|The Dark Triad
|The Dark Triad
November 3, 2017
By Dr. George Simon
Heartless Characters can be largely born the way they are. That is, the most disturbed among us have an innately impaired capacity to care. But folks lacking in empathy also tend to think in certain ways. And those ways of thinking lead them to form problematic attitudes and patterns of behavior. Moreover, engaging in those patterns both engenders and reinforces heartlessness.
“They look like us, but they are extremely
smooth at deceiving and come in many forms!”
More posts featuring Dr George Simon:
Michael’s problems started, according to his mother, around age 3, shortly after his brother Allan was born. At the time, she said, Michael was mostly just acting “like a brat,” but his behavior soon escalated to throwing tantrums during which he would scream and shriek inconsolably. These weren’t ordinary toddler’s fits. “It wasn’t, ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m frustrated’ — the normal things kids do,” Anne remembered. “His behavior was really out there. And it would happen for hours and hours each day, no matter what we did.” For several years, Michael screamed every time his parents told him to put on his shoes or perform other ordinary tasks, like retrieving one of his toys from the living room. “Going somewhere, staying somewhere — anything would set him off,” Miguel said. These furies lasted well beyond toddlerhood. At 8, Michael would still fly into a rage when Anne or Miguel tried to get him ready for school, punching the wall and kicking holes in the door. Left unwatched, he would cut up his trousers with scissors or methodically pull his hair out. He would also vent his anger by slamming the toilet seat down again and again until it broke.
When Anne and Miguel first took Michael to see a therapist, he was given a diagnosis of “firstborn syndrome”: acting out because he resented his new sibling. While both parents acknowledged that Michael was deeply hostile to the new baby, sibling rivalry didn’t seem sufficient to explain his consistently extreme behavior.
By the time he turned 5, Michael had developed an uncanny ability to switch from full-blown anger to moments of pure rationality or calculated charm — a facility that Anne describes as deeply unsettling. “You never know when you’re going to see a proper emotion,” she said. She recalled one argument, over a homework assignment, when Michael shrieked and wept as she tried to reason with him. “I said: ‘Michael, remember the brainstorming we did yesterday? All you have to do is take your thoughts from that and turn them into sentences, and you’re done!’ He’s still screaming bloody murder, so I say, ‘Michael, I thought we brainstormed so we could avoid all this drama today.’ He stopped dead, in the middle of the screaming, turned to me and said in this flat, adult voice, ‘Well, you didn’t think that through very clearly then, did you?’ ”
Published on Apr 28, 2014
Sandra L. Brown, M.A., is the founder of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education. She is a former psychotherapist, community educator on pathological love relationships, clinical lecturer and trainer, TV and radio guest, and an author. Her books include the highly popular How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved, the award-winning Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm With Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists, as well as the clinically relevant Counseling Victims of Violence: A Handbook for Helping Professionals.
Sandra is recognized for her pioneering work in women’s issues related to relational harm from dangerous and pathological partners. She specializes in the development of Pathological Love Relationship training for other professionals and the development of survivor-based support services.
Artwork: Adam Proctor
From BBC Future, 3 December 2015
By David Robson
Do you have a ruthless streak? Psychologists believe the “dark triad” of personality—Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy—might help you succeed in life. To measure your own dark side, click on the link below and choose how much you agree or disagree with 9 simple statements—and we’ll tell you how dastardly you actually are.
The questions for this quiz were inspired by questionnaires developed by Delroy Paulhus and Daniel Jones (Assessment, vol 21, p 28). Our quiz was designed solely for entertainment, and the results should not be considered a scientific measure of your personality. If you would like to learn more about Paulhus’s personality research and his serious explorations of the dark triad, read the BBC profile “The man who studies everyday evil”.
It’s important to understand that people on the narcissistic spectrum simply do not tolerate criticism, difference of opinion, or when certain others don’t subordinate and show the reverence they feel entitled to. These personality disordered individuals can be bullies who aspire to positions of power and influence from where they can control others, penalize those they feel offended by, and use their thespian talents to attract admirers and supporters. Some members of this flock are eager to take action against anyone who annoys the central figure. With a coveted position in the inner circle as a contributing motivator, they see an opportunity to act out aggression with a show of ‘moral righteousness’ that will secure the leader’s approval and a rise in the group’s esteem.
