At a psychological level, the art of manipulation primarily involves two things: concealing aggressive intentions and behaviors and knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of your opponent well enough to know what tactics are likely to be the most effective weapons against them. Psychological manipulation is most often accomplished through covert-aggression or aggression that is so carefully veiled or so subtle that it’s not easily detected. Manipulators want what they want and fight hard to attain their goals. But the tactics they use can make it appear like they’re doing almost anything but simply trying to get the better of you. The tactics are also very effective weapons of power and control. That’s because even though they’re hard to recognize as aggressive moves at a conscious level, at an unconscious level others feel backed into a corner and are thrown on the defensive. This makes it more likely that they’ll back down or give in to their manipulator.

Skilled manipulators know the vulnerabilities of their opponents. If vanity is someone’s weakness, a seduction tactic might be the best manipulation tactic. If over-conscientiousness is their weakness, perhaps guilt-tripping would be the most effective way to gain the upper hand. Most manipulators have a significant disturbance of character (i.e. have too little conscience or sensitivity). Their easiest prey are neurotic individuals (i.e. people with high levels of sensitivity and conscientiousness). Tactics like Playing the Victim, or Shaming will effectively manipulate the average neurotic because conscientious individuals neither want to see someone else as suffering, nor do they want to feel badly about themselves. If a neurotic person were to try these same tactics on a disturbed character, they would soon learn that they have no effect.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks

72 Responses to Psychological manipulation- An overview

  1. Joe
    Dec 12, 2011

    Is there anyway that a neurotic person try the tactics on a disturbed person and succeed?

    • Dr. Simon
      Dec 12, 2011

      The general group of impaired characters includes more personality types that those well-versed in manipulation. So, the short answer to the question is “yes.” But that begs the question about why this might be of interest, because manipulative styles of interaction are not just bad for the person on the receiving end but also not particularly healthy for the person trying to get what they want. There are much better ways to accomplish that.

  2. Andrew
    Jan 15, 2012

    I’m writing an essay on power and control and was looking for scholarly articles on “manipulating people through their self-esteem” -the act of indirectly bringing an awareness of the manipulator’s moral superiority over your victim to inspire shame and create a relationship where the victim seeks out validation from the manipulator to indemnify their self-esteem. Also communicating through metaphor is something I was looking for as well. Thanks for your time in advance.

    • Dr. Simon
      Jan 16, 2012

      Thanks for the question, Andrew. Good manipulators will use just about anything they know about another person’s personality vulnerabilities to secure a dominant position with them, including what they might know about the person’s self-esteem issues. You should find plenty of relevant material about this in both of my books. But perhaps the readers might also be able to shine some light on how someone in their life was able to capitalize on their self-image issues.

    • Stone
      Jan 28, 2013

      Andrew: I’d be interested in seeing your results. I left a relationship a few months ago, and believe the woman was using very advanced manipulation tactics. Put it out of my mind for a while, but now I’m interested in trying to figure some of those things out.

      Thanks ahead of time.

  3. Garrison
    Mar 23, 2012

    My ex-girlfriend, whom I care deeply for, has fallen victim to manipulation and I am trying to help her see that fact. How can I help her see it and what can be done to help her break free of this?

    • bk
      May 05, 2012

      I have an ex-girlfriend who is a victim too. I don’t know how to help her and need ideas.

  4. DavidaRochelle
    Jun 08, 2012

    Having been manipulated negatively, as a result of coming from an extremely emotionally abusive background, I feel that I am more than qualified to explain what works. Traditional counselors harmed me further by insisting that “I was strong,” or “I knew what was right.” I really didn’t. You need to REVERSE the brainwashing that your vulnerable girlfriend has had her entire life. Girls with domineering, abusive parents cannot always think independently. That part of their brain is “turned off.” Pretend that they grew up in a cult or in a foreign country with different customs and culture. Would you expect them to be knowledgeable in all things? Or would you speak to them as an adult, while pretending that they might have the mental capacity of a young child to understand what they are encountering. You must slowly and lovingly REVERSE their way of thinking. That’s what works eventually.

    • Dr. Simon
      Jun 09, 2012

      Thanks for such a succinct definition of good cognitive-behavioral (as opposed to traditional) therapy!

  5. Mackenzie
    Jul 07, 2012

    My mother is very manipulative. There is nothing i can do about it being i am the child.I am in the process of switching custody to my fathers. In court she says he threatened her beat her and other lies. I have caught her lying before. Anything done is my fault and i’m a (horrible child). I don’t know how to deal with the situation.

