Manipulative and Character Disordered People at Work

Character disturbance of various types and degrees is commonplace, so there’s a pretty good chance you’ve encountered someone at your place of employment who makes your working life difficult.  From the covert aggressors who back-stab, undermine, or vilify you for their own gain to the more overt aggressors who harass and terrorize you, disturbed characters can make anyone’s working environment so toxic that it takes a significant toll on a person’s mental, emotional, and even physical health.

Because the holiday season can be an especially stressful time anyway, things can get very rough indeed if you’re in a situation at work where you have to deal regularly with a character-impaired co-worker, supervisor, or even boss.  Naturally, as I advocate in In Sheep’s Clothing, you’ll want to keep a keen eye your own emotional “buttons” and vulnerabilities and use the “tools of empowerment”. But work situations often present unique challenges.  There are times when your options are limited as to how you can reasonably respond, and disengagement isn’t always possible.  Still, there are some things you can do that just might help save your sanity:

Seek out and nurture sources of support.

Sometimes it might seem you’re all alone in your plight.  There’s nothing like dealing with a difficult situation to make you feel isolated and alone.  But the reality is that at least some others you work with are likely to understand and identify with your situation.   Nurture relationships with those who share your values and appreciate the support you could give to one another. Now, we’re not talking here of forming combat alliances, pitting yourself and your group of allies against your foes. Rather, we’re talking about fostering solidarity and finding a source of strength and reassurance among those who share your concerns.  

Assert yourself.

You don’t have just sit and take it when you’re being undermined, scapegoated, vilified, harassed or otherwise poorly treated.  Address your issues and concerns directly but also calmly and without hostility. Honor your principles and stand your ground. Pick your battles carefully, however.  Some things aren’t really worth going to the mat for.  But don’t let every little thing slide, either.  Disturbed characters love to victimize those they perceive as weak, and you certainly don’t want to be perceived as a doormat or easy prey.  And when you’re confronting those creating difficulties for you , focus squarely on the issues of concern.  Leave sentiments and personalities out of the discussion. Making it about “them” is a sure recipe for resistance and possibly even reprisal.  Make sure it’s not personal but rather about the behavior.  Focus like a laser beam on the specific things the person does that creates the difficulty.  If necessary, bring your allies to the table when you address the issues.  And as I say in In Sheep’s Clothing (in one of the 12 “tools of empowerment”), always do your best to keep a level head.  Confrontation is always the most effective when there are no other issues (e.g., emotional responses, defenses, personal affronts, etc.) drawing attention away from the problem behaviors.

Stay true to yourself and your values.

Don’t be tricked into the idea that you can “play the game”  or somehow out-manipulate or outfox the disturbed characters among you.  You  might be able to do so for awhile, but that strategy is doomed to fail in the long run.  Besides, it’s not good for you to betray the kind of person you really are.  Always be the person of integrity you envision yourself to be.  In your dealings with others, even the character-challenged, be above-board and genuine (besides, it really makes the disturbed character’s nature stick out like a sore thumb!).  And above all, don’t count on others to value your efforts to maintain your integrity or to recognize you or reinforce you for it.  Any affirmation really needs to come from you (I talk more about the importance of this in Character Disturbance).  

Always have a “Plan B”

Some workplace cultures not only tolerate but also encourage or even reward character dysfunction.  And while it’s always possible with sufficient supportive alliance and a lot of persistent effort to eventually re-shape a culture, sometimes such an undertaking is not really feasible.  This is particularly true when your boss or supervisor is insensitive to character issues or perhaps has a character dysfunction of their own, or there is strong organizational culture support for or enabling of character dysfunction.  So you need to have other options at your disposal, including the option of leaving for a new and hopefully different working environment.  And keep in mind the risk you always take when you put yourself in a position of excessive dependency, including undue dependence on any particular job or position.  Don’t put yourself in a situation in which there is no possible “plan B.”  Make sure you hone the necessary skills and know the employment landscape well enough to be able to make a move if you have to do so.   
I’ve got some more to say on this topic, but I’m quite sure the readers have experiences they could share that would make the discussion more informative and helpful.  


62 thoughts on “Manipulative and Character Disordered People at Work

  1. What are the worst things someone finding themselves enduring a toxic aggressor could do and you wouldn’t recommend doing(under any circumstances or unless there are certain circumstances present)?

    1. J, I would say that responding to the aggressor in ANY kind of emotional way would be the worst because it “feeds” them.

      1. Absolutely Puddle. On previous occasions, when I was way more ignorant to the issue than I am now, I spent far too much wasted time and effort displaying/opening up my emotions in the genuine and sincere hope I could appeal to my wife’s better judgement or reasoning. The idea being if she could see the effects of her negative behaviour on me (someone who she claimed to love) it might be just the required prompt to influence her own behaviour for the better. Of course, it never ever worked! This unfortunately would send me further into a desperate panic induced tailspin… which would involve me doing pretty well anything she asked, in order to keep the peace and gain her favour. Little did I know that is precisely what she wanted as a means of gaining control. What a fool I was.


