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Introduction

Stress, mind, and leadership

Stress causes brain dysfunction, impairing the clarity of mind and judgement including the ability to evaluate one’s situation in a realistic way. Performance-impairing chronic stress is today very common at all levels of society.

It will be argued that stress-induced impairment of brain function has contributed importantly to the present serious world problems. This is because stress causes a.o. impaired judgement, lacking foresight, faltering realism, irresponsibility, strong egoism, short-sighted greed for money and power.

The impaired brain function has prevented leaders and decision-makers from making adequate decisions, and even worse, has made them neglect the interests and needs of the society for the sake of their own egoistic benefit.

Brain research reveals detrimental effects

Brain research has observed detrimental effects of stress on the functioning of the brain. Psychology has also arrived at a better understanding of the mechanisms of stress sensitivity, replacing intuitive and speculative ideas with experimentally validated theories. Human development psychology draws upon this knowledge and has developed a deeper understanding of the negative effects of stress on behavior and the development of higher stages of psychological development (self-actualization).

Chronic stress is abundant

Medical research indicates that chronic stress is abundant at all levels of society. For example, the chronic stress-related disease, high blood pressure is present in 70% of Americans at the age of 70. Of course, all cases are not caused by stress, but a large majority is.  According to a study by the American Psychological Association (2008), almost every American reported feeling stress to some degree. 30% reported chronic stress and another 50% percent reported moderate stress.

That is, 80 percent of the US population is reporting stress levels high enough to affect the mind including mental performance.

Add to this the scientific observation that many people are not aware that they are in a state of stress and you arrive at even higher number.

Stress brings about a major shift in the control of behavior

An important fact is that stress always affects the functioning of the brain in a negative way. Stress is an integrated part of the survival response that is activated when we consciously or subconsciously experience a threat.

Stress shifts the control of behavior away from higher centers in the prefrontal brain cortex to primitive mid-brain centers.

  • The prefrontal brain is responsible for intelligent, foresightful and responsible behavior vas well as for compassion and empathy.
  • The centers in the midbrain are responsible for organizing primitive Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB)  geared att selfishly, if not ruthlessly, surviving and asserting oneself without any consideration of the needs and problems of the others. While the prefrontal centers enable intelligence and good judgement, these qualities are not enabled in primitive midbrain centers, so the stress-induced behavior is characterised by suboptimal quality with lower intelligence and bad judgement along with absent compassion and empathy – primitive animal-level brain dysfunction (even some advanced mammals like apes have been found to behave more “humanely” when not stressed).
  • In chronic stress, brain scans have revealed so-called functional holes where there is little or no activity in the prefrontal cortex, which may cause important brain dysfunction. Below to the right, you find a picture of such a brain, having holes in the prefrontal cortex.
SOB brain
To the right a high level SOB brain with typical “functional holes” indicating no activity in areas responsible for honesty, good judgement, compassion, intelligence. creativity etc.

Conclusion 1: Brain dysfunction due to stress is epidemic

Because of the high prevalence of stress, disturbed, survival-oriented brain function is prevalent in probably a very large majority of Americans. Probably this goes for people in other developed countries as well.

Conclusion 2: Testing for low stress level in leaders is necessary

Because of the high prevalence of stress, in the population, the risk is considerable that societal leaders and other important decision-makers have suboptimal brain function due to stress. Reliable and sensitive tests exist and must be used to ensure that leaders  are selected who have are not in a state of chronic stress or have a low stress tolerance.

This would reduce the risk that leaders are appointed who will make serious mistakes, errors of judgement, or misuse their position for personal gain or criminal actions.

In this blog and associated articles, we will apply the most recent knowledge, suggesting constructive solutions to ensure better leadership which is greatly needed to solve the serious world crisis. For more, see the article “Stress and mind” and the especially important posts

Jaan Suurküla, M.D.

Is it possible to detect midbrain-dominated behavior?

A suggested stress provocation test using Brain Imaging (MEG)

As explained in this blog, midbrain dominated/SOB behavior is highly undesirable in business, financial, military governmental and other leaders. Therefore it is important to establish reliable objective tests for identifying them.

Here I will suggest a test idea that I wanted to highlight now because I believe it might be useful for objectively assessing the degree of (Mid-brain dominated Survival Oriented Behavior as well as for confirming a high level of the opposite, prefrontal cortex dominated, humane behavior (called Balanced Emphatic Behavior here – BEB), hoping someone takes on the standardisation. (It has been mentioned formerly in an article here discussing testing of midbrain-dominated behavior (called Survival-Oriented-Behaviour /SOB here).

This test might be able to contribute to objectively resolve discussions regarding the suitability of key leaders, as for example presently the doubts expressed by some psychologists of the suitability of president Donald Trump. This is highly desirable, as the psychological judgements I have seen are by no means objective because of the impossibility to asses the sanity of a person without thorough personal examination (this is my own experience from two year’s work in psychiatry).

It is based on the experience that under stress, certain areas of the brain (we call them “stress-related-brain” SRB regions below) show an increased activity as revealed by MagnetoEncephaloGraphy (MEG)  scanning, a well established method for brain imaging.

A brain-imaging (MEG)- based stress provocation test

The test I suggest might be useful in cases when other tests dont yield a clear result, that is in cases that lie in the gray-zone between behavior dominated by the midbrain/SOB and the forebrain/BEB .

I suggest the following procedure:

MEG is done in two steps.

  1. Resting
  2. Exposure to a stressful (anxiety-evoking) situation

A person who is prone to midbrain domiated behavio /SOB, shows considerably  increased activity in Stress-Related-Brain (SRB) regions at stress provocation.

On the opposite A person with forebrain dominance has a high level of stress tolerance and little of  increased activity in Stress-Related-Brain (SRB) regions

This difference is because, contrary to common belief, the stress-response is mostly not directly caused by external conditions, unless there is an obvious danger, but occurs after a subconscious assessment process, where the emotional basic trust (basic feeling of security) plays a pivotal role (In 1974 I suggested that Amygdala plays a key role here (in a chapter in the Swedish book “TM, Magi or Therapy?), and this has been confirmed to an increasing extent recently). If a person is insecure, many situations are assessed as stressful. My hypothesis has been that Amygdala is the the neural repository of fear/stress-related events, connecting trauma-related perception complexes [memory pictures combining impressions from all the sensory modalities that are neurally connected with Amygdala] and associated emotions [that is fear mostly] and I suggested that the more of such trauma memories, the more proneness for subconscious fearfulness experienced as anxiety resulting in insecure behavior). For more about this, look up the string ” insecure personality ” at “Top leaders should be tested.

People who have increased activity in SRB-regions already before stress exposure probably don’t need be stress-tested as this indicates significant chronic SOB.

In 2010, I became aware of a test, developed by the world renowned professor Zang Hee Cho, the inventor of the PET-scan method for brain imaging. He has applied the same principle as I  suggested above. He used MEG in the same way for testing alterations of brain reactions to stress.

An especially remarkable study that he did was to expose people to a very strong stress stimulus (strong heat) before and after 5 months of practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM). He found that the brain reaction to stress was lowered by 40-50% after 5 months of practice of TM indicating a considerably improved stress-tolerance = lower SOB. See the diagram below. The more excited the brain, the more colored areas light up:

The diagrams show exactly the same brain when exposed to very strong pain. The left one was made before and the right one after 5 months of TM. Each brain section to the left has its exact counterpart in the same position to the right. Compare for example the three uppermost sections in both diagrams.

A similar, but inverse reaction could be expected under the suggested stress provocation test suggested above. Before the exposure to stress, the brain would look more like the picture to the right above, and during stress, it would be more like the left picture – the more pronounced the more SOB.

This study indicates that the suggested MEG test for SOB is likely to work. Perhaps pain actually should be used as the anxiety-provoking  “stressor” in the test.

The remarkable effect of TM indicates that it is an effective method of reducing SOB. Actually this is also indicated by several other research reports including a study on people who failed on DMT (indicating high SOB) at the selection for Swedish Air-Force combat pilots. After one year the DMT-points had improved considerably, see here. A SOB-improving effect of TM has been indicated by other studies as well, including research sponsored by the NIH- indicating that TM effectively reduces the chronic stress/SOB state underlying high blood pressure (see for example About.comfor a simple summary). Other research has reported pronounced and rapid improvement of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD), that so far has been considered incurable (see PTSD and the brain).

The research on TM, including the pain study of Cho, actually underscores the  profound connection between SOB, stress tolerance and brain stress. The lower the brain stress, the lower SOB.

This indicates that the suggested MEG test is likely to be an important objective tool for selecting SOB-free leaders and establishing who is mainly forebrain-dominated.

Source: Orme-Johnson, D. W., Schneider, R. H., Son, Y. D., Nidich, S., Cho, Z-H. Neuroimaging of Meditation’s Effect on Brain Reactivity to Pain. NeuroReport, August 23, 2006.

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Excellence through Mind-Brain development

In this blog, I have been explaining the importance of stress reduction and developing more coherent brain function for achieving excellence in leadership. I am happy to find that very key message of my blog has been borne out concisely in a recent book “Excellence through Mind-Brain development“.

harung book

Excerpt of a review:

In Excellence through Mind-Brain Development: The Secrets of World-Class Performers, Dr Harald Harung and Dr Frederick Travis show that excellence in any profession or activity depends on the single variable of high mind-brain development. This research-based book explains how, with higher mind-brain development, knowledge and skills become more useful, relationships more enriching, and actions more effective. Using the experiences of top performers like David Lynch, Jerry Seinfeld, Pelé, Sir Roger Bannister, Billie Jean King, Sir Alex Ferguson and Stephen Covey, the authors show how people that excel have a much more orderly, restfully alert and economic brain.”

Link to a longer, compact review: Gower Publishing.

It is very valuable for the understanding of effective psychological performance that they have demonstrated a correlation between excellence and the quality of brain functioning – expressed by EEG coherence.

Most importantly they find that

“The factors normally thought to underlie high performance—education, age, practice and work experience, and incentives—have little or no effect on mind-brain development and therefore on the level of performance” (quote from the review of Gower Publ).

Comment

The conclusions from this research concur beautifully with the theme of this blog.

The importance of the quality of brain function for performance has been greatly underestimated so far. People have been appointed to important positions, even presidents without any consideration of their suitability from this viewpoint. In stead, as indicated here, top level CEOs, financial leaders etc have signs of important brain dysfunction with serious consequences.

This research confirms the message expressed here already 10 years ago (See Top leaders must be tested) that it is time for society as well as government and business to select leaders on scientific grounds and not on the basis of education and other factors of no importance for the quality of brain function.

On Selecting Presidential candidates

Considering the importance of such positions, it is evident that it is detrimental and potentially dangerous to the nation to elect a a president with brain dysfunction or an under performing brain.

This might be taken as as an antidemocratic or pro-elitistic standpoint.

However, democracy can be saved by establishing a requirement that a presidential candidate has to be tested for the quality of brain function, similarly as the testing used by Harung and Travis or suggested in my article “A test set for detection of Survival-Oriented-Behavior”

Man is inherently humane

A common belief is that man is by nature selfish, greedy and potentially ruthless.

However, this is not a true picture according to the article “The Capitalist Big Lie about Human Nature” by John Spritzler.  He exposes the untenability of this negative view which has been at the basis of Capitalism as well as Communism>

The Big Lie is that selfishness is the primary human motivation, always has been and always will be because it is simply human nature.

..The Big Lie about human nature is used by defenders of capitalism when they tell us that there is no point in trying to create a better world that is more equal and democratic. Even if we succeeded initially, they say, it would just revert back to the same inequality we have today because human nature would remain the same.

Spritzler notes that there are various observations indicating that humans are not by nature selfish and greedy. He mentions the unselfish behaviour in hunter-gatherer societies like the Hottentots (Bushmen).

hottentot group

“If anything is given to a Hottentot, he at once divides it among all present… He cannot eat alone, and, however hungry, he calls those who pass by to share his food. “

After presenting numerous other examples of unselfish behaviour he concludes:

“..there is abundant proof that the capitalist assertion about human nature being the same as capitalist nature is flat out false. There are countless Big Facts that refute it.”

George Monbiot has recently written an article in the same vein “We’re not as selfish as we think we are. Here’s the proof“. He mentions a not yet published survey by the Common Cause Foundation:

“..a large majority of the 1,000 people they surveyed – 74% – identifies more strongly with unselfish values than with selfish values. This means that they are more interested in helpfulness, honesty, forgiveness and justice than in money, fame, status and power.”

Monbiot also mentions a review article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that

“..points out that our behaviour towards unrelated members of our species is “spectacularly unusual when compared to other animals”.

..Humans, by contrast, are ultrasocial: possessed of an enhanced capacity for empathy, an unparalleled sensitivity to the needs of others, a unique level of concern about their welfare, and an ability to create moral norms that generalise and enforce these tendencies.

compassion-300x217

He mentions studies of small children that indicate that already below 2-3 years of age before cultural patterns have influenced them, they are unselfish and have a good sense of fairness.

small children playing

Comment

I was quite happy to read these recent articles because this understanding is well in accord with the message of this blog that was started nine years ago:

Humans are by nature humane, unselfish, non-greedy, compassionate, (see Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior (BEB)) and regress to inhumane behaviour only under stress (see Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB)).

The latter behaviour pattern which is controlled by primitive midbrain centres is the remains of an earlier stage of evolution and was appropriate for optimizing survival in life-threatening situations.

The development of the prefrontal cortex brought about intelligent, foresightful  and cooperative behaviour which made it possible for the species Homo Sapiens  to survive through “smart” strategies without having to regress to primitive survival-oriented behaviour. Furthermore, it enabled the creation of societies and group cooperation that greatly enhanced the possibility to create common defense solutions against external dangers. I think that the importance of this factor  has not been sufficiently considered among researchers in this field. It seems likely that it played a key role in enabling the successful survival and expansion of the Homo Sapiens species.

prefrontal cortex evolution schematic

This enabled the successful development of more advanced cultures and the intelligent development of effective cooperation-based defenses as well as means for ensuring sufficient availability of food through teamwork in hunting as well as in growing useful food sources. This favored the selection of genes responsible for more advanced development of brain (frontal cortical) centres responsible for smart and humane behaviour on the expense of primitive, selfish, ruthless midbrain-controlled survival-oriented tendencies. Unfortunately, in our civilization, there has been a regress towards more of Survival-Oriented-Behavior because of conditions that generate insecurity and stress.

The humane, unselfish and ethically high-level behaviour of people in some indigenous cultures untouched by our “civilization” like the Hottentots is an example that our stress-ridden culture needs to learn from. Their cultural behaviour is well in accord with the vision in the blog posting “Is it possible to change the world?“.

A beautiful demonstration of the untenability of the negative belief about human nature is the experience from a San Fransisco Bay school that had severe problems with bullying, violence and chaotic lessons. The director of this School, Mr. James Dierke, got the “Best school director award” of 2008 (among 30.000 directors) for the transformation of this school to a peaceful place with no bullying and violence. The only thing he did was to introduce a simple technique with a well-documented ability to promote the development of frontal-brain dominated (BEB) behaviour. The technique was Transcendental Meditation (TM). This is just one of many examples of the transformative effects of TM. and the reason why Brasil, where TM has been practised in some schools since 30 years with similar results,  decided to make TM practice twice daily part of the curriculum of all public schools.

So the experience from schools confirms that the negative behavior tendencies believed to be fundamental aspects of human nature, are the result of disturbances that can be eliminated, giving way to friendly, unselfish, compassionate behavior – the true elements of human nature.

The dictatorial personality – a high-stress condition

(Published on Oct 22, 2008. Last updated July 5, 2018)

SUMMARY:

A high level of chronic mental stress caused by pronounced inner insecurity makes a person unsuitable as a leader. 

It brings about a predominance of survival centers in controlling behavior along with a suppression of prefrontal cortex, causing a low quality of mental performance including judgment-distorting defense mechanisms and, in the most pronounced case, sociopathic behavioral disturbances with ruthless egoism and absent empathy. I call it “Survival Oriented Behavior (SOB)”

A key characteristic is a predictability-seeking behavior which serves to reduce anxiety. This is achieved by promoting the sense of being in control and of rejecting or suppressing unpredictable factors in life. This brings about an urge for power, intolerance to “strange” and thus unpredictable behaviors, causing bullying of “odd people” and racistic attitudes.

This pattern is called the “Authoritarian Personality”. It was described by the eminent psychologist Adorno and his team over 50 years ago and has been confirmed by other scientists but they could not explain its cause. However, I have discovered that seeking control and predictability are the key factors causing exactly this behavior.


The key feature – emotional insecurity

The key reason for Survival-Oriented-Behavior is emotional insecurity, which colors the perception of life. It is called weak “Emotional Basic Trust” (EBT) in psychology.  When a person feels basically insecure, he is prone to perceive ordinary life situations as anxiety-provoking, which triggers SOB. An emotionally insecure person is mostly in the state of SOB because anxiety is present virtually all the time consciously or often subconsciously.

Weak EBT (WEBT) develops when life conditions cause feelings of fear and insecurity in childhood. Insecure parents with the instability, irritability, and aggressiveness that is evoked by stress, are not able, even with the best intentions, to create the atmosphere of security required for developing strong EBT (as stress is very common in society, so is weak EBT). Traumas like war experiences, early loss of a parent, early separation from parents, divorce, and abuse may also cause weak EBT .

Anxiety-reducing strategies

Anxiety is terrible, horrific for small children because the ability of the brain to inhibit emotional reactions gradually appears at about the age of 5-7.  Therefore, an emotionally insecure child, has a strong urge to develop anxiety-reducing strategies mostly subconsciously and they become habitual, “programmed” influencing their behavior and reactions throughout life unless actively treated.

  1. A major anxiety-reducing strategy is the use of defense mechanisms (distorting, downplaying, suppressing, ignoring anxiety-evoking impressions). These act like filters that may considerably impair the perception of reality and thereby the judgment.
  2. Another major anxiety-reducing strategy is to increase the predictability of one’s situation. Predictability enhances the feeling of security while unpredictability evokes painful anxiety.

