Psychos on Wall Street
“Sociopath” and “psychopath” describe a similar range of anti-social traits, including a lack of empathy, no regard for consequences and unbridled risk-taking. Ms. DeCovny defines them this way: “Back when we were little children…and we were learning right from wrong, they didn’t get it.”
Sometimes these people turn out to be Jeffrey Dahmer and drill a hole through your skull. But if you send them to Harvard and dress them in a fine suit, they could become your boss, your CEO or your senator. They excel in any arena where aggressive behavior is rewarded and where grandiose levels of confidence can result in rousing applause.
I have come to know many psychopaths, from Ponzi-schemers to book-cooking corporate executives. They are always charming and narcissistic. They display wonderfully glib senses of humor and spin the truth like a roulette wheel.
Mr. Antar pleaded guilty to felonies, but received no jail time, for assisting prosecutors in charges against his cousin, Eddie Antar, who famously advertised that his prices were just “In-sanne!” (frequently parodied on Saturday Night Live in the Dan Aykroyd-John Belushi era.)
Mr. Antar now teaches law-enforcement organizations how to spot psychos. He thinks of himself as a psychopath in remission, but he admits he could snap back at any time, much like a relapsing alcoholic.
Ms. DeCovny suggests financial firms screen for psychopathic traits when they are interviewing prospective employees and regularly monitor anti-social behaviors amid their ranks. “Don’t we need to learn from the financial crisis?” she asks.
Al Lewis is a columnist for Dow Jones Newswires in Denver. He blogs at tellittoal.com; his email address is
Filed under: Banks and Wall Street
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