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Why Corporations Are Psychotic

If corporations are "people," they are mentally ill. How much of our social dysfunction is attributable to their psychosis? Read More

One problem

Citizens United had nothing to do with corporate personhood. The idea was not addressed, established, or discussed in the ruling.

It's an overstatement to say

It's an overstatement to say CU has "nothing to do" with corporate personhood. The article is not an analysis of the CU decision, but rather mentions it briefly to point out that it raised the public's consciousness about the personhood issue, which is certainly true. The CU decision would have been impossible without the concept of corporate personhood having already been established (the article points out that corporate personhood has been around for well over a century), so it's a bit of a reach to say that the decision has "nothing to do" with it.

Good Luck

The tea party movement will never challenge corporate power since it was CREATED by corporate power and FINANCED by corporate power. It's basically just the John Birch Society for the post-communist era. If you are a politician and you want to challenge corporat power, be prepared to end up like John or Robert Kennedy or Paul Wellstone.


You do realize that the people who killed John and Robert Kennedy were from the radical left. This is what happens when you get your information from Rachel Maddow.

I have seen a recent

I have seen a recent convergence of Humanism and Libertarianism, particularly from the Center for Inquiry. This was exemplified by the recent editorial "The myth of surplus wealth".
This, in part, reminds me of why I reject the association.

What makes me laugh about the

What makes me laugh about the Tea Party is that the anti-war movement has basically been saying the same thing since the Bush era. Where were these people when the Patriot Act destroyed the constitution? I guess political identity is more important than the constitution. As long as a Rep is doing it, it's okay.

Don't you mean "Psychopathic"?

I was horrified to see that you linked the term "psychotic" to narcissism and psychopathy. Psychopathy isn't the same thing as being psychotic. I believe you meant to say "psychopathic" in your title, *not* "psychotic".

You're contributing to inaccurate and dangerous stereotypes, as I discuss here:



Figuratively speaking . . .

Sorry to horrify you, Scott! First, the article does not equate narcissism and psychosis, though it states that both terms could be applicable to the corporation as a person. One can be both psychotic and narcissistic, correct? Also, obviously, since we're talking about a non-living thing, the "psychosis" and "narcissism" are figurative, not literal.

BTW, I enjoyed the piece at your link.

I clarified the terms

Glad you enjoyed my piece!

It's all good Dave. I know you weren't using the terms literally, but I felt there was much room for confusion between psychosis and psychopathy. To prevent confusion, I wrote a post clarifying the important difference between the terms:


By the way, my comment has nothing to do with the main point of your interesting post!


Hi DN. Interesting concept

Hi DN. Interesting concept that corporations are psychopathic/pathological in their behaviour. I have to agree with Dr Kaufman that looking at the definitions of the words, psychopathic would be a more accurate and correct word choice. As your examples and elaborations are on the theme of narcissism and psychopathy rather than psychosis, the result is that the article's title says X, but it then goes on to argue Y.

Your piece would be more accurate and hang together more tightly if you simply changed all incidences of "Corporations Are Psychotic" to "Corporations Are Psychopathic". And you would be helping to educate the world on the correct usage of the terms :)

2 out of 3 ain't bad...

Although I agree with most of what the author of this blog said about corporations and governemnt , I think he forgot to mention the other "entity" that has become too big and too powerful;


Unions contributed more money to the Obama campaign than all corporations combined.

I repeat.

Unions contributed more money to the Obama campaign than all corporations combined.

Don't believe me ?

Do your own research.

And don't be surprised if Democrats return the favor by supporting anything favorable to unions. ( like leaving their posts and refusing to vote on anything not good for unions...Wisconsin anyone ?)

Irrelevant Comparison

That's a rather irrelevant comparison. Corporations tend to support republican candidates who tend to pass policies that support corporations' bottom lines. Even beyond this point I think your comment doesn't address the author's core argument of psychopathy of corporations in the sense that they only care about their bottom line.

The big difference between a union and a corporation is a union is bound by the interests of a large group of people and is generally interested in furthering the rights of workers whereas a corporation is only bound by profit and any actions directed towards respecting and furthering the rights of individuals that occur are only byproducts of a drive for profit.

I certainly respect your right to disagree with the author, but unions really have no relevance to this article.

Unions have contributed more

Unions have contributed more than corporations to the Obama campaign.

Unions have bought themselves a candidate and have paid to get him elected.

My comment has to do with government, corporations and not having the best interest of the people at heart.

It is HIGHLY relevant.

How so

No one will get elected without the support of some large group.

Unions are simply an assembly of people looking out for their own well being. Unions protect their worker's safety, well being and yes bargain for the best wages profitable. I think there is a large difference between a union and a corporation whose sole purpose is to produce earnings.

