Learning the truth about narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, and megalomaniacs might save your life. It might save a lot more, like a whole nation.
The term con man refers to a “confidence artist,” someone who uses psychological tactics to gain the confidence of others to persuade them to believe something. A grifter engages in confidence games to deceive, trick, and defraud others. A narcissist is a person with an exaggerated and selfish perception of themselves.
A lot can go wrong when a con man grifter like Trump with a narcissistic personality disorder attains a position of power.
“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.” ― Sam Vaknin
Genius And Narcissism
Many things can go wrong if someone with a personality disorder—the more extensive their sphere of influence, the greater the damage. Let’s look at how you can spot the signs of some of the most destructive types. But first, let’s talk about intelligence.
Intelligence is the ability to gain knowledge. We can measure it in several ways. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence test (1) is an example. The IQ test is another popular method for measuring intelligence (2); it uses the formula IQ = mental age ÷ chronological age × 100. Average Intelligence is in the range of 115 to 129. People with mental disabilities measure around 1-24, with the gifted at the other end, scoring 130 to 144.
Mental health also runs on a continuum, from healthy to unhealthy. Those on the healthy side of the continuum are absent any indicators of any mental disorders. Healthy people exhibit traits like kindness and compassion. They care about others. At the other end of the scale are those who exhibit one or more mental health disorders. Mental health and intelligence are two different things.
Genius and narcissism don’t go together, either. The truth about narcissists is that they are not highly intelligent; they learn to compensate by deception. They only need the time and opportunity to apply the right tactics to manipulate those susceptible to their ploys. A lack of intellectual prowess is not a barrier for narcissists who hone the tactics outlined below. They only have to be as smart as the people they manipulate.
Blaming other groups and creating a scapegoat for others to direct their hate are common themes with all dictators, from Hitler to Trump. They appeal to extremist viewpoints of genetic or spiritual superiority. But the people caught up in the propaganda can’t see what is happening.
The Truth About Narcissists
Narcissism is one of the ten major personality disorders. The DSM (3) is the bible of psychology, which describes personality disorders. Narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, and megalomaniacs share many of the same behaviors. Clinicians use these terms interchangeably. Whatever you call them, they have a lack of conscience and empathy.
You will find a con man grifter often exhibits the traits of a narcissistic personality disorder. The tactics they practice exacerbate this condition, making them less and less empathetic and more self-centered and egotistical.
Here are their eight favorite tactics. See if you recognize anyone who exhibits these traits and tactics. Need a hint? If you have watched the news since 2015, you will see all eight of these used by one prominent political candidate.
The Tactics of Narcissism — A Con Man Grifter Playbook
1) Gaslighting is constantly misrepresenting things and misleading people to cause indecision and doubt. The term gaslighting comes from the film Gaslight (1944). Here, a husband convinces his wife she’s insane. He sets up situations and then denies they exist, continually telling her she imagines things; naturally, it causes her to question her sanity.
The tactics of gaslighting often include emotional manipulation through contradictory behavior. They will abuse and harm, then deny it happened. They often say, “I’m sorry you think I did something wrong, but that’s not the case.” They will get the person they abuse or lie to agree with them.
2) A con man grifter constantly lies, exaggerates, and misrepresents facts. Narcissists try to elicit negative emotional responses. They know when you are upset, you are more susceptible to manipulation. It can be a part of the gaslighting technique, but it is most often used in groups or crowds where they have an audience to incite with emotional rhetoric.
Groups are susceptible to groupthink manipulation tactics of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis, which are the main tools of religion and religious-based politics. The strategy is simple. Cause controversies, use lies to create problems, and then provide a scapegoat as a target. Repeat as necessary. The more you repeat it, the better it works. Narcissists need to be the center of everything. No matter what you have done, they have done it better. Outlandish conspiracy theories are the trademark of this tactic.
