Introduction: What is Manipulation?
Manipulation is defined as the improper use of one person’s vulnerability to satisfy the needs of another. The term can refer to a broad range of abuse, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. In its most common form, manipulation includes behaviors that are: 1) intentional, 2) repetitive and 3) ongoing (Espiner, 2009).
“Telling one’s self that one loves another is an act of manipulation because the person making the statement is controlling the other person, who may feel compelled to reciprocate by saying that they love as well or show their caring. This in effect causes a failure to communicate.” (De Weese and Toch, 2010: 226).
Another form of manipulation is known as emotional abuse. Emotional abuse occurs when someone’s actions cause harm to another without the other person’s consent. For instance, when a man uses harsh language to belittle a woman or makes insensitive remarks about her appearance, he is using emotional abuse in a way that causes harm. The use of physical and/or sexual violence can also involve emotional manipulation.
What Causes a Person to be Manipulative?
The root cause of manipulation can be traced back to feelings of low self-worth. A person who manipulates others is often trying to cope with deep feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness. He or she feels that the only way to gain approval, attention, affection, or the material things needed for his or her survival is to manipulate others. Simply put, the manipulator is trying to make himself or herself feel better. Most often, the manipulator will choose a particular victim and continue to hurt that person until that person is able to stand up for himself or herself by refusing to be manipulated. The manipulator will then usually move on to the next victim. The manipulator often has no concept of how his or her actions are affecting others.
The Cost of Being Manipulated
Being manipulated by another can have a devastating effect on a victim. Victims may lose friends, family relationships, and self-esteem as they are abused by their manipulators. THE EFFECTS OF MANIPULATION ON THE FAMILYWith manipulation becoming an increasing problem within today’s society, many families are finding themselves involved in manipulative abuse. As the manipulator goes from person to person, the victim will quickly become isolated and left without any kind of support, let alone the victim’s family.
How to Combat the Dangers of Psychological Manipulation
Many victims of manipulation will often blame themselves for the chaotic situations they find themselves. They are led to believe that if only they were more submissive, if only they were more willing, if only their family and friends would stop complaining about them and love them for who they are then things would be better. Many times, the victim is convinced that his or her problems stem from a bad thought pattern or behavior in themselves. Nobody has the power to choose their actions or make other people behave in a certain way. When we as a society begin to understand this fact, we will be better at combating the problem of manipulation. First, you must understand that you cannot change another person. You can only change yourself. Second, understand that manipulation is not always done by an emotionally disturbed person. Manipulation is often done out of ignorance and sometimes out of carelessness. Third, never be ashamed to say “no.” Your personal boundaries need to be strengthened. It is your right to choose what you will and will not do. If someone asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, your first response should be “No.” Do not feel guilty or as if you are doing something wrong by saying “no.” It is also in your best interest to understand the difference between emotional manipulation and emotional support. An emotionally disturbed person can dish out positive statements or compliments one minute and then criticize, blame or manipulate the next. The emotionally disturbed person does not have to change their behavior for the better in order to be considered mentally stable. This emotionless and switchy behavior is characteristic of the emotionally disturbed. Other signs to look for include: