“Everybody is normal until you know them better,” Manfred Kets de Vries tells me. As a leading explorer of top executives’ psyches, Kets de Vries has, for decades, had a close-up view of what drives those at the top, and what dark thoughts lurk behind their domineering facades.

The 78-year-old professor has written more than 50 books and 400 articles and book chapters, many of them examining leaders’ narcissism, how they are affected by their early relationships, and what that does to their communication — or lack of it — with their loved ones and staff. I observe that not many people have, as he puts it in his most recent book, combined John Maynard Keynes’s “dismal science” with Sigmund Freud’s “impossible profession”...

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