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Business on the couch

Given the typical CEO’s career path – from obsessive, to narcissist, to megalomaniac – psychiatry has made surprisingly little inroads ...

By Adrian Furnham . 01 December 2005

Given the typical CEO’s career path – from obsessive, to narcissist, to megalomaniac – psychiatry has made surprisingly little inroads into the business world. But, wonders Adrian Furnham, isn’t it time we embraced the corporate shrink?
Business on the couchCompared to many other professionals, psychiatrists have been uncharacteristically coy about offering their services and expertise to the business world. Of course, some CEOs have been asked to attend the clinic and lie on the couch, but most remain in blissful denial. Further, there are few psychiatrists interested in corporate neurosis and paranoia. So, while sociologists and anthropologists, and even historians and poets, have dipped their toe in the corporate world (no doubt to enjoy some of its riches) psychiatrists have stayed away.

Yet, surely there is a ripe niche for psychiatric language and labels to capture the frankly bizarre behaviour so many of us experience at work. Does anyone recognise the following?

Acute Change Managementism: The desire to start more and more change management programmes regardless of whether they are needed or not and even before the last (failed) one can be properly evaluated.

Adolescent Teamwork Impulse: This is a moodaltering disorder involving teamwork. It may mean individuals do daft things together in the name of working better. It is a set of pointless, expensive and distracting activities that lead to work avoidance.

Adult Consultancy Dependency: A regression to a child-like state, this involves a dependency on expensive management consultants who encourage that dependency. This leads to a complete inability to make any decisions without consultants to hand.

Atypical Ethical Fetish: A late onset complaint often associated with private-life changes, sufferers see all behaviour at work as having an ethical dimension. Like Tourette’s Syndrome, it is characterised by inappropriate vocalisation of irrelevant issues in meetings to gain attention.

Award-Seeking Addiction: A total inability not to waste time, money and effort chasing some meaningless government sponsored industry award, plaque or badge that has no relevance to the real business.

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