I suggest that the Authoritarian Personality pattern is mainly the expression of pronounced predictability-seeking behavior. The symptoms of such behavior concur strikingly with the Authoritarian personality pattern as described by Adorno:

Symptoms of increased need for predictability

  • Control-demanding behavior, which includes a strong need to be in power, or dominant, if possible. “Being on top” increases the sense of security.
  • Intolerance of dissenting opinions. When on top, there is a craving for complete submission from the subordinates, because of the strong anxiety-driven need for total control. People who don’t comply, evoke anxiety and are bullied and harassed, and if possible, dismissed by the authoritarian person.
  • Need for authoritarian leadership. Submission to a strong authoritarian leader creates an increased sense of security.
  • Resistance to unfamiliar or unconventional ideas. The need for predictability causes resistance to anything that can change customary conditions in society.
  • Proneness for prejudices. The rigid adherence to preformed opinions is a kind of defense mechanism that helps to fend off (anxiety-provoking) unfamiliar (thereby unpredictable) ideas or views that challenge the world view that the person has established.
  • Strong allegiance to traditional norms. These norms provide a framework that increases predictability so such individuals tend to obey the prevailing norms very ambitiously because this increases the chances of being widely accepted in society (or at least the group they want to identify themselves with), which increases their feeling of security. The conventionalism is associated with:
  • Intolerance and aggression against unfamiliar behavior. Such behavior feels unpredictable, and therefore it evokes an uncomfortable sense of insecurity and anxiety in WEBT persons. Therefore it tends to elicit aggressive coping behavior such as rejecting, scapegoating or harassing people from other ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, and others who deviate from familiar behavior patterns and norms.
  • Avoidance of ambiguity. Ambiguous and complex information enhances the sense of insecurity greatly. Therefore these people want to simplify their perception of the world so as to have few nuances, either black or white, either good or bad, either yes or no, etc
  • Preference for authoritarian beliefs and ideologies. To increase the sense of security and predictability, the person prefers ideologies and creeds that provide simple and authoritative answers to world problems. Therefore they may be prone to religious dogmatism and fundamentalism, as well as political (left or right) extremism.
  • Suspiciousness. This is an expression of insecurity and an expectation that others have the same aggressiveness, lack of reliability, and dishonesty that characterizes their own survival-oriented mentality. It may evoke paranoid tendencies. Paranoia is found in many of the dictators in history along with many signs of authoritarian personality disturbance.

The above list is identical to Adorno’s list of the traits of the authoritarian personality.

Conclusion

The authoritarian personality pattern described by Adorno can be logically derived as a consequence of anxiety-alleviating strategies, where seeking predictability, probably since an early age, is a key theme. This increases the sense of security of these people who have an especially weak Emotional Basic Trust (inner insecurity).

In my experience, even less insecure SOB people have some tendency for using such behaviors, so the authoritarian type appears to be the extreme variety on a continuous scale.

Other characteristics of very insecure persons

  • Severe brain dysfunction when threatened. In this situation the suppression of prefrontal cortex is strong, resulting in a great dominance of the midbrain survival centers. Expressions like “lost one’s wits” in fearful situations describe this experience of an inability to think adequately. The behavior is irrational and violent reactions or panic are triggered by minimal stimuli. Precisely this behavior was the reason why the Swedish Airforce developed the Defense Mechanism Test. Its application eliminated crashes due to panicking entirely by deselecting insecure people. This condition is a maximization of the already present less pronounced brain dysfunction caused by their chronic stress condition.
  • Pronounced emotional instability. The subcortical centers that control their behavior induce preparedness for fight and suppress cortical centers responsible for balancing the emotions. Characteristically such people can react violently to very small provocations while major provocations almost inevitably bring about reckless, destructive behavior.
  • Preference for violent solutions to conflicts. Their high level of aggressiveness leads to a tendency to justify the use of violence, like the right to use personal arms for personal security. Inclined to favor wars for solving international issues.
  • “Popularity-seeking behavior”. In spite of their tendency for impulsiveness, instability, and aggression, the person may make great efforts to conceal any negative behavior in order to become accepted and popular, which increases the feeling of security. So they may appear very charming and friendly and well adapted, being keen on following all norms and informal social rules required for becoming accepted. This sign is not always present (perhaps genetic factors contribute to the ability to develop this charming “talent”).
  • Manipulativeness. This is a variety of “popularity-seeking” where the person, often from early childhood on, has learned to ensure acceptance and security through manipulation of the attitudes and emotions of people.
  • Dishonesty, unreliability. This ties closely with the manipulativeness. Lying and unreliability “widens” the possibilities for “effective” manipulation. So it is the strong inner anxiety that brings about habitual dishonest behavior as a means for increasing social acceptance as well as for increasing the ability to achieve desired goals (at any price).
  • Prominent short-sightedness. This is the result of pronounced Survival-Oriented-Behavior, and is found to some extent in SOB as well, see “Top leaders should be tested“.  The person tends to act dishonestly and unreliably although knowing that there may be a risk for disclosure. This is because the future consequences of the actions are experienced as so remote that they tend to disregard them. This is because survival-orientation instinctively brings about a disregard of anything else than what helps “survive” the immediate situation. This goes along with a suppression of the activity of the prefrontal brain which is responsible for forethought and good judgment. This pattern is most pronounced in sociopaths.
  • Weak or absent empathy, ruthlessness, reaches its maximum in authoritarian types, but is found more or less in SOB people as well. This is a consequence of the suppression of the forebrain regions that are responsible for empathy and compassion.
  • Bullying. This is a consequence of the above-described trait elements. It is driven by the intolerance to (anxiety-provoking) unfamiliar or unconventional behavior and enabled by their aggressiveness and lack of empathy.  Typically a bully attacks from the “secure” position of perfectly following all written and unwritten social norms of the group, attacking those who don’t fully comply with, or agree with, the norms or act “strangely” in some way.
  • Limited work capacity – risk for stress-burnout. Physiological stress brings about a considerably increased consumption of energy, so such people cannot work with a high output for a long time.
  • Stress-related health issues. Cardiovascular disorders including myocardial infarction, stroke, stomach ulcers, digestive disturbances, headaches and migraines, reduced immunity with frequent infections are among the most common stress-related problems.
  • Psychopathy/sociopathy is the most pronounced form of this disturbance. All the above-described traits are well-known elements of the sociopathic pattern in which they are most prominent. Recent research indicates that about 12-15% of the population have psychopathic traits, but only a few percent of them are criminals, while the “smarter” ones can be found in any sphere of society. They tend to assume leadership positions because this increases the sense of security, and this can cause great problems in companies, see “The danger of Corporate Psychopaths“. Of course, they are a great danger to any society or nation or company who elects them as a leader.
  • A considerable number of dictators have obvious psychopathic traits.

Please note that all the signs enumerated above don’t need to be present or apparent. They may be intentionally concealed.

Power may reveal the authoritarian personality

The common saying, coined by the British historian Lord Acton about 150 years ago, is that power corrupts.

However, I think it is mostly the other way around.  The strong urge for power of “Authoritarian” personalities, along with their manipulative skills. dishonesty and ruthlessness makes it likely that they achieve power positions more successfully than others perhaps to a considerable extent. The number of political leaders, including presidents and ministers, who have been sentenced for criminal acts is large all over the world.

Their mind is “corrupt” from the beginning but they hide it with their manipulative skills and mastery of popularity-generating behavior until they have reached the top. Consequently, I think a more realistic wording is:

“Power reveals the corrupt mind”.

Even most disturbed persons may appear to be symptom-free

It is an experience from psychology that even the most disturbed and insecure persons may be subjectively symptom-free. If they master the “popularity seeking” strategy well, they may seem psychologically healthy and completely normal. Even experienced psychologists are often unable to “see through” these cases according to the experience from air force pilot selection (however, persons trained at detecting well-adapted psychopaths may be able to recognize them). The Swedish Airforce noted that, under stressful conditions, this weakness had devastating effects on pilot performance (making grave judgment errors,  losing the mind, panicking, crashing). Therefore they developed a special selection test for the detection of pilots with such hidden disturbances (The Defense Mechanism Test, DMT).

Reality-distorting defense mechanisms are common

Most importantly, a great majority of persons without any conscious anxiety symptoms tested for combat pilot training were found to have considerable sub conscious anxiety (indicating SOB) according to this selection test, called the Defense mechanism test (DMT-Neumann). This accords with the conclusion of Abraham Maslow that a small minority in modern society is really healthy psychologically.

The suggested explanation for the appearance of defense mechanisms is that persons who have been traumatized severely early in life usually experience very painful anxiety. To quench this they tend to develop defense mechanisms to suppress it along with the above-described predictability-seeking behavior. Experience indicates that the most disturbed persons tend to be more or less unaware of their anxiety because their anxiety suppression mechanisms are especially strong.

WHY IS AN AUTHORITARIAN TYPE ESPECIALLY UNSUITABLE AS A POLITICAL OR CORPORATE LEADER?

In addition to having the disqualifying characteristics of SOB, the authoritarian personality has developed a pattern of behavior that may lead to more or less dictatorial leadership with a strong demand for submission along with a rigid resistance to new and creative solutions. Because of the strong preference for predictable subordinates, such a person will prefer people with authoritarian or SOB personality pattern for key positions.

Emotionally secure, creative and independently thinking people (SOB-free) are expelled because they tend to be unconventional and unpredictable, thereby creating anxiety. However, according to my experience, they usually leave the organization spontaneously, finding it suffocating when the ruler has established his dictatorial regime.

It is evident that an authoritarian personality type is highly unsuitable for occupying top positions in any organization including business, governments, military etc. Their inability to function properly, especially in stressful conditions that demand great flexibility, adaptability, creativity, excellent judgment and an unperturbed perception of reality could be disastrous. Moreover, they are prone to inhuman, aggressive, irresponsible, short-sighted and unethical actions.

For more about the harmful effects of such disturbances see “Why companies decline“.

SUMMARY:

The authoritarian personality pattern is the consequence of a high level of chronic mental stress brought about by pronounced inner insecurity. It causes a predominance of survival centers in controlling behavior along with a suppression of prefrontal cortex, causing a low quality of mental performance including judgement-distorting defense mechanisms and highly problematic, in the most pronounced case sociopathic, behavioral disturbances including a.o. ruthlessness, lack of empathy, unreliability, intolerance and a high level of aggressiveness.

As the rulership of such a leader could have disastrous consequences, presidential and vice presidential candidates and other top politicians, as well as people in administrative and corporate including financial top positions should be carefully tested as proposed in “The brains of presidential candidates must be tested”.

References

Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper and Row (pp. 228).

Related articles

How to deal with stressful superiors

Stress brings about a negative behavior pattern that may harm relationships seriously. By understanding its nature you will be able to handle it properly and preserve a good relation with a stressed superior in spite of his/her disagreeable behavior.

The physiological stress response is activated when you feel threatened. It may be due to a real threat, but most commonly it is due to emotional insecurity, called weak Emotional Basic Trust in psychology. Then primitive midbrain centers take over the control of behavior bringing about Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB) that often causes relationship problems. They may have various intensity depending on the level of stress. Below is a list of pronounced SOB symptoms:

  • Strong egoism. This is a key expression of the “survival mode” – just caring about one’s own interests for “survival” in the widest sense. From this follows:
    • Ruthlessness. 
    • Irresponsibility, not caring much for the needs of others or the requirements of the society.
    • Weak empathy/compassion – insensitive to the suffering of people. The behavior is geared at personal survival without considering others.
    • Low moral standards, dishonesty. Compassion is a key factor bringing about a high ethical level. In survival mode these traits are weak and absent, so one does not care much about harming others directly or indirectly through unethical behavior. E.g. a SOB type does not hesitate to use lies to promote his interests.
  • Impulsivity, difficulty in controlling impulses and outbursts of anger.
  • Aggressivity. A tendency for harsh or violent ways of solving conflicts.
  • Arrogance, self-assertiveness. A psychological counterpart of survival-oriented attitudes.
  • Weak judgment, due to impaired thinking as a consequence of suppressed forebrain centers responsible for intelligence, along with an inclination to disregard or belittle important problems due to the presence of reality-distorting psychological defense mechanisms.
  • Insecurity – need for predictability. In situations that they cannot master, SOB-s experience increased anxiety – a symptom of stress. They prefer jobs providing predictability through a framework of strict rules, like bureaucracy, certain police jobs, military (in peace times), etc. From this follows:
    • Power/control-orientation. They want to be in control and dominate because it makes them feel more secure.
    • Intolerance. People that are unfamiliar in appearance or behavior are experienced as unpredictable and arouse anxiety, which can call forth bullying and aggressive attitudes against them. Ethnic and religious intolerance are expressions of this weakness. Bullying as well.
    • Conventionalism. Conventional norms provide a framework that increases predictability. SOB-persons tend to obey the prevailing norms ambitiously also because this increases the chances of being widely accepted. Unconventional behavior evokes anxiety and consequent rejection if not aggressive attacks.
    • Weak integrity, changing convictions and opinions opportunistically, even on key issues. This is a consequence of the need to be accepted by peers and society because this increases the feeling of security.

Dealing with SOB people

People with chronic SOB for psychological reasons, which is the most common form of SOB, have conscious or subconscious anxiety caused by inner insecurity. To reduce their anxiety they need predictability and a feeling of being in control.

Therefore, the major strategy to deal with such persons is to increase their feeling of security and not to challenge their strategies for handling it. Always keep in mind that SOB is not the result of bad intentions or meanness. It is the consequence of a “survival program”, wired in the brain, evoked by powerful stress hormones that are generated when the person feels threatened which is chronically the case in emotionally insecure people (which is a very common trait).

If such a person is your superior at the workplace you will probably be able to uphold a successful relation if you follow this advice:

  • Never oppose, criticize or express doubts about his/her opinions. This is strongly anxiety-generating because it evokes a sense of lost control. Ignore opinions that you dislike and don’t argue against requests of no real importance for you or the job. If they are important, deal with them very carefully and patiently,  without any opposition. Instead, without even mentioning the problematic opinion or request, make constructive suggestions for improvements or changes, preferably as questions like “what do you think of this idea?”.
  • Be very respectful and obedient. Otherwise, it evokes a sense of lost control, causing anxiety that may transform into aggressive behavior against you.
  • Show appreciation whenever convenient. Because of their psychological weakness, these people need much appreciation. But don’t overdo it, because they tend to be suspicious and may wonder what are your intentions.
  • Don’t react against any impulsive behavior, however provocative it may feel. It causes frustration and consequent anger against you.
  • Don’t propose unconventional ideas. This increases insecurity, arousing anxiety and may cause anger.
  • Don’t behave in an unconventional way. On the opposite, follow the informal conduct code of your culture very carefully. Otherwise, you generate insecurity, anxiety, anger. Such behavior is a common cause of being bullied.
  • Don’t try to improve or correct the behavior. This evokes frustration and anger because a habitual behavior is part of the framework upholding a feeling of security.
  • In every possible way, make him/her feel secure and in full control.

This condition influences the behavior so strongly that one inevitably fails even if one wants to behave in a more friendly and positive way. So be compassionate and feel sorry for this poor fellow. Assume a therapeutic attitude, be delicate, trying to minimize the anxiety and insecurity.

If you follow this advice carefully you may experience a positive change in the attitude towards you, especially if you are very keen on being respectful and obedient, even offering to ease the workload if possible. They may feel a relief to have a subordinate who does not make them frustrated through the overt or covert resistance and dissatisfaction that their behavior tends to evoke.

The only constructive thing you can do to bring about a change is to generate an interest in programs that may improve the basic problem, deep emotional insecurity mostly generated from insecure early childhood conditions. I will deal with this issue in a later posting.

Of course,  the above advice is valid in most parts for dealing with any SOB person.

Please make these points widely known

Use email, twitter, facebook etc and please “like” this post, because many “likes”  attract more readers. This is a very common issue that has caused suffering among hundreds of millions of people because the relationship issues due to SOB are very often handled in an inadequate and counterproductive way.

Military organizations may attract psychopaths

In the posting “The danger of Corporate Psychopaths” I explained the problems psychopathic corporation leaders may cause. But for similar reasons, they are dangerous in other top positions as well.

The military organization is of such a kind that it is attractive to SOB-types of all degrees, especially psychopaths because it satisfies their psychological needs and preferences:

  • The organization is strictly regulated, satisfying the strong need of the psychopaths for predictability (rigid, inhumane formalism is an indicator of this disturbance).
  • The especially great power over subordinates that the military organization offers its leaders satisfies their need to maximize predictability by being “in control”.
  • The possibility to express their aggressivity in their professional activity.
  • The possibility to achieve a high social status, which contributes to an increased feeling of security.

Paradoxically, such people are especially unsuitable in war conditions, because of their rigidity, reality-distorting defense mechanisms and difficulty to keep their head cool under severe stress in a situation that highly demands the opposite qualities. There are many examples of such inadequate, if not disastrous, behavior of some top officers in war history. You will find more details about this personality disturbance in the posting “The dictatorial personality – a high-stress condition

The Swedish Air Force has realized the unsuitability of SOB-types in combat duty and has used the Defence Mechanism Test since over 40 years for detecting SOB in flight combat pilot training applicants, but there are good reasons to consider such a test for the selection of all military leaders.

The Norwich University Military College in Vermont, USA, has applied another approach for increasing what they call combat resilience, that is, stress tolerance in combat. They have included a technique in their curriculum that, according to several studies, has been found to reduce SOB effectively (including a study by the Swedish Airforce using DMT). The technique is called Transcendental Meditation (TM).  The Norwich Military College has launched a study for further evaluation of this technique, see “Norwich University studies the benefits of TM on Cadets“.

The strong neurotic drive of psychopaths to achieve maximal control, that is the very top position in an organization, combined with their ruthlessness and manipulative talents may bring such people to top national and international positions. Therefore, it is not surprising that most dictators and tyrants have pronounced psychopathic traits. As is well known, many of them have been military.

Conclusion

It is advisable for military organizations to follow the example of using the test developed in the Swedish Airforce (the Defense Mechanism Test) for selecting combat pilots.

But it should be used for all military officers, in all fields, especially importantly at higher levels. Not just for optimizing performance, including minimizing losses but as importantly for ensuring humane strategies, that is minimizing the suffering of civilians, and avoiding unnecessary killings etc in war conditions.

Same kind of “suicidal” crash as Germanwings has occurred before

Captain Jan Cocheret at Emirate Airways expressed fears of such a suicidal crash a couple of months before the tragedy.

In his premonitory piece, called “Will you just open the door?”, Mr. Cocheret said there have been several cases of pilots shutting out colleagues – either to stop them causing harm or to bring down the plane.

The most recent was in November 2013, when Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes, the captain of flight TM470 from the Mozambican capital Maputo to Luanda in Angola, “deliberately” brought down an Embraer 190, killing all 33 on board.

“He waited for his colleague to leave the cockpit, and once that happened, he sent the plane into a nosedive towards the Namibian desert. The last sound heard on the cockpit voice recorder was a desperate banging on the locked cockpit door,” he wrote.

