27 September 2008

Manipulators Among Us

Holy Water Salt has posted a checklist on her blog, a list of the prime characteristics of [subcriminal] psychopaths as seen through French eyes.

It's drawn from the book "Les Manipulateurs Sont Parmi Nous" [The Manipulators Are Among Us] by Isabelle Nazare Aga.

Having read through this list, I think it's likely to be extremely useful for identifying workplace abusers [all the way up to psychopathic "Snakes in Suits"], in particular.

I'd want to expand item 22, though, to explicitly add:
Never admits errors, no matter how egregious and how widely recognized the errors may be, and never apologizes for problems created by the errors or their refusal to admit to them.
[In my experience, that phony-infallibility-whatever-the-cost is one of the largest red flags that workplace abusers exhibit.]

And item 10, the tendency to divide and conquer, is characteristic not only of workplace abusers and subcriminal psychopaths, but also of borderline personality disorder - a topic I've neglected here, about which much more needs to be said. Stay tuned.

I've requested permission from HWS to reproduce the list in this post; meanwhile, you can find it on her blog here.


Blogger CZBZ said...

"7: wants to make others believe that they have to be perfect, that they can never change their mind, that they have to know everything and have to respond immediately to claims and questions" ~Excerpted from HWS's link page

May I just say what a struggle it has been to stop over-explaining myself?? I read an interesting article about people who'd been 'manipulated' (I think it was on the RickRoss site, I'll try to find the page). But it pointed out that people like myself used almost twice the number of words to say the same thing as other people.

Now that was very interesting to me because of my life experience. It's not that I want to type fifty sentences instead of twenty-five, but if we're supposed to be prefectly clear, perfectly knowledgable, perfectly perfect, well...we over-explain (defend) ourselves.

The whole list HWS posted is great but #7 stuck out for some reason.

O yea, this is the reason:

Being fair-minded and reasonable requires keeping an open mind---receptive to new information. But when I'd reconsider my position ON ANYTHING, it was as if I were 'unreliable, wishy-washy and untrustworthy.' Changing my mind was a healthy thing to do but I was accused of being FLAKEY.

You know what I think? I think those pathological folks don't like us changing our minds because it makes us less predictable, less controllable, and if they are mimicking our behavior, they've got to change their pretend selves, too.


01 October, 2008 14:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for this link.

I don't know if it has been since reading blogs and sites which pertain to abuse and abusers, but the more educated I become, the more I see these people everywhere and sometimes I feel like I must be paranoid.

Surely they can't be this common, but I keep encountering this behaviour in teachers, real estate agents, children, their parents, my relatives, an author who wanted to write about my experiences of abuse, even psychologists I have spoken to about the problem.

Admittedly psychopathy is not always present, but many of the qualifications of it are, enough to give you giant red flags anyway.

Are we just becoming 'canaries down the coal mine' or is it just that this information is now so widely discussed on the internet that we are all seeing the presence of evil that much more clearly?

01 October, 2008 19:26  
Blogger Stormchild said...


I know what you mean, but ... that explaining business is a two-edged sword.

I think the impulse to refute lies, for instance, is a very healthy one, even though it almost always involves lots and lots o' 'splainin'.

Why do I think it's healthy? Because the belief that "Oh, people 'know' who the liar is, you don't need to defend yourself / your friend / your child / your Best Beloved" presupposes that most people are adult, detached, and insightful, and can't be fooled by prettily packaged spite and malice, or sucked in to abusive gang games.

In my experience - both direct and observational - nothing could be further from the truth.

I've also noticed [though individual results may vary ;-) ] that whenever I'm spending more time than I like explaining why I do what I do the way I do it instead of some other way, it's usually because some abuser, or a cluster of them, is trying to play double-bind mind games with me.

I have no qualms whatsoever about pointing this out. In a nice, calm, detached way, at the end of a nice, calm, detached explanation, which I will repeat and repeat and repeat, as often as necessary, until the piranha realize that this ain't gonna work on me. Which usually motivates them to find another target - for a little while, anyway.

[This is the 'Broken Record' form of assertiveness, with a bit of Virginia Satir's 'Computer Mode' thrown in.]

The trick, I think, is to be cool, competent, and confident in the delivery - then it doesn't come across as overexplaining, it comes across as 'Oh dear, do I really have to explain all this to you ... again? And again? And again? **sigh** Very well, then. Let's go over it one... more... time.'

Man, they HATE that. :-)


Meg, alas, I truly believe that most human culture is inherently abusive. The closer you look at it, the more abuse you will see. Any culture that is based on, or comfortable with, the notion that a few should benefit at the expense of the rest [even if some of the rest are allowed to starve to death, or die for lack of decent healthcare] and regards this as a social good [!!!] - can't be anything other than abusive, at bottom.

Now, lest I be thought a mere capitalism-basher, any culture that pretends it doesn't believe this, but makes arrangements behind the scenes for it - viz. the Cold War USSR and Communist China - is equally if not more abusive, because it is equally if not more dishonest.

What you are seeing is there.

But thank God, it's not all that is there, and it's not all that there is.

01 October, 2008 21:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The conversation about over-explaining is very relevant to me.

I find whenever I encounter people I feel I have to be verbose with, I look a bit deeper into myself and usually discover that I feel uncomfortable, anxious, fearful or judged. Typically these people have the same effect on me as my Nmom, or other abusive people I have encountered.

In one case I decided that this person was not somebody I wanted to cultivate as a friend, in other words, I wasn't going to give her any more information than I absolutely needed to.

Lo and behold, within weeks, I received a card from her wanting to know what had happened to our 'friendship'. She had hoped it would become 'so much more'. That's likely enough to be true.

Anyway, I find myself spending alot of time in the last four years deleting possible toxic relationsips than I do cultivating healthy ones, but I guess that's what you do if you want quality of life.

That sounds harsh, but I guess abuse survivors have no other choice but to protect themselves.

03 October, 2008 22:19  

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