Dark Authenticity, Narcissism, Psychopathy, Machiavellianism

Grant H Brenner MD DFAPA
8 min readMay 11, 2024

Researchers review how authenticity plays out through the lens of darkness.

Key points

  • People high in dark triad traits also struggle with authenticity and morality.
  • Research shows that, although there is overlap, authenticity varies with dark traits on several dimensions.
  • To understand dark authenticity, it’s key to look at psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism separately.
  • Learning to work with one’s own darkness is necessary for well-being and life satisfaction.

Authenticity isn’t all peaches and cream. It can get dark, say psychologist Laura Visu-Petra of Babes-Bolyai University in Romania and Ph.D. student Alexandra-Andreea Bulbuc in our second interview (link to the first at end of post).

In the following interview, we take a close look at the moral dimension of dark authenticity and get granular: How does authenticity vary according the the dark triad factors of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy?

GHB: What is dark authenticity, and what moral conflict does it reveal?

LVP: The concept of dark authenticity brings to light a part of human experience typically



Grant H Brenner MD DFAPA

Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Disaster Responder, Advocate, Photographer