People often get manipulated because they misjudge the character of their manipulator. We have a tendency to want to see everyone else as basically pretty much like us. We want to think that they think the same way, care about the same things, and feel the same way we do. But individuals with disturbed characters are very different from most people, especially those who tend to be neurotic.
In prior posts, I’ve highlighted how different character disorders are from neurotics when it comes to matters of conscience and the degree to which they experience anxiety. The third major criterion on which these two personality types differ involves their capacity to experience genuine guilt. Having the well-developed consciences that they do, neurotic individuals are quick to feel badly if they think they’ve done something wrong or harmful. They beat themselves up internally and pledge to themselves that they will do better or try harder. In contrast, disturbed characters don’t feel guilty enough when they hurt someone else or engage in wrongdoing. When others point out the error of their ways, they shrug it off. They don’t beat themselves up but rather they often attack their accusers.
In emotionally abusive relationships, the disordered character will often use “guilt-tripping” as a manipulation tactic. This is because neurotic individuals are easily swayed when their guilt button is pushed. So the task for the manipulator is simple: make the other person feel guilty and you’ll be able to have your way with them. On the other hand, when the conscientious person tries to lay guilt upon the disordered character, it has no impact. This is one way to tell if the person you’re in a relationship with is for the most part neurotic or character disordered.
In my book, In Sheep’s Clothing, I outline all the major tactics disordered characters use to manipulate others. In a soon to be released book, I present an in-depth look at what makes disturbed characters so different from most of us and how we have to approach relationships with them.