The Dark Triad – Part 1 Intro
As discussed in an earlier post, what makes life worth living comes down to feelings of well-being through happiness and sense of fulfillment. And that this happiness and fulfillment can best come through a life of rich and rewarding relationships. On that note, also in a previous post, we discussed the four human temperaments, also known as personality types, as a tool to understanding ourselves and learning to get along with others. In this 4 part series we look at personality types of a different kind, specifically personality types which people would generally define as undesirable. Psychologists have dubbed these personality traits as “The Dark Triad”. The Dark Triad consists of three personality deficiencies Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy.
Narcissists are driven by one motive: dreams of glory. Narcissists flourish when they are facing a difficult challenge, they shine when performance under stress counts the most. However they have little capacity for empathy and the more impaired a person’s ability to consider others, the less healthy their narcissism.
For the Machiavellian the ends justify the means, no matter what human pain he may cause. They tend to be cynically calculating and arrogant, readily behaving in ways that undermine trust and cooperation.
The hallmarks of the Psychopath’s behavior are deceit and reckless disregard for others. The Psychopath also lacks empathy and are completely indifferent to the emotional pain others may suffer because of his actions.
To varying degrees, all three personality types entail a dark, interpersonally destructive character with tendencies toward grandiosity, emotional callousness, manipulation and dominance. Psychopaths and Machiavellians have high self- esteem, and are charming and fun but psychopaths are also impulsive and cunning. Narcissists are grandiose and have high self esteem, and may also be intellectually gifted.
A common theme that underlies The Dark Triad is a preoccupation with dominance and power. The problem with this preoccupation with power is that it suppresses the development of empathy. When empathy is not practiced, it diminishes. We are designed this way because assertion of dominance often necessitates overt or covert aggression. Can we be aggressive towards someone we have empathy for? Of course not, thus the most loving people are the least aggressive and the least domineering.