Fulfillment at Any Age

How to remain productive and healthy into your later years

Shedding Light on Psychology’s Dark Triad

We all know people who seek to manipulate and exploit others while expecting to receive special treatment and constant admiration. People high in these "Dark Triad" traits of psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism can create havoc in our own lives. This12-item Dirty Dozen test can help you spot the Dark Triad people in your lives before you become their victims. Read More

An obvious case

Looking at the 12-item list, I am reminded why over a decade ago, when noticing Lance Armstrong's behavior, I placed no credibility in anything he said.

If anyone has displayed, maximally, all 12 of these points so obviously and publicly his whole life, it was Lance Armstrong.

And he fooled quite a lot of people.

Lesson: beware of the Lance Armstrongs of the world.

Darwinism = discrimination


People SUFFERING from the Dark Triad are more prone to discriminating against others. It is in their nature to judge others against themselves based on such things as looks, status and the lot.

And when these types of people get into positions of power, they "naturally select" others similar to themselves to work with them and move ahead. The individuals and groups that they do discriminate, manipulate, BULLY and hurt will be relegated to the bottom and lowest rung.

Darwinism = discrimination

Some people are better at

Some people are better at aggression and discrimination than others.

When you get too many narcissists running the world, what you get is corruption, injustice and wars. There is nothing "bright" about that.

You are absolutely right.

You are absolutely right. Narcissist create horrible environments in the workplace and in the home front. They divide people, pit people against each other, create tension and make everyone walk on eggshells around them. Nothing bright about that.

Just ran across the dark

Just ran across the dark triad concept. My total score was 50, subscores (M/P/N)=21/25/3. Member of Mensa, but also did 10 years in prison.

I am not surprised to see that I scored high on Machiavellianism and Psychopathy, but I don't understand why Narcissism would be connected to those two traits. It has always seemed like a weakness to me.

Yet, on the other hand, it might explain why so many of the people I met in prison were so sensitive about the slightest hint of an insult. It went way beyond trying to avoid weak in an environment where weakness could result in victimization. It continued even in a minimum security facility where the inmates were months away from release.

Remember, Knowledge is Power


Considering part of the disorder is a lack of insight and those questions would require insight (not just lying) it is not likely it would be effective with most of the Cluster B + psychopathy spectrum. saferelationshipsmagazine.com

I agree RE lack of insight in those with Cluster B disorders

I'm not a psychologist, but I've been reading a lot about the traits of those with Cluster B personality disorders because my mother was formally diagnosed with borderline pd. My mother was never able (until the final few years of her life) to gain any personal insight about her own negative behaviors and the damage she did. In mother's mind, she was the eternal victim and all her problems originated with other people. Nothing was ever her fault; she was perfect. She was the very embodiment of the "ego-syntonic" state of mind: "Why should *I* seek therapy? There's nothing wrong with me; YOU are the cause of all my problems. You are the hateful, mean, crazy one: YOU are the one who needs therapy!"

My mother would have answered the 12 self-reporting questions in such a way that she'd seem angelic; too good to be true. She was high-functioning and could appear charming and appealing, witty and completely rational in public. She only took her mask off and unleashed her pent up frustration, anger, disappointment, shame/humiliation, envy/jealousy, paranoia, and bizarre fixed delusional beliefs at home, in private, where there were no witnesses to her red-faced, spittle-flying, screaming rage-tantrums and the physical violence she directed at her small, terrified children and bewildered husband.

I think structured interviews by trained psychotherapists PLUS corroborating testimony from third party witnesses are necessary to get a truer picture, a more three-dimensional and accurate picture of a Cluster B patient, instead of self-reporting only.

Consistency wouldn't sell

I love how the dirty dozen (described as being "just that .. [quick and]dirty) is subtitled: A concise measure of the dark triad.

My love, you see, is dark. Too dark for psychology, I've always felt.


From a criminology perspective where motive and personality are both studied in minute detail the question is usually:
Are we dealing with a psychopath?
Yes or no?

Its either that-
or "traits" to describe emotionally empathic people acting psychopathically.

Psychosis in a normal individual might involve shouting or violence or any manner of things
Psychosis in a psychopath?
Well... that's basically a serial killer.

The subject is the same and the dark triad of traits that is described here is a wonderful detection tool indeed.
From a holistic perspective i see it as this:
In the psychopathic personality The narcissism feeds the manipulation in an endless cycle of self affirming insularity of the self.
There is no way to break this cycle- my parents are both pathological cases of dark triad personalities as their scapegoated offspring i have no way to redeem myself in their eyes...thank god!
This narcissistic need to continue manipulating in order to pass them selves off as normal to both the world and themselves
and the desire and achievement of doing so is their only real satisfaction.

They know their very continued existence to be an impossible con job- you cant fool all the people all the time and they instinctively know in their bones one day they will be discovered-
This presents as sadism, they know their mere existence is bad for all the lives they touch -truly parasitic intra-species predatory mindsets-
Cruelty as a philosophy.
Cutting the psychopath off from the world of normal shared human emotion and once this pattern is established then it becomes all consuming. The so called duping delight is the only delight they seem to feel-
they laugh with this delight as they are "winning" in their little world- they have your attention and thus in their eyes they have power over you- deny them this power and they soon consider you irrelevant or a problem to them.
The sadism is kept very private in these individuals imagined personas but is very obvious to those they conspire with, glee at anothers pain is hard to hide after all.
This is their undoing- you will know them by the trail of hurt.

extending "the game" ever longer trying to outrun their own lies.

Thing is, you cant keep track of an ever changing personality that does so just to keep existing in isolation - the cracks appear eventually/
It is often in age they are discovered for this dark behaviour- their laughter all along was admission that one day they might not get away with it anymore ...
...but at that moment?
When you are still there to listen to their laughs?
They are "winning" as they know they make us sick...they revel in it.

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Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is The Search for Fulfillment.


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