Learn how to spot the tactics of the narcissist, psychopath, sociopath, and megalomaniac. Knowing what you are dealing with will help you minimize the damage they cause.
What could go wrong when a con-man with a personality disorder attains a position of power?
Genius And Narcissism
A lot of things can go wrong if someone with a personality disorder. The larger their sphere of influence, the greater the potential damage. Let’s look at how you can spot the signs of some of the most destructive types. First, let’s talk about intelligence.
Intelligence is the mental ability to gain knowledge. We can measure Intelligence in several ways. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence test (1) is an example. Another popular way to measure intelligence is the IQ test (2). This is a test using the formula, IQ = mental age ÷ chronological age × 100. The continuum of mental acuity spans from the mentally incapacitated to a Genius.
Mental health also runs on a continuum. It runs from healthy to unhealthy. Those absent the indicators of a mental disorder are healthy, they exhibit healthy traits like sharing and caring for others. These folks are on one end of the continuum. On the other are those who exhibit one or more abnormal psychologies. The most unhealthy exhibit several indicators. We’ll talk about these shortly.
It’s important to remember mental health and intelligence don’t necessarily go together. There are people with limited mental capacity and low IQ who are otherwise healthy. On the other side, you have people with personality disorders who are intelligent.
Genius and narcissism don’t necessarily go together either. Even someone with below average intelligence with a personality disorder can be dangerous for everyone in their circle of influence.
The Tactics of Narcissism
Narcissism is one of the ten main personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3). Narcissism is a slippery slope that leads to more and more unhealthy behavior.
Narcissists share the same traits as the psychopath, sociopath, and megalomaniac. The terms psychopath and sociopath are used interchangeably. They describe people with little or no conscience they can act without remorse. The megalomaniac focuses on achieving and maintaining power. Here are the traits that they exhibit.
1) Gaslighting. This is a continual form of manipulation. This brainwashing tactic that causes indecision and doubt. When you expose the lie, they will not relent. They keep repeating the lie. The term gaslighting comes from the Gaslight (1944). This is where a husband convinces his wife that she’s insane. He sets up situations and denies they exist. Constantly tells her she imagines things. This causes her to question her sanity.
2) Frequently lies, exaggerates, and misrepresents facts. They try to elicit negative emotional responses. This can be a part of gaslighting, but is more often used with almost everyone. It’s done to cause controversy, it keeps them the center of attention. Narcissists need to be the center of everything. No matter what you have done, they have done it better.
3) Projects a false image of success. They frequently exaggerate their finances and intelligence. They proclaim themselves experts in many things. They often demand admiration and acceptance. Almost everything in their life revolves around projecting and controlling their self-image. They often see themselves as invincible.
4) Refuses to accept responsibility for their actions. They blame others for their incompetence and poor decisions. Become highly defensive and aggressive if criticized. They will play the role of the victim to sidestep accountability.
5) Enjoys causing harm, emotional turmoil, and controversy. They will make fun of others. They use shame and ridicule to inflict emotional distress.
6) Manipulate through exploitation or domination. They boast about conquests.
7) Break rules and laws. Flaunt their authority. Overstep the boundaries of others. They feel entitled to cut in line.
8) Learn to Mimic outward the desired emotional affect. The narcissist does not feel compassion or empathy. But they do learn to mimic the outward affect. This skill set is something that many will work to achieve in front of a mirror. They practice facial expressions so they can be convincing.
How These Traits Manifest In Behavior
A narcissist exhibits several predictable thought and behavior patterns. They are masters at denying and simultaneously justifying abnormal behavior. Learn how to spot this type of thinking. It goes something like this:
No, that bad thing didn’t happen. But if it happened, it didn’t happen the way you describe it. And even if it happened, it wasn’t as bad if you compare it to something else that was worse. But, even if what happened was bad, it was not my fault. And, even if it was my fault, that was not my intention for it to happen that way. And if I did do it intentionally, then someone or something made me do it.
To the narcissist, there are a variety of truths to any situation. There isn’t one set of facts. They are proud to boast their own facts, even when they are blatantly wrong. Even when caught in lies, they are steadfast in denial and justification. They do not accept responsibility for any of their actions.
Narcissism is a personality disorder that revolves around self-centered, arrogant behavior. They often see themselves as a genius and the victim simultaneously. They have a lack of empathy for others. However, they crave the center of attention and need admiration. People describe them as manipulative, cocky, and selfish.
The Slippery Slope
Narcissism is a slippery slope. They may start out exhibiting one trait, but add more and more over time. Drugs and alcohol expedite abnormal or violent social behavior. Many serial rapists are psychopaths or sociopaths.
These mental disorders culminate in megalomania. This is when someone has delusions of grandeur and an obsession with power. And they use their narcissism to cover up their megalomania.
Remember genius and narcissism is a deadly combination. But, one need not be highly intelligent to cause damage. Even someone with borderline intelligence can be problematic. The larger their sphere of influence, the more harmful they can be to others.
For example, a psychopath doesn’t feel emotion, they learn to mimic the proper emotional responses. This is why many corporate leaders are psychopaths. The psychopath has limited empathy. So, they can make decisions that harm people or the environment. Sociopaths are the more violent version of narcissism. Sociopaths not only perpetuate violence, but they also receive enjoyment from doing it.
Tainted Genius and the Con-Man
An intelligent narcissist is likely also a psychopath. They can use and abuse people with little or no remorse. They often gravitate to the profession of the Con-man. They are adept at gaining the confidence of the people they swindle.
Sadly, a con-man only needs to be just slightly more intelligent than the person or people they target. They tell lies convincingly because they are willing to do and say anything and everything without remorse. They use the tools of greed and fear to manipulate.
The con-man role became the focal point for the spiritualist movement of the 1900s. They became fortune tellers and palm readers. This type of parlor game moved to North America in the late 1800s and created the Christian Faith Movement. Today, it is the home of the televangelist.
The Perfect Storm
The worst-case scenario would be for a megalomaniac to coerce their way into a leadership role. The greater their sphere of influence, the more people they will elicit to support their selfishness and greed.
Unfortunately, we have examples of this happening. Pol Pot was the Prime Minister in Cambodian from 1975 to 1979. He led the nationalist party of Khmer Rouge in the genocide of the deaths of 1.5 to 2 million people in Cambodia. Adolph Hilter became the Chancellor of Germany in 1920. He led a patriotic and nationalist ideology, which was responsible for World War II. So, he and all his followers were responsible for genocide and the deaths resulting from the war.
These men were not alone. Some people join with their schemes to share in the wealth and power. Many said nothing and simply followed orders. And the vast majority were silent enablers. They said nothing until it was them that they came for.
The common thread is their use of patriotism and nationalism to garner support to marginalize and persecute. They always blame a group of people for civil or financial problems. They always use their power to skim resources from the government for their use. This is why we should learn from the past so that others do not suffer.
What Can You Do?
If you are even half-way aware, then you should be able to see what is going on. We are also social beings that depend on our planet. So, we should take care of each other and the planet.
Anyone who exhibits these traits needs help. But they must want help. People with a narcissistic personality disorder rarely want help. They build a world to protect their mental illness.
If you are awake, you will see these behaviors. You will see corruption and unfairness and feel obligated to react. You should feel uncomfortable when you observe negative bias and prejudice. Healthy people feel empathy. This should motivate you to help change these situations. Everyone has their sphere of influence.
They are often skilled orators and manipulators. Don’t let someone like this knock you off your spiritual path. The survivors of World War II are good examples. People lost everything but learned to survive and eventually thrive.
Here are our recommendations:
1) Remove yourself from their influence as much as possible.
2) Take time to be alone. Go some place calming. Spend time in nature, if possible. This will ground you. Do this before you act out of emotion. Staying grounded is one of the best defenses against their manipulation.
3) Observe your inner thought life. Minimize brooding on negative “what if” scenarios.
4) Meditate. Engage yourself and (and others) in spiritual exploration. Re-focus your practice on the techniques you have learned (Japa, TM, Yoga, etc.)
5) Avoid negative social media, news and religion on TV, radio. This is especially true if the megalomaniac uses these tools to spread fear and hate.
6) Study the Enneagram and enhance your observational skills.
7) Take the appropriate action. Inaction only emboldens them. Be prudent in your response, since people with these disorders will retaliate if they are unmasked.
This will help you spot negative bias and prejudice being disguised in the cultural narrative. For example, the Enneagram will help you spot signs of unhealthy personality disintegration. With enhanced observational skills, you will spot the promotion of extremist ideologies. And you will people use religious symbolism in an attempt to garner support. If you can spot these signs, then you can act appropriately.
Genius and Narcissism
So, if you watch any type of social media, you will see people making statements that are not congruent with their previous positions. You will begin to see the pattern of systematic racism. You will see how people try to justify social, economic, and racial injustice. And you will learn to spot those that exhibit many of the signs of the mental disorders described above.
If you see these things, it means you are awake enough to see through the propaganda. You are aware of the threats these people pose to our society. So, you are now in the position to do something positive within your sphere of influence.
(3) DSM, www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm