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The Dark Shadow of Corporations

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There are always three collective psyches involved when discussing organizational shadows. There is the psyche of the organization itself, the psyche of the followers/members of the organization, and the psyche of the opponents/detractors. The psyche of those who are in the highest echelon of the organization usually most closely resemble the psyche of the organization itself. Our outside world is always a mirror of the inside world. So the organization is a mirror of the psyche(s) of those who hold the most power in the organization with the highest person, that is, CEO or President, serving as the prototypical organizational psyche. The psyche of Enron most closely resembled Kenneth Lay's psyche, the psyche of Tyco most closely resembled the psyche of Dennis Kozlowski, Lloyd Blankfein's psyche most closely resembles the psyche of Goldman Sachs, and so forth.

There have been numerous theories about the structure, dynamic, and nature of the psyche. Freud posited a tripartite structure with an id, ego, and superego. The id is that part of the psyche that is a cauldron of seething desires and wishes. The superego is the moral conscience. The ego mediates between the two. If we use this view of the psyche, then we can say that the psyche of these organizations have undeveloped superegos. They have little or no conscience. They have inflated egos and their id is on steroids. That is the psyche of a narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath. Without a corporate conscience, there is no compassion. There is only the desire to gratify the corporate ego and it is done with various mendacious means in a corporation such as public relations, advertising, and marketing campaigns and through their now-famous "shell games." Philanthropic advertising is a duplicitous tactic to maintain the corporate persona---merely a way to deceive the public into thinking the corporation really has a heart. The truth is that corporation saves millions of tax dollars when they give to charity and this is always done at the suggestion of the corporate accountant. The advertising campaign with a heart is a ruse for a campaign for the corporate coffers. When employees give their charitable donations to their employer (United Way, etc.), the corporation gets millions of dollars in tax breaks. It's a PR and marketing sham to convince the employees and the public that the corporation is compassionate.

Most people have partially accurate understandings of narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissus was a Greek hunter who had disdain for those who loved him. He fell in love with his image in a pond and pined to death because he could not depart from the beauty of his image. First, there is no coincidence that Narcissus is a male. Just like there is no coincidence that Venus, the goddess of love, is a female or Diotima, the personification of Wisdom, in Plato's Symposium is a female.

The masculine principle in Occidental mythology represents domination, separation, objectivity, certainty, and predictability. The world of these phenomena can only exist in a world of physical matter. Jung argued that the masculine principle is consciousness, mind or Logos. When speaking of a psyche, the rational mind is the mind which embraces the material world. The feminine principle represents receptivity, union, mystery, collaboration, interdependence. The non-rational, intuitive, unconscious world best represents this world. Jung asserted that Eros and the unconscious are feminine principles.

The masculine and feminine principles are ubiquitous; they have existed since time began and will forever exist. They are recognized in biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and other hard sciences. Although they are opposites, they are, paradoxically, complementary. One cannot exist without the other. When domination is a common force, the world, the psyche, and the cosmos is out of harmony, out of balance. Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching is perhaps the most eloquent, succinct, and brilliant rendition of the world of the feminine and masculine principles. They both are subsumed in the Tao which includes, yet is beyond, feminine and masculine.

Narcissus' staring at himself in the water tends to distort as much as it informs. It is true that narcissistic individuals are self-absorbed and act as though the world revolves around them. But there is much more to this clinical personality disorder. It affects entire societies. Christopher Lasch in The Culture of Narcissism writes about the pathological Western society. I would argue that the psychosocial pathology is now leeching over into Eastern societies such as India and China. We should be very afraid.