3) A con man grifter projects a false image of success. False self-image is the central shield or defense, which is why it is common for people with this disorder to exaggerate their finances and intelligence. They proclaim themselves experts in many things. They often demand admiration and acceptance. They see themselves as invincible, above the law. Genius and narcissism are a deadly combination.
“Narcissists are consumed with maintaining a shallow false self to others. They’re emotionally crippled souls that are addicted to attention. Because of this, they use a multitude of games, in order to receive adoration. Sadly, they are the most ungodly of God’s creations because they don’t show remorse for their actions, take steps to make amends, or have empathy for others. They are morally bankrupt.” ― Shannon L. Alder
4) Refuse to accept responsibility. A narcissist has an inflated ego and rarely takes responsibility for their deeds. Instead, they blame others for their incompetence and poor decisions. Narcissists are quick to become defensive and aggressive if criticized and are good at playing the role of the victim to sidestep accountability.
5) Enjoys causing harm, emotional turmoil, and controversy. Making fun of others is a way to bolster their Ego. But conversely, they use shame and ridicule to inflict emotional distress. Emotional attacks are meant as much for the audience as the victim; they set the stage for other tactics.
6) Manipulate through exploitation or domination. Boasting is another common way they reinforce their self-image. They use deception, pressuring, and targeting emotional or physical defects to cause pain. They need to be feared. They enjoy dominating everything, including people and conversations.
7) Break rules and laws. Flaunt their authority, frequently overstepping the personal boundaries of others. As a result, they feel entitled to cut in line and take advantage of people.
8) Learn to Mimic outward the desired emotional affect. The narcissist does not feel compassion or empathy. However, they become adept at learning to mimic the outward affect of normal emotions. This skill set is something they practice in front of a mirror for hours, mimicking facial expressions of emotions so they can be more convincing.
The con man grifter uses this skill set to mask their outward emotional affect. These skills fall under the umbrella of psychological manipulation, but renaming or rebranding makes them highly marketable skills in corporate America.
These skills are the executive’s suite primary psychological tools. Today, they are known as Emotional Intelligence. Corporate America is fully on board with these con-man manipulation tactics because they bolster employee production and make companies more profitable. They do not care about the health or long-term effects of promoting these unhealthy behaviors.
How These Traits Manifest In Behavior
So, here’s the truth about narcissists: they exhibit 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, I don’t think bad thing happen at all. But if it happened, it didn’t happen the way you describe it. Even if it happen, it was not really that bad when you compare it to what other people have done. If I contributed, it was not my intent. If I did something intentionally, someone must have made me do it. No matter what, be assured it was not my fault.
To the narcissist, there are a variety of truths to any situation. They are proud to boast their facts, which contradict the real facts, but they can sell these blatant fabrications even when caught in lies. They hold steadfast in denial and justification. The bottom line is that they do not accept responsibility for their actions.
Narcissism is a personality disorder revolving around self-centered, arrogant behavior; people with this disorder often see themselves as geniuses and victims simultaneously. As a result, they have a lack of empathy for others. However, they crave the center of attention and need admiration. Therefore, people describe them as manipulative, cocky, and selfish.
The Slippery Slope
Narcissism is a slippery slope. It may start out exhibiting one trait but add more over time. Drugs and alcohol expedite abnormal or violent social behavior. Many serial rapists are psychopaths or sociopaths.
“A sociopath is one who sees others as impersonal objects to be manipulated to fulfill their own narcissistic needs. They have no regard for the hurtful consequences of their selfish actions.” ― R. Alan Woods, The Journey Is the Destination: A Book of Quotes With Commentaries
These mental disorders culminate in megalomania when someone has delusions of grandeur and an obsession with power. So, they use their narcissism to justify their actions of megalomania.
Remember, genius and narcissism are deadly combinations. A narcissist does not need to be a genius 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, and they learn to mimic the proper emotional responses. It’s the reason many corporate leaders are psychopaths. A psychopath has limited empathy, so they can make decisions that harm people or the environment without remorse. Sociopaths are the more violent version of narcissism. Sociopaths not only perpetuate violence but also receive enjoyment from doing it.
