Dark Psychology: What Is It & Why Empaths Need to Learn About It

Dark Psychology is the study of human behaviour that is imbued with the intention of causing harm on another human being just to reap some sort of perceived benefit. Such behaviour is clearly empty of empathy and selflessness, but it’s more common than what we might like to estimate or even admit. Nonetheless, knowing more about dark psychology can help us prevent being exploited or manipulated by those who are not keen on helping or caring about us. If you are an empath or a highly sensitive person, you might benefit from this knowledge, since we tend to assume other people are inherently good, and even more so when we are not making a good use of our intuitive capacities.

According to Richard Campbell, author of the book Dark Psychology, human predators are usually good at hiding their true core and blending in with others. This is probably what makes it so difficult to spot them, and take the necessary measures to protect ourselves. There are, however, characteristics that can help us identify people who have great manipulation skills more readily. For instances, manipulators tend to be highly charming. They know how and what to say to gauge your attention. You might even feel special and like you are the centre of their universe, but once they know they “have” you they usually flip their behaviour and may even discard you. This is likely to happen if they perceive that you can no longer offer them what they want.

Another characteristic of human predators is entitlement. From their point of view, the world and others always owe them something or are to blame for their problems and own bad behaviour. People with such an attitude tend to throw tantrums if they don’t get what they want, and may even make others pay for it. Thanks to such pervasive attitude, they often get what they want, even if that means other people get hurt in the process. Tied in with this is the need for control. Manipulators love to be in control and to have the upper hand in any situation. They might want to micromanage others or do everything themselves. They rarely admit their own fault when something goes wrong as that doesn’t fit with the idealized image they have of themselves.

It’s hard to “win” an argument with someone who craves maximum control, especially when they diminish others as part of their communication strategy. They often make other people feel small, unseen or even insignificant by making snarky remarks and sometimes using sarcasm. You must understand this is just a strategy to make you feel powerless and gain control over you. As long as you don’t offer them your power, they will inevitably fail. The more you develop your intuition, the more you will be able to read the signs, and know when such dynamic is occuring. On top of this, you will surely be able to discern whether their emotions are genuine or inauthentic because your gut feeling is always warning you. You just need to learn to listen to it.

Since manipulators know how to pull the trigger, they are also aware of the kind of emotions they must simulate to make other people fall into their manipulative web. They know, for instances, that showing kindness makes other people think they are good hearted. This is where most empaths tend to fall because we want to believe people are who they show themselves to be. However, manipulators are great at putting a façade and knowing which show you want to see. Although this side of themselves doesn’t last long, it’s usually difficult to actually believe they are not the person they pretended to be and we often want to go back and try our best to “recover” the person who we once “knew”.

Finally, the favourite card manipulators like to play: the victim role. Since they struggle to assume and admit their own wrongdoings, they project their negative behaviour and faults onto others. This is really a form of distraction. You are fed with a narrative that distorts and conditions whatever information you receive afterwards. If they cheat their partner, it’s their partner’s fault for not acting the way they wanted. If they arrive late to a meeting, they come up with a story that washes away their responsibility. There is always a story which is more often than not a lie. They are aware that people tend to feel sorry for those who have been made wrong and they use that to gain control over other people’s psychology. Do you feel or think you know a manipulator? Do these characteristics ring a bell? Let me know in the comments!

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