Creative Counselling: Neutralising Personality Disorders

November 12, 2018

Have you ever been around someone who rubs people up the wrong way? Maybe your boss is a control freak or your mother-in-law needs constant attention? If so, then it could be that you’re dealing with someone who has a personality disorder. Read on for tips and tricks for identifying and neutralising the negative effect of these personality traits…


The Dark Triad

While The Dark Triad sounds like something from an episode of Charmed, it is in fact a term psychologists use to identify the three main personality traits proven to have a negative impact; Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy.  Most people have some trace of each of these traits within their personality. In small doses they can be a good thing, but too much leads to negative and destructive patterns of behaviour.  Getting to know the symptoms of these dark personalities can help you to identify them early on, thereby limiting the damaging effects to your life.


Narcissism is much more than simply thinking well of oneself – it is a tendency to grandiosity and an over inflated idea of self-worth.  The Narcissistic personality lives for attention, adoration and worship.  They love people who agree with them and will wage a brutal vindictive war against anyone who dares to find fault with them.

Deep down the Narcissist feels inadequate and vulnerable, so they cover this up with an act of pretence and boasting, much like a tiny bird will fluff out its feathers to appear bigger to a predator.  They are terrified that they will be seen as being just like everyone else.  They want to appear superior.

Signs to look out for:

  • Boasting and hubris – they like to brag about their achievements so you’ll look up to them.
  • Lies – they are happy to lie about what they have done and may invent an alternate past or fabricate qualifications, wealth and titles.
  • Centre Stage – they love to be the centre of attention, even if the attention is negative, they thrive on it. Narcissists are the drama queens of life.

Nip it in the bud:

The worst thing you can do is feed a Narcissist by agreeing or disagreeing with them – they will take both as an invitation to step into the spotlight and create drama. Don’t argue with them and don’t fawn on them.  Remain neutral and as distant from them as possible.  Pointing out the truth behind their boasts can stop a Narcissist cold, but you will need proof to back it up or they’ll make out you’re the liar.  Stripping away their masquerade will ensure that they avoid you in future, though it may also set them on the path to vengeance, so protect your assets first.


Put simply Machiavellianism is the art of manipulation, covered by charm.  These are the con-artists, the Casanovas and the powerful influencers of the world.  Machiavellians always get exactly what they want and they are prepared to break the rules to get it.  This might mean that they spike drinks for sex, make promises they don’t keep, or attempt to undermine others.  They are interested in power and control and are motivated by self-interest.

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Superficiality – they are all charm. They say all the right things but there is never any real substance behind their words. They make empty gestures/promises just to get what they want
  • Control – they like to have as much control over things as possible, and that includes you! They can be pernickety and hard to please.
  • Brainwashing – they undermine you by telling you how useless you are and how you need them to get ahead in life

Nip it in the Bud:

Remember your Autonomy!  You are a unique individual and you have the right to make your own decisions and form your own opinions.  Be strong, decisive and stand your ground. Machiavellians are looking for easy targets – trust yourself, not their charm.



The Psychopathic Scale means that most of us have at least a touch of this trait because it is what helps us to achieve.  The higher up the Scale you go though, the less empathy and compassion for others is evident, which means that psychopaths can range from media moguls and skilled surgeons to cold blooded killers. Used effectively it can produce a successful individual, used destructively it ruins and takes lives.

Signs to look out for:

  • Selfishness – Psychopaths really don’t care what you want.
  • Obsession – They can focus absolutely to the exclusion of everything else
  • Lack of Empathy/Compassion – They cannot feel for the sufferings of others

Nip it in the bud:

Don’t expect them to understand you or your point of view; they lack the ability to sympathise. Try not to become their obsession and keep out of their way as much as possible.

Until next month,

Serene Blessings

Marie Bruce x




Find Out More:

Marie Bruce Dip. T. C.  MBACP is a qualified psychotherapist and a best-selling self-help author.  Here she offers simple tools used by therapists to help clients and readers improve their mental well-being.  Marie’s books are available on Amazon UK, in digital and print formats.

Posted by: Kindred Spirit