  6. Manipulator?
    Jul 10, 2012

    My wife (psychology major in college) believes that I manipulate her. Our relationship has suffered because I do not know how to communicate with her. I tend to take little things very personally, and I don’t know how or when to explain to her how I feel about those things – primarily because when I have in the past she just tells me that I’m being overly sensitive. Due to this, I’ve told her half-truths, not intending to be harmful, just not wanting to upset her or hear from her how ridiculous I’ve been. So I’ve bottled things up, and let them out at the most inopportune times. I guess, therefore, I do manipulate her, but from my perspective on things I believe that I’m trying to protect myself from ridicule and not come off as an overly sensitive, overly jealous, overly analytical, miserable jerk of a husband. I’ve been to two counseling sessions and intend on talking about this at my next session. I just wondered if my inept communication skills drives my manipulative ways?

    • Dr. Simon
      Jul 10, 2012

      Thanks for the comment and the question. Let me model the answer to your important question by the character of my response. You say you “wonder” if your inept communication skill is the reason for your manipulation, when you have already made clear the justification you have for the way you communicate with your wife. And you further indicate that you have tried in the past to communicate differently but didn’t like the fact that it upset your wife and you felt ridiculed for being overly sensitive. So, by your own admission, you already know what drives your behavior. The real question is whether you are willing to take the risk of being more genuine in your relationship. Both parties in any relationship face the same risk and crucial task. No relationship is perfect, and neither of you will “communicate” perfectly all the time. But if your regard for one another is genuine, and you genuinely share with one another instead of second-guessing reactions and plotting your approaches accordingly, you’re likely to make it. Genuineness is a big start, but it’s not everything. Who you are as a person, what values you have, and how true you are to them matters, too. Some people can be “genuine” jerks. That’s why it’s not enough just to be honest with the ones we purport to love, but to be brutally honest with ourselves. Glad you’re going to counseling. But it doesn’t seem like a lack of insight is the issue. And making the decision to be honest and real is not something that can be guided or taught in counseling. So use the experience wisely and take the good from it you can. But ultimately reckon with the real issues that will make or break your relationship.

      • Manipulator?
        Jul 11, 2012

        Thanks. After reading my comment a second time, it does seem like I’m answering my own question. I guess what I’m most interested in learning – about myself – is whether or not those little things are worth my time worrying about. Let’s say that while on the rare opportunity to have an evening out, she wants to borrow a cigarette from a stranger. This involves spending a few minutes talking to the stranger while she enjoys the smoke. She sees this action as normal social behavior, but I view it as taking precious time way from a rare & special evening. I amUu now upset with her for wasting precious time talking with the stranger, but to address my feelings at that time would ruin the rest of our evening. To address it the next day – while recovering from a night out – would make me come off as overly critical of an otherwise splendid evening out. So I will hold on to that resentment in my long term memory bank of hurt feelings until we get into a fight. I know this is unfair to her, as I should addressed it some other time, but I still can’t figure the proper venue or method of airing those grievenances. Thank you.

        • Dr. Simon
          Jul 11, 2012

          Thanks for expanding a bit. Of course I simply cannot assess accurately remotely, but my impression: these “little things” likely bespeak deeper concerns and issues underneath. And my intuition says you’re probably already to some degree aware of this. Should you stay in counselling, it would behoove you both to speak your real hearts and minds. Committed relationships are healthiest when the parties involved really know one another, and then freely choose one another as life partners. Good luck!

        • Julie
          Mar 22, 2013

          Can I add a reply to this without seeming intrusive? I believe you are doing your best possible to not hurt her feelings and to do what is best for the relationship. I do not see you as being manipulative (from your story.) Assuming that she is committed to you, what I see is that she doesn’t understand your needs or she doesnt understand you at the base level. The reason I am saying this is because I detect in her behavior actions that would suggest that she isn’t prioritizing your feelings. This does not mean that she doesnt care for you. Maybe she just doesnt understand feelings very well. Is she more of the logical type/mathematical person? And you are more of the feeling type of person? And this could be the cause of her not weighing heavily your feelings.

        • Geraldo7307
          May 11, 2014

          Look up two things for me and I’m sure one of the two, or both will get you on the right path to improving your life and relationships. Borderline Personality Disorder and K.I.S.A Syndrome.

  7. Confused
    Jul 14, 2012

    I found my way here while searching for clues in trying to understand the covert cruel and sadistic psycological exercises my sister was using on me after the sudden death of my daughter (inviting me out for a ride and then driving me by the accident scene, reminding me about the time my daughter and I didn’t get along and she moved out, telling me how uncomfortable people are around me because of their mortality fear..etc). I came to realize that I had to end my relationship with her to survive. It has wreaked havoc in our family,especially since she is playing the hurt victim role. I now know that she is a classic psychological manipulator. I don’t feel any better now that I know.

    • Dr. Simon
      Jul 14, 2012

      Thanks for the comment. Hopefully, in time, and learning the ways to interact in the most empowered ways with manipulative types, you’ll feel a lot better than you do right now.

  8. Javier
    Aug 14, 2012

    how do you control others to signal them to back off?

  9. frustrated
    Aug 27, 2012

    Dr. Simon,

    Is covert-aggressive behavior a personality disorder or personality trait? If a person with these traits was manipulating children and using these tactics could that be considered abuse?