        1. Danny,,,,,,,I will say this,,,,,,,,,,I was accused of wanting to control him/ the relationship and yes, to a certain degree that may have been true in that I wanted and expected a reciprocal relationship and I did keep pushing for that. I did all the things you are supposed to do, ASK for what you want, TELL the person HOW they can meet your needs, even to a very specific degree. Nothing seemed to work in fact the opposite would happen. I spelled out many things that would sexually turn me on, that I needed to be more aroused. he did NONE of them! and it he had ever done any of them in the past, he stopped entirely. Sorry if that is too “graphic” but it’s an example. I had no reason to control him and I was on the loosing end of benefits from the relationship from the get go. I didn’t want his money, he had none. Sex? He NEVER showed much interest towards my sexual pleasure from the beginning! I wanted to be loved, respected and to feel that the person I was with was as interested in pleasing me as i was in pleasing him. Nothing made me happier than pleasing him (in between the sheets!LOL) but he sabotaged my pleasure in more ways than I can name……not shaving so it would be comfortable to kiss, not initiating,,,,,,,just too hard to explain all of the twists and turns. And he never showed an interest in heart to heart communication of HIS dissatisfactions so if he had any, the only time i heard anything was in retaliation to a dissatisfaction of mine.
          An example of above mentioned problems: I had given up on him EVER showing any interest to help me have a more fulfilling experience with him )in between the sheets) but I had not given up on wanting to have him take the time and put the energy and effort into doing SOMEthing to please JUST me. So I told him that I would like it very much if he would make me a bath sometime……bubble bath, sit with me, maybe wash my back, tell me he loved me……something along those lines. Well that went nowhere, never happened. Then one day out of the blue we were out together and he offered to buy me some bubble bath and of course I was so pleased! That box of bubble bath sat on the floor for another two months…..un touched by him. It was humiliating and so hurtful because every time I looked over at that bubble bath it was a reminder that all the equipment was there for him to do something JUST FOR ME, to make ME feel good and he couldn’t be bothered. At one point I restated the whole scenario to him…….detail by detail as I said above and when I finished spelling it all out again, he responded………..”and then butt f’you”? unreal. Just a game and he had no clue how much it hurt and furthermore didn’t care i’m sure. I’m talking about a 47 year old man…..
          The shaving issue went on for months and months of him not stepping up to the plate. I’ve told this to other people and they are just like,,,,,,,,,wtf?

          1. So to continue……….Sex is not the begin all and end all of importance in a relationship by any stretch of the imagination. but it is a way of bringing two people who >>>love each other<<<< closer together and like I said, I knew it was important to him and i thought he was very pleased with me in that way (more smoke up my a** more than likely). what is wrong with me not wanting to feel like i'm the only one interested in providing pleasure? I quite honestly felt like an unpaid prostitute or a little circus dog, enthusiastically there to please my man. I had to STOP putting so much interest and effort into that part of the relationship because of it. It was horrible like that. I was SO attracted to him and valued so many aspects of us together and i wanted it to work more than I can explain! If he was dissatisfied I would expect him to explain why and what he wanted to be different AND to really step up to the plate so i could feel secure enough in the relationship to be able to really try to do what needed to be done without feeling like it was just another excuse or hoop to jump through for no reason.
            SO many empty promises and words…..

          2. Fear not Puddle – I’m not blushing….honest!

            Forgive me if I’m veering along the wrong path but I read from your comments that you do not want the relationship to be one sided, with (in your case) you doing all the chasing to please your partner yet having nothing reciprocated in anyway near the same way. And yet, it seems he knew you were crying out for that. That is certainly the way I have felt. Whether the matter be sexual, decision making on a lesser or more fundamental level, or whatever aspect within a relationship, it becomes destructive when one partner or other is expected to do all to giving and the other sits proudly on high enjoying 100% of the taking.

            What has really hurt me is the opening up of myself, exposing my mental frailties and vulnerabilities to someone I hope would be mentally developed enough to deliver against my needs – yet in reality that person was listening intently ONLY for their future selfish and manipulative gain.

          3. YES Danny……I as well had the hopes that it would become an equal relationship and I would have to say that while I am not without my own intimacy issues that leave plenty of room for personal growth of my own, 9/10ths of my faulty behavior and choices, etc. while in this relationshi* were due to indescribable emotional and mental confusion, and not feeling like my needs were of any importance to him. not KNOWING KNOWING KNOWING i was loved and valued for who I am instead of what I provided him.
            Let me stress………….I did not understand at the time wtf was the cause or source of any of anything! So, I HAD to give the benifit of the doubt repeatedly because i really had no proof. I just didn’t KNOW and I was so emotionally invested in him…….OMG. Just know that! Even now, I’d be lying if I said i didn’t miss “him” or whoever I thought he was. What a mess.
            Sufice it to say I was in the position to be taken advantage of financially by him. He did not ask me for money, never borrowed money and to the best of my knowledge never stole money. but I provided a place to hang out, cook, sleep, eat, companionship (these types have a very hard time being alone btw…….MY HOUSE.
            icing on the cake, sexual favors. So tell me, if you were living in your mother’s basement at the age of 46/47, in bankruptcy, married and divorced 4 times and an alcoholic……..and along comes this clueless woman who falls in love with what she thinks is someone real………..sorry,,,, LOL,,,,,,I don’t know where I was going with that! Anyhow, I feel like a bargain basement whore on SO many levels.

        2. You know Danny, I can relate to what you have written from my own, similar to yours, experience and perspective too. I became more and more “compliant” and resigned to not getting my needs met. But, it is not my nature to be a total doormat and I also am a very flexible person when it comes to certain things……’s all just a jumbled up mess in my head Danny. Sorry I can’t explain better, it exhausting!

          1. Your explanation/s have been useful Puddle. As I read your comment (to which I am replying), I was thinking of all the times I was told “you’re not trying hard enough, you’re not trying hard enough – you need to do better!!!”……..only to be told on another day “you’re trying too hard, you’re trying too hard – you should relax and stop trying so hard!!!!”. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mind the words if they are offered sincerely, in order to genuinely achieve positive outcomes, but in my case they were used to manipulate, used for the single purpose of making me feel I was never good enough, useless, of no value, worthless etc. Horrible!!

