Deceit Can Take Many Forms

Deceit and Character

Deceit is the hallmark trait of manipulative characters.  In fact, all disturbed characters practice deception of some type in their relationships. But as I’ve mentioned in prior posts, there are many ways to lie. And some disturbed characters are particularly skilled in the subtlest forms of lying. So skilled in fact, they have raised lying nearly to an art form. (For more on this see: The Art of the Lie.) No wonder someone coined the term “con artist”!

Now, the “fourth commandment” of sound character is all about revering truth. But in a world full of deceit discerning just what the truth is can be quite a challenge. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible. That’s why it’s incumbent on all of us to revere it. Moreover, honesty necessarily begins with ourselves. We’re more likely to be honest with others when we have faithfully self-reckoned. (For more on this see: The Power of Admitting the Truth.) And we’re more likely to be discern deceit when we’ve reckoned with the myriad of ways we all know there are to deceive.

Does Everybody Lie?

The fictional TV character Dr. Gregory House famously asserted that “everybody lies.” House is also notorious for saying or doing whatever he thinks he must to achieve his mischievous ends. He’s a cantankerous yet somehow lovable character. Most of the time, he’s doing a world of good for folks in desperate situations. But he doesn’t always have the best intentions. Still, whether he’s up to good or no good, he’s always the consummate manipulator. He’s a truly artful liar, well-versed in the varied and subtle forms of deceit.

House was shooting straight when he said we all lie, at least at times. And research tells us we lie for two principal reasons. We do it to avoid the unpleasant. And we do it to get something desirable that we don’t think we can’t get honestly. (For more on this see:  Why We Lie – Even to Ourselves.) Sometimes the lies we tell are pretty innocuous. We tell “little white lies” when the unvarnished truth might needlessly injure. It’s the civil thing to do. But being untruthful can be really problematic at times. And it can invite many unintended consequences. That’s the point Sir Walter Scott’s makes in the famous quote:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Malicious Deception

Malignant narcissists practice deceit with the most malicious intentions. These strictly self-serving folks are always looking for a position advantage. As I point out in Character Disturbance, it’s always about position, position, and position! And some lie so habitually, egregiously, and convincingly they begin believing their own falsehoods. But most of the time, they know full well how dishonest they are. It’s not so much that they’re unaware. Rather, it’s that they simply don’t care. They don’t care about the truth. And they don’t care about the impact of their deceit. They only care about getting what they want. (See also: Seeing the World as They Want to See It: The Self-Deceptive Thinking of Disturbed Characters and Manipulators: Do They Really Believe What They’re Saying?).

Deceit and manipulation are, and always have always been, close partners. Covertly aggressive individuals know that to successfully advance their hidden, nefarious agendas, they not only have to conceal their true intentions but also cast themselves in a way that seems benign. (This is called the art of impression management.)  This leads manipulation victims to doubt themselves and their suspicions. And, accordingly, it makes them feel a little crazy. These days, we refer to this crazy-making dynamic as gaslighting. Although we didn’t have a name for it then, I first wrote about this phenomenon in In Sheep’s ClothingI wrote the book primarily so manipulation victims wouldn’t feel so crazy anymore. But I also wanted folks to see manipulators and their tactics for what they really are. Knowing what these types are really up to and how to respond to their tactics is the key to personal empowerment.

Recognizing and Responding to Artful Deceivers

Over then next few weeks I’ll be talking more about the many ways disturbed characters deceive. And I’ll be talking more about how to best spot their deceit before it’s too late. More importantly, I’ll be talking about what each of us can do to engender more reverence for the truth. Our character depends on that. And the integrity of our society depends upon it, too.

18 thoughts on “Deceit Can Take Many Forms

  1. Ten years ago the shift in our relationship with our son coincided with his meeting his future wife. When they became engaged his beloved said to me “It would be nice if you could…” and she went on with her request. I said in return “I’m not comfortable doing this because…”
    She persistently asked three more times and I expanded my reasoning three more times thinking in my head – why is she not getting this??

    It was from this day forward I experienced the dreadful smear campaign. You see, I had said no, and this triggered the grudge she would carry like a gold medal forevermore. I was invisible to her entire family from the very first meeting, I was ignored by my adult step grand-daughters and niece who were in awe of this woman.

    It was 10 months ago via email we decided to step away and not be a part of their lives due to the covert manipulative malignancy of this DIL. I cannot begin to describe the disregard this woman has covertly shown me while attempting to recruit our daughter and my spouse to her side.

    Our son has made the choice to believe her twisted perspectives and our trust in him is gone. We recognize the CDNs, we even understand why they lie, but this isn’t good enough. We need to expose them and deal with them, there are way too many walking free amongst us!

    Dr. Simon said:

    “They don’t care about the truth. And they don’t care about the impact of their deceit. They only care about getting what they want.”

    “But I also wanted folks to see manipulators and their tactics for what they really are. Knowing what these types are really up to and how to respond to their tactics is the key to personal empowerment.”

    I’ve read this so many times in this blog in one form or another. What is the step AFTER recognizing them?!

    1. Anonymous,
      Our stories are probably all so similar that ONLY the NAMES would be changed!!!
      My son had a problem with his fiance the VERY FIRST TIME they “agreed” on something. The paying of the cable bill she so wanted! He was freaking out when he told me about it as he’s always been very conscientious of his credit.

      It finally came down to this she lied to him that she would pay for what she wanted because… he made more money!

      And 6 years later we’re the losers!!!

      After watching my grandkids for the past 4 yrs we are now the losers!
      Running to hospitals when they’re sick and DIL needs to take a shower.
      Driving to Indiana because grandson is hospitalized because parents didn’t care to prevent it. Long story!
      And ON and ON and On!

      You are not alone, that’s why I’m posting.

      1. Thanks Priscilla,

        There are no children from this marriage thank goodness so no pawns. I cannot imagine there being a reconciliation unless the marriage were to end and he apologized to us. The flying monkeys are in it by choice, and I could care less about them as they have shown us who they are. Son disrespected us via email and my husbands entire demeanor went cold. There is that.

        We knew if we had capitulated to every whim and demand she put forward then yes it would go on and on but we put a stop to it and walked away. I have a very low tolerance level for manipulation and I turn on my heel at the first whiff. ( I am a nice person just tell me what you want ;/ and I will see if I can help you out.) The covertness is shocking to witness and be the target of, and how any CD gets any rest is beyond me when they are plotting and conniving their way through life.

        I know grey rocking, I know going no contact are the go to solutions but I don’t think we are winning. Exposure is the key but how? No one can argue with a CDN, it’s like banging your head against the wall. I would never be in a room alone with this tube of turd (DIL) nor will we sit down with her in the company of our son. She has proven who and what she is capable of and there are so many more out there that need to be stopped.

        1. Anonymous,
          I’m glad for your sensibilities serving you well. It only took me 6 yrs with this dingbat DIL. My son knows exactly what he’s doing so I feel sad about that as well. That’s because he never acted this way with his family until he wanted to be with this narc. Then he literally did a 180 with me and his dad.
          Funny thing though about getting what you want though!!!
          Feel sad for my grandkids too, they are going to be changed from innocent to narc in the making as we already see the signs.
          Still praying for them all.

          1. Rricilla, anonymous,

            I use to wonder what I could do when everywhere I turned there is another CDN person. This topic is about first changing ourselves, looking inward and be the change we want to see in this world.

            I think both of you are doing all you can do with the CDN, grey rock or go NC. What is left is time for me to wait, hope and pray for a change of heart, I give it to the Lord. This world is sick all right, everywhere you turn you run into the CD.N which are the living dead. It it not easy to watch our loved ones entwined with the CDN. Unfortunately we have to sit back and wait.

            John 3:19 says: And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil.

            I believe we need to take these teachings and be the light and truly fight back against these evil CDNSP by saying NO to their deceit, manipulation and evil deeds and if possible call them out on their lies.

            The truth will set one free, us free by standing our ground, shining truth at the darkness is a start. It is painful and not easy, however, it will keep us free and strengthen us. CDNSP hate truth and strength. Never show weakness. Resist evil and the CDN will flee.

            Its difficult to deal with these CDN and it can break our hearts seeing our loved ones ensnared. I understand as I have adult children ensnared too. Then my family of origin is full of them.

            Truly prayer is powerful and the answer for me. I always pray for all on this blog. Especially, I pray for Dr. Simon that God keep shining his light on this blog which is truth, a blessing and refuge for so many.

            Hugs, we need each other for strength, support and wisdom.

        2. Hello Anonymous & Pricilla,
          I may have some hope for you. My sister chose the way of the CD due to a very nasty and manipulative stepmother (our bio mom died when we were under the age of 10). As an adult, my sister became more deceptive & demanding as she aged, reaching a point where she told her spouse that it was either her & their kids, or his parents & siblings (all of whom were lovely people). He chose my sister & their kids…but only until their youngest graduated from high school. He then had an affair & left my sister, returned to his parents and siblings, & maintained a relationship with his grown children.
          It might take fifteen years for your children to break free, but eventually they probably will. And as bad as it is for those of us enduring smear campaigns, etc, those living with a CD person are in confusion as their truth compass is constantly realigned by the CD. Keep faith that your child will return. 🙂

        3. Hi Anonymous,
          Thanks for noting that there are so many character disordered people – the ones who believe in harming others. I feel like such a magnet for them, and am dealing with them the best I can, with NO CONTACT being the best way because otherwise I’m constantly on edge.

