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  • Tania Zayets

About dangerous personalities

As a therapist and coach in many occasions, I witness how the nicest of people out there fall a prey of domineering, unbalanced, control, emotionally unstable etc. personalities. The lack of discernment and understanding when to stop and release yourself out of the relationships often arrives very late, when damage is already done and hurts and pains are scarring their hearts.

Police officer in school

So how to stop before it’s too late? How to discern? Dangerous personalities can act in ways that seem nice, but they can never be good since goodness requires honourable intentions. Joe Navarro in his book “About dangerous personalities, how to identify and protect yourself” says, that it’s important to be aware that niceness and goodness aren’t the same things

So it’s essential to determine someone’s intentions before letting down your guard. Joe, who is ex FBI agent, identified the following types of dangerous personalities:

1. Narcissistic personalities care only for themselves, and they’ll do whatever it takes to feel superior.

Narcissism as is often interpreted in as a person who’s in love with him or herself. If we want to get more accurate characteristics, the pathological narcissist is someone who’s in love with an idealised self-image, which they project to avoid feeling (and being seen as) the real, disenfranchised, wounded self. Deep down, most pathological narcissists think like the “ugly duckling,” even if they painfully don’t want to admit it.

This also points to two other narcissistic traits: superiority and lack of empathy. Narcissists only see a friend as someone to be exploited for further gains.

See those signs:

False Image Projection. Many narcissists like to do things to impress others by making themselves look good externally. Boundary Violator. Shows disregard for other people’s thoughts, feelings, possessions, and physical space. Conversation Interrupter and Hoarder. The narcissist loves to talk about him or herself and doesn’t give you a chance to take part in a two-way conversation.

2. Emotionally unstable personalities

Their biggest fear is abandonment and thus they will seek attention and can stretch their actions far from socially acceptable just to get it.

Emotionally unstable individuals are highly unpredictable – they’re like an emotional rollercoaster: they might be riding an ecstatic high one minute and then spiralling down and feeling victimised the next. They have a tremendous need to be loved but little ability to maintain a healthy relationship. They tend to act like “wound collectors,” storing up every occasion that they’ve felt mistreated.

Emotionally unstable individuals are incredibly needy, manipulative and controlling. They are brilliant mind players. They are like a prey in the mouth trap. Anyone who wants to release them from pain is under threat to get trapped themselves. They are an example of “victims in search of the perpetrator.”

As Joe Navarro says, that these personalities are commonly found in cults, since this environment usually offers unconditional acceptance, so their neediness can be indulged and given a structure that healthy society can’t provide.

The emotionally unstable person is known to use threats, including suicidal actions, as a way of manipulating others, especially when the person feels that they’re at risk of being abandoned.

3. Paranoid personalities

These people can never have peace, and their mind is never relaxed. Instead, it’s constantly examining their environment in search of a new potential threat. Since they can find the danger in everyone, that often leads to hatred and violence.

The healthy human built-in defence system in case of paranoid personality is continuously on acceleration.

A paranoid personality relentlessly monitors the words and actions of others, just to validate their unreasonable fears by finding signs of threatening or evil intent.

This monitoring can extend to neighbours, coworkers, foreigners, different ethnic groups, the government, family members – virtually anyone.

History knows lots of paranoid personalities who become leaders with a devastating for humanity results. Adolf Hitler was one of them.

4. The predatory personality.

Of all the dangerous psyches, the predatory personality is the most troubling since they have no conscience when it comes to their actions. These pose the greatest threat since it can kill without hesitation or remorse.

They’re cold, remorseless and utterly indifferent to the harm they cause. If they want a car, they won’t think twice about stealing one; if they want sex, it doesn’t matter if they have to use violence to get it.

These are people who are completely detached from their emotions. They come across as motionless, no or little eye contact and sense of cold attitude.

They are expressing so-called “flat effect” not showing the ability to feel emotional pain and hurts. Predators, use their social skills to get what they want.

5. Multiple dangerous personalities.

There are many instances throughout history of people who display multiple dangerous personality types.

Joseph Stalin is a singular example, who had a totalitarian grip not only on the Soviet Union’s citizens but also on its intelligence services and military. A narcissistic desire for validation had came to life in the multiple honorary titles he gave himself, such as Father of Nations, Brilliant Genius of Humanity and The Coryphaeus of Science. But Stalin also had his paranoid side, having nearly a quarter of his military staff executed following World War I, due to his suspicions about their loyalties. Ultimately, Stalin’s dangerous combination of personalities resulted in approximately 30 million people being killed. What gives multiple personality types the potential to be more dangerous is that one trait often tends to heighten the others. For example, if someone is a paranoid, narcissistic predator, their suspicious and self-obsessed nature can make them even more of a threat to those around them.*

Protect yourself from danger by being aware, strategic and understanding of people’s intent before it's too late.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re not sure about someone’s intentions.

• Do they negatively affect my emotions? • Do they behave erratically, unethically, antisocially and disregard the law? • Are they manipulative or exploitive? • Are they frequently behaving dangerously? • Are they often acting impulsively, or out of control, with a need for instant gratification?

If you determine that a dangerous personality is posing a threat, you may find these strategies helpful:

1. Set strong boundaries. Once you’ve said “No,” don’t back down; they’ll try to convince you otherwise, but remain firm and final. Make your boundaries firm. If you give them a bite, they’ll eat your arm. 2. Form supportive alliances. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to tell a friend or local services if you’re being tormented or mistreated by a dangerous personality. It’s always helpful to have people who can check in with you and verify your experiences.

The scariest human trait of all is ignorance. If you see someone is suffering, do reach out, see you can help in any way.

Joe Navarro’s book "About dangerous personalities: How to identify and protect yourself" has more information on the strategies on how to be safe on the early stage and not let yourself pulled into painful circumstance.

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