    • Dr. Simon
      Aug 27, 2012

      It’s a behavior that we’re all not only capable of but exhibit from time to time. And when it becomes somewhat of a habit, it can be one of our character traits. When it’s the principal and unrelenting feature of our enduring style of relating to others, it defines our personality. When that style persists despite distress caused to others and/or self, it becomes a personality disorder. I discuss this sort of thing at length in Character Disturbance, although you can find a brief discussion of it in In Sheep’s Clothing also.

  10. Osheen
    Nov 01, 2012

    I came this city four years back.
    I was in 9th Grade then; I joined school, met a girl & We became really good friends. I am the shy kinds, so, because she put in efforts to make me feel comfortable, became friends with me, took care of me, made me feel really good about myself (I have/had low self esteem too), called me her best friend, I started treating her as my best friend too.
    After four years of friendship with a huge deal of Ups & Downs, confusion, I have come to realise that she is manipulative.

    I didn’t even know about manipulation before I googled one day recently. I am confused now as to whether to break up our friendship or continue.
    I cannot really tell.. But I think she is nice at heart & being so manipulative, she’s made me hate her so many times too.

    SO heres the question :

    Is it possible that she was actually a TRUE friend, leaving aside the need for her to be manipulative?

    Or was she just Caring about herself & never really thought of me as a friend; Used me ?

    I “need” people who can make me feel good about myself. On my own, I never think high of myself.
    Before this city, whatever places I were in, I have dealt with friends who weren’t so nice to me.

    So If this Girl wasn’t a true friend too then I’d be really sad.

    • vera
      Nov 01, 2012

      Hi Osheen. I too have been in a similar situation. My then friend cared for me during a terrible illness, and in a way, saved my life. Nevertheless, our friendship is really over, now that I have realized what ALSO was going on, and all the anguish and misery…

      Still, though, my weak boundaries really doomed us as much as all the manipulation he did. I think that with many manipulators, it takes two to tango, and once you lay down firm boundaries, the other person has a chance to come around.

      My advice would be to learn to draw protective boundaries, and to defend them. As you do this, you will find out whether your friend is one of those who comes around, or if you need to distance further and further.

      Best of luck!

      • Julie
        Mar 22, 2013

        The question is how to define and draw boundaries, when the manipulator is doing the deed covertly and will not admit to manipulating or being responsible for what he has done….How, then, to create a boundary?

        • vera
          Mar 22, 2013

          Julie, the defending of boundaries does not depend on the other person admitting anything. It’s in your hands. That is the beauty of it — it is in your power.

          The essential step (after the resolve) is finding the right consequence. It may take several tries… Think of it this way. Next time he does x, what will I do to make it a costly behavior? You need not say anything prior. Just do it, and if it does not work, come up with a better consequence. The CA will “teach” you.

    • Julie
      Mar 22, 2013

      You and me, both.

  11. Ellie-Mae
    Jan 09, 2013

    Can you be manipulated online? I think I was being manipulated by this guy who was always at home at his computer. Through his social networking sites I realised there were a lot of girls who had problems with him, as if he’d got them on his good side and then did horrible things to them. But when confronted, he’d say things in such a way that would turn things round onto you, so that YOU felt the one to blame.

    All of his past girlfriends cheated on him and dumped him, apparently – maybe he wanted some control back or even has a hate for women now?

  12. Ruth
    Jan 09, 2013

    I was reading through this post and thought of a situation my brother is going through. His girlfriend had their son about 10 months ago and about 3-4 months ago she started behaving different. She started lying a lot and telling people what they want to hear. She started leaving him and their son on the weekends. During that time away she would send him texts telling him how much she loves him and thinks he is a great father and boyfriend and so on. She always seems to do this right before asking for something. He finally had enough and moved out of their house on New Years Day, and she had been gone since Friday at that time. He is staying with our mom and getting custody paperwork going. Now, she said her therapist said for him and her parents to stop talking, which doesn’t sound like something a therapist would do… Does this sound accurate? I am thinking she said that because they started realizing that she was lying to everyone around her and she doesn’t want them to have that capability anymore. I think I am just looking for some advice on what to do.. I am at a loss here. I am really upset with her, but I think she has some sort of personality disorder. She has many down moments and then 5 minutes later she is perfectly normal like nothing happened. I think she is just stringing everyone along. I know her mom had talked to a therapist and they said it sounds like she is experiencing a hypomanic episode /bipolar.. thoughts?

    • J
      Jan 10, 2013

      While she does sound irresponsible and manipulative, I don’t think that excludes other possible issues. She might as well have other personality or mental health problems added to the mix.

    • Dr. Simon
      Jan 10, 2013

      As J suggests, there’s much here that indicates that whatever manipulation/lying, irresponsibility is going on, there could also be additional personality and/or other mental health or even substance-related issues complicating the picture. None of these precludes the other.

