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CEO spending a symptom of mental illness?

Why would Tyco International Chief Executive Officer Dennis Kozlowski use company money to pay for a $15,000 poodle-shaped umbrella stand and a $6,000 shower curtain?
Why would Conrad Black, CEO of Hollinger International, bill $2,400 in handbags to his newspaper publishing firm and have the company pick up the tab for his personal servants?

The simple answer is that some CEOs lose their sense of reality and feel entitled to whatever they can get away with, psychiatrists and corporate governance experts say.

"They begin to feel that everything is going to be done for them, and they have the right to that," said Dr. Robert Gordon, a psychoanalyst and partner in the Chicago firm Analytic Consultants, which works with business clients. "In our recent business culture, it has become more and more accepted to live like a potentate."

In extreme cases, some top executives believe the rules of society do not apply to them, Gordon said. A grandiose sense of self develops, and they feel larger than life. They experience no remorse for actions that hurt others.

The mental-health community has a word for such individuals: sociopaths.

Of course, no dysfunctional individual exists in a vacuum. In the corporate world, chiefs who are losing their bearings have boards of directors that are supposed to help them maintain perspective. But boards often are stacked with friends of the top guy, which makes it hard — almost impossible — for them to say no, said Nell Minow, a corporate-governance specialist.

When the jig is finally up — the company has gone bankrupt or the executive has been indicted — there is no reason to expect a teary confession or mea culpa.

"Unless it's some kind of public redemption, some of these big business guys are difficult to work with," Gordon said. "They don't want to change. They feel like there's nothing to change."

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Note: 20.Sep.2004 03:19

Tony Blair's dog

"The mental-health community has a word for such individuals: sociopaths."

"Psychopaths" is the word that should be used.


A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.

Psychopaths are extremely self centered and can literally
step over bodies to advance in the company hierarchy. Psychopaths always
want to be "superior" to others, and to be acknowledged as such.
Any benefits a company give them, be it raised pay, new "title"
etc. etc. give them this feeling of being "acknowledged", that
their behaviour has been "awarded", thus strenghening their feeling
of being superior.

The only problem is that the next morning they need new compliments,
they never stop in their hunt for new acknowledgements to their

It is no accident that you find most psychopaths in corporations
(and in governments) since the very structure of a big corporation
(and governments) gives the psychopaths all their egos need,
until they reach the top. Psychopaths create a certain atmosphere
in the apartments they work in, making it very competitive and
making sure that they surround themselves with "friends"
who give them compliments and who back them.

But beware if you should start questioning any of his/her
ideas/actions. Then you will quickly find that you immediately
become an "enemy" and the psychopath will stop at nothing to
get rid of the threat you pose to him/her.

Note: The word "Psychopath" was felt to be too "harsh" so
it has recently been changed to "Sociopath", which has
a less "bad" ring to it.

Wonder why ;-)