Saturday, April 27, 2019

Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work by Paul Babiak

Wow, it's the first book I've actually finished in almost two months. I honestly can't tell you the last time I went this long without reading, and to be completely, 100% honest, it's because Goodreads and blogging almost ruined reading for me. Goodreads used to be one of my favorite sites and I used to love reading and blogging for books, but increasingly, Goodreads started to feel more and more commercial, and the reviewers and authors on there started to feel way more entitled. I kept seeing authors whining about negative reviews, and I kept getting users coming onto my (mostly negative) reviews to engage with me repeatedly, despite my attempts to make it clear I had no interest in discussing with them Why They Believe My Opinion Is Wrong and Why They Are Entitled to Tell Me So. More and more, writing reviews started to feel like a very stressful job I wasn't being paid for, so I deleted about a thousand ARCs (advance reader copies) of books I'd been approved for from my device and stopped using Goodreads for about two months except to read comments and occasionally respond to people who checked in.

I get that Goodreads is a commercial website that is free to use and one of the ways they keep the site running is by advertising revenue, but at the same time, promoting that kind of atmosphere creates a site that can become exhausting to use because it rewards spammy behavior of self-promoting reviewers and authors who only want to engage with you because they want something from you. I'm really not interested in a quid pro quo relationship and I've dealt with too many authors and reviewers who act like anything that they write is gospel truth, and if you disagree with anything they say, you're out of the cult - no questions. I've also dealt with too many people who take a review of a book as a personal attack, discussion of racism as racism, disliking books written by people of color as not liking people of color, and criticism as general negativity. It's possible to disagree in opinions without resorting to insults, and I really wish people could get over their own discomfort with weighty topics long enough to realize that they're adding to the problem by acting like talking about it is a problem.

Anyway, I'm back and I'm tired and I'm probably not going to use the site as actively as I used to, but I still have books to read that I bought with my own money that I will be reviewing. Like this one, SNAKES IN SUITS. (Sorry for the earlier rant, but I value transparency and felt like it was important to talk about why I basically disappeared for two months without really saying anything.) SNAKES IN SUITS is part psychology book, part business book, and maybe part self-help. It's written by one of the guys who created the Psychopath Test, which is a test you can take to find out how much of a sociopath you are. I haven't taken the test myself, but I'm sure some of my haters probably think I'd get a perfect score. As a psychology major, I'm skeptical of tests. I think people want to think the best of themselves generally, and are prone to answering in a biased way because of things like cognitive dissonance or even because they want the researcher to like them more.

I had a lot of problems with SNAKES IN SUITS. It features stories that I think are made up or compounded of actual interactions with sociopaths. They come across as cutesy Lifetime synopses, and feel way too dramatic to take seriously, even though I'm sure they're representative of actual interactions with psychopaths. I also feel like the book isn't particularly helpful because the general takeaway message I seemed to get from these was, "Avoid them if possible, because once you get involved, you're totally screwed - good luck, Jan." I was expecting something more scientific, comparing psychopaths in the general population, psychopaths in the prison system, psychopaths in corporate positions (hence the title), and things like recidivism, pros and cons, and evolutionary bases for why psychopathy has an evolutionary advantage in the first place (opportunistic bastards).

I would not recommend this book to people who are looking for help in dealing with psychopaths in the workplace OR for people who are interested in studying psychopathy. It reads like a cheap, pop psychology book and wasn't particularly informative or helpful, imho.

2 out of 5 stars

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