  13. E
    Jan 24, 2013

    I believe my soon to be ex husband is manipulating me… telling me he wants to be kill himself as a way to guilt trip me. He doesn’t actually threaten to do it, but insinuates it and says he wants to be dead, etc. We have children together. Maybe the first time these feelings came up they were real, and once he saw how seriously I took it and how I reacted I believe he learned to use it because it’s the one button that still seems to work with me. But the suicide “threats” only surface (about every couple of months or so it seems right now) after issues involving certain subjects – usually money and how he “has none and has worked so hard for nothing”, etc. so I think he does it to make me feel bad about getting financial support and to possibly try to get me to take less money. Meanwhile just a few days before he’s planning a trip for a few months from now, etc. My question is whether it’s possible to manipulate others subconsciously, or do you always realize when you are doing it? Like, does he have to sit there and make a decision that he’s going to lie about this to me to get me upset hoping that I might give him what he wants, or do these emotions actually feel real and he doesn’t consciously know he’s doing it? I don’t know why it matters, I guess I’m just trying to understand whether it is always willful manipulation or is he just damaged and this is how he copes? (clearly I’m hoping for the latter)

    • Dr. Simon
      Jan 25, 2013

      For a variety of important reasons, I can’t comment directly on anyone’s particular circumstances. But I can make a few general points here that you might find helpful. Behaviors are often multidimensional. So situations like you describe are not necessarily “either-or” situations. People can have serious mental or emotional pathology as well as be manipulative in their interpersonal style. But whatever is giving rise to such behavior, it’s obviously not healthy, and therefore it’s incumbent on the person with the issues to seek appropriate help to remedy the situation. As I have written about so many times, conscientious (neurotic) folks tend to do all the fretting over and attempting to understand behaviors that are rightfully the domain of the person exhibiting the behavior. Rather than losing sleep and racking your brain to figure out not only the behavior but its impetus, you can set and enforce a limit that such behavior is destructive and the other person needs to do something about it. It’s ultimately the more loving and healthy thing to do.

  14. ET
    Feb 06, 2013

    I have rececently stumbeld accross articles of psychological manipulation. I have read all I can read. I am married for 29 years now, been unhappy since the honeymoon. I thought to this day its because I’m sensitive that I take things to heart that make things difficult in our marriage. I have always known my husband is a manipulator in some ways. Our marriage has always been in trouble but in the last 5 years I have come to the point where I don’t care whether he lives or dies. I call it “I finally woke up”. We have gone to marriage councelling ..the doctor couldn’t understand why we are together and he said so from everything that was said. The husband turns around and says you don’t know what you are talking about we are fine. My wife and I will make it. He knows I don’t love him I have moved out of the bedroom, and I refuse to ever go back even though after 5 years he still comes to me and pretty much demands that I go back to the bedroom. I have tried leaving him but he knows what buttons to push. He uses the kids as a weapon, telling to think about them,how can I hurt them by breaking up our beautiful family. We have two grown sons who still live with us, and they too I feel manipulate me, because even though they know I pretty much hate their father they don’t want to accept me leaving. Because their father puts on this I’m so devestated, I’m so lonely face and they fall for it. All I can remember through out this whole marriage is how I always gave and gave and gave in.. so that he would stop whining and bitching and make it out to be my fault all the time. Iwas never capable of doing any of the groceries due to the fact I didn’t drive and I didn’t know where the cheapest prices were. I wasn’t able to handle the bills because he knew better. I was good only for cleaning and babysitting and doing only what he wanted to do. I know from having read so many articles that I have been manipulated for the past 29 years in the worst way. I want out so bad but I am at a loss. Now that I am rocking the boat real hard, he has all of a sudden become this tender loving person that the kids can’t see why I would want to leave him.. For the past 3 years I have started to hold on to my own pay cheques. He no longer controls how much allowance he will give me per month. But in turn he now gives me all the house bills to pay plus the groceries which come out to exactly what I make as a sallary each month. With maybe a few bucks left over. According to him thats what my sallary covered. He will cover what ever expenses the hosue has in terms of renovations. Mind you he makes 6 times more money than I do. But yet we pretty much pay the same towards the house by years end.

    How do I let myself stop feeling guilty for the kids and get out. This new him, this nice guy ..who all of a sudden finds my family to be his best friends after 25 years, makes me want to crack his head wide open. It took 25 years for him to consider my family worthy of his attention and without having anything to gain by it. 99% unless he had something to gain he wouldn’t give people the time of day.

    Help should I just pack it up and go or think of how I will hurt the kids and stay and keep hurting myself. All they see how hard he is trying. All I see is a fake.

    • Dr. Simon
      Feb 07, 2013

      Thanks for sharing and for such great questions. I’ll let the readers comment before chiming in.

