Posted in Alienation

In Search of the Core of Evil

Each DT trait has been described with unique characteristics: Machiavellianism describes an exploitative cynical nature, being a manipulator rather than manipulated (1415). Narcissism is characterized by an exaggerated sense of entitlement, superiority, and grandiose thinking (2). Psychopathy comprises a constellation of affective-interpersonal (superficial charm, callous affect) and behavioral (erratic lifestyle, antisocial behavior) deficits (1617). Nevertheless, the DT traits are significantly inter-correlated (18) with considerable convergent correlations between subscales (19).

Collectively, the DT traits share a propensity for a callous and manipulative interpersonal life-style, leading prior research to examine the empirical overlap between these subclinical personality traits, in order to designate the underlying core of “evil” personalities. The so-called “dark core” is proposed to comprise a set of traits and emotional deficits that is common across all three traits, explains their shared variance and promotes a selfish and antagonistic lifestyle (4). Most notably, callous-unemotional (CU) traits and empathic deficits have been proposed to constitute the shared dark core of all three dark traits (3), as well as low Agreeableness (2), low Honesty-Humility (132021), and a behavioral overlap of an alternative fast and exploitative life history strategy (22).

Importantly, there are debates in the field as to how the DT should be best conceptualized–as individual traits or shared constructs with a joint dark core (8). For example, some authors propose that narcissism is less central to the dark core than psychopathy and Machiavellianism, and best viewed as a separate construct, leaving psychopathy and Machiavellianism as a dark dyad [e.g., (1023)]. Indeed, a factor analytic study showed a stronger clustering of psychopathy and Machiavellianism with other variables (e.g., moral disengagement, unethical attitudes, and disagreeableness) capturing antisocial variance, whereas narcissism was much stronger associated with a non-antisocial factor alongside traits such as extraversion and intellect (11). Psychopathy and Machiavellianism share more overlap than they do with narcissism, and greater similarity in their associations with other CU personality correlates [i.e., low Agreeableness and Conscientiousness; (12)]. Nevertheless, confirmatory factor analyses suggest that a two-factor model combining psychopathy and Machiavellianism, and keeping narcissism separate, has equivalent fit to the standard three factor model; as such, deciding between the optimal model may need to be based on theoretical grounds (12). However, a recent meta-analysis [102 studies, N = 46,234; (13)] suggests that the DT model inadequately captures the malevolent side of personality. Machiavellianism and psychopathy were more strongly linked to adverse psychosocial outcomes than Narcissism. Moreover, once psychopathy had been controlled, it alone remained significantly associated with all of the considered outcomes (including direct aggression). In comparison, the majority of the average effect sizes for both Machiavellianism and narcissism became considerably smaller and mostly non-significant (apart from interpersonal difficulties for both and antisocial tactics for Machiavellianism). These findings suggest the DT traits should be treated as independent constructs. Finally, examining the factorial structure of the DT traits, another recent study showed better model fit for a single latent dark core dimension compared to conceptualizing three independent traits (9), suggesting that the dark personalities are best represented through the single dark core and rendering the individual traits redundant. The mixed findings in the literature may partly be attributable to the measurement tools used, and their respective reliability and validity issues (8). Taken together, it is heavily debated whether the DT traits are best conceptualized as (i) three unique monads (single constructs), (ii) a Machiavellianism and psychopathy dark dyad, with narcissism as a separate construct, or (iii) a single joined dark triad core subsuming the three traits in predicting maladaptive behavior. Continue reading “In Search of the Core of Evil”

Posted in Alienation, Dark Triad, PERSONALITY DISORDERS

The emotional deficits associated with the Dark Triad traits

Volunteers (N = 322) in an online survey revealed the complex correlational patterns between the Dark Triad traits and two forms of “emotional deficiencies” (i.e., limited empathy and alexithymia) overall and in each sex. Each Dark Triad trait was associated with a unique pattern of emotional deficits. Psychopathy was correlated with limited overall empathy, difficulty describing feelings, and externally oriented thinking. Narcissism was associated with limited affective empathy and difficulty identifying feelings, whereas Machiavellianism was associated with externally oriented thinking. The Dark Triad mediated sex differences in empathy and externally oriented thinking. Structural Equation Modeling suggests that the differential facets of alexithymia predict different forms of limited empathy that in turn predict specific Dark Triad traits. Results are discussed using an evolutionary paradigm. Continue reading “The emotional deficits associated with the Dark Triad traits”

Posted in Alienation, Dark Triad, PERSONALITY DISORDERS

The affective and cognitive empathic nature of the dark triad of personality

The dark triad represents the most prominent, socially aversive personalities (viz., Psychopathy, Narcissism, and Machiavellianism) characterised by a common underlying deficit in empathy. Although, evidence shows that empathy can be further divided into cognitive and affective systems, this two-dimensional conceptualisation had not been considered when examining the empathic impairments of the complete dark triad. The present study aimed to determine whether the dark triad is associated with deficits in cognitive or affective empathy as measured through self-reports and facial expressions tasks. The sample comprised 139 university students. All dark triad personalities were associated with deficits in affective empathy, but showed little evidence of impairment in cognitive empathy. The facial expression tasks provided further support for the affective nature of the dark triad’s empathic deficits. Finally, the results emphasised the importance of primary psychopathy, as the main predictor of empathic deficits within the dark triad. Continue reading “The affective and cognitive empathic nature of the dark triad of personality”

