House of Cards: Psychopathy in Politics

Désiré Palmen, Jan Derksen, Emile Kolthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Psychopathy is a severe personality disorder that can be defined by a lack of conscience, an egocentric and manipulative character, and charming social skills. Among the general community, images of serial killer Ted Bundy or movie character Hannibal Lector immediately come to mind. Interestingly, however, the recent TV show House of Cards appears to introduce a different kind of psychopathic personality to the general public through the character of Frank Underwood. This “successful” psychopathic leadership type has also been an important focus of attention among scholars of psychopathy in the last few years. This article uses an analysis of the psychopathic traits of Frank Underwood to present a new model of this psychopathic leader. Through this illustration, it is postulated that the psychopathic leader has a specific profile with a combination of psychopathic and nonpsychopathic features. Because this profile is different from the “traditional” conceptualization of psychopathy, it is more difficult to recognize such a politician as a psychopathic individual. The question of whether a leader with such a profile is successful or a risk will also be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427 -443
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Integrity
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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Keywords

  • CONSTRUCT
  • CORPORATE PSYCHOPATHY
  • DARK SIDE
  • House of Cards
  • JOB-SATISFACTION
  • LEADERSHIP
  • MODEL
  • PERSONALITY
  • SECONDARY PSYCHOPATHY
  • WHITE-COLLAR CRIME
  • WORKPLACE
  • leadership
  • politics
  • psychopathy
  • successful psychopathy

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