    • Been There Often
      Feb 09, 2013

      Congratulations – you understand your situation better than ever before. Also you’ve taken steps to regain the control you’re entitled to. That must have taken a lot of courage. Also it is ‘working’ in one sense, in that he has dropped some of his nastier tactics.
      However, you don’t seem to be fooled that he has really changed his behavior or his character – he has only changed some tactics. Congratulations on another great and difficult achievement – seeing through the ‘new nice guy’!
      Also, you seem to be reading your sons’ behavior pretty accurately – they seem to be manipulating you too. And why not? I’d rather be living in a house where you are too, rather than alone with HIM.

      Your gut instinct sounds really reliable. Do you trust it?

      Economists talk about a ‘sunk cost fallacy’ – ‘I’ve put so much money in this business/stocks, that even though it’s crashing I don’t want to sell up because then I’ll have lost everything.’ Time, years, emotions I think are the same.

      Will you get anything back for your investment or is it better to cash out, avoid losing more, and re-invest somewhere else? Do you think your sons would benefit more from your continued mistreatment, OR from seeing what a strong, resourceful and resilient woman looks like and deciding they like that better for their lives?

      Have a think about that and listen to your gut instinct. It sounds trustworthy to me.

  15. trobor
    Feb 08, 2013

    Hi

    I am i need of a little advise, my fiancée seems to be playing mind games with me,the other night i left the house to assist a friend, i told my fiancée that i will soon be back, her expression told me that she didn’t want me to go and assist my friend. i eventually went to assist my friend, after doing that i returned home only to silent treatment.

    i realised that when ever i go on the road her same attitude shows up that’s how i know that i am being manipulated by her,she don’t speak to me, she shuts down then turn the entire situation to make it seem as if she is the victim.

    Can you tell me how to handle a situation like this i really care about her and my sons and would want to make a decision that would split us up.

    • Julie
      Mar 22, 2013

      Your wife is having feelings that she is not communicating to you about. Maybe she thinks you can ‘read her thoughts’. Do not get upset at her for this, this is actually a very common thing to believe, but this belief can cause a lot of trouble in marriage. But it can be solved if your wife learns to communicate with you better.

      Tell her you really care about her and want to be a good husband. Then tell her you noticed that she doesnt talk to you whenever you go driving out somewhere, and that you would like to please her, but you don’t know how to. tell her you would be willing to try to see if you can work out a compromise- that you will try your hardest for her. Then ask her what does she feel when you go out driving? Why does she feel that way? (There are many reasons it could be.) Tell her that you really care for her feelings. Then see if she is willing to understand you and your feelings and come up with a solution to this problem together.

  16. Julie
    Mar 22, 2013

    Funny, I dont hear you questioning whether or not to leave him- what I hear is whether or not you want to hurt your children.
    Since a marriage is between a husband and wife only, then your decision has already been made. You must leave, but the children will be hurt.
    The children are insecure and also need a father they haven’t had. If their insecurity could be resolved, that would settle your indecisiveness.
    The question is whether or not your children can be mature enough and something could be worked out between your husband and them so that they won’t fear losing their father. Such as activities they could do together. Additionally, to ease their fears, you could find and arrange new ways to be a part of their lives.
    But I wouldn’t necessarily expect any of them to be able to see ‘what you see, your perspective on things’, or to be able to see, at the moment, anything good about your choice. It may take a while for them to ‘work through’ it before they can see what good it will ultimately bring. Do not fault them for this- it is a natural response for children in this situation to have, and their response would occur even if he was the devil. They are simply putting off having to grieve or go through any changes. They are afraid.

  17. Charlotte Toth
    Mar 22, 2013

    Interesting website. I sit on a volunteer board. There is a woman (I’ll call her Ivy) who uses every manipulative tactic you list. She has been critical of me in an email campaign to 3rd parties. I asked her directly to stop but she continued, beginning her criticism with a line to the effect that I misunderstood her. I did not respond. After 3 more emails she let the entire group know she resigned from the Board (with no reason) and I explained to the Board what had occurred. The Board (to my surprise) insisted I apologize to her and tell her she was a valuable volunteer; interestingly no one wanted her back on the board. I called & told her she was welcome to join us occasionally in social situations. Today I was told by a group member that she is coming to the general meeting and is taking up her former position. She did not inform me. I do not want her there and I know if I call her and tell her not to come she’ll do her injured Ivy routine. I have no doubt she’s playing a game. Two questions: 1 How do I put a stop to her manipulative behavior, and 2 what does she want?

    • vera
      Mar 23, 2013

      1. You can’t put a stop to any of her behavior. It’s not in your power. Your own behavior is where your power lies.

      2. Sounds like she likes to yank people’s chain. No surprises there, no? She probably likes the power her position gives her…

      3. What will you do to protect yourself?

      • vera
        Mar 23, 2013

        The other question I have is… what kind of a process does your group have, that allows a person who had resigned, and whom no one wanted back, just to show up and slip on her old shoes like nothing happened?

