Heartless Characters can be largely born the way they are. That is, the most disturbed among us have an innately impaired capacity to care. But folks lacking in empathy also tend to think in certain ways. And those ways of thinking lead them to form problematic attitudes and patterns of behavior. Moreover, engaging in those patterns both engenders and reinforces heartlessness.
Predatory Aggressive Personalities (i.e., psychopaths or sociopaths) consider themselves superior to the rest of the human race. They view individuals with inhibitions rooted in emotional bonding to others as inferior creatures and, therefore, their rightful prey.
Aggressive Personalities include the Unbridled Aggressive, who is frequently in conflict with the law; the Channeled-Aggressive, who generally limits ruthlessness to non-criminal activity; the Covert-Aggressive, who cloaks their cruelty under a veneer of civility and manipulates others in the process; and the Sadistic Aggressive, whose principal aim is to demean and injure others.
But by far the most pathological aggressive personality is the one I prefer to label the Predatory Aggressive Personality. All of the aggressive personalities are among the most seriously disturbed in character of the various personality types, and the Predatory Aggressive Personality is the most seriously character disordered.
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.
“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. It’s a harsh reality to accept, but some people really are that hostile towards the world that they really are out to emotionally hurt everyone and anyone. The people they are closest to are just their easiest victims.”
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”.