The Con and the Mark

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bloomie

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The Con and the Mark
« on: August 03, 2017, 10:07:00 PM »
A friend recently told me that after years of recovery and therapy they have come to the realization that they are highly manipulative. The way they describe it is they are manipulative in nearly every area of their lives nearly all of the time. Sometimes they are intentional in their manipulative tactics and sometimes they are knee-jerk for them.

To be honest, this comes as no surprise to me - though it did to them - as I have known them for years and have been on the receiving end of their manipulative tactics many, many times. And may I also be honest and say that when this friend told me this my first thought was…are they attempting to manipulate me by admitting they have realized they are manipulative and this is just another tactic in their very diverse arsenal? Kinda makes my head spin, but I honestly wonder that.

This friend’s self proclaimed awakening (which the jury is out on at this point - waiting for some tangible evidence on this) and some posts across the forum here lately got me thinking and reading about manipulation. I have been using all sorts of resources that are contributing to my thoughts, including many posts here (thank you OOTF members!) and so I included as many of those articles/books as possible at the end of this post just to honor the wisdom and help I have found from each.

When I think of the PD relationships that have surrounded me in my life I can distill the behaviors down to this one concept. They are manipulative. Underlying everything else there is the goal to “control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means to serve one’s own purposes.” (definition taken from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manipulate)

I found this definition from the Preston Ni M.S.B.A. article How to Spot and Stop Manipulators linked below to be really helpful:
 
Quote
Psychological manipulation can be defined as the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, and privileges at the victim’s expense.

From everything I have been reading the most likely suspect for a highly skilled manipulative personalities is those with PDs or strong PD traits.  And those that are the most likely to be soft targets for those highly skilled manipulative personalities are those in relationship with them that have the most to lose or gain in the relationship - when we have something valuable to gain or something we want to avoid - we are at risk, when our hearts and souls are tied to another person we are vulnerable, when we are dependent upon someone for our career advancement or livelihood, the realization of life goals such as marriage or parenthood, we are suspectible.

Having grown up in a Narcissistic Family system, both parents with uPDs as role models and literally having been manipulated for their benefit from birth and throughout my formative years,  I have a distinct inability to spot manipulative tactics (especially in the moment) and respond appropriately to them.

I was trained up to be dutiful, highly responsible, pleasing, sinless, modest, to keep their secrets and always be giving with no expectation to receive in return. To put the needs of others first always - unless putting the needs of others somehow siphoned off some of my availability to my parents. I was to honor and obey, never question, accept blatant favoritism, physical and verbal abuse, degradation - as my parent’s right to dish out and yet I was still to maintain a view of them as righteous, good, generous and loving and allow them full access to my life. :no: Any tiny sprouts of independence and defiance where shut down through every means of manipulation I have been able to find in my reading. From religious abuse and manipulation, covert, overt, threats of every kind, disowning, silent treatment, passive aggressive, lying, raging, charm, empty promises, triangulation, coercion, slandering, all of it and so much more.

As a result I have been the mark for a highly skilled manipulator more times than I want to admit even to myself well into adulthood and across every area of my life. It would be too disheartening to even try and quantify how often I have been the mark.

Coming OOTF for me is such a process of untangling all of the threads and wrong thinking that has been woven into the foundational fabric of my life. Sadly, both my FOO and in law family is riddled with highly manipulative uPD people. So one very difficult and tedious task is learning to spot the con and empowering myself to no longer be the mark.

I am still in the midst of this processing and learning and have come here for help with that. It all swirls around me sometimes and I am afraid I will never learn as I fall for another clever maneuver from a manipulator. I am also afraid I will grow hardened and see everything through this lens. Suspect everyone’s intentions.


I know this - people manipulate because it works and manipulators will take the path of least resistance. My goal is to learn to spot manipulation in the moment, learn my own hooks and vulnerabilities, and equip myself to not engage. To simply pack up my toys and go home when someone attempts to override my human rights and refuse to play the game.