Many human problems are difficult to address effectively without insights into group dynamics and the significant roles often played by the personality disordered. On their own, complaints about the values, policies, and behaviors of others, including statements about how they ‘should’ be or act, just don’t broaden our understanding, lead to change, or offer any viable method to improve the human condition.
By SINDERELLA 02/23/2015
Deciphering the Narcissist from the Sociopath is some tricky business because they are practically identical. The two biggies that set them apart are the disordereds’ motives and levels of self-awareness. In other words, you’d have to get the N/S to be open and forthcoming about the inner workings of his mind. As always, you can count out the Narc or Socio for assistance. Unless you crack their heads open like coconuts and unravel the twisted little rats nests that dwell within, that ain’t happening. Continue reading this article…
Professor Robert Hare, the world’s foremost expert in the field, estimates that there are at least two million psychopaths in North America.
“Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.”
See also: Almost A Psychopath
Would you recognize a psychopath…
…or a sensible knave if you saw one?
The Scottish philosopher David Hume, three centuries ago, identified a character type that would pose a mortal danger to his otherwise optimistic view of human nature. (Yours, too?) This character he called a sensible knave. Hume sketches him thus:
“That honesty is the best policy, may be a good general rule; but is liable to many exceptions: And he, it may, perhaps, be thought, conducts himself with most wisdom, who observes the general rule, and takes advantage of all the exceptions.”
In this brief, accessible essay, contemporary philosopher Bianco Luno reminds us that Hume’s knave, aka psychopath, still haunts our world. The handcrafted mini book is 21 pages and approximately 3.1 x 3.6 inches.
See also: Narcissistic Rage
ASPD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) Characteristics & Traits
The following list is a collection of some of the more commonly observed behaviors and traits of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Click on the links on each trait for much more information and some ideas for coping with each. Note that these traits are given as a guideline only and are not intended for diagnosis. Each individual with ASPD is unique and so each one will display a different subset of traits. Also, note that everyone displays “antisocial” behaviors from time to time. Exhibiting one or more of these traits doesn’t necessarily qualify for a diagnosis of ASPD. See the DSM Criteria for diagnostic criteria.
Acting Out • Acting Out behavior refers to a subset of personality disorder traits that are more outwardly-destructive than self-destructive.
Baiting • A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.
Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing • This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.
Blaming • The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
Bullying • Any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.
Chaos Manufacture • Unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.
Cheating • Sharing a romantic or intimate relationship with somebody when you are already committed to a monogamous relationship with someone else.
Chronic Broken Promises • Repeatedly making and then breaking commitments and promises is a common trait among people with personality disorders.
Cruelty to Animals • Acts of cruelty to animals have been statistically discovered to occur more often in people with personality disorders than in the general population.
Denial • Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.
Depression • When you feel sadder than you think you should, for longer than you think you should – but still can’t seem to break out of it – that’s depression. People with personality disorders are often also diagnosed with depression resulting from mistreatment at the hands of others, low self-worth and the results of their own poor choices.
Domestic Theft • Consuming or taking control of a resource or asset belonging to (or shared with) a family member, partner or spouse without first obtaining their approval.
Emotional Abuse • Any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of Fear, Obligation or Guilt (FOG).
False Accusations • False accusations, distortion campaigns and smear campaigns are patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticisms which occur when a personality disordered individual tries to feel better about themselves by putting down someone else – usually a family member, spouse, partner, friend or colleague.
Favoritism • Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a family or group of peers.
Fear of Abandonment • A pattern of irrational thought exhibited by some personality-disordered individuals, which causes them to occasionally think they are in imminent danger of being rejected, discarded or replaced by someone close to them.
Feelings of Emptiness • Some personality-disordered individuals experience a chronic and acute sense of nothingness or emptiness, and so believe that their own existence has little worth or significance outside the context of strong physical sensations and relationships with others.
