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December 11, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, Every psychology student is familiar with the nature-nurture debate. That is, how do we explain why people are the way they are? One way to answer that question is to attribute our make-ups to genetics and biology (nature). Like sharing the physical attributes of a mom or dad, people’s personality traits are […]

December 4, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, I’m often asked the question, “Do manipulators know what they’re doing?” In other words, do they have full awareness of their manipulative ploys and are they doing so consciously and deliberately? I think that’s a good question and I find myself unwilling to dogmatize either way. I suspect the best answer is: […]

November 27, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, This week, I thought I’d re-up something I wrote 2.5 years ago entitled “We Should Argue More.” *** With a title like “We Should Argue More,” it may sound like I plan to bizarrely extol the merits of knock-down-drag-outs, fighting like cats and dogs, or conversational cage matches. Let me explain. Webster […]

November 20, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, When couples come to see me, I typically open by asking some version of the following question: “What brings you in?” This is followed by an awkward silence where neither wants to be the first to speak. But when one of them does speak up, I usually hear them describe some long-standing […]

November 13, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, In his 1982 book, People of the Lie, psychiatrist Scott Peck, wrote, “Lies confuse.” It’s a short statement that’s long on meaning. What peaked my interest in the subject of manipulators (aka, “Drama People) is the number of people I’ve seen in my office over the years who’ve come in distressed and […]

November 6, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, I’ve written many words in this weekly missive about how to understand manipulators. They can’t relate in normal ways because they lack the internal psychological equipment to do so. But what makes the rest of us vulnerable to their manipulations? Below are three exploitable vulnerabilities: #1 Common Naivete We start out naïve […]

October 30, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, Every now and then, I come across something I wrote a while back that seems more relevant now than when I first wrote it. I feel that way about parts of this week’s letter that were originally penned over three years ago. *** In the summer of 1997, I drove into downtown […]

October 23, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, There are two questions that leave us vexed about Drama People, also referred to as emotional manipulators, narcissists, or unreasonable people. Those are some of the more clinical terms. In moments of exasperation, we might descend into the use of dirty terms, many of which were derived from the combination of body […]

October 16, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, I’ve had an enduring interest in those who manipulate (frequently referred to in this letter as Drama People) and in those who get manipulated, the latter group being the ones who frequent my office. Why are some people manipulatable while others seem less so? In some ways, it’s easier to understand the […]

October 9, 2020

Dear Drama Observers, A few years ago, I wrote about something called “the porcupine dance,” a phrase that depicts what characterizes many relationships. Even for those of us who have no rhythm, we can cut quite a rug with this one. I’ve summarized it below: *** A desire for connection draws us toward people. But […]