I Am Fishead: Are Corporate Leaders Psychopaths?

I Am Fishead: Are Corporate Leaders Psychopaths?

2011, Psychology  -   314 Comments
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Ratings: 8.28/10 from 484 users.

Generally it's well established fact that a small percentage of society causes a disproportionately massive amount of problems and suffering for the rest of us. We've always wondered what holds humans back from creating the kind of society we'd all love to see. We used to call it evil but now we know that some people don't have the capacity to empathize or be remorseful.

The documentary I Am Fishead: Are Corporate Leaders Psychopaths? examines whether the people at the top are more likely to be psychopaths than the rest of us.

The neurological definition of a psychopath is someone with small amygdala (lesser fear response) and often less connections to the frontal lobe, the center for reasoning. There are many people like this and the reasoning is that these people are more disposed to taking risks and are therefore more often in a position to take advantage of an opportunity. A psychopath is a risk taker and often fearless of most consequences.

It really boils down to how you define evil. Some derive pleasure from causing others pain, and this is the litmus test for purely evil behavior. If you don't derive pleasure from killing the man behind the counter because he won't hand over the money, or from signing the paper that privatizes the water supply in a small nation, but you do it anyway, because you want the reward, this would still constitute evil but to a lesser extent. In the first case, the thrill and positive emotions of performing the destructive act is your reward. In the second case, the reward lies in the payoff from the act, and the suffering you cause is just unimportant.

This is looking at it from an individual level however. From a societal perspective, the 'lesser' evildoers, or the sociopaths, are probably more dangerous, because they differ less from the average guy. They are just ready to go that one extra step to attain what they crave. Put in situations where that kind of behavior is rewarded, and the responsibility is diffused or non-existent, they are likely to thrive.

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Mark
Mark
2 years ago

Really bizarre that the film never discusses narcissism or even mentions it at all. How can one discuss people who manipulate and lack empathy without once discussing narcissism?

democracy is coming
democracy is coming
2 years ago

wow- exactly where we are today!

jen
jen
2 years ago

SO RELEVENT FOR 2021....

Harold Nicol
Harold Nicol
2 years ago

Corporate capitalism is an economic psychopathic system.

Mike
Mike
3 years ago

Worst documentary I have ever seen in my life. Very bad logic.

JS
JS
3 years ago

A great premise, warranting serious study, completely derailing by the 30 minute mark when it switches to an anecdotal witch hunt.

Tola
Tola
3 years ago

Love this documentary

Robert Wyman
Robert Wyman
3 years ago

ed: A psychopath will NOT be handing out pills at a funeral if they even attend a funeral at all.

Robert Wyman
Robert Wyman
3 years ago

The damage a documentary can do when it misleads and is incorrect is tragic for society that thinks it is learning or that "it is true because it is a documentary". The fallacies contained here are a mishmash of suppositions and poorly presented at that. An anxiety disorder or depression have nothing to do with psychopath/sociopath behavior. "Mental illness" is also a poor choice of words that covers the nature of brain and thought disorder. Paranoid schizophrenia is nothing close to an anxiety disorder and shown here the "man in the street" is clueless about everything. Not all sociopaths are serial killers but all serial killers are sociopath/psychopath. The sociopath you will know or already have known has no emotion, has no concept of right or wrong and if you tell them they don't they don't care. They have nothing to do with capitalism but only care about themselves, they will not reach high levels of management because they will not work hard for anything, their victims will have worked hard for what they had stolen from them by the psychopath. Use the term "sociopath" as the same thing and you won't be wrong by much. A psychopath will be handing out pills at a funeral if they even attend a funeral at all. They don't feel emotion and will quickly be outed by more astute people who see those who must fake emotions because they cannot feel emotion. Once in their clutches the victim is conflicted because they love the sociopath but slowly realize they are being used and their savings are becoming depleted by the sociopath. Normal people are called "empaths", those who truly love and care. A sociopath cannot look at a photo of a person and know the subject's emotional state. A smiling face on a picture shows a happy person, a sociopath cannot see that.

