The Confusing World of Manipulation

Manipulators operate in a cloud of confusion.  We can feel confused for one of several reasons:


  • There is often a disturbing discrepancy between the public image the manipulator portrays and who he actually is in private. Attributes, which may be positives in public, are the same ones that have such a negative effect privately.  For instance, a master who has to be in charge may excel in commanding a military campaign but be a controlling jerk at home.  Frustratingly, he’s lavished with praise for his accomplishments by people who think he’s wonderful.  And those same people may think something’s wrong with us for not agreeing with them.  How can someone be such a winner in one realm and simultaneously be such a loser in another?  That’s confusing.


  • We may feel confused because the manipulator stages dramas on some occasions and not on others. And when they’re not staging dramas, they can be very pleasant to be around.  For instance, a messiah may be happy and normal as long as she is receiving sufficient amounts of gratitude for her caretaking activities.  So, who is she?  The happy normal person or the shrew who makes us feel guilty for failing to appreciate her?  That Jeckyl and Hyde split is confusing.


  • He creates a smokescreen by highlighting our flaws and calling us hypocrites for criticizing him. “How dare you judge me when you’ve got your own shortcomings” is the thought.  If successful, we’ll think, “Maybe I am being too hard on him.  He’s right, after all, I do have problems.”


  • He has mastered the art of projection. Unable or unwilling to tolerate personal wrongness, he projects his negatives onto us so that we become the possessor of them.  He accuses us of the very things that are true of him.  When we look at what’s being projected, believe that the negatives are true of us and have emotions about them, we’ll think, “Is it me or is it him?  It must be me.”  At that point, the lies have accomplished their confusing purpose.