            I can think of few words that describe how deeply frustrated and anxious those statements made me feel.

          2. Danny, I hope I was not guilty of the same statements to my ex. But i may have been. Different senarios may have produced different responses from me. OMG!! It’s all so hard to explain! HE insists that he tried. He says it in a very open ended way, like many things. “I did try Puddle”……try what? To drive me off the mental/ emotional cliff??
            Maybe it’s a shorter trip for me than some people but i have been teetering there for a long time thanks to him. Let’s see…..according to him, he walked into the bathroom on his first wife and she had a gun in her mouth. I’m 54 and no man i’ve ever been involved with has killed them self or even threatened to……not directly as a result of a relationship with me anyhow.
            These forums are really frustrating for me to communicate accurately and adequately in describing all of this. Actually that is one side affect of these types of relationships………one of the reasons couples/ marriage counseling is not affective with these CA relationships…….just so hard to put it into words accurately and not sound like a crazy person.

          3. Danny, I’m sorry you felt the way you did in your relationship. My ex said the same thing. BUT, there was so much more to the whole thing than supposed criticism from me I can assure you, as i have tried to explain.
            Let me ask your opinion of something that was quite representative in the relationshi*?
            Money was ALLWYS an issue because I was independent, owned my own home and financially comfortable. He obviously was not and it was a result of his poor choices in his past, too numerous to name, OK?? SO, I as well as many others thought that since basically 99% of the time we spent together was under my roof (both “living together at one point and technically not “living together” at another because he didn’t take showers here or do laundry), he did not pay his mother any rent, was not even paying auto insurance because his car was technically her car, he worked full time, etc……He should help contribute to the financial situation here…..electric, gas, heat, etc?? He did from time to time but I had to request it and do so repeatedly on and off through out the relationship. One time he made this big point of telling me that we needed to sit down and discuss the financial aspect of our situation……that he didn’t want me to feel taken advantage of, etc….. Well, I was quite impressed that he had taken the initiative to bring it up this time! So, at least two weeks go by after he brought it up….and I’m wondering what happened to the whole subject……..but low and behold, one weekend he say’s “let’s talk about this”! WOW! Awesome! So he again tells me that he does not want me to feel taken advantage of and at this time he is only able to contribute about $75 / wk towards my expenses but in the future he foresees being about to contribute more like $150/wk “which is more along the lines of what he SHOULD be paying me”. ANYhow…….I really don’t know what the proper amount should have been and it was certainly something I would have liked to have worked out between the two of us in a reasonable adult way. BUT my point is this, at another point down the road from that statement of his he also gave me a very hard time, in a very disrespectful comment about why he didn’t think he should have to pay me ANYTHING!! He said, and i quote………” what am I paying for? Sleeping with you”?!
            I then said to him…….”you are the one who said you SHOULD be paying me $150/ month”!! He said…………..”well, i’ve had time to think about that”.
            Mind and heart breaking craziness. Little Puddle, aka, puppet on a string.
            So my question is WTF??

          4. Yes, complete and utter ‘compliancy’…….a very good word to describe the total submissiveness required on your behalf by the CA. In other “come into my parlour and hand any right to an opinion that might invade upon mine, and/or your freedoms”. One becomes totally and utterly docile.

            Yet i am constantly perplexed that the CA is totally unaware of their behaviour!? Are they?

          5. You know Danny……..I KNOW that is what HE THOUGHT I wanted from him and I KNOW that is incorrect. I only wanted to be treaded with consideration and respect and I wouldn’t care WHAT he did, within reason of course. I just wanted to be considered. If I had something i was going to do, like go visit a friend or whatever! I would let him know ahead of time………no surprises. But he would not offer me the same consideration. Say we had made plans to do something the next day but his buddy calls that night and calls in a favor and needs it done the next day even though there was plenty of prior notice for hime to make plans……so he just agrees to do it without even giving me the bennifit of any consideration. Like to me the kind thing to do would have been to tell the buddy that i will call you back in about five minutes, ok? THEN say, Puddle…… buddy had asked a couple weeks ago if he could borrow me and my truck to help him move and he wants me to help him tomorrow, i know we had planned on doing this tomorrow so what would be a good time for me to tell him I can help? OR many different options other than to just totally ignore me and his previous plans with me without even consulting. You really had to be there for that one Danny,,,,,,,,,one of those things that so many subtle things happened in such a short time frame,,,,,,VERY hard to retell.
            So did i have a problem with him helping his buddy?? NO……did I have a problem with the way he handled it?? You bet I did. It was very hurtful and demeaning, I was treated like a non entity.
            Sorry…..that is not considered wanting to control someone.

    2. Hi J,
      Dr Simon’s rules of engagement in ‘Sheep’s Clothing’ is very good of course. O top of that, here’s my list, having had my unfair share of them at work:
      1 – Don’t self-disclose – emotions, vulnerability, plans, confidences, and certainly not anything about someone else that could manipulatively be reported back to them. Even if they seem to share your negative opinion about the third person.

      2 – Strongly endorse Dr Simon – don’t be tempted to play their own game back to them – neither manipulation (covert aggression) nor overt aggression. They will always win at that game unless you’re character-disturbed yourself! (aand they still might)

      3 – Stay above board and cleaner-than-clean, give them no evidence against you.

      4 – Question them. Especially if they are ‘helping’ you – letting you know things about office politics, for example, like what people are saying behind your back, or ‘sharing their concerns’ about someone else (whom they’re trying to undermine.) You can do this with open-ended questions like ‘Oh, why do you say that then?’ Not aggressive challenge – just a pleasant, but ‘I won’t be deceived’ manner.