Narcissism is a personality disorder in which there is a stable, chronic pattern of projecting the dark shadow onto others. Narcissistic personality disorder is marked by an inflated sense of self, a sense of entitlement, and grandiosity. Arrogance displays the sense of superiority. The person with this disorder does not have the capacity to authentically love someone. People with narcissistic personality disorder idealize people who give them what they want and then devalue anyone who inhibits their desires. Pathological mendacity is a means to achieve goals at any cost. There is no moral conscience, no sense of guilt or shame in wrong-doing that follows his trail of deceit, treachery, abuse, and the pain and suffering that his actions inevitably cause others. Blame is always externalized onto "other" (the victim). The rapist or judge who says "it's the victim's fault she got raped because she wore sexy clothes" is externalizing blame. The husband who beats his wife and says "but you made me do it because you nag me all the time" is externalizing blame. The CEO of a tire company who lies to cover up for his company's gross negligence which results in thousands of people being killed due to unsafe tires is externalizing blame. In his book on corporate psychopaths, Hare cites how these pathological loons, when caught or charged for crimes, will blame the victim. This pathological mendacity and externalization of blame is now standard operating procedure for multinational corporations.

Hare and Babiak (2007) call the psychopath "a near-perfect invisible human predator" (p. 39) to emphasize how most people cannot detect the psychopath's pathology. Researchers who work with psychopaths refer to the latter as "social chameleons" (Babiak & Hare, 2007, p. 38). The narcissist or psychopath sometimes does not have the communication skills to deceive, so they rely on threats, coercion, intimidation, and violence to dominate others and achieve their objectives. But other narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths, present as charming and with a gift of oratory skills, saying all the things that enamor, fascinate, lure, and compel. Hare refers to the psychopath's gift of "impression management" (Babiak & Hare, 2007, p. 38) and makes a comparison between the classic features of leadership (taking charge, making decisions, and getting others to do what you want) and the qualities of a psychopath. Hitler had these gifts. These pathological vampires and werewolves could sell heaters to desert dwellers--and make them glad they bought them. This is what most of the CEOs of corporations are invested in---telling the consumers and employees what they want to hear. Here is the cycle. It's about manufacturing desire in consumers so that people will buy goods and services they don't need. The profits in the corporations soar so that the pockets of the CEOs and the 1% who owns the stock in these corporations will fill up more. This allows the wealthy elite to remain in power and the corporate elite to continue to pay millions of dollars in advertising to deceive consumers into buying something they don't need (which speeds up the rate at which natural and mineral resources are depleted) and to exploit the employees who work in the corporation for ever lower levels of compensation and benefits. The vicious cycle just keeps going.

Corporations are invested in keeping people ignorant, overworked or apathetic or all of the above. Billions of dollars are spent on public relations and marketing campaigns which is nothing more than propaganda to be used as an assault on the Common Good. These narcissistic individuals tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. What we need to hear would threaten the powerful elite----the wealthy pathological masculine power structure in the world. As Hare rightly says, the social, economic, physical, and psychological damage done by these psychopaths far outweighs their relatively small numbers (1% of the general population).

People with narcissistic personality disorder flock to positions of power in corporations like iron fillings seek a magnet. The hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder, according to Joan Lachkar, Ph.D. (1992), in The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple, is the obsession with control, power, and perfection. The desire to dominate and control is an addictive high. Serial rapists are addicted to the will to power. Sadistic killers are assuaging their desire to have control over and completely dominate "the other." Interestingly, 87% of sadistic killers are white males. When the rapists in the Congo stick their penis inside the woman and gang rape her, then sticks a gun inside her vagina and fires, he is obsessed with power and control. It is not so much the sexual act as it is the will to absolute power.

When these corporations lie, cheat, and steal from the coffers of the public and then refuse to accept responsibility, this is a pathological system that is bleeding into every aspect of human life. It is the goal of narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths to deceive, dominate, exploit, and destroy. The shadow is projected onto the innocents. In wars where the goal is to steal another's resources, the instigating country presents the people in the other country as less than human. Increasingly, corporations are invested in war to increase profits. When a handful of people at the top of the food chain live a life of comfort, ease, and luxury while the masses struggle with hunger, poverty, homelessness, and lack of adequate healthcare, the people in ivory towers simply project their shadow onto the masses by saying that poor people are "lazy." I ask: Who is lazy? The person who is being exploited for their cheap labor and who works 6 days a week on barely enough wages to feed their family or the person who lives a life of ease and has no means to be productive? I ask you: Is it the rich or the poor who are lazy? And what does "lazy" mean? If that refers to the lack of desire to work insane hours per week (50, 60, 70 hours) and the lack of the shallow desire to amass needless worldly possessions, then many who have meaningful and spiritual values might refer to that definition of "lazy" as a good thing. I say the question to ask the lazy wealthy is: "How much is enough for you?"

