Nov 8, 2021 in Life Coaching

A Dark Personality...Would You Recognize One?

How confident are you that you'd recognize a dark personality?

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I know you have heard of the term psychology before, but have you heard the term dark psychology. Dark psychology is the study of the psychological nature of people that prey on others. Often, we do not know we are even a victim until it is too late. If you have ever been curious about dark psychology or dark personality traits, then in your research you should have come across The Dark Triad. A person can possess all or any combination of these traits. At least once in your lifetime, you will probably have an encounter with a person that has a dark personality. These encounters may happen in a romantic or professional setting. The Dark Triad refers to three distinct but related personality traits. These traits are:


Narcissism: narcissism comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus, a hunter who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and drowned. People who practice self-love are often characterized as a narcissist. This is incorrect. You can engage in self-love and not be a narcissist. So, what is the difference between a narcissist and a person that just has high self-esteem? It is the extent of how much they are engulfed and practice this inflated sense of self-worth. I mean these people basically think they are better than the ‘normal’ people and see their lives as special. Narcissistic people can be selfish, boastful, arrogant, lacking in empathy, and hypersensitive to criticism.


Machiavellianism: the word comes from the renowned 16th-century Italian politician and diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli. He earned notoriety when his 1513 book, "The Prince," was interpreted as an endorsement of the dark arts of cunning and deceit in diplomacy. Individuals who possess the Machiavellianism trait, usually have a very strategic approach to living their lives. The consequences of every choice they make is well thought out and assessed in terms of how the action will impact their lives. Basically, how will this decision benefit me and how will my public reputation be impacted by this action. Traits associated with Machiavellianism include duplicity, manipulation, self-interest, and a lack of both emotion and morality.


Psychopathy: This trait is not black and white. The very definition of what a psychopath really is is one who suffers from a psychological disorder. They are usually attractive, charming, impulsive, and show a lack of compassion. Personality traits associated with psychopathy include a lack of empathy or remorse, antisocial behavior, and being manipulative and volatile. It is important to note that there is a distinction between psychopathic traits and being a psychopath, with its commonly held association with criminal behavior.


These traits put the desires of one individual above the needs of anyone and everyone else. This includes intimate partners, co-workers, and friends. Here some signs to look for if you suspect you could be dealing with someone that could possess a dark personality. 


Manipulative Vocabulary: Have you had a friend or partner that has taken a common word and given it an entirely different meaning? They will rehash a conversation and tell you that they meant something totally different when using that word. This new meaning will in most cases change the meaning of the conversation to go in the favor of the manipulator. Negating the fact that you were blindsided by this ‘new’ meaning. 


Becoming Unavailable: Often until you do whatever that it is, they want, the person may and will become emotionally or physically unavailable.


Gaslighting: This can and will make you question your own sanity. You know the old, are you going to believe me or your own lying eyes. The gaslighter will cause you to lose confidence in your own mind. This destroys your self-confidence because of the constant self-doubt. 


Stroking YOUR Ego: Sometimes this one is a little harder to pick up on. Be wary of someone that is constantly stroking your ego, to the point of almost feeding you lies. Soon you will be craving the stroking and your own ego will grow over time and you will come to need constant praise from this person to feel good about yourself. 


Sympathy and Guilt: Ever have a partner use the tried and true, if you leave me, I’ll hurt myself? This is remarkably close to emotional blackmail. Often people are forced into doing something for a partner because they are using your feelings for them to bargain with. 


The personality traits of the Dark Triad – narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism – can be toxic and damaging in a personal and professional relationship. There are tools for identifying Dark Triad traits, but it is important to recognize that, unless you are also a skilled psychologist, you should not make a diagnosis on your own.


If you think a person has a dark personality and you can avoid dealing with them, I highly suggest that you do. Conflict management, assertiveness, and emotional intelligence skills will all be useful in managing someone with Dark Triad traits. If it is a work situation and If you do have any concerns about a team member's negative behaviors, you should raise them with your HR department. Your responsibility is to manage the impact of negative behaviors in the workplace, rather than try to diagnose and pin a psychological label on someone.


In any type of relationship that you are involved in or pursuing, make your sanity a top priority. Do not let someone make you question your own mind. There’s no amount of love or job title that is worth it. 

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