Externalizing – Manipulation Tactic 3

Disordered characters are forever blaming their misbehavior on someone or something else, and skilled manipulators can make you think that somehow it’s your fault that they did whatever they did to hurt you.  Confront them on how hurtful it was that they cheated on you and they will blame your lack of attentiveness, your failure to be avaiable and responsive whenever they felt in the mood, etc.  Confront them on their lack of rapport with their children and they will berate you for turning the children against them.   They’ll always claim that some person or circumstance made them do what they did instead of accepting responsibility for a making a bad choice about how they responded. 

Sometimes counselors have called this tactic projecting the blame.  Projection is another one of those automatic mental behaviors traditionally thought of as an ego defense mechanism.  The rationale behind that notion is that sometimes individuals unconsciously “project” onto others motivations, intentions, or actions that they they are far too unnerved over or feel such overwhelming guilt about that they can’t acknowledge them as their own.  But disordered characters know what they are doing.  They are fully conscious about the what others would see as the wrongfulness of their behavior and they’re perfectly comfortable with the behavior nonetheless.  They don’t have enough guilt or shame about they’re doing to change course.  So, when they attempt to justify their position by casting themselves as the victim of someone else’s wrongdoing, they simultaneously evade responsibility as well as manipulate others into thinking that they’re really a good guy who had no choice but to respond the way they did.  It’s an effective tactic to manage the impression of others.  The tactic goes hand in hand with the tactic of portraying oneself as a victim.  It’s an effective tactic that gets others to pay attention to everyone or everything else except the disordered character himself and his harmful behavior patterns as the sources of a problem.  I’ve been posting a series of articles for the Psychology, Philosophy and Real Life blog about individuals with a character disorder and how they differ from other personality types.  I’ve also posted on other manipulation tactics such as rationalizing and lying.  

Externalizing the blame (i.e. blaming others and circumstances for personal shortcomings) is a particularly insidious manipulation tactic and responsibility-aviodance habit.  A person who won’t acknowledge his or her bad choices and repeatedly blames others for his failures will never correct his erroneous thinking, attitudes, or problem behavior.  Whenever you hear an excuse, you know the disturbed character has no intentions of changing his ways.  And whenever you confront someone on their bad behavior, don’t be tricked into thinking it’s somehow your’s or someone else’s fault that they did what they did.  I’ve written on how to avoid being taken in by this tactic in my book In Sheep’s Clothing. 

5 thoughts on “Externalizing – Manipulation Tactic 3

  1. I’m here because I’m trying to figure out whether my husband is manipulating me or not. I will give a recent example of what I think could be him externalizing and hopefully someone can give me some insight.

    A couple days back we were about to start having intimacy. It was late at night and I was running on 4 hours of sleep from the night before (we have an 8 month old.) I got up the bed to tight my hair up, and was unintentionally blocking the door. The A/C was running (our makes a very loud noise) and I also have hearing problems. My husband gets urgently off the bed without me noticing and starts to walk towards the door coming from behind me trying to exit the room. He really needed to go to the restroom (I only include this for accuracy, sorry.) I never heard him or new I was blocking his way until he was next to me and yelled something along the lines of “get the fuck out of the motherfucking way.” He scared me so much I felt like my heart was about to stop. Needless is to say I never talk to him that way or anyone for that matter. I was so shaken up by his scream that I needed a moment to collect myself before continuing intimacy. When I mentioned that he had really scared me, which I didn’t say to ask for an apology, but to explain why I needed a second. He then started to insist on how a) it was my fault that he scared me and b) he’s allowed to talk to me that way if he gets upset because I was doing something wrong by being distracted “as always,” and how that was so thoughtless of me not to move out of the way as soon as he got up the bed. I, then, tried to explain to him how I didn’t know he was coming up behind me, but couldn’t go pass 3 words before he started yelling more and more. He said that I never take responsibility for my actions and that I don’t want to let him be a man. He started to tell me that if I didn’t proceed with sex things were going to turn ugly. I was so scared, stress and anxious that I couldn’t bring myself to do it even tho I did meant to. He keep telling me it was all my fault and wouldn’t let me even explain my point. He then screamed to me really loud telling me to “shut up,” scaring me once again. He keep telling me how I never consider his feelings pr needs, etc. etc. There is more but no point on going any further.

    1. hey
      i dont have a partner. But one thing i can tell you is in the long term if this behavior continues, it can really mess up your mental health.
      One thing i can suggest is to dont let emotions get the best of you in these situations as you said you were scared and anxious when he yelled at you.
      I know its easier said then done but it is to protect yourself. Stay in the moment, dont let yourself panic.
      Observe your state and his behavior in these situations and keep a journal.
      write down as clearly as you can everytime something like this happens. It will help you recognize patterns. And in future if you decide to seek consultation you would have all the records so you could be better guided.
      And yeah keep the journal hidden, casue if your partner finds out about this i dont know what hell would it bring.

    2. Lots of red flags in that story.

      Lots of abuse and it only gets worse.

      If it were me, I would start planning my escape (very secretly). There are counselors at women’s shelters and crisis lines that can guide you in making a plan.

      Start hiding cash.
      Have a bag packed in case he decides to escalate into physical abuse.
      Do you have a supportive family and/or friends?

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