This masculine psychopathological spectrum of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy, and psychopathy is the source of the dark, evil shadow that has always defined modern Western civilization ever since the dawning of the Iron Age in 1,500 B.C. when male warriors took over and destroyed the peaceful matriarchal society and devalued the feminine principle (Campbell, 1964). Replacing the worship of the feminine moon and the Goddess, masculine ideologies of the worship of the masculine sun and the male God dominated society. Science and its disdain of mystery, uncertainty, unpredictability, subjectivity---in other words, all things feminine---is a bastion of masculine ideology of objectivity, certainty, predictability, and measurability. The mantra of science is noticeably masculine: If it can't be measured, it's not valid, meaning it is not useful or even real. Aggression, violence, and war stain society; the fear, devaluation, and loathing of all things feminine (mystery, intuition, gentleness, kindness, compassion, rest, collaboration, interdependence, etc.) has become the fabric of society as a result of these male warriors.

I define masculine psychopathology as the split psyche which lacks the capacity for authentic empathy and love and which, through intentionally deceptive tactics, seeks to dominate, exploit, and destroy others as an obsessive means to have control and power over others. If you apply this to corporate ideology, it is chillingly appropriate. This masculine psyche can exist in both males and females. An apt example of a woman having a particularly morbid pathologically masculine psyche (we would call it psychopathy today) is the late 16th century Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed. She is called the "Blood Countess" because she kidnapped, tortured, and killed allegedly as many as 600 hundred peasant girls. She would bathe in, and drink, their blood believing this would make her skin beautiful and give her immortality. One particularly gruesome type of murder was placing the peasant girl in a large cage and hanging it from the ceiling of the dungeon. There would be large, long knives around the cage so that when the Countess gave the instructions to her servants, the cage would be tossed back and forth causing the knives to mutilate the victim in the cage. Standing underneath the age, the Countess would bathe in, and drink, the blood from the victim. Of course, there is "Bloody Mary," Queen of England, who had a particular affinity for burning religious dissenters at the stake.

It is perhaps an annoying and unwelcome truth to males in contemporary society that the vast majority of people who have masculine pathology are males. These are only a relative few of whom history books have noted, but I suspect the names of every person--famous and not---are legion: Caligula, Attila the Hun, Caesar, Herod, Nero, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Vlad the Impaler, Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc), Pinochet, Mugabe, Mobutu Sese Seko, Milosevic, and Hussein. Vlad the Impaler killed his opponents by impaling them while alive and leaving them for the public to view. Idi Amin had six wives. One wife he ordered to be murdered and dismembered. She was found in the back of a car with her head sewn on backward. If one were able to count all the males from the beginning of dawn who chronically abused their spouses, children, pets, and who murdered and raped indiscriminately, who knows how many would be on that list?

Lest the reader begin to think that I hate males, let me say I am deeply grateful for those males who risk much in order to fight the imbalance of feminine and masculine principles in the world. They are courageous, compassionate, loving, gentle men who use their power to defend the Common Good. The world desperately needs them and I honor every one of their androgynous Souls. But this paper is about exposing the dark side, the shadow, which stands against the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

Approximately 75% of the individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are males. The majority of individuals with paraphilias (pedophilia, pederasty, pirophilia, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, etc.) are males. These are perverted minds. Virtually all people who start wars and who seem to enjoy going off to war and engaging in acts of war are males. Virtually all serial killers (psychopaths) are males. I always can recognize a male who has a tendency toward narcissism by the reaction I receive when I explain this subject. It's the externalization of blame and the intrapsychic ego defenses that always give him away. It's analogous to showing the man that his DNA results were all over the crime scene, yet what does he say? "That's not me! Someone else who has my DNA did it!" I am reminded of what Shakespeare says: "Me thinks thou doest protest too much!"