He also expressed suspicions that the disappeared Malaysian flight MH730 might have been subject to the same kind of co-pilot takeover by locking out the colleague.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/11506244/Dutch-pilot-predicted-French-Alps-crash.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/dutch-pilot-predicted-germanwings-crash-in-article-about-returning-to-a-locked-cockpit-door-weeks-before-disaster-10148000.html

Comment

This indicates that this was not an isolated accident.  It underscores the need for general implementation of Defense Mechanism Test, DMT the combat pilot selection test that is used by a number of air forces to ensure that really psychologically healthy persons are selected. Common psychological tests are unable to reliably reveal these disturbances and even skilled psychologists and psychiatreists have likewise mostly not been able to detect this disturbance according to the experience of the Swedish Airforce.

The Germanwings 9525 intentional crash could have been prevented

It is now established that the pilot had mental problems including suicidal tendencies and that he crashed the plane on purpose. He had had depressions and stress burnouts see Dailly Mail. He had some mental problems even during pilot training, but the course leaders obviously did not react probably because he was cleared as basically stable at the selection test.

In ordinary tests used for pilot selection, a person who very much wants to pass, can easily learn how to provide the “right replies” that hide such problems. This pilot was very anxious to become a pilot and successfully fooled the tests.

Such very severe personality disturbances that cause grave destructive behavior of this kind are not of a temporary nature. They are deeply engrained in the personality, commonly from early childhood, and impossible to reliably detect with common tests. Even deep personal interviews by experienced psychologists often cannot discover the disturbance.

This is why the Swedish Air Force ordered the development the Defense Mechanism Test (DMT) which the developer, military psychologist Thomas called “Mental X-ray”. It has been very successful. Since introduced in the 1970-ies the flight crashes not caused by mechanical failures have dropped from 20-25 or more per year to zero. It is used by a number of Air Forces in the world, but some have dropped it, including the US. (It is suspected that DMT dismissed a too large proportion of the applicants, which is not surprising considering the high stress level in the American Society which makes it difficult to have a sufficiently harmonious and peaceful childhood -consider the heavy flood of TM videos that are not suitable to create a feeling of comfort and security in the child – rather indoctrinates into the belief that life is full of dangers and mean persons).

I have been told that on the basis of DMT experience the psychologists have improved their ability to discover such disturbances so more people can be stopped without testing. But in the last stage, among those ultimately cleared, DMT is made and always detects some deeply hidden cases.

As said in my posting “Air France 447 crash – such mistakes can be prevented” it is unacceptable that Flight companies don’t use this test for selection of pilot training applicants. Also read Increased flight safety“.

Please help stop these disturbed people from becoming pilots

You can contribute to block mentally disturbed persons from becoming pilots, by sending info about DMT to airline safety departments.

Please do help, everyone is needed even if you can only contact a few airlines.

View: Please help make all airlines use a pilot selection test that safely reveals disturbed persons

And do share it on social media, see below.

Why we need self-actualized leaders

[Last updated in Oct 28, 2016]

How self-actualized (BEB) leaders would lead the world

Forebrain-controlled leaders would express the best of humanness in their behavior and decisions. This behavior, which is the opposite of the brain-dysfunctional SOB, includes compassion, friendliness, honesty,  reliability, high integrity, clear thinking with excellent judgment and foresight, creativity broad-mindedness and tolerance (for details, see BEB).

  • In a world with such leaders in all key positions in governments, international organizations, finance institutes, corporations,  highly effective efforts in close and constructive cooperation would be taken for the rapid elimination of world problems.
  • Their compassion along with good judgement, broad-mindedness and foresight would never allow them to make any decisions that cause harm to mankind or nature.
  • Their integrity, honesty, reliability and absence of greed would never allow them to accept big sponsorships or take bribes that force them to take decisions that run counter to their convictions and values or might be harmful to the citizens or the environment.
  • In a world with compassionate and friendly  BEB-leaders, there will be no wars and poverty will vanish. In stead, in such a world, peace, harmonious cooperation and consequent prosperity will prevail.

Yes, this may sound like an utopic dream, but it is a well established fact that self-actualization/BEB is real and all the above is just a logical deduction of its consequences. So it is definitely a theoretical possibility. It is just a matter of selecting the right people.

Considering the great advantages for everyone, even for the finance and corporate sector, who would not go for it?

Elitism?

Some accuse such thinking for elitism, but this is a misinterpretation. Elitism is an ideology favored by financial&corporate and political elites based on the belief that good education and top-level experience should justify a preference for such leaders. However, this does not mean that such people are self-actualized, rather the power-greed and need for self-assertion characteristic of SOB is likely to make this trait overrepresented among said elites.

Favoring BEB-people is not elitism. It is just the understanding that compassion, friendliness, tolerance, honesty, high integrity, good judgment, creativity and foresight would ensure optimal solutions. One neither needs to have top level education nor political experience for being an ideal leader of a nation. What counts is the highly integrated and orderly forebrain-dominated brain-function that brings about the self-actualized behavioral pattern.

According to Abraham Maslow, who coined the concept self-actualization, few US presidents seem to have been conspicuously self-actualized. In a thorough survey, he found only George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Eleanor Roosevelt. Truman made a clear-sighted statement that one would expect firsthand from a self-actualized person: “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook”. This is not sufficient of course for judging, but makes me want to look more into his biographies.

Conclusion

Chronic stress-related brain dysfunction (SOB) is common among world leaders and is harmful to the whole mankind.

Therefore, it is important to select leaders with opposite qualities, that is the BEB dominant – self-actualized leaders.

This would enable a solution of present world problems and lead to world peace, prosperity and harmony.

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Worldwide interest in Stress, Mind and Leadership blog

Over 26.690 views from 153 countries

[Updated on March 24, 2015]

The interest in this blog, “Stress, Mind and Leadership” is global.

Without any marketing at all, the blog has somehow become known all over the world. The numbers, over 26.690 views since febr 2012, are quite good for such a “narrow” blog, I suppose 830 followers is also an encouraging figure.

What is even more encouraging is that the visitors come from 153 countries from all over the world including every major country. Here is a captured map from the WordPress statistics for visitors since Febr 2012 – Aug 2014, with numbers for the most common countries listed. White means zero visitors (but also lakes). The darker the color, the higher the number. Very few white areas:

Views since Feb2012

Views since Feb 24, 2012

It is fascinating that people from widely separate countries and cultures are among the top visitors, the top twelwe being:

US-UK-India-Canada-Australia-Sweden-Philippines-Norway-Malaysia-South Africa-Estonia-Pakistan.

This indicates that this is issue has an universal appeal that transcends cultural boundaries.

Please help increase visitors

I think the main message is important – that brain dysfunction due to chronic stress is very common, and has dangerous consequences when found in leaders of governments, banks, corporations, military. It has caused many world tragedies, but it can be prevented.

For example, the world depression of 2008 was evidently due to such dysfunction, causing bad judgement, reckless gambling, irresponsible, yes criminal misuse of lenders’ money, etc. , see  “Economical crisis – impaired brain function a major cause“ (Oct 2008) and “Wall Street brain disorder” (Feb 2009).  I am happy to find, that recently other researchers have come to exactly the same conclusion, using an almost identical wording, see The danger of Corporate Psychopaths.

Considering the tremendous damage to the world that they already have caused in every respect, a consensus is required in society about the obvious fact that they are worse than unsuitable for top level governmental, military, corporate and financial positions (for details, see “Why we need self-actualized leaders“). Laws must be changed that require testing them for stress-related brain dysfunction before appointment of top officials and major corporate leaders.

So please use emailing, Twitter, Facebook,  etc to help spread the word.

Perhaps you want to use this wording:

Have a look at the blog “Stress, Mind and Leadership“. It has an important message for the world about the dangers of stress-induced brain dysfunction in leaders of government, banks, military, etc.

Jaan Suurküla, M.D. Author of this blog.

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The danger of Corporate Psychopaths

corporate-psychopaths(First published on July 30th, 2013. Second version Aug 17, 2014)

I have pointed out the danger of corporate psychopaths in a number of postings since 2008.

Now I found that  a recent book agrees closely with what I have written in this blog, especially in “Why companies decline..” (published in Feb 2011).  Its title is “Corporate psychopaths – organizational destroyers” (published May 2011), written by Clive Boddy, Professor at Middlesex university in London. I am mentioning the  publishing dates, because this indicates that we arrived at the same understanding independently (even if Boddys book came 3 months later, the manuscript was probably finished months before).

We both very closely agree that the employment of a psychopath in the management can have disastrous consequences. Because of their ruthless manipulative skill they are able  to reach the very top of the management.  Boddy confirms my opinion that a psychopath in top position may destroy the organization.

Furthermore, Boddy argues that it was the psychopathic behavior of the financial elites of Wall Street that, in 2008, brought about the severe global recession. In Oct 2008, I expressed the same opinion in my blog “Economic crisis – impaired brain function a major cause?”, see also “Wall Street brain disorder“.

Addition March 2014

In an article from 2014 by Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null, the above mentioned Buddy is quoted along with some other researchers. Their formulations of the dangers of corporate psychopaths are almost identical with those expressed in this blog since 2008. Excerpts:

” He [Dr Bayer, a psychoanalyst who, since 30 years, has been treating Wall Street financial executives, CEOs, traders, lawyers etc] estimates that among his Wall Street clients, this [psychopathic behavior] is the norm. ”

As long as such people are placed in charge of banks and firms that control so much of our economic lives, and we continue to elect legislators and presidents based upon charm rather than true integrity and moral substance, the US as a nation is destined to continue on its long descent into psychopathology and towards a future of narcissistic bliss for an oligarchic elite and immense suffering for everyone else.

Source: “Who Controls our Government? The Psychopathic Corporate Elites of America“, Global Research, March 03, 2014

End of addition

The reason why I started this blog in 2008 was to point out the unsuitability, yes dangers, of psychopaths in top positions. I am happy to find that now an increasing number of other researchers are joining in at voicing the same concerns as I have expressed about this issue.

The problem is not limited to corporations

It is important to realize that this psychopath problem may occur other organizations, especially those where there is a concentration of power, including military, political parties, governments and governmental institutions.

I have moved the ensuing parts of this text to a separate posting.

Addition March 2014

It is a mistake to restrict the concerns about risky leaders to psychopaths only

During the last few years other books as well as articles on the corporate psychopath problem have appeared. They all warn about it in similar terms as done here and estimate that the percentage of psychopaths in society is 5-12 percent, but this is a severe underestimation of the problem.

  1. Even if psychopaths are a small minority in the population, many are, because of their nature, attracted to power, and are capable of achieving top positions because of their ruthlessness and manipulative skill. So the percentage of psychopaths in leading positions may be much larger than around ten percent. Very obviously they are in a great majority in the criminal Wall Street financial institutions as well as in transnational companies wreaking havoc with the global environment or making harmful products in spite of knowing better.
  2. As explained in “Why companies decline“, Survival-Oriented-Behavior, being a milder variety of the same kind of disturbance, may cause considerable trouble as well. If this is overlooked and SOB types are allowed to lead a company, this may be damaging as well. This I have illustrated in the case studies found in “Why companies decline..” and in “Why IBM was declining“. SOB is very common today and therefore a more serious societal problem than the psychopaths.

Conclusion

People who are aspiring for top positions in international organizations like the UN, in governments, as well as in the business and finance world should be tested, so as to minimize the risk for appointing of people with Survival-Oriented-Behavior including its most extreme variety, the  psychopaths. For a suggested test procedure, see “SOB-test“.

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Why IBM was declining

The heading has been changed from “Why IBM is declining” because significant and illustrative changes are occurring. Part of this text is also found under “examples” in my posting, “Why companies decline“, but I made a separate posting out of it because it is so illustrative of the harmful effects of disturbed brain function in company leaders due to chronic stress.

IBM decline – stress-related brain dysfunction causing harmful policies

According to quite unanimous comments in leading business magazines, IBM is presently in a problematic condition (see for example Steven Zollman at Net(net) and  Steve Denning at Forbes). Doubts have been expressed whether the new CEO since 2 years, Virginia Rometty, will be able to solve the problems.

My impression about the cause of the problems, from studying some commentators, is that the former CEO  held too rigidly on to the principle of making IBM a “cash machine” generating significant incomes for the major stock owners. This brought about relentless cost-cutting far beyond healthy levels:

“The cost-cutting began with “Roadmap 2010” [designed by the former CEO] has continued, long after obvious fat has been removed. Workers complain that the cuts now affect IBM’s muscle bone and vital organs.” (Forbes, May 30, 2014)

This included:

  • Shift to cheaper expertise in India, laying off large numbers of highly competent staff in the US. Even worse, IBM did not recruit the experienced highly competent experts found in India but inexperienced graduates from colleges and universities, paying them lower wages than competitors, so few, if any, talented and well merited persons would consider joining IBM in India. This may be the cause of a lower level of technical competence resulting in a humiliating failure to win a major order:

“IBM’s failure to win the bid for the CIA’s cloud computing contract, worth some $600 million, is highlighted by BW. This bid should have been IBM’s “home field,” given its long experience with mainframes and government contracting…An appeal by IBM was even more humiliating: it only highlighted how technically inferior its proposal was.. ” (Forbes, May 30, 2014)

  • Automatic culling of staff:

Managers are required to cull a certain percentage of their staff, regardless of absolute performance. (Forbes, May 30, 2014)

  • Signs of significant brain dysfuntion in the former CEO

The former CEO’s rigid adherence to a policy far beyond what is realistic and useful indicates stress-related brain dysfunction, that commonly brings about faltering judgment, lacking foresight, neglect or misjudging of worrisome warning signals (pathological defense mechanisms) resulting in a deficient sense of reality including a narrow vision – an inability to grasp the complex totality of the situation. These traits are all characteristic of Surival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB).  If you are not familiar with SOB, read here.

A strong indication of a SOB predominance in the whole of IBM is:

  • Bureaucracy and lack of agility:

 Despite talk of delayering and collaboration across silos, IBM still has a steep hierarchy, with thirteen layers of management. When combined with the relentless cost-cutting and offshoring and the fear that these practices generate, the agility of the organization tends to be compromised. (Forbes, May 30, 2014)

This pattern tends to arise in a companies that are SOB-dominated, because bureaucracy reflects the need of insecure people for rigid control (for more, see “Why companies decline“).

This would explain the tendency of IBM “traditionally” to be slow in accomodating new development, as Businessweek writes:

Successful in its established ways, IBM has typically been slow to confront a new technological approach and then has found itself a laggard in need of dramatic change. In times of major technological transition, the company has had to jettison its top leadership and bring in people willing to recognize the need for change and make the break with the past. (Bussinessweek undated)

The latest big issue in this respect is the rapid transformation that is going on from physical datacenter storage – a major speciality of IBM – to cloud storage. Although this development, an obvious threat to an important income source of IBM, was predicted years ago, IBM was again late and is now struggling to adapt and catch up (for more see “2014 the year that the cloud killed the datacenter“, ZDNet, Nov 11).

Resistance to change and lacking foresight are additional indications of SOB-dominance here.  IBM has survived because the board has had the “disease insight” of the need to bring in more BEB-kind of people at the top level when the company has got stuck in old ways (if you are not familiar with BEB, read here). But the error has probably been that it is not enough to change one or a few persons.

The real challenge for the new CEO

IBM in the present situation suffers heavily from the regime of a former SOB-type CEO. Not only technically and economically. As explained in “Why companies decline”, SOB leaders are uncomfortable with BEB-types in the management. It is likely that most, if not all BEB-types have been eliminated, in the case there were any left since the company culture seems to have been SOB predominant since decades.

This is also indicated by comments from former IBM employees, describing typical SOB culture symptoms. This one for example:

“[IBM]..had the best people in the technology area. Not any more, any decent graduate will not even take a look at what IBM offers. Talents are leaving left and right. No motivation left for the rest…What [are] left are [a] bunch Yes people who only knows how to kiss ass. ..What IBM is making money on are technology it developed in the 70s 80s.” (quote from August 2014 by “Tom” commenting the article “IBM CEO Ginni Rometty: Failing Fast” in Net(net) from about May 2013 no publication date given.)

I think that, with such a pronounced SOB pattern, what is required to effectively revitalize the company is to recognize the severity and depth of the psychological dimension of this problem. It is not just the question of some unsuitable or incompetent leaders and some bad business policies or lacking technological competency (though very important). The disease is much deeper.

It is not enough to replace some company leaders, adjusting some policies and employing some technological geniuses (difficult anyway with the failing reputation – at least in India, where IBM has outsourced a large part of its production facilities – the reputation is such that talented people tend to avoid IBM there). As explained in “Why companies decline” the needed dynamic and creative BEB-types avoid, if not abhor SOB-cultures and, differently from SOBs they are not greedy, appreciating life quality more than money.

Turning around successfully?

A thorough reformation is necessary for turning  the company into a dynamic, effective and innovative organization. With a smart application of effective measures and using some powerful unconventional tools for transforming from SOB-dominance to a BEB-culture, a decisive, yes surprising, change can be achieved within less than perhaps half a year. I am preparing advice for such  reformation.

Virginia Rometty, the new CEO, shows promise

ibm_ginni_romettyA BEB-kind of leader free from stress-generated brain dysfunction (SOB) is the only hope for turning around a company that is declining due to SOB dominance. Therefore I have looked into various sources so as to estimate the “brain function quality” of the Virginia Rometty,  and different observations indicate that she may be predominantly a BEB kind of person.

Rometty is known for great strategic skills which indicates good foresight and the ability to assess complex developments in a realistic way – BEB qualities. Her praised talent as an orator indicates a good level of creativity. Her leadership style is non-aggressive result-oriented – also more likely a BEB style of behavior. Another indicator of BEB is ability to relate positively with others, and to see things as they are (indicating absence of defense mechanisms and good judgment).

“I think she is wicked smart…she has an incredible ability to partner and can make tough decisions and do so decisively. And she sees things as they really are.”

It sounds to me with Rometty’s leadership skills, IBM has a fighting chance to innovate and change – something most large bureaucracies cannot do, and they usually shrink and die.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. Source: Steve [Woods] on leadership

Just the fact that she has made it to the very top in a male-dominated business world, being highly respected (see for example The Wire Oct 2011) indicates a considerable inner strength, self-confidence and excellent judgment (women have to perform much better in the men-dominated world to earn respect) – also indicating BEB. So it seems to me that IBM, once again, has made a good choice in a crisis situation.

Signs of decisive change

The are signs of change now, in the last moment. The image of the company has been transformed with a drastic modernization and rebranding illustrated by a new website and the declaration of the main strategy (as I understand it) – to specialize on a reliable, secure and effective “resilient” IT infrastructure including computing and storage as well as expanding to the rapidly growing mobile sector.   Recently Forrester named IBM as a leader in IT disaster recovery service.