Grooming • Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.
Harassment • A sustained or chronic pattern of unwelcome behavior directed toward an individual or group.
Impulsiveness • The tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.
Intimidation • Any form of veiled, hidden, indirect or non-verbal threat.
Invalidation • The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.
Lack of Boundaries • A lack of boundaries is often at the root of long-term abusive relationships. Lack of boundaries means the absence of rules, limits and guidelines for acceptable behavior. Inconsistent or intermittent reinforcement of consequences for inappropriate behavior is common among both abusers and abuse victims.
Lack of Conscience • Individuals with personality disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.
Low Self-Esteem • A common term used to describe a group of negatively distorted self-views which are inconsistent with reality.
Manipulation • The practice of baiting an individual or group of individuals into a certain response or reaction pattern for the purpose of achieving a hidden personal goal.
Mood Swings • Unpredictable, rapid, dramatic emotional cycles which cannot be readily explained by changes in external circumstances.
Name-Calling • A form of Verbal Abuse which people sometimes indulge in when their emotional thought processes override their rational thought processes.
Narcissism • This term describes a set of behaviors characterized by a pattern of grandiosity, self-centered focus, need for admiration, self-serving attitude and a lack of empathy or consideration for others.
Neglect • A passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of a dependent are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.
Normalizing • Normalizing is a tactic used to desensitize an individual to abusive, coercive or inappropriate behaviors. In essence, normalizing is the manipulation of another human being to get them to agree to, or accept something that is in conflict with the law, social norms or their own basic code of behavior.
“Not My Fault” Syndrome • The practice of avoiding personal responsibility for one’s own words and actions.
Objectification • The practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.
Pathological Lying • Persistent deception by an individual to serve their own interests and needs with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.
Physical Abuse • Any form of voluntary behavior by one individual which inflicts pain, disease or discomfort on another, or deprives them of necessary health, nutrition and comfort.
Proxy Recruitment • A way of controlling or abusing another person by manipulating other people into unwittingly backing you up, speaking for you or “doing your dirty work” for you.
Push-Pull • A chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.
Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression • Explosive verbal, physical or emotional elevations of a dispute that are disproportionate to the situation at hand.
Ranking and Comparing • Drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups.
Sabotage • The spontaneous disruption of calm or status quo in order to serve a personal interest, provoke a conflict or draw attention.
Scapegoating • Singling out an individual or group for unmerited negative treatment or blame.
Self-Loathing • An extreme hatred of one’s own self, actions or one’s ethnic or demographic background.
Sexual Objectification • The act of viewing another individual in terms of their sexual usefulness or attractiveness rather than pursuing or engaging in a quality of personal relationship with them.
Shaming • The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.
Splitting • The practice of regarding people and situations as either completely “good” or completely “bad”.
Stalking • Any pervasive and unwelcome pattern of pursuing contact with another individual.
Targeted Humor, Mocking and Sarcasm • Targeted Humor is any sustained pattern of joking, sarcasm or mockery which is designed to reduce another individual’s reputation in their own eyes or in the eyes of others.
Testing • Repeatedly forcing another individual to demonstrate or prove their love or commitment to a relationship.
Threats • Inappropriate, intentional warnings of destructive actions or consequences.
Triangulation • Gaining an advantage over perceived rivals by manipulating them into conflicts with each other.
Verbal Abuse • Any kind of repeated pattern of inappropriate, derogatory or threatening speech directed at one individual by another.
The Narcissistic Father (psychologytoday.com)
All psychopaths have antisocial personality disorder. (psychforums.com)
Learning About Psychopaths: Immaturity…It’s Never a Good Sign (dechirementblog.com)
How do you manipulate? (psychforums.com)
Passive-Aggressive: What Does It Really Mean? (everydayhealth.com)
Note to viewer: The slideshow should be viewed with a grain of salt. It presents some known psychopathic traits, but in an oversimplified fashion. In the real world, do not expect a psychopathic individual to exhibit all of these traits, or any one of them as obviously or as extremely as the slide show may suggest.