You can say any recently elected democrat is largely due to union support, why pick Obama? And the only point is that there is resistance to corporate domination. And logically where would that fall besides any type of organized labor. It's not really much of a point at all.

And I own a corporation, and am not a union member and do largely agree with this article and think it was well written.

Just another off-the-rails

Just another off-the-rails right-wing union basher decrying that a teacher, tradesman, or police/fireman should earn a decent wage and have decent working conditions. Unions are a horror to the psychotic corporate "person" as is anything that cuts into their profit from plundering the earth and exploiting real flesh and blood humans. Of course, you can't fight your enemy in this realm unless you have those - like our union bashing friend, passionately willing to fight against their own self-interest, and who fail to realize unions built this nation (not corporations), and many of the benefits they themselves enjoy from their psychotic corporate employers (overtime, health care, paid time off) were fought for (literally - and to in some instances death) by union members of yesterday from the psychotic and brutal "robber baron" corporations. It's a shame the effect of Fox "News" and conservative AM hate-jock radio has on some.

Thank you

Thanks for a very insightful piece. I feel that this is definitely something I can share with my wife and/or others in order to help explain some of my positions politically.

Tea Party

Feel free to try to interest the Tea Party in this issue. I find it hard to imagine they'll join in. Consider Warren Buffett's statement the effective tax rate on his $46 million income was 18% and the effective tax rate on his $60,000 secretary was 30%. Even if Tea Party members advocate a "flat tax" one might suppose they'd be in an uproar about paying a higher rate than billionaires. But to the best of my knowledge, the Tea Party's motivations are such that they haven't made an issue of it.

Consent of the governed?

Corporations are created by government edict, not by consent of the governed.

Should citizens be able to put the renewal of the charters of some or all corporations to a vote?

Thomas Jefferson and the

Thomas Jefferson and the "thing of wax":


"Thus, ironically, at their

"Thus, ironically, at their essence corporations are a creation of government meddling."

Who are those institutional investors? So, corporations and government both were viewed in a skeptical light by the founders. And yes, there were corporations in the early days, take the East India Company, the one that sparked the real Tea Party in Boston.

Is it just me or do other see that the 'left" blames the corporations and the "right" blames government while the reality is they are joined at the hip. Both Tea Party activists and Progressive activists make the same mistake of "not considering the question fully" and as long as the R/L parameters hold sway the dialog, such as it is, will stay the same.

You are exactly right, and

You are exactly right, and people that really know what is going on will not align themselves with a party but with principle which is why so many have gotten behind Ron Paul and the Austrian economists. There is also a great degree of evidence that our modern day Presidents (Bush/Obama/Romney) are being shoved down our throats (in an unsavory way)by the very same establishment that props up this government/corporatist alliance and benefits from it. When people wake up and realize that devotion to a party is destroying the political system, and that we are rapidly becoming a very dangerous one party system, maybe we can work on restoring our economy and regaining our freedom. Until then, we just hang in the balance due to our blind devotion to what we think is reality.

Some Good Points

I was disappointed that you marred an otherwise important analysis by confusing psychotic with psychopathic. The two are completely different.

Citizens United expanded the rights of corporations so extensively it essentially crushes the rights of natural persons. The Court went far beyond any case or controversy before it to sweep away about a century's worth of laws and allow corporations to give unlimited amounts of money anonymously. Furthermore, there are almost no laws against lying in political advertising, and this flood of money has been used largely to inundate campaigns with false flag organizations - make believe populism - touting alarmist and untrue claims.

The result has been that candidates who support the interests of the people over corporations lose. Our government is so lopsided in favor of corporations two of our industries - health insurance and firearms - cause nearly eighty thousand unnecessary deaths a year. Can you think of any living dictator killing nearly eighty thousand of his people every year? And yet we are virtually powerless to do anything about it, the corporations have that much sway over both our elected officials and our corporate media.

Unions on the other hand exist to make sure people who are otherwise powerless have a voice. When corporations give money, it's somebody else's money - your and my retirement savings for example - and it's to protect only the interests of their largest shareholders and their executives at the top, often times diametrically opposed to the interests of rest of their shareholders and employees as well as the public at large.

It is an untenable situation, as the operation of corporations and the wealthy people who control them can be very well understood by reading up on Robert Hare's work on psychopaths.
The behavior of corporations (and the wealthy people who control them) in the public and political realm is very much like the behavior of psychopaths as described by those who study them.