      5 – Above all do not become their cat’s paw – their tool. This might sound obvious but it isn’t. Often it will seem to be the right thing to do, for example if they have convinced you that someone ELSE is a bully and you should take action… Ive seen a CA wind around her finger a very decent guy who had a bit of a Messiah complex and was a sucker for championing the underdog. All she had to do was convince him (in a nice, good-girl, sorrowful and wide-eyed way) that she was MY victim…

      6 – If at all possible – don’t come across as someone who ‘needs’ people, wants to be liked, needs approval. Or is ‘too nice’ (while remaining ethical and decent, of course.) You might as well have a sign branded on your forehead saying SOFT TARGET.

      The more you come across as someone who has their own center of gravity, who responsibly questions and doesn’t accept anything less than a straight answer when need be – in short, who isn’t easy to manipulate and isn’t safe to deceive – the safer you are.

      Just a few suggestions!

    1. Yes, my experience too. My conclusion is that CA’s need the hostility, the conflict, the offence taking, the drama, the bother. They NEED it……almost like they need oxygen for survival. Something inside them feeds of it. That is why they will create hostility where it doesn’t exist. Their internal peace is disturbed when there is actual peace in existence. They are internally at peace when they have succeeded in creating disharmony and discord.

      Why do they need it? I’m not sure my knowledge stretches that far. Any suggestions??

      1. Only what I’ve read Danny……power? control? Excitement. Boredom avoidance?
        They don’t FEEL things the same way others do. Supposedly they are two-dimensional, empty characters…….compare to a soap opera. Shallow, empty. Disconnected, envious of other’s ability to fully engage in life and feel fulfilled. This is an aspect that I really struggle to understand myself as the question “why” is in my mind ALL THE TIME! Sometime I think i catch a glimpse of understanding but………not really.
        AND again……I WAS the one accused of this very thing by him…….quote”I don’t think you feel in control unless things are out of control”! And I was just like……WHAT?? Who are we talking about??? My friends said the same thing! HUH? My personal opinion is that he did exactly what would get me upset so that things would melt down so that HE had an excuse to go play and drink with his buddies! WHY?? Because that is exactly what he would do! Like a teenage boy who didn’t want to go by the rules…..just unreal……..and guess where he is now?? Back 100% where he was when we met, living in Mommys basement, drinking and living like an adolescent, despite ALL the reassurances he gave me that he was DONE with drinking, that he had clearly seen that he can’t handle it and what it has done to his life, that i have NOTHING to worry about in that department…..he’s DONE with it. UM………………NOT! Just another line of BS to placate my concerns when we went through another get back together cycle. I was afraid of reinvesting (not that I had really uninvested) in the relationship again if every time we hit a rough patch (i.e., he throws a wrench into the works) he was going to bail out and go off drinking with his little bar buddies, leaving me holding the emotional bag alone and heartbroken.

        1. Yes, I see the connection. Create enough bother, offence, hostility, conflict etc……the more likely others will comfort, assuage, yield, feel sorry for, sympathise, give in to ones needs. Where there is no bother, offence taking, hostility, etc…….there is little sense of control, little sense of feeling powerful, little sense of others feeding the internal need. In other words, stage management (of whatever the kind) = control.

          The key is to not feed this out-of-control animal. Further still, how to tame? Or can one ever tame? Should one want to tame?

          So many questions……..

      2. Here’s an interesting comparison between him in his existence and me in mine…….
        My life is fairly low key, I VALUE quiet more than I can describe and need a lot of alone time to process life. Actually, I have sensory processing problems. SO……when i’m in the car alone for instance…..I don’t listen to the radio, or when i’m cleaning the house…..shhhhhhhhh…….quiet. I overload very easily when too much is happening at once, things are too loud, etc…. very sensitive like that. Sensitive hearing, eyes, skin……have always been this way and I’m just starting to know and understand why.

        Compare to Him……………basically HAS to be with someone, has never even been to a restaurant by himself before ( I just remembered that one). ALWAYS has the radio or TV on if he IS by himself (in his mother’s basement). Listens to the radio very loudly, including talk radio (very loud, as I could hear it in my house from his car when he would pull in the driveway).
        it’s just all so clear…………now. and honestly VERY hard for me to not feel sad for “him”. I have to keep telling myself that “he” is NOT the man I loved. The man I loved was an impostor who fooled me, a fake, a gip, a predator who ripped out my heart threw it out the window with the same regret of loosing it as he would have for a cigarette butt. I cried more tears for HIM than I can describe because I thought he had it rough and because I thought something had happened to him that deserved my sympathy and compassion. Come to find out? He used and played me… of his “friends” told me. He was done with me a long time ago but milked the situation as far as he could and I believe had something even more disturbing planned for the grand finally.
        Sorry Danny, I guess i got on a roll…………there hasn’t been one day in so long that I don’t have a lump in my throat and that tears couldn’t come out in a half a second like they are right now just typing this. I quite honestly didn’t think my heart could feel this much pain. I feel like a one woman freak show because I SHOULD be grateful to be free of him and SHOULD be “over it” by now.
        I’m supposed to start EMDR therapy soonish but I am not even in a position where she feels comfortable starting me in the process yet.

        1. Forgive me but I’m trying to properly understand your main point here. Yes, I can definitely see that he is not the person he ‘advertised’ himself to be. I can see the deception and the dishonest behaviour. Nevertheless I do believe it is entirely possible for two individuals, because that is what we are, ALL very different individuals (all 7.5bill of us), to coexist in a spirit of peace and mutual respect… well as understanding and tolerance. Personally, I am a music lover, I also love to read. BUT I also love silence, thinking time, meditation, contemplation, time on my own.