There is so much more, and I want to go into more specifics of how I have been manipulated and what I have learned from those experiences in the days ahead, but for now this is all my heart can seem to handle sharing. I am hoping there may be someone else here who can relate and would be willing to share their experiences and journey with me. If you made it all the way to the end of this  - blessings to you! :hug:

http://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/verbal-abusehttp://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/the-silent-treatment
http://outofthefog.website/what-not-to-do-1/2015/12/3/intermittent-reinforcement
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manipulate
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201406/how-spot-and-stop-manipulators
Who’s Pulling Your Strings?harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D.
https://www.drgeorgesimon.com/manipulators-come-in-two-varieties/
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 12:42:07 PM by Bloomie »

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newme_whodis

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2017, 11:18:44 PM »
Any tiny sprouts of independence and defiance where shut down through every means of manipulation I have been able to find in my reading. From religious abuse and manipulation, covert, overt, threats of every kind, disowning, silent treatment, passive aggressive, lying, raging, charm, empty promises, triangulation, coercion, slandering, all of it and so much more.

As a result I have been the mark for a highly skilled manipulator more times than I want to admit even to myself well into adulthood and across every area of my life. It would be too disheartening to even try and quantify how often I have been the mark.

All of this rings true. Growing up, any of my assertions of my basic human rights was essentially snuffed. And as an adult, I've felt naive at the outcomes of uPD's sudden benefitting from my loss too many times to count. Definitely a correlation there.

I'd like to add another great resource that opened my eyes to defending against manipulation tactics: Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power https://www.amazon.com/48-Laws-Power-Robert-Greene/dp/0140280197

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SmartyCat

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 12:31:25 AM »
I was trained up to be dutiful, highly responsible, pleasing, sinless, modest, to keep their secrets and always be giving with no expectation to receive in return. To put the needs of others first always - unless putting the needs of others somehow siphoned off some of my availability to my parents.

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So one very difficult and tedious task is learning to spot the con and empowering myself to no longer be the mark.

I am still in the midst of this processing and learning and have come here for help with that. It all swirls around me sometimes and I am afraid I will never learn as I fall for another clever maneuver from a manipulator. I am also afraid I will grow hardened and see everything through this lens. Suspect everyone’s intentions.


The first quote above had me nodding in recognition. That was my childhood and young adulthood too. I remember being so shocked when my parents were upset in a couple of instances where I had been mistreated by others - I fully expected them to tell me to brush it off and move on, or that I had invited the mistreatment somehow. It was YEARS later that I realized a. they didn't even recognize their own words or actions as abusive, and b.  the true offense for them was that someone outside the family had the nerve to treat someone inside their family poorly.

I also have work to do in spotting and avoiding the con. My interim goal that I can manage for now is to notice when my body is throwing signals that something is off; and rather than trying to figure it out in the moment, to deflect and buy some time - "oh, hmmmm, I'll have to think about that" or some variation.

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bloomie

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 12:00:36 PM »
All of this rings true. Growing up, any of my assertions of my basic human rights was essentially snuffed. And as an adult, I've felt naive at the outcomes of uPD's sudden benefitting from my loss too many times to count. Definitely a correlation there.

I'd like to add another great resource that opened my eyes to defending against manipulation tactics: Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power https://www.amazon.com/48-Laws-Power-Robert-Greene/dp/0140280197

newme_whodis - Thank you for that resource. I will check it out. Naivety at the outcomes of a PD benefitting from my loss is a perfect way to state my own experiences. Growing up as I did I could recognize the more overt tactics of my parents - the raging and physical bullying, the silent treatment and cold discard I knew were clearly wrong and terrible behaviors. To some extent even the spiritual abuse I could see through and recognize as controlling and wrong. But, as I moved into other significant relationships and career pursuits I had little ability to spot the con and respond to it.

