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Introduction

Stress, mind, and leadership

Stress causes brain dysfunction, impairing the clarity of mind and judgment 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 judgment, 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.

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 brings about a major shift in the control of behavior away from higher centers in the frontal brain responsible for intelligent, foresightful and responsible behavior to Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB) organizing centers in the midbrain. In chronic stress, brain scans have revealed so-called functional holes where there is little or no activity, which may cause important brain dysfunction when present in important brain areas. 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 judgment, 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 judgment, 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.

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Man is inherently humane

A common belief is that man is by nature selfish, greedy and potentially ruthless. The falsity of the belief that this is what motivates human behavior has been the basis of Capitalism as well as Communism is exposed in a recent article “The Capitalist Big Lie about Human Nature” by John Spritzler who writes:

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 behavior 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 behavior 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 behavior only under stress (see Survival-Oriented-Behavior (SOB)).

The latter behavior pattern which is controlled by primitive midbrain centers 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 behavior which made it possible to survive through “smart” strategies without having to regress to primitive survival-oriented behavior.

prefrontal cortex evolution schematic

This enabled the successful development of more advanced cultures that provided further protection against threats of various kinds and thereby favoring more of development of brain (frontal cortical) centers responsible for smart and humane behavior at the expense of primitive 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 behavior 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 behavior well in accord with the vision in the blog posting “Is it possible to change the world?

 

 

The dictatorial personality – a high-stress condition

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.

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 SOB 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 very uncomfortable, especially to small children, because they have much more intense emotionality. Therefore, an emotionally insecure child, has a strong urge to develop anxiety-reducing strategies more or less 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 impair the perception of reality and thereby the judgment considerably.
  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 have found 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 high 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 more or less complete submission from the subordinates, because of the strong anxiety-driven need for total control. People who don’t comply, evoke anxiety, and are 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 they evoke 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 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. The number of political leaders, including presidents and ministers, who have been sentenced for criminal acts is large all over the world.

 

Power reveals the corrupt mind

Please note that all the signs enumerated above don’t need to be present or apparent.  Actually, an authoritarian type may appear normal until he has established a secure top position.

Commonly people believe that power “corrupts.” However, I think it is mostly the other way around. “Authoritarian” personalities are more likely to strive for power and thus are corrupt from the beginning but don’t show it (hiding it with their popularity-seeking and manipulative skills) until they have reached the top. Consequently, I think the right wording should be “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 has devastating effects on performance (making grave judgment errors,  losing the mind, panicking, crashing). Therefore they developed a special selection test for the detection of people 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 conclustion 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 ones tend to most 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).

 

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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