Also the recent partnership deal with Apple “IBM MobileFirst” for developing the Mobile infrastructure of companies may contribute to a positive development.

Although Q4 2014 reported a decline in overall figures, which is said to be mainly due to reduced activity in areas IBM is abandoning, the new areas IBM is focusing at, showed growth (BussinesInsider Jan 20, 2015).

It is also reported that Rometty is making a huge reorganization of the company indicating that she may perhaps have realized that present sociocultural patterns need to be broken up fundamentally, which is necessary to eliminate a petrified SOB culture (read “IBM ushers in BIGGEST EVER re-org for the cloud era, say insiders” /Jan 9, 2015).

Her thorough knowledge from 33 years in IBM all the way from the “bottom” as a systems engineer  up to her various top positions since 2005 certainly is useful (see Forbes). If this reorganization is mainly made, as indicated by some observers, just for a new way of administrative functioning this will not be productive.

Rometty has as it seems, achieved a considerable strategic turnaround. To implement it successfully, she needs to ensure that not too many SOB people stand in the way delaying and obfuscating the implementation. Establishing a BEB-fostering culture would be very useful – the real key to success.

Anyway, my initially very sceptical view and pessimistic prognosis has been replaced by an increasingly positive attitude, the prognosis depending more on how they can handle the very tough competition with several new and competent players in the cloud storage field.

Book about corporate psychopaths confirming my opinions

corporate-psychopaths

(Published on July 30th, 2013)

This article has been reposted with a modified name and some modification of the text, because I find it very important.

See “The danger of Corporate Psychopaths“.

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Goodness and evil from a neurophysiological perspective

Few issues seem to have generated as much discussion as the question of the nature of evil, and its opposite, goodness. A Google search yielded 49.5 million hits on the search Good+Evil. I think a reason is that there is not a clear understanding of this issue, which therefore is subject to many emotionally charged speculations. Below you find my humble attempt to contribute a little to a more scientific understanding.

From the standpoint of neuroscience, evil and “good behavior” are explicable as expressions of the style of functioning of the brain.

Evil, if defined as highly egoistic, ruthless, unemphatic, hostile, “mean” behavior is the typical outcome of maximally stress-dominated brain functioning. So this is not the result of mean or evil intentions but a consequence of the physiological stress response which is elicited when a person feels threatened or insecure. This results in primitive mid-brain centers immediately taking control over behavior, while the pre-frontal cortex, responsible for “humane” behavior, is suppressed.

The midbrain survival centers are part of what was called the “reptilian brain” by the famous brain researcher Paul Maclean. Reptiles don’t have any brain cortex.  Yet they are capable of highly adaptable behavior that is mainly of a primitive instinctual kind although quite some learning has been found to occur. Your reptilian brain centers are thus competent of taking care of survival even if the prefrontal cortex is “off-line”.  reptilianbrain

The takeover by the “reptile brain” enables people to react to a danger in a split-second with the fight-or-flight response or other instinctual responses and with great aggressiveness bent on personal survival.

If the more slowly working, intelligent prefrontal cortex would govern the behavior in situations of acute severe threat that demand split-second decisions, like the attack of a lion, people are more likely to be killed. If the prefrontal cortex would have been active, they would have been pondering what is the best strategy to survive virtually until in the claws of the lion.

It seems likely that bearers of genes that made them unable to immediately disconnect the forebrain in severe danger disappeared through natural selection.

prefrontal_cortex

“Chronic evil-mindedness” can be understood as the result of chronic brain stress caused by persistent inner insecurity signaling that the situation is threatening all the time. Psychological research has found that many people are unaware of this feeling and most people are unaware of being in a state of stress,  quite some even when in a pronounced stress condition. Some, but not all, are aware of some indirect symptoms like nervousness, anxiety, worrying, proneness for depression, emotional instability, bad sleep or psychosomatic symptoms like headaches, muscular tensions, gastritis or ulcers, digestive disturbances etc.

Please note that the “evil-mindedness” is an extreme variety of survival-oriented-behavior, occurring when there is a pronounced sense of being threatened. When the level of stress is lower, the behavior in people with survival-dominance is, although still more or less egoistic, less ruthless, and less aggressive or even non-aggressive if the person has learned to suppress his aggressiveness.

Most psychologists have believed that this is a problem in a minority of people. However, Abraham Maslow,  a famous psychologist who took an interest in healthy psychological behavior, concluded that a vast majority of people in modern society have more or less of this disturbance. He found that only a few percent had the symptoms of what he considered to be really healthy psychology. He called them “self-actualized” and found tha a key feature of this is inner security. He noted that such people are inherently “good”, caring, reliable, responsible.

The estimate of Abraham Maslow that only a few percent are self-actualized was supported by psychologists at the Swedish Airforce. It had sponsored the development of a method for reliably detecting people with chronic stress due to inner insecurity because such persons had been found to be unsuitable as pilots. This is because their midbrain-dominated behavior easily becomes maximally activated in danger, causing primitive panicking responses. The application of this test at the Swedish Airforce showed that only a small percentage of all applicants for combat pilot training were really psychologically “fit”, yet the applicants were picked among people who had passed ordinary military recruitment tests that eliminate a considerable percentage of people due to evident psychological weakness. Therefore, it is likely that the real percentage of psychologically healthy persons is even smaller.

Brain research confirms that the brain has two alternative modes of behavior. One controlled by the prefrontal cortex and another by midbrain survival centers. For more about this, see here.

Conclusion

Neurophysiologically, goodness can be understood as equivalent with prefrontal cortex-controlled “humane” behavior and “evil” as pronounced mid-brain-controlled survival-oriented-behavior elicited by stress.

The positive consequence of this understanding is that human beings are not inherently “evil”. Chronic stress due to emotional insecurity is not a natural condition and the disturbances that cause it can be remedied to restore the natural, healthy, humane, stress-free behavioral pattern that is inherent in every person, however “evil” he has been. Even criminals can change when their stress level is reduced, see ““.

The brains of presidential candidates must be tested

WE NEED “CRASHPROOF” LEADERS

(Published Aug 31, 2012. This is an updated version of a posting from Sept 2008)

Brain and psychological research provides objective and reliable criteria

In electing top officials, it is obviously necessary to ensure that clearly unsuitable persons are not chosen. The present nomination and election procedures in the US are not suitable for this purpose. However, there are scientific methods that could make sure that unsuitable persons will not be elected. So why not require every candidate to be tested before he is nominated?

There are strong reasons to consider this option, because stressful, so called “survival-oriented-behavior” (SOB)” brings about bad judgment, lack of foresight and is associated with “psychological blinders” that limit or distort perception when the situation is experienced as threatening (see “Stress and mind”). This disturbance is very common and is not always apparent. Actually, it seems that, at most, only a few percent of the population have a low level of SOB.

A reliable test for “crash proof” pilots – and leaders

It is possible to objectively assess the degree of survival-orientation including detecting “psychological blinders”, the defense mechanisms. For detecting them, there is a method developed for selecting Air Force pilots, the “Defense Mechanism Test” (DMT).

This test was developed because defense mechanisms are a major reason for crashes, as they make the person ignore or distort reality under pressure, for example ignoring a blinking red lamp or thinking it is in reality green. In Sweden, the frequency of Air Force flight crashes became almost zero after the introduction of this test.

Because of its reliability and effectiveness, it is now used for combat and commercial pilot selection in several countries. DMT is also being used for selecting top managers. It is obvious that using it for selecting “crash safe” presidents would benefit the Nation greatly.

While DMT is time tested since 40 years, and would be sufficient by itself, I am suggesting that it

PET scanning

could be complemented, at least at the next election, with another stress-tolerance test using brain scanning. It was developed by the world famous inventor of the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) brain scanning method, professor  Zang Hee Cho (retired from University of California, Irvine).

It shows very directly how the brain reacts to a strongly stress-provoking situation (almost unbearable pain). Scientists would not accept it at this stage for the selection of present candidates in the absence of sufficient scientific confirmation of its reliability for said purpose. But as brain scanning is a well established method, it might be considered as a complement in case of doubts. Below pictures of brain scanning, to the left in a case of low stress tolerance (high SOB) and to the right with high stress tolerance (characteristic of BEB).

Brain stress reaction is indicated by orange color. To the left the reactions are widespread and intense, while they are sparse to the right. In both cases a stressful stimulus, strong pain of the same intensity, was used. So the brain reaction to the right indicates a much higher stress tolerance

Obama and Romney! Here you have a chance to objectively prove who is most suitable as a president! There exists no factor of comparable importance for judging your suitability. 

The one of you who dares to take this test and gets results indicating a high stress-tolerance is likely to gain a great advantage!

For more, see  “SOB-test“.

Time to discard antiquated selection methods 

It is absurd that the people of United States, one of the most creative and technologically advanced countries in the world, holds on to the outdated and unreliable method of selecting the president mainly on the basis of his ability to raise money, to make a good impression in the media and to debate well.

Of course, the presidential campaign should remain, but what I mean is that before nomination of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the nominees must be tested for suitability and SOB-people have to be discarded, being evident national security risks. This is important because SOB is very common and SOB people tend to seek power positions, see “How to identify especially unsuitable leaders“.

This is especially important now that the country faces an extremely serious international political crisis (Iran) that may bring about a Third World War according to political analysts (Russia and China indicating they might side with Iran).

This requires a high level of intelligence, creativity and an excellent judgment, that is a high BEB-level, enabling the president to assess and handle the very complex situation in a realistic and constructive way.

It is evident that it is of vital importance to exclude any candidate with significant indications of being prone to stressful behavior that incapacitates his ability to make balanced and intelligent decisions and predisposes for aggressive and emotionally unstable behavior that might unnecessarily precipitate major wars. Of course is is of great importance for ensuring optimal decisions in all issues that the president will handle.

Considering this,  I suggest that, for the safety of the Nation, both President Barack Obama and the Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney as well as their vice presidential candidates submit themselves to testing, and that the result is presented to the American people well before the presidential election. In the case of evident unsuitability it is vital that other candidates are selected.

Is it possible to change the world?

[Published April 08, 2012. Last updated on July 29, 2018 ]

There are reasons to believe that a positive world change is possible to bring about quite rapidly. This conclusion is underpinned by scientific observation and extensive experience. Considering the present problematic world situation, this would not only be welcome but a necessity. And you can contribute, so please continue reading.

The problems in our world are to a great extent caused by a stress-induced behavior pattern controlled by primitive midbrain survival centers (Survial-Oriented Behavior – SOB). It causes suppression of the activity in the prefrontal brain cortex, which is responsible for humane behavior. This suppression can be visualized by brain scanning and appears as “functional holes”, areas of inactivity in the prefrontal brain  centres.

Large functional holes are found in the upper part of the image to the right. It is the location of the prefrontal brain, responsible for BEB behavior.

A reduction of brain stress, eliminating the “functional holes”, and bringing about humane behavior through the activation of the prefrontal cortex, would be the logical measure for improving the world. So let us first see what this could bring about.

What would the opposite of a stressful society look like?

A low brain stress level enables the dominance of the prefrontal cortex bringing about a behavior pattern which is characterized by friendly, responsible, honest and reliable compassionate behavior, caring for fellow humans as well as the society and the environment as a whole. Psychologists call people with this behavior “Self-actualized”, but I use the designation “BalancedEmpathicBehavior” (BEB) ,  for more details, click here.

It can be logically deduced from these properties that a predominance of such persons in the society would create a very different world compared to the present one.

A logical prognosis – characteristics of a stress-free world

In a world dominated by unselfish, empathic, harmonious, friendly, responsible and honest “‘BEB” people there would be a world of peace, tolerance, harmony,  A world where people support each other in their growth as human beings and cooperate in the elimination of poverty and the creation of prosperity for all mankind. The excellent judgement, clear thinking, broad vision and good foresight characteristic of BEB would ensure a balanced development in all fields including the economy, energy sector, societal health and the environment.

This is not wishful thinking, it is the logical consequence of cerebral BEB-dominance, which is a scientifically documented reality. Below I will present facts indicating that it is not only a theoretical possibility but widespread BEB-dominance in the society may be achieved in a way that is possible to implement in a practicable way.

Addition Oct 2017

I have become aware of reports of studies on some indigenous people who behave precisely in this way, for example the Hottentots. Also small children, not yet influenced by our cultural traditions tend to behave so as well. Such observations have led scientists to conclude that this behavior pattern (which I call BEB) is innate in humans, see “Man is inherently humane“.

Why it is of vital importance to increase BEB dominance

It would not only be nice but is of vital importance to create BEB-dominance in the world,  considering the harmful effects of its opposite, the stressful SurvivalOrientedBehavior (SOB).

As explained elsewhere in this blog, stress brings about negative behavior with egoism, proneness for aggressiveness and self-assertion along with shortsightedness, irresponsibility, unreliability and lack of compassion, for details, see SurvivalOrientedBehavior (SOB).

From this behavior pattern it logically follows that in a world where a majority is stressful SOB persons, there would be insecurity, violence, criminality, terrorism, and wars as amply described by the media every day.

It seems that the majority of world leaders in governments including all major countries, international organizations, major companies and financial institutions don’t have the necessary sense of responsibility, foresight, good judgement and compassion (that is, BEB qualities) to bring about the measures that are required for creating a humane world.

It is obvious that we need to decrease SOB dominance and raise global BEB dominance in leaders as well as in the nations.

Fortunately, scientific research indicates that this is possible as I will explain below.

Is it possible to rapidly create a world of tolerance, peace and harmony?

As explained above such a world is a logical consequence of BEB-dominance which requires reduction of SOB which requires a healing of deep-seated stresses in the brain that cause a permanent feeling of insecurity, eliciting chronic stress. This condition was formerly considered more or less incurable or requiring decades of psychotherapy to heal. This is underscored by the fact that chronic stress has been found to cause anatomical changes in the brain.

Yet, a wealth of evidence indicates that there exists a technique that is able to reduce SOB-tendencies and to increase BEB-behavior effectively and rapidly.

This technique acts by bringing about highly orderly functioning (coherence) in the brain during practice. Research shows that coherence that initially appears only during practice, becomes more and more persistent throughout the day because it becomes engrained in the brain through repeated experience.  This coherence is associated with a low stress level, harmony, emotional balance and all the BEB traits. This technique is called Transcendental Meditation (TM).

TM practice (20 min twice a day) can be described as the development of optimal brain function through the repeated experience of a highly integrated brain state which becomes increasingly engrained through repetition in the same way as memories are engrained. It includes an elimination of disturbances that cause stress-proneness.

So from being temporary during TM, this orderly, integrated neurophysiological functioning carries over into daily activity.

This effect has not only been observed in research studies but has been confirmed in real-world settings especially in businesses and schools. The transformation of violence and chaotic schools to peaceful and orderly ones within a few months has been impressive (see for example these video clips from a school in California USA and in Israel, that both were awarded for this transformation). It indicates from a micro-perspective, what changes can be expected in the society and the world if BEB-behavior becomes more dominant.

Because these effects have repeatedly been reported from different Brazilian schools where it has been used for decades, the Brasilian government has decided to change the School law so as to make the practice of TM possible in all public schools. The British government has, after 3 years of thorough scrutiny by leading pedagogical experts, decided to fully sponsor private Schools where TM is part of the curriculum. The renowned American Norwich Military University has introduced TM in the curriculum and all teachers and school administrators as well. In April 2013 the American Heart Association issued a statement that TM is the only meditation technique that has been documented to reduce blood pressure, and recommended physicians to suggest it for their patients. These are just a few examples of the recognition of the unique effectiveness of this technique.

So far there does not seem to exist any scientific reports of any other technique that regularly brings about similar effects. The effect of TM is explained by the unique brain coherence-generating effect of TM (see  Are all forms of meditation…the same?).

It is well established that TM develops BEB, but to generate a global effect rapidly,  of course, something more is required. Fortunately, there exists a method, based on TM that has been documented to generate peace and harmony at a large scale.

Field effects of consciousness

In 18 languages

In 18 languages

Research in leading universities has found convincing evidence of the existence of a field that unites the consciousnesses of all people in societies, nations and the world. This is the conclusion in the international bestseller, “The Field”, by science writer Lynne McTaggart. She presents a large amount of data that indicate action-at-a-distance between people and between people and machines. Often the likelihood that the observed effect is coincidental has been less than one on a million.

A striking example is illustrated by the curve below that represents the reaction of Random-Event-Generators (REGs) during the 9-11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York. The REGs normally produce numbers randomly. But in conjunction with the attack they deviated conspicuously from random behavior:

For about 1 hour after the attacks, the REGs deviated dramatically from random behavior, indicated by the peak.  When_random, the red line fluctuates only a little as shown during 10 hours before the attacks.

This was registered by Global Consciousness Project that has found similar behavior in conjunction with major earthquakes and other calamities that affect many people. The reactions of the REG:s have been continuously registered since  15 years and statistical analysis indicates one in a trillion odds that the effect is due to chance. This research started at Princeton University, and millions of experiments for over 20 years indicated the existence of field effects of consciousness.

Large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world. Knowing this, we can intentionally work toward a brighter, more conscious future.

The Global Consciousness Project

Research indicates that a small proportion of the population can induce important changes

It is most encouraging that it has been scientifically documented that only a small proportion of the population practicing the TM-based TM-Sidhi program is sufficient to effectively initiate a positive change through the mediation of the field of consciousness. More than 50 sociological studies have confirmed reductions of various expressions of SOB behavior including criminality, terrorism and war hostilities and some studies reported increases of BEB behavior including better cooperation, and more creativity.  For more, see the website of the Global Union of Scientists for Peace (GUSP).

Here is an example, published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution after a very careful, 3 year long “peer review” expert checking of the data and the statistical analyses (normally the peer review takes half a year or less and is made by 3 experts, but because of the extraordinary result, the control procedure was very careful and 5 top scientists were involved). This journal, which is world-leading in conflict research, decided to publish it, because of the high quality of the research and the compelling evidence, with a remark by the editor that the mission of a scientific journal is to publish reports even if they are at variance with common understanding – noting that this is necessary for enabling scientific progress.

The diagram below shows the conspicuous co-variation of the size of the coherence-generating group and Quality of Life.

The life quality index varied dependently on the TM group size

The life quality index varied dependently on the TM group size

The yellow parts are those when the number of participants in the TM-group was equivalent with or greater than the predicted number required to induce a positive effect.

