Famous circus owner P.T. Barnum has oftentimes been misquoted as the author of the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” That quote more than likely originated from the work of a businessman named David Hannum, but Barnum appropriated it and has typically in pop culture history been noted for saying it. Barnum himself was likely to have had a personality disorder.
Con artists, hucksters, shysters, “gold-digging women”, and con men are typically the most common examples of human beings socially deemed morally unfit members of general society, with many of their critics and victims never making the connection between Narcissistic Abuse by con or Love Fraud and the proper medical diagnosis of those with Cluster B personality types.
Many con-artist types meet the diagnostic criteria for having a “Dark Triad” of character traits: Psychopathy (or Sociopathy), Machiavellianism, and Narcissism.
Reading more about the three types is highly recommended, noting that any person who meets the criteria for having more than one personality disorder tends to be an incredibly socially dangerous person.
According to science writer Maria Konnikova, author of “The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It Every Time”, “Any of those [traits] can predispose someone to being a con artist. In order to be a con artist you have to take advantage of other people’s belief in you.”
Konnikova, as an expert in people who con both personally and professionally, states, “Psychopaths [the most effective sort of con artists] don’t really have a conscience, so it’s much easier for them to take that step [to abuse other people willingly without empathy for their victims, guilt, shame, or remorse].” Narcissists are a bit different, she asserts. “[With Narcissism] you have to have an overinflated sense of self in order to rationalize conning other people, especially if you’re not a psychopath.”
The well-respected author went on to share, “Machiavellianism is a textbook definition of a con artist, because it’s someone who is like Machiavelli’s ‘ideal prince’, someone who uses the tools of persuasion and deception and connivance to get what he wants.” Ultimately, the author reveals, when people con others for personal gain, their Machiavellian actions truly are based upon a meeting of predisposition and opportunity.”
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