To deal with sociopaths effectively, you first need to open your eyes. In The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, two weavers promise the emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are stupid and unfit for their positions.
When the emperor parades before his subjects, all the adults, not wishing to be seen in a negative light, pretend they can see the clothes. The only truthful person is a child who cries “But he isn’t wearing any clothes!”.
You, too, need to see sociopaths as they really are. We are conditioned to keep quiet, which often means turning a blind eye to or putting up with abuse.
The boy in the tale represents those who see the problem behavior for what it is and find the courage of their convictions to make a stand. Sight becomes insight, which turns into action. Awareness is the first step in limiting the negative effects of contact with a sociopath.
Skilled manipulators can be quite seductive and charming. Still, I confess readily in my book In Sheep’s Clothing that when I first began my clinical research, I wondered how the victims of covert-aggressors could be so blind to their manipulator’s true character without having a lot of issues of their own. Only after I got much deeper into the study of covert aggressors did it become clear to me not only how adept they can often be at using various tactics but also how powerful the tactics themselves inherently are.
Dr George Simon [blog], author of several best-selling books on psychopathy, has given descriptive labels to three manipulative tactics that all victims of narcissistic/psychopathic abuse are sure to recognize. The terminology offered by Dr Simon makes it easier to make sense of behaviors that otherwise may seem confusing or even cause self-doubt, and to discuss them. When you see manipulative behavior, it will probably reflect one or more of these tactics.
True Stories Written by Survivors of Domestic Violence, Rape and Fraud: Exposing Sociopaths in Our Midst
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Not everyone moves from a place of care and respect for themselves and others, because not everyone has (1) a conscience; (2) the ability to feel remorse; and (3) the ability to tap into affective empathy–the type of empathy that allows one to see and feel a situation from another’s perspective. People lacking these qualities are referred to as sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists. They exist everywhere in society, including our homes where their toxic and parasitic lifestyles are destroying families, children and communities every single day.
This collection of 33 true stories from across the globe written by survivors of toxic and abusive relationships sets out to expose the unchallenged pathological personalities and behaviors of psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. Read more…
Don’t be fooled by nice manners. What looks like politeness may be pretense to sugarcoat aggressive, manipulative, or false communication. Look at the content; not merely the cover. Pay close attention to what the person is saying and don’t be fooled by his position or the eloquence of his expression.
The Official Etiquette Rules for the Vintage Advice Group (Photo: Ann Douglas)
A sociopathic person is walled off from their inner core. How they present themselves to the world is a facade. Their operational system is power. To relate to them by playing the power game is a losing proposition because they are masters of the game and they will win at all cost.
The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt
to Clarify Some Issues About the
So-Called Psychopathic Personality
is a book by American psychiatristHervey M. Cleckley, first published in 1941. It is considered a seminal work and the most influential clinical description of psychopathy in the twentieth century.
Cleckley, a pioneer in psychopathy research, coined the phrase mask of sanityto describe the psychopath’s ability to perfectly mimic a normally functioning person and to mask or disguise the disorder; a fundamental lack of moral conscience and internal personality structure. Despite the seemingly sincere, intelligent, even charming external presentation, internally the psychopathic person does not have the ability to experience genuine emotions.
Because they are either in
denial, or they simply deny.
Abusers regularly deny the abuse ever took place, rationalize their abusive behaviors, or use tactics to cover themselves—and each other.
Sociopaths are skilled deniers. Where the rest of us would stutter or blush, they can lie with a convincing confidence. They pose as authorities and, to discourage questions, they act “offended” if their audience shows doubt. An arrogant manner indicates a lifetime of “successful” manipulative control tactics and contempt for other people, who they regard as inferior.
Dr. George Simon, author of In Sheep’s Clothing—Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, presents this list of 14 tactics that manipulators use to get you to do what they want. He points out the importance of recognizing that these tactics are offensive moves employed by the covert-aggressive to either maintain a position of power, gain power, or remove an obstacle from getting what he wants. You’ll be better equipped to deal with manipulators if you are familiar with this list of tactics and able to identify them when you encounter them:
Denial – playing innocent, refusing to admit they have done something harmful.
Selective inattention – playing dumb, or acting oblivious; refusing to pay attention to anything that might divert them from achieving their goal.
Rationalization – making excuses or justifying their behavior, often in very convincing ways.
Diversion – changing the subject, dodging the issue, distracting us from the real problem.
Lying– deliberately telling untruths, concealing the truth, lying by omission.
Covert Intimidation– intimidation through veiled threats.
Guilt-tripping– using the conscientiousness of their victim against them to keep them self-doubting and anxious.
Shaming– using subtle sarcasm and put-downs to make the victim feel inadequate, unworthy, and anxious.
Playing the Victim role– playing the innocent victim to elicit compassion.
Vilifying the Victim– making the victim the “bad guy”; pretending he’s only defending himself.
Playing the servant role– disguising their personal agendas as service to a nobler cause.
Seduction– flattering and overtly supporting others to get them to lower their defenses and be trusting.
Projecting the blame (blaming others) – shifting the blame, scapegoating.
Minimization – a combination of denial and rationalization, “making a molehill out of a mountain”.
Psychopaths and sociopaths are likely to appear friendly and generous. They are masters of deception, adept at faking emotions they don’t actually have—compassion, remorse, or humility—to win trust or gain power over others. Behind a convincing facade of respectability, intelligence, and high moral standards, they operate outside of standard ethical boundaries; recruiting lower-level psychopaths to do their bidding and manipulating normal, “good” people into accepting or supporting their shady agendas.
A psychopath knows how to get people to sympathize with him and turn them against the target of his abuse. Manipulating people is an entertaining game for a psychopath. He enjoys feeling powerful and superior as he watches his unsuspecting ‘pawns’ subject his target to criticism, blame, abuse, and rejection.
Trustworthy? You’re an honest, forthright person. You take your obligations seriously. You would never dream of taking advantage of someone—so when a sociopath takes advantage of you, you won’t see it coming. If you play by the rules, know this: Sociopaths don’t.
The Official Etiquette Rules for the Vintage Advice Group (Photo: Ann Douglas)
Don’t be fooled by nice manners. What looks like politeness can be pretense used to sugarcoat aggressive, manipulative, or false communication. Look at the content; not merely the cover. In other words; pay attention to what the person is saying, and don’t be fooled by who he is or how he is saying it.
“…bear in mind you are dealing with highly skilled manipulators. They’ve had years and years of experience being covertly aggressive–do not underestimate their power. It happens so quickly, so subtly, you must arm yourself with tools to fight such monsters.”
“I have met a lot of people who have said something rude, did something in total disregard to my feelings and then gave lame excuses, no excuses or even tried to accuse me of being the bad guy afterwards. These manipulative people know what they’re doing, they don’t care, and they get a kick out of manipulating you.”
“These people are at war with you. Don’t ever tell them your secrets or your insecurities. They will just use it against you to inflict more pain.”
“For the first time in my life, I understand why I perceive people are “always taking advantage of me”. I’ve let them. Since I’ve been speaking up, I feel empowered and alive. This book saved my perspective, if not my life…”
“They look like us, but they are extremely smooth at decieving and come in many forms!”