Another remarkable result was the effect of seven consecutive TM-group assemblies during the Lebanon War. The bars in the diagram below indicate War intensity measured by an index including deaths and wounded in the war and other parameters. At an average, the decrease of war intensity was 70% and the probability that this was due to chance was less than 1: 10exp19, that is one part in 10 with 19 zeroes:

In conjunction with 7 consecutive TM assemblies, the war intensity decreased at an average by 70 percent

In conjunction with 7 consecutive TM assemblies, the war intensity decreased at an average by 70 percent

These are just 2 out of more than 50 experiments researching this effect, all finding a positive societal effect of the TM and TM-Sidhi program.

Lynne McTaggart comments this research in her book “The Field“:

“..the sheer weight of data [confirming a positive societal effect of the TM-Sidhi program] is compelling. Many of the studies have  been published in impressive journals like „Journal of Conflict  ResolutionJournal of Mind and Behavior and Social Indicators  Research, which means that they would have had to meet stringent  reviewing procedures.“

..the TM studies … offered hope to an alienated and Godless  generation. We have the possibility of improving society. We  have the collective capacity to make the world a better place“.

Source: The Field, by Lynne McTaggartaaa

Famous Physicist – “..most rigorously established and thoroughly tested phenomenon..”

“… the likelihood that the reductions of violence were simply coincidental – a

john-hagelin-222

Physicist John Hagelin

statistical fluke -was less than one part in 10 million million million (1019)… more than sixty different experiments of group meditation’s effect on conflict have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that have the most stringent standards for research. I believe it is the most rigorously established and thoroughly tested phenomenon in the history of the social sciences.”

– Physics professor John Hagelin: “The Power of the Collective“.

Professor of government – [these results] “deserve the most serious consideration..”

“I think the claim can be plausibly made that the potential impact of this research exceeds that of any other ongoing social or psychological research program. It has survived a broader array of statistical tests than most research in the field of conflict resolution. This work and the theory that informs it deserve the most serious consideration by academics and policy makers alike.”

—David Edwards, Ph.D. Professor of Government n University of Texas at Austin

Powerful coherence groups are already underway

An intense activity to build up large groups has already resulted in a coherence-creating group in Latin America of 4000 members who practice together every day which is required for achieving the societal effect.  The goal is 10.000 which would ensure a global effect according to the research on this effect (approximately 1% of the square root of the population). Additional groups of 10.000 or more are being established.

A growing group in India is approaching 3500, the number required for India and is planned to grow to 9000.

The rate-limiting factor has been funds, and activities for fundraising have been intensified.

Urgent need for immediate action

“Delaying action…is no more
an accepable alternative”

Sir David King, Chief scientist of the UK government commenting the precarious world situation, January 2004

Yet delaying of necessary actions has repeatedly occurred in different fields of imminent crisis since King’s statement 8 years ago.

It is very obvious that conventional means, including diplomatic and United Nation actions, have failed to prevent the deterioration of the global situation. Presently most concretely demonstrated by the collapse of the Paris Global Warming Agreement.

It is time to use methods that have a scientifically documented possibility to solve the situation.

The coherence creation program based on Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program has been well documented and is powerful enough to justify immediate global support for its application. To my knowledge, no other method comes close to it, neither regarding evidential support, powerfulness, nor the ability to bring about a  significant effect rapidly.

Conclusion

  • The world situation is such that it is urgently necessary to reduce Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB)
  • It is an established fact that it is possible to eliminate the stress-related disturbances in the brain that cause SOB.
  • Elimination of SOB enables Balanced-Empathic-Behavior (BEB), also called self-actualized behavior.
  • It can logically be deduced that a society of BEB-people, will exhibit the consequences of BEB-behavior: Security, harmony, peacefulness and a social environment conducive to everyone’s growth as humans towards increasing BEB. Such a behavior pattern has been reported in some indigenous cultures.
  • A world of such societies would be a world of peace, harmony and consequent prosperity because of optimal mutually supportive cooperation within and between societies and nations which is a logical consequence of BEB.
  • There exists ample scientific evidence that BEB can be developed on the individual level.
  • There exists ample scientific evidence that it is possible to reduce SOB behavior and to increase BEB-dominant behavior in whole societies and nations through the influence of the TM-Sidhi program that requires only a very small group for achieving societal effects.
  • There exist enough people mastering the TM-Sidhi program so as to generate a global effect. What is required for a persistent effect is the financing of permanent group programs. Permanent groups have already been created and their size is approaching the critical number for a global effect.

Consequently, the transformation into a world dominated by low-stress BEB-behavior is not only a theoretical possibility, but scientific evidence, as well as practical experience from its local application, indicates that it can be rapidly carried through in reality, and moreover, within a short time.

Further reading

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//

Air France 447 crash – such mistakes can be prevented

The official crash analysis report about the Air France flight 447, released yesterday, July 5, concluded that pilot errors contributed to the crash that killed all on board.

The report confirms my suspicions expressed in the blog “Increased flight safety..“,  see for example Huffington Post andCNN from where this clip is quoted:

“Despite these persistent symptoms, the crew never understood they were in a stall situation and therefore never undertook any recovery maneuvers.”

This quote from the comment by Bill Voss, a top US flight safety expert in CNN is especially telling:

“The autopilot shut itself off when the air speed indicators failed and the plane “handed itself” to the co-pilot. For the next several minutes, it should have been a pretty benign situation, but the flight crew made some inexplicable decisions and ultimately the plane crashed in the ocean.”

The symptoms were there, indicating stall, but inability to act calmly and rationally under stress is a probable reason why they were unable to make the right conclusions and in stead made “inexplicable decisions”.

Accidents where pilot mistakes are involved can be avoided if a test for selecting Civilian pilots is used, that was developed at the initative of the Swedish Airforce in the 1970-ies.

The use of this test, the “Defence Mechanism Test” (DMT) for selection of combat pilots, has had an unprecedented track record since over 30 years in Sweden, when it comes to preventing military flight crashes caused by pilot panic (from 20-25 crashes a year before DMT to virtually zero, every year since the intro of DMT in the 1970-ies).

In my opinion, there is no excuse for not using DMT for civilian  pilots as well, see my blog “Increased flight safety“.

CEO suspect of causing 30 suicides by bullying

30 suicides are suspected to be caused by the former CEO of France Telecom, Didier Lombard. In addition 50 persons attempted suicide.

He maintains that the tough austerity regime that he introduced is the cause, but employees say he was a terrible bully. Many other companies have carried through tough austerity programs without similar suicidal rates.

BULLYING CEOS NOT UNUSUAL

I found similar behavior in several company leaders when I was the adviser and expert witness in court cases for one of Sweden’s largest trade union associations. I have seen directors who have driven subordinates to emotional breakdown, completely denying that they caused it in the same way as Mr. Lombard.

A recurring pattern has been that the superiors of the bully have been completely surprised at hearing that this competent and apparently well balanced director has behaved so destructively. I have even experienced that the whole board turned against me, refusing to accept the truth although I presented a investigation with concrete evidence of people who had been broken down by the bully.

I have studied the mechanisms of bullying and have written about the serious problems with this kind of company leaders in my blog posting “Why companies decline“.

In essence, I explain in that posting that there are psychological reasons why bullying-prone persons are attracted to leading positions and that the personality disturbance that brings about bullying makes them a danger not only to the employees but also because they risk to lead the company into a harmful decline spiral.

DEEP EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE

The key factor appears to be deep emotional insecurity bringing about disturbed brain functioning characterized by egotism, ruthlessness, intolerance and aggressiveness.

The emotional insecurity brings about a strong need for compensating the faltering sense of security by maximizing predictability. This means that these persons have a neurotic anxiety-driven urge for everything and everyone to be familiar, conventional and thereby predictable. People who are creative, independent or in some way unconventional or differ from common norms evoke insecurity and anxiety in these persons and this, in turn evokes aggression. Bullies are likely to have the most pronounced form of Survival-Oriented-Behavior-disturbance, see “Characteristics of very unsuitable leaders“.

This behavior is closely related to racism, se my blog Racism –  a brain disorder.

Such company leaders are not only harmful to their employees, but are also potentially destructive for the company, see my blog “Why companies decline“. The most harmful types often have great manipulative talent and have developed skilful behavioral strategies for creating the impression of being a well-adapted, often quite charming and sensible person because social acceptance satisfies their neurotic need for maximizing the sense of security.

Sources

Here are a few of the myriad of articles on the Lombard case:

Huffington Post

Yahoo Finance

Why Goldman Sachs went morally bankrupt

[Posted 2012/03/15]

The moral bankruptcy of the Wall street company Goldman Sachs has just been revealed by an insider, the former top executive Greg Smith. When he left the company in March 2012 he wrote a column in New York Times that closely revealed the destructive change of company culture that has occurred in this finance company. When he started to work there, he said ther was a culture of honesty and honoring the endeavour to generate best possible financial gains for the clients:

“..culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money”

The reason why Mr Smith left the company was that this culture gradually deteriorated and finally got completely lost.

I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years.

..Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

“…It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,”

His advice to Goldman Sachs is:

“Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm.”

Source: “Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs” in New York Times, March 14, 2012.

Why did this happen?

The reasons for such degeneration of company culture are explained in my posting  ”Why companies decline”.

In short, it  explains that  the people dominating in the management of a company in the entrepreneurial build-up phase are more psychologically healthy, that is, more secure and more self-actualized than average people, This is because it takes the self-confidence based on good inner security to dare taking the risk of working in a new, financially insecure and psychologically challenging, unpredictably changing situation (in psychology this inner security is called Emotional Basic Trust and is commonly the result of harmonious and secure conditions during the first years of life).

Unsafe and unpredictable conditions repel  insecure people who  prefer well established, stable and well-paying companies. Their insecurity brings about a need to compensate it with the outer security found in  predictable and stable work conditions. This insecurity is associated with more or less of egotism, aggressiveness, dishonesty and ruthlessness along with a strong yearning for “control” in every sense, including more power and more money, because this increases the sense of security.

This behavior is associated with a pattern of brain functioning dominated by primitive survival-promoting centers (see the article SurvivalOrientedBehavior (SOB)). This behavioral pattern is fundamentally opposite to that of self-actualized people, who are  responsible, reliabile, honest, compassionate and non-aggressive. This behavior occurs when the forebrain cortex, the most advanced part of the brain, which also is responsible for creativity and intelligence, is controlling behavior in stead of the primitive midbrain survival centers that are controlling the behavior of “SOBs”.

The SOB people will strive to take over the company and when this occurs, they tend to eliminate the healthy, entrepreneurial types for several reasons. One of the reasons is that they want predictable and formalistic (SOB properties) people that are easy to control in stead of the unconventionality and unpredictability that is associated with the intelligent and creative behavior of BEBs, as explained in ”Why companies decline”.

Also, as in the case of Greg Smith, healthy and responsible people tend to leave the company on their own initiative, because they detest the dishonest and aggressive culture  that SOB people bring about. If they don’t leave out of own will, they may be discharged because they are honest, out of fear that they will reveal the unethical if not fraudulent activities of the company.

So the SOB take-over can fairly rapidly bring about a drastic change in the company culture as described by Greg Smith.

Risk for financial bankruptcy of Goldman Sachs?

Greg Smith thinks that the company will run down financially if its employees continue their present habit of ignoring the interests of the costumers, if not “ripping them off”, as Greg Smith said. It will not help to change just one or a few persons to achieve a real change of the rotten company culture. It takes a very thorough transformation.

Without such drastic measures, important customers may abandon Goldman Sachs. Bankruptcy might occur, also because Goldman Sachs has, due to the bad judgement, irresponsibility and greed of its managers already a fragile financial situation caused by its casino gaming with derivatives (credit default swaps (CDS)) as indicated by analyst Ellen Brown, see How Greece could take down Wall Street.

Addition Aug 2014

It is interesting that the widely published grave accusations that Goldman Sachs is ripping off its customers did not result in any decrease in their earnings in 2013 (Bussinessweek undated). This could indicate that the customers are SOB themselves and therefore they don’t react morally and their rigidity and defense mechanisms makes them hold on to their investment habits in spite of warning signals.

In any case, the conspicuous SOB patterns in this company as revealed by Greg Smith, indicates a bad prognosis at length.

What needs to be done:

Testing for detecting  SOB,  as suggested in my article “Why companies decline”,  should be done on new board members as well as on all company executives and managers at all levels, as well as on all who deal with customer money. Everyone exhibiting SOB behavior in managerial or board positions as well as in sales and trading jobs is a danger to the company.  For more measures for replacing a negative SOB culture with a healthy, honest and growth-promoting culture, see said blog.

The board members have to be replaced, because either they have been unacceptably negligent or have accepted the near-criminal activities of the employees. It is the responsibility of a company board to ensure that  the company is run in a proper way and it is very evident that the present board of Goldman Sachs has failed seriously. No single member can be excluded from this responsibility and therefore all have to be replaced.. It cannot be excluded that the board itself has a low level of morality.

In addition, stop the payment of high bonuses for all future,  because they have been the major factor that has attracted greedy, irresponsible  and dishonest SOB people to the company and made them disregard the interests of the clients and even deceive them. I think this is of vital importance for regaining the confidence of investors who are beginning to realize the disastrous connection between the Goldman Sachs type of harmful, deceptive behavior and unreasonably high bonuses.

As greed is key aspect of grave SOB it is natural that such types are strongly attracted by the possibilities of earning large salaries and huge bonuses in Wall Street companies  (greed is an extremely egoistic behavior with the purpose of compensating the lacking sense of inner security by hoarding money).

The size of bonuses has accelerated in the last two decades and is  now  14 times higher than 25 years ago (Wall Street bonuses vs normal vages, a disturbing trend, Huffington Post 03/18/2010). So naturally, the soicopathically inclined SEB-types are attracted to Wall Street and then it is virtually inevitable that they will take over.

I think the best solution to this problem would be to eliminate bonuses altoghether or at least limit their size greatly so as to stop attracting the most greedy SOB people in the US to Wall Street to alleviate disastrous consequences for the companies as well as for the nation as drastically illustrated in the latest financial crisis.

Investors beware of Wall Street!

Considering the well documented callously criminal behavior of many other Wall street banks and investment enterprises, it seems that the degeneration into  dominance of irresponsible, unemphatic and unethical SEB-type persons is in no way unique for Goldman Sachs, seeWall Street brain disorder. .

Thus investors have all the reasons to expect similar deceptive handling by financial advisors not hestitating to “rip of the clients” as occurs in Goldman Sachs according to Greg Smith.

SOB brings about bad judgment and is associated with defence mechanisms that cause an unrealistic perception of relevant conditions (it takes unhampered functioning of the forebrain cortex of “BEBs” to ensure good judgment and intelligent thinking). Therefore such bankers and investment advisers cannot be expected to be able to make the best financial decisions, rather the opposite is most likely, even if they are “smart” when it comes to designing fraudulent financial schemes.

Addition July 2012

The 20 billion dollar financial loss of JP Morgan this year, along with 9 other Banks making huge losses, is not surprising in view of what was said above. See Huffington Post “JP Morgan Chase lost 20 billion..” Considering the apparently high prevalence of SOB in Wall Street, it is likely that this brain dysfunction has contributed to the wrong decisions causing these huge losses.

An example of the opposite is Ray Dalio, ranked by Forbes as the worlds foremost “Hedge Fund guy”, see 40 highest-earning hedge fund managers. In 2008 when all other funds were having heavy losses, his funds were profitable.

To promote optimal functioning of his brain Dalio practices Transcendental Meditation that has a documented ability to eliminate SOB dominance and develop its opposite -“BEB”. Dalio reports that it has been of great value for his ability to make good decisions.

Conclusion

Time is highly overdue for replacing the irresponsible people leading the American financial enterprises in Wall street with people who have no brain disorder and will handle the money in a responsible and useful way for investors and to invest it for the best of  the country in stead of gambling with it. Until this has been done it is safer for investors to avoid the morally bankrupt, if not outrightly criminal Wall Street financial institutions with its obviously cognitively and morally  dysfunctional financial “experts”.

Jaan Suurküla, M.D.

Member of the advisory board of the Public Banking Institute

Wall Street brain disorder

Posted 2012/02/09

During the last few years several investigations have revealed severe criminal acts of Wall Street bankers. This has further confirmed the opinion expressed in my article “Economical crisis – impaired brain function a major cause“. The huge extent of this behavior is indicated by the recent article of the analyst Ellen Brown in in the Huffington Post (Feb 8) “America’s Shadow Banking System: A Web of Financial Fraud“.

Excerpt:

Obama administration [is].. pushing heavily to get the 50 state attorneys general to agree to a settlement with five major banks in the “robo-signing” scandal. The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed. Evidence reveals that it was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes. If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail — fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.

Ellen Brown’s analysis indicates that a major part of Wall Street has been involved in a huge financial scam that precipitated the financial crash in 2008.

The analyses of Brown and others indicate that the Wall Street bankers were very well aware of the fraudulent nature of their actions and their actions, as revealed by Brown, indicate that they have been trying to systematically cover up their criminality. This means that these people acted fraudulently, well aware of the high risk of throwing millions of people into severe suffering that an economic crash brings about.

Addition july 2012

The LIBOR scandal further confirms extensive fraud

In this scandal several major banks were involved in criminally fraudulent actions, see for example “The real Libor Scandal” by Paul Craig Roberts. Quote:

” ..the fixed Libor rate enabled them to improve their balance sheets, as well as help to perpetuate the regime of low interest rates. The last thing the banks want is a rise in interest rates that would drive down the values of their holdings and reveal large losses masked by rigged interest rates.

Indicative of greater deceit and a larger scandal than simply borrowing from one another at lower rates, banks gained far more from the rise in the prices, or higher evaluations of floating rate financial instruments (such as CDOs), that resulted from lower Libor rates.”

Wall Street – why an accumulation of sociopaths occurred

In the posting “Why companies decline..“, I maintain that certain selective mechanisms bring about the tendency for emotionally insecure people with Survival-Orientied Behhavior to accumulate in “mature companies”, bringing about a risk of decline. It seems likely that these mechanisms are present more than commonly in Wall Street banks.

Many Wall Street bankers seem to have an utter egoistic greed, ruthlessness, severe lack of empathy and responsibility, traits typical of the most severe degrees of SOB-behavior,  which commonly is called sociopathic demeanor, see “An especially unsuitable trait of a leader“. Brain investigation of sociopaths have found “functional holes” indicting zero activity in areas of the brain responsible for compassion, honesty, responsibility, good judgement, intelligence etc, see the image below.

The “High SOB” brain image shows typical “functional holes” indicating no activity in areas responsible for honesty, good judgement, compassion, intelligence. creativity etc.