  18. Eltarani
    Jul 12, 2013

    Dr. Simon,
    Admitting first that I did not make a detailed inspection of every comment, I wonder that everyone here seems to be on the same ‘side’, if I may. Manipulation is a valuable and highly prized skill. While I respect your work, Doctor, I don’t entirely agree with your ethics. Why must a manipulative person always be viewed as the ‘bad guy’?
    Eagerly awaiting you responses,
    Eltarani
    P.S. Though my comment be directed at the good Doctor, I would be more than happy to hear the views of anyone else with aught to share on the above.

    • J
      Jul 12, 2013

      First of all, why do you doubt Dr Simon’s ethics? Dr Simon is perfectly ethical in exposing unscrupulous manipulation that only benefits an unscrupulous party and leaves an unfortunate target in the rubbles for what it is. The more we know, better off we are, especially in regards to making the best of our lives and giving the best of contribution we can give. Things that stay in the dark hurt us even more than they would out in the open. Dr Simon equips us with a knowledge necessary.

      Some people just don’t think ethics are important and they’ll ensure that what they want to happen does happen and if someone else has to suffer, it’s their problem. Sometimes they act unscrupulously simply because it’s so ingrained in their nature.

    • J
      Jul 12, 2013

      Second, your comment reminds me of a book Emotional Vampires by Albert Bernstein. At one point Bernstein states something similar about manipulation as you do. Here’s the thing: “Manipulation” he talks about is about steering an interaction towards a win-win -solution. It’s about selling your strengths to gain what you want/need while offering another person something of value as well. It’s about ensuring an outcome you both benefit from in some way.

      Again, some people deliberately manipulate us for an outcome only they benefit from, because they have entitled attitudes and to them only their desires matter.

      • Puddle
        Jul 26, 2013

        J, this comment of yours is so on target!

    • J
      Jul 12, 2013

      Third, even if someone did try to twist Dr Simon’s teachings to sound ridiculous or something like that, the positive impact of his advice on the lives of many grateful readers speaks for itself. :)

    • Dr. Simon
      Jul 12, 2013

      What an interesting statement and discussion! In In Sheep’s Clothing, I go to some length to explain just exactly where any “evil” lies in covert-aggression. And in Character Disturbance, I spend a lot of time explaining what the nature of moral failings are in certain character types. And off hand, I cant find where any of the blog articles contradict the principles I endorse in either book or advance so heavily in my other writings. So, while I welcome your comments, I’m at a loss to understand what you see in my work as reflecting negatively on my personal or professional ethics. Perhaps you can advise.

      • Eltarani
        Jul 24, 2013

        Apologies for the late reply, and also for any offence caused- I’m grateful you are willing to accept my opinions and not merely refuse me. I meant no disrespect- you are obviously a much more learn’d man than I in such areas. I merely meant to express that manipulation is often viewed in a far worse light then it deserves. It is simply a skill. The ability to kill a man- if I may suggest such a crude example- is not usually considered a good one. But when used in the hand of, say, police officers- well, I think you can finish that statement for yourself.
        This reply is also directed at ‘J’.

    • J
      Jul 12, 2013

      Eltarani, perhaps by manipulation you’re used to thinking of a while different thing and you only learnt of Dr Simon’s books recently. Perhaps you mean persuasion or influencing people just like handled in Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. Am I anywhere near understanding you?

      • Eltarani
        Jul 24, 2013

        Apologies again, but no, that’s not where I’m coming from. I would simply like to point out that social manipulation, no matter how it’s used, is a hard-earned and valuable tool.

        • Dr. Simon
          Jul 24, 2013

          Okay. Time to weigh in on this again. The ability to manipulate is no doubt a skill. And in my books, I address the difference between acts of manipulation (which all of us have engaged in from time to time) and personality styles characterized by chronic deceit and exploitation. There’s a huge difference. And I would certainly take the position that what it comes to the value of the skill or tool, how it’s used does indeed matter, inasmuch as the value for someone who uses it in a purely exploitative manner is strictly to the exploiter. The general thrust of your comments here make me question whether you have even read any of my material aside from a few of my blog posts, because I think my books make this clear. Most of the readers are quite familiar with my books and have the benefit of grounding in a broader perspective. I think that’s why J is asking for an example of “benefit” to the recipient of manipulation. And while I myself can think of some examples (e.g., a parent cajoling a child to do something that’s ultimately in their best interest even if they don’t realize it and aren’t of the right mind to do it otherwise), I think that in the realm of human relations, the straightforward approach is still best. The world of politics should have amply demonstrated to us that the benefits to the skilled demagogue/manipulator far exceed the benefits to those he/she swayed to his/her point of view = a view that might well have been deeply regretted later.

