The Dark Triad of Ted Bundy

The Dark Triad of Ted Bundy

Dark Triad Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy

Born: November 24, 1946

The Dark Triad

Personality Traits of A Serial Killer

Executed: January 24, 1989 (He was 42 Years Old)

The Dark Triad of Ted Bundy

Dark Triad Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy

Was Theodore Robert Bundy the victim of a Dark Triad that was his own 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 and girls during the 1970’s.

But what many may 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 would include 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, these mental defects if you will, did Ted Bundy display in this seemingly perfect storm of utter insane sanity called The Dark Triad of Ted Bundy.

Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy

The Pathology of Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy’s pathology read like a bad Frankenstein tale. First, Ted was an abductor. He would stalk his victim and, when the time and circumstance lent itself, he would kidnap his unwitting victim. Swayed by his good looks and cleaver charm, gaining his wanted victim was usually like taking candy from a baby. Even in broad daylight.

Secondly, Ted Bundy, like John Wayne Gacy, was an ephebophile. This is a person who is primarily attracted to mid-to-late or post-adolescents who have gone through puberty and have advanced signs of adult sexual maturation. Generally, this means teenagers between 15 and 19 years old. Ted’s victims ranged in age from12 to 26.

Ted was also a hebephile. That being a person who is primarily attracted to adolescents, or children who have at least started puberty and have signs of adult sexual maturation, but are still young and developing both mentally and physically. That would explain the two twelve year old girls he massacred without a second thought.

Modus Operandi of Theodore Robert Bundy

Ted Bundy had a type. He targeted petite Caucasian girls and women between the ages of 12 to 26 years old. While hunting for his victims, Ted would consume large amounts of alcohol. He used a variety of methods to gain his victims and using his good looks and his charm was often one of them. He would as a rule bludgeon his victims to death then spent the night having sex with their dead bodies. Often he would then cut off the victims heads with a hacksaw and keep it as a memento. Once gaining his ‘trophy’ he would return home with it. He would often wash the hair and apply make-up on the face before performing sex acts on it.

Ted was a serial rapist and a serial killer. Every victim would suffer under both of these fates if caught by Ted Bundy. No one would be spared. It was after all, the objective.

And lastly, Ted Bundy was a necrophiliac. A fact most people don’t know and would probably not think of when it came to the dashing, sweet talking serial killer. But Ted was a prolific necrophiliac and most of his dead victim’s bodies were assaulted with just as much fervor. In fact, maybe with more.

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The 1976 Psychological Assessment of Ted Bundy

Author Dr. Al Carlisle shares the step-by-step psychological assessment process used regarding how he determined that Ted Bundy was indeed a violent person and would indeed kill again if he was ever set free.

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What Is The Dark Triad

The dark triad personality traits are three closely related yet equally independent personality characteristics that all have a somewhat malevolent connotation. The three traits are: Machiavellianism – a manipulative attitude, Narcissism – an excessive self-love and Psychopathy – the lack of empathy.

All three Dark Triad traits are conceptually distinct although empirical evidence shows them to be overlapping. They are associated with a callous, manipulative interpersonal style.

  • Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism and a lack of empathy.
  • Machiavellianism is characterized by manipulation and exploitation of others, an absence of morality, unemotional callousness and a higher level of self interest.
  • Psychopathy is characterized by continuous antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callous and unemotional traits and remorselessness.

These traits are called “dark” because of their malevolent (a wish to do evil to others) qualities.

Psychopathy is a neuropsychiatric disorder marked by deficient emotional responses, lack of empathy, and poor behavioral controls, commonly resulting in persistent antisocial deviance and criminal behavior. A psychopath is a person with a chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.

Add Machiavellianism and a grandioso ego and you have the perfect storm of functioning madness.

“I am the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you will ever meet.” —Ted Bundy

The Dark Triad of Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy

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 was the fact that Ted Bundy 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. Maybe 100 of them! After all, Ted was dating, working, going to college and making his way into a political career, all while committing these horrific crimes under the radar. A perfect example of truly ‘living’ a double life.

Here’s what these great minds have determined about Ted Bundy’s mental health.

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:

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

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.

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The Dark Triad of Ted Bundy


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

  1. only focused on their own ambition and interests
  2. prioritize money and power over relationships
  3. come across as charming and confident
  4. exploit and manipulate others to get ahead
  5. lie and deceive when required
  6. use flattery often
  7. lacking in principles and values
  8. can come across as aloof or hard to really get to know
  9. cynical of goodness and morality
  10. capable of causing others harm to achieve their means
  11. low levels of empathy
  12. often avoid commitment and emotional attachments
  13. can be very patient due to calculating nature
  14. rarely reveal their true intentions
  15. prone to casual sex encounters
  16. can be good at reading social situations and others
  17. lack of warmth in social interactions
  18. not always aware of the consequences of their actions
  19. 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 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 Pathology Of Ted Bundy

  • Full Name: Theodore Robert Bundy
  • Criminal Status: Executed
  • Born: November 24, 1946 / Burlington, Vermont
  • Height: 5’10” tall
  • Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
  • Political Party: Republican
  • Death: January 24, 1989 at the age of 42 / Florida State Prison at Starke
  • Method of Death: Execution by Electrocution
  • Parents:
    • Father – Biological – Unknown / Step Father – Johnnie Bundy
    • Mother – Eleanor Louise Cowell (Bundy)
  • Siblings: 3 Step Siblings
    • Rich Bundy
    • Step Sister
    • Step Sister
  • Education:
    • Silas High School
    • University of Puget Sound
    • University of Washington
    • Temple University
    • University of Utah
  • Military:
  • Occupation(s):
    • Grocery Clerk Stocker
    • Suicide Crisis Hotline
    • College Student – Studied Law
    • Washington Governor Daniel Evans’s re-election campaign
    • A Director at the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Commission
  • Spouse(s):
    • Carole Ann Boone – Married 1980 / Divorced 1986​
  • Children: 1 Child
    • Rose Bundy
  • Crime(s):
    • 3 First Degree Murder Charges
    • 3 Attempted First Degree Murder Charges
    • Aggravated Kidnapping
    • Burglary
  • Crime Spree: 1974- 1978
  • Victim Number: 30+
  • Alias(s):
    • The Lady Killer
    • The Campus Killer
    • Officer Roseland
    • Chris Hagen
  • Pathology:
    • Serial Killer
    • Serial Rapist
    • Sexual Sadist
    • Necrophiliac
    • Ephebophilia
    • Abductor
  • Type: Organized Lust
  • Modus Operandi: Abduction / Rape / Strangulation / Bludgeoning / Drowning
  • Apprehension: August 16th, 1975
  • Criminal Penalty: 2 Death Sentences
  • Sentenced: July 31, 1979
  • Executed: January 24, 1989 / Bundy was pronounced dead at 7:16 a.m.
  • Death Row Stay: 10 Years
  • Imprisoned: Florida State Prison
  • Last Meal: Ted Bundy’s last meal was steak, eggs, toast, and hash browns
    •  Bundy actually refused a special meal and so was served the standard breakfast around 4:50 am. However, he did not take one bite of the food offered.
  • Last Words: “Jim and Fred, I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”
  • Place of Rest: Theodore Robert (Cowell) Bundy was cremated and his ashes were scattered over Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. Ironically, the same area where at least four of his victims had been found.

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