So when a new friend I was just getting to know sat in the middle of my living room while our little ones played around us and suddenly began to share intimate details about herself and her family with which she desperately needed my help "she had no one else to turn to" "no one to trust" - I ignored the red flags of unease I felt, bought into the false sense of intimacy she was creating, and was plunged into "helping" this friend who turned out to be one of the most manipulative, demanding, and destructive PDs I have yet to encounter, to my own detriment.  :doh:

She was from my religious community and that layered FOG all over my ability to protect myself and my family from her many manipulative tactics. What did she want or gain from me? At first simply free child care and a listening ear at all hours then a job I could help her attain then to borrow my car and clothes and eventually... make a strong play for my DH. She wanted my life and in my naivety and confusion about the outcomes of a PD benefiting from my loss I left the front door wide open. :upsidedown:

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bloomie

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 01:09:44 PM »
Quote from: SmartyCat
I remember being so shocked when my parents were upset in a couple of instances where I had been mistreated by others - I fully expected them to tell me to brush it off and move on, or that I had invited the mistreatment somehow. It was YEARS later that I realized a. they didn't even recognize their own words or actions as abusive, and b.  the true offense for them was that someone outside the family had the nerve to treat someone inside their family poorly.

I also have work to do in spotting and avoiding the con. My interim goal that I can manage for now is to notice when my body is throwing signals that something is off; and rather than trying to figure it out in the moment, to deflect and buy some time - "oh, hmmmm, I'll have to think about that" or some variation.

Now I am nodding along with you! :yes: In my own case, I have come to see this experience you describe here as part of the objectification that happens within the PD/non relationship.

In the relationships I have had with highly manipulative people I have found one of the most fog inducing and psychologically damaging manipulative behaviors to be intermittent reinforcement. Being kept off guard and unsure what is coming next. Thinking I know what the response will be - such as you describe here SmartyCat, only to have the response be something totally unexpected and out of character.  :blink:

So, for example when I married my in law family looked from the outside so very different from my own with everyone in their places with bright shiny faces, began the covertly aggressive attempted engulfment of the way I lived, dressed, thought, ate, where I worked, worshiped, how I spent my time, how I parented, vacationed, spent money... I floundered in the inconsistencies and constant shape shifting.  :sharkbait:

I was treated well and respectfully. I was treated with disdain and disregard. I was included and welcomed. I was shunned and excluded. I was complimented and seemingly esteemed given gifts and charmed. I was given "advice" which was thinly veiled ugly insults and reminded that those gifts were given because that is what they do for everyone and they are fair people.. and by the way they didn't choose them themselves they gave someone else money to buy them for me. I was very young and very vulnerable and very much wanted to belong.

Horrible gossip and slander of myself and others I cared about, greed and fierce competition with others for material things was rationalized and if confronted then outrightly denied. There were excuses made and accepted by the group think that is my in law family that defy logic and ignore huge character defects and can rationalize and justify almost anything. 

I soon learned that everything - every single thing was permissible for them to say or do in order to maintain control and refuse to recognize others as autonomous and of equal value to them. They would simply lie, deny, feign innocence, or blatantly rub it in my face baiting me to take the risk and challenge them on their behaviors. I had far more to lose than they did - I cared very deeply and loved them -  and they knew that and were emboldened by it.

Dr. George Simon describes this kind of thinking far better than I ever could in this excerpt from his article - Manipulative Tactics, A Closer Look, found here: https://www.drgeorgesimon.com/manipulation-tactics-a-closer-look/

Quote from: Dr. George Simon
When disturbed characters make excuses for their behavior, they know what they’re doing.  They have a clear purpose in mind when they’re seeking to justify themselves.  They use this tactic only when they know full well they’ve done something or plan to do something most everyone would regard as wrong.  But even knowing it’s wrong, and knowing how negatively the action reflects on them, they remain determined to do it.  They might feel “entitled” to do it (as in the case of more narcissistic individuals) or they may simply pit themselves against the generally accepted rules (as in the case of the aggressive personalities.  What’s most important to recognize is that at the very moment they’re making the excuse, they’re not “defending” at all or unconsciously fending off any anxiety.  Rather, they’re actively fighting against a principle they know society wants them to adopt.  And more importantly, they’re also trying to get you to go along with it. 

Covertly aggressive folks prefer this kind of tactic as opposed to open defiance because it not only helps conceal their aggressive intentions (as well as some telltale aspects of their character) but also simultaneously helps them maintain a more favorable social image (by getting someone else to see things their way or buy into the purported reasonableness of their actions).   And once they get the other person to become more accepting of their premise, they’re well on their way to winning the contests of image and interpersonal control.

