Beware: Wall Street Is Apparently Full of Psychopaths

Beware: Wall Street Is Apparently Full of Psychopaths

Popular culture usually portrays Wall Street bankers as highly competent, highly rewarded and living the life the rest of us only dream of.

But we may have missed something.

The Huffington Post reports that CFA Magazine (a trade publication that requires a subscription) claims that as many as one out of every ten Wall Street bankers is a psychopath. For comparison, only about 1% of the general population is considered psychopathic.

Lest visions of chainsaws dance through your head, we'll explain.

What Exactly Is a Psychopath?

According to CFA Magazine, the term "psychopath" doesn't only apply to the chainsaw-wielders. A psychopath is actually characterized by a lack of empathy, and a psychopath can seem bright and charming. He (or she) tends toward dangerous risk-taking, not because of the potential reward but for the sheer thrill. Bright, charming and willing to take risks? Sounds like your typical banker. But that doesn't mean he (or she!) is a psychopath.

Research has shown that bankers are susceptible to higher than usual rates of stress-related disorders such as eating disorders, depression, alcoholism and insomnia after only a few years on the job. Again, that's not to say that every insomniac is a psychopath, but it's speculated that the high-risk activity of trading stocks and the flawed mental reward system of a psychopath means that such people are more apt to engage in shady practices like lying and even embezzlement and would feel gratified by a loss.

Should You Be Worried?

Probably not. HuffPo points out that stockbrokers, but also politicians, exhibit many of the same traits as psychopaths. (In that case, maybe we should be worried? Kidding!) The fact that these bankers, who may or may not actually be psychopaths, have traits in common with the actual condition doesn't necessarily mean they're dangerous.

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