Present a sociopath with a documented allegation and he will quickly turn on you, denounce you, and tell others that you are “disturbed,” “unstable,” “irrational,” or something equivalent. Anyone who does not accept his version of reality and fall for his brainwashing will be kicked out of the circle and then wildly disparaged by the remaining members.
Disordered people can’t deal with the reality of their behaviors. On some level, they may realize how hurtful they are or how inappropriately they behave, yet they are unable to accept any kind of major flaw in themselves. So disordered abusers spin our reality to protect their delusions.
Projection, a commonly used defense mechanism, serves that purpose. In projection, a characteristic of themselves that they find unacceptable is projected onto us. An example of a projected characteristic is mental illness or disorder. “I’m not a sociopath. You’re the [crazy, irrational, mentally disturbed, narcissistic, etc.] one.”
Another common defense mechanism is blame shifting. “It’s your fault this happened because [fill in the blank].” The abuser’s rationalizations can be elaborate and far-fetched but their convictions are rock solid. Bystanders may have been groomed to believe that the target deserves the treatment they are receiving. Attempts to disprove accusatory claims will get you nowhere, or worse, seem to confirm your guilt. They cannot fathom that anyone— especially not someone they like and respect—is capable of deviously crafting a convincing blame shifting scheme, and will often side with a charismatic sociopath.
“Twisting of meanings is a clue to psychopathy. They’re masters of doublespeak*, creating verbal traps and impossible situations that leave non-psychopaths bewildered.”
Harrison Koehli Red Pill Press, Publisher of Political Ponerology
*Doublespeak = Evasive, ambiguous language
that is intended to deceive or confuse.
Deny the abuse, Attack the victim, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender.
This is roughly how it can be done (ad absurdum for emphasis):
You are stupid.
Are you accusing me of being stupid!?
You are accusing me of making accusations!
…but what you said was rude and untrue.
More accusations! And you are calling me a rude liar!
You are hostile and name calling. Leave me alone.
Why did you call me ‘stupid’?
You are harassing me.
I want an explanation. Was it something
I said that sounded stupid?
I told you to leave me alone! Stop harassing me! Look, everyone, I am being victimized by that evil person for no reason!
At this point, the aggressor, the one who instigated the conflict and made all of the assaults, may threaten his victim into submission or use the ‘silent treatment’ (also called ‘stonewalling’) until the victim gives up trying to hold the abuser accountable. He will characterize his victim as the offender and himself as the victim as he complains about the “harassment” he is being subjected to—without telling the whole story, of course. He may tell other people that the victim is menacing, irrational, or mentally unstable to start rumors that support his egocentric version of the situation, strengthen his credibility, and damage his victim’s reputation. He may use deceptive tactics, such as pretending to be hurt or worried and fabricate disinformation to manipulate other people to side with him, isolate his victim, and maximize the harm. If successful, the abuser gains sympathy and support while his victim is disgraced and may face social rejection. The abuser escapes accountability and, lacking empathy and remorse, is gratified by “winning” his power trip while his victim gets blamed and shamed and may suffer immensely from long lasting irreversible damage to his reputation, self esteem, and relations.
Do you recognize this scenario?
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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”.