The accumulation of such people in Wall Street is not surprising, as people with such traits are especially prone to compensate for their emotional insecurity (as explained in “Why companies decline..“) by seeking  jobs in an place that enables high incomes and power.

In turn, the accumulation of people with pronounced SOB automatically leads to a “company culture” accepting dishonesty and irresponsibility. Any kind of actions, however socially irresponsible or fraudulent, are accepted for satisfying the greed of these people as long as they can be shrouded in a system whose criminal nature is not immediately evident.

Addition 2012/03/15

Exactly the above situation is described by a former Goldman Sachs manager, who left the company because of its moral decline. In March 2012 he wrote a column in New York Times. Here is a quote:

“…It makes me ill how callously people [at Goldman Sachs] talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,”

(See also my posting “Why Goldman Sachs went morally bancrupt“)

People with healthy brain function (Balanced Emphatic Behavior) bringing about social responsibility, high level of ethics, empathy and adherence to high ethical standards cannot thrive in such an environment. No doubt a few may have been there hoping to manage to work without committing fraud, but such people are most unlikely to make any successful career because fraud has apparently been a key precondition for success. Most probably, as testified by some former Wall Street employees, they are likely to be sickened by the ruthless greed of their companions – a normal reaction of any person with healthy brain function, bringing about emphatic, responsible and honest behavior.

This is the plague of our modern social order: detached and corrupt leaders, whether intellectually, monetarily, or both. The old code of noblesse oblige, which at lead required the elites to have some concern about what happened to the lower orders, is a dead letter.

Economomonitor March 2013

.

Conclusion

In Wall Street, the accumulation of people with more or less pronounced sociopathic tendencies appears not to be a coincidence. It appears to be the consequence of a vicious circle where people have been attracted to the banks due to a personality disturbance causing pronounced greediness combined with low morality, bringing about socially irresponsible fraudulent behavior, which with the accumulation of such persons has permeated the Wall Street company culture and has become accepted  as a means for success,.

For a sound economic development, it is necessary to clean up Wall street from such criminal elements, however high-seated they are (be it CEOs and other leaders of major banks).

Otherwise their great economic power, combined with their shortsighted greed, irresponsibility and bad judgment will inevitably continue to throw the US as well as the world into new financial crises (see also “Economical crisis – impaired brain function a major cause“). Their absence of empathy will inevitably make them design “solutions” in crisis conditions that save their own skin (if not even profiting from it) at the expense of their customers and the taxpayers even if it would bring about great suffering to huge numbers of people.

Increased flight safety with “Crash proof” pilots

Are you aware that only few people are capable of keeping the mind cool under very stressful conditions? An inability to do so increases the  risk for flight crashes under pressing conditions.

Swedish Air Force  planes

The Swedish airforce realized this and developed the Defense Mechanism Test (DMT) in the early 1970-ies. It has been very successful in detecting people who are unable to keep calm under heavy stress. The consequence has been a dramatic decrease of flight crashes to virtually zero ever since the test was introduced over 30 years ago. A number of other Air Forces have followed suit in using DMT.

DMT should definitely be used for selecting passenger flight pilots as well. Some recent crashes might have been avoided..

The inadequate pilot behavior in the Air France crash – due to stressful behavior?

Part of the Air France plane

I think the Air France flight 447 crash in the Atlantic in 2009 illustrates the great importance of “crash-proof” pilots who can keep the mind cool under heavy stress.

It seems that inadequate pilot behavior under stress may have been a decisive factor causing the accident (especially as Air France has maintained that the pilots did have the training to handle this kind of situations).

The pilot seems to have acted in a stereotypical way, repeating the same inadequate response of lifting up the nose of the plane (because it was sinking) in stead of doing the counter-intuitive, but correct, opposite thing, to lower the nose of the plane, which would have saved them according to the analysis of the accident. This is very typical of mind “blowout” under high stress, causing the inability to apply learned knowledge in an adequate and insightful manner. It was exactly this kind of behavior that caused the high rate of fighter plane crashes in the Swedish Airforce before DMT was used for selection. Such mistakes dramatically disappeared after DMT was introduced for pilot selection.

Addition July 2012

The official crash report of July 5, 2012, concluded that pilot errors contributed to the crash. It confirms my suspicions expressed above,  see for example Huffington Post and CNN from where this clip is quoted:

“Despite these persistent symptoms, the crew never understood they were in a stall situation and therefore never undertook any recovery maneuvers.”

This quote from the comment by Bill Voss, a top US flight safety expert in CNN is especially telling:

“The autopilot shut itself off when the air speed indicators failed and the plane “handed itself” to the co-pilot. For the next several minutes, it should have been a pretty benign situation, but the flight crew made some inexplicable decisions and ultimately the plane crashed in the ocean.”

The symptoms were there, indicating stall, but inability to act calmly and rationally under stress is a probable reason why they were unable to make the right conclusions and in stead made “inexplicable decisions”.

Addition: For more details on this accident see the later posting Air France 447 crash – such mistakes can be prevented

I find it remarkable that the DMT has not been used more widely in spite of its proven usefulness.

Why are inadequate tests still used?

The reason why several air forces as well as civilian aviation companies still use traditional tests may be due to some conservatism in test psychologists as well as of lack of appreciation of the difficulty of detecting stress-proneness.

The Swedish Air Force has been more realistic, finding that conventional psychological tests are much too insensitive to reveal such hidden disturbances. After having 20-25 crashes every year in spite of using the best tests available, and psychologist interviews in addition, they realized that a different test approach is necessary. This proved correct and the result was a dramatic decrease to a few accidents per decade and these were mostly due to mechanic problems.

It is time for test psychology to learn from the Swedish Air Force in stead of holding on to inadequate testing methods. Otherwise it is only a matter of time before more accidents due to inadequate pilot behavior occur.

A number of civilian crashes may have occurred due to defense mechanisms

It seems reasonable to suspect that a number of flight accidents in civilian aviation have occurred due to inadequate pilot behavior under stress.

Polish Tu-154 crash

For example, the crash of the Polish flight Tu-154, killing the president and several top people, seems suspicious.

It is hard to believe that a pilot who is mentally well balanced and clear-minded because of freedom from defense mechanisms would have carried through an attempt to land in spite of serious warnings from the airport due to the difficult weather conditions. It seems that he may have bagatellized or misinterpreted the information so as to find it OK to carry trough a landing that was too risky.

This is exactly the kind of dangerous behavior that defense mechanisms bring about. And it was exactly this kind of behavior that disappeared in the Swedish Air Force through the selection of pilots free from defense mechanisms.

Conclusion

It is time for Civilian Aviation companies to increase the psychological safety level to that of the Swedish Air Force. Don’t listen to test psychologists who hold on to traditional tests. Go by the experience from Sweden that clearly proves that traditional testing methods are inadequate. The DMT represents an important innovation, whose usefulness and reliability has been well confirmed.

Racism, a brain disorder that can be cured

Brain research opens up for a deeper understanding

The new understanding of advanced brain research makes it possible to understand how racistic behavior can appear..So far, racism has been attributed to a number of factors including fear of the unfamiliar, weak self-esteem, lack of compassion, lack of empathy. For example, Elaine Sihera, emotional health author:

Racist people tend to feel insignificant,      isolated, wronged and unloved and they    remedy that feeling of exclusion by blaming  someone else for it…

I agree with all this, but below I will show that these characteristics have a common denominator:.

A functional brain disorder

Racistic traits and behavioral tendencies can be explained as an expression of a brain response that is elicited by the conscious of subconscious feeling of fear or being threatened:

  • Threat automatically elicits the Stress Response in the brain, which switches on the Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB) pattern that is governed by midbrain centers. Some common features of SOB are
    • Aggressiveness, ruthlessness, tendency for brutality
    • Impulsiveness, difficult to control anger
    • Lack of compassion, empathy
    • Strong egoism (a key survival feature)
    • Dishonesty, unreliability, low ethical standards (due to inconsiderate egoism and lack of empathy)
  • People that are emotionally insecure are especially prone to feel threatened in ordinary life conditions. Weak self-confidence is stronly associated with emotional insecurity.
  • Emotional insecurity comes from traumatic or disharmonious experiences mainly in childhood (parental conflicts, divorce, lack of love etc).

The Authoritarian Personality

It is the most pronounced form of this brain dysfunction.  Its key traits are caused by their insecurity and anxiety, which brings about conscious or subconscious strategies to reduce or suppress anxiety by increasing the feeling of security (these strategies may be so successful that the person does not experience anxiety consciously). The most important strategy is predictability-increasing behavior which includes:

  • Intolerance and aggression against unfamiliar behavior. Such behaviors feel unpredictable, and therefore they evoke uncomfortable feelings of insecurity and anxiety in insecure persons. This tends to cause aggressive coping behavior such as:
  • Persecuting, scapegoating or harrassing people from other ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, and others whose behavior deviates from familiar patterns and norms.
  • Strong allegiance to conventional norms. The insecure persons tend to be strongly adherent to conventional norms, because these provide a framework that increases predictability. Actually, they tend to obey the prevailing norms very ambitiously, because this increases the chances of being widely accepted in society (or at least the part of it they want to identify themselves with), which increases their feeling of security. From the conventionalism follows:
  • Resistance to unfamiliar or unconventional ideas. The need for predictability causes a resistance to anything that can change familiar conditions in society, that is a pronounced conservatism.
  • Proneness for prejudices. The rigid adherence to preformed opinions is a kind of defense mechanism that helps to fend off (anxietyprovoking) unfamiliar ideas or views that challenge the world view that the person has established and strongly wants to conserve.
  • Avoidance of ambiguity. Ambiguous and complex information enhances the sense of insecurity. Therefore these persons want to simplify their perception of the world so as to have few nuances, either black or white, either good or bad, etc
  • Preference for authoritarian beliefs and ideologies. To increase the sense of security and predictability, the person prefers ideologies and creeds that provide simple and authoritative answers to world problems. Therefore they are prone to religious dogmatism and fundamentalism, as well as political (left or right) extremism including racistic ideologies.

For more, see  The Authoritarian Personality

and Survival-Oriented-Behavior

Peer pressure and propaganda are not primary causes

Some believe people can become racists through peer pressure, parental upbringing and propaganda.  I do agree that people with Survival-Oriented-Behavior or Authoritarian Personality are likely to fall prey to racistic propaganda and peer pressure.

But I don’t believe that this can bring about the behaviors above without the presence of mid-brain-dominated Survival-Oriented-Behavior or Authoritarian Personality disorder. This is because when the brain is not midbrain-dominated, it is forebrain-dominated, which brings about the Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior pattern (see next heading).

Such people are fundamentally emphatic and loving, resistant to dehumanizing influences. Their behavior is not the result of “good upbringing” or “strong adherence to positive values”, but the consequence of brain function pattern that is fundamentally different from the SOB pattern:

There are many documented examples of people who have resisted intense systematic propaganda and peer pressure, for example in Nazi Germany. Among these, the German businessman, Oskar Schindler, who took great presonal risks in saving over 1500 jews from the gas chambers, is most famous because of the film “Schindler’s list“.

Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior, the opposite of SOB

This is a behavior pattern that appears when the forebrain dominates the behavior which occurs when the stress-level is low because of a high threshold to stress. Some of its key traits are:

  • Friendliness – does not use aggression as a means of solving issues.
  • Strong empathy. “Good heart” – cares for the suffering and difficulties of unfortunate.
  • Mental stability, calmness, “coolness” even under pressure,
  • Tolerance. Positively accepts people of other races and cultures, however unfamiliar and “unpredictable” they are, and finds it interesting and stimulating to interact with them.
  • Altruistic (un-egoistic).
  • High moral standards, trustworthy, avoids lies for achieving his goals.
  • Strong integrity, holds on to his convictions even under pressure.
  • Inner security – can handle the unexpected. BEB persons are fundamentally secure and take unpredictable and unexpected situations as stimulating challenges without any impairment of mental performance because there will be no interference from the survival centres.

For more, see “Balanced-Empthatic-Behavior

The cure of racism

What needs to be done is to eliminate that dehumanizing survival-oriented behavior that is controlled by the lower level brain centers that we have in common with reptiles and similar low-level animals (some brain scientists call them the “reptile brain”). We need to restore the dominance of the forebrain, the seat of the finest human traits, the Balanced-Empthatic-Behavior.

Psychologists know from experience that this is really difficult to achieve with conventional psychoterapy that takes many years to bring about a development in the direction of Balanced-Empthatic-Behavior.

The medical director of Oregon state prison indicates a solution, finding that a special technique brings about empathy in criminals who are known to commonly have pronounced SOB if not Authoritarian Personality disorder. He said in a Youtube video:

“you can’t teach compassion to a person but there is something about TM that brings out compassion”

This observation is not unique regarding this technique, Transcendental Meditation (TM). Scientific studies have confirmed that TM can promote the development of increased Balanced-Empthatic-Behavior even in former High Security Prisoners (one study reported about 50% lower receidivism among them during 5 years of follow-up).

A world-renowned american psychiatrist, professor Norman Rosenthal, former chief scientist at the National Institute of Health in the US has documented the effects of TM in his book “Transcendence“. He says about the scientifically well documented stress-reducing effects of TM:

Professor Norman Rosenthal

“if TM were a pill, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster.”

Norman Rosenthal, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, retired chief scientist at NIH

Source: Huffington Post interview

Conclusion

The understanding how stress alters behavior provides a unifying basis for understanding racism, as its behavioral elements are characteristic of the pattern of brain functioning elicited by stress, the “Survival-Oriented-Behavior “. The key causal factor is emotional insecurity that upholds chronic stress and consequent SOB that brings about the hostility, intolerance and lack of empathy characteristic of racistic behavior.

Thus, the SOB pattern including racism is not an inherent “bad behavior” and not an “ideology”, it is a response pattern that prevails when a person is insecure.

Therefore, racism can be eliminated by improving the sense of inner security. This would automatically decrease the SOB-tendencies in favor of the behavioral pattern of “Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior” which is prevalent when a person consciously or subconsciously does not feel threatened.

Fortunately there exists a simple, generally available technique, Transcendental Meditation (TM), that enables the development of Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior by strengthening the sense of inner security. In the comment by Tom Barlow you find a striking anecdotal illustration of a “cure” from racistic intolerance through TM.

____________________________________

More about Transcendental Meditation (TM) :

Why companies decline – a new understanding

(Published on Feb 18, 2011. Last updated on Dec 14, 2017)

A well-known problem in business life is that companies tend to lose their initial vitality and creativity after a period of growth and stability, ending in a decline of the company which may defy attempts to save it. So far, the reason for this phenomenon has been considered more or less “mysterious” and there has not been any really effective remedy.

I have found reasons to believe that a so far overlooked mechanism may be the root cause of the problem in perhaps a majority of cases, although of course, other factors may contribute. This issue can be solved when the cause is as proposed (which I believe is mostly the case) and the decline can be prevented.

This understanding is based mainly on:

  • My experiences as an Occupational Health consultant, which included working for a multinational company
  • Experiences from 7 years as an adviser and appeal court expert witness in hundreds of occupational health cases of a major association of labor unions (often I got an insight into the workings of the management when I investigated the court case.)
  • Experiences of two top-level business consultants (friends of mine) who have been dealing with reanimation attempts of failing companies.
  • My experiences since over 30 years from dealing with stress-related disorders as well as from research on chronic stress and its effects.

Three phases of a company life cycle

Corporate life cycle

[Diagram copied from Bersin&Associates with permission]

This is the “classical” pattern based on the experience of many companies.

  1. In the upstart, the company is in a creative, entrepreneurial phase where there is a significant risk of failure.
  2. Thereafter comes the maturity phase where it has established itself on the market and functions in a stable and adequate way when it comes to satisfying the needs of the market. The company has turned into a safe workplace for the employees.
  3. This is sooner or later followed by a decline phase ending in company death unless radical measures are taken. Factors that often has contributed to the decline are the loss of creativity, flexibility, and alertness to the market trends, resulting in too late or inadequate adaption to changing market conditions requiring creative renewal or change of the product range. Some consultants dealing with this problem have noted that the declining company has lost its creative freshness and has turned bureaucratic.

To prevent decline, managements have tried moving top managers to different positions, employing new company leaders, dividing the company into smaller, independent units, retraining the managers, using manager coaching etc. Mostly these measures had had only partial if any, success.  The reason is that they have not addressed what I think is the root cause in most cases.

The overlooked difference

On the basis of experiences and observations as declared above, I am proposing that a decisive factor leading to decline is a change in the psychological makeup of people seeking employment as managers in the company in the different phases.

Because a company in the entrepreneurial phase is a more insecure place, they tend to attract emotionally secure people because these are less bothered by the risk of company failure.

In the maturity phase, however, more insecure people are attracted to the same company because it seems to be a safe place. Such people are more stress-prone.  For this reason, a gradual increase may occur of managers with stress-related suboptimal brain functioning (please note that even moderate, often unnoticeable, stress can affect the brain).

This may not sound very dramatic but it can lead to a gradually increasing and ultimately destructive decline. I will explain this in detail below.

Entrepreneurial phase

In the entrepreneurial phase, people who like challenges, daring to take the risk of losing their job due to project failure are most likely to thrive in the management. Such people tend to be significantly more creative, secure, confident than the average person. They tend to have a low anxiety level, caring more about stimulating work conditions than money and a safe job. These traits are characteristic of Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior (BEB) which is associated with low stress-proneness. For a full understanding of this article, I recommend you to read about BEB here if you have not read about it before.

Maturity phase

Not until the company reaches the maturity phase, people who prefer stable, successful companies will want to get employed.

Such people are more likely to be insecure (weak “emotional basic trust”) with proneness for conscious or suppressed anxiety. Insecurity makes people care more about status, high income, and safe employment because this reduces their anxiety.

Such people tend to be less creative, more rigid, more assertion-oriented (prestige/status-fixed), overtly or covertly aggressive and more or less dishonest. These traits are characteristic of Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB) which is not an inherited trait, but an acquired alteration of brain function associated with high-stress-proneness. I recommend you to read about SOB here if you have not read about it before.

For reasons explained below, BEB people are less likely to seek employment in a company that has reached the maturity phase.

The inapparent start of the decline

I am suggesting that the decline starts when the there is an increase of SOB-dominated people in the management to such an extent that the BEB-people lose influence. Such a change would not be obvious, even to those in charge of employing people, because the SOB problem is mostly concealed. Even the SOB-persons themselves are mostly unaware of it or don’t recognize their problem.

The reason why a shift may occur towards SOB-dominance can be understood from a social-psychological viewpoint:

BEB-people are by nature non-assertive, non-aggressive and thrive in a positive, friendly atmosphere that enables them to apply their creativity without unnecessary restrictions and bureaucratic formalities.

