Putting a finger on what’s going on in this country and the world in general since the financial crisis of 2008 has been slow going. Part of that might be because when you are in the midst of it, trying to make a living and keeping your head above water, it’s difficult to see the forest from the trees.
Recently, I came across the term “dark triad”, which as I understand it is the convergence of three personality types: Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism. It’s a real personality type. I’ve gone over the traits of narcissistic personality disorder previously and it’s pretty clear to me that many of our financial overlords suffer from it to one degree or another. But I’ve been puzzled about how it is that the narcissists managed to convince so many ordinary Americans to ignore their best interests. Something was missing. That is where I think the Dark Triad comes in and can explain why the airwaves are saturated by the pundits who encourage the worst behavior and thoughts, and why they can get away with it.
But there’s a new theory in town. It’s called the Dark Tetrad. The psychologists who are studying these negative personality disorders say that the fourth component is sadism. I’m wondering if sadism is the natural outcome of the convergence of the previous three traits. Is it cause or effect? If it is true that cruelty results from the need to assuage our guilt for taking advantage of someone, wouldn’t it make sense that setting up a system that exploits other people will naturally lead to more cruelty? But if a person feels guilt, wouldn’t that negatively correlate with psychopathy? Doesn’t the quality of remorselessness, which is associated psychopathy imply sadism? It feels like there is a PLS model just waiting to be constructed to figure out what the principal components are. How do we know which qualities of the dark triad or tetrad can be derived from the others?
If there is anyone out there with more information on the Dark Triad or Tetrad, or has links to papers that don’t cost an arm and a leg (I like free), let me know. I’m not a professional and only took one course in psychology (but I’m beginning to think that I should pursue a degree in the subject. Just hit the tip jar at the upper left to help defray the cost of tuition. Damn, if I were just Machiavellian enough, I could *make* you hit that tip jar.) so I’m going to have to rely on iTunes U, youtube and Kno to teach myself all the lingo.
Still, it might be worth the effort. If we can figure it out, maybe we can develop a psychological vaccine.
One more thing: it looks like the Dark Triad is used to describe predatory men who use manipulation to mate, or at least a lot of the early papers seem to focus on “players”. But I’ve often found that the metaphor of the player has been very useful to explaining what happened to the political system in 2008 especially the evolution of Democratic activists in support of whatever it is that infiltrated the party. For example, what was the purpose of this? I don’t think this picture was leaked:
I’m not picking on Democrats here. Republicans are worse and they’ve got a bigger megaphone. But there’s no doubt that something dark and malevolent snuck into the party while we weren’t looking.