There are seven social processes that grease “the slippery slope of evil”:
- Mindlessly taking the first small step
- Dehumanization of others
- De-individuation of self (anonymity)
- Diffusion of personal responsibility
- Blind obedience to authority
- Uncritical conformity to group norms
- Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference
Continue reading “The Lucifer Effect”
DSM-5 groups the 10 types of personality disorders into 3 clusters (A, B, and C), based on similar characteristics. However, the clinical usefulness of these clusters has not been established.
Cluster A is characterized by appearing odd or eccentric. It includes the following personality disorders with their distinguishing features:
Cluster B is characterized by appearing dramatic, emotional, or erratic. It includes the following personality disorders with their distinguishing features:
Antisocial: Social irresponsibility, disregard for others, deceitfulness, and manipulation of others for personal gain
Borderline: Intolerance of being alone and emotional dysregulation
Narcissistic: Underlying dysregulated, fragile self-esteem and overt grandiosity
Cluster C is characterized by appearing anxious or fearful. It includes the following personality disorders with their distinguishing features:
Avoidant: Avoidance of interpersonal contact due to rejection sensitivity
Dependent: Submissiveness and a need to be taken care of
Symptoms and Signs
According to DSM-5, personality disorders are primarily problems with
Self-identity problems may manifest as an unstable self-image (eg, people fluctuate between seeing themselves as kind or cruel) or as inconsistencies in values, goals, and appearance (eg, people are deeply religious while in church but profane and disrespectful elsewhere).
Interpersonal functioning problems typically manifest as failing to develop or sustain close relationships and/or being insensitive to others (eg, unable to empathize).
People with personality disorders often seem inconsistent, confusing, and frustrating to people around them (including clinicians). These people may have difficulty knowing the boundaries between themselves and others. Their self-esteem may be inappropriately high or low. They may have inconsistent, detached, overemotional, abusive, or irresponsible styles of parenting, which can lead to physical and mental problems in their spouse or children.
People with personality disorders may not recognize that they have problems.
Continue reading “Types of Personality Disorders”
You may walk out of a social encounter or a date and realize you have not been asked one single question about yourself, despite having learned a ton about the individual (see above). Pay attention to the degree of informational asymmetry: Does he disclose an enormous amount without asking or expecting you to reciprocate?
What’s going on: If nothing is asked of you and no interest expressed, then script delivery is the entire point of the encounter. If he asks a ton of questions but moves quickly from one to another, rather than allowing the conversation to organically unfold, he may be mining you for data, including information that can be used to gain a sense of your vulnerabilities. When chatting with a new target, psychopaths frequently strive to elicit information about stressors or life problems, so that they can ingratiate themselves with offers of assistance. This is an effort to gain your trust, of course. Continue reading “Asks no personal questions or asks very pointed questions.”
The stories about the wife who took his fortune or the top-secret government contract may be repeated verbatim or near verbatim from one encounter to the next. Sure, we all have our pet narratives and canned stories that engender eye rolls amongst those who have heard them multiple times. So pay close attention to the nature of the information that is repeated.
What’s going on: If self-serving or self-aggrandizing information is repeatedly recycled, the individual is likely using a script, one that he’s forgotten that he’s already deployed with you. Psychopaths in particular are glib, and mendacity is their lingua franca. Sometimes they lie for no reason other than their own amusement. But they also lie to further specific agendas, and that is when they are most likely to go on auto-pilot in the delivery of false, scripted stories. Because people are interchangeable in the eyes of a psychopath or a narcissist—one-dimensional beings in whom they have no genuine interest—it can be hard for them to remember what they’ve said, and to whom. Continue reading “Repeats “confidential” information that he’s already shared with you.”
Individuals with psychopathic or narcissistic traits* frequently use false personas to interact with others, sometimes tailoring their masks so that they appear to share the interests of their targets. From small talk to bombastic speeches, any spotlight presents the opportunity to craft a mask, and to test, dominate, or even malign unwitting interlocutors.
Fortunately, there are conversational clues to such extreme duplicity: a person’s focus on you is too intense; his self-disclosure too early, too pat. The tactics below may read as at odds with one another (i.e. asking no questions or asking too many probing questions). But in context there is always a method to a psychopath’s conversational aberrance.
1) Confides in you immediately.
