What Is A Manipulative Personality? Who, What, How...

In order to answer the question, "what is a manipulative personality?" let's be clear about what a personality is. Personality is the way of thinking, feeling and behaving that distinguishes one person from another. It also includes interests, motivations, values, attitudes and sense of self. It is considered to be relatively stable but can change over longish periods of time. This latter part is important, as we shall see later. So what is a manipulative personality?


What is a manipulative personality? The who...

A manipulative personality is one that is organized around controlling others.

There is lots written about why people control and manipulate others, and the reasons given are such things as insecurity, an abusive childhood, poor role models and so on.

However, there is another group of people who, by definition, manipulate others for the sake of it. Their relationships are based on coercion and exploitation.

These types have a sense of self that is organized solely around themselves. Their self esteem is derived from power and personal gain. They lack the usual internal prosocial standards which means they do not conform to the usual cultural, ethical behavior.

Their relationships are disordered because they lack empathy for others. They are not concerned for the needs or suffering of others and they show no remorse after abusing others. They are unable to form intimate relationships, but instead use dominance and intimidation to control others.

They have pathological personality traits, being very manipulative, they use subterfuge to to get what they want. They are deceitful, using lies, fraud and embellishment to misrepresent themselves and their achievements. They are callous, with a lack of guilt or remorse about the negative effects they have on those around them. They can be very hostile, showing anger to the smallest of slights and vengeful behavior if they perceive that someone may have got one over on them or is better then them in some way.

They lack responsibility, not keeping promises, not paying debts, etc. They can be very impulsive, paying little or no attention to future consequences. And they may engage in risky behavior, ignoring the reality of danger to themselves or others.

Some of these behaviors occur in alcoholics and drug addicts, and even at certain stages of development. However, the types I am referring to are usually born this way. Their manipulative traits manifest through time and across contexts. In other words, they were always like this and they will continue to live their lives this way.

I am, of course, describing psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists.

These personality disordered people basically live to wield power over others, whether it's a small family situation or very large groups of people. They may have varying degrees of interest in money and sex, too, but it's usually in the interest of increasing their power. Sex and mind control are a powerful combination and, as they say, money talks.


What is a manipulative personality? The what...

So what do these types do?

They can be brilliant actors because they have ho shame or embarrassment. They often pretend to be caring, kind, helpful, intelligent, friendly, loving people who seem to be the perfect partner. This is the first part of the manipulation. They are basically manipulating other people's impression of themselves. This is also abusive because it's all a lie, it's deception, none of what they project to others is actually true. But they will keep it up until their target becomes a victim. You can read more details about this phase in this article about narcissistic boyfriends.

Once the target has committed in some way to the relationship, the behavior of the controller changes. Whatever the manipulator has been offering, supposedly out of the goodness of his or her heart, attention, love, money, help, work, becomes conditional. Conditional on the victim doing or saying different things, and/or not doing or not saying other things. These things can be minor in nature at the start, but soon become more significant.

One way or the other, the victim has to spend more time with the manipulator and less time with family and friends. The victim has to pay more and more attention to what the manipulator wants and does not want. The victim is expected to give up their own wants and needs and spend their time making the life of the manipulator easier and more comfortable. The victim is forced to give up who they are, to stop doing their hobbies and sports and to become who the manipulator wants them to be. Think slave!

Now, all this may not be explicitly spelled out by the manipulator. But little by little, step by step, the victim is psychologically coerced into doing all these things. All this is done outside of the awareness of the victim. Remember the victim may be a boyfriend or girlfriend, a student, a budding athlete, who thinks that the person they are in a relationship with has their best interests at heart. They often don't even recognize the relationship as controlling and abusive.

I know that sounds ridiculous but this is what happens in a controlling relationship. There are many factors that make it very difficult for the victim to understand what is actually being done to them.

The manipulator also uses repetition to force ideas into the minds of their victims. The victim can end up believing all sorts of things about themselves that are not true. They may feel worthless, less than, useless, stupid, pathetic, ugly, a danger to themselves and others, crazy and even that their own children would be better off without them.

