Requirements for successful manipulation
According to Dr George K. Simon, successful psychological manipulation primarily involves the manipulator:
- Concealing aggressive intentions and behaviors.
- Knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim to determine what tactics are likely to be the most effective.
- Having a sufficient level of ruthlessness to have no qualms about causing harm to the victim.
Consequently, the manipulation is likely to be covert (relational aggressive or passive aggressive).
How manipulators control their victims
Dr Simon identified the following manipulative techniques:
- Lying: It is hard to tell if somebody is lying at the time they do it although often the truth may be apparent later when it is too late. One way to minimize the chances of being lied to is to understand that some personality types (particularly psychopaths) are experts at the art of lying and cheating, doing it frequently, and often in subtle ways.
- Lying by omission: This is a very subtle form of lying by withholding a significant amount of the truth. This technique is also used in propaganda.
- Denial: Manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.
- Rationalization: An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behavior. Rationalization is closely related to spin.
- Minimization: This is a type of denial coupled with rationalization. The manipulator asserts that his or her behavior is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting, for example saying that a taunt or insult was only a joke.
- Selective inattention or selective attention: Manipulator refuses to pay attention to anything that may distract from his or her agenda, saying things like “I don’t want to hear it.”
- Diversion: Manipulator not giving a straight answer to a straight question and instead being diversionary, steering the conversation onto another topic.
- Evasion: Similar to diversion but giving irrelevant, rambling, vague responses, weasel words.
- Covert intimidation: Manipulator throwing the victim onto the defensive by using veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats.
- Guilt tripping: A special kind of intimidation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious, and submissive position.
- Shaming: Manipulator uses sarcasm and put-downs to increase fear and self-doubt in the victim. Manipulators use this tactic to make others feel unworthy and therefore defer to them. Shaming tactics can be very subtle such as a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, rhetorical comments, subtle sarcasm. Manipulators can make one feel ashamed for even daring to challenge them. It is an effective way to foster a sense of inadequacy in the victim.
- Playing the victim role (“poor me”): Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.
- Vilifying the victim: More than any other, this tactic is a powerful means of putting the victim on the defensive while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent of the manipulator.
- Playing the servant role: Cloaking a self-serving agenda in guise of a service to a more noble cause, for example saying he is acting in a certain way for “obedience” and “service” to God or a similar authority figure.
- Seduction: Manipulator uses charm, praise, flattery or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and give their trust and loyalty to him or her.
- Projecting blame (blaming others): Manipulator scapegoats in often subtle, hard to detect ways.
- Feigning innocence: Manipulator tries to suggest that any harm done was unintentional or did not do something that they were accused of. Manipulator may put on a look of surprise or indignation. This tactic makes the victim question his or her own judgment and possibly his own sanity.
- Feigning confusion: Manipulator tries to play dumb by pretending he or she does not know what you are talking about or is confused about an important issue brought to his attention.
- Brandishing anger: Manipulator uses anger to brandish sufficient emotional intensity and rage to shock the victim into submission. The manipulator is not actually angry, he or she just puts on an act. He just wants what he wants and gets “angry” when denied.
- Manipulation (indiacharlotte.wordpress.com)
- Slander Tactics (salemwitchhunt.wordpress.com)
- Vulnerability and Manipulative Women (postmasculine.com)
- Who’s Pulling Your Strings? (wisdomchronicles.wordpress.com)
- Techniques of the Manipulator: Gaslighting (aloftyexistence.wordpress.com)
- Manipulation (gypcsojourner.wordpress.com)
We featured this blog post on our Spread Information fanpage this week. Thank you so much for providing a priceless education on how to deal with a personality disorder that no one ever talks about. If not for reading you, I would be a puddle of confusion after having dealt with some of the most sinister personalities I have ever been subjected to over the last 3 years. You saved my sanity and I thank you.
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I felt the same as “madelinelaughs”! For years I have been a “target” and could not understand what was going on. This information has given me so much clarity in understanding what kind of people I have been dealing with. Today certain people are still stalking me but I now can get a handle on what is happening and take certain paths to rise above this! Many, many thanks for putting this info out where others can benefit from it.
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Thanks, and please share your experiences, too. Other victims can relate and it helps them understand and feel less alone.
I was with a manipulator for 4 years i felt like i was at fault all the time i tried to do better to make him happy i realized that nothing would make him happy. When i left he told everyone it was me and i was crazy. Eveyone felt sorry for him and i think it doesn’t matter i’m not in that house anymore so he and his family can think whatever they want i know i was in a bad place and now happy to be out and safe now. Thanks
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I was in the same position but lucky for me I was married to him for just under a year so my years were not wasted on him. If it’s any consolation manipulators/abusers/narcissists/sociopaths/passive aggressives are NEVER happy.
This was inspiring and clarifying. Being aware of these dynamics is really the most powerful tool for the survivors of this kind of abuse. Once you know, it all makes sense and you suddenly couldn’t care less what the abuser thinks or says of you – it’s their problem, not yours. This awareness comes with a wave of power and serenity. 🙂
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Manipulators use different phraseologies and target different areas, but the bottom line is the actions are the same. They absolutely HATE identifying and working with broken processes.