Power freaks: To know them is to avoid them


Keeping you and your child safe

David Wolper

Some of us have power, some of us don’t. But everyone of us has to deal with it. As a parent, we try to find the balance of power between ourselves and our children and we hope our children achieve a balance with the new adults in their lives: teachers, coaches and parents of friends.

In most cases, all it takes is a little talk, a little time and a little understanding. But there are times when you find yourself in a situation with another adult and there is no way to fix it.

David Wolper, author of Power Freaks: Dealing with Them in the Workplace or Anyplace, talked recently with Chicago Parent about how to recognize and deal with those extreme cases of power seekers who make life difficult for people of all ages.

Q: What are power freaks?

A: These are the people with a certain type of personality. They are driven to dominate. They are self-serving individuals, who care little about the consequences of their actions. They actually enjoy demeaning other people, get a high from it and lack feelings of empathy and are uninhibited. They lie to suit their needs. They have a grandiose sense of self worth. They may be low on the IQ scale but they are envious of the success of others, including their own children. They lack any deep-seated loyalties and consistently bear grudges.

Q: Are these people all around us?

A: Yes, the estimates range from 1 to 3 percent of the population.

Q: So, I am going to encounter these people as a parent?

A: Absolutely. These people can look perfectly normal: Policemen, teachers, principals, ministers and other parents, of course.

Q: So what should parents know?

A: Keep yourself and your kids away from them before they are under stress and have an aggressive reaction to something minor. But you will have to deal with them: Maybe a neighbor, maybe a family member you can’t avoid at family functions or someone on a parent committee trying to run the whole thing. You can’t just deal with them as if they were normal people.

Q: Then how do you deal with them?

A: Calculated avoidance. I don’t mean just avoidance. Because if you ignore Uncle Ed, he will get mad. But say hello to him, then go and busy yourself with something else. Try to stay out of his way. Try to keep the children out of his way. He is a negative influence.

Q: How does this tie in with bullying?

A: In childhood, we don’t it call them psychopaths, we call them bullies. I am saying the kid that lies, who is manipulative and shows no lack of guilt, who is callous, parasitic and impulsive is a childhood psychopath. The studies on this are just beginning. But the sooner you (as a parent) recognize these people exist, the sooner you can intervene and move you and your child out of the way.


Susy Schultz


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