Tainted Genius and a Con Man Grifter Like Trump
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 grafter only needs to be slightly more intelligent than the person they target. They can lie convincingly because they will do and say anything and everything without remorse. They use the tools of greed and fear to manipulate others.
The con-man role became the focal point for the spiritualist movement of the 1900s. They became fortune tellers and palm readers. This parlor game moved to North America in the late 1800s and created the Christian Faith Movement. Today, it is the home of the televangelist.
When genius and narcissism come together, we have the most dangerous and cunning kind of con man grifter. As criminals, they can destroy many lives. Worse yet, it is when they coerce their way into a leadership role. Narcissists and psychopaths develop skills to bully others. It is how they expand their corruption into a criminal enterprise.
The Perfect Storm
A con man like Trump is a perfect storm for a worst-case scenario. He exemplifies how a megalomaniac coerces 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, this happens more often than we would like.
History gives us some examples. Pol Pot was the Prime Minister of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. He led the nationalist party of the Khmer Rouge in the genocide of 1.5 to 2 million people in Cambodia. Similarly, Adolph Hilter became the Chancellor of Germany in 1920. He led a patriotic and nationalist ideology leading to World War II. He and all his followers were directly or indirectly responsible for genocide and the deaths resulting from the war. Donald Trump is only the last in the line of megalomaniacs to work their way into a position of power.
What do these leaders have in common other than personality disorders? They all champion nationalism and religious or ethnic superiority, or all three.
These leaders did not achieve their positions of influence alone. They use aggressive manipulation skills to get others to join their schemes and share in the spoils. Those who follow narcissists will say, I was just following orders. Others go along because they hate the same people. And the vast majority are silent enablers, and they said nothing until they became targets themselves.
They often use common threads of patriotism and nationalism to garner support to marginalize and persecute. It is common to find a scapegoat for civil or financial problems. They use their power to skim resources from the government for their use. It’s the reason we need to learn from the past. If you do not bring the perpetrators to justice, they will attempt to gain power again.
What Can You Do?
If you are even halfway aware, you should be able to see what is going on. Social beings depend on our planet, so we should care for each other and the earth.
Anyone who exhibits these traits needs help. But unfortunately, people with narcissistic personality disorder rarely want help. Instead, the truth about narcissists is 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. It should motivate you to help change these situations. Everyone has their sphere of influence.
If you have to deal with someone like this, take prudent steps to ensure your mental and physical health. However, this doesn’t mean you should allow them to take advantage of you. History shows nothing can quench narcissism, psychopath, sociopath, or megalomaniac thrust. These personality types always want more. Their thirst for power allows them to achieve at the cost of others.
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. If you cannot remove yourself physically, try to ignore the mental tactics they employ. For example, imagine them wearing a clown outfit and blowing bubbles as they speak. Keep telling yourself you are onto their tricks.
2) Take time to be alone. Go someplace calming. When possible, spend time outdoors in nature. A place untouched by the hand of man is ideal. It 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.
5) Avoid negative social media, news, and religion on TV and radio. It is especially true if the megalomaniac uses these tools to spread fear and hate. Unfortunately, most learn this is a medium ripe for misuse.
6) Study the Enneagram and enhance your observational skills.
7) Take action. Inaction only encourages people with this disorder. Be prudent in responding since people with these disorders will retaliate if unmasked.
Genius and Narcissism
If you use social media to any extent, you see people trying to spin what they said last week, which was found to be false. You will see blatant racism and religious superiority used to undermine progress. You will see how people justify social, economic, and racial injustice. Hopefully, you will learn to spot those who exhibit many signs of the mental disorders described above and help expose these tactics.
If you see these things, you are awake enough to see through the propaganda. You are aware of the threats these people pose to our society, and you are now in the position to do something positive within your sphere of influence.