Understanding Manipulation Tactics – Part 1

In Sheep’s Clothing was the first book to expose the tactics impaired characters use to manipulate and control others.  Many of us were taught to view many of the behaviors manipulators display as “defense mechanisms.” But traditional psychology made us misunderstand the actions of disturbed characters and allow ourselves to be manipulated.  As I explain more fully in my book Character Disturbance, many of the things we were taught to view as defensive behaviors are more rightfully viewed as habitual responsibility-avoidance behaviors and tactics of impression management, manipulation, and control.  In the following video clip from my upcoming webinar series on manipulators and other disturbed characters, I explain why manipulation tactics work.  And in the weeks to come, I will present some clips that examine some of the more common tactics manipulators and other disturbed characters use in more depth.  Here’s the link to the video clip:


14 thoughts on “Understanding Manipulation Tactics – Part 1

    1. Thank you, Vera. Some of my seminars are being fashioned into a series of web-based instructional videos as well as a DVD, hopefully to be available around Christmas time.

  1. Good to hear!

    Btw, I am thinking I like the phrase “offensive power tactics.” Offensive means belligerent, and it also means insulting and demeaning. Exactly.

    I have been reflecting on the various hypnotic suggestions built into the culture we live in that make it easy for the CAs to operate undetected. One of them is the “oh he is being defensive” hypnotic suggestion. I would wager that when it comes to the psych profession, it probably contains more narcissists and CAs than, say, sales clerks. And it has greater cultural impact. Therefore, one would expect that at least some of the constructs proffered by the profession to be such that they protect and camouflage these same narcissists and CAs… What do you think?

    1. I think the biggest contributor to many therapist’s “complicity” in perpetuating these “offensive” tactics and behavior patterns is their over-allegiance to traditional models and perspectives as well as their inattentiveness to the here-and-now dynamics of disturbed characters. I remember very well an “Oprah” program where a panel of relationship experts and mental health professionals commented on a “recovering” disturbed character’s on-stage pleading with his estranged wife to give him “another chance” because he had earned it in therapy. But all during the show he used every single tactic in the book to minimize his behavior history, place guilt on his wife, and to bring this reluctant woman to submission. He hadn’t changed a bit, and not one of the so-called professionals saw it. And I’m not so sure it’s their own character issues that blinded them, although that’s certainly possible. Rather, I think it’s the “glasses” through which they tend to see everything, misinterpreting some of the most basic elements of human interaction, and viewing them only through the distorted prism of traditional perspectives. I was so outraged, and felt so sorry for the poor woman that I wrote a book!

  2. Ah. It coulda been me. I spent lots of money during a rather straightened period of my life on a therapist who persistently discounted my unease and pain, and the stories of my CA husband.

    I think many of these therapists too are “under hypnosis” by what you call traditional perspectives. And these traditional perspectives were created/buttressed by certain psych professionals for a reason, no?

    You are engaged in a very worthy battle. Godspeed!

    1. P.S. A small request of your webmaster… this system clomps together text, deleting my efforts at creating paragraphs. Can that be changed?

  3. I think the difference between the neurotic and the disordered character is that the DC has taken the neurotic’s shield of armor, which is a good and necessary thing, and sharpened it into a keen and bloody sword.

    One thing I always see now is how after the DC gets a correction after crossing a boundary is how fast he or she shifts into victim mode.

    It’s such a common pattern.

  4. Dear Dr, Simon:

    I have a relationship of 20 years, and since the begining of my relationship my firends and relatives commented to me that my husband was a manipulator. At the begining of the relationship I felt confortable because my husband was possesive and jelousy.
    When we started to date he was very charming, cool with a lot of firends and he commented to me that he will travel to a foreing country for a posdoctoral position even he invited to me to go with him. He also commented that he had a beautiful country house and 3 cars. With the time I realized that the Counrty House and the cars were not his property and he never traveled to his posdoctora. He also changed with me being intolerant with my faults and every time he held a discussion he remember to me my faults. He always apologizes about the thinks he tell but he repeats this behaviour. I feel very tired.

  5. Hi Dr. Simon!

    Boy am I glad I landed on this site. I have a serious problem with a manipulative mother in law who plays the victim game in order to extract services and control her daughter/my wife.

    Unfortunately my wife is either too naive or doesn’t want to acknowledge the problem and instead blames me and my parents for not respecting her mother etc.

    I maintain my distance from my MIL and my wife doesn’t like it. The MIL controls her entire side of the family by playing these games constantly.

    If things don’t go her way then she gets into predator mode and is very vindictive and seems to suffer a massive inferiority complex b/c she is undereducated, has always been in control of her husband and kids and other relatives and not financially well off like myself and my parents. Seems like she wants to control us as well.

    I am at wits end trying to figure the woman out and to top it all off we are expecting a child and she’s become even more insecure.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank You

  6. CAs also consciously use projection, except in a different sense. I’ve experienced, seen and heard of a few times how someone consciously projects qualities they know to be abhorrent yet are basically comfortable with onto others as means to get leverage, avoid giving ground, justify their behavior, cast themselves in better light or get what they want.

    1. I have a soon-to-be-former business partner who uses all the manipulation tactics, including a form of projection. She often says I’m doing something bad when I’m not and it’s HER that is doing the very same bed behavior she’s accusing me of. It just blows my mind how out of touch with reality she is. For example, I’ve been telling her for over 2 years, consistently and regularly, that I want out of our business partnership. I’m the one who was talked into loaning all the money to the business, and I think she was secretly hoping I wouldn’t want to take such a big loss just to get out of the relationship by closing the store. But the store is closed as of last month! Anyway, for the past year, when I complained that we needed to make a final decision to close the store because there have been no buyers, she kept saying “I don’t know what I want to do” as if it’s her choice. But even stranger, the next day she’d say “we really need to make a decision, but you won’t tell me what you want.” Huh?!? I won’t tell you what I want? That’s what you’ve been doing! She also had her attorney tell my attorney that it’s counterproductive that I’m discussing corporate issues such as buying her out or selling, that I should only be discussing operational issues with her, such as “who is going to work tomorrow,” or “should we buy more of this product?” The very same day I got the warning from her attorney, SHE called me not once, but TWICE saying we should just talk directly and I should tell her what I want in a buy/sell offer. I think she’s trying to put me in a trap. Also, these people will put nothing in writing! With phone or face-to-face, they can play fast and loose with the facts and change the story later. Watch out for these types of people!!!

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