Though the terms psychopaths and sociopaths are used interchangably, strictly speaking psychopaths are worse, more organized, more congenital, more diabolical, completely without empathy. Sociopaths are more cultural and environmental in origin, more disorganized and have some capacity to feel empathy for those within their intimate circle. http://bit.ly/aMwSSx

I suspect bigots will someday soon be treated as a third level of the same phenomenon, as they also involve dehumanizing and abusing others. It's appropriate, too, because corporations today, like psychopathic leaders in history, flagrantly foment hatred and bigotry as part of their campaign to control the political process and fatten their profits.

Of the three levels, psychopathy, the worst, fits corporations best.

OK, Here's the thing. If

OK, Here's the thing. If corporations are "legally" people with "rights" why aren't those "legal" people in jail for stealing so much of "OUR" money?

Because corporations are

Because corporations are formed to limit the liability of their shareholders. It's the nature of the beast.

It is the inherent capitalist

It is the inherent capitalist nature of corporations that forces the psychopathic race to the bottom, strictly driven by maths and economics.
Say a moral public corporation limits it profits to 10% to better serve it's community, it doesn't charge to much for good product and it pays good wages, this profit margin defines it capital value.
Now along comes a psychopath, a snake in a suit, he goes to a finnacial institution, borrows money and pays more for that moral corporation than it's capital value as defined by it's profits is worth, something between 20% and 50% percent more.
After buying that moral corporation he dumps that debt, what he borrowed back on the corporation, so now it is making between a 10% and 40% loss (this he blames on unions and government rather than on his borrowings).
That loss needs to be recovered so he charges more for worse product, he screws down wages, he fires as many people as he can, he shifts labour to third world countries and just it case it all collapses he pays himself an enormous salary with a golden parachute escape clause.
Do you recognise the business model, it's reality, it is what actually happened to corporations all over the world over the last fifty years.
They are toxic enterprises because capitalism and the vagaries of human genetics (narcissits and psychopaths) ensures that is the direction in which they will evolve.

And there are no psychopaths

And there are no psychopaths in the Communist system or the Socialist system?

You nailed it

You nailed it,

leftists believe there are no psychopaths or any sort of bad people in their team.

There are no socialist psychopaths , there are no psychopath communists, there are no psychopath union leaders, there are no psychopath democrat, there are no psychopath liberals, there are in fact NO bad people on the left, NONE ZERO NIET ZILCH,

according to leftists - such as the author of this piece - only right wing people are messed up in the head, and can be evil.

and the left claims to be the ones who are tolerant and open minded.

And I thought people who have a distorted view of reality had some mental problems

silly me!!!

Corporations are NOT exempt from criminal laws

Corporations, if they are deemed 'persons', are not exempt from criminal laws which protect the individual (real-person) from coercions, violence, deceits and forced 'agreements' by any other person, or entity. This means if a 'corporation' acts in ways harmful to a real person, then it must be held to the same laws as are for natural persons, which means they may not coerce, deceive, or violate that person's natural rights, such as protected by our Constitutional laws. Our Bill of Rights should apply to both individual-persons and corporate-'persons' equally. Then, if either acs in ways that are harmful to others, ie. coercive to others, then let them be held responsible for their actions. Moral behavior, in that case, is held equal for both, wether a natural person or corporation. There is no need for a Constitutional Amendment, if the laws protecting individuals from criminality apply to corporations equally.

'Natural' corporate persons

In the article it says: "First of all, the officers and directors who run corporations are actually duty-bound to act in the corporation's best financial interest, and that means they are obliged to do whatever they can within the law to make money."

If the directors and officers of a (limited liability) corporation are "duty-bound" to gain the best financial interest, "to make money", then what makes them different from Mafia or drug lords, who are likewise 'duty-bound' for their 'best financial interest'? If 'natural' persons can be prosecuted for unethical and criminal activities, why can't the 'natural' corporate person be prosecuted for the same? If they can, then whether or not corporations are psychotic takes second row. First row is they are held to the same laws, which means the 'limited liability' of corporations may apply to the shareholders, but officers and directors are not protected, IMO.

I have to take issue with what you think the founders would say

"Would they feel that government has gotten too big?...likely that they would conclude that much government expansion - the FDA, the FCC, the FAA, the EPA, Social Security, etc. - are logical results of technological and social development. Of course, all we can do is speculate."
And speculate you have,"Logical results"? I am thinking they might conclude that we wrongly gave way too much power to huge bureaucracies by plundering the citizens. And that these very same entities put in place to supposedly protect us, have become so corrupt by aligning themselves with the corporatists and special interest groups that they now do way more harm than good. That we have been complete morons to put our trust in government's schemes to expand, and thus have strayed so far from the intent of the Constitution's purpose to limit a big centralized government that we don't deserve the freedom and Rule of Law that they worked so hard to give us. They would be ashamed.

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Dave Niose is an attorney, activist, and writer. He is president of the Washington-based American Humanist Association.


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