Add to Fact #5 about childhood warning signs: cruelty to animals.
Everyone who speaks out about their experiences with psycho/sociopaths or spreads factual information about the “cluster B” personality disorders is helping others to see themselves, their relationships, their whole lives more realistically. A realistic perspective empowers us to make the best decisions for ourselves, and also, we feel stronger when we recognize that we are not alone, that what we are going through, or have survived, is not so unusual and extreme that no one will believe us if we told them about it. It helps to learn that the abuse and the dirty tricks we have been subjected to actually are standard psychopathic behaviors. It allows us to shed any guilt we may have from being mistreated or doubts about our own sanity. It gives us the confidence to redefine and set limits on unacceptable behavior. When we recognize the patterns, we also know better what to expect so that we may prepare accordingly. We can direct our energy to where it is effective instead of wasting it on an unrealistic notion; something that will never happen, no matter how hard we try.
And then there’s the bigger picture. Just think; if everyone had a basic understanding of psychopathy, you wouldn’t have to worry about your ex causing you to lose your job. All psychopaths lie. All psychopaths do hurtful, harmful things “without any reason.” It doesn’t always “take two to tango.” The world needs to know these things. We need to tell our stories, expose the evil-doers, and gain some clout and credibility. The time and opportunity is now with the Internet as a vehicle for all who have suffered. We can make a difference—we already have. Anyone can start a blog or post comments on websites. Let’s keep the ball rolling so the next generation, at least, has the heads-up we had to survive without.
If your ex follows through with his threat, show this discussion thread to your employer! What do you think would happen?
Covert narcissists are skilled at appearing “normal”. They choose a victim they feel they can dominate or manipulate, and they choose opportunities to abuse their victim when there are no witnesses or in a passive-aggressive, underhanded manner so that their secret mean streak isn’t exposed to others. Motivated by self-preservation and self gain, they lack fail-safes, such as empathy or a moral conscience, against selfish behavior that is harmful to others. Denial is a characteristic of the disorder. They can be highly critical of other people’s behavior, but they always feel righteous about their own.
Lovefraud’s mission is to educate the public about sociopaths, and one way to do that is by working with the media. We hope to interest the media in producing stories about disordered personalities, the damage they cause, and how to spot dangerous people before becoming involved.
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Clinical psychopaths have physiological markers that can be seen in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and in lower resting heart rate, for example. It has not been determined with certainty if these aberrations are present at birth or if they are due to childhood environment or trauma. It does seem plausible that the outcome for a “born psychopath” is closely tied to “external” influences. In other words; the characteristics of each individual, and his path in life, are the result of an interaction between nature and nurture.
If that truly is the case, isn’t it plausible that it is the childhood setting that determines if a child born with a psychopathic brain abnormality will become a high functioning ‘controlled’ psychopath or not? Perhaps psychopaths from ‘good’ homes are more likely to become politicians, corporate executives, lawyers, psychiatrists, and Wall Street operatives, while the psychopaths from ‘bad’ homes are more likely to take the positions as con artists, rapists, murderers, serial killers, and other criminals that have a high representation rate in prisons.
By Deborah Becker and Kathleen McNerney July 13, 2012 Most people think of psychopaths as those who commit horrible acts: brutal murders or enormous fraud. But maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re our neighbors, co-workers or family members who — while not exactly serial killers — might be what some are calling the “almost psychopath.”
Harvard Medical School associate professor of psychiatry Ronald Schouten and former federal prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney James Silver spoke with WBUR’s Deborah Becker about their latest book “Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy?”
The ‘Almost Psychopaths’ Among Us
Stonewallers, whether sociopaths or not, are seriously disturbed communicators. Their indifference to the stonewalled party’s experience can be chilling. Their stonewalling often reflects character pathology, in which case they won’t change—they will always be stonewallers.
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“These people are at war with you. Don’t ever tell them your secrets or your insecurities. They will just use it against you to inflict more pain. It’s a harsh reality to accept, but some people really are that hostile towards the world that they really are out to emotionally hurt everyone and anyone. The people they are closest to are just their easiest victims.”