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  1. a. The power or quality of pleasing or delighting; appeal: an old house with a lot of charm.
  2. b. A quality that pleases or attracts; a delightful characteristic: A mischievous grin was among the child’s many charms.


charmed, charm·ing, charms

verb transitive

  1. To delight or fascinate: the simple elegance of the meal charmed the guests.
  2. To induce by means of strong personal attractiveness: charmed the guard into admitting them without invitations.
  3. To cast or seem to cast a spell on; bewitch.

“There is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. These often charming—but always deadly—individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; their game is self-gratification at the other person’s expense. Many spend time in prison, but many do not. All take far more than they give.” – Dr. Robert Hare, The Charming Psychopath


Narcissists and other manipulative predators can be quite deceiving in their self presentation. They come across as delightful and charming. They often appear to appreciate and value you. But when they mount their charm offensive, they can easily win you over. Only after they’ve gotten what they wanted are you likely to start seeing their true colors.

The superficial charm of predatory people should be the first and most obvious sign that alerts you of an impending danger. More often than not, the charmer is testing your defenses, or lack thereof, for strengths and weaknesses and gathering information that will determine how useful you can be to the predatory charmer. This charm is a leading criteria of pathological sociopaths and narcissists.

Superficial charm is the ability to seem irresistibly good natured and gracious . It is a common manipulation technique that uses positive re-enforcement by means of manipulating the targeted person(s) to lower their natural defenses. It’s also a personality trait that is mostly associated with anti-social personality disorders as psychopathy, sociopathy and narcissist disorder. When you come across a person exhibiting this trait, your first impression about the person would be that he/she is extremely nice and well-mannered. Such people may go out of their way to shower you with compliments as a way to please you. But beware, for they are not what they appear to be.

More often than not, superficial charmers are covertly seeking to enrich themselves for a pathological need or want. They are con artists and imposters who have identified you as being useful to their endgame. These charmers are often called social chameleons and are social climbers who seek a way to increase their status, wealth or power within the targeted group.

Psychopaths have high social intelligence and awareness.  Seeing themselves early on as a superior subspecies and finding us ordinary folks both interesting and amusing (although they also regard us as inferior due to our sensitivities and qualms), they’ve usually spent most of their lives studying how we operate.  They know what makes us laugh, what makes us fearful, what excites us, what turns us off, and above all, what makes us vulnerable. Their game is to gain our confidence and prompt us to voluntarily disarm, so they can take what the want from us. After they’ve gotten what they want, there’s no more need for pretense.

Dr. George Simon Ph.D – excerpt from his book “In Sheep’s Clothing”

A snake in the grass, wolf in sheep’s clothing are but a couple of well known expressions that describe the dangers of such smooth talking and outwardly charming people. It also makes it all the more necessary to identify and protect against them.

However, every person who appears nice to you is not likely to be exhibiting superficial charm. So, how do you know if the person you are interacting with, is genuinely well-mannered or a sociopath looking for a “victim”?

Being likable doesn’t mean charming. We’ve all met them, haven’t we? Those who get along effortlessly with everyone — those incredible individuals who seem to glide through life on a permanent high. They are always doing something interesting or they always seem to have another amazing adventure to share. When other people discuss them, they always use that word: charming.

The superficial charm of a predatory narcissist can be enchanting. With close observation, you’ll see that there is no substance behind the romantic gestures, which only serve to feed the narcissist’s own ego.

Narcissists are known as being manipulative in a deceitfully charming way, entrapping their victims into suspending their self-protective defenses and lowering their personal boundaries

Protecting Against the Superficial Charm

There are many signs that should raise “red flags” when in contact with a superficial charmer who just may not have your best interests in mind when interacting with them. Upon meeting, are they naturally guarded, or do they take liberties with an over compensated familiarity of you?

Are you offered unwanted or unneeded favors? Does the conversation seem to take a turn for you to disclose unrelated personal details?

Narcissists are very accomplished actors. They are engaging, charming, flattering and very smooth. From my experience, if you closely observe their eyes and facial expressions, you will begin to notice the neural response that will be a dead giveaway that they are in the “fight or flight” survival instinct. This can happen under direct questioning of them.

Some symptoms to notice are a sudden shift in eye contact, with the pupil intensifying, a dryness of the mouth that causes a person to moisturize the lips and a sudden thirst. a lack of blinking of the eyes, and a gulping as a way to moisturize the throat.

These symptoms will be very brief and lasting only a second in time, and just for a moment you can see that you’ve uncovered the narcissist wound that they have concealed just under the surface of their false (superficial) self. for a brief moment, you have a glimpse behind their mask of sanity.

The superficial charmer will try to gain control of conversations and will rarely be tongue tied and will shower the targeted person(s) with compliments, humor, or platitudes, none of which are sincere.

Narcissists are entirely superficial in their makeup. They had long ago discarded their true self and replaced it with studied traits and emotions of those who they wanted to become. With knowing the pretentiousness of the narcissist, then we can assume that the charm they put forth is as superficial. Under direct questioning, their facade with fall.

On the other side, superficial charmers, in their more benign manifestations, can produce a variety of positive results, their conversational skills providing light-hearted entertainment in social settings through their ability to please.

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