04 August 2007

Psychopathic Bosses Get Promoted

In a Reuters article Bad bosses get promoted, not punished?: we learn that "In the study to be presented at a conference on management this weekend, almost two-thirds of the 240 participants in an online survey said the local workplace tyrant was either never censured or was promoted for domineering ways."

One of the study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe of Bond University in Australia, wrote that:

"The fact that 64.2 percent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable -remarkably disturbing."

It won't come as a shock to anyone who has worked in an American company. A large part of the frustration of workers in the US comes from facts like this. The corrupt, the cruel, and those without a sense of compassion rise to the top while people who treat others with curtesy, respect, and understanding fall to the bottom. It is explained away with rhetoric about needing to be lean and mean in "today's economy", about being loyal to the company -- as opposed to your fellow humans. These are examples of what Andrew Łobaczewski calls "paramoralisms", phrases that appear on the surface to appeal to our best instincts but which on analysis are found have a meaning that is exactly the opposite, that is, to cover-up and excuse the worst horrors under a blanket of righteous-sounding words:

Paramoralisms: The conviction that moral values exist and that some actions violate moral rules is so common and ancient a phenomenon that it seems to have some substratum at man’s instinctive endowment level (although it is certainly not totally adequate for moral truth), and that it does not only represent centuries’ of experience, culture, religion, and socialization. Thus, any insinuation framed in moral slogans is always suggestive, even if the “moral” criteria used are just an “ad hoc” invention. Any act can thus be proved to be immoral or moral by means of such paramoralisms utilized as active suggestion, and people whose minds will succumb to such reasoning can always be found.

In searching for an example of an evil act whose negative value would not elicit doubt in any social situation, ethics scholars frequently mention child abuse. However, psychologists often meet with paramoral affirmations of such behavior in their practice, such as in the above-mentioned family with the prefrontal field damage in the eldest sister. Her younger brothers emphatically insisted that their sister’s sadistic treatment of her son was due to her exceptionally high moral qualifications, and they believed this by auto-suggestion. Paramoralism somehow cunningly evades the control of our common sense, sometimes leading to acceptance or approval of behavior that is openly pathological.

Paramoralistic statements and suggestions so often accompany various kinds of evil that they seem quite irreplaceable. Unfortunately, it has become a frequent phenomenon for individuals, oppressive groups, or patho-political systems to invent ever-new moral criteria for someone’s convenience. Such suggestions often partially deprive people of their moral reasoning and deform its development in youngsters. Paramoralism factories have been founded worldwide, and a ponerologist finds it hard to believe that they are managed by psychologically normal people.

The conversive features in the genesis of paramoralisms seem to prove they are derived from mostly subconscious rejection (and repression from the field of consciousness) of something completely different, which we call the voice of conscience.

A ponerologist can nevertheless indicate many observations supporting the opinion that various pathological factors participate in the tendency to use paramoralisms. This was the case in the above-mentioned family. When it occurs with a moralizing interpretation, this tendency intensifies in egotists and hysterics, and its causes are similar. Like all conversive phenomena, the tendency to use paramoralisms is psychologically contagious. That explains why we observe it among people raised by individuals in whom it was developed alongside pathological factors.

This may be a good place to reflect that true moral law is born and exists independently of our judgments in this regard, and even of our ability to recognize it. Thus, the attitude required for such understanding is scientific, not creative: we must humbly subordinate our mind to the apprehended reality. That is when we discover the truth about man, both his weaknesses and values, which shows us what is decent and proper with respect to other people and other societies.

(Via Signs of the Times.)

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