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Dangerous Personalities

Updated on March 15, 2020
James W Siddall profile image

Dr. Siddall is a Psychologist with over 30 years of experience in clinical and forensic psychology as a clinician, educator and consultant.

Dangerous Personalities

You encountered him walking down the street. He was loud, threatening and aggressive. He looked the part: disheveled, unclean, tattooed, and dressed in a black hoodie and wearing sunglasses that obscured his face. Immediately, you recognized the danger signs, crossed the street, and congratulated yourself for acting quickly to avoid the possibility of being victimized.

You have also encountered many others that you failed to recognize. They were dressed and groomed neatly, intelligent, interesting, and charming. There were no obvious warning signs of danger, no reason to feel fear. You congratulated yourself on your good judgement and believe you have found a promising new relationship.

Lessons Learned

  1. Appearances can be deceiving,

  2. Initial impressions are easily manipulated

  3. Normal people can be gullible

  4. Naive individuals make easy victims

  5. Dangerous personalities are masters of deceit.

Antisocial Lifestyles

Dangerous personalities can endanger everything from your finances to your life. They may appear to be normal but they are not like you. They are masters of deceit who are deeply flawed psychologically. They believe they are entitled to anything they desire, becoming easily angered when their desires are frustrated. They lie easily to manipulate others.

They adopt a variety of antisocial lifestyles. Examples include grifters who “game the system” for free goods and services from medicaid, medicare, and charities. These individuals don’t work. They expect society to support them, deprive the truly needy of needed resources and often leave their unsuspecting benefactors disappointed and creditors with unpaid bills.

More serious yet, are the swindlers, embezzlers, and con artists who see themselves as above the law, and deserving of their ill gotten gains. They destroy the trust and financial futures of the families and businesses they victimize.

At the extreme end of the spectrum are robbers, rapists, and killers. These individuals are often career criminals who use force and intimidation to get what they want. They are ruthless and can hurt others physically and emotionally without conscience or regret.

Core Traits

Dangerous personalities share a constellation of psychological and behavioral characteristics. These core traits are narcissism, impaired empathy, antisocial behavior, and manipulative interpersonal behavior. The degree of their antisocial behavior covaries with the severity of their core traits and is often magnified by substance abuse, mental illness, brain damage, and stress.

Psychological and Behavioral Traits

Substance Abuse
Impaired Empathy
Mental Illness/Brain Damage

Protect Yourself

No matter how skilled dangerous personalities are, they cannot hide from careful scrutiny. Their camouflaged identities do not change their family, social, employment, or criminal histories. Take the lead from experts who evaluate employees for high security industries. They research and verify all elements of an applicant's social, work, financial and criminal histories because the consequences of not doing so can be disastrous. The same is true for those that you trust to join the inner circle of your family and friends. I recommend the text: Background Check by Valerie McGilvery to guide your research.

Red Flags

  • Dangerous personalities often have a history of dysfunctional relationships. Their behavior tends to alienate family, friends, and business associates.
  • Similarly, their record of employment is often inconsistent which results in financial problems such as bad credit ratings, bankruptcies, and legal disputes due to unpaid obligations.
  • They are typically aggressive and antisocial. It is common to discover that they have criminal records due to their poorly controlled anger and antisocial lifestyles.
  • Alcohol and drug addiction are often observed, as are other addictive behaviors such as gambling, shopping, and using pornography.

Exploring Red Flags

  1. Explore the closeness and duration of interpersonal relationships with family, children, friends, and coworkers.

  2. Verify employment, address, job description, names of supervisors and coworkers,
  3. Observe behavior with multiple persons, in a variety of social, and work related situations.

  4. Note cell phone and internet activity and follow up on any suspicious activity

  5. Complete a background and credit check which can be accomplished from a vetted internet service or through a private investigator.

  6. A request for money, investment in a business or a loan, the suggestion that you live together and share expenses should be bright red flags. A substantial waiting period is required to evaluate and verify honesty in a relationship. Even after a waiting period, any financial business should be structured and approved by your attorney.

    Remember that an individual's appearance and verbal behavior are easy to manipulate and the normal trusting individual can be easily victimized. An honest person will welcome your questions which should be answered in a non defensive, transparent manner.


The risks posed by Dangerous Personalities vary in severity from financial loss to personal assault. They may appear to be normal but they are not like you. They are deeply flawed psychologically and have an abnormal sense of entitlement. When frustrated, they are easily angered and may become threatening and aggressive. They run the gamut from grifters who “game the system” for financial gain, con artists who victimize the public with phony investment schemes to aggressive criminals who use intimidation and force to rob, rape, or murder their victims.

No matter how skilled dangerous personalities are, they cannot hide from careful scrutiny. Their camouflaged identities will not change the facts contained in their family, social, employment, or criminal histories. Background and credit checks can protect you by illuminating many elements of personal history that dangerous personalities often attempt to hide.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 James W Siddall


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