We can all behave in manipulatve, unpleasant, and even destructive ways at times. But some people seem to hurt others more often than not. They live by their own rules, on their own schedule, with little concern for the well-being of others. They are toxic personalities.
These people have distinctive thinking patterns based on beliefs that...
- having power and control gives them excitement in life, and they are always seeking excitement.
- they are unique. They see themselves as smarter, more creative, and more important than ordinary people. They are narcissistic (self-centered) and grandiose (self-important).
- they are never wrong. When they don't get what they want, or are caught in dishonest or manipulative behavior, they complain that they have been victimized, misunderstood, or mistreated.; they are good people, despite their manipulative, expolitative, or otherwise harmful behavior.
- caring equals using. They believe that if you care about them, you'll let them manipulate and take advantage of you.
- people who work hard are fools who aren't clever enough to attain their goals through "easier" and quicker means, such as scheming and manipulation.
Most of the time, toxic personalities' behavior is irritating, frustrating, or confusing, but within the bounds of social convention and the law. However, when they break the law or cause physical harm or severe psychological damage to others without regret or remorse, we call these people sociopaths, psychopaths, or criminal personalities.
What makes these people different is that they have no conscience. When they say they're sorry for something they've done, they don't mean they regret having harmed you, but that they're upset at having been caught!
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Carol A. Henry, LPC, LMFT
Carol serves clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where she works with individuals, couples, and families. She has facilitated training workshops for businesses, consciousness groups, as well as area recovery and church groups. Her counseling services include web-enabled video counseling. More information: www.carolahenry.com