When SOB people enter the company, they do so in order to increase their incomes (thereby their security) and make a career. So they are intent on aggressively asserting themselves.

When SOB people are approaching leading positions, their nature is such that may not hesitate to use unfair and unethical methods to bypass the BEBs.

The critical conflict transforming the company

When SOB people have reached leading positions,  subordinate BEB people tend to leave the company. This occurs for different reasons.

SOB people are “bureaucracy-minded” – they want full control and thereby they tend to restrict the flow of creativity and innovation in the company. This is because SOBs want maximum security, and therefore resist change – they feel secure and fine when things are as usual. Therefore they tend to consciously or subconsciously resist innovative solutions. This creates frustration in BEB persons whose creativity makes them the main innovators in the company.

Moreover, the SOBs experience BEB persons as potential threats in the competition for higher positions because of their greater brilliance and creativity. So the BEB-persons experience that they are less appreciated if not suppressed by their new SOB-superiors.

As BEBs are not very career-minded and assertive and prefer constructive and friendly cooperation in a creative, non-bureaucratic atmosphere, they tend to leave the company when SOBs are taking over.

For the same reason, the likelihood for new BEB people to seek employment will decrease the more there is of SOB-dominance. BEB people are usually good at grasping the situation realistically and are likely to avoid seeking employment in a SOB-dominated company when sensing the rigid, anti-creative, formalistic and bureaucratic mentality.

The probability for SOB-dominance to develop in a company is considerable, because most people in modern societies are more or less in the SOB state, see footnote “Air Force experiences about SOB”.

The most harmful personality makeup

People with pronounced SOB have a personality makeup that is especially harmful to a company. I call them the “Authoritarian personality”.  They are anxiety-laden to a considerable extent. They are often unaware of their anxiety or can effectively conceal it even to skilled psychologists as well as in common psychological tests (this was the reason why the Swedish Air Force developed the “Defense Mechanism Test“, a test that effectively reveals this disturbance that makes pilots prone to make dangerous mistakes under stress).

Their anxiety and related inner insecurity create a strong urge to maximize the sense of security by being “in control” of their situation. Therefore, they aggressively fight for arriving at the very top of the organization, the position of greatest control. Often they skilfully hide these tendencies until they reach the goal.

I don’t think power corrupts, I think power reveals a corrupt mind – which becomes manifest when safely established.

I believe it is not a coincidence that many dictators are typical exponents of the Authoritarian personality disturbance, often to an extreme degree.

Their strong need to establish outer security makes them abhor unpredictability in every sense. They want maximal possible bureaucratic and secret service control and precise, inflexible planning.

They want people to conform and to obey orders without questioning them.

They love people of the same kind because they are conformists and therefore predictable. They want people who don’t think independently but follow orders slavishly without questioning them.

 “I don’t want men who think; I want men who know.” 

Emperor Julius Cesar. (“Knowing” in this quote means probably the unquestioned acceptance of established truths and conventions).

The Authoritarian types tend to have a strong aversion to BEB people because the creativity and self-confidence of the latter make them think independently, questioning inadequate management decisions, and behave in a non-conformist way. This creative unpredictability evokes “bad feelings about the person”, in the pronounced SOB types.  Therefore they want to get rid of BEB-people without realizing that the reason for their dislike lies in their own intolerance against unpredictability.

As BEB-people are unaggressive, they don’t take strife but tend to leave an organization or a department where an Authoritarian type is in the top.

For more about the Authoritarian personality type, see “An especially unsuitable trait” .

The destructive effects of SOB dominance

Gradually, with an increasing SOB dominance, or quite rapidly if an authoritarian SOB type acquires the CEO position, the psychological makeup of people in the management is likely to shift from BEB-dominated to SOB-dominated persons.

Thereby, the company loses its creative competence more and more. The BEBs who remain, find increasing difficulties to influence the policy and business strategy of the company and to make the leadership accept their innovative ideas.

Moreover, the SOB persons, especially the extreme SOB types, have important weaknesses that increase the risk of precipitating a decline. Their avoidance of unpredictability makes them rigidly conservative, resisting change in every sense. They tend to force their plans and strategies on to reality rather than to adapt to the situation in a realistic way. Therefore they tend to be too late in making decisions necessary for adaptation to changing market and competition conditions.

In addition, their brains work sub-optimally, with less clarity of mind and with faltering judgment, especially because of defense mechanisms that make them prone to underestimate or misinterpret threats (see Defense Mechanism Test). So they tend to make important mistakes that may further enhance the progression of the decline.

Psychopaths are the extreme variety of SOB, exhibiting many authoritarian personality traits. The absence of empathy with callous ruthless and highly egoistic behavior is especially characteristic. These tendencies are already found in SOB but in a less pronounced degree.

Addition dec 7, 2013. FBI has published a good description of the Corporate Psychopath.

Major companies run the greatest risk

These companies are most likely to be targeted by the most disturbed authoritarian SOB types. The reason is that this mentality brings about a strong prestige- and status-orientation. Also, famous companies create the greatest feeling of safety in these neurotically security-seeking types.

They are, since childhood, experts on making themselves popular being highly skillful and dishonest manipulators (because such strategies, when successful, increase the feeling of being “in control” and secure as explained in my article on the authoritarian type). So they are skillful in making a good impression.

Their strong suppressed anxiety presses them to study extremely hard so as to lay the foundation for a top position (mentally sound BEB persons are unlikely to expose themselves to such incredible hardships – if they are successful in school, it is due to their brilliance). With their impressive qualifications and charming and winning demeanor they can rapidly manipulate themselves up through the hierarchy (I have seen such cases going all the way to the top in a few years).

When they reach the top, they are likely to kick out BEB-persons very soon and consolidate SOB dominance at all levels of management and so the company runs the risk of rapid decline, which is difficult to prevent unless a wise board understands that this charming and highly qualified CEO is the cause of the trouble, although he has been able to conceal that, being an expert manipulator and a ruthless liar, convincingly blaming everybody else.

The greatest danger to the company is that, if a pronounced SOB-person or psychopath is the CEO, he may, due to defense mechanisms, or because of his strong prestige-mindedness, actively conceal or downplay serious threats and problems to the company before themselves and the board so that decisions to make necessary changes to save the company occur too late.

For more see the posting “The danger of Corporate Psychopaths”.

Illustrative cases

The Apple Computer Inc case

The developments in the Apple (McIntosh computer) company seem to be an illustrative example.  When Steve Jobs left the company in 1985, Peter Drucker said the problem, was that Jobs didn’t adequately understand the discipline of management. The board asked for more “order” and traditional administration

Comment I. Drucker, a traditional management consultant, emphasized the importance of formal administrative leadership.

After Jobs left the company, the chief executives well versed in “the discipline of management” nearly ran the company into the ground and it lost more and more of its innovative air.

Comment 2. So much for the “management discipline” style that evidently emphasized bureaucratic non-innovative leadership of SOB kind.

Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and after that the company regained the innovative, entrepreneurial style, soaring from near bankruptcy to huge success, pouring out a number of innovations making it the market leader in different market sectors including cellphones and media players.

Comment 3. This example demonstrates the great value of upholding “entrepreneurial” leadership and the danger of letting bureaucratic administrative managers take over. That is – upholding BEB-dominance and not letting SOB-dominant people lead the company.

Jobs is described as a “transformational leader”, he focused on “transforming” others to help each other, to look out for each other, to encourage each other, to  cooperate harmoniously, and to look out for the organization as a whole (Source: Jobs leadership)

Comment 4. This indicates a BEB-kind of mentality. Caring for and supporting each other in harmonious cooperation are important BEB-indicators in addition to the great innovative talent of Jobs.

Conclusion: Steve Jobs seems to be predominantly BEB (though some indicate Jobs had some behavior that might be of the SOB kind, this does not exclude that he is predominantly BEB – few are “perfectly BEB”). As long as he led the company it flourished and expanded (except during an economic recession). It is probable that more and more of SOB people were attracted to the company when its success was established and it is probable that these were uncomfortable with the unpredictable and unconventional BEB-leadership of Jobs. It is known that such dissatisfaction in his subordinates was the key reason for his dismissal as the leader of the company (their description of the situation may have been tainted by the need to justify their actions so it is probably not quite reliable). When Jobs returned and brought back his BEB leadership style and focus on innovative solutions, Apple soared…

Addition Oct 28, 2011

Will the new CEO Tim Cook manage to maintain the success? I spotted a quote “[Tim Cook] also spoke about the importance of intuition and told students that “you can’t plan for a predictable life.”” (USA Today). This may indicate BEB dominance as well as the fact that he has been a very well organized person with a great work capacity and is known for his excellent judgment. Moreover, it is likely that Jobs recommended a like-minded CEO. This is not enough for a definite judgment but the preliminary impression is that he may be predominantly BEB, and if so, it bodes well for the future of the company.

This is not enough for a definite judgment but the preliminary impression is that he may be predominantly BEB, and if so, it bodes well for the future of the company.

The Goldman Sachs case

This is a very illustrative case revealed by the former top executive Greg Smith. When he left the company in March 2012 he wrote a column in New York times that closely revealed the destructive change that had occurred in the finance company Goldman Sachs in New York. When he started to work there, he describes a culture dominated by BEB-values but gradually it degenerated to a pronounced SOB-pattern with an accumulation of what he calls “morally bankrupt people”.

This development is not surprising. As greed (an egoistic behavior with the purpose of compensating the lacking sense of inner security by hoarding money) is a key aspect of grave SOB, it is natural that such types are strongly attracted by the possibilities of earning large salaries and huge bonuses in Wall Street companies.

Because it is so telling, I have made a separate posting out of this case, see “Why Goldman Sachs went morally bankrupt“.


The Blackberry case

Here I have only indirect data that may indicate a SOB-problem.

The mobile phone manufacturer Blackberry was one of the leading ones, only a few years ago, dominating the corporate market. But it has very rapidly plunged to a very low market share.

Analysts find that the leadership of Blackberry did not adapt in time to the changing trends in the cell phone market. It held on to its once highly successful technology for a too long time and introduced adaptive changes too late, underestimating the potential of touch-phones. Blackberry was generally very conservative, holding on to its initially greatly successful design:

“If you just look at a typical BlackBerry phone, it’s really hard to tell a new one from one from five years ago. The form factor is the same,”.. “From my perspective, they’re just not keeping up.”

Source: The Decline of Blackberrry. For more see also for example “The reason for the Blackberry decline” and “BlackBerry: Five key moments in its decline

An insider article reveals one more SOB pattern in addition to the SOB-suspicious resistance to change and renewal. It reported the presence of a need for tight control over developers:

“RIM exerted tight control over developers before it would sign off on their apps for use on BlackBerrys, stifling creativity. “Developers wanted to be embraced, not controlled,”

Source: “Inside the fall of Blackberry”

Without direct information of the behavior of managers, it is not possible to make a definite judgment. One can only conclude that the above-mentioned patterns could be the result of SOB dominance among key managers. Anyway, the catastrophic Blackberry decay illustrates how disastrous SOB-type behavioral patterns can be, even if it is not sure that the managers really were SOB in this case.


Why IBM was declining

My impression about the immediate cause of the problems, from studying some commentators, is that the former CEO, Palmetto,  too rigidly held on to the principle of making IBM a “cash machine” for the major stock owners. This brought about relentless cost-cutting far beyond healthy levels.

The indications of a SOB-pattern here were so convincing and the behavior very illustrative so I wrote a so long story about it that has been posted separately, see: Why IBM is declining. Here only a truncated version of the conclusion is included:

Conclusion

IBM suffered heavily from the regime of a former SOB-type CEO. The company culture seems to have been SOB predominant for decades.

I think, with such a pronounced SOB pattern, the only chance of effectively revitalizing the company is to profoundly transform it to a BEB-dominant one, starting with a thorough make-over of the top and middle management and inviting competent and creative BEB-type technical experts who probably left when the SOB-atmosphere became too “stuffy” unless they were fired, to save money, by the former CEO.

It seems that the new CEO, Virginia Rometty, may be predominantly BEB which bodes well for IBM. Rometty has as it seems, achieved a considerable strategic turnaround. To implement it successfully, she needs to ensure that not too many SOB people stand in the way delaying and obfuscating the implementation. Establishing a BEB-fostering culture would be very useful.

 Turning decline into successful revitalization

This section is being reformulated and will be moved to a separate post that will be published later. (Why not subscribe to the blog to get a notification)


Discussion

It may be objected that competition from new, better products, may be an important contributor to decline in some cases. No doubt this may be true for SOB companies.

However, a BEB-dominated company, with its inherent flexibility and creativity, is able to adapt rapidly to new technological changes. Samsung is a successful example, transforming rapidly to a strong smartphone competitor to Apples iPhone. Blackberry is the opposite, holding on to outdated technology far too long and thereby rapidly diving from a top position to the verge of bankruptcy.

Moreover, a creative (BEB-dominated) company is likely to be able to develop new products that keep them “ahead of the pack”, provided the company has enough financial power to develop new competitive models or to switch to other innovative products. Steve Jobs of Apple computer I think is an excellent example of this when he used the Mac and iPod experience for entering the mobile phone business in a situation when the computer section did not show a significant growth potential.

So the key issue is still mental (BEB/SOB) in the case of new technologies – the ability to flexibly adapt to, or to foresee important changes of the market situation – it is here that a creative and flexible BEB-dominated company has a great advantage over the conservative and uncreative SOB-dominated one.

I have experienced that, sometimes when I have pointed out an obvious case of this kind, the directors completely fail to understand. It reminds of the inability of a mentally ill person to realize that he is ill. I think this may be an ominous sign, that may indicate, according to my experience, a dangerous level of SOB dominance in the leaders, because this brings about mental rigidity with a resistance to changing views and understandings even before fairly obvious signals. Psychological Defense Mechanisms that are active in the SOB condition are likely to contribute to an unrealistic appraisal of the situation because they make people downplay, distort or ignore information that generates conscious or subconscious anxiety.

As BEB is possible to identify and to develop, I think promoting BEB should be a major issue in all companies not only for preventing decline but for enabling continued and growing success because it depends on creativity, flexibility, realism and dynamism – that all are BEB-traits.

Summary

A change of the traits in top management people can cause the transformation of a company from success to decline and death. I think this is the most common reason for this problem.

This transformation occurs when the creative, flexible, secure and non-assertive entrepreneurial type “BEB” personalities, that are attracted to the company management in the risky start phase, get “crowded out” in the maturity phase by people who seek employment because they want security and prestige. These people are not very creative, insecure, aggressive and assertive career-seekers with rigid minds (“SOB-types”). So with “SOB-dominance”, the company loses its “vital nerve”, the creativity, flexibility, and adaptability. The probability for this to happen is considerable, not only because SOB-s are attracted to successful companies, but because most people in modern societies are more or less in a SOB-condition.

Especially if a new CEO is employed is an authoritarian type there is a risk for rapid company death because he may tend to delay necessary measures to a too late stage due to faltering judgment because of defence mechanisms that prevent a realistic assessment of the situation.

If SOB- dominance is the cause, which I think mostly is the case, the decline of a company can most effectively be prevented through proper measures aimed at shifting from a dominance of  SOB-type managers to BEB-type manager dominance. This effect could be further enhanced by creating a BEB-supportive company culture and applying a technique for developing increased BEB in the employees. This would be the most effective way to revert the situation.

The best-documented technique for this purpose is Transcendental Meditation (TM),  and experience from companies using it confirms that it works well in practice. See for example: “Performance in the workplace“. The most renowned CEOs who have introduced TM to all employees are Ray Dalio of Bridgewater and Oprah Winfrey, both reporting very positive results.


Addition Oct 8, 2011

Political parties run the same risk

For obvious reasons precisely the same transformation from open democracy to totalitarian rule may occur in a political party, especially when its leader has achieved a ruling position in the country and it seems secure not to hide his totalitarian intentions anymore.

There are numerous examples of democratic parties whose leaders, when achieving a ruling position as a president or prime minister have developed a totalitarian rule. In western Europe, where the democratic tradition is strong, it is more likely that this does not occur. Instead, it is more likely that the party declines in an analogous way as an “over-mature” business, losing its appeal due to lack of creativity and adaptability as a result of being abandoned by BEB people.

Footnotes

Air Force experiences about SOB

In the 1970-ies I became involved in a project dealing with SOB cases in the Swedish Air Force. Their experience was that almost all flight crashes occurred because the pilot panicked. The very best psychological tests were unable to detect this weakness. So every year there was over 20 flight crashes due to “pilot errors”. A new test was developed, “Defense Mechanism Test” (ad modum Neumann). It turned out to be 100% effective. Since this test was introduced, flight crashes became very rare,  a few a decade and almost never due to pilot errors.

It is interesting to note that, out of 8-900 applicants, the Air Force has had difficulties in finding sufficient numbers to fill the annual quota of 20 non-SOB combat pilot trainees.

The Air Force tested the effect of Transcendental Meditation (TM) with DMT, and found that it had a remarkable ability to heal SOB.

For more see:

Pitfalls in detecting SOB

This note is addressed especially to anyone who might want to “tidy up” the company on the basis of my hints and without proper testing.
1. Needless to say, there may be other motives for seeking an employment in an established company than SOB-insecurity, for example, a responsible father or mother wanting to establish secure financial preconditions for their children.
2. Creative persons tend to be more sensitive, more emotional and may have some tendency for anxiety without being really SOB. They can even be BEB to some degree, even if further evolution has a stabilizing and anxiety-eliminating effect.
So eliminating any anxious or emotional person may be throwing out the baby with the bath-water, perhaps losing some of the most valuable creative elements in the company.
3. Some persons may be conservative by nature, without being SOB. This is characteristic of the “flegmatic” personality, which corresponds largely to “kapha” in the Ayurvedic classification of body/personality types, which is the most advanced and profound personality classification that I have found. A good kapha is a valuable asset to a company, in the right position, because of his stability, persistence and high performance capacity.  He is suitable for taking care of administrative departments like economy and assets administration. Because of his conservative, not very creative nature, he should not be involved in, for example, product development and marketing. It might be a good idea to involve an Ayurveda expert in the selection of employees.

Conclusion

These are just a few notes to indicate that qualified testing and good knowledge of personality types is required for optimal selection and usage of the human resources in the company when it comes to restoring it from the decline caused by SOB-dominance.
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Copyright 2011, Jaan Suurküla. This article may be quoted provided it includes a reference to the source like this:

Quoted from Suurkula, J, “Why companies decline – a new understanding” at https://drgrandville2.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/why-companies-decline-a-new-understandin/

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Ethical behavior based on brain physiology?

In my youth, I studied some Practical Philosophy at the University. Ethics was an important part of the curriculum. The discussion was much about what motivates people to follow ethical norms.

Social feedback is not a primary cause

A key tenet was that the social context – feedback from society – has a morality-upholding effect.

I remember a drastic example used to support this opinion. It was about experiences from chaotic war situations where the social structures had collapsed. It was observed that many usually well-adjusted people behaved in an appalling ruthless and hyper egoistic way, looting, stealing, battering etc. The philosophers took this as evidence for their social-context-related morality theory. However, there is another, more likely explanation of this inhumane behavior.

Stress can elicit unethical, ruthless behavior

As described in the article “Survival-Oriented-Behavior” (SOB), the brain is wired so that when one feels threatened, primitive areas in the middle of the brain take over the control over one’s behavior. It virtually becomes “dehumanized”, with the survival instinct as the key orchestrator of behavior.

In a pronounced SOB-state, that is elicited by such severe dangers as in a war situation, the person becomes hyper egoistically oriented at ensuring his own survival without caring about anybody else, in the worst case not even about the family. This brings about precisely the primitive, aggressive, ruthless and amoral behavior observed in war and other situations of great danger.

Low stress level – the basis of ethical behavior

It has been observed that even under the greatest danger and stressful conditions some rare persons have been able to avoid dehumanization and have, through their humane, compassionate and calm demeanor, been able to calm and uplift the people around him.

This behavior, that we call “Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior” is opposite to SOB. Evidently, some people have the ability to resist even a high level of stress and so uphold BEB.

BEB brings about compassion, “a good heart”, which is the emotional basis for ethical behavior.

This pattern, including the ability to remain calm even under the most severe stress,  was already described in ancient Vedic scriptures as characteristic of “Enlightenment”, the highest levels of human development. In modern times, the psychologist Abraham Maslow was one of the first to rediscover this personality pattern which he called “self-actualization”. Brain research has found that this pattern appears when the prefrontal brain dominates behavior.

Some of its characteristics are:

  • Mental stability, calmness, “coolness” even under pressure, high stress tolerance.
  • Friendliness – does not use aggression as a means of solving issues.
  • Empathy – compassion. “Good heart” – cares for the suffering and difficulties of unfortunate.
  • Responsible, considerate.
  • Altruistic (un-egoistic).
  • High moral standards, trustworthy, avoids lies for achieving his goals.
  • Strong integrity, holds on to his convictions even under pressure.
  • Excellent judgment and clarity of mind, with a superior ability to realistically perceive all relevant aspects of a problem.
  • Creative, curious and open to new ideas and solutions.
  • Inner security – can handle the unexpected. BEB persons are fundamentally secure and take unpredictable and unexpected situations as stimulating challenges without any impairment of mental performance because there will be no interference from the survival centers.
  • Tolerance. Positively accepts people of other races and cultures, however unfamiliar and “unpredictable” they are, and finds it interesting and stimulating to interact with them.

Modern developmental psychology has followed up Abraham Maslow’s work and today the state of self-actualization, with characteristics as above, is well established.

It has been observed that people with damage in the frontal brain areas due to trauma or disease can drastically change their demeanor from more BEB style to SOB style. Some cases of well-adapted persons with frontal brain tumors have even turned ruthless and criminals. Damage to frontal brain areas is actually found in many criminals.

Restoration of stress tolerance can restore compassion

On the other hand, criminal people who have learned a technique that effectively increases stress tolerance have turned compassionate. Their recidivism has decreased considerably. In one study of high-security prisoners that were followed for 3 years after release, there was an almost 50% lower recidivism than among controls. This is the more remarkable as such people mostly are heavily entangled in criminal networks from where it is difficult to escape.

Below you find a video with a statement of the chief physician of Oregon state prisons illustrating this point (inserted because I think you may find it hard to believe it):

Conclusion

It seems that morality is primarily dependent on the mode of brain function. When it is midbrain-dominated, the low-morality-associated SOB pattern appears, while when prefrontal-cortex dominates, the compassionate high-morality-associated BEB pattern appears. The key decisive factor here is apparently the level of stress and stress tolerance.

In chronical stress, a corresponding persistent SOB pattern will prevail.

The key solution to developing compassion and associated higher morality is, from this viewpoint, to develop a permanent lower stress level by increasing stress tolerance.

This has been amply confirmed by studies on the effect of a technique that has a documented effective improving effect on stress tolerance. This technique, Transcendental Meditation (TM) actually stems from the ancient Vedic civilization where it was used to develop “enlightenment”, the highest level of Balanced-Emphatic-Behavior or self-actualization as Maslow called it.

It is remarkable that the remoralizing effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique works even in advanced criminals, although it does not apply any teaching of morality or conception of life (references will be added).

So if even criminals can be rehabilitated by reducing their stress level, it seems realistic to believe that effective methods for increasing stress tolerance would be the most efficient and practical method for improving morality in society.

As a high ethical level is important in people in leading positions, improvement of stress tolerance with associated development of prefrontal-brain-dominated behavior should be prioritized by society. In addition, it is well documented that this brings about an improvement of other desirable BEB traits including foresight, judgment, clarity of thinking, creativity, and intelligence.

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Elitism?

Responsible leaders or world chaos?

An objection that some might have against any selection of leaders is that it is “undemocratic elitism”.

Undemocratic?

As clearly demonstrated in other posts, Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB) undoubtedly spells disaster. See especially “Economic crisis – impaired brain function a major cause?” and “The inability to cooperate on global warming“.

Mankind needs to decide wether it is wise to hold on to a democratic principle that allows virtually any person be appointed to a leading position in society irrespective of mental suitability. If you doubt that this is necessary, please read the two articles linked to above.

In addition it is a regrettable fact that a considerable number of former presidents, prime ministers and other top officials in different countries have been convicted for serious crimes.

I think there is a democratic solution to this issue:

Grant the right to every person to apply for political or financial top positions. But introduce a requirement that they must undergo a test for suitability.

Already there are some limitations regarding eligibility to political positions in many countries (a common requirement is that a person must not have been convicted for a major crime). So this does not run counter to democratic tradition.

If this solution is questioned one has to ask oneself – what is more important – democracy at any cost or saving the society and the world from continued progress into an even worse situation than what has already been caused by irresponsible and shortsighted SOB behavior?

Elitistic?

I completely agree about the dangers and unsuitability of endorsing elitism in the sense that some kind of self-elected “elite” declares itself most suitable to run a country or the economy. A dreadful example of this is the statement by David Rockefeller:

The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.

June 5, 1991, Bilderberger meeting in Baden Baden, Germany [Source: Dr. Dennis Cuddy, A Chronological History of the New World Order

This claim was especially absurd considering the key role this bankers “elite” has played in causing the present serious world economic crisis through its irresponsible behavior, see “Economic crisis – impaired brain function a major cause?”.

The great difference is that I am proposing a democratic procedure for selecting persons especially suitable for top leadership. These persons would be able to prevent such serious world crises that have been brought about by exactly that kind of persons who would not be eligible through this selection procedure.

A consensus is required in society about the obvious fact that SOB persons are worse than unsuitable for top political, decision-maker and financial positions.

Considering the tremendous damage to the world that they already have caused in every respect there should not be any hesitation to agree upon the proposed principle that only psychologically suitable (non-SOB) persons should be allowed to occupy key positions.

 

An especially unsuitable trait for a leader

A certain personality pattern makes a person especially unsuitable, if not dangerous in top political positions.  It is called “The Authoritarian Personality Type” (described by Adorno et al 1950).

A key factor is a more or less constant state of conscious or subconscious anxiety. This anxiety is so uncomfortable that the person consciously and subconsciously does everything possible to reduce it. For this end they are prone to use two major strategies for reducing anxiety:

  • The use of psychological defense mechnisms (see “Stress and mind”) that makes the person subconsciously distort, belittle or ignore anxiety-provoking impressions.
  • Seeking predictability because unpredictability may be strongly anxiety-evoking.

While it is obvious why reality-conception-distorting defense mechanisms are highly unsuitable for a leader, it may be less evident why seeking predictability is an unsuitable behavior as well, so let me explain.

A most problematic predictability-increasing-strategy is Control-demanding behavior. This may cause a strong greed for power, because “being on top” increases the sense of security. The strong drive for control also brings about a craving for complete submission in subordinates. From this follows a tendency to favor authoritarian power-ideologies as a justification for one’s own urge for power.

Some other expressions of predictability-seeking behavior are (all need not be obvious):

  • Resistance to unfamiliar or unconventional ideas.
  • Strong allegiance to conventional norms.
  • Tendency to be prejudiced.
  • Intolerance to dissent among subordinates.
  • Intolerance and aggression against unfamiliar behavior.
  • “Either-or”- mentality.
  • Preference for authoritarian beliefs and ideologies or extreme religious creeds.
  • Suspiciousness (paranoia in the worst case).
  • Preference for violence.

It is obvious that the authoritarian personality type is especially unsuitable as a president as well for any other leading position for several reasons.

For more about the authoritarian type, see the articleThe dictatorial personality – a high-stress condition.

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References:

Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper and Row (pp. 228).

The brains of top leaders should be tested

 This posting has been updated and reformulated, see the posting

The brains of presidential candidates must be tested.

Economic crisis – impaired brain function a major cause?

Top financial leaders have signs of disturbed brain function

By Jaan Suurküla. Posted Oct 21,2008

Signs of impaired brain function appear to be common in leaders involved in the financial crisis. The signs are typical for the effects of chronic stress, which suppresses higher brain centers responsible for intelligence, judgment, foresight, ethics and emotional balance.

It will be argued that this may have been a major contributory factor to the present world crisis.

The behavior of top financial and political leaders

Financial commentators describe the behavior of American bankers and financial institute leaders in a strikingly similar way. It struck me that the pattern is typical of stress-related brain dysfunction.

Some illustratory quotes (headings set by me):

[Gigantic fraud by a former NASDAQ chairman]

[Bernard Madoff’s].. story that for decades he ran his gigantic fraud by himself is unbelievable…damage done to so many smaller investor/savers, so many pension funds, so many charities…Madoff, his own businesses aside, was a major figure in the world of investments, of stocks and bonds and securities and exchanges. If the former chairman of Nasdaq is a crook, whom do you trust?

Nicholas von Hoffman, a Pulitzer Price Author of 13 books, including “A Devils Dictionary of Business”.

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[Crooks selling loans and doing accounting fraud in major banks]

“we find a perfect combination of financial and real estate fraud on a magnitude that helped establish some of America’s great founding fortunes, creating dynastic wealth that has survived down to the present day.”

Many of these loans are outright fraudulent. And they are being sold by crooks. Crooks who work for banks. Crooks who use accounting fraud .

Michael Hudson Economist, Wall street financial analyst. Research professor at the University of Missouri.

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[Out of control greed, massive fraud and irresponsible investments caused the present crisis]

[The preseent crisis is the] result of out-of-control greed for easy profits. Massive fraud to get them…Knowing Fed moral hazard will cushion them if they do…Fueling a housing bubble. Outsized consumer debt, and irresponsible investments free from government oversight. Fraudulent ones involving multi-trillions of dollars…Partnering with government to make it easy. Risking a global economic meltdown as a result.

Stephen Lendman Financial analyst.

____________________

“I used to think of Wall Street as a financial center.
I now think of it as a crime scene.”
– Filmmaker Danny Schecter, Plunder (2009). Trailer here:

____________________

For more about the severe criminality of the Wall Street financial leaders as well the corruption of the control organs, see the additions in the end of this blog.

____________________

These quotes are representative of the widespread consensus among financial experts that criminally fraudulent actions at a large scale occurred in top financial circles. The quotes indicate the presence of the following traits in the financial and governmental leaders involved in the activities that precipitated this crisis.

  • irresponsibility,
  • lack of foresight,
  • dishonesty
  • lack of empathy
  • hyperegoistic greed

The behavior indicates impaired brain function due to stress

As explained in greater detail in my article “Stress and mind”, stress impairs the functioning of the brain to an important extent and “dehumanizes” people.

It suppresses the higher brain centers in the forebrain, that enable foresight, intelligence, and good judgment. Due to stress, the primitive midbrain centers govern behavior, leading to the following behavioral pattern (compare with the list above):

  • irresponsible
  • shortsighted
  • dishonest
  • unempathic
  • hyperegoistic

An extreme form of egoism is insatiable greed for political power or money. An extreme form of this kind of behavior is called psychopathy. Actually, the callous ruthlessness, irresponsibility and dishonesty of the Wall Street criminals can hardly be found in others than mere psychopaths.

Chronic stress is very common

You may be surprised that the mentioned disturbance could be common in top leaders. But chronic stress is a very common problem.

Not until recently the real scope of chronic stress has been fully appreciated. Formerly it was believed that stress was mainly temporary, evoked by external factors, but the new insight is that the increase of the stress hormone level is continuous in many people. For example, it is now generally accepted in science that the major diseases are associated with chronic, persistent stress, including hypertension, where the connection is especially strong with 70% of all Americans having hypertension at the age of 70.

Functional holes in the brain due to SOB

It is an established fact that persistent stress affects the brain so negatively that even anatomic changes have been found, for example in the metabolic syndrome (associated with hypertension and adult-onset diabetes) and the post-traumatic-stress-syndrome.

So it is not, after all, surprising that the behavior of top leaders and decision-makers indicate the presence of a dehumanizing brain dysfunction caused by chronic stress. What makes it especially serious in the case of leaders is that this brain disturbance suppresses the part of the brain responsible for intelligence, creativity, foresight and judgment. This appears as “functional holes” – inactive areas in this important part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex), see the Brain Imaging picture below.

To the right a high level SOB brain with typical “functional holes” indicting no activity in areas responsible for honesty, good judgement, compassion, intelligence. creativty etc.

Moreover, the disturbed judgment is further aggravated by defence mechanisms that impair the ability to perceive the situation realistically, see “Stress and  Mind“.

The serious consequences of brain dysfunction

Brain dysfunction, bringing about reality distorting defence mechanisms, bad judgment and irresponsibility, may be the reason why government leaders and financial leaders ignored severe and well-founded warnings from competent top level experts, including :

Especially remarkable is the neglect of Mr White’s warnings.  As the chief economist of BIS, the  “Bank of central banks” Mr. White was the topmost authority in the international banking world. His warnings about an imminent crisis and his demands for increased regulation grew increasingly sharp since the beginning of this decade and were repeated with increasing emphasis every year. They were very well underpinned as BIS had statistics directly available from all central banks. Yet he was ignored by the leaders of the financial and banking world. Afterwards, it has been noted that his predictions of the crisis were stunningly correct. See the article “Global Banking Economist Warned of Coming Crisis: The Man Nobody Wanted to Hear“.

The fact that serious and repeated warnings from the world’s foremost banking expert were ignored, gives reasons to suspect that the world top financial leaders had pronounced chronic stress-induced Survival-Oriented-Behavior.

Conclusion

All present and future political and financial leaders in the world must be tested for the presence of Survival-OrientedBehavior, so that only persons are selected who are free from this disturbance that seriously may impair judgement, and brings about proneness for irresponsible, if not outright criminal behavior.

Only so can we ensure that key leaders will be able to sustain intelligent, responsible, honest, empathic, realistic and foresightful leadership which is more necessary than ever before in the present highly problematic world situation.


Addition Oct 17 2009

A recent book by Danny Shechter, “The Crime of Our Time” amply documents the criminal actions of the Wall Street financial people.

Quotes from a review by Stephen Lendman:

“..according to former high-level government and Wall Street insider Catherine Austin Fitts in describing a “financial coup d’etat” that includes inflating multiple market bubbles, pump and dump schemes, naked short selling, precious metals price suppression, and active market intervention by Washington and the Fed that lets powerful insiders game the system, commit massive fraud, and be able to transfer trillions of public wealth to themselves, then get open-ended bailouts when the inevitable crisis surfaces.”

The Crimes of Wall Street

Schechter names many, including: — “Fraud and control frauds;– Insider trading;– Theft and conspiracy;– Misrepresentation;– Ponzi schemes;– False accounting;– Embezzling;– Diverting funds into obscenely high salaries and obscene bonuses;– Bilking investors, customers and homeowners;– Conflicts of interest;– Mesmerizing regulators;– Manipulating markets;– Tax frauds;– Making loans and then arranging that they fail;– Engineering phony financial products; (and)– Misleading the public.

According to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, over 730,000 instances of suspected wrongdoing, or 13% more than in 2007, including a 23% rise in mortgage fraud to almost 65,000 incidents.

By the numbers, they amount to:

— $994 billion in 2008 losses or a median loss of $175,000;

— financial institutions or government agencies accounting for 27% of the total;

Examples include “shady lending practices….deepening debt, exploiting customers, overcharging borrowers with arbitrary late fees, and imposing other hidden costs that bilk consumers.”

Source: Book Review by S. Lendman.

Addition february 2011

Rolling Stones magazine: “Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?”

This well researched  story complements the picture of Shechter quoted above.  It is reveals the corruption of the regulators and control organs enabling the Wall Street criminals to continue committing billion dollar crimes unpunished.  Not only the Wall Street, but the federal justice, regulative and control organs (SEC) apparently are populated by people with impaired brain function, enabling them to heartlessly disregard the severe human suffering of millions of people thrown into poverty through  these crimes.

A few excerpts:

“Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them”

“Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft.

“But a veritable mountain of evidence indicates that when it comes to Wall Street, the justice system not only sucks at punishing financial criminals, it has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for protecting financial criminals.”

“”Criminal justice, as it pertains to the Goldmans and Morgan Stanleys of the world, is not adversarial combat, with cops and crooks duking it out in interrogation rooms and courthouses. Instead, it’s a cocktail party between friends and colleagues who from month to month and year to year are constantly switching sides and trading hats.

“You want to win elections, you bang on the jailable class. You build prisons and fill them with people for selling dime bags and stealing CD players. But for stealing a billion dollars? For fraud that puts a million people into foreclosure? Pass.”

“In fact, [this corrupt system is such as to] let them profit from their collective crimes, to the tune of a record $135 billion in pay and benefits last year. ”

But these frauds are worse than common robberies. They’re crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let’s steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money through a captive bureaucracy.”

Source: Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? by Matt Taibbi, Feb 16, 2011. The essence of it you find in this video video interview with Taibbi along with a transcript.

Addition July 2012

If anyone refused to doubt about Matt Taibbi and the others quoted above, now this fraudulent behavior of major banks is officially recognized and is causing criminal investigation in connection with the “Libor scandal”, see for example “Titanic banks hit the LIBOR iceberg“.