The manipulation of people, when seasoned with cruelty, has engendered some of the episodes that have shaken the world most: Hitler, Mussolini and Bernard Madoff are behind some of the best known of the world. tale contemporary. But you don’t have to be a dictator or destabilize the world economy to be a dangerous manipulator. And although the manipulator usually targets people who are insecure and in need of esteem, we can all fall into his trap, as long as we have some power or value that is interesting for him. It may be so close that it is not possible to flee, sometimes you cannot even maintain a healthy distance, but there are guidelines to break its pernicious influence.
A manipulative person is friendly and charming. Shortly thereafter, he begins to colonize the mind of the one in front of him with absurd scheming. He progresses and his behaviour becomes that of a true tyrant, admired, respected and feared. Without hardly realizing it, the victim falls into a spiral of guilt and emotional demolition. “The feeling it causes is one of intimidation, lack of freedom and restlessness. Not being able to act without fear that the result will not be to your liking.
Yes, it is true that we can act with this kind of entanglements at a given time, with the purpose of fulfilling a certain objective, but there is a big difference between doing it from time to time and doing it from time to time. be a professional manipulator, something that meets about 3% of the population, according to the French psychotherapist Isabelle Nazare-Aga. But how do we know if we’re near any of them?
Professor of Psychiatry José Luis Carrasco Perera, in charge of the Personality Unit at Blue Healthcare gives us a very clear clue: “When it can be shown that, on a regular basis, provides information to people in a biased, partial and misleading way in order to control the will of the same.”
According to the psychiatrist, it is not a premeditated and designed construction, but something that occurs by defect in an immature personality. “Manipulation is a resort to deception as a way of gaining esteem and defending a complex and frightened self that underlies the unconscious,” he explains. But there’s no need to delve deeper into the psychology of an individual to know if he is prone to manipulation, there are unmistakable signs that allow it to be identified.
Impersonates a humble and captivating being
The most characteristic,” Carrasco says, “is the strategy of being close to people and suggesting to them that others may pose a threat. It provokes in them the feeling of ‘you can trust me and only me’. The manipulative person must be captivating and seemingly humble. Faced with what might seem, it is not possible to manipulate from anger and domination. The second trait that betrays them is their ability to generate feelings of guilt in the other, showing excessive helplessness which is allegedly a consequence of the lack of aid. Thus, the person he is trying to manipulate feels that he has a power that he is not using generously.
“It’s often a behavior learned during childhood, when the child realizes that he can handle adults as he likes and use emotional blackmail for survival,” stresses Mae Wood. And it must be profitable, since it is not an exclusive attitude of human beings. According to a study published by researchers at the Max Planck Institute, in collaboration with several universities, in the journal Journal of Comparative Psychology, chimpanzees are also able to show similar behaviour, and blackmail the rest of the group if it gives them easier access to a reward.
Mae Wood finds that this disrespectful and aggressive form of communication, whose clear objective is to achieve what one wants without taking into account the desires or needs of the other person, is present in three types of psychopathy: narcissistic, antisocial and borderline personalities. “In the first case – narcissism – the individual, absorbed in his delusions of greatness, beauty and power, acts with arrogance, absolute lack of empathy and believing that he enjoys more rights than anyone else. Antisocials, on the other hand, manipulate according to their impulsive or aggressive temperament, and without any remorse. In borderline personalities, manipulation originates in their emotional immaturity, fears and sense of emptiness. He goes from the extreme idealization of his victim to ruthless devaluation. Their main weapons are victimism, emotional blackmail and the threat of suicide.
Deactivating oneself to disarm the instigator
We must understand,” explains Carrasco, “that the manipulator acts out of pure selfishness and knows how to point to our weaknesses. His weapon is the manipulated person himself. Therefore, once we have detected him, we have to deactivate ourselves, stop listening to his broadcasts, deafen his exclusive communication with us and extend it to other people. Let us not forget that the manipulative person needs the manipulated one as isolated as possible”. It is best not to place any value on either your criticisms or your compliments. “If you have to communicate with him, use short and fuzzy phrases, better with humorous and ironic tone, adds Mae Wood. Of course, one must be lenient and kind to oneself because one is not to blame for the situation.
The main thing about any strategy is, for these experts, prevent emotional blackmail from causing us guilt or discomfort, and from controlling us in such a way that we end up acting under fear, obligation or pressure. Submission strengthens him. “The worst thing is that sometimes she acts so subtly that everything happens without us realizing it, and when we are aware we have already changed our behavior,” says the psychologist.
To take the reins, Wood advises training strategies and resources, changing and managing the situation proactively. This involves working on self-esteem to feel strong and reduce insecurities and guilt. From there, he recommends the following roadmap: “Go one step ahead and prepare conversations by learning from past situations, and focusing on the goal without getting tangled up. In the face of aggressiveness or disrespect, it will be necessary to withdraw attention, set limits and be respected. Instead of defense, the psychologist proposes collaboration and assertiveness: “”Communicate without defending yourself, don’t apologize, don’t give in, don’t give up. Valuate that maybe he’s right. There you will leave him bewildered and without arguments”.
Your suggestion is to make use of the sense of the humor and stand firm on opinions and decisions, but without giving too many explanations. “The fewer words, the better. They’re very skillful and the more information they have, the easier it is to turn your criteria around and the more likely they are to convince you or make you doubt. A good tactic not to give in is, according to the psychologist, to keep in mind at all times our basic rights: the right to be treated with respect, to refuse requests without feeling guilty, to express your feelings, to change your mind, to ask, to decide what you do with your body, time and property, to make mistakes and take responsibility for them, to make your needs as important as those of others and, of course, to do what you want as long as you don’t violate someone else’s rights. It’s the ultimate golden rule. He may not correct the manipulator, but he will change the way you are in his world.