          On the other hand I also try to demonstrate understanding that my wife will have different interests and motivations. What I would most certainly not do (and I am not for even a second suggesting this of you Puddle – as I fully respect your points) ridicule, mock or berate someone for having different pursuits to me. I have been the victim of this and I can tell you it is very hurtful.

          1. Danny, This format is really a barrier to deep understanding of another’s views because there is no back and forth communication in the moment which can help mutual understanding. For instance…..I don’t know exactly what you mean by “pursuits”. and I don’t know what your situation is/was so I don’t know how she treated you or what she did that was considered mocking or ridiculing or berating. I just can’t know so I really can’t comment on those points.
            Coexisting in a spirit of peace and mutual respect is a wonderful thing and sometimes that takes compromise and understanding. In my case, i don’t feel that ANY effort was made to help me understand anything…….more like the door was left wide open for misunderstandings and then I was somehow expected to be on the same page through some kind of psychic powers or knowledge. I know he wanted to have fun…..didn’t want constant problems, which is understandable. I didn’t want constant problems either!! What I did want, that never happened, was for issues to be put on the table and resolved. It takes give and take for that to happen and a mature desire to please another person……a very well developed sense of self that is not threatened by compromise. I think that a lot of these types are severely threatened by that. It’s my way or the highway. They just don’t see why they should have to give up anything.
            Or take anyone elses perspective or rights into consideration.

          2. Also Danny, deception and dishonest behavior are counter productive to the type of existence you describe because they destroy the trust that is required to feel sfae enough with a person to “allow” them to be who they are and to enjoy their own interests and endeavors. Without trust……which is the capital in the savings account of a relationship……there is nothing. If your behaviors and choices are constantly withdrawing the trust from the relationship it won’t take long before there is an empty bank account.

          3. Another thing Danny is that if your “different pursuits” are recklessly self serving and self centered and obtained at someone else’s expense through dishonesty and deception…….as his were…….that is certainly not a “spirit of peace and mutual respect”. Do you see my point? It’s the opposite. It is self centered cruelty and total disregard for another person. Complete manipulation for your own interests. Absolute.

          4. the way his mind worked to justify himself and ANY behavior that was hurtful to me was so twisted and convoluted that in spite of what I saw in him as genuine intelligence, makes me think that his use of alcohol and who knows what else has really fried something essential to genuine , and loving coexistence with a a woman. I think that is why he is so comfortable with his drinking buddies and in that shallow environment. It’s meets him at his level on all levels. I honestly can’t believe how wrong i was about him and how wrong he allowed and encouraged me to be about him. Disgusting. Mutual respect? He deserves ZERO respect and as far as i can tell has ZERO self respect. Read Dr. Simons thoughts about the difference between self respect and self esteem. A man with self respect could NEVER allow himself to do what this looser did to me. I couldn’t live with myself but i’m not the first woman who
            s dignity he has spit on and probably not the last I’m sure of that.

      3. One problem is……..CA’s and other people with severe character disorders are so self oriented ant they can not really GET why someone else could take offense at their behavior but God forbid YOU do something that offends THEM! They operate by two sets of rules….Theirs and theirs and if they don’t like YOUR “rules” they just operate around them, overtly or covertly or both.

        1. This certainly fits with my experiences Puddle.

          Yet I need some clarity so therefore would ask, is it that the CA cannot see their self oriented behaviour, in other words that they are mostly blind to their skewed or disoriented behaviour? Or is that they refuse to see or do not wish to see their self oriented behaviour. This I find confusing because OTOH we are told they can never be changed yet OTO we are told they know exactly, for the most part, what they are doing.

          Yours confused……..

          1. Dear confused……….LOL! As Dr. Simon says…….”they SEE, they just disagree”. At the very beginning of my involvement with Spath, he said something that sticks in my mind, now especially significant…………he said something to the effect “”I like who i am and i like the way my life is””. This is a man who is married and divorced 4 times, three children 1000+ miles away, alcoholic, living in his mother’s basement and in bankruptcy. Some of this, OF COURSE, was unknown to me and some was sugar coated and mis represented. SO he liked himself SO much and felt SO good about his life the way it was/ is that he was dishonest with me about the significant details?? You make up your own mind.
            Compare that to a friend for example,,,,,,at the time she met her soon to be new boyfriend and the person she is still with 4+ years later, she was in bankruptcy. ONE of the first things she told this guy was that she was in bankruptcy. WHY?? I asked her! she said “because it was the right thing to do and if we ended up staying together he would have to know eventually anyhow so if he was going to have a problem with it, better at the start than a year down the road. You don’t create a relationship by withholding things that could affect the relationship in the future”!
            I think that they are somewhat selectively blind and full of skewed justifications and rationalizations Danny. I know that the POS I was involved with didn’t like to talk about anything real and when he did, when we tried to resolve a disagreement, etc, some of the things he said were just like…………………..huh??? I don’t know if he was just talking crap to confuse me? God knows I was confused like a blindfolded mouse in a maze. His Mother had some pretty “”””interesting”””” views on life as well SO…..the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with a lot of these people and in his case, it’s still right under the tree.
            I don’t think they want to change, don’t see the need to change and therefore can not change. According to Dr. Robert Hare they are “interspecies predators”.
            Now……..I am speaking of people like my ex and this is all on a continuum. i don’t know the details of your situation so i wouldn’t be able to hazard a guess. Some people just have skewed coping mechanisms and are a little off track and don’t necessarily want to be the way they are in many ways…..this is true for me when it comes to relationship interactions. Admittedly i have room for improvement and there are many reasons why……too complicated to summarize. But I am NOT a predator, I am not calculated,,,,,,,sometimes I guess I can be a little manipulative but there is nothing malicious behind it and if I were involved with a kind and loving man who gave a sh*t about me…..I SERRIOUSLY think that a lot of my issues would be non issues! I seem to have good friends and kind ones who value me and see my goodness so,,,,,,,,,,,
            This is just MY summary based on the information i have read. I have worked hard over the last year to try to understand this to save myself from this ever happening again, hopefully. AND I had to research about him because I was deeply in love with him, and I very easily could have gone back for more of his crappy childish BS. I STILL miss him and STILL have a hard time putting this all together Danny! That the man I loved is one of these monster losers but Im affraid there is no way around it and his life now is right back to the same place it was when we met. THAT speaks volumes.

