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The DARK TRIAD: tracking wolves in our midst

This Jungian Life

Release Date: 04/27/2023

SELKIE FOLKLORE: Should we force soul to serve us? show art SELKIE FOLKLORE: Should we force soul to serve us?

This Jungian Life

The Selkie swims ashore at night, sheds her seal skin, hides it, and delights in her human form. In Celtic lore, she is the wild feminine soul, a creature of land and sea, innocent and beautiful, who cannot thrive in domesticity. In folklore, the seal-folk are discovered by humans. Their natural, joyous spirit, grace, and affection invite contact. Humans are drawn to them, but if they touch, parting is unbearable. Many a young man, desperate to maintain the life-giving embrace of nature, steals a Selkie’s seal skin, locking her into a human form. Helpless, she is led into domesticity and...

INITIATIONS: universal processes that spark transformation show art INITIATIONS: universal processes that spark transformation

This Jungian Life

The archetype of Initiation is primordial, and its force guides our transformative transitions. For Jung, this change reshapes spiritual, emotional, intellectual, behavioral, and social dynamics. Rooted in his anthropological studies, Jung emphasized the vital role of formal ceremonies in fostering separation from parental influences and facilitating integration into adult communities. These ceremonies marked a clear transition from childhood and established an essential connection with the adult community, promoting the collaborative culture by containing unconscious forces. Derived from...

The Barbie Movie: Can it Dismantle an American Myth? show art The Barbie Movie: Can it Dismantle an American Myth?

This Jungian Life

[Spoiler Alert.] In the opening scene of the Barbie movie, listless little girls dressed as drab Dust Bowl mothers play at ironing as they tend plastic babies until a gigantic cosmic Barbie appears on the landscape in a vogue pose. Her presence inspires the girls to smash their dolls and cast off their pretend chores in a whirl of rageful frustration. While this scene spoofs 2001: A Space Odyssey, it unknowingly dramatizes an archetypal event in the collective American psyche. In 1959, the Barbie doll hit the market and created a stir. American mothers objected to her sensuous form, so...

From SHAMANISM to JUNG: Understanding 'Loss of Soul' show art From SHAMANISM to JUNG: Understanding 'Loss of Soul'

This Jungian Life

As Jung’s anthropological studies expanded and his international travel exposed him to new cultures and ideas, he was taken by the concept of ‘loss of soul.’  A collapse of energy, a strange sudden alteration of personality, or episodes of blinding rage could signify a loss of soul from a shamanic perspective. The soul carries the animating and regulating forces as well as memory. In most traditions, it was expected to fly away upon death, much like the Egyptian Ba, depicted as a bird with a human head. Because the soul had an independent life, it might flee suddenly, leaving a...

HAGITUDE: Sharon Blackie on the power of aging show art HAGITUDE: Sharon Blackie on the power of aging

This Jungian Life

Sharon Blackie calls us to the ancient archetype of the Hag as a figure of unapologetic emergence from cultural pressures that lock us into outworn roles and limiting beliefs.  Drawing upon her transformative experiences in menopause Blackie grounds the mythic figure of the old woman who fashioned the world in her fierce determination to dissolve and reconfigure her professional and personal life. Identifying and rejecting cultural pressures to look and act a certain way as she ages, she claims the second half of her life for a post-heroic journey of intense creativity and unapologetic...

THREE VOICES, ONE SONG: Lessons in Friendship show art THREE VOICES, ONE SONG: Lessons in Friendship

This Jungian Life

The essence of friendship is visible in its linguistic root: ‘to love.’ Cicero wrote, “Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief." In modern times the art of friending seems lost. We have replaced shared experiences with Facebook posts and quell our loneliness by scrolling.  With high spirits, we three revisit our first meeting and reflect on the discovery of kinship between us. Our experiences of trust, reciprocity, and shared hardship marked by endless conversations and abundant laughter forged our bond during...

You're Not A Fraud: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome show art You're Not A Fraud: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

This Jungian Life

Imposter syndrome constellates the gut-wrenching fear of being exposed as a fraud no matter how much we have learned or the successes we have demonstrated. In 1978 two researchers identified and explored a painful phenomenon among some high-achieving women. Despite their high levels of success, they were convinced they were not as competent, intelligent, or skilled as others might think. Instead of identifying with their capabilities, they often attributed their success to luck, personal persuasion, or an unanticipated burst of energy. Further research revealed this struggle was equally...

