After technically finishing the series on female madness, I’m left with a few thoughts that were not covered by the series itself, so I decided to summarize some of my thoughts after the research and writing.
The topic of female madness has been written about quite extensively in a series on this blog. Starting with the aptly titled “How Many Bitches Be Crazy?” to “Women and Narcissistic Personality Disorder“, I’ve covered ground from how many there are, what their methods are, and what they are. While, I’m not a psych professional by any stretch, I tend to think that psych professionals may be a hindrance more than a help in these situations. Mainly because the diagnostic criteria do not reflect reality in many ways, they represent what is useful to a clinician not to a layman sitting across from someone, possibly with a mind fogged up by manipulation tactics.
Where Does Madness Come From?
I’ve asked myself this in many settings. In business, and especially modern business, I can understand why Dark Triad personalities tend to do well. If one takes the 2008 financial crisis for instance, it was everything that a cluster B loves, it was high risk/high reward, it had no moral incentives to act in the best interest of anyone but yourself, it was grandiose, “Who lost the hundy?” as one Goldman-Sachs trade said about a loss of 100 million dollars in the currency market.
In a business world where loyalty means loss of cost competitiveness, where quality focus means lower margins, where marketing is more important than value for money, and where one must be willing to do whatever it takes for the bottom line, be it covering up polluting ground water or not paying attention to suicide rates at your subcontractor, these traits win. It is obvious that traits that make you disloyal, scrupulous, image oriented, and without conscience are a competitive advantage in modern life.
Cluster B is born from and thrives in chaos and disorder. We can debate how much of it is nurture and how much is nature. It could be entirely nature, it could be largely nature, or it could be a mixture of both, which is where I personally lean on the subject.
Within the sexual market place, it is quite obvious why these genes survive and even thrive. Cheating, rape, cuckoldry, infanticide are all mechanisms that can contribute to sexual market success. The husband who cheats on his wife with another women and thus secures offspring to be raised by someone else at no cost to him. The soldiers in the Mongol army under Ghengis Khan who raped his way across the Asia. The wife who cheats on her husband, and then has him provide for her lover’s child, and finally the lion who takes over the pride, and kills the cubs so the lionesses go into heat.
These are all reproductive advantages, but they are not social advantages. If everyone acted on these urges all the time, we wouldn’t have a society, we would have a form of anarchy. At best, we would be living in small tribes across the plains.
Alternative, if the case was that humanity entered a state of chaos, without rule of law, who would be more suited to thriving in that chaos? When you have to perform morally reprehensible acts that polite society couldn’t even imagine, on a daily basis merely to stay alive? How about a human predator, without a conscience.
Many aspects of nature are far from moral or virtuous from a human perspective, however they are ruthlessly efficient. If you select for social ability, then it follows that people over time will be more social. If you select for ruthless survival, people will be more capable of surviving ruthlessly. This is simple logic, that if you select for the wolves that are the least afraid of humans and the most tame, and have them mate with each other, then it follows that the genes that make them tame will become stronger.
I think of the genetics as loading a gun, but society holding its finger on the trigger. What would be required of society in order to pull this trigger? One case could be an increase in chaos, children raised in chaotic environments can develop socially maladjusted personalities, in various directions. Perhaps the highest heritability of any cluster B disorder, is in women who have borderline mothers. This virtually guarantees that the daughter will either be borderline herself or a co-dependent.
What are traits of narcissists, psychopaths and borderlines? High risk sexual behavior, this includes by is not limited to women getting pregnant earlier and men becoming fathers earlier. If a woman starts having children early and engages in high risk sexual behavior, a society that admonishes such behavior and where it is socially selected against, may not be more reproductively successful than average. However, what if, society is adapted to facilitate this strategy among women? What if, welfare systems, child support laws, and such are built to support this strategy, to the point of creating incentives to have more children? The result is predictable, you get more children, who are born as loaded guns, into a situation where the trigger is highly likely to be pulled.
What if, two of the most often mentioned attractive qualities for a mate is confidence and charm? Who are confident and charming? Cluster B disordered people. They cannot maintain it longer than absolutely necessary in many cases, but long enough to mate.
What if a society came to be, where self-confidence to the point of irrationality, and callousness came to be selected for traits in the wealthy? Would this not lead to a pro-cluster B selection?
What if you had a society that selected for virtually all these traits in some manner. What if a society selected for grandiose sense of self, lack of empathy, interpersonal exploitativeness, shallow relationships, short-term thinking, and high risk tolerance?
