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PSYCHOPATHOLOGY AND STOCK TRADING October 10, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Humankind/Planet Earth.
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Could it be that those who have crashed the world’s financial system, drawn on the public purse, and being paid bonuses are not simply caught up in a system imbued by materialism and self (greed) like the rest of us but psychologically damaged?

David Sirota thinks this is the case as he reports at AlterNet:

Now comes a new study from Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen showing that the most successful of the global financial elite probably pose more of a menace to society than known psychopaths.

As the website Newser reported, the researchers “pitted a group of stockbrokers against a group of actual psychopaths in various computer simulations and intelligence tests and found that the money men were significantly more reckless, competitive, and manipulative.” Even more striking, the researchers note that achieving overall success was less important to the stock speculators than the sadistic drive “to damage their opponents.”

The findings build on similar research in the recent past. In 1996, investigators at Glasgow Caledonian University discovered connections between psychopathy and successful financial speculation, concluding that “with the right parenting, (psychopaths) can become successful stockbrokers instead of serial killers.” Likewise, in 2004, researchers at the University of British Columbia reacted to similar findings and created a test to help firms detect “corporate psychopaths” within their ranks. That same year, the award winning-documentary “The Corporation” used World Health Organization metrics to show that if companies really are “people,” as our Supreme Court insists, then many of them are mentally ill.

Obviously, these results reflect the not-so-surprising fact that the extreme nature of the modern political process and of today’s casino economy inherently self-select for certain kinds of traits. And no doubt, wholly changing that dynamic may be impossible or undesirable — or both.

However, the findings are a reminder of why now — more than ever — we must refuse to succumb to political apathy and laissez-faire demagoguery. Indeed, it’s time to redouble our commitment to strengthening checks on political and corporate power because that power is often being wielded by the most unstable among us.

Of course, rather than science these findings might simply be used to dehumanize those who have caused suffering to many to which they seem indifferent. At the very least, it is not a recommendation for a just society, and an indictment on corporate and crony capitalism and the political process that supports it. So what then will replace “capitalism” for which I assume borrowing and credit is essential?

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