          • Eltarani
            Jul 25, 2013

            Thankyou all for your views and opinions. It is clear we champion different causes, but I thank you for your time. I consider myself akin to moral nihilism, so this type of discussion and people’s… Stubbornness, I guess- I honestly don’t mean any offence by this, I am using the term in its literal definition- to step back and wonder at the frivolity of such things.
            This conversation has, however, been most enlightening and useful to a man who happily and, without meaning to come across as arrogant, skillfully exploits the skill of manipulation to further my own goals.
            Thankyou all once again for you help, and your time.
            I bid you all good-day, and congratulate you on your efforts to arm the public against people such as myself.

      • J
        Jul 24, 2013

        Please give an example of an instance, where manipulation might be a beneficial tool and not just to a manipulator himself? I think I addressed this in one of my comments and I wnat to make sure our understandings are the same.

        • Danny
          Dec 22, 2013

          Yes, there are no examples (in which manipulation can provide reciprocal benefits to both the perpetrator and unknowing recipient). Manipulation is deceitful – the other person is not allowed to know precisely for the reason that they are not allowed choice, precisely for the reason that if they were given choice they probably wouldn’t want to go ahead with it. It serves the purpose of only one person…the CA. I suspect Eltarani is very well of aware of that. One point that has surprised me is that there appears to be a good number of manipulators who will simply engage in such behaviour for the sport…….in other words for their own amusement. This seems to me very strange!!

  19. Puddle
    Jul 24, 2013

    Asking for and getting what you want is different than manipulation. I think most people on this blog site refer to manipulation as self serving deception of another in order to meet the manipulator’s agenda without any regard for the person being manipulated.

  20. Puddle
    Jul 25, 2013

    Social manipulation to the detriment of another is cowardice IMO, and ultimately self defeating. My analogy is going hunting for an animal to eat, you can hunt it, shoot and kill it and eat it or you can trick it into eating poison to kill it. If you poison it you have killed it, you have won the battle, but now you can not eat it. It’s really a loose loose. I know that’s not the best analogy! It’s late here!

    ——————————
    The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie,

    comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.

    And having no respect he ceases to love,

    and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices,

    all from continual lying to other men and to himself.

    Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

    • J
      Jul 26, 2013

      That’s an excellent quote there and so true.

    • Dr. Simon
      Jul 26, 2013

      Such an appropriate quote! Thanks.

      • Puddle
        Jul 26, 2013

        Dr. Simon………..It’s one of the most impact-full things I’ve ever read. I sent it to Spathx a long while back……no reply. I know, shocking, huh?
        I can not begin to describe how much of a negative impact he has had on my mind. I live in fear that I will never be the same in so many ways. some change is always good and I’m ok with that, it’s called growth. The change I feel is destruction, a constant pain in my chest and lump in my throat. Like he pooped in my soul and didn’t flush, not to be vulgar. I just don’t seem to be able to find the help I need to move out of this.
        I think I’ve read enough at this point to really see his true nature to the degree I can see it. You would think I’d be joyous to be rid of the POS but I still struggle with the loss of the love I felt. I realized yesterday why I was so angry. It’s not only anger about being humiliated and deceived and taken advantage of but anger at this person who let me feel something so real for someone who doesn’t even exist. He knew I was in love with him. I KNOW he did even though there were times he would say that I didn’t love him. There were more times he would say he knew I loved him and it felt wonderful.
        Now I wonder if the reason it felt so wonderful to him was that he knew that when he dropped me on my head it was really going to hurt me because of my feelings for “him”. How could someone be this way?? How can someone intentionally do this and justify it? I just want to vomit the whole experience back in his twisted face.

        • J
          Jul 26, 2013

          While your question is rhetorical, I hope my guess-like answer is satisfying: It’s because he wants validation for his self-esteem that’s more inflated than a self-inflating fish without actually doing anything respectable.

  21. Màire
    Aug 22, 2013

    I have been manipulated by an old friend. We were great friends a very long time ago then stopped contact, since we live in different countries. Some years ago we got back in touch and not long after she asked me to be her bridesmaid at her wedding. I thought it was weird, since the other bridesmaid was her sister, and hadn’t seen her in almost 15 years, first thought was, maybe she doesn’t have any friends. The thing is I accepted since I hadn’t seen her for so long I thought it would be nice to reunite for such a lovely occasion. Ever since the day of the wedding she started giving out to me, saying she was disappointed because of things I did, that I didn’t do(like I was aggressive towards her at the wedding, where does that come from?)and after the wedding she started making my life hell because I started a relationship with her brother. Anyway, to make a long story short, she tried to break the relationship by making me choose, saying she was going to be out of the equation, showing a level of jealousy I didn’t understand (she is 40 years of age) and at some point she got so mad at me that she blocked me on facebook, she started telling people I wasn’t her friend, playing the victim and leaving me in a bad position towards her parents. She stopped all contact with me, cut me off entirely. These last 6 months have been the happiest of my life, so relieved she wasn’t there to make me feel guilty and bad about myself. Now the relationship with her brother is getting very serious and he decided to talk to her to make things clear. She denied everything and started texting me like nothing ever happened, saying it was a misunderstanding and turning things around by trying to make me feel bad for not being in touch for the past months, since she was pregnant. Since it’s true my relationship is getting serious, I will have to see her again and deal with her and to be honest, I dread the situation, since she is lying and I’m afraid she will try to mess things up again. I don’t know what to do, how to confront her and the worst part is that just the thought of her makes me sick, I can’t figure out how to pretend like she does when all I’d like to do is to tell her I know how she is lying and I don’t believe a word of what she says. I was happy thinking I had managed to have her out of my life. Could you please give me some guidelines on how to proceed towards this person, since I am a bit anxious about seeing her again and having her back in my life for good. Thank you.

