Don’t get sucked in by emotional vampires

Find the emotional garlic that can help thwart emotional vampires.

Since the mid-90s, Dr. Albert J. Bernstein has been attempting to share wisdom from the psychology profession with everyday employees. In books like “Dinosaur Brains,” “Am I the Only Sane One Working Here?” and “Neanderthals at Work,” he navigates the seamy underbelly of office politics through the lens of a trained psychologist.

One of his most popular — “Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry” — was re-released with added material last month. In “Vampires,” Bernstein offers strategies for dealing with known personality disorders.

“I’m trying to help people recognize these kinds of people and to understand them, so they can decide for themselves whether they want to take them on or avoid them,” says Bernstein. “What I’m describing, essentially, are the things that make difficult people difficult. It’s about recognizing the pattern and choosing the strategy that works best with that pattern.”

For Bernstein, an “Emotional Vampire,” by definition, also holds many seductive powers.

“They’re Ferraris in a world of Toyotas. We expect so much more from them,” says Bernstein. “And, of course, we are always let down, because these are people who are not playing by the same rules as us.”

Nightmare bosses

According to psychologist and author Albert J. Bernstein, those with two specific personality disorders often gravitate toward management.
The narcissist: “There is plenty of narcissism without greatness, but no greatness without narcissism. Who would have the chutzpah to climb the ladder without it? But narcissists have very little idea of how they relate to other people. They are able to pull a curtain over one part of their personality and say, ‘This doesn’t matter.’ These people want constant adulation.”
The histrionic: “They are experts at looking good, with very little substance. … They’re the people that give us the motivational rallies. They’re cheerful. They look good. They’re can-do. But when it comes to resolving dilemmas, they’re not very good at making tough decisions. They don’t want to upset anybody.”


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