He was betrayed by a wife who took everything, but has succeeded in rebuilding his fortune. He’s on retainer with the NSA: Can’t get into it today, but you’ll be reading about it in the news this year. Yes, he is married, but only because his wife is highly unstable; she would fall apart if he leaves right now. Whatever the disclosure, it comes before he even knows whether or not you are trustworthy. And it involves a way in which he is vulnerable or powerful; wholly transparent or movie-star mysterious. Continue reading “5 Things Psychopaths and Narcissists Will Do in Conversation”
Recent comparative research on the Dark Triad has attempted to analyze differences among these three malevolent personalities. To varying degrees, all act aggressively out of self-interest and lack empathy and remorse. They’re skilled at manipulation and exploit and deceive others, though their motivations and tactics vary. They violate social norms and moral values and lie, deceive, cheat, steal, and bully. It’s thought that genetic factors underlie their personality to some degree.
Machiavellianism and psychopathy are more closely correlated due to their malicious behavior; whereas narcissists are defensive and more fragile. This is because their grandiosity and arrogance is a façade for deeper feelings of inadequacy. (See “Relationships with Narcissists.”) Men outnumber women, primarily when psychopathic traits were measured (i.e., not just deceit, manipulation, etc.). This difference is linked to the overt antisocial behavior associated with psychopathy, suggesting that it may be due to biological factors, such as testosterone, as well as social norms Continue reading “Common Dark Triad Traits”
Think of the Dark Triad of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism as the Bermuda Triangle – it’s perilous to get near it! The traits of all three often overlap and create personality profiles that are damaging and toxic, especially when it comes to intimate relationships, where we let our guard down.
One woman was the subject of identity fraud. Her bank accounts and credit cards were compromised. At the time, she was in love with her boyfriend who lived with her in her apartment. She was speaking regularly with the FBI and suffered extreme anxiety and emotional stress. The authorities were unsuccessful in finding the culprit.
Her fiancé was very supportive in doing research to try to find him. He comforted her, occasionally bought her gifts, and paid her monthly rent out of money she gave him. When eventually the landlord confronted her about months of delinquency, she realized that the criminal was in fact her own boyfriend, who had been pocketing her rent money, except to buy her gifts. Her denial made it difficult to accept the truth about his ruthless gaslighting. Continue reading “Beware of the Malevolent Dark Triad”
The term dark personalities refer to a set of socially aversive traits (such as spitefulness, greed, sadism, narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) in the subclinical range. First coined by Paulhus and Williams, it has attracted an exponential increase of empirical attention in recent years. Much of the research in the last decade has linked these dark traits to negative psychosocial outcomes, such as delinquency, unethical work-place behaviors, and mental illness. Nevertheless, the dark personalities vary along a continuum of well-being and adjustment, with some (e.g. narcissism) showing more positive associations with mental health and well-being than others.
The dark personalities have been associated with some of humanity’s greatest vices and also humanity’s key virtues. After a decade of research into the positive and negative outcomes of dark personality traits, there is a need for studies to examine the mediational mechanisms that may explain the relationship between the dark personality traits and those outcomes. Moreover, as people from different cultures live their lives differently, practice different customs, have different child-rearing practices, and so on, it is also important to examine how culture exerts its influence on these traits. Are there any cultural differences that may affect how people see a trait as “dark”? Are there any culture-specific dark personality traits? What are the culturally specific factors related to positive and negative outcomes of dark traits? How do these traits manifest themselves in various cultures and languages?
In this Research Topic, we welcome articles which enhance our understanding of the structure of the dark triad/tetrad of personality, the processes which cause these traits to emerge, their positive and negative outcomes in every aspect of life including, but not limited, to health, education, family, work, economy, politics, morality, and religion. We invite papers that focus on cross-cultural design, interaction effects and mediational mechanisms underlying the links between dark traits and other variables. Continue reading “Positive and Negative Psychosocial Outcomes of the “Dark” Personality Traits”
The World Health Organization’s ICD-10 defines a conceptually similar disorder as Emotionally unstable personality disorder (F60.3) with two subtypes:
F60.30 Impulsive type At least three of the following must be present, one of which must be (2):
- Marked tendency to act unexpectedly and without consideration of the consequences;
- Marked tendency to engage in quarrelsome behavior and to have conflicts with others, especially when impulsive acts are thwarted or criticized;
- Liability to outbursts of anger or violence, with inability to control the resulting behavioral explosions;
- Difficulty in maintaining any course of action that offers no immediate reward;
- Unstable and capricious (impulsive, whimsical) mood.
F60.31 Borderline type At least three of the symptoms mentioned in F60.30 Impulsive type must be present [see above], with at least two of the following in addition:
- Disturbances in and uncertainty about self-image, aims, and internal preferences;
- Liability to become involved in intense and unstable relationships, often leading to emotional crisis;
- Excessive efforts to avoid abandonment;
- Recurrent threats or acts of self-harm;
- Chronic feelings of emptiness.
- Impulsive behavior, e.g., speeding, substance abuse
Continue reading “Emotionally unstable personality disorder”