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The "vulnerable" dark triad, part 4

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See caption [Evil]. Retrieved from: v

All three members of the dark triad, the authors note, are associated with negative childhood conditions and various forms of childhood abuse and neglect. One study, the author notes, correlates the emergence of BPD with "invalidating environments," examples of which include a tendency of parents to respond in an extreme and inappropriate manner when the child communicates private experiences, as well as childhood sexual abuse.

All three members of the VDT, the authors note, differ from ordinary dark triad traits in that they tend to internalize, rather than exclusively externalize, disorders. This includes anxiety and depression, as well as acting out extreme embodiments of these tendencies in the form of suicidal behavior.

Vulnerable narcissists, they note, tend to express low degrees of psychological adjustment and psychological well-being. The members of the traditional DT, they note, tend to be correlated with high self-esteem and low negative affect, whereas, the VDT tends to have a reverse correlation: high negative affect and low self-esteem.

Furthermore, both BPD and vulnerable narcissism tend to be correlated with pathological attachment styles. This includes anxious and fearful attachment, for example. This contrasts with the attachment styles of psychopathic offenders, which tend to exhibit a 'dismissive' attachment style.

The authors suggest that high F1 psychopathy levels are correlated with high degrees of dismissive attachment styles, which include low levels of anxiety and high levels of avoidance, whereas those with secondary psychopathy will be correlated with both high levels of anxiety and high levels of avoidance. The authors further suggest that these tendencies will be prevalent in both BPD and vulnerable narcissism. They also note that those diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder who commit violent crimes tend to exhibit "insecure" and highly disturbed attachment styles.

The authors note that secondary psychopathy and BPD, where they are correlated with externalizing behaviors, are correlated with drug abuse, antisocial behavior and aggression, and that, although these tendencies have not been examined in relation to vulnerable narcissism, the latter will probably exhibit similar patterns of externalization. The authors examine VDT in terms of following measures:

1) Similarities in self-report composites of the three disorders.

2) The relations of the subjects to self-report measures of personality.

3) Parent reports of personality.

4) Current level of functioning.

They furthermore attempt to measure this measure itself with measures of grandiose narcissism and F1 psychopathy, both of which are measures of the traditional DT. They expect the measures of the VDT to be correlated with emotionally vulnerable traits and characteristics, such as emotion dysregulation, neuroticism, psychopathology and self-harm, as well as tendnecies towards "disagreeableness," which includes distrustfulness, antisocial behavior, manipulativeness and immodesty.

The differences, however, as noted before, show up largely in terms of differences in "impulsivity" styles. They suggest that conscientiousness, along with forms of impulsivity correlated with conscientiousness, such as lack of premeditation and lack of perseverance, will be correlated with secondary psychopathy and BPD, but not vulnerable narcissism.

A commonality they suggested, however, has to do with poor parenting that resulted from a lack of warmth and supervision, as well as high levels of psychological intrusiveness and traumatic experiences such as parental abuse.

Joshua D. Miller, Ally Dir, Brittany Gentile, Lauren Wilson, Lauren R. Pryor, and W. Keith Campbell. Searching for a Vulnerable Dark Triad: Comparing Factor 2 Psychopathy, Vulnerable Narcissism, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Retrieved from: