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What is a Dark Empath? The Most Dangerous Personality Type

What is a Dark Empath? Most of us know about the two stand-out personality types that seem at complete odds with each other. On the one hand, we have the caring and empathetic friend; on the other, the toxic manipulator. Empaths easily feel others' emotions and are known for experiencing overwhelm in the face of intense intimacy, criticism, or stimulation.

In contrast, toxic archetypes often possess the dark triad of traits. Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy. They have an inflated sense of superiority and entitlement, exploit and manipulate others, and are often seen as cold-hearted cynics. Since these two characters appear to be total opposites, it may be surprising to hear that there are people who fall into both categories. These people are classified as dark empaths.

Emerging studies suggest that as much as one-fifth of the general population may be considered dark empaths However, we'll need more research to confirm those startling statistics. What's fascinating about dark empaths is that they are kind and compassionate and capable of emotional connection but they are more often perceived as cold, since traits from the dark triad bubble to the surface. 

What is Dark Empath? The Most Dangerous Personality Type
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Let's see if you know anyone who could be considered a dark empath. Here are seven key traits that characterize this personality type:

1. Open Behavior

Dark empaths are characterized by more extroverted, dynamic behaviors of high openness. They generally have exceptional social skills, and you might find them explaining their perspective or expressing their inner thoughts with ease. Although they can be gentle and open-minded, dark empaths are NOT pushovers. The opposite is usually true. One key difference between an empath and a dark empath is that dark empaths experience stronger cognitive empathy, allowing them to exploit vulnerability instead of encouraging connection. Basically, if they have a chance to manipulate someone, they will generally take it, as exploitation is much easier for those who can naturally understand others' emotional states. Now, it's important to acknowledge that this is a common trait and not all extroverts are dark empaths. So don't mark your sociable friends with red flags just yet. A person needs to have at least three or four of these traits to be considered a dark empath.

2. Narcissistic And Neurotic Tendencies

Some dark empaths are clearly narcissists, while others hide their narcissism deep down. Either way, this personality trait is extremely vulnerable to their self-centered nature. You can tell when someone is a victim of their own narcissism when they take things too personally. Criticism and negativity directed toward them often cause pain, and they can also be described as rejection sensitive. The word NO can be cut like a knife. For the dark empath, pride is essential for survival, and they might protect it with ignorance or a superiority complex. While it's unlikely for them to lash out with violence, passive aggression comes easily. People with this personality type also tend to possess neurotic tendencies and experience anxiety, depression, or phobias. These marked states of emotional ups and downs are often the result of unprocessed emotional pain and trauma.

3. Tend To Be Talented 

I hope you didn't expect everything about this personality type to be negative, because dark empaths tend to possess remarkable and sometimes unexplainable natural talents. And it helps that they rarely abandon their goals. With dedication and the ability to make quick decisions, these people are often phenomenal leaders who easily understand and connect with others.

4. Like To Have Power 

While most people enjoy and even desire power, a hunger for power is a dominant key character trait of traditional dark triads who typically like to be the ones in charge all the time. What sets dark empaths apart from the classic dark triads is that they display participatory leadership.

That means they despise following others, but they don't always want to lead either. They will let you know who the boss is, but they aren't as eager to take on all the responsibilities of being the boss. That said, dark empaths often bring out the best in other people. They can motivate, inspire, and lead when it suits them. The result is usually a team that works together, actively participates, and achieves goals.

5. Emotionally Manipulative

Dark empaths tend to be primarily defined by their exceptional skills at emotional manipulation, and THIS is what makes them so dangerous. Even though they won't physically harm you, they can leave deep emotional scars. For dark empaths, empathy is a tool. It helps them understand others so that they can get what they want. And while every dark empath will use their tools differently and to varying degrees, they all tend to be apt persuaders, especially when they have a personal goal in mind. People with this personality type aren't destined to harm others emotionally, but they sure know-how.

6. Good At Guilt Tripping 

People A guilt trip is a form of emotional manipulation, and dark empaths are well-known for their skill in this regard. While dark triads often lack empathy and struggle to understand emotion, dark empaths understand others' emotions with ease, particularly shame and obligation, which helps to fuel the guilt trip when using it. To the dark empath, empathy is merely an instrument to get others to do what they want. Essentially, dark empaths rarely use their empathetic nature to display love or affection commonly associated with empaths.

7. Relish In Malicious Humor 

The superiority complex that dark empaths tout is like a fire that requires fuel to burn. And if you accidentally extinguish a little bit of the flames, the dark empath will often add more fuel with a scorching intensity. But instead of gasoline, these personality types prefer malicious humor. Especially jokes that target others' weaknesses and insecurities. They enjoy laughing at people they see as beneath them, and these judgments are often rooted in prejudice. If someone else is in pain, they might exploit it. And hurtful jokes and put-downs are the best fuel to lift up a dark empath's spirits when they want to feel superior. 

Freud describes this type of humor as tendentious, the worst possible, and fundamentally destructive. At first, the dark empath might sound like a contradiction or a new and rare type. But when you look deeper, there are dark empaths all around us, and they've been there for quite a while. Take a look at cinema and literature. You'll see that dark empaths have been around for hundreds of years. And they've even been celebrated.

People with this personality type often fit into the trope of the mysterious and evil character who turns out to have a heart after all. Think of the high-school bad boy, the vampire who doesn't drink blood or the thief who steals to provide for the needy. Whether you see the dark empath as good or bad is relative, but one thing's for sure. They have a powerful personality that can build and destroy with ease. 

Do you know a dark empath? Is it someone you’re close to? Let us know in the comments below!