The disturbed character is forever trying to trivialize important matters. He tries to convince folks that the wrongful thing he did wasn’t really that bad or harmful. He might admit part of what he did wrong, but usually not the most serious part. Disordered characters use the tactic of minimizing to manage the impression others have of them. It’s a way to manipulate others into thinking they’re not so bad despite the horrible things they’ve done.
But minimizing serious transgressions is also the way the disordered character lies to himself about the full extent of his character deficiencies and behavior problems. As long as he continues to minimize, he won’t take seriously the problems he needs to correct. As with all the other manipulation tactics, this behavior obstructs the internalization of values and standards of conduct. It’s the way disturbed characters resist accepting responsibility. As long as a person trivializes important matters related to their conduct, they won’t take seriously the need to change that conduct.
Seasoned manipulators are good at making the case for discounting the seriousness of their wrongdoing. Anyone who accepts their minimizations is therefore successfully manipulated. So, when it comes to important matters, minimizations like “I only did it once,” or “she wasn’t hurt that bad,” should never be accepted.
Individuals best described as “neurotic” are very different from those with significant disturbances of character. In contrast to disturbed characters who tend to manipulate, avoid responsibility, and bring undue stress to others through minimizing, neurotics tend to bring undue stress upon themselves by catastrophizing. They’re so overly conscientious, that any little thing they do wrong is magnified in their own mind as a calamity. I’ve been posting on another blog about the various and significant differences between neurotics and disordered characters. I’ve also posted on this blog about other manipulation tactics such as externalizing, rationalizing, and lying. I’ll be posting on several other manipulation tactics in the coming weeks.