We bet you’ve known a few master in your day—family members, acquaintances, or colleagues. And we’ve all seen celebrities and politicians who qualify. These are people who habitually engage in cunning, calculating, and conniving behavior. Master manipulators are Machiavellians.

Some people are rated as High Machs while others (most of us) are characterized as Low Machs, which means that our Machiavellian tendencies fall within the normal range. While we all have the potential to engage in duplicitous behavior, Low Machs prefer not to deceive and manipulate, except when they perceive such behavior to be justified or necessary. Conversely, High Machs are temperamentally predisposed to be master manipulators. Intrigue is the air they breathe, and they enjoy it.

Various personality disorders can produce anxiety, panic, depression, dissociation, mania, euphoria, and other feelings and moods, which may in turn trigger Machiavellian reactions. When someone habitually responds to such stimuli by deceiving and using others, that person may gain the reputation of being a master manipulator. Being under stress from a personality does not excuse bad behavior. We always have a choice in how we act, and barring insanity, we are responsible for our behavior. However, among people with certain personality disorders, many are prone to falling back on manipulative behavior as a persistent coping mechanism:

  • Antisocial Persinality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Bipolar Dsiorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

Personality traits, such as the tendency to be a master manipulator, are persistent throughout the lifespan. To be sure, High Machs can improve with therapy, if motivated. However, they must first acknowledge their manipulative tendencies, recognize that their behavior is destructive, and seek treatment. But since High Machs tend to enjoy the games and one-upmanship of being master manipulators, they are unlikely to seek help, absent some existential crisis. If cognitive dissonance should creep into their awareness, they are likely to rationalise and justify their behaviors.