    • vera
      Aug 22, 2013

      Sounds like you are about to marry a problem relative. Telling her she is lying isn’t going to improve things… I would say… make sure that you know how to lay down firm boundaries, and enforce them. If not, get help from a counselor who specializes in this.

      The other part… make sure the brother supports you in setting and enforcing those boundaries. If he doesn’t you could be in a hell of a pickle in the years to come. :-(

      • Màire
        Aug 23, 2013

        Thanks for your comment,I know you’re right.. just seems so unfair that I need to end up playing her game, I am absolutely determined to make her understand that she is my boyfriend’s sister, not my friend anymore, hopefully she will end up getting tired and give up and leave me alone. My boyfriend knows her well, he supports me and won’t let her mess up with us, it’s just this feeling I get when she’s around, I just can’t help it, I’m not good at playing games and pretending that nothing ever happened, but I guess there is no other way with people like that, she will never admit the truth and she uses denial as a tactic to allow herself to do whatever she wants… I am just amazed how she thinks that it’s all good now after all she did to me and all the bunch of lies she’s telling, just can’t get my head around it.

  22. E
    Sep 29, 2013

    Dr. Simon
    Quick question. I have a tendancy to become quute manipulative subconciously, which I realise halfway through the manipulation and so it becomes concious. I dislike this trait, which I think I have gained from a passive-aggressive and manipulative mother. Three questions.
    How do I reduce and possibly stop my acting this way, how do I not use manipulation techniques again if I do somehow manage to stop since I am faced with it on a daily basis and three, how do I deal with my mother?

    Thank you

  23. Aleah
    Dec 11, 2013

    So my “boyfriend” or the person i’m intimate with, is really big on manipulating me. We have went back and forth from being together and not being together, then we had alittle break without any communication. He recently contacted me on text saying tons of stuff that he did in the past and admitting to manipluating me. He made his self look like he was confessing and was supposibly completely honest about what he has been doing. He wants me back, but i can’t tell wether he’s wanting to start over like he says or is he just manipulating me as usual? I knew he was a manipulating person and often uses some of the tactics listed above, but how do you tell if a manipluative person is manipluating you or not?

    • Danny
      Dec 22, 2013

      I’d've thought the proof is in the eating!? If he has genuinely ‘confessed’ then my suggestion, dependant on your feelings for him of course, would be to (a) meet somewhere where your feelings might not be overtaken in getting too personal and have a discussion in order to properly determine exactly WHAT HE is doing about his manipulative ways, e.g. Seeing a counsellor or seeking any other form of behavioural therapist, and (b) make it clear to this chap that you will be waiting for a while to see if he has truly turned the corner and walked away from his [previous??] manipulative ways.

      Then sit back and watch his response to both.

  24. frank
    Dec 21, 2013

    Is it fair to say that a person with a pathos trait is manipulating for self-gain in one form or another.I would rather call them takers.

  25. frank
    Dec 21, 2013

    Can one person push another person(x-Husband) to the brink of insanity, for twenty yrs. and get into another relationship to do the same thing to gain for sexual desire(or their self happiness) all the while the x-husband is still hanging on somehow, and if not gained to their satisfaction vindicate the other person to get out of the relationship and almost pushing the other to the brink or to manipulate more, in the distance. Is it fair to say that the manipulator now has intent maliciously, to keep repeating thinking that they are getting away with it. What can be done to prove the intent an assessment needs to be done on the manipulator, but how can it be achieved legally.

    • Puddle
      Dec 22, 2013

      Frank……nothing can be done legally that I am aware of. Anything goes with these people so I would say the answer to ALL of your questions is ….maybe, yes or probably! AND yes, they can and do push their victims to the brink……ALL THE TIME.

      • Puddle
        Dec 22, 2013

        And yes……..they ARE takers!

  26. Puddle
    Feb 28, 2014

    What is a “Trackback PingBack”??

    how to identify if you are being manipulated | mid-life grooving
    […] she wants have been nauseating to witness. She i..

    • Dr. Simon
      Feb 28, 2014

      This pingback shouldn’t have gotten through the comments filter. Just trashed it.

Leave a Reply




Do NOT fill this !