Knowing the Manipulation Monster

A manipulation monster can be a co-worker, husband, sister, brother or your accountant, there is just something about your relationship with them that may leave you feeling unconfident and plagued with self doubt .   Most of us have a person such as this, in our past, or present or maybe you find out that you are a monster of manipulation. Let’s face it, we all engage in a little manipulation from time to time, it is a part of human nature.

We see harmless manipulation in marketing, add campaigns, even on our soup can labels; however, when manipulation is used as a tool to control and abuse it takes on a very ugly form. The process of changing another person’s beliefs, feelings, or behaviors through indirect tactics, is manipulation. An individual using deception, coercion, and threats to control and get their needs met by the process of manipulation, is abuse. This type of abuse can not only change another person’s feelings but according Piercarlo Valdesolo and David DeSteno of Psychological Science it can change the victims neurological network as well.

According to Valdesolo and DeSteno, in victims of manipulation, the functional connectivity of two neurological networks can be dynamically modified, belief updating becomes impaired and the mechanisms for the integration of evidence becomes inconsistent with the abuse victims prior beliefs. In short, a skilled manipulator can shape their victims moral judgments in ways that are arbitrary. Sometimes it is easy to pick upon the manipulation, yet it can also be very obscure resulting in the victim doubting themselves and the actions portrayed by another… this is the very nature of manipulation.   The real challenge is to know when you are being manipulated so you don’t become a victim of it.

One way to tell if another person is trying to be manipulative is to examine the approach they are using.   Some common ploys manipulators use include: lying, withholding information, denying feelings, playing the victim, blaming the victim, minimizing another person’s feelings, pretending to be confused or ignorant, shame, guilt, and pretending that his or her behavior is intended to serve religious or political objectives.   Gas lighting is also frequently used, this is the process of provoking someone in to an angry reaction, then blaming the other person for his or her reaction. Other examples include:

  • The person takes no responsibility if the relationship is not going well, the other person blames you and tells you that you are the one not working on the problem.
  • The person says “if you love me ” you would ……..
  • He or she wants to have sex , with no regard for how you feel, and without regard for their partners state of mind.
  • If the person is trying to emotionally manipulate you in to feeling sorry for them for some emotional or financial gain.
  • You can find more detailed examples here.

While it is unrealistic to avoid all manipulative people in the world, there are personality traits we can work on within ourselves to avoid becoming a victim. Manipulators tend to prey upon people who have low self esteem, who exhibit dependant behavior, people who fear abandonment and those who put their own feelings and desires aside, to focus on the needs and well-being of others.

People who manipulate others hide their motives, so it is challenging or impossible to get them to admit their true intentions.   A manipulator’s motives are self-serving, they pursue their own needs regardless of the cost to other people. These people have a strong need to feel better and stronger than the other person in the relationship, they find people who will validate the manipulators feelings by going along with their attempts of manipulation. When the manipulation monster is not in control of themselves and other people they begin to feel threatened and that’s when it can get ugly. There are five key ways to deal with a manipulative person.

  • Avoid allowing yourself to be shamed or guilt tripped in to doing something you don’t want to do, mentally unhealthy parents are great at this.
  • When a threat is made call them out on the treat, ask them about it.
  • Ask him or her if they can tell you directly what they want, while avoiding telling them how you feel this only provides them with ammunition to use against you at a later date.
  • Refuse to participate in the game of manipulation
  • Create boundaries you can enforce.

The best way to handle the manipulation monster is to become less available to them. If you find yourself being manipulated consistently, the real issue is not the manipulation monster. The issue is the victim’s lack of self esteem, lack of confidence, feelings of inadequacy and incapability. This is what the manipulator is using as leverage against an the individual. When an individual stands up and takes the positive steps to deal with themselves, they begin to identify themselves as an intelligent and creative people who have less space in their lives for an individual to manipulate them.

This article was written by Laurell Morse, a writer for dusk magazine. 

About The Serial Scribbler (21 Articles)
In the past, I have held jobs as an artist, personal care attendant, cashier and even a shoe saleswoman. The best job I have had the pleasure doing is being a mother, its full time and the pay is always wonderful. The payoff is not in green but in something far more valuable, the satisfaction of a job well done and the love of doing it. From there, I decided to continue my education. I went back to school and currently working on my BA in Psychology with a minor in English and literature.

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