Posted in Alienation, Dark Triad, PERSONALITY DISORDERS

Cheater strategies linked to the Dark Triad

The present study (N = 462) examined the relationship between the Dark Triad traits (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) and deception in domain-general and domain-specific contexts. As predicted, psychopathy and Machiavellianism were linked to the propensity to lie in different contexts, including mating and academic dishonesty. Psychopathy was related to experiencing more positive emotions associated with lying and Machiavellianism was associated with increased amount of cognitive effort associated with deception. Sex differences in deception were partially mediated by individual differences in the Dark Triad traits. Our findings have important implications for the interpersonal strategies employed by those high on the Dark Triad. Continue reading “Cheater strategies linked to the Dark Triad”

Posted in Alienation, Dark Triad, PERSONALITY DISORDERS

Vengeance and the Dark Triad

Collectively referred to as the Dark Triad; Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy are subclinical personality traits that have been associated with a number of antisocial behaviours. The present study investigated the relation between each of these traits, vengefulness, empathy, and trait forgiveness. The sample consisted of 219 undergraduate students from Western University in Canada. It was found that Machiavellianism and psychopathy were positively correlated with emotional vengeance… CONTINUE READING

Continue reading “Vengeance and the Dark Triad”

Posted in Alienation

Fonagy & Tronick

Fonagy’s research describes the role-reversal relationship of the borderline parent’s interactions with the child, that feeds on and destroys the child’s inner psychological structure.

In borderline (and narcissistic) pathology, the parent psychologically feeds on the child’s self-structure development to meet the parent’s own need to support the parent’s own damaged self-structure. That’s Fonagy, the role-reversal use of the child to meet the parent’s needs.

What ignorance sees as a “bonded” relationship to the parent is actually an extremely pathological and destructive role-reversal relationship, in which the child is being used to meet the parent’s emotional needs. That’s Fonagy and the borderline parent.

Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based "Parental Alienation" (AB-PA)

I want to make a statement to my professional colleagues – clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals – regarding the knowledge needed for professional competence.

In every clinical experience I’ve been in, the professional standard of practice expectation is that you know everything there is to know about the pathology, and then you read journals to stay current.

I consider that expected standard of practice.  So, when I was actively working in ADHD, I knew everything there was to know about ADHD and its treatment, and I was reading journals to stay current.

Same for when I moved into high-functioning autism as a differential diagnosis with ADHD.  As my work in pathology expanded into autism-spectrum pathology, so did the professional expectation for expanded knowledge.  I then had to learn everything there is to know about autism, and read the journals to remain current.

My shift in focus on ADHD…

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Posted in Alienation

Critique of Dr. Mercer Testimony: She is not an expert in anything.

There’s a social distribution feature with this attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce. All sorts of non-involved people become vicariously hooked to the enactment of the pathology, supporting the narcissistic pathology and the emotional abuse of the targeted-rejected parent by the narcissistic spouse.

It’s such an odd feature of pathology. Remember how I say that the pathology teaches? This pathology has a social distribution feature that’s not found in other pathology, not ADHD, not autism-spectrum, not school behavior problems.

Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based "Parental Alienation" (AB-PA)

About a year ago, a parent-advocate organized a seminar presentation from Dorcy Pruter and Dr. Childress to a group of family law attorneys in Southern California.  In introducing us, the parent-advocate spoke about the “armor of God.”  She had interesting things to say about this construct.

I had never heard of that construct before, the armor of God.  I listened, it seemed like a nice construct but not one I had ever thought about.  Since then, however, the construct makes complete sense, and is wise beyond measure for the fight with the pathogen.

This is a trauma pathogen, it creates high intensity conflict.  It enjoys conflict, it wants conflict, and it creates conflict.  It loves to create conflict and fighting.  How do you fight against fighting without succumbing to the fighting?  Don’t fight.

Gandhi said that the antidote is the opposite.  The antidote for fighting, is not to fight.  Wisdom.

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Posted in Alienation

Denial of the Parental Alienation

Denying reality is obviously a maladaptive way of dealing with a situation. In fact, denial is generally considered to be one of the defense mechanisms, mechanisms that are inappropriate maladaptive, and pathological. In the field of medicine to deny the existence of a disease seriously compromises the physician’s ability to help patients. If a physician does not believe that a particular disease exists, then it will not be given consideration when making a differential diagnosis, and the patient may then go untreated. This is in line with the ancient medical principle that proper diagnosis must precede proper treatment. Or, if for some external reason the physician recognizes the disorder, but feels obligated to use another name, other problems arise, for example, impaired communication with others regarding exactly what is going on with the patient, and hence improper treatment. This is what is occurring at this point with the parental alienation syndrome, a disorder whose existence has compelling verification. In this article I discuss the reasons for denial of the PAS and the ways in which such denial harms families. Particular emphasis will be given to the ways in which this denial harms women, although I will certainly comment on the ways in which the denial harms their husbands and children. In the past, denial of the PAS has caused men much grief. Such denial is now causing women similar grief. Continue reading “Denial of the Parental Alienation”

Posted in Alienation

What about “therapeutic jurisprudence?”

The words therapeutic jurisprudence sound like a contradiction in terms. Far too many court cases for parental alienation only increase anxiety, depression and anger for the litigants, and often for the alienated children as well. Continue reading “What about “therapeutic jurisprudence?””

Posted in Alienation


Before reading this article, take a moment to engage in an act of self-reflection. Ask yourself honestly while reading through this article — hopefully time and time again — the following questions.

  1. Who do I know that sounds like this?
  2. Who do I know who ACTS like this?
  3. Who do I know who is the most likely person to think like this in private, but who presents a different face when in public?

Source: Education