I have come to the same painful conclusion as Dr. Simon here, I believe highly manipulative people absolutely know what they are doing and are seemingly remorseless in it because the root seems to be a mindset that approaches others with the aim to control and gain.

I thought it was profound in Dr. Harriet Braiker's book referenced above she says that after 25 years as a clinical psychologist she has had hundreds of people come to her for help in recovering from highly manipulative relationships, yet she has never had one single person come to her for help to recover from their manipulative behaviors that are hurting others. 

I need to say that I believe we are all capable of manipulation and being manipulated. It is not just within the context of PD relationships that this behavior is found and it is not just PD people who behave this way at times.  I do realize that. As I search myself for roots of this behavior toward others I can see it and I am determined to uproot any form of this in my own life.

It is the layering of disordered thinking and the hunger to control, coerce and dominate that is present in many PD/non relationships that brings this to a persistently malignant behavior in my view. It destroys and damages the mark deeply.


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Inurdreams

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 01:58:30 PM »
Oh Bloomie, I am so sorry this happened to you. 

I've been conned many times by many different people.  You just never see it coming, which is of course the whole plan or game.

This is what I have finally noticed:  The con has something we want or they perceive that we want.  It could be anything.  Maybe a playmate for our child, a job, an item, a service, etc.  They are more than happy to offer us this "wonderful" thing and it appears genuine and even selfless.  That's the hook.

So we take the bait, completely unaware we are being used.  All seems legitimate, at first and then, very subtly things change.  We are asked to do something for them.  Something small.  And we will gladly do it because they have provided us with something.  It's the whole give and take idea which is the foundation of genuine relationships, whether personal or professional.  We might be asked for something small like picking them up a cup of coffee while we are at Starbucks, or a gallon of milk while we are at the store.  We are already there, so why not?  It's no big deal.

Then, over time, the requests become more frequent and elaborate.  Now we might be asked to travel miles out of our way for something for them, or maybe to "help" them do something only to realize we aren't helping, at all, we are doing it for them, or they start to borrow things which mysteriously get lost or are never returned or returned broken.  But it has come on so slowly, over time, that we don't notice it, at first.  But then we start resenting all the favors that are never being returned and there is always some "legitimate" and outlandish excuse they come up with.  And we feel like jerks for not complying with their wants, after all, they did xyz for us.

It's like the toad in the water, on a slow boil.  We get so used to the heat we don't realize until it's too late that we are being boiled alive.

So, how do we protect ourselves?  What I look at is is this person charismatic?  This is definitely someone to avoid. Just walk away.  This person is a pro.  Is this person too nice, too accommodating, appearing  little too selfless, too eager to help?  Do they do things for me I haven't asked for?  Do they start questioning me about my time away from them?  Do they ask very personal questions and demand an answer?  Do they try to convince me that I need them or their service or friendship or the opposite, do they claim to need me, my time, etc. to the exclusion of anything else going on in my life?  Do they ask favors and demand a "yes" before they even tell us what the favor is?  Do they always have a crisis?

These are just the few I can think of off the top of my head and things I fell for.

For me, I had to learn the power of the word "no."  This was something I was never allowed to say growing up, especially to my elders or people in authority.  I had to be "nice" to everyone, no matter how I was being treated, by other children or adults.  I was taught that I always had to do for others and be selfless.  This is the perfect recipe for a "mark" and cons know this.

My rule of thumb now is, I am always busy.  I don't care if I'm just folding laundry or watching tv, if anyone calls or texts me or shows up, I am busy, busy, busy.  If anyone asks me what I'm doing, I will never say, "oh nothing,"  This is the con's first move.  They aren't making small talk, they are wanting to see if you are available.

"No," is always my first response to any favor or request, no matter how small it may seem.  (Not with people I know well, but those people who are always asking for ridiculous favors.)  I can always change my mind to a yes but it's much harder to change a yes to a no.

But I think the biggest thing is listening to my gut.  If I am starting to resent this person, this is a huge red flag and time to shut this person down and walk away, without guilt.  I learned that no matter what they have done for me, big or small, I do not owe them anything but a thank you and sincere gratitude, not my first born.  I think it's fine to reciprocate, but within reason.  Mostly I try to never ask for or receive  favors from people I don't know well enough to trust, completely.

