Posts Tagged ‘RI’

The Dark Triad – Part 3 Machiavellian

Skip to: Part 1 Intro –        Part 2 Narcissist –        Part 4 Psychopath

Hello Machiavellian

Deriving from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolo Machiavelli, Machiavellianism is defined as “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct”.

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.  They see others strictly as things to manipulate for their own ends.

A Machiavellian may not consider his actions to be selfish or evil; he may come up with convincing rationale, even one he believes.  People like North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, for example, may justify his tyranny as needed to protect the state from some sinister enemy, even if only a concocted one.

Some talents of the “Mach” (shorthand) are glib charm and confidence.  They can remain coolheaded in their social interactions, but are uninterested in establishing emotional connections.

Although the Mach shares many traits with Narcissists and Psychopaths such as disagreeable nature and selfishness, he stands alone in his ability to remain realistic about himself and others, neither making

inflated claims nor striving to impress.  The Mach prefers to see things clearly, all the better to exploit them.

Daniel Goleman, in his book Social Intelligence, describes Machs  as having tunnel-vision empathy:  they can bring someone’s emotions into focus mainly when they wish to use that person for their own ends.  Otherwise, Machs are generally poorer at empathetic attunement than others.  The coldness of the Mach seems to result from this core deficit in processing emotions – both in themselves and in others.

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The Dark Triad – Part 2 Narcissist

Skip to: Part 1 Intro –       Part 3 Machiavellian –       Part 4 Psychopath

Hello Narcissist

Narcissists are driven by dreams of glory.  They flourish in the face of difficult challenges  and shine when performance under stress counts the most.

Many Narcissists are drawn to pressured, high-profile jobs where they can use their talents well and the potential laurels are great – despite any risks.  Michael Maccoby, a psychoanalyst who has studied (and treated) narcissistic leaders, observes that the type has become increasingly common at the top echelons of business today as competitive tensions have escalated.

Healthy narcissistic leaders have the ability to analyze their performance and are open to criticism.  But unhealthy narcissists crave to be admired more than to be loved.  They are very much driven to succeed, not because of some standard of excellence but because they want the glory that comes with such success.  They feel free to pursue their goals aggressively, without any thought about how their actions may effect others.

Unhealthy narcissists are not very good empathizers, usually ignoring those who do not feed their striving for glory.  They can lay off multitudes of employees without feeling any sympathy for those for whom those decisions are personal disasters.  In short they have no regrets and are indifferent to the need or feelings of others.

Typically the Narcissist also lacks feelings of self-worth and avoids even constructive criticism in any form.  Rather than listen they prefer to preach and indoctrinate.

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The Dark Triad – Part 1 Intro

Skip to: Part 2 Narcissist –       Part 3 Machiavellian –        Part 4 Psychopath

Name Tag Dark Triad-1

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.

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Butter-Side-Down Syndrome



Why does toast almost always fall butter side down?  The experts say it boils down to  the fact that when toast falls gravity makes it start to spin, and this natural consequence of gravity acting on the typical height of the average breakfast table causes the toast to land butter-side-down.  As an alternative you could eat breakfast atop a ladder so that the toast has time to turn right-side-up again.  

Of course how it happens doesn’t matter to us nearly as much as the simple fact that it does happen.  Since eating breakfast is one of the first things we do to start our day, when our toast falls (usually butter-side-down) its often our human nature to attribute it to the start of a bad day.  In truth though, we should count ourselves lucky that our toast even had a chance to fall when you consider that as many as 600 Americans every year are said to be killed falling out of bed.  The fact is “stuff happens”, that’s not in our control.  But its not what happens to you that’s important, its how you react.

Optimism is an outlook on life such that one maintains a view of the world as a positive place, or one’s personal situation as a positive one.  Optimists believe that regardless of the external world or situation, one should choose to feel good about it and make the most of it.  Having a “glass half full” attitude and thinking optimistically from an early age in life predicts health and well being in later years.  Optimism has demonstrable benefits, and pessimism has drawbacks.  This according to Christopher Petersen, PhD & author of A Primer in Positive Psychology.  He goes on to say that optimism has been linked to positive mood and good morale as well as success, popularity and good health.  Even if you have been a pessimist for many years, its not too late to change your way of thinking and reap the benefits of a positive attitude.

Indeed one source of positive or negative outlook may well be inborn temperamentthat is that, by nature, some people tend one way or the other.  But temperament can be tempered by experience.  Optimism and hope, like helplessness and despair, can be learned.  Self-efficacy is what psychologists refer to as the belief that one has mastery over the events of one’s life and can meet challenges as they occur.  A researcher on self-efficacy, Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura, states: “People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities.  Ability is not a fixed property, there is a huge variability on how you perform.  People who have a sense of self-efficacy bounce back from failures; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.”

