Play Through the Pain? - The Impact of Forbidden Knowledge on Security and Intelligence Professionals

Presented at SOURCE Seattle 2016, Oct. 12, 2016, 9 a.m. (45 minutes)

The real cost of professional intelligence goes far beyond dollars. It is measured in families, lives, relationships, mental and physical well-being. The divorce rate is as high among them as among medical professionals, for good reason - how can there be relationships based on trust when one's primary commitments make truth-telling and disclosure impossible? Richard Thieme has been around that space for years. He has listened to people in pain because of the consequences of their actions, the misfiring of imperfect plans, and the burden of - for example - listening to terrorists slit someone's throat in real time, then acting as if they had a normal day at the office. The bottom line is, trauma and secondary trauma have identifiable symptoms and they are everywhere. Living as a "social engineer," always trying to understand the other's POV so one can manipulate and exploit it, erodes our core selves. This challenge is not abstract or philosophical, it's an existential challenge, and people in "the agencies," deep inside, are vulnerable to these assaults on their authenticity and integrity. Sometimes their sanity is at stake, and sometimes, life is at stake, too. Richard's talk will be followed by a special 90 minute workshop that supplements the keynote.


  • Richard Thieme / neuralcowboy - ThiemeWorks Presents   as Richard Thieme
    Richard Thieme ( is an author and professional speaker focused on the deeper implications of technology, religion, and science for twenty-first century life. He speaks professionally about the challenges posed by new technologies and the future, how to redesign ourselves to meet these challenges, and creativity in response to radical change. Thieme's early and creative use of the Internet to reach global markets earned accolades around the world. He is a member of the “cyber avant-garde,” according to CNN … "a prominent American techno-philosopher" according to LAN Magazine (Australia) ... “a father figure for online culture,” according to the (London) Sunday Telegraph ... "a keen observer of hacker attitudes and behaviors" according to Le Monde (Paris) ... "one of the most creative minds of the digital generation" according to the editors of CTHEORY and Digital Delirium ... "an online pundit of hacker culture" according to the L A Times ... and “extremely subtle and deep” according to the Linux Journal. Thieme has published widely. Translated into German, Chinese, Japanese, Slovene, Dutch, Hebrew, Danish and Indonesian, his articles are taught at universities in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States. His work has been frequently anthologized. His column, "Islands in the Clickstream," was published in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Toronto, Djakarta, Dublin and Capetown and distributed to thousands of subscribers in 60 countries. Syngress, a division of Elsevier, published a collection in 2004.