked earlier about American Crime Story Impeachment, I am not suggesting or advising in any way shape, or form, that you do anything illegal, we don’t want to get into a Linda Tripp wiretapping situation. In some states, it’s still illegal, I would imagine, to tape someone without their consent, or to slip your cell phone in your pocket and video someone without them knowing about it. You know, I don’t know what the laws are in your country or in your state. So don’t do anything that you could get prosecuted for. Because you need to remember psychopaths are talented liars. And if it comes down to a situation where they feel like you have threatened them in some way, then they’re going to do whatever they can to steamroll you, whether that’s trying to make sure that you get prosecuted instead of them or you get fired instead of them. They will do whatever it takes to eliminate you as a threat. And hey, maybe I’ve watched too much Dateline, maybe I’ve seen too many murder mysteries, but people have killed over less, you know, there’s people out there now that will kill you for a hamburger, or stick a gun in your ribs and rob you to get $10, you never know about people. So you may have some documentation on this person, and they could kill you for doing it. So you need to be careful. I mean, I know for some of you that may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. There’s some cray cray individuals in this world and you just need to know that they exist. You don’t want to be paranoid about it. But you you want to be smart about how you document I would also not recommend that you get on your work computer or your work laptop, open a Microsoft Word document, and start typing. On Tuesday, December 5, Jane did blah, blah, blah to me. And then on Wednesday, the seventh she said did it add it to somebody else… like those kinds of documents have a way of disappearing when you need them the most. If you’re doing anything on a work computer, your keystrokes could be monitored. They could be taking screenshots of this Word document, of your proof of what was said, who said it, and and on what dates and times that could vanish. Somebody in IT could remote into that computer, see what you’re doing and delete it in order to protect that psychopath or to protect the company overall. So you want to make sure that you’re documenting things out in a way that is careful and in a way that you only have access to. You also want to avoid defamation of character. Don’t write anything down or record any notes that might be slanderous, you need to only focus on things that are true; don’t embellish it, don’t add anything to the story. Generally, these people, when the other side of their face gets shown to you, it’s so hideous, and it’s so terrible, there’s not going to be any need to exaggerate the situation. Stick to the raw facts. On a related note, I would say, Stay careful. Be careful, exercise good judgment. Don’t put yourself if you can possibly avoid it in a situation where this person could snap off and hurt you. Like I said, there are people who will kill for any reason or no reason at all. I mean, the world is a crazy place. And you just don’t know what that person might be thinking, especially if they have decided that you are a threat to their career or to their livelihood. If you might expose them for being a predator, or sexual harasser, you really just don’t know what they might do. So be careful. Make sure that you as much as you possibly can protect yourself and avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. Something else that I want you to remember is that, unlike sociopaths, psychopaths can be very charming. So it may be easy for you or other people around you to get pulled into that spiderweb. Now after you have the One Eyed Jack experience, where it’s like, whoa, this person has a deep dark side and I want to get away from it, you ll understand things fro a different perspective. ut unless and until that happe s, you may very well be in he presence of somebody who se ms charming, likable, affable. G od to be around. I’m going to r ad a few things from the sort of 101 Psychology Today arti le about psychopathy. And of course, I’ll drop a link to t is in the write up for this podc st episode. But here we go. So h re are some sort of checkl st things that you can look for in determining you could t is person be a psychopath. Aga n, we’re not trying to diagn se remotely, we’re not trying to play amateur psychologist, we re just sort of keeping ur antennae up if we et suspicious. So here we