The medications mentioned here do not make a sociopath and do a great disservice those who take those meds and are helped. Misuse of drugs do not make a sociopath. If you to know about the subject of sociopath/psychopath read Dr Robert Hare's books. This video is a mess of nonsense and its creator should be chastised or suspected of fraud. Dr Hare has the definitive list of traits to look for to identify the sociopath/psychopath. If you are disinterested then one rule to follow is do not loan or give money to anyone who asks. Do not bash capitalism just because you have been told to. Capitalism creates jobs and its only enemy is government and government is a collective of sociopathic behaviors using its power to take money at gunpoint from the people. The very reason for term limits and all defined in the Constitution. Gun control is a fine example of sociopaths misleading the gullible in an effort to castrate and enslave. How "red flag' laws are even considered by people as a benefit when it misuses "mental illness" as a reason to circumvent protected Rights is abomination and will reveal its faults after the damage is done and only then.

I am happy to see that many comments are in agreement that this video is trash. I for one have no idea what "fish head" even means. When you are in the trap set by the sociopath you must escape by running away and never looking back. That person will have drained your bank account and will already have another victim in his sway yet will attempt to draw you back for a little more. Never associate with that person again. They only want your money. Period. End of story.

GG
GG
5 years ago

Didn't care for the cheesy production methods, where the fishhead logo was flashed on your screen every few minutes. Thought they'd tire of it and stop after about 30 minutes, but it carries on the entire documentary. Like some other readers, I found that the original thesis of 'People of power are psychopaths' died out after a while and then there was an odd transition to other topics. Weak on many levels, informative on others, if you can deal with the cheesy production styles.

Brianna
Brianna
5 years ago

Decent, but strayed away from the self-proclaimed thesis of are corporate leaders psychopaths. It pretty much established that they are, but I would have been interested in a more in depth analysis of how the researchers came to that conclusion, with more specific examples from history and the reasoning behind that diagnosis. Instead, the documentary moved away from the question posed to try to tell readers how society can combat the affect of psychopaths, which was a nice train of thought, but not necessarily what I wanted to sign up to learn about.

Anne
Anne
5 years ago

The commentary on SSRIs creating sociopaths was ridiculous. The two actual studies that I bothered to find made no claims of the sort--in fact, one of them said the exact opposite: that test subjects who took the SSRI under study became more empathetic and concerned for others. The other study found that SSRIs do increase ADAPTIVE traits seen in psychopaths, such as social charm and interpersonal boldness. But if someone is severely depressed, takes an antidepressant, and sees an increase in social skills and confidence, then that means the antidepressant is doing its job. Not only that, but the SSRI decreased MALADAPTIVE psychopathic traits, like dysregulated impulsivity and externalization.

I stopped watching around minute 33. Besides the misinformed and fear-mongering stuff about antidepressants, the documentary was a weird combination of overly sensational/dramatic and boring.

Lauren Jones
Lauren Jones
6 years ago

I was looking forward to this documentary but found it very slow and I thought the slating of SSRIs was unhelpful and unnecessary; yes they inhibit emotional responses and deserved a mention, but the time dedicated to discussing them and bias against them was frankly, ridiculous. Even though the documentary focused on them being used for less severe diagnoses of mental illness, there was no acknowledgement that for people with more severe forms of depression or anxiety that these can be life-saving drugs. Imagine the impact for someone experiencing more severe mental illness who after watching the documentary now does not feel they should access medication that has been evidenced to potentially help them. I thought the way it was done was irresponsible and as someone who is alive today partly because of this medication I found the views on 'happy pills' deeply invalidating.

I stopped watching 50 minutes in having learnt nothing new about psychopathy or corporate psychopaths.

Patricia
Patricia
6 years ago

Anti-Depressants are prescribed too often, I agree. However, there are people who really do need these medications. Most people who commit suicide are majorly depressed. I didn't see an clear argument in this documentary for antidepressants having a relationship to psychopathy.

thx11
thx11
6 years ago

A good example of sociopath is in the movie "Night Crawler". What a sicko.

JuanitaLilli Ava
JuanitaLilli Ava
6 years ago

Great Video, I Thoroughly would give it a Solid 9.
I tend to understand much of the more "unbelievable but true and how truth is stranger than fiction and other issues in life. Cool thanks

john
john
6 years ago

Antinatalism FTW. If taking on all the evil in the world is too intimidating you can still refuse to procreate and add to the suffering. If we all did that one thing everything would work out just fine. If we don't then this is what we will always be dealing with.

Frank
Frank
6 years ago

Thank you for making this documentary.