  2. My husband is so convincing when he lies that, many years ago, when I started realising that his recollection of facts was incorrect, I came to the conclusion that the only possible explanation was that he possibly had early onset dementia (moody, enraged easily, forgetful, remembering fake facts of reality and swearing they were true…). I remember being so worried about him. Now, I can see him for who he is and, when I look back, I can only think “how could I be so stupid?”. Nevertheless, I am now going through the divorce proceedings and he plays the victim to perfection… He can even cry on cue. Ironically, in all my 20+ years with him, I never saw him cry on truly sad moments… I can now see he only uses it as a weapon to achieve his goals.
    Sometimes I think “if it took me 2 decades to realise what was really going on – the manipulation, the mind games, the emotional and psychological abuse – how can I hope that others such as the judge and social services will get it in a few hours?” What can I do to increase my chances of succeeding? Thanks for any input.

    1. Phoenix,
      I understand why you question yourself on why did it take so long to recognize what he is, because we all have done that. He’s your spouse, supposed to love you, not supposed to manipulate you to get what he wants. You believed in the marriage and did what any person of good character would do. But now you’ve educated yourself and have come to realize what really was going on. Keep reading Dr. Simon’s articles and posts from commenters, because so many of us has experienced what you have.
      Now that you know he’s a liar and you can now watch how he will go from one tactic to the next to try to achieve his goal. There is an article on manipulative tactics somewhere on this blog that would be beneficial to you.
      He’s going to do whatever he can to meet his end.
      I’ll write more on this in another post. Divorcing someone such as this can be complicated.

    2. Phoenix,
      Going thru something very similar but he’s changing some now. Not divorcing, YET anyway. Crying part is the same. Finding out about all the lying and rewriting of history. The worst for me? When you recount a similar situation and you ask…IF you were me would you come to the same conclusion? Or …IF this other person did this said this would you think they were lying and manipulating or gas lighting? But when he does it…. he swears… NOT DOING IT, that’s not what I MEANT AT ALL!!!
      I don’t want to hurt you ANYMORE????
      HMMMM???? Anyone else here feel like you’re teaching Kindergarten when dealing with these manipulators?!?!
      I’m getting calmer at it, blowing up about these people are NOT the answer. Rid yourself of DOING FOR the MANIPULATORS/LIARS/NARCS/CDP/CON ARTISTS in your life, but DON’T GO CRAZY trying to change them!!!
      You WILL get sick from this approach. YOU ARE NOT WRONG ABOUT ANY OF THEIR TACTICS.
      My prayer for everyone who posts is that you will have the Peace of God, the peace that surpasses ALL understanding!!!

      1. One last thing, ASK yourself these questions when even thinking of doing for someone in your life…
        Can they do this for themselves?
        In the past, how did this person treat me AFTER I did something for them?
        Did our relationship become closer or are they still distant?
        How does this person treat me when I say NO?

        If your significant others are NOT MOVING TOWARDS you in a healthy way protect yourself and DO NOT BE A DOER!!!!

        I’ve learned that THE HARD WAY folks as I was CONDITIONED to be a DOER!

        1. Hey Priscilla,

          How people respond to the word ‘no’ is a big one for me. If they get angry, my narcopath detector goes up immediately. 🙂

          1. Gwendolyn,
            I hear ya on that too!
            I just met with my son and grandkids to give a gift. My grnadson is learning the way of narcissism in dealing with others, how sad.
            Aggravating his little sister repeatedly and laughing at her tender age naivete’? Very sad to watch as my son looks on laughing while his son does this.
            Worst of all, seeing the card displayed in the kitchen window….
            picture of Elsa from Frozen reads… A daughter has a “special power”!!!
            DIL trying to raise her little girl to be a compulsive liar and manipulator like herself! Pathetic!

  3. Hey everyone!

    I’m doing better than when I last posted, I’m at least able to laugh at the frivolous nature of the letter of demand from my hubs ex (they divorced in 1995-we didn’t marry until 2005).

    Their son is nearly 40 and mommy is still going to bat for him. The problem is this woman! During the marriage to hubs, she’d use the kids as pawns many times over. (She did get rebuked by the judge in court during the divorce hearing for forcing the kids to call their father by his first name!) And she has the gall to say to the daughter when she brings the 4 grand-kids to our house, ‘it is OK for the kids to be around him? he probably isn’t saved.”(meaning a christian). Go on, laugh out loud because it is ridiculous.

