The Paradox Of Our Dark Side

In a world that is thought to be black and white, where the good is desirable and the bad is looked down upon, each one of us has a dark side, which according to conventional wisdom, is to be shunned or discarded.

According to Columbia University psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, one has to integrate one’s dark side and harness it, as it could be our greatest power if it is in harmony with the rest of our personality.

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Are You Yoda or Darth Vader?

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Our personalities have two distinct triads: The Light Triad and The Dark Triad. The dark ones sometimes overlap with the light ones to form a complete personality.

The Dark Triad, which is associated with the Seven Deadly Sins (Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth, Gluttony, Pride and Envy) seems to be very fascinating, with many researchers drawn towards it just like viewers are drawn to serial-killer shows and murder mysteries.

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There are certain personality traits in literature that fall under the Dark Triad:

  • Machiavellianism: A tendency to strategically exploit or deceive other people.
  • Subclinical Narcissism: It means focusing towards the self, giving oneself entitlement and importance.
  • Subclinical Psychopathy: A tendency to be insensitive and cruel with regards to others.

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While it is true that darkness is the absence of light, according to psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, light is not just an absence of darkness, but something more than that.

The Light triad had the following personality traits:

  • Faith In Humanity: A belief in the basic goodness of humans.
  • Humanism: Finding each human worthy and valuing the dignity of others.
  • Kantianism: Treating others as humans, and not as a means to an end.

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Some findings from the extensive research:

  • A sizable number of people on the Light Triad were older and mature, with more females.
  • A study on the behaviour of United States Senators showed many exhibiting the Dark Triad.
  • People tend to slightly tilt towards goodness and are basically nice if their defence mechanism is not activated.

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Scott Barry Kaufman

"‘I have found that as long as people don’t feel that you are attacking their politics, religion, core values, core identity, personal truth, morality, likability, intelligence, talent, creativity, or favourite Pokemon character, people actually tend to be quite polite and kind.’ "

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We should not think of eliminating, blocking, eradicating or shunning our dark side; accepting it is what makes us a whole person.

The dark side is, more often than not, a big motivator towards fighting real aggression and injustice; we can utilize the power of our negative emotions, and make them productive.

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