          2. Danny…………..”This I find confusing because OTOH we are told they can never be changed yet OTO we are told they know exactly, for the most part, what they are doing.”

            Think about your question because your answer is in your question! 🙂

        2. They know, but they don’t want to change and don’t even consider changing unless there’s sufficient, continuous stress and even then it’s not a given.

          Generally, someone can admit they could change their life habits and benefit from it, know this intellectually, but they don’t. Reasons are many, but I list a few.

          They don’t care enough. They think it can all be done later. They think it’s too much work or too unpleasant. They think others still would treat them with the same level of (deficient) respect even if they did attempt to change, making change “pointless”. Current habits have some payoff and no obvious unpleasant consequence. Surrounded by many like-minded ones, staying the same feels natural and easier.

          1. I have changed almost full swing with my wife. I think she is suffering because, pretty well all of a sudden, the power she had previously commanded through manipulatory means, is suddenly no longer working or producing the same success. Seeing things through her eyes for a moment or two, this has clearly come as a shock to the system. So, I am calling the gaslighting rather than ignoring, calling the lies, calling the bad behaviour (for example she would throw things that belong to me on the floor then deny it afterwards – just because she was not able to get her own way over certain matters), the mocking and ridicule. It is all now being brought out into the open, whereas previously I would let her get away with it by allowing her to keep quiet afterwards, not be accountable or take responsibility for HER actions (which is something everyone has to face when we make mistakes). She didn’t have to face remorse or guilt for bad behaviour because I would tacitly excuse or……..thus allowing her to do it again.

          2. Sounds good Danny…..good luck! Remember, you can be kind and loving and reasonable yet firm and consistent. She is more than likely just needing to learn a new way to get her needs met but she has to realize that she can’t have her way all the time and that she needs to be kind, loving and reasonable too. If not, if she is not willing or interested in meeting you half way, then you will need to make some choices yourself.

          3. Danny, I’m still recommending the book I told you about. One thing I have learned on top of a lot of OTHER things is that men and women (normal ones) really are from two entirely different planets. I see now that some of the things i said to him, in the effort to feel safe and respected (lost cause), could have and should have been said differently. I only did what I knew to do and I certainly didn’t want to harm anyone. Yes there were times my choices were piss poor but did i do in out of spite or anger? No. Did hee take the time >>>>>in a loving way<<<<< to sit down with me and explain ANYthing to ME?? no……it wasn't worth the trouble. I honestly think I meant about as much to him as a discarded cigarette butt, if that. The crux of the matter as far as I can tell now is that I didn't FEEL safe, secure in the relationship/ his love…………..Probably because I wasn't. Yet the damage that he did by trying to convinse me that I was and implying that the only reason I didn't know how much he loved me had something to do with a flaw of mine…..while all along i was slated for the big discard???? TWISTED! That's like telling a child that the water in the tub is safe to get in, not too hot……go ahead! I promise! When in fact the water is 130degrees.

          4. Puddle & J. Look, I’m new to this site. I don’t even know for how long I will stick around (only because of the usual stresses and strains of life – we only have so much time at our disposal). Either way, I just want to thank you both (of course, foremost Dr.Simon who has kindly facilitated this forum) for the information you have posted. I’ve just been reading, once again, the reasons why CA’s will not change (or it is unlikely they will change) and although I’d heard those reasons offered before, they are now mentally resonating in a way they have never before. It makes sense on a whole knew level….only because I have had opportunity to discuss the subject with like minded individuals who have demonstrated an acute understanding at a micro level……in a way I’ve never ever done before. This for me is poignant! As you said in another post Puddle, thank goodness for the internet (though it clearly has its vices a plenty). The great thing about discussing this subject in the way I have been, is that it has enabled me to look more closely at myself in other areas of my life. I am not perfect but I am striving to be a better person because I WANT to be a better person. So this exchange of views has made me more determined in ways that stretch beyond the particular issue of manipulative behaviour. Anyway, after all this bleating…….I would like to repeat my heartfelt thanks.

          5. Danny,,,,,I happy this has been helpful to you. I know that I have seen a lot about myself through out all of this too. I’m not perfect and no one is but we can strive to keep pushing ourselves forward gently and hope that our lives and the lives of those we encounter are better for it.
            Dr. Simon is at the top of my list in so many ways. He has helped so many people in so many ways. He serves as an example of what REAL men can be.

  2. It seems to me that disturbed characters hone in hard when they know they have you over a barrel. they will push the limits even harder if you don’t have a plan B and unfortunately some people don’t have the ability or circumstances to have a plan B.

    In my case, once he knew he had me and that I was invested in the relationshi* that was the green light to do as he pleased…….covertly of course.