R
R
7 years ago

You spelt fish head wrong.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago

Psychology IS a science, b.t.w. Pharmaceuticals are used too quickly too often to essentially put a bandaid on a symptom rather than treating the cause of the symptom. Also, Nutritional Healing is possible, in combination with cognitive therapy and behavioral modification. There ARE those who really do require psycho Pharmaceuticals in order to get along in life but I believe the percentage of those people is much less than what we're medicating for.

fisicoonetwoandthree
fisicoonetwoandthree
7 years ago

This is really interesting in respect to anti-depressants. I first took them in my early twenties and on and off for 20 years - mostly off. I would be very surprised if anyone took them didnt end up with some fairly serious side effect at some point. They are pretty horrific and you will never know if you arent just getting placebo effect. They should be for people who are really in a hole. For most people who get prescribed them that just isnt the case. Its a pandemic of learned helplessness, enabled by the medical profession.

Heather
Heather
7 years ago

Me first, to us first = socialism. Dump Capitolism!

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

Very provocative. Clarifies the mutually beneficial nature of morality. I especially like the way it points out the irony of the proud individualistic mindset so prevalent today. While it promises maximum freedom of choice and unhindered opportunity, proud individualism actually serves to divide, isolate, and therefore disempower the masses of modern Western society, making them unaware, apathetic, and much easier to control.
As is so often quoted, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". I would only add that to do good, good men must unite.

Danny
Danny
7 years ago

They are paid by investment bankers (usually under the table) to bring short therm gain. Many solution for that is to destroy other people lives.

Roger Andout
Roger Andout
8 years ago

That evil devil frightened the.... I didn't like it, anyway.

Dave
Dave
8 years ago

The whole link made of mess to psychopathic behavior might be true, but the film made is seem ridiculous and losses all credibility by using just pure speculation as the substance of the argument.

Mr. Skungeous
Mr. Skungeous
8 years ago

Are SSRIs overpresecribed? Probably? Are they useful? Many could not get by without them (you try living in an emotionally undead state dominated by anxiety and let me know how that works out for you – I'll take my chances with the drug, thanks). Do they create chemical psychopaths? I dunno, my dose is maxed out, yet I spend my days as a volunteer activist trying to protect people who commonly frustrate the hell out of me from corporate predators because it needs to be done and the 'normal' folks aren't stepping up. It may also be worth bringing up that prior to my taking these medications, I was unable to experience happiness, satisfaction, or altruistic love. But hey, maybe I'm just a freak case, and the fundamental problem with our society is the widespread and long-term use of obviously harmful psychotropic witches' brew and not, in fact, evilly selfish men with an insatiable appetite for power and money.

Don Dealgan
Don Dealgan
8 years ago

Very interesting documentary - convincing arguments.
Avaricious greed for power and wealth - it might lead to psychopathic behaviour. Our increasingly hyper-capitalist and neo-liberal societies encourage this type of thing.

Ben
Ben
8 years ago

Although there may be psychopaths at the top of the industries as corporate leaders, you don't have to be a psychopath to get to the top. Yes these people have to lack empathy to get to the top, but this is because of the way society works, you have to be ruthless. All those who get to the top don't have to be psychopaths to do this, as a part of capitalism the aim to be rich can be enough to ignore morals.

The real problem as pointed out in the documentary is that the industries themselves are sociopathic. Industries don't make money by using empathy and kindness, they make money by abusing the system, such as using sweatshops. The only way corporate leaders make it to the top is by being a part of this system, they can't do this by using empathy and being moral.

So how do we change this? Changing the way these sociopathic industries work. If industries became moral, even if a psychopath makes it to the top they will only do so by mimicking morality.

John Tripp
John Tripp
8 years ago

Would've watched it were it not for annoying edits and the ridiculous fish head graphic.

Clay99
Clay99
9 years ago

If you like sex you'll have to take Viagra as the drugs create impotence. But it might be worth it, considering the fact that you are at the top of your social circle game.

Clay99
Clay99
9 years ago

These drugs are very good for some people, and not so good for others. For me, when I was on them, they made me into a very warm, kind, caring sort of person, who didn't tick with deadlines and pressure, but actually connected with each and every person that I dealt with in a friendly sort of way. Others who have taken the drugs dealt with issues that weren't so good. Some people are Supermen on the drugs, that create wonderful environments for them and their social groups.

