I Am Fishead: Are Corporate Leaders Psychopaths?

It is a well-known fact that our society is structured like a pyramid. The very few people at the top create conditions for the majority below. Who are these people? Can we blame them for the problems our society faces today? Guided by the saying “A fish rots from the head”we set out to follow that fishy odor. What we found out is that people at the top are more likely to be psychopaths than the rest of us.

Who, or what, is a psychopath? Unlike Hollywood’s stereotypical image, they are not always blood-thirsty monsters from slasher movies. Actually, that nice lady who chatted you up on the subway this morning could be one. So could your elementary school teacher, your grinning boss, or even your loving boyfriend.

The medical definition is simple: A psychopath is a person who lacks empathy and conscience, the quality which guides us when we choose between good and evil, moral or not. Most of us are conditioned to do good things. Psychopaths are not. Their impact on society is staggering, yet altogether psychopaths barely make up one percent of the population.

Through interviews with renowned psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo, leading expert on psychopathy Professor Robert Hare, former President of Czech Republic and playwright Vaclav Havel, authors Gary Greenberg and Christopher Lane, professor Nicholas Christakis, among numerous other thinkers, we have delved into the world of psychopaths and heroes and revealed shocking implications for us and our society.

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  1. very telling documentary..
    Even though it isnt as in depth as i would have liked, the main message is very clear and a very positive one at that..
    This hypothesis should seriously be studied further, if it proves correct. Our society might have a chance of redeeming itself and it will not be because of a leader or an authority..
    it will finally be thanks to the general population as it should have been all along..

    My main problem with this idea, however, is the human ego. I struggle with my ego on a daily basis and to just assume everyone can simply put their ego’s aside, form this ant like society where everyone truly believes we are all equal, is a little bit of a stretch for me..
    I would love it to be true, but we will always have this craving for superiority, to be smarter or more talented than somebody else.. the ego is ultimately the undoing of this hypothesis in my opinion…


  2. This is precisely what those who admire the “philosophy” of Ayn Rand reject, and why many of them fulfill the symptomatic requirements of psychopath and/or sociopath. Everything the psychologists mention as what is considered normal in this video is the antithesis of the Randian adherents. Perhaps “Randopath” could be added to the psychological lexicon.

  3. Camon, George bush is not a psychopath! He doesn’t speak well enough! Video had me til that. Ya psychopaths!

  4. this makes me feel like Im a psychopath.

  5. I agree with km. I work with people with diagnoses of mental health and, properly administered, SSRI’s are invaluable to the treatment of depression. There is also a general consensus in the professional community that a lot of mental health issues are probably under-diagnosed. The effects that this doco is talking about are from the minority of people that are misdiagnosed.

    At any rate, psychopathy, like every mental health issue, should never be treated by ostracizing the people with the issue.

  6. Slight fail at the end. They posit that the solution is to be “nicer” to people when it would be more accurate to say be more “ethical”. It’s not about making strangers smile, although that sentiment is probably very reassuring to many viewers, but it’s about changing how certain behaviors are rewarded. It doesn’t matter if I tell a good joke while I’m picking your pocket. It’s more important that I tell you how to avoid being pick-pocketed…without charging you for the information.

  7. I thought this documentary was very well done. If empathy guided more of society’s collective choices we would have a greater chance at achieving some kind of balance or a potentially viable global social system. Capitalism is imploding, the idea of Socialism makes people feel as though they are giving something up… the measures and definitions of success or “getting ahead” individually and collectively need to be reframed within the spirit of empathy, a firm grasp on our physical reality which our economic system exists (not the other way around!!) and with a complete resignation to the grand mystery of interconnectivity.

    I feel and sorry for psychopaths.

    I feel.

  8. To the proponents of psychopathic leadership: wasn’t the foundation of the documentary that psychopaths might be good at getting into positions of power, but ultimately fail us because they don’t care about anyone? I mean, they basically pin the state on the economy on the fact that psychopaths have no concern for others, and consequently won’t hesitate to ruin nations if it seems like the result might be interesting to watch.