glibness slash superficia charm, grandiose sense of se f worth, need for stimulatio or proneness. To boredom, p thological lying, conning and anipulative, lack of remorse or guilt. Shallow effect, meaning there’s a reduced e otional response, callous or l cking in empathy, parasit c lifestyle, poor behavioral con rols, promiscuous sexu l behavior, early behavioral problems, lack of realisti long term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, failure to acc pt responsibility for one’s wn actions, I can tell you, I’m gonna break in on the list her for a second and tell you t at was definitely somethi g I saw with Jane repeatedly, i was always going to be someone lse’s fault. I’ll continue many hort term marital relat onships, juvenile delinque cy, revocation of conditional re ease from prison, and crimin l versatility, ie commits divers types of crimes, you want to be careful, because, as with some t pes of dark triad or narcissist ersonality types, sometime psychopaths will figure ou here’s the way I think an empat etic person would respond in his situation, or here’s what I hink I need to do as a respon e in order to get what I wa t. So they may be crying, but t could very well be crocodile ears, they may be crying, beca se they know that that’ll soften you up, and it’ll bend you to t eir will. Or they may say, oh, osh, I’m so sorry to hear a out that. I am so sorry for your loss, not because they’re ge uinely sorry. And they can rel te to what you’re going through. They’re saying it because the know that that’s what other peo le are saying and that i ‘s getting a good response fro you to say that. So you just ant to sort of be aware th t there are those people in so iety that they’re not feeling wh t they’re telling you tha they’re feeling. They’re not h ving that genuine human sy pathy or empathy. They’re jus putting on a con because they w nt something from you or they want to just maintain t is image of being Mother Te esa, when in fact there’s thi whole other side that’s ery dark and very sinister. Som thing else I want to say efore I wrap this episode up is hen we’re talking about patholog cal lying, it may not necessari y be that they’re getting cau ht in these lies. Someone who’ a very talented, charming sychopath, a very talented lia . They’re good at what they’re d ing. They’re good at the cons th t they’re running on people. Th y’re not going to be getting ca ght all the time. They’re g ing to be telling overt, insane goofball lies that will get hem caught. So they have thi image and and it’s been careful y considered and carefully th ught out, they’re not going to blow that to smithereens by al the time telling lies that are super obvious and easy t bust. It won’t be like Jon Lov tz on SNL during the Patholog cal Liars Anonymous meeting here it’s like, yeah, that’s t. That’s the ticket, sure! it’s not going to be that obvious. They’re more cunning, and they have more brains than t make it that obvious that they’ e trying to pull a fast one on you. And deep, heavy spiritu l sigh, I wish that there wa some way that I could end this pisode by giving you a bunc of shiny happy good news. But sometimes there just isn’t hat shiny happy, good news. So etimes in life, the bad guy wins at least temporarily. Now, o tentimes, these people do even ually get caught, they do even ually get outed for being wh they are they something wil slip the mask will come off, a d it will do so in front of eno gh people that everyone goes Whoa. Oh, wow. Apparently, we e ignored Kanye when he tried o tell us seven years earlier that this dude was bad news. And now we’re finding out his office was a sex dungeon. Hello. In the meantime, that may not bring mu h comfort for you. While you’ e waiting for the house of cards to topple over and other people o see the evil that you’ve seen The fact that eventually they might get caught or eventually hey might get busted may not be very much comfort to you. As I said earlier, I really w nt you to focus on protecting yourself. Don’t do anything ille al. Don’t do anything that would get yourself into hot wa er or get yourself prosecuted or thrown into a lawsuit. But d what you need to do t survive. Obviously, if you feel like you’re in any dange , and you need to just eave that workplace or you nee to leave the environment that ou’re in, talk to an attorney or talk to a police officer find ut if you need to get a protect ve order. Whatever you need to o to make sure that you’re saf and that you’re protected from this predatory person. Do it. Trust your own gut instincts Remember earlier in the episo e, I said there was always som thing off for me about Jan . So even though everyone else t ought she was Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer and just this wonderful Christlike erson, I was like, oh, there’s omething under the surface ther that’s just not nice, that’s ust not good to be around. A d sometimes it would just be ve y repellent to me. We have th se gut instincts for a re son, I believe. So even if so ebody else is telling you, oh God, this guy’s great. He’s th most amazing person I’ve ev r met. He’s like Jesus and Ga dhi and the Buddha all rolled in o one. And then you meet the gu . You’re like, Hmm, so ething’s going on here. That is ‘t quite right. Trust your gu . You never know because one da in your life, trusting your gu instinct could save your li e. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. 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