Donald Trump and his dark triad reach scary territory

Dr Noam Sphancer, writing for Psychology Today, identifies the diagnostic criteria for a collection of three personality traits known as the Dark Triad. They are the functional (subclinical) personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, and they occasionally make their appearance in full force and all at once, like a malignant Triple Crown, in a single individual.

While I’m not ordinarily a sucker for mystical symbolism, I must confess to a certain chill down my spine when learning the psychologists’ shorthand for this particular pathology is “DT.” Nevertheless, in reading the specific diagnostic criteria for this roundup of pathologies, one cannot help but see emerging a vivid, unmistakable portrait of Donald Trump.

Personal characteristics of the Dark Triad personality are highly reminiscent of Trump. Specifically, the DT is manipulative, deceitful, lacking in remorse or empathy, callous and greedy for attention and admiration. But there is a downside to DT.

Sphancer notes that, “Alas, success achieved using Dark Triad means comes at a cost, to both self and (often more acutely) others, as Dark Triad traits are associated with problems including unethical behavior, white-collar crime, lying, deception, and cyber-aggression.” The DT often has success, but the success fades quickly and turns sour. Trump’s three failed marriages support this (is anyone going to dispute that his current marriage isn’t also a failure?) as do his numerous bankruptcies, the high mortality rate of his friendships and his inability to stick with any one thing.

Typically the downfall of the DT is a horrorshow for everyone involved. He (and the DT is almost always a “he”) rarely goes down without taking everyone in reach down with him. That’s bad enough when the DT is well-known, powerful and has a lot of connections. When the DT is, well, DT himself, “president” of the United States, the consequences can be disastrous for America. And quite possibly the entire world.