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Psychology | manipulation

We all have some weakness and that can make us susceptible to manipulation. There are psychopaths and people with psychopathic tendencies who will readily exploit any weakness they see. They have little or no empathy for people who they perceive as being weaker and more vulnerable than themselves.

If you feel dependent for any reason, this can lead to manipulation. Children are manipulated, old people, the sick, the disabled and people who are dependant because of lack of money. Wives can be manipulated by their husbands when they are dependant on them for financial support. They have to do as they are told or the support is reduced. Psychological pressure can make it worse, they are told they are useless, idle, worthless and constantly reminded of their need for support. This is emotional manipulation.

Loneliness and isolation can make us desperate and so we accept any offer of friendship or human contact. That can make us a victim, even strangers can prey on the lonely. The elderly person living alone answers her door to someone with psychopathic tendencies and the manipulation begins.

Manipulation can take place in all sort of environments, manipulators seek and attain positions of power. Manipulators are successful in politics and will use emotive language to attack the vulnerable calling them idle and skivers. They will launch emotional attacks on anyone they see as a minority and vulnerable. In Nazi Germany, that was the Jews. They were portrayed as ugly, as animals, as the enemy, using vile cartoons in a propaganda war that led to a holocaust.

We don’t like to think of ourselves as vulnerable or as victims. The skilled manipulator will see weaknesses in us that we might not see in ourselves. The rich and successful can also be manipulated and be vulnerable. If they are well adjusted they might be immune to such manipulation, but if they are financially insecure that might be a weakness. Many wealthy people strive for more wealth and are greedy because inside they are financially insecure. This can be seen as a weakness and used against them. Their fear of poverty, of losing all their money can make them vulnerable to manipulation.

Recent research has suggested that psychopathic tendencies might be an inherited brain disorder. It does seem like psychopathic tendencies do run in some families. It is certainly worse when people with manipulative tendencies act together, as has happened in politically motivated manipulation.

Many people would say that all politicians tend to have psychopathic tendencies in varying degrees. It does seem like that sometimes, they are certainly manipulative. In the world now, we see many politicians favouring the strong over the weak. People with psychopathic tendencies do manage to get into positions of power. Even in caring environments like hospitals, if the person in charge is manipulative; a culture of clinical and uncaring treatment can quickly develop. This can lead to elderly people being left without food, left to fend for themselves and even left to die. Many junior staff will hate the culture, but be vulnerable and manipulated themselves.

An important aspect of the manipulative personality is that it is usually hiding a vulnerability. Failure to accept their own weaknesses and vulnerability make them hate everyone else’s weaknesses and exploit others. They might look strong because they have attained a position of power where they can manipulate and bully others; but they are weak too. They have their hidden weaknesses and vulnerabilities too.

What do you think? Do you recognise  manipulators when you see them or accept them as ‘normal’? Do you approve of the stronger manipulating and bullying the weaker? Please share your thoughts in the comments box.

6 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, should the coach take on the challenge, accurately assess the person and the situation, effectively resist manipulation attempts and focus on behavior change, these changes, in my experience, will be short-lived. A ‘good report’ from the coach is the psychopath’s goal, and once attained, it’s back to business as usual. And, if it suits his or her bigger purpose (long-term manipulation of the organization), a psychopathic client may ultimately attack the integrity and professional status of the coach.
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    February 5, 2013 at 18:54

    • Hi Ingrid,

      Not sure where the coach comes in, but I agree it’s difficult if not impossible to change their behaviour.

      February 6, 2013 at 10:16

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