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Posts Tagged ‘The Dark Triad’

Lines That Divide US

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  These words, spoken by Aristotle, are too often ignored and the price we pay is high .  When street gangs substitute for families and schoolyard insults end in stabbings it is a sure sign of a lack of empathy.  Being able to empathize is a crucial ability that forms part of Emotional Quotient (EQ) and matters immensely in terms of how we do in life.  Empathy has to do with knowing another person’s feelings, feeling what that person feels and responding compassionately to another’s distress.

Empathy acts as a buffer to cruelty and is a quality known to be lacking in child molesters and psychopaths.  Empathy is also known to lead to acts of altruism which is known to activate emotions that are vital to the maintaining of good health.

Schools that develop emotional literacy programs, designed to help children learn to manage anger, frustration, and loneliness see lunch time fights, for example, decrease from two or three a day to almost none.

How much happier would we be, how much more successful as individuals and civil as a society, if we were more alert to the importance of Emotional Quotient?

Aristotle also wrote: “Anyone can become angry, that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and the right way — this is not easy.”

The good news is that empathy is an innate quality that can be shaped by experience.  The greater your ability to empathize the greater your EQ.

Adriano

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The Dark Triad – Part 4 Psychopath

Skip to: Part 1 Intro –       Part 2 Narcissist –      Part 3 Machiavellian

The hallmark of psychopathy is a lack of empathy.  In fact when it comes to empathy, psychopaths have none; they have special difficulty recognizing fear or sadness on people’s faces or in their voices.

In a 2002 Study, David Kosson and Yana Suchy, asked psychopathic inmates to name the emotion expressed in each of 30 faces; compared to controls, Psychopaths had a

significantly lower rate of accuracy in recognizing disgusted facial affect.

Psychopaths are glib and superficially charming, and many psychopaths are excellent mimics of normal human emotion.

The consensus among researchers is that psychopathy stems from a specific neurological disorder which is biological in origin and present from birth.  It is estimated that one percent of the general population are psychopaths.

For Psychopaths other people are just a mark, to be duped, used and discarded.  They lack any sense of guilt or remorse for any harm they may have caused others, instead rationalizing the behavior, blaming someone else, or denying it outright.

Psychopaths also feel no anticipatory fears, they are virtually oblivious to the threat of punishment.

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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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