To dig deep into what made people tick, she would even set up situations which revealed what she needed to know. An instance of that was the hate party she hosted for supposed friend Pati Hill.
All that comes tumbling out of Arthur Lubow's biography "Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer." It's totally documented and even has an index. That all comes to 734 pages, which you can order here from Amazon.
Arbus did experience success through her photography - both commercial and aesthetic. Along the way, though, her demons got the upper hand and she committed suicide. Could being "authentic," as we say now, have saved her? That's an arrogant question. We know so little about mood disorders.
In her manipulative ways, Arbus wasn't different from myriad strivers in the arts. When I was in novel in college, I came across how James Joyce would play with people so that he could elicit a reaction, then study it. Of course, it made copy for his novels.
But it wasn't until graduate school that I fell under the spell of a Machiavellian type who fancied himself a budding film-maker. You bet, he set me up. That's when I got it: Beware ambitious artistic types. Yes, they are interesting. But unsafe, in any kind of relationship. Eventually, he made it as a university professor of film, not a brandname film-maker himself. From acquaintances, though, I learned that he never did stop playing with people.