    And for Michael Boyd: as I understood the message of the movie, the issue with psychopaths in power isn’t the mere fact that they are psychopaths, but that their actions are destructive and cause suffering, and that most people are willing to put up with them. If there was a change in attitude among people which made destructive, “immoral” behavior untenable, and psychopaths had to follow suit to thrive, then there wouldn’t be a problem.

  9. The facts are interesting, the speakers are good but the animations and illustrations are poor and childish

  10. From the previous blogs, I see the following….. “phsycopaths make the best leaders”, ‘physcopaths should rule because they don’t care about others’, and ‘the system is not broken, working as intended’.
    Talk about proof that phsycopaths are not only the rich,( but come in many flavors. The only legitimate justification for the insane type of thinking exhibited by these bloggers is that humanity is meant to self destruct for the benefit of the planet itself. If this is the case, I will even embrace the apocolypse, just to see these ignorant/apathetic people perish from the abililty to pass their stupidity onto another generation.

  11. This is a huge piece of crockshit that is not based on no seriously credible scholarly discourse at all.
    Although a nice psycho-artistic touch, this fails to portray any sense of the reality of historical events and their causal relationships.
    It’s like we are jumping from one sensation to another, through completely random “scientific” methods.
    Disgusting, misinformed – but entertaining.
    Kudos to Nicole Kidman.

    • Not a very constructive or informative critique.It sounds as if you need to brush up on your technique.[” …not based on no seriously credible scholarly discourse.]Did you actually attempt to use “scholarly discourse” in an ill formed sentence?!!

  12. Why should psychopaths rule? They do not care about others – that is why.

  13. to the comment at 1.01.50 etc. : one of my favourite phrases is that: we live in a democracy….till we arrive at work.

  14. Psychopaths make the best leaders, this is obvious and anybody who does not agree needs to wisen up and get some intelligence……

  15. Good for you mate! 🙂

  16. This was an interesting point of view thinking psychopaths rule the societies in forms of corporate- and nation leaders.

    To me, the contradiction is that they give you this impression that something has to change – I do not personally agree on that. When they say psychopaths only mimic the behavior of an leader and eventually come to the top in the organization, does that mean that they are not talented? They have got the talent to lead by mimic and they are often well educated. If psychopaths are good leaders with an education why should they not be leaders?

    In working democracy it is eventually the people that lead and it is eventually we who have the choice to boycott companies whose actions we do not like and support.

  17. I’m partial to these types of arguments. But the blaming and hole poking is not only very easy to do, but getting pretty old. The only idea I thought was fresh was at one point they claim that it isn’t the people themselves who are sociopathic, but the systems inherent in an overly capitalist society. Everyone seems so tied up worrying that we are dominated by evil superpowers. I think it is just flaws in the system, and of course only a few are at the top, that’s how hierarchy works. As for the drugs part, I pretty much agree that while they can help a few, they are marketed to the masses. I recommend a doc on this site entitled ‘The Marketing of Madness – Are we all Insane?’ for good debunking of the pharmaceutical scandal.

  18. The solution they have is funny – as someone who may actually be one of their ‘corporate sociopaths’ (read person who as a business mindset) if the world just changes to ‘moral’ passing it forward the the people they are so worried about in this film will just use that as a form of manipulation… people who want to get ahead will always exist – wanting to be better than everyone else is in built into being human or even any animal… and if you dont think like that then get ready to steamrolled by someone who does

    good documentary though – until they tried ‘fix’ the situation – its not broken – working as intended 🙂

  19. I am on prozac and I do not agree that it kills empathy, at least not in my experience. I’m one of the people who really does benefit greatly from SSRIs. Without prozac I am suicidal and unable to function, unable to shower let alone hold down a job. Prozac makes all the difference in the world to me. Beyond being able to function like a normal human being, I’m able to experience joy, fulfillment, and empathy.