Hell, what if such a society incentivized behavior of this nature? We’ve all heard some variation on “The squeaky wheel gets the most grease“, and I’m sure many have observed that the person that creates the most problems with histrionics is generally placated. Our financial system is built around creating gigantic incentives for taking high risk, with limited to no downside. What if neglecting your birth control offered a “get out of pregnancy” free card, reusable as often and as many times as you wanted?
What if you could live an easy life by getting married, then bleeding your spouse dry over the next 10 – 15 years, or perhaps by focusing all on you and none on what you bring into the world?
Furthermore, what if there were virtually no punishments for acting in the manner described in the previous two paragraphs in existence? Would this not in itself be an incentive to manifest such behaviors? Humans are interesting in that we do as we are programmed to do. This is why raising children “right” was such a focus prior to the permissible pleasantries that emerged from the 70s onward, where it became a sin to raise your children to exhibit pro-social behavior.
The Evolutionary Perspective
The capacity for these traits within our genetic code makes a certain bit of sense, as a guard for harsher times. Think of a tribe that has to enter into warfare and slaughter women and children. A situation where food is extremely scarce, or where mating opportunities are extremely scarce, in this situation the male sociopath would thrive, certain situations that humanity has faced, have been such that a sociopathic perspective, narcissistic perspective or borderline perspective has given an advantage in terms of survival and reproduction.
One can imagine how the enticements of the female borderline waif would be attractive to most of the males within her tribe, and how she would quickly become an expert in cuckolding. One can imagine how the female narcissist or sociopath, would much in the same manner take every advantage and become a winner in the reproductive lottery by any means. However, I also suspect that social structures curtailed it somewhat through effective structures. If one wonder why the population is becoming increasingly marked by cluster B traits, one must only ask one question, “Why would it be advantageous in terms of reproduction now?“.
I suspect that in small tribes, unless a cluster B could secure tribal leadership or a high social standing, they would rapidly be ousted. An early game theory concept that points to this is the observation of “Tit for Tat” in game theory, in a series of games where there are 3 options:
A) If both players select Cooperate, with the result that both get a reward.
B) If one player selects Cooperate, while the other selects Compete, the latter player gets rewarded.
C) If both players select Compete neither is rewarded.
The most winning strategy was a deceptively simple one, which was named “Tit for Tat“. Tit for Tat, would simply repeat the same behavior that the other player had done in the past round. If the other player selected cooperate the last round, so would Tit for Tat, if the other player selected compete then Tit for Tat would select compete the next round. The reason why Tit for Tat was so successful was that it would immunize itself from being taken advantage of more than once.
If one translates this into resources, which is really what the evolutionary game is about, one could argue that if one player can get away with leeching resources from other players, that represents an evolutionary advantage, because it will improve the energy equation. However, it will at the same time be to the detriment of the energy equation of the other party. Therefore, in a tribe of lets say 30, if one party could leech of the other 29, and thus improve their energy equation, they have a survival advantage if this could go on unpunished.
If the tribe guards against such behavior, by banishing the party engaging in energy leeching, they would improve their collective energy equation, and thus increase their own survival probabilities. Thus, it follows that within such tribes, identifying and ousting leeches, would most likely have been a priority. However, within our modern world, with tribes increasing massively in size and our societies in complexity, identifying and ousting leeches has become a major difficulty.
While, it is still manageable to identify such people in towns where “everyone knows everyone” within a modern city with millions, if not tens of millions of people, a leech could potentially never run out of victims, and none of their victims may ever know of each other. Thus, “Tit for Tat” no longer works. Thus, a borderline woman for instance, may throughout her life go continuously find new mates that she can obtain resources, validation and attention from, with little concern that these mates will ever meet.
Summary and Conclusions
Our modern world is in many ways built to facilitate lecherous behavior. It is characterized by shallow relationships, that are fleeting in nature, very much driven by social media. Urbanization is taking place at an increasingly rapid rate, and obvious mechanisms to ensure minimum standards of pro-social behavior have become all but ineffective. This is somewhat of a depressive though, but as with any SWOT analysis, there are Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
The opportunity in this case is that a person can adopt the Dark Triad Traits to the best of their abilities, learn the Machiavellian stratagems, and engage in the very type of behavior that I’ve spent 5 posts including this one describing, with great results. The threat of this however, is that our society will continue to spiral down the maelstrom of decline, after all civilization becomes much less civilized if everyone is engaging in uncivilized behavior. The weakness humanity is such, that in many ways civilization is both the best of us and the worst of us. It represents both the most lofty and idealistic perspective our species has dreamed up, yet also our most basal nature. The cardinal strength of humanity is our ability to adapt, not only ourselves to our environment but our environment to ourselves.
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The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Dangerous personalities by Joe Navarro
Sources and References