How do bad people affect us psychologically?

When faced with people with a distinct tendency to deliberately harm others, it is common to focus on the causes and motives for their behavior. However, the consequences their actions have for others are no less important; after all, these people are the victims.

In this article we will review the main psychological effects of dealing with bad people, focusing on mental health.

    What are the characteristics of the bad guys?

    Answering the question of what exactly it is to be a bad person is such a complex task that it goes beyond psychology as a science; after all, it is a rather philosophical question. Specifically an approach from the philosophy of ethics.

    And in fact, in the behavioral sciences there is no clear consensus on what evil is or on the behaviors of evil people (which is not surprising, because defining these terms has political implications. ).

    This is why in this article we will be referring to villains in general terms and understanding that they are those who exhibit dark triad personality traits (“Dark triad”), a set of psychological predispositions associated with antisocial behavior. Antisocial behavior is that which is exercised without wanting to preserve the alliances and the good health of the social fabric in which one lives, but which only aims to satisfy one’s own desires from an individualistic system of values.

    The dark triad is so called because it includes three personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.


    Narcissism is characterized by egocentricity, sense of greatness, pride and the need to impose one’s own authority on others.


      Psychopathy includes impulsiveness, lack of empathy and capacity for repentance, selfishness, lack of sensitivity to others and contempt for rules and laws.


      Machiavellianism it has to do with the tendency to manipulate others and opportunism focused on meeting their own needs and wants.

        How do bad guys influence us psychologically?

        As we have seen, the characteristics of the dark triad, although overlapping in some respects, demarcate a type of behavior with a great capacity to harm others. Here, we’ll take a look at the psychological effects people leave behind when dealing with others.

        1. Trauma

        Trauma is common, especially in cases where violence is achieved either through physical violence or other strategies aimed at causing psychological pain. These psychopathological complications they are expressed by intrusive and recurring thoughts, unexpected peaks of anxiety, fear of doing normal daily actions.

          2. Damaged self-esteem

          Many people who easily manipulate the rest engage in making victims doubt their abilities, to the point that they assume they are useless. This is mainly done by what is called gas lighting.

            3. Social isolation

            A lot of nasty people they require dedication exclusive to couples or friendships, so that their victims become more and more socially isolated and, consequently, in a situation of particular vulnerability and a feeling of loneliness.

            4. Emotional addiction

            If psychological manipulation is fully consolidated, it leads to emotional dependence. This happens when the victim he then evaluates everything according to whether it will give you validation from the one who handles it or, conversely, if it gives you reasons to be angry or even broken the relationship.

              5. For

              Finally, fear is another of the most common psychological elements among victims of this type of attack and manipulation. Evil people know how to exploit the insecurities and vulnerabilities of others, or sometimes they don’t even make the effort to discover and opt for threats of physical attacks. The person is afraid to oppose which makes his life impossible, and therefore adopts a more or less submissive attitude.

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              Bibliographical references

              • American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
              • Jonason, PK; Koenig, BL; Tost, J. (2010). Living a Busy Life: The Dark Triad and The History of Life Theory. Human Nature, 21 (4): 428 – 442.
              • Jones DN; Paulhus DL (2010). Different provocations trigger aggression in narcissists and psychopaths. Social, Psychological and Personality Sciences, 1: pp. 12 – 18.
              • Leonard, M.; Horowitz; SS (2010). Textbook of Interpersonal Psychology: Theory, Research, Assessment and Therapeutic Interventions. John Wiley & Sons. pages 252–55.
              • Paulhus, DL; Williams, KM (December 2002). “The dark triad of personality: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. »Journal of Research in Personality, 36 (6): p. 556 – 563.
              • Seligman, MEP and Maier, SF (1967). Do not escape traumatic shock. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74: pp. 1 – 9.

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