I can give some specific examples of the cons worked on me if anyone is interested, but I fear this post is getting too long.
Peek not through the keyhole lest ye be vexed. - Stephen King


Response to a Flying Monkey:  Apparently you are suffering under the delusion that I give a damn.

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SaltwareS

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 11:33:55 PM »
Quote
Any tiny sprouts of independence and defiance where shut down through every means of manipulation I have been able to find in my reading.

I would call this a controlling relationship more so than a manipulative act. And I don't think they realize what they're doing, I think it becomes a habit and lots they do on autopilot. Now that friends my age have teens and older kids I can really see how you have to be so mentally healthy to be a parent that you allow your kids to grow and change without being totally neglectful or smothering.

But someone with a jumpy temperament or someone who has attachment issues and is unaware of how controlling they tend to be would shut down independent behavior in a child or loved one.

But yes it is a huge awakening and unfortunately I got really paranoid when I had this awakening and I was really looking at everyone as out to get me. I loved George T Simon's books on manipulative people and what he describes as "covert aggressive" behavior. It was very clarifying.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 11:38:57 PM by SaltwareS »

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bloomie

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2017, 12:39:41 PM »
Quote from: SaltwareS
I would call this a controlling relationship more so than a manipulative act. And I don't think they realize what they're doing, I think it becomes a habit and lots they do on autopilot. Now that friends my age have teens and older kids I can really see how you have to be so mentally healthy to be a parent that you allow your kids to grow and change without being totally neglectful or smothering.

Controlling relationships are by definition manipulative. The goal of manipulation is control and the overriding of another person's will for personal gain. Manipulation respects no boundaries. Manipulation takes hold in intimate, foundational relationships and at its core is coercive and deeply destructive to the psyche of the mark. If that mark is a child the amount of damage that can be done to one's emotional, spiritual, psychological development is grave. That has been my personal experience growing up in what I would describe as a high demand religious and disordered home with two highly manipulative uPD parents.

I think the example you use of parenting is a really good one though, as there is a distinct difference between influence and manipulation. I agree it takes a healthy, grounded person to parent well and effectively and discern carefully between manipulating our children and attempting to control them versus offering wisdom, clear guidance in such a way that respects their autonomy and human rights.

From Harriet B. Braiker's book Who's Pulling Your Strings:
Quote
Healthy appropriate influence is usually shaped by the process of reward. It is guided by open, direct communication. Strategies of threats or coercion are not used. The agenda of the influence is defined and made public to the participants.

Quote from: SaltwareS
But someone with a jumpy temperament or someone who has attachment issues and is unaware of how controlling they tend to be would shut down independent behavior in a child or loved one.

I am not sure what a jumpy temperament would constitute for sure - maybe hyper vigilance? But I agree those with attachment issues or who grew up in disordered, enmeshed homes could have developed controlling and manipulative behaviors as a coping mechanism that are less aware that their behaviors are coming from fear or insecurity, or some other type of emotional drive, but they are still clearly making the basic connection between their tactics getting them the compliance/benefit they are looking for otherwise they wouldn't use them. People manipulate because it works. The cause and effect is evident to the con and hidden from the mark - the entire point of manipulating someone is to coerce them without their knowledge. So, the one who is unaware in this carefully crafted imbalance of power in a relationship is the mark - not the con.

The telling thing with such a one for me would be how they respond when their manipulative behaviors begin to harm and hurt their relationships with others. If they are able to respond and adjust their behaviors when they are made aware of them that would be more of a flea rather than someone with the world view that is most always looking to advance their own interests, in my thinking. I am referring more to those with malignant highly manipulative personalities - displaying covert and overt manipulative behaviors over most every area of their life. Where there is no discernible interest in any agenda but their own and a breathtaking lack of consideration for the needs and feelings of the mark - though often that is carefully and oh, so insidiously hidden under layers of charm and empty words and gestures. 