So as the saying goes, some days we’re the windshield and some days we’re the bug and on those days toast will inevitably fall, airlines will “misplace” our luggage and car engines will break down when we most need them to work.  But a positive attitude helps us cope more easily with our daily struggles, and effects critical aspects of our life such as success, popularity and health.

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It all goes back in the box!



The following is from Jerry Seinfeld, who wrote it a few years ago.

“To me, if life boiled down to one significant thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving. Unfortunately, this means that for the rest of our lives, we’re going to be looking for boxes. When you’re moving, your whole world is boxes.  That’s all you think about– boxes, where are the boxes?  You just wander down the street going in and out of stores.  ‘Are there boxes here? Have you seen any boxes?’ That’s all you think about.  “You could be at a funeral.  Everyone around you is mourning, crying, and you’re looking at the casket, ‘That’s a nice box. Anybody know where that guy got that box? When he’s done with it, you think I could get it? It’s got some nice handles on it. My stereo would fit right in there.” I mean that’s what death is, really, the last big move of your life.  The hearse is like the van. The pallbearers are your close friends, the only ones you could ask to help you with a big move like that.  And the casket is that great, perfect box you’ve been waiting for your whole life.” 


You can find the remainder of this post and  accompanying video in its entirety on Ordinary Miracle’s sister blog Rated JC

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The white horse – Phlegmatic

“And I looked, and behold a white horse: and his name that sat on him was Peace.   Its rider is resistant to change and its need was to be respected and to have feelings of worth”

Skip to: Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 4


As a child were you passive in your playpen and understanding if your bottle was overdue?  Did your mother brag that you were a good baby and never gave her any trouble?  Did you like to nap?  Did  you try to keep everyone happy and avoid getting in to trouble?  Then you are a Phlegmatic whose desire is to have peace at any cost.

The Phlegmatic’s underlying desire and need is to keep the peace.  When peace is not possible, the Phlegmatic often withdraws and emotionally shuts down, often refusing communication until peace is restored.  Rather than face the enemy, the Phlegmatics retreat until one side wins the war, and than they join the victorious team.  The Phlegmatic, underneath it all, is longing for respect.

Phlegmatics don’t want to be goaded on by others to become something they aren’t, they just want to be accepted as is and be considered a person of value and worth.

Because the Phlegmatic is a low-key person, their mate often take him or her for granted.  While the Phlegmatic with his/her cool relaxed nature doesn’t set out to have an affair, it is easy to see that when someone makes him/her feel important, they perk up.  Phlegmatics withdraw when they are ignored.

Because Phlegmatics are not pushy or pretentious, others often overlook them and don’t bother to pull them in to the conversation.  Although they don’t appear to mind being ignored, there comes that day when he asks himself, “What am I doing here?  If no one seems to need me, why don’t I find someone who will really care?

Phlegmatics fall in to depression when they face conflict and/or have feelings of insignificance.  Phlegmatics, however, can handle conflict if they are not personally threatened and make the best mediator or arbiter.  They are excellent counsellors giving objective views to other people’s problems, but don’t want to be the center of the controversy or be told by someone else to change their ways.

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The Black Horse – Melancholy

“I looked and there before me was a black horse.  Its rider rode out as a thoughtful, gifted and analytical genius but also deep, sad and depressive.”

Skip to: Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 5


As a child were you sensitive you your surroundings and easily moved to tears?  Did you line up your toys in rows and go around shutting drawers that no one else seemed to notice were open?  Did you do your home work in time and even enjoy research projects?  Did you feel sorry for poor children and want to support the underdog in any situation?  Then you are a Melancholy.

From the time a Melancholy can stand up and move around he/she is trying to make the crooked paths straight.  Melancholies more than anything need perfection.  They are perfectionists who must have life in order and hopefully everyone else’s as well.  We all appreciate order and and sensitivity, but for the Melancholy these traits are emotional needs.  

A melancholy with a sanguine spouse who is a poor housekeeper either takes over the duties, criticizes his/her mistakes, or gets depressed.  The Melancholy will keep his closet  in perfect order with all pants and shirts folded exactly the same.

Florence Littauer, in her book Your Personality Tree writes about a Melancholy man who kept a milage chart on his shoes from the time he bought them to the time until he gave them away to the salvation army.  He found out when he divided the cost of the shoes by the by the number of days he wore them that that the shoes had cost him 9 cents a day.  Only a Melancholy would care!  Another man dates every light bulb in the house at the time or purchase.  This way he is able to keep a record of each bulb and know the exact length of service.

The Melancholy also has a deep need to be understood and longs for others to respond with sensitivity to his/her inner struggles and to sympathize with him over comments made by shallow people attempting to be funny.  They are sensitive to their surroundings and easily moved to tears.

Melancholies are so sensitive and have such a need for order that it is easy to see how they get so quickly depressed.  Since their desire to get everything and everyone in perfect order is never fulfilled, they either have to lower their expectations and accept life as it is or sink in to despair.

The Melancholy is also unwilling to express his/her needs, which throws others in to a constant guessing game.

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