The manipulator will often threaten to end the relationship if the victim does not follow along obediently. Everything from open threats of divorce to more vague references, such as, "I am not sure I can continue like this if you don't change..." is considered fair game by the manipulator. Because of the dependency of the victim on the manipulator, this threat of leaving is particularly nasty. The victim will typically submit quickly to whatever atrocity the manipulator is going for in order not to lose the relationship. I know, it's very warped, but this dependency is built into an abusive relationship.

The victim ends up changing their behavior, their thoughts, their perceptions, their beliefs and their decision making to basically survive in the abusive relationship. All these changes basically add up to a personality change. This new personality, or pseudopersonality, is imposed by the manipulator because that's the person they want the victim to become.

In a cult situation, this pseudopersonality imposed on the members means that they all think the same, use the same jargon, adore the leader, defend the leader and, of course, recruit new people into the group.

In an abusive marriage, the victim also has a pseudopersonality, programmed to believe the manipulator, trust the manipulator, take care of them, and, as with all pseudopersonalities, is obedient, dependent and submissive. Again, think slave. This pseudopersonality is why people in abusive situations often say that they have lost themselves in the relationship, they no longer know who they are and that they feel as if they are nothing without their partner. Famly and friends will say that they no longer recognize the person. "She's not the same, she has lost her spark, she's not herself, I don't know who she is any more," and so on.


What is a manipulative personality? The how...

Such manipulators use mind control techniques to control and dominate others. Mind control techniques are not esoteric rituals known only to a few. They are ordinary, everyday, psychological influence processes used with a particular purpose in mind. The purpose is to dominate another, or others, to take away their freedom and independence and to heavily influence their decision making and behavior. In other words, the manipulators build compliance, they have other people do what they want them to do. And they don't care about the cost to the victim.

The psychopaths and narcissists consider themselves special, a grade above everyone else, and they believe they have the right to have the world be the way they want it to be. For them, the end justifies the means. If they want something, they consider that they can do whatever is necessary to have that, no matter how much damage and suffering they cause. Remember, they never feel bad about anything they do.

What does that mean? It means they can do anything they like, no matter how nasty, cruel or callous it is, because they do not care about what happens to other people. That may be hard to understand for many, but there are people on this planet who do not have emotions the way that normal people do, they know the difference between right and wrong, and they often choose evil.

They are professional liars. They lie as easily as they breathe. They will lie when it might even be better to tell the truth. They just don't care if they are caught out, they just tell more lies!

They also control the information available to their victims by distorting, exaggerating and withholding information. They will mix lies with truths and half truths, making it even more difficult to know what is real and what is not. They understand very well the power of information control.

They keep their victims on an emotional rollercoaster. When someone is experiencing very strong emotions, either positive or negative, it's very difficult for them to think rationally and logically. Someone who is feeling strong guilt, for example, doesn't usually spend time figuring out whether they should be feeling guilty or not, they want to do what they need to in order to stop feeling so bad. Someone who is euphoric has no sense of problems or difficulty and is equally difficult to reason with.

You can read more about mind control tools and techniques and basic influence techniques used in all cultures on the planet.


What is a manipulative personality? - More reading

If you think you are in a relationship with a manipulator of this type, you need information! Lots of it. These types are not going to change, no matter how much they promise, and you need to understand what you are dealing with.

You would also do very well to get professional help. Help from someone who understands mind control and personality disorders, not just any therapist.

You can start here by reading about what makes someone a psychopath, what a controlling relationship is all about, things manipulative people say, signs of a toxic relationship and recovering from narcissistic abuse.

And if you have got this far, do us both a favor and buy my book, 54 Tips For Dealing With Psychopaths and Narcissists. It helps me to keep writing pages like this and it will help you to understand what you need to do differently, and more importantly, why, in order to protect yourself from these types.

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If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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