Bottom line, I have learned asking why they do what they do or if they understand how they are impacting my life are luxuries I cannot afford. Using my energies and staying focused on spotting covert, coercive, sly behaviors, or learning to not be intimidated into evoked responses from overt, bullying behaviors that serve the purpose of the uPD's in my life over my own is the zone I have to stay in for my own health and well being.


« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 12:45:06 PM by Bloomie »

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practical

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2017, 03:00:52 PM »
Dr. George Simon describes this kind of thinking far better than I ever could in this excerpt from his article - Manipulative Tactics, A Closer Look, found here: https://www.drgeorgesimon.com/manipulation-tactics-a-closer-look/

Quote from: Dr. George Simon
When disturbed characters make excuses for their behavior, they know what they’re doing.  They have a clear purpose in mind when they’re seeking to justify themselves.  They use this tactic only when they know full well they’ve done something or plan to do something most everyone would regard as wrong.  But even knowing it’s wrong, and knowing how negatively the action reflects on them, they remain determined to do it.  They might feel “entitled” to do it (as in the case of more narcissistic individuals) or they may simply pit themselves against the generally accepted rules (as in the case of the aggressive personalities.  What’s most important to recognize is that at the very moment they’re making the excuse, they’re not “defending” at all or unconsciously fending off any anxiety.  Rather, they’re actively fighting against a principle they know society wants them to adopt.  And more importantly, they’re also trying to get you to go along with it. 

Covertly aggressive folks prefer this kind of tactic as opposed to open defiance because it not only helps conceal their aggressive intentions (as well as some telltale aspects of their character) but also simultaneously helps them maintain a more favorable social image (by getting someone else to see things their way or buy into the purported reasonableness of their actions).   And once they get the other person to become more accepting of their premise, they’re well on their way to winning the contests of image and interpersonal control.

I have come to the same painful conclusion as Dr. Simon here, I believe highly manipulative people absolutely know what they are doing and are seemingly remorseless in it because the root seems to be a mindset that approaches others with the aim to control and gain.
This so reminds me of my M and MIL. M would sometimes have this smug/creepy smile when she manipulated you and got what she wanted. For me one of the major consequences is it has eroded trust, trust in others as well as trust in my own judgement of people. For a long time I confused a certain kinds of manipulation with love,e.g. being told what was best for me I thought was love, I couldn't see it for the manipulation it was, for forming their object (=me) into their ideal as if I was a slab of raw clay. This showed in my choice of BFs, who in their style of manipulation were similar to M. I'm still working on rebuilding trust in myself and others, I find it is hard as I'm now seeing others as a potential fire hazard where I'll be burned again.

This is a really great thread, and I'm sorry you had to deal with so much of this behavior Bloomie.
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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SaltwareS

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2017, 05:14:50 PM »
Quote
I thought it was profound in Dr. Harriet Braiker's book referenced above she says that after 25 years as a clinical psychologist she has had hundreds of people come to her for help in recovering from highly manipulative relationships, yet she has never had one single person come to her for help to recover from their manipulative behaviors that are hurting others.

In another forum I used to frequent, there were a few adult children of NPD who eventually sought help for BPD manipulativeness etc. One I think was coerced into getting help. She said she didn't realize how manipulative she was being and two doctors caught her trying to play them off each other - the way her post was written I believed her. I read a theory or white paper somewhere that BPDs develop manipulative behaviors because asking directly for things was frowned upon in their environment , or something.

But I dunno - I think certain people are born with that npd/bpd temperament and it can be channeled in positive ways if they are raised well.

I had a friend who said oddly narcissistic things and my npdParent said that friend would probably end up being kind of narcissistic later in life. But the friend was raised by parents who reminded her to respect others and she would catch herself talking bad about people behind their backs and sort of admonish herself. However other times she was really carefree and would just pick on people with abandon and laugh. It's like her natural self was to control others but because she was raised and really reminded to be civilized and to respect people, she would try to make up for it at other times.
 
I am not "slow" but I can't get as much done around someone like that, I need privacy or just need to hear myself think. I have a different temperament. However I used to have more fleas than I do now.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 05:17:03 PM by SaltwareS »

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all4peace

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2017, 05:51:35 PM »
I'm on a manipulation exploration binge right now also. I got into George Simon's writings this week and couldn't seem to stop reading. I was kicking myself for the non-working time, but the very next day I had to confront my uNM about her manipulative behavior with my son. Then I felt grateful that I had been so thoroughly educated on all the forms that manipulation take.