  3. We all have a neocortex, limbic brain and lizard brain.


    I hope this leads to new insights somehow.

    Some less scrupulous folks are used to granting their lizard brain its every wish. I mean those impulsive, unbridled antisocials.

    Some aggressors, then again, have a better grip on their lizard brain through their neocortex. Covert-aggressors surely have. I think channeled and sadistic aggressors do, too, at least most of them. Then there is, we all know, that category of malignantly narcissistic predators, who have honed their desire and their calculations into an effective cooperative unit.


    Now, I don’t want to run into an aggressor myself. Still, now that we are in a good place to think of these, shouldn’t developing a good rapport with our lizard brains be important as well, so they are less likely to function against us?

    1. That’s all very interesting J and “food for thought”, no pun intended!! It shows you that they KNOW what they are doing. The “lizard” brain alone just does what it does without thinking about it really. No offense to anyone but someone who is retarded doesn’t have the ability to discern right actions from wrong actions and just does what they do. A Spath however (certainly Spathtardx) was extremely intelligent, held his cards close and knew exactly where the shots he fired would hit. He is literally the biggest waste of a good mind I’ve ever seen, next to my brother that is. My brother has destroyed his brain and with Spathtards’s drinking…..he will too.
      It’s VERY interesting to read about the affects of alcohol in particular on the human brain. It does produce Spath like mentality. I wish I could find the abstract I was reading the other day. If I do, I’ll post a link.
      Thanks for the above link J……..I’ll look at it later!!

    2. Waste of good mind in that he used it for evil?

      Also, Puddle, do you mean constant consumption of alcoholic beverages causes “Spath-like mentality”?

  4. I will stumble on it again J I’m sure……just not when I WANT to!! LOL

    It’s something to the effect that alcohol over a long period of time(?) affects the same part of the brain that has been shown to function differently in Ppaths. AND this makes sense to me completely.
    FASD resembles Autism and Aspergers which SHARE some traits of psychopathy. Interestingly, the most frequent mis-diagnosis of FASD is ADHD or ADD. so there is a part of the brain that is more than likely functioning differently, maybe for different reasons, in both of those conditions. my point being……FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) is caused by in utero exposure to alcohol and it is brain and neurological damage, an actual malformation of the brain and neurons. Consuming alcohol (a teratogen) in an adult could “kill” the same parts of the brain that are permanently affected by alcohol in a developing fetus.

  5. Hi Dr simon george

    I am doing PhD in topic ” A study of mobbing among Teachers in Higher education in pune”

    Thanks to you, your Very important books 1.CD and 2. wolves in the… has shaped my thing, to true nature of manipulation .


  6. Danny,,,,,,and everyone really…………I am reading a book right now that is very good. While I know that Manipulative relationships to the degree that they involve severely disturbed, manipulative and aggressive people are different and have different dynamics then the average dysfunctional or failed romantic involvement, this book is quite interesting and may offer some insights into male and female perspectives in a relationship. Things are not always as they seem. WHY does this all have to be so complicated??!!
    You might be able to read some excerpts of this book on Amazon. a lot of times they have a feature called “look inside? and while the whole book is not readable you can get a feel for the content. It’s called “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About it”. substitute the word relationship for marriage in my case, even though he said it was forever.

    1. Puddle….

      Interesting! I am not aware of the book but will add it to my list.

      Whilst I agree there will always be an element of women and men communicating at crossed purposes…..which in itself can lead to vexation, frustration and goodness knows whatever else negative emotions, and I say this fully in the knowledge that both our personal experiences (you as a female and I as a male) have lead to some interesting shared perspectives (you as a female and I as male)…….may I venture to suggest that we would both agree that manipulative behaviour, which can and does happen in homosexual relationships I’m sure, is something entirely different?!

      Speaking personally, my sufferance came from a whole bunch of other negative behaviours that confirmed to me that, essentially, when my wife says x, y or z…… is being used as a weapon to conceal her aggression. In other words, the x, y or z is irrelevant, whereas the hidden issue is her aggressive nature, her disordered character. So it is not the individual words themselves, or even the sentences or the paragraphs. it is the context, the nuance, the overall picture that is formed as a net result of ALL the words put together and this can only be properly identified over time.

      Sorry if I have not expressed that very well but it is the best way I can put it.

      1. And might I add Puddle that I do realise you ARE separating manipulative behaviours from the general misunderstandings that may occur between the sexes within any given relationship dynamic. We are all a little bit weird….are we not 🙂

        1. Yes, we are all a little weird Danny! LOL! It’s the human condition. BUT, psychopaths and Covert Agressives and Sadistic Aggressives are in a league of their own. The thing is too, why this can get so frigging complex to sort out and come to terms with…….a Psychopath hides behind a mask and one of their favorite ways to manipulate you is through psychological terrorism and by scapegoating you. They are master manipulators not only of people but also the truth and LOVE to paint you as guilty of what they are actually guilty of. I saw him do this repeatedly and they are called WTF moments. You know something is happening but it’s so ambiguous that you really can’t pin them down on it. sick! SO, say that through my on womanly way of processing and communicating…..I did come across as critical because underneath that “criticism” was the fear that I was being used, devalued, taken for granted…..all of the things I didn’t want to be true? And say they actually WERE true but being hidden from me by him? My fears and instincts were accurate but I was being made to feel guilty of doubting him and his intentions! Psychological warfare! only i didn’t know i was at war! I didn’t WANT to be at war! I wanted to be loved honored and cherished and wanted to love honor and cherish him! I don’t know Danny…..he wasn’t towing the line and I was made to look like I was the bad guy because I wanted him to tow the line.