FRIEND or FOE: The AI Debate with Michael L. Littman, PhD show art FRIEND or FOE: The AI Debate with Michael L. Littman, PhD

This Jungian Life

The uses and abuses of ChatGPT artificial intelligence language model have taken the collective imagination by storm. Apocalyptic predictions of the singularity, when technology becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, frighten us as we imagine a future where human intelligence is irrelevant. Prof. Michael Littman joins us to contextualize the advancement of artificial intelligence and debunk the paranoid rhetoric littering the public discourse. Michael has made groundbreaking research contributions enabling machines to learn from their experiences, assess the environment, make decisions,...

The Conjunction of Art and Life with Peter Kramer show art The Conjunction of Art and Life with Peter Kramer

This Jungian Life

"Death of the Great Man" by Dr. Peter D. Kramer offers a glimpse into the character disordered alpha narcissist. It is more than a satirical political commentary on Donald Trump. It points us to a broader discourse on power dynamics in the collective psyche, the potential for authority to corrupt our humanity and the dangerous ways we escape from freedom by surrendering self-responsibility.   The unique blend of psychiatric insight and literary narrative brings an unusual depth to the work. The narrator, psychiatrist Henry Farber, places the reader at his side, admitting his negative...

Meeting Shadow on the Spiritual Path with Connie Zweig show art Meeting Shadow on the Spiritual Path with Connie Zweig

This Jungian Life

Award-winning author, depth psychotherapist, and guide Connie Zweig shows us encountering darkness is a necessary part of our spiritual journey. In the first half of life, we disown aspects of ourselves to fit in and navigate our world more smoothly. Over time we realize all aspects of ourselves must be recalled and befriended. Integration of these shadow aspects lays the foundation for spiritual awakening.  Through careful introspection, dreamwork, and self-confrontation, we can see beyond stereotypes and projections, avoiding the pitfalls of black-and-white thinking. Jung reminds us,...

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Understanding the Dark Triad can help us navigate mysteriously troubled relationships in all spheres of life. Psychologists coined the term to describe a trifecta of malevolent personality traits: narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Although less sinister than any one full-blown personality disorder, it still affects the soul plagued by it and those in reach of its host.

Narcissism has become a widely-discussed topic, often misused to describe anyone who is frustrating or displeasing. At its core, narcissism is a soul-sickness, with individuals exhibiting entitlement, devaluation of others, and a lack of empathy. They suffer deep self-esteem wounds, alienation from their true selves, and an inability to connect with others.

Machiavellianism is inspired by the strategies in Niccolò Machiavelli’s famous book, The Prince. It promotes the idea that the ends justify the means, an approach that may be increasingly appealing in today’s virtualized world, where others may seem less human and more like avatars.

Psychopathy disturbingly captivates us, as we see in numerous films depicting violent, manipulative, and sensation-seeking characters. Driven by an intolerable emptiness and a desire for omnipotent control, psychopaths are often recast as heroes, despite their harmful actions.

Dark Triad types are subtler than their full-blown counterparts yet still identifiable by their disagreeableness, dishonesty, lack of empathy, and social exploitation. They may initially find success in our current cultural climate but are often forced to move on as they fall from grace.

The anonymity provided by social media allows these individuals to act with little consequence, even finding communities that celebrate their destructive behaviors. Skilled in manipulation, they may appear to champion a cause only to exploit it for their own ends.

To recognize the Dark Triad, look for callous indifference to the suffering of others. These individuals often project their dark traits onto others and manipulate the vulnerable into serving their agendas. In the end, those who need help remain unserved.

In Gravity and Grace, the French philosopher and political activist Simone Wiel offered a profound insight to help us discern the way forward. She wrote:


The false God changes suffering into violence.

The true God changes violence into suffering.

She means that violence in all its forms is only a way of discharging our anguished feelings but does not address our wounds. Instead, suffering requires a soulful engagement with what has happened to us and a struggle to master the pain and confusion left in its wake.

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The concepts of Jonathan Schedler Ph.D. are referenced in this episode.






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