Common Types of Manipulation

Dr George Simon [blog], author of several best-selling books on psychopathy, has given descriptive labels to three manipulative tactics that all victims of narcissistic/psychopathic abuse are sure to recognize. The terminology offered by Dr Simon makes it easier to make sense of behaviors that otherwise seem confusing or even cause self-doubt, and to discuss them. When you see manipulative behavior, it will probably reflect one or more of these tactics.


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Most are fooled.

Psychopaths don’t just tell “white lies.” They tell harmful lies to hurt others and to disguise their malicious actions and evil ambitions. A psychopath who is deprived of his mask of sanity lacks the means to fool and use others.

Tactics? What tactics?


Future Tactics: The Uprising

Future Tactics: The Uprising (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bob Seidensticker: I’m not sure what you mean by “tactics.” Maybe you mean “playing games” or “being argumentative”? I’m not sure. But I infer from your email that “I disapprove of the use of ‘tactics’” means “I don’t like it when people push back against my charges.” Feel free to disagree. And to clarify what “tactics” you disapprove of.

Response: You infer? There is no reason to infer anything. When I say tactics, I mean tactics; the disingenuous rhetorical tricks and ploys you use in the absence of sincerity and sound reasoning. The manipulative contrivances, or tactics, I have seen you demonstrate include a variety of logical fallacies. For example, your phony inference and your implication of charges look like innuendo or begging the question. I have seen you use variations of that strategy numerous times. In your comments online, there are countless incidents of another game you play; switching the burden of proof, which is an evasion or diversion tactic. It isn’t hard to find straw man fallacies, deceptive use of loaded words, and other types of “untruths” in your emails. However, I am not into “quibbling over definitions.” The labeling terminology is insignificant. I simply don’t like dishonesty or manipulativeness. I recognized your linguistic tactics, although I was bewildered at first because I assumed that you were a man of reasonable integrity. I had not seen your irrational malevolence before. Up until then, you had kept the true nature of your character hidden behind what one might call a mask of sanity. Later, I realized how your simpler ploys were smokescreens for much more sinister manipulative strategies. From recognizing behavior patterns and from research, I don’t hesitate to regard you as a man without a conscience. Maybe your arrogance reflects a belief that your conning abilities make you smarter or more superior than other people, and that honesty, straight-forwardness, and personal responsibility are pathetic and contemptible attributes. Feel free to disagree. And to spell out what charges you are insinuating.

14 Manipulative Tactics

Learn to identify their tactics

wolf_in_sheep_clothing_1_-400x253 In Sheep’s Clothing

Dr. George Simon, author of In Sheep’s Clothing—Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, presents this list of 14 tactics that manipulators use to get you to do what they want. He points out the importance of recognizing that these tactics are offensive moves employed by the covert-aggressive to either maintain a position of power, gain power, or remove an obstacle from getting what he wants. You’ll be better equipped to deal with manipulators if you are familiar with this list of tactics, and can identify them when you encounter them:

  • Denial – playing innocent, refusing to admit they have done something harmful.
  • Selective inattention – playing dumb, or acting oblivious; refusing to pay attention to anything that might divert them from achieving their goal.
  • Rationalization – making excuses or justifying their behavior, often in very convincing ways.
  • Diversion – changing the subject, dodging the issue, distracting us from the real problem.
  • Lying – deliberately telling untruths, concealing the truth, lying by omission.
  • Covert Intimidation – intimidation through veiled threats; hints that “it’s a tough job market out there.”
  • Guilt-tripping – using the conscientiousness of their victim against them to keep them self-doubting and anxious.
  • Shaming – using subtle sarcasm and put-downs to make the victim feel inadequate, unworthy, and anxious.
  • Playing the Victim role – playing the innocent victim to elicit compassion; convincing the victim that he/she is hurting in some way so that the victim will try to relieve their distress.
  • Vilifying the Victim – making the victim the “bad guy”; pretending he’s only defending himself.
  • Playing the servant role – disguising their personal agendas as service to a nobler cause.
  • Seduction – flattering and overtly supporting others to get them to lower their defenses and be trusting.
  • Projecting the blame (blaming others) – shifting the blame, scapegoating.
  • Minimization – a combination of denial and rationalization, “making a molehill out of a mountain”.

“A manipulative person … is a covertly aggressive personality.”

“You ask a manipulator a direct question, you rarely get a direct answer.”

They don’t change.

Nothing You Can Say or Do

To make good decisions in our personal lives, we need a realistic view of ourselves and others. Learning about psychopathy and the mechanics of abusive relationships brings new insights that demand a change of course. One of the strongest motivators for ending an abusive relationship is the realization that the abuser will not change—no matter what we do.

Narcissist Change.Sociopathic change