Webinar teaches board members how to label difficult homeowners as Sociopaths
Take a look at a promotion for a webinar presented by an attorney and community association manager affiliated with Community Associations Institute (CAI), the international trade group for HOA service providers.
Did you notice that this presentation is designed for HOA board members, not for all homeowners or residents of association-governed communities? The major emphasis, according to the synopsis, is how to cope with uncooperative, difficult residents.
Now, I am not denying that a community might have its share of people with serious social dysfunction or mental health problems.
My grave concern about this webinar is that it seems likely to encourage board members to label the outspoken owner, or the owner seeking access to official records, as the Neighborhood Sociopath. But I suspect that, in most cases, the clinical diagnosis would not apply.
The manager and attorney presenting this webinar are not licensed psychologists or counselors, nor are they qualified to evaluate and diagnose mental illness.
Besides, far, far bigger problems result for homeowners and residents when a bully or a genuine sociopath exerts unchecked power as a board member, or when a paid manager or attorney exploits the Association or its residents.
And, yes, the promo does mention that “fellow board members” might be identified as sociopaths. But given the context, I wonder if incumbent board members might choose to apply the “sociopath” label to newly elected board members who just so happen to disagree with their point of view, or who speak up and object to the status quo. What better way to isolate and dismiss new volunteer leaders?