Being an avid reader, I must say that the novel “Shatter” by Michael Robotham is one of my all time favourite crime novels, although I read many different genres of work. In this novel, a serial killer stalks women and (not to ruin the story) makes them feel so guilty that he makes them commit suicide, in the belief that they will be saving a life/home/happiness/etc. So is it suicide or is it murder? It’s murder, of course; the psychopath made them feel so guilty and so responsible as though they were the ones at fault that they would do anything at all for the manipulative psychopath. If they don’t do what he wants, then they or someone they love will die/suffer.etc. Although this may appear extreme, Sadly this is often un-diagnosed so that every one of us probably knows one of these, or knows about them. Some people have even had a relationship with a subtle (or not so subtle) manipulator. They come in the shape of lovers, friends, spouses, and even the friend at school who is so needy that you end up doing their homework just because they are always so sad. Meet the manipulator.
Let’s debunk the manipulator once and for all, shall we? He/she comes in many guises, and a psychopathic manipulator is only one extreme.
The artful manipulator (aren’t they all) will lie to any level to get you to believe that they are the victim of circumstances, people, their past, their present, their work, their busy-ness, their community, their family, their image, your image, anything; Their goal is to use every single trick in the book to manipulate you into feeling so bad about yourself or so bad for them, that you do exactly what they want, every single time.
Liars are not all psychopaths, but all psychopaths are liars, so ask yourself; how much is true, how much is just “not so subtle” manipulation.
How do you get around this? Remember your standards, pull in your self determination, and just walk away. Like a siren to the sailors, they may speak a sweet tune but there is the venom of a thousand vipers in their every word.
They act helpless
Their tales of woe will bring tears to a snake and make even a teddy bear believe he is really a monster. Manipulators are excellent at turning on the crocodile tears and the tantrums because they know that ten to one the person or people they are manipulating are good and won’t like to see those. How do they know it? They chose you. They don’t surround themselves with people who are independent and free thinkers. They surround themselves with people whose beliefs, culture, family or circumstances they can use to make them comply with their needs/wants/wishes, however bizarre.
The narcissistic manipulator has no moral compass. They may appear to be religious, even spiritual, but call them out on someone else’s rights over them and they will draw on the “poor me” card; Every. Single. Time.
It’s quite easy to tell them apart from the rest of the crowd; they are the ones that wear the most masks, know everyone you think needs knowing, and seek the most approval, because they do more “selling” themselves than they do following through on what they purport to be.
How to get around this? Understand that everyone has a bad day at some point, they are not the custodians of “poor me”. Everyone has something they don’t think is perfect in their life, but they move on, get over it, muscle through it. So don’t buy into it. Deaf ears work well against this ploy, speedy feet running away (FAST) work even better.
They cry. ALOT.
Well helplessness doesn’t work and they can’t rope you in to do for them what they should be doing, they will claim you need counseling because you are hurting them/someone/the family/the community/the group of friends/etc
The tears will flow, they may threaten suicide, they simply change tack and pull on emotional blackmail to convict you since their “helplessness” couldn’t convince you. It’s all about their image, their mask, what people will think/say/do. Never about the facts. Never about their role. Never about doing what’s right.
Solution – hand them a tissue. Then show them the door.
They LOVE and THRIVE ON the blame game
When “poor me” doesn’t work, and crying and begging doesn’t work, the artful manipulator (narcissistic or not) will blame the world around them for their sorry lot in life, in fact, they will blame YOU. Because you are the reason they aren’t getting what they want. They blame the person they want to manipulate because, remember, they’ve chosen the person (you) because you are manipulate-able in their mind.
They will tell you that you a cruel, try to make you feel aweful about yourself. This may take days, weeks, months. They will swing from being loving to being cruel to FORCE you to think you will be loosing out if you don’t do their bidding. They will try every trick in the book to make you believe that you’re cruel, you’re heartless, you’re selfish, you are the reason for their sorrow/aggression/frustration/every-and-anything. They will try to make you believe that if you don’t do what they want, then YOU will be making not just thme, but your friends suffer/your family suffer/ your kids suffer/ your community suffer/ your reputation suffer/ your xyz or pqr suffer – you are guilty for what you have done (or not done) and guilty for any consequence of not doing what they want you to do as well. The sky will fall, baby seals will go hungry and all the whales will vanish into thin air because YOU didn’t do their bidding. (and this would be their most positive scenario if you don’t do their bidding).
