Dark Triad-Was Ted Bundy A Victim of His Own Personality

What Is The Dark Triad

Dark Triad of Ted BundyIn the world of psychology, the dark triad refers to the personality traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and machiavellianism. They are called “dark” because of their malevolent (a wish to do evil to others) qualities.

People with these types of traits will tend to be less compassionate, less agreeable and less empathetic. They are dissatisfied with their lives and less likely to believe they and/or others are good.

The Research

Research on the dark triad is used in applied psychology. It is used within the fields of law enforcement, clinical psychology and business management.

People scoring high on these traits are more likely to commit crimes. They will tend to cause social distress and cause problems within an organization. If they are in leadership roles these traits may be heightened.

Although each of these personality traits are distinct, evidence shows them to be overlapping and are associated with a callous-manipulative interpersonal style.

The Personalities of the Dark Triad

Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy. Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward other people. People with this trait often spend much time thinking about achieving power and success, or on their appearance. Typically, they also take advantage of the people around them. Such narcissistic behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a broad range of situations.[Wikipedia]

Machiavellianism (an extreme form of narcissism) is characterized by manipulation and exploitation of others, an absence of morality, unemotional callousness, and a higher level of self interest. People who score high on this trait are cynical in an amoral self-interest sense. They are unprincipled, cold, believe in interpersonal manipulation as the key for life success and they behave accordingly.[Wikipedia]

Psychopathy is characterized by continuous antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callous and unemotional traits and remorselessness. There are notable similarities between psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder.[Wikipedia]

So What About Ted Bundy

Was he a victim of a dark triad that was his personality.

Of course by now, everyone knows the name Ted Bundy and most are aware of the fact that he was executed in 1989 for the serial murders he committed on young women during the 1970’s. But what many do not know is what was discovered about him and his ‘way of thinking’ those many years he spent behind bars after his capture. Things that the psychologists and psychiatrists came to understand about ‘the sexual predator with a social chameleon personality’ that many have often wondered about. And that is – what mental illness (because he had to have something terribly wrong with him to commit such atrocities) did this intelligent, handsome, charming young man suffer from. Which of these personality traits did Ted display in this seemingly perfect storm of utter insane sanity called the Dark Triad.

The Personality of Ted Bundy

In 2007, a group of 73 psychologists got together with the University of Kentucky to study Ted Bundy’s mental health.

Their fascination with this man is the fact that Ted was able to function, and even flourish, in his career and personal life, all while carrying out and evading arrest for a longstanding series of brutal rapes and murders.  About 40 of them! After all, Ted was dating, working, going to college and making his way into a political career. Plus committing these horrific crimes all under the radar. A perfect state of insane sanity.

Here’s what these great minds have determined

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

According to the mayoclinic the signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • May be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

For someone to qualify as having NPD, they have to have at least five of those qualities. About 95 percent of the psychologists in the group believed that Ted Bundy won big here. He was darn near a perfect 100% for all of them.


According to Harley Therapy someone with the trait of Machiavellianism will tend to have many of the following tendencies:

  • only focused on their own ambition and interests
  • prioritize money and power over relationships
  • come across as charming and confident
  • exploit and manipulate others to get ahead
  • lie and deceive when required
  • use flattery often
  • lacking in principles and values
  • can come across as aloof or hard to really get to know
  • cynical of goodness and morality
  • capable of causing others harm to achieve their means
  • low levels of empathy
  • often avoid commitment and emotional attachments
  • can be very patient due to calculating nature
  • rarely reveal their true intentions
  • prone to casual sex encounters
  • can be good at reading social situations and others
  • lack of warmth in social interactions
  • not always aware of the consequences of their actions
  • might struggle to identify their own emotions

People who score above 60 are considered ‘high Machs’ and those scoring below 60, ‘low Machs’. So what do our group members say about Ted here? He wins again. It was determined that most believed he had this extreme form of narcissism, called Machiavellianism.


According to Darrel Turner, PhD, Ted Bundy is ‘basically the textbook definition of a “prototypical” psychopath’. So for our group this one was a no brainer. He was the posterchild again.

The Psychopathy Checklist includes superficial charm, untruthfulness and insincerity, lack of nervousness, motivated antisocial behavior, no shame or remorse, an inability to follow a life plan and pathological lying. Ted Bundy fit them all.

Beyond The Dark Triad

Ted BundyTed Bundy without doubt was a completely different kind of human. He did indeed live with the Dark Triad and far more. 80 percent of the group diagnosed Ted with Antisocial Personality Disorder, Bipolar Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder and Addictive Disorder.

Ted himself said he was a porn addict and told the world to start paying attention to this ‘under observed problem’ just hours before he was put to death in the electric chair.

“The most damaging kinds of pornography, and again I’m talking from personal experience, hard real personal experience, are those that involve violence and sexual violence. Because the wedding of those two forces, as I know only too well, brings about behavior that is just too terrible to describe,” Bundy said.

He continued: “Once you become addicted to it, and I look as this as a kind of addiction, like other kinds of addiction, you would, I would, keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something that is harder, harder. Which gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far. You reach that jumping off point, where you wonder if only actually doing it will give you that which is beyond just reading about it or looking at it.”

Some believe this is were Ted let go and understood his own self. And quit honestly when you listen to his words, you just might too.