    One time, early in their marriage, she got upset at hubs and threw a HOT pan of frying chicken at him-in front of his mom and dad, who were over for dinner. Oopsie…bad move. Other instances such as punishing hubs for being a little late for dinner. He worked as an executive and standard home arrival at the end of the day would vary. She’d make the kids eat and then put all the food away. He’d have to heat up dinner on his own. She took a sledge hammer to the hood of his truck one time and threw a butcher knife at him, which nearly missed his jaw, as it stuck in the wall behind him. She would be OK with an event, outing, and then renege on what she said and do the opposite.

    Her family is like this too-so this is a generational thing as well. While they were married, her brothers would pick up hubs and hold him over a bonfire, tease him relentlessly and put him down in front of his kids and other family members and the wife would laugh and not stick up for him. Her family lineage practices isolationism-if you cross them in anyway, you are the devil and cut off from the family; to include other siblings (2 of the brothers were cut off by the other 4 siblings and I believe left out of their mother’s will).

    The kids witnessed these behaviors through the years. The daughter has somewhat risen above things, she still gets in the ditches with her dad over stupid things, but overall it is good. The son has been a momma’s boy. He has tons of schooling (4 masters degrees!!) and is a hospice chaplain and chaplain in the guard. He is with families day in and day out, and yet has cut his dad off.

    Not only the beating up of his father in our front yard in 2010, (which I wrote about in an earlier post) which they patched things up (but I’m wondering how good it really was to begin with), but when the son finally was married in Dec 2014, he was a 35yo ‘virgin’ and so was his 29yo ‘bride.’ An incident arose where hubs ex didn’t want him to wear his military medals on his suit (the kind that are small and on a rack-hubs served 38 years in the military.) Hubs said he wouldn’t not to upstage his son, who was going to wear his dress military uniform. Hubs wore a US flag pin and Air Force lapel pin on his navy blue suit and asked his son if it was OK and son was cool with it. The ex asked her SIL to speak to hubs about the pins he was wearing and she asked the daughter to speak to him separately. Hubs had already cleared it with his son, but it wasn’t good enough for the ex. She later wrote him a letter about that incident too. Plus she didn’t want me and my then 18yo daughter at the rehearsal dinner, but the son and his bride to be said otherwise.

    Just a few weeks later, we had been visiting my family out of state for Christmas and the son and his bride wanted to come to our house the day we came home-after we’d traveled 8 hours on the road. Son wouldn’t take no for an answer, (don’t want to offend him or he’ll tell mom…lol!!) so we threw together some stuff for a make shift dinner. I was in the kitchen putting things together, new bride was leaning against the island, and hubs was nervous, but trying to keep things together internally, and he scooted by her to close the blinds. Oh yeah, son went to the restroom during this time. Oh, yeah, my daughter was home with us, but in her room at the time. So we eat, exchange gifts, all seems OK.

    Three days later, son called his dad land bashing him that he purposefully and maliciously wanted to rub his ‘junk’ against his wife’s buttocks. (Picture Forrest Gump talking and you’ll get it.) Again, a laughable situation. The son wanted his dad to admit to doing this and it was not at all the truth! A few days after that, a sexual crime detective called hubs for an interview. I went too and was fuming the entire time.

    We were interviewed separately of course. I told the detective that you have a math problem and a physics problem. She is maybe 4’8″ and hubs is 5’10”, plus his gut sticks out a bit over his ‘junk,’ not to mention that she didn’t say anything and I was in the room. Also, if they were ‘virgins’ then they were ‘heightened’ to any and everything in the realm of touch. Plus, hubs is not like that, he has said over and over-also to the detective-that he would not dishonor me.

    The detective also showed a picture that hubs had taken the day son graduated from seminary. Picture her shortness and the son being 6′ or a little taller, lovingly gazing at one another, him in his cap and gown and her in a halter type dress showing cleavage. Apparently she tried to say something about that picture being perverted, when it was her choice of clothing, their mis-matched height, to capture a loving look at each other. That’s it, pure and simple.

    Last week, I was a little shaken up. I’ve learned to deal with status quo with dysfunction alive and well and then the ex’s letter threw me off. It is so hard for family and friends to comprehend this type of scenario/behavior, so I feel like I bottle it in, which is why I’m so happy to find this group! There is no such thing as ‘fun’ in a dysFUNctional family.

    1. Ginger,

      You are certainly doing better. It shows in your comment. Relaxed and free after that ‘junk’ episode. 🙂
      It appears that your step-DIL went nuclear quickly. That should ensure that dys part is dropped quickly from dysFUNctional family.

  4. To all,
    They Lie,Manipulate and Deceive to avoid Work






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