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In 2011, Simon Baron-Cohen published “The Science of Evil: On empathy and the origins of cruelty.” That book discusses psychopathy in detail, and the organic reasons someone may lack empathy. Autism is probably the most common reason, but psychopathy - which Baron-Cohen convincingly argues can arise from congenital or traumatic reasons - is the scariest. Autistics generally don’t blend in, and often lack the social skills to progress in a corporation. Psychopaths can fit in, and often do. Worse, psychopaths, unlike autistics, may enjoy hurting people.
Dr. Robert D. Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak’s 2006 “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work” provides tools to identify psychopaths in the workplace. The common mythology is that psychopaths are compulsive serial killers, but that is definitely not the case. Bernie Madoff, the mastermind of the biggest Ponzi scheme uncovered in US history (in 2008), meets Hare and Babiak’s definition of a psychopath. Madoff ruined so many lives, including his own son’s (Mark Madoff committed suicide in 2010), but he has never been accused of even throwing a punch - much less pulling a trigger.
Hare and Babiak provide guidance on how to deal with psychopaths. The best recommendation is to just get away from the psychopath - as you would from any dangerous snake. That’s not always possible - the economy is terrible, a move may not be possible, and the psychopath may be your child’s parent - or your own parent.
Babiak is actually listed as the first author of “Snakes in Suits”, but Hare is actually one of the pioneers who identified psychopathy as a mental disorder. Hare developed ‘The Psychopathy Checklist’, which is widely used to diagnose criminal offenders.
“Snakes in Suits” is an interesting, thoughtful book, and a reminder that while most of us are “neuro-typical” (in Temple Grandin’s [author of 2013’s “The Autistic Brain] parlance), there are people who think differently and may never be able to empathize.
The narration was good, and kept me engaged.
29 of 35 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
I enjoyed it for what it was but it was so redundant - making the same point over and over. It left you confused about whether it was supposed to be a professional book or whether I was even supposed to be reading it as a normal person.
What other book might you compare Snakes in Suits to and why?
Would you listen to another book narrated by Todd McLaren?
Yeah - he was a good narrator
Was Snakes in Suits worth the listening time?
Not at all. Save your time, google what the characteristics of a psychopatch are, and get a different book
10 of 12 people found this review helpful