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UJ panel discusses psychopaths in the workplace

​Did you know that you could be working with or for a psychopath? While unfortunate psychopaths end up in prisons or hospitals, the successful ones end up occupying a boss’ corner office.
These were the views of researcher and attorney, Mr Albert Marais, at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Library discussions on his latest book: “He is Perfect; Don’t Hire Him”.
According to Marais, a psychopath knows between right and wrong. He says that psychopaths are emotional like everyone else; but they throw tantrums and like disrupting meetings to waste people’s time. This is, opposed to the myth that psychopaths are ruthless and disloyal.
Shockingly, psychopaths successfully enter the corporate world and cannot be detected because they are hired through recruitment agencies. Marais said that recruitment agencies should be blamed for the way they recruit employees for corporate companies. “The recruitment agency environment is good for psychopaths because they fake their CVs by exaggerating and lying during interviews. They know how to manipulate the system,” he said.
However, Marais had solutions for the wrongful, unintentional hiring of workplace psychopaths. He said that agencies could mitigate the risk of recruiting psychopaths by doing ‘peer reviews’, investigating the candidate’s resume, checking for a criminal record, and testing the candidate.
While Dr Casper van Zyl, a Lecturer at UJ and one of the panelists of the discussion, said that psychopaths are often placed in prisons or hospitalised, Marais highlighted that psychopaths can’t be rehabilitated.
“Psychopathy does not really reflect a person with a medical disorder. Also, psychopathy is not the only distraction in corporate companies, there are other issues that add to people’s characters and frustrations,” said van Zyl. Marais also said that it is possible that almost all people have psychopathic tendencies, but that it becomes wrong and unacceptable when the behavior is constant and extreme.
Mr Marius van Staden, UJ Lecturer: Public Law, another panel expert had a different view on psychopaths. Van Staden said that careful consideration must be taken when organisations deal with someone who has a medical condition related to psychopathy. He shared the view that a person might have certain psychotic traits, but that might not really mean the person is a bad person.


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