Psychopaths are “superficially charming,” and often seem completely normal to observers, according to an article in Scientific American. However, they are also self-centered, dishonest, undependable and reckless. They lack the ability to feel guilt, empathy and love.
Prisons, not surprisingly, have a larger population of psychopaths than the general public, according to Scientific American. And so does Wall Street, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.
Columnist Al Lewis, spurred by a recent CFA Magazine article claiming 1 in 10 Wall Street professionals are psychopaths, interviewed self-proclaimed Wall Street psychopath Sam Antar. Antar is the former chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie, a New York electronics retailer at the center of one of the largest securities frauds of the 1980s. During the scandal, Antar pleaded guilty to felonies, but avoided jail for assisting prosecutors in their case against his cousin Eddie.
In the WSJ article, Antar told Lewis that yes, there are psychopaths on Wall Street, but the number is more like 8 in 10.
"The reality is, to succeed on Wall Street you've got to be a psychopath in one form or another," Antar said.
And Antar may be right. Research indicates that a “sizable number” of psychopaths are among us in everyday life, according to Scientific American. They may be over-represented in certain sectors such as politics, business and entertainment. Contrary to media representation, most psychopaths are not violent. In other words, psychopaths are rarely psychotic, a trait common among noted serial killers.
“If you work on Wall Street, chances are good you are not a psychopath, but chances are also good you report to one,” Lewis writes.