Clay99
Clay99
9 years ago

How do I become a sociopath? I mean, c'mon men, they get laid more. They usually make more money. They sleep like babies, despite what they did to someone else the day before, after all, they had it coming to them.
They are usually on their fifth marriage but who cares, they always have some hot, young, bimbo sitting on their noggin at work. So, how do I become a sociopath? Should I just go out and practice ruining everyone's day? Be rude to everyone? Get into one fist fight a month? Tell me my sociopathic friends.

Miss K
Miss K
9 years ago

What's up with the constant submiminal fish icon that keeps flashing? I don't like or trust that. Stopped me from watching anymore wiithin 5 minutes of the film.

Deya
Deya
9 years ago

The Chinese phrase “the fish stick from the head” suggests that human mind can create external crisis. For example, in the economic crisis most banks offered low interest rates in mortgages to later increase them to unreasonable rates. It is unreasonable to think that people would not loss their houses, and the government has to come with solutions of this mess. This is psychopath behavior of cool
thinker that did not measure the consequences in society.

bluetortilla
bluetortilla
9 years ago

Awesome documentary. And inspiring. I'll try to stop scowling so much and see if forgiveness works out better for me.

Nael Mitwasi
Nael Mitwasi
9 years ago

Like many documentaries, it only explains clearly the problem side of the system. It does not provide a clear solution, only a weak temporarily one. If it wasn't made for entertainment purposes, this documentary would have concentrated on a more reasonable long lasting solution, perhaps the creation of a system that cannot be easily abused by irresponsible power loving humans.

Derek Seymour
Derek Seymour
9 years ago

These guys say they can test somebody who is an expert lier...k. so how do they test for lying on their written test?

Kravi
Kravi
9 years ago

I have one comment on that: You know nothing Jon Snow, you know nothing...

Colleen Farrell
Colleen Farrell
9 years ago

It's stunning that anti-depressants are called "happy pills," and that these people claim they create a "lack of empathy." First, anti-depressants never made anybody "happy" (if they did, there would be a thriving black market for them, as there is for opiates and stimulants). They merely enable people to function, and the price for that is a half dozen or so really crappy side effects. Second, the claim that anti-depressants destroy empathy is just breathtaking in its inaccuracy. Yes, they can flatten affect (the lows aren't so low, so you don't spend the weekend sobbing in bed for NO rational reason, or ruminating endlessly on suicide ... but also, the highs are never as high -- you're never so much "happy" as you are just not sobbing in bed for no rational reason.) The only way anti-depressants could destroy empathy (which presumably all of us non-psychopaths are either born with or learn at a young age) is if they sedated you to the point where you were drooling in your milk. These absurd claims ruined the credibility of the film's experts.

Finally, correlation is not causation. The fact that many people in the corporate world take anti-depressants, and some corporate people are psychopaths, does not mean that anti-depressants cause corporate workers to become psychopaths. Really, there is so much shoddy "analysis" in this movie, I'm just shaking my head.

Charlie
Charlie
9 years ago

The "shrub" , President Cheney , Ken Lay etc, are proof that either the 5% awareness level either has not been reached as yet or is not true. Surely any intelligent person watching WTC Building 7 collapse must know , yet here we are. I wish the 5% rule were true however I suspect it is not.

DIMOJABE
DIMOJABE
9 years ago

Without splitting too many definitional hairs... The shrub and his Dad's decisions killed a LOT of people. Big ag & Big pharma & Big Chem are killing us at the pace of their choosing...

I want to find more films that dig into the psychopathic corporate beast itself with an in depth look at our very own "non" government of the USA.

Branden Jensen
Branden Jensen
9 years ago

Although you have the right rough idea, you are confusing some things.

Psychopath: a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sociopath: a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The term you want is "sociopath", NOT "psychopath"

There are a lot of studies over the years that have proven people in roles of leadership (ie. Politicians, CEOs, etc) show signs of sociopathic tendencies.