This type of energy vampire draws on your spirit of goodness and your own moral compass and correctness because they don’t have one, and then tries to damn you with your own sense of justice. “if you really love me, you will kill yourself before you leave me” or “If you really have a conscience you will do xyz because failing to do so means you are a hypocrite”.
Note: By the way, They don’t see the irony of their own hypocrisy. They cant because their focus is not on what’s right, it’s on CONTROL. They don’t actually care if what they want you to do is wrong or unjustifiable in your shared even in their own belief system or even if that of the same /family/community/circle of friends they say you have hurt. If they want it, they will lie, and if that doesn’t work they will cry, and if that doesn’t work they will throw a tantrum or play the “poor me because of you” blame game until they get what they want (if you allow it, of course).
How to get around it? Get real, then set boundaries and stick to them. Don’t engage the psychopath or the manipulator. Don’t enter into conversation or negotiation. At the very least, ignore them. Behavioural boundaries are just as important as personal space boundaries. If you wouldn’t allow someone to disrespect you by spreading lies about you, don’t allow them to do it to your face.
Now let’s take this back a notch – I’m not saying EVERYONE does this. Sometimes people are mirrors and they are reflecting back at you something within yourself that you need to address and this is a good thing, this leads to personal growth. But when it’s about their will versus everything else and what they want must simply occur or they will simply “die”, then you’re dealing with a manipulative individual and their agenda is to change you to suit their needs, and if it means stripping you of even your sanity to get what they want, then that’s what they will do. These are the individuals I speak of. They will bad mouth your priest, your pastor, your partner, your best friend, tell you those people have brain washed you, try to discredit anyone who could help you to be YOU, because that would get in the way of what they want.
Psychopaths use this technique a lot; sociopaths definitely use it, and the narcissist? Well, it’s their favourite toy of course!- deflect everything on to you as though anything you’ve done in reaction to them is actually your own fault. Because of course if it weren’t for you then they wouldn’t have been the bastard/bitch they are in the first place. Makes perfect sense? To them it does..
Solution – cancel your subscription to their theatre, call it curtains, and if you need to walk away completely, do it. You’re no good to anyone dead. Not one of the characters in the book benefitted from killing themselves over someone else. They all ended up the same way – sick, and very, very dead.
In other words, grow a backbone. The world will not crumble if you say NO.
Manipultors are shapeshifters. Many women have said this about the men they’ve left due to the abuse suffered at their hands. When out in public these men were wonderful pillars of society, church leaders, elders, caregivers. They were charming! So charming in fact that the fear of not doing what they want is added to by the fact that you as victim think nobody will believe you. Nobody will believe that as soon as the door closes, that smile becomes a scowl, that suggestion becomes an order and you become not just the victim but the prisoner.
Solution – BREAK the silence. Let people know what’s going on. File a police report and let them know you won’t tolerate another infraction on your sense of self-worth. Talk to people you trust, without them. Manipulators and psychopaths benefit from counselling only in one way – to convince someone else that you are as bad as they say. Because believe me, while you are being quiet and respectful about their behaviour, they are slamming you left right and center, setting the stage for that inevitable moment when someday they DON”T get what they want.
They use who you are against you, to get what they want.
You know how people can take a verse out of a holy book totally out of context and thereby discredit the entire book? Have you seen how media portrays certain groups so that when you hear their name or faith group you immediately think “terrorist”? Well, that is called manipulation. And it happens in a microcosm of the home or the friendship just as easily. How come? Because the people who KNOW something don’t speak and don’t do anything, so that the ONE who knows NOTHING is left to be the spoiled brat running amock and breaking down the good reputation of people who actually LIVE FOR A LIVING.
Pick your poison, it’s all the same…
They are not invincible. BUT if you’re REALLY unlucky, you may have saddled yourself with someone who is all three…
…and here you thought poisonous snakes were dangerous!!