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What is the “dark triad” and which people should you avoid?

Some people are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. And when the ugly truth about them comes out, we wonder how we failed to notice the red flags in their behavior. Indeed, many maniacs and fraudsters turn out to be pleasant and attractive people in everyday life. How can I recognize them in this case? We explain what the “dark triad” in psychology is and which people you should avoid when meeting.


What is the “dark triad”

Zac Efron in “Beauty, the Bad and the Beast”

The term “dark triad” was first coined by psychologists Delroy Paulhus and Kevin Williams in 2002. In their studies, they used this to identify personality traits that pose a danger to society. For clarity, they depicted them in the form of a pyramid; there was Machiavellianism at the base, then narcissism, and psychopathy at the top.

People with these mental disorders have many common characteristics: lack of empathy (ability to empathize), megalomania (high self-esteem), resentment, uncontrollable outbursts of aggression, tendency to take unnecessary risks,

Machiavellians – These are a kind of “devil’s advocates”, that is, people for whom the end justifies the means. They are not very bloodthirsty by nature because they are not sensitive enough. In their actions, they are guided not by emotions, but by calculation and logic.

Zac Efron and Jim Parsons in Beauty, the Bad and the Beast

Machiavellians consciously risk other people’s lives and appropriate the fruits of others’ labor for the sake of their goals. For example, Steve Jobs deceived his friend Steve Wozniak and stole his share of the money and founded Apple with it. Even John Rockefeller, the first dollar billionaire in history, said: “I can answer to society for every million I have earned, except the first.” The personality trait itself, as you might guess from its name, is named after the Italian politician and philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. In his famous treatise “The Prince” he described the image of an ideal ruler, the prototype of which was Cesare Borgia, a Renaissance politician famous for his cunning intrigues and risky adventures.

Unlike the Machiavellians daffodilsAs a rule, they are less self-confident, cowardly people, since the dominant emotion they experience is shame. There is nothing worse for them than admitting that they are flawed in some way. “Am I the sweetest, pinkest and whitest person in the world?” As we remember, in the fairy tale the evil queen was ready to kill her stepdaughter because she could not accept the fact that she was more beautiful; This is a clear manifestation of narcissistic disorder.

Narcissists are cold people. Women are like Snow Queens who are often lonely because it is difficult for them to maintain long-term relationships. They easily fall in love with themselves, create an ideal image, and then mercilessly criticize and manipulate their partners.

when it comes psychopaths, then this is the most dangerous, unpredictable and difficult to define personality type. Already in childhood, many of them exhibit antisocial behavior: they break the law, torture animals, bully their peers, and are prone to promiscuity. By nature, psychopaths are true predators. They are impulsive and cruel. Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter and other movie villains are based on them.

Some psychologists recommend distinguishing between psychopaths and sociopaths (not to be confused with social phobias!). It is believed that the former are more intelligent and prudent in their actions, while the latter are more eccentric and prone to reckless, illegal and frankly unprofitable actions. If sociopaths are like this because they grew up in a bad social environment, then psychopaths often have congenital brain pathologies, specifically damage to the hypothalamus, limbic system, or prefrontal cortex of the brain, which are responsible for empathy.

Psychopaths often have above-average intelligence, and this, combined with their lack of empathy, allows them to gain power and attain high positions. They also seem to live a double life: They are attractive and successful in public, and real bullies at home. However, sometimes even their closest people may not be aware of their sadistic and perverted tendencies. Psychopaths have the ability to distract experienced judges and psychologists because they are pathological liars. That’s why there are so many serial killers and maniacs among them. It is true that in rare cases, people with psychopathic syndrome become excellent surgeons by channeling their negative traits into productive channels.


How to Protect Yourself from Narcissists and Psychopaths?

Christian Bale in “American Psycho”

It is impossible to recreate a person, especially when it comes to congenital disorders of brain functions. In any case, it is better to deal with pathologies by doctors, criminologists and forensic experts. It is important for us to learn to recognize antisocial individuals. Whoever is in front of you – Machiavellian, narcissist or psychopath, it is better to limit communication with him or stop it altogether. If this is your boss or relative, everything is much more complicated.

The fact is that representatives of the “dark triad” lead a parasitic lifestyle, therefore they often choose active and successful people as victims. They fascinate them, then exploit and destroy their personalities. The best thing to do to avoid this fate is to show them that there is nothing to take from you. In this game you don’t need to talk about your achievements or try to beat them. They should know as little about you as possible so they don’t blackmail you.

Mads Mikkelsen in the TV series Hannibal

Also, do not believe their manipulations. If a person raised his hand at you and then tearfully apologized, it is unlikely that he truly regretted his action. He only needs one thing from you: property, free sex, connections with influential people, etc.

The natural desire is to seek revenge on a psychopath for all the pain you had to endure with him. But in no case should you do this. Representatives of the “dark triad” do not feel fear. They will definitely remember your insults and take cruel revenge.

You should also not try to negotiate “humanely” with narcissists, Machiavellians and psychopaths. It is better to do everything behind the enemy’s back, especially if you are trying to sue him for the right to raise ordinary children, get his job back or resign. It is important to insure and legally protect yourself in advance to protect your reputation, property and mental health. The representative of the “dark triad” should not have a chance to plan a specific strategy against you.

Try as much as possible not to be alone with him. If you must meet with a psychopath, make sure someone is nearby. Alternatively, make an appointment in a crowded place.

Finally, listen to your intuition! Our body reacts sensitively to manipulation, and our eyes can catch micro-emotions on the interlocutor’s face. So your anxious hunches may be entirely justified. And yes, listen to the opinions of those around you. Of course, close people are not always right, but often they are the first to notice dubious acquaintances around us. So be careful and be confident!

Source: People Talk

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