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Wanda Woodward, M.S., is author of The Anatomy of the Soul: An Authentic Psychology which posits an original theoretical model of the Soul, or Transcendent Psyche. She is currently writing her second book, Malignant Masculine Power: The (more...)
 

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Corporate psychopathology and psychosocial patholo... by Wanda Woodward on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 9:50:05 AM
I like it!... by momintum on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 1:24:47 PM
We live in a culture of abusers raising abusers, a... by mykl samu on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 2:15:58 PM
Greetings Mike!I see that you are a psychologist. ... by Wanda Woodward on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 12:11:45 AM
I will only note the intellectual dishonesty in br... by WML on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 2:33:58 PM
Hello WML!I can appreciate your comment about the ... by Wanda Woodward on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 12:05:32 AM
CAPITALISMis the accumulation of money, taking it ... by mykl samu on Monday, Jun 7, 2010 at 2:40:52 PM
I once heard James Hillman aver the destructive as... by Phil Rockstroh on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 2:51:29 PM
Greetings Phil!You've given us a much more in-dept... by Wanda Woodward on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 11:51:12 PM
My faith in human dignity consists in the belief t... by martinweiss on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 5:26:45 PM
Milgram's experiment on obedience is as timely and... by Wanda Woodward on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 7:57:57 PM
Great movie with Kirk Douglas about vagabonding an... by martinweiss on Monday, Jun 7, 2010 at 3:51:41 PM
My faith in human dignity consists in the belief t... by martinweiss on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 5:30:38 PM
Wanda Woodward, M.S., has given a great gift to th... by M.I. Lee on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 3:12:55 PM
Hello M.I.,I've given alot of thought to these and... by Wanda Woodward on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 11:38:03 PM
I have read many good indictments of the bankrupt ... by Jack Flanders on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 3:57:35 PM
Hello Jack,Such a wonderful, hearty reply! I love... by Wanda Woodward on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 11:33:42 PM
I agree. Being engaged in a horizontal war serves ... by Jack Flanders on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 8:00:59 AM
I recommend to you Ursula K. Leguin's "Bryn Mawr C... by martinweiss on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 3:59:05 PM
Hello Martin,Thank you for such a heartfelt respon... by Wanda Woodward on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 11:24:36 PM
As a Jungian therapist, I congratulate you on a fi... by Cathy Lynn Pagano on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 8:39:37 PM
Hello Cathy,First, let me say I went to your websi... by Wanda Woodward on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 11:13:46 PM
Your post was definitely right on with the deeper ... by Kahukugirl on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 7:43:35 AM
Extremely good article. Many women sense these tru... by Theresa Paulfranz on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 10:40:40 AM
I agree with your article completely concerning co... by Simple Truth on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 1:13:00 PM
Thanks for the comment! I could not agree with yo... by Wanda Woodward on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 7:54:22 PM
There's always male insecurity coming across as ma... by martinweiss on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 8:44:21 PM
I am aware of the nuclear waste that has been disp... by Wanda Woodward on Sunday, Jun 6, 2010 at 9:23:04 PM
the river downstream from the Vermont Yankee nucle... by martinweiss on Monday, Jun 7, 2010 at 7:14:55 AM
every day, here in the good ol' USA,three hundred ... by martinweiss on Monday, Jun 7, 2010 at 7:25:33 AM
This is an impressive piece. Based on solid schola... by Bruce Toien on Monday, Jun 7, 2010 at 2:11:10 PM
United Fruit created the market for bananas, while... by martinweiss on Monday, Jun 7, 2010 at 4:28:19 PM