The disturbed character is forever trying to trivialize important matters. He tries to convince folks that the wrongful thing he did wasn’t really that bad or harmful. He might admit part of what he did wrong, but usually not the most serious part. Disordered characters use the tactic of minimizing to manage the impression others have of them. It’s a way to manipulate others into thinking they’re not so bad despite the horrible things they’ve done.
But minimizing serious transgressions is also the way the disordered character lies to himself about the full extent of his character deficiencies and behavior problems. As long as he continues to minimize, he won’t take seriously the problems he needs to correct. As with all the other manipulation tactics, this behavior obstructs the internalization of values and standards of conduct. It’s the way disturbed characters resist accepting responsibility. As long as a person trivializes important matters related to their conduct, they won’t take seriously the need to change that conduct.
Seasoned manipulators are good at making the case for discounting the seriousness of their wrongdoing. Anyone who accepts their minimizations is therefore successfully manipulated. So, when it comes to important matters, minimizations like “I only did it once,” or “she wasn’t hurt that bad,” should never be accepted.
Individuals best described as “neurotic” are very different from those with significant disturbances of character. In contrast to disturbed characters who tend to manipulate, avoid responsibility, and bring undue stress to others through minimizing, neurotics tend to bring undue stress upon themselves by catastrophizing. They’re so overly conscientious, that any little thing they do wrong is magnified in their own mind as a calamity. I’ve been posting on another blog about the various and significant differences between neurotics and disordered characters. I’ve also posted on this blog about other manipulation tactics such as externalizing, rationalizing, and lying. I’ll be posting on several other manipulation tactics in the coming weeks.
2 thoughts on “Minimizing – Manipulation Tactic 5”
Dear Doctor Simon,
I would like to thank you heartily. Your posts are always very thought provoking and informative. I am aided in every aspect of my life by your shared wisdom and insights. I frequently refer to your work in order to clarify the chaos of the world I find around me.
The reason, I believe, for my difficulties in general, are Asperger’s syndrome, as gifted to me by my Father/Hero/Best Friend.
After reading as much as I could on the subject of the polar attraction between Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Narcissistic types, I am led to believe this was the main reason for his marrying my covert, unsympathetic mother. It would also explain her ease in projecting her lack of empathy and less than benign intentions.
I am aware that her behaviors are not the cause of my diagnoses but I am convinced it does not help. My defending my Father against a manipulative, thieving Brother, as well as herself, is the main reason her survival instincts class me as the enemy, I am led to believe.
My confusion in the world around me is mostly regarding the differences between being polite, civilised and benevolent, as would be my most comfortable and natural state, and being a passive ‘doormat’. My behaviors can alternate from too trusting ‘pollyanna’, to bitter, frightened schizoid; not depending so much on current influences as my ability to employ denial. It is this very denial that is treated as a weak spot and attacked regularly.
I feel that to leave my ‘ducks’ and find my ‘swans’ I would have to travel back 200 hundred years and enter into aristocracy. Assertion and self defense are not very well covered by Jane Austin, but in truth that is probably the attraction!
I do not have any questions to ask you as your posts have covered all that I could wish to know. Applying the information to my individual circumstances are my foremost intentions now.
I hope that my feedback is of use to you. Thank you very much for taking the time to time to read this email and for all the hard work you put into helping people.
Many kind regards,
Miss S Simmonds
Thanks so much for your comments, Sadie.