Manipulators: Psychopaths in Sheep's Clothing

Anonymous Guest's picture
Submitted by Anonymous Guest on Thu, 2009-06-04 05:21

George Simon asks the question: “For a long time, I wondered why manipulation victims have a hard time seeing what really goes on in manipulative interactions.”

I, like Simon, have always been ready to fault the victims of manipulation, but like also Mr. Simon, I've learned that they get duped for some compelling reasons.

George Simons covers some of those reasons in his essay, Psychopaths in Sheep's Clothing. And while I think the title of his essay—-psychopaths—-is a little on the strong side, I agree with the anger the writer feels toward manipulators. There is no denying that they are an ugly bunch. His points, if anything, are very insightful and on objectively target in their accuracy.

There are, Simons explains, two basic types of aggression: overt-aggression and covert-aggression. When you're single-mindedly set to have something, and you're open and straight forward, your behavior can be labeled as overtly aggressive.

On the other hand, when you're out to “dominate or control”, Simons continues to explain, “but are subtle, underhanded or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labeled covertly aggressive.”

Why are some people so taken in by emotional manipulators? Well, a manipulator's aggression is not clearly apparent. Sure, our gut may tell us that they're struggling to overcome us or have their way. But because we can't point to clear and objective evidence they're aggressing against us, we can't readily validate our feelings. They are crafty in their manipulations, always knowing when they have their victims mouths on the hook, and they exploit it for all its worth.

Don’t ever underestimate the cleverness of the manipulator’s stock of emotional tricks. The manipulators can make it seem like they're "hurting and caring types" or whatever else to get their way. These tactics are hard to recognize, as Simon points out in his article. They always make a person doubt their gut hunch that they're being taken advantage of or abused. It's hard to think clearly when someone has you emotionally on the run: one moment you are feeling that you are selfish and wrong, or else by engaging your sympathies or else feeling that their anger toward you is justified. As Simon stated in his article:

“All of us have weaknesses and insecurities that a clever manipulator might exploit.”

Is it any wonder why they call it emotional manipulation?

Some of the tactics in the manipulators bang of tricks are worth knowing about, in order to protection. I will list only a few from Simon’s article that I believe are relevant to your situation:

Denial – This is when the aggressor refuses to admit that they've done something harmful or hurtful when they clearly have. It's a way they lie (to themselves as well as to others) about their aggressive intentions. This "Who... Me?" tactic is a way of "playing innocent," and invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It's also the way the aggressor gives him/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do. This denial is not the same kind of denial that a person who has just lost a loved one and can't quite bear to accept the pain and reality of the loss engages in. That type of denial really is mostly a "defense" against unbearable hurt and anxiety. Rather, this type of denial is not primarily a "defense" but a maneuver the aggressor uses to get others to back off, back down or maybe even feel guilty themselves for insinuating he's doing something wrong.

Diversion – A moving target is hard to hit. When we try to pin a manipulator down or try to keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior we don't like, he's expert at knowing how to change the subject, dodge the issue or in some way throw us a curve. Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving hidden agendas.

Covert Intimidation – Aggressors frequently threaten their victims to keep them anxious, apprehensive and in a one-down position. Covert-aggressives intimidate their victims by making veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats. Guilt-tripping and shaming are two of the covert-aggressive's favourite weapons. Both are special intimidation tactics.

Shaming – This is the technique of using subtle sarcasm and put-downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in others. Covert-aggressives use this tactic to make others feel inadequate or unworthy, and therefore, defer to them. It's an effective way to foster a continued sense of personal inadequacy in the weaker party, thereby allowing an aggressor to maintain a position of dominance.

This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it is a good start at identifying their emotional tricks. The manipulator is an archetype—an ugly reality that makes up a fair amount of the human race and can be found in all places and times. Sometimes we work for them, sometimes they are strangers, sometimes they are our employer, sometimes they are a sibling, sometimes they are our parents. And sometimes we live with them.

The good news is this: We don’t have to put up with it—once we are intellectually armed. Like I said, I use to fault the victims of manipulation for their blindness—but now I realize that “blindness” is, after all, the key word here. But once the blinders have been ripped off, and the victims still continue to be victims, then…they get what they deserve. You can't help someone who won't help themselves.

( categories: )


Leonid's picture

"I do not yet have any suggestions for a solution to this problem, but I'm working on it."
The solution is fairly simple-iron clad definition of government functions and strict rule of the Law which applicable first and foremost to the government psychopaths. Lock them up and throw the keys far away.

And then there's, Machiavelli...

Jmaurone's picture

Or The Selfish Gene...

The Source of the Human Problem and Why the Constitution Has Failed
by Rocky Frisco

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

After recently reading Political Ponerology by Andrew Lobaczewsky, I have come up with a theory of why the Constitution has failed us and where most of our modern human problems come from. After reading Lobaczewsky's book, I went out online and spent hundreds of hours reading up on psychopaths, their tendencies and behavior patterns and the effects they have on the rest of the population. Every human population includes around 5% male psychopaths and around 1% female psychopaths. Although they represent a very small portion of the living humans, they have a radically disproportionate effect on us all. Here is my theory why this is true:

Those humans living today are the descendants of members of hunter-gatherer groups who survived long enough to breed. Modern life has not been around long enough to make any serious changes in the tendencies that allowed our ancestors to survive. The groups who had the best chance of survival were those led by a certain kind of natural leader and composed of those who would blindly follow and obey these leaders. These natural leaders were mostly free from the scruples, morals and twinges of conscience that characterize most humans. They tended to be clever, selfish, vain, suspicious and paranoid. They considered their followers to be property, to be protected, promoted, enhanced and empowered, but only to the extent that they were unquestionably loyal to the leader. The modern word for these natural leaders is "psychopath." The United States Constitution has failed because it was an attempt to go against our nature, to prevent the natural activity of psychopaths and their followers to create tyranny and fascism. Even those who would not be defined as psychopaths can be converted into the pathology by holding power over others, as elucidated in the aphorism, "Power Corrupts." We have created political offices no living human can occupy without being turned into a psychopath. The Founders attempted to ameliorate this situation by limiting the power of government, but they have failed because generations of psychopaths and their "sheeple" have whittled away the limitations the Founders created, until now, when nobody in power respects the Constitution or the Oath of Office.

I do not yet have any suggestions for a solution to this problem, but I'm working on it. I think part of the solution is to inform as many people as possible that this is the problem we face. Bullies and psychopaths on the playground have always been a serious problem for children; bullies and psychopaths in government, and their loyal followers, produce war and totalitarianism and Hell on Earth. We must recognize them for who and what they are and find ways to prevent them from destroying our lives and liberty.

Rocky Frisco,


Leonid's picture

"Why are some people so taken in by emotional manipulators?"
The answer to this question is in the body of your post- "one moment you are feeling that you are selfish and wrong"
Manipulation is exploitation of permanent guilt imposed by morality of altruism. The remedy is a recognition of the fact that self-love is not as Kant said " the very source of evil" but sound foundation of self-esteem. As part of rehabilitation program for the victims of manipulation I'd recommend to wear T-shirt with the print " Proudly selfish!"

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.