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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work [Hardcover]

Babiak & Hare
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 27 2006

Let's say you're about to hire somebody for a position in your company. Your corporation wants someone who's fearless, charismatic, and full of new ideas. Candidate X is charming, smart, and has all the right answers to your questions. Problem solved, right? Maybe not.

We'd like to think that if we met someone who was completely without conscience -- someone who was capable of doing anything at all if it served his or her purposes -- we would recognize it. In popular culture, the image of the psychopath is of someone like Hannibal Lecter or the BTK Killer. But in reality, many psychopaths just want money, or power, or fame, or simply a nice car. Where do these psychopaths go? Often, it's to the corporate world.

Researchers Paul Babiak and Robert Hare have long studied psychopaths. Hare, the author of Without Conscience, is a world-renowned expert on psychopathy, and Babiak is an industrial-organizational psychologist. Recently the two came together to study how psychopaths operate in corporations, and the results were surprising. They found that it's exactly the modern, open, more flexible corporate world, in which high risks can equal high profits, that attracts psychopaths. They may enter as rising stars and corporate saviors, but all too soon they're abusing the trust of colleagues, manipulating supervisors, and leaving the workplace in shambles.

Snakes in Suits is a compelling, frightening, and scientifically sound look at exactly how psychopaths work in the corporate environment: what kind of companies attract them, how they negotiate the hiring process, and how they function day by day. You'll learn how they apply their "instinctive" manipulation techniques -- assessing potential targets, controlling influential victims, and abandoning those no longer useful -- to business processes such as hiring, political command and control, and executive succession, all while hiding within the corporate culture. It's a must read for anyone in the business world, because whatever level you're at, you'll learn the subtle warning signs of psychopathic behavior and be able to protect yourself and your company -- before it's too late.


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From Publishers Weekly

Psychopaths are described as incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves; still, spotting a psychopath isn't easy. Babiak, an industrial and organizational psychologist, and Hare (Without Conscience), creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathology, present a study of the psychopath in the corporate landscape. A common description of psychopathology states that subjects "know the words but not the music;" Babiak and Hare state that "a clever psychopath can present such a well-rounded picture of a perfect job candidate that even seasoned interviewers" can be fooled. In between a disposable series of narrative acts that follow a psychopath's progress ("Act I, Scene I - Grand Entrance;" "Act III, Scene II - An Honest Mistake?" "Act V, Scene I - Circle the wagons"), thorough research and anecdotes from a number of sources-current literature, news media, and showbiz among them-to illuminate the power of the psychopath to manipulate those around him, as well as what strategies can be used to identify and disarm him. Clear and complete, this is a handy overview for managers and HR, with enough "self-defense" techniques to help coworkers from getting bit.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Babiak, an industrial and organizational psychologist, and Hare, the creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy, explore the infiltration into today's corporations by psychopaths, or those with destructive personality characteristics that are invisible to many with whom they interact. Their skilled manipulation begins with a perfect interview, as they are attractive job applicants who are confident and charming. They often flourish in fast-paced, changing industries with widespread uncertainty and can inflict considerable damage. Babiak and Hare explain in nontechnical language and real-world case studies how to protect employees and the company from these individuals who take advantage of organizational systems and processes, exploit communication weaknesses, and promote interpersonal conflicts. Babiak and Hare observe, "Companies accelerate their hiring practices to attract, hire, and retain new, high-potential talent before their competitors do. Gone are the days of the painstaking vetting process. Competition is fierce and qualified candidates few." This is an important perspective in the increasingly complicated hiring challenges facing corporate America. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a study of the pathological personality Nov. 3 2007
Format:Paperback
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.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Much-Needed Warning June 22 2007
By Harrison Koehli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Psychopaths are ruthless, cunning, and conscienceless egotists. They will sell out their own mother in their quest for power. And yet they are loved and admired by many. How can we reconcile this contradiction?

Babiak and Hare demonstrate that psychopaths are masters of adopting a "mask of sanity" (a term coined by Hervey Cleckley in his masterpiece, "The Mask of Sanity"); that is they are extremely effective at impression management. They are con artists who can fool even the experts, donning whatever persona is needed to manipulate their victims.

If you can be of value to the social striving of a subclinical psychopath, you can bet that he will convince you of his good intentions, his honour, his kind nature, etc. But it is a lie. He is simply using you.

"Snakes in Suits" examines psychopaths in the corporate workplace: how to spot them and how to deal with them. But its lessons are applicable to a bigger picture. The moral relativism inherent in our Capitalist system is the perfect opening for opportunistic psychopaths to rise to the top.

And as the authors show, this can never be a good thing. Psychopaths are untalented narcissists who profit only on the work of others. And in a political environment, this can be disastrous. Witness, for example, the historical phenomena of Nazism and Stalinism, systems of government in which psychopaths occupied all positions of authority.

Without a general understanding of the reality of psychopathy, they will continue to operate freely, causing misery and suffering for their victims (more numerous by the day). "Snakes in Suits" should be read along with Lobaczewski's "Political Ponerology", an analysis of systems of government in which psychopaths rule. Both books contain information urgently needed not only by ordinary citizens, but by anyone in a leadership position.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read Oct. 28 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book explains how psychpathic personalities can easily get passed interviews with impressive results. How they can dress up their resume and work experience, and how they create divisions and generate conflict within the organization.

In reading that book, you will acquire the knowledge required to identify and protect yourself before you get burned by these remorseless and conscienceless individuals. Highly Reccomended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Essential Works on Psychopathy March 14 2008
Format:Paperback
"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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn All You Can
Either learn beforehand about manipulators without conscience who will take all you have built up - or discover after the fact as you pick up the dreadful pieces. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Eleanor Cowan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for High Trust Individuals
For those of us that live by the golden rule, this book is a good education about 25% of the population and the things that are done in the name of business.
Published 2 months ago by Love2Go
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone wanting to know why big corporations are...
This book examines in more detail a particular aspect of the psychopathy issue that is usually overlooked by the literature on the subject. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Phung Minh Hoang
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlighting
It was most enlighting, one takes peoples words for truth but actions speak volumns. I would advise anyone hiring to read it.
Published 8 months ago by Milees
1.0 out of 5 stars Too Repetitive to enjoy
The ideas and forewarning about the potential damage hiring psychopaths could lead to really got me excited at the outset. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2012 by canguy
5.0 out of 5 stars Snakes in Suits - When Psychopaths go to work
This was an excellent read. Whenever I found comments that reflected the characteristics and actions of people I'd encountered before I highlighted them. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2011 by bsquare
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, But a Tad Disappointing
I guess the title I gave for this review sums up my feelings about the book. It should be noted that I work in the public sector, so I wasn't really the target audience the... Read more
Published on June 27 2011 by Daniel Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Snakes in Suits
I have not completed the read, but so far it is excellent. The only problem is that having lived with a psychopath, it is very difficult to form a good relationship and I have a... Read more
Published on April 4 2011 by sunny-rain
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but needs more data
Bob Hare is undoubtedly "the" expert on psychopathy. So you have to take this book seriously. However, it is not based on the decades of research that he has done in prisons. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2009 by A. Volk
5.0 out of 5 stars Natural selection
Man is merely a civilized animal who lives in the wild world of snake eat snake. I give this book all 10.
Published on July 21 2009 by Victoria
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