I’ve had a few commenters who think the posts on narcissism and the Dark Triad are interesting but they really wish I wouldn’t bring politics into it.
I’m confused about this. This is a blog where Democrats in Exile and others can talk about politics and not be shouted down for not adopting the dominant narrative. So, there’s that.
But more than that, humans are herd animals. Being in the group is highly desirable. Being out of the group makes us anxious. So, if the dominant narrative is shaped by a small evil group of people, to whom no one we know belongs, who use political rhetoric and religion as dissemination tools, we should be aware of it. Shouldn’t we? Isn’t it better to know what techniques may be used to manipulate us to act in a herd like fashion? And if the people who are manipulating us have severe unchecked personality disorders, which looks more and more likely, isn’t it better to see them than to have them hide behind the masks of authority and holiness?
Now, I’m not saying that I have proof of any of it. I’m just looking at behaviors that have been growing steadily for about 40 years and the results of those behaviors on all of us and trying to find cause and effect. In the end, I don’t really care why people behave the way they do as long as they don’t behave badly. In other words, it’s not interesting to me that a narcissist might have experienced childhood trauma or that a psychopath may have a genetic predisposition. Not remotely interesting. Psychologists might be interested in the sources of these personality disorders so that they can nip them in the bud in kids in the future but once those kids become adults, their behaviors are pretty much fixed.
Personality disorders are very difficult to treat. The first step in dealing with a person with a personality disorder is accepting the fact that you can’t change them. You are not going to be able to teach them to be more empathetic, less selfish, less manipulative etc. It’s not going to happen because they have no reason to change. Curing these people is almost impossible because they don’t think they have a problem. YOU have a problem. So, getting inside their heads is not my goal. My goal is finding a way to react to them in a way that neutralizes their power over us.
What I am concerned with is that we don’t always know when we are being manipulated and exploited, and we often fail to detect patterns of behavior that will lead to us acting against our best interests. When we start to understand the patterns, we have an opportunity to take action to make it stop. In other words, if we find that the finance industry is hiring a disproportionate number of psychopaths to play with our money, we can presumably take away the incentive to hire psychopaths or take away our money. If we find that a bunch of Machiavellians are saturating the airwaves with manipulative language, we might be able to point out the way the manipulation works so that people turn off their radios and cable TV.
If we find that a couple of attention seeking, control freak authoritarians are getting narcissistic supply out of exploiting their kids on a reality show by adopting a super conservative religious lifestyle and parading themselves as holier than thou and then campaigning for a super conservative politician, we should be aware of what they are doing and promoting and what they are trying to accomplish.
Let’s just call it as we see it, shall we? Let’s not play “these are not the droids you’re looking for” because we don’t want to look at the dark underworld of human interactions only to find our favorite politicians and religious superstars lurking there.
Politics and religion are two very powerful influences on human herds. We need to make very sure that the people acting as shepherds aren’t coyotes in disguise.