Dr Holman
Dr Holman
9 years ago

I agree with the arguments of this review:

"The explanation of the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths wasn^t clear, nor was the explanation of why corporate psychopaths are associated with "fish heads". The mere fact that there is a Chinese saying that goes "Fish stink from the head" is no explanation for why the fish metaphor should be applied to corporate psychopaths. At some point the makers of the film claim that it had by that point been "proven" that corporate leaders are psychopaths, but in actual fact nothing was proven. There was an assumption right from the start of the video that corporate leaders are psychopaths, and the film tried to find explanations for why this is the case. This is different from proving anything. I find it very annoying to see random film extracts in documentaries, which do nothing more than appeal to feelings of familiarity in audiences that share the same cultural background as the filmmakers, and when people are shown answering a question which hasn't been clearly stated beforehand I consider this as a form of manipulation. The experiments about how people can be influenced to afflict cruel punishments only say something about the American public, not about all human societies. The same is true for the famous prison experiment carried out by Zimbardo."

Personally I did not need an extract of this film to understand that its information line was want for credulity. A careful reading of the loosely assumptive summary alone makes it clear that this deserves skepticism.

There is no such thing as a category of human being who are biologically dissimilar. Every development in human nature has an explanation, and it takes only a broadened perspective to eventually come to the conclusion that 0 always = 0. We are balanced. We are alike, we are unalike, we are similar, we are disimilar, but we are made of the same cognitive and anatomical parts and the differences in our behaviour are informed by narrative choices.

Two cognitive misonomers which sell the idea of a 'psychopath.'

1 - Ego. Predisposes us to differentiate between individuals, who are ubiquitously unextraordinary except in how they superficially associate themselves with various preexisting social narratives.

2 - Adherence to Dominant narratives. Public dialogues of a high profile and rate of contagion cary more weight than scientific or objective narratives, which are usually less palatable due to the fact that they are neutral and inconclusive; i.e., followed to their most radical conclusion, they would never justify the legitimacy of one group over another.

Communication and Differentiation exists solely to ensure the survival of certain traits. When communication is not on some level engaging in a form of protracted hostility between male and female, dominant and submissive, good and evil, right and wrong, it loses all purpose.

Thank you for reading, and for taking the time.

Sincerely,
A Social Psychologist. [my claim to dominance]

bsww
bsww
10 years ago

There is nothing "turn the cheek" about this film. It calls on all of us to be the one who sets the example of resistance. In this case, "resistance" means acting in good conscience with human sympathy, because the system has no conscience or sympathy.
The reason you can defeat psychopaths this way is that this sort of behavior is the LAST thing they expect!

efeuvete
efeuvete
10 years ago

Psychopats are not human, they just have human bodies. That's the thing, but normal people is not still prepared to understand it.

Dino Martini
Dino Martini
10 years ago

This film seems to seek protection for the wealthy, comes from a
perspective oblivious to poverty. Justice would be served by focusing
on the top 5-6% referred to at the end of the movie and FORCING a better
moral code, not by the passive/happy sheep propaganda served up here.
That's just what the animals/thieves at the top want, a happy, moral
workforce. So here's a smart (Fishead) doc crafted to seem 'edgy' &
push a turn-the-other-cheek philosophy for everyone at the bottom. Garbage flick.

Jabsdna
Jabsdna
10 years ago

The WH is full of them although they are NOT charming at all!!

MirjamUrfer
MirjamUrfer
10 years ago

The explanation of the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths wasn^t clear, nor was the explanation of why corporate psychopaths are associated with "fish heads". The mere fact that there is a Chinese saying that goes "Fish stink from the head" is no explanation for why the fish metaphor should be applied to corporate psychopaths. At some point the makers of the film claim that it had by that point been "proven" that corporate leaders are psychopaths, but in actual fact nothing was proven. There was an assumption right from the start of the video that corporate leaders are psychopaths, and the film tried to find explanations for why this is the case. This is different from proving anything. I find it very annoying to see random film extracts in documentaries, which do nothing more than appeal to feelings of familiarity in audiences that share the same cultural background as the filmmakers, and when people are shown answering a question which hasn't been clearly stated beforehand I consider this as a form of manipulation. The experiments about how people can be influenced to afflict cruel punishments only say something about the American public, not about all human societies. The same is true for the famous prison experiment carried out by Zimbardo.

Akhil
Akhil
10 years ago

Brilliant... This is like some theories that you do not understand unless you have had a practical experience.... Only ones who have had the distinction of dealing with a SOCIOPATH and have survived would be to able to appreciate.....