Pascal Derrien

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Danger! Sociopath @ Work !

Danger! Sociopath @ Work !

The pen is mightier than the sword.

1985, it's Thursday afternoon in late April, it has been a long week and @ quarter to five that afternoon the entire classroom is somewhat very tired. The pen is mightier than the sword is what our French teacher told us in the previous dissertation class but little I knew I was to have my head literally chopped 45mns later.

``Derrien, you are going to be a failure in life`` said Ms Dumont (not her real name but I actually forgot her name). I had only been in this school in the southern part of the Paris area for 4 weeks, I came all the way from the other side of France and brought a funny accent with me but it had been a good year this was only my second school that year and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the previous one an experimental school I was told, there were no walls, no point system and a teaching philosophy privileging the imagination @ large. You see I was raised like an army brat and did many schools in various geographical areas from age 3 to 16 so it was not unusual to come across not so nice to deal with people however being publicly humiliated was a first.

It is fair to say I had been struggling with integration in this new school I was flying in Languages, History and French but I had been struggling big time with these equations from the very start of this particular week. This was no impulse statement, this was probably planned before that week, probably even rehearsed the month before I joined that school, she just needed a target.

Miss Dumont made sure her comment was as hurtful and painful as possible, there was a clear intent from the outset, this was indeed surgically orchestrated the first point was to ignore my first name and address me the way you speak to cattle, my interpretation is and I am positive about it that in her book I was probably not doing justice enough to the great mathematician I am sharing my first name with. The second point was the staging and timing she made sure this was broadly and loudly heard by the entire class.

Maybe for the first time I understood the sterling expression being in front of a firing squad, in my eyes the only difference was that the bullets had been replaced by needles and there were hundreds of them perhaps even a thousands of them pinned in my entire body at that very moment. Shell shocked I did not answer actually I had nothing to say, I packed my stuff and walked the 35mns journey home, it was not unusual to have a long trek from school in those days, safety had not been invented yet.

On my way back I harvested the results of this fateful succession of hours that constituted my day and I came to the conclusion that the intelligence crops must have been very bitter that year.

2015 as I survey the three decades that have passed since this incident I realize I have come across many Ms or Mr Dumont (s). According to an article in Forbes ``four percent of the global population is made up of sociopaths'', this is what Dr. Martha Stout, psychologist and clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, tells us in her book The Sociopath Next Door. This means ''one out of every 25 human beings has no conscience, no sense of right or wrong, no empathy, no ability to understand emotion–no soul.''

I cannot help thinking this is a lot of narcissists per square meter with an incredible high score on the dimension of blame and an equally high and targeted appetite for aggression. The most obvious ones are easy to spot they come across as emotionally ``retarded`` with probably the level of empathy of a goldfish but this not always that easy to identify, they more than often wear the mask of sanity with all its superb you may even sometimes be fooled by their energy and drive when they are in position of power and trust.

So what do we do when we meet or work with one of those individuals, some say c`est la vie, some say it is nothing more than adversity an obstacle to overcome, some say it is formative and some would even tell you that you need to suck it up and move on.

The main issue in my opinion is that we are not always equal when it comes to deal with this, you can become a prey without realizing it because for some unknown reasons they perceived you have suddenly outshone them. Sometimes you are in a position to avoid them sometimes not and a frontal engagement can potentially leave deep scars, meticulous and obsessed our dear sociopath will stir the open wound seeing it as a unique opportunity for satisfaction.

I am told sociopathic behaviour cannot be changed and I suppose as an adult I can recognize this but what if the workplace is a school and the targets are our children no matter how advanced or mature a child or a teenager can be I don’t think he or she is equipped to deal with an adult enforcing blindly, sometimes randomly bullying on a full scale.

One children should expect his journey to life to be fully signed and if there was danger one would expect to be taught to recognize the Sociopath @ work sign the same way road safety specialists design the ``you will reach a roundabout or a crossroad soon``

Miss Dumont never apologized to me or did show any remorse other teachers noticed I had become withdrawn but I am no victim I have a thick skin, a very thick skin actually and I managed to avoid her sarcasm for the remaining three months of the school year. However no thanks to her what was left of my naivety and schooling illusions were gone, thanks to her I developed a very sharp sense of observation almost a sixth sense allowing me to detect empty or fake emotional shells within seconds and unfortunately I must say I have meet my fair share of those intellectual invertebrates. Once bitten twice shy the story says.

But who are these people? Why are they alien to all things emotionally connected? It is partly genetic, and partly mystery apparently. Don’t let them get at you, don’t leave blank spaces and let the negative influence engulf your mind, don’t authorize them to flood the borders of your generosity because once you have made the decision not to give in that’s it they are done.

Write it down if you must, the pen is mightier than the sword so no matter how hard they will try they will fail you have become


PS: I apologize to any Dumont(s) out there but only if you are not one of them


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Psychology Today

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