      2. Yes,,,,,Disordered people are an aside from normal communication and relationship issues. I saw this with him from the start but i didn’t know what it was or what it meant. Within the first two weeks he showed his hand in more ways then one but i’d never encountered it before in my life so I excused it as a misunderstanding or miscommunication ………Believe me……..almost right from the beginning he dribbled me like a basket ball but I didn’t understand what was happening. The hook was set deep in my heart on a very primal level……..

  7. Danny, you say……….” That is certainly the way I have felt. Whether the matter be sexual, decision making on a lesser or more fundamental level, or whatever aspect within a relationship, it becomes destructive when one partner or other is expected to do all to giving and the other sits proudly on high enjoying 100% of the taking.
    What has really hurt me is the opening up of myself, exposing my mental frailties and vulnerabilities to someone I hope would be mentally developed enough to deliver against my needs – yet in reality that person was listening intently ONLY for their future selfish and manipulative gain.”

    Yes………that is how I felt as well. I feel like I gave myself to someone who was basically seeing me as nothing more that a toy, there for his amusement and use.

  8. Hi Puddle.

    Yes I agree about the format….which doesn’t help the communication process as much as we would like.

    In my case there was disparaging comments about, say, the music I like, or the books or articles I would read, or my choice of clothing. But once again, the offence or the comments were merely a vehicle for conveying aggression. That was the intention…….nothing more. For example, she enjoys time with her friends, lunching together, having a few drinks etc, going for walks doing so fully with my support and approval, either accompanying her or giving her the space to be alone with her friends. However she would never be quite so accommodating or agreeable if I desired to do the same, or even something different that was of interest to me (music events, art galleries etc). There would always be the objection, the negative comment, the criticism…….fully in the knowledge that I wanted her approval but she was never willing to give it. I gave her the emotional approval she needed for her interests and pursuits (walking, lunching with friends, gardening etc) yet the same tolerance and understanding was never returned back to me.

    It was disabling. The pattern was established in the hearing the same negative response time after time after time.

    1. Btw, the previous was a continuation of your comment that begun with……”Here’s an interesting comparison between him in his existence and me in mine…….”

      And also, again, might I just mention I can see your point of view. I completely agree when you say that a lot of these [manipulative] types are merely threatened by activity that does not directly involve them…..over which they can assert no control. If there is any giving up to be done, it is never for them.

    2. Thanks for clarifying Danny! I guess I can relate to what you are saying in this way only. He was VERY understanding FOR THE MOST PART of things I wanted or needed to do and quite honestly, he didn’t really request his own version of that. There were a couple times that he did want to do something aside from us time……A couple of times though when we already had planned to do something together and i had a problem with that. Maybe it was selfish of me but I can tell you this………there was ZERO trust in the bank account for me. Now, I didn’t have a problem if he wanted to do something with his friends and remember several times that he did just that. The thing is this…….when your need for trust and emotional safety as a woman has been violated, it undermines your ability to be the way you are describing .
      Not to mention…….I wasn’t aware of ANY interests he HAD! His time was spent here or at his mother’s tending to her needs, yard, etc……IDK…….I guess it’s hard to imagine your scenario because it is different than mine. I’m trying though!

  9. Since neurotics are less aware than their character-disturbed counterparts, what ways are there to increase self-awareness? How can one become completely self-aware?

    1. J, I think as an adult it takes a VERY sincere desire to change and an ability to look at yourself honestly. If that isn’t there? time spent in quiet reflection and contemplation and self investigation, asking yourself the hard questions is the only way. But you have to be able to admit that there is a problem first. No problem, nor motivation to change.

      1. If someone loves you and can help bring things to your awareness IN A LOVING AND KIND WAY…….it’s very helpful. I have had a few times that someone has told me something that bothered them…..a couple times that they were off base though too. It hits deep and I feel true remorse if I know I have done something to hurt someone IF IT IS JUST and TRUE. But CA’s will use the behavior that they have helped create in you against you to take the heat off of them. That is not just and fair.

      2. Edit…………If that isn’t there, I don’t see it happening. But if there is a sincere desire and realization TO change and to make things better for yourself and others, then there is an endless amount of help available.
        So………. time spent in quiet reflection and contemplation and self investigation, asking yourself the hard questions is the only way. But you have to be able to admit that there is a problem first. No problem, no motivation to change.

  10. Yes Puddle. You wrote “Sounds good Danny…..good luck! Remember, you can be kind and loving and reasonable yet firm and consistent. She is more than likely just needing to learn a new way to get her needs met but she has to realize that she can’t have her way all the time and that she needs to be kind, loving and reasonable too. If not, if she is not willing or interested in meeting you half way, then you will need to make some choices yourself.”

    Indeed…….firm but fair, firm but fair, firm but fair, firm but fair.

    My mantra…….that is the key! It HAS to be done.

    1. You got it!! I feel like I was fair….I know that what I was asking for in my relationship with him was not abnormal, not selfish, not unreasonable. I have so much information to back that up and opinions from friends and professionals. I was hooked on him and to him so deeply and i was not able to really GET that he had no interest in doing anything even close to what a normal man, who truly values his woman WANTS to do willingly. The pain of that is indescribable because I know in my heart that I wanted to love him even more than I already did but found myself having to hold back out of a gut feeling that i wasn’t safe in spite of all his empty words and promises.
      Firm but fair……GO with that Danny!!

    2. and loving Danny! I mean,,,,,,,do you LOVE her? What do you love about her and your relationship with her. Are there things that you truly value about her and your life together? Things that make the effort required worth while to you? Does she feel the same way? I hope for both of you that you do find a common ground in the relationship that you can build on.

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