My uNM is highly manipulative and controlling. So is uNBPDmil and probably even enN?fil. It's incredible how long it has taken me to see some of their behavior as manipulative, but after a while in relationship with someone it becomes unavoidable to notice that nearly all their efforts are aimed at getting what they want. When you start to confront them with that, and their response is over-the-top anger, silence, excuse making and everything BUT acknowledgement, empathy and sorrow, it becomes unavoidably noticeable.

What was so helpful for me (posted in a thread called something along the lines of Manipulation--behavior versus intention) was so see the many forms manipulation can take. DH has often referred to his father as "clueless" and "helpless" in his harmful behaviors towards DH. However, when something has been clearly explained to someone repeatedly, it becomes hard to believe they are actually that dense or powerless. What hit me this week is that these are also forms of manipulation.

This was an absolutely bolt-of-lightning eye-opening moment for me when I read your quote above, from George Simon
When disturbed characters make excuses for their behavior, they know what they’re doing.  They have a clear purpose in mind when they’re seeking to justify themselves.  They use this tactic only when they know full well they’ve done something or plan to do something most everyone would regard as wrong.  But even knowing it’s wrong, and knowing how negatively the action reflects on them, they remain determined to do it.  They might feel “entitled” to do it (as in the case of more narcissistic individuals) or they may simply pit themselves against the generally accepted rules (as in the case of the aggressive personalities.  What’s most important to recognize is that at the very moment they’re making the excuse, they’re not “defending” at all or unconsciously fending off any anxiety.  Rather, they’re actively fighting against a principle they know society wants them to adopt.  And more importantly, they’re also trying to get you to go along with it.

Covertly aggressive folks prefer this kind of tactic as opposed to open defiance because it not only helps conceal their aggressive intentions (as well as some telltale aspects of their character) but also simultaneously helps them maintain a more favorable social image (by getting someone else to see things their way or buy into the purported reasonableness of their actions).   And once they get the other person to become more accepting of their premise, they’re well on their way to winning the contests of image and interpersonal control.


The remaining wisps of fog cleared away. When my uNM blasts me with her excuses, instantaneously and prolifically, when FIL can spend an hour explaining away all his behavior, when these problematic people cannot EVER seem to see the truth or find empathy or make any progress in our relationship with them, it is because we are being manipulated. They know what they are doing. They know how it makes us feel. It is simply more important for them to try to strongarm us into seeing them the way they want to be seen, than to swallow pride, admit their wrong and repair the relationship.

When I confronted my uNM in writing recently, she phone blasted me. She "really, really wanted to talk to me!!" Of course she did. The last time we had this dynamic I ended up shouting in frustration. The blameshifting, and shaming and circular arguments were so crazy making that I behaved in a way I did not want to behave. This time I calmly addressed it and responded in writing, and that does not work for her. It's pretty hard to manipulate anyone that way.

Great thread, great conversations lately. I also wonder if honesty and manipulation are even more in our thoughts lately due to politics in the USA right now. It just seems to be absolutely everywhere and I'm trying to not despair of raising honest young adults in this pervasively unhealthy environment.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 05:54:17 PM by all4peace »

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bloomie

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2017, 08:25:23 PM »
Quote from: Practical
M would sometimes have this smug/creepy smile when she manipulated you and got what she wanted. For me one of the major consequences is it has eroded trust, trust in others as well as trust in my own judgement of people. For a long time I confused a certain kinds of manipulation with love,e.g. being told what was best for me I thought was love, I couldn't see it for the manipulation it was, for forming their object (=me) into their ideal as if I was a slab of raw clay. This showed in my choice of BFs, who in their style of manipulation were similar to M. I'm still working on rebuilding trust in myself and others, I find it is hard as I'm now seeing others as a potential fire hazard where I'll be burned again.

The non verbal cues are creepy! I have seen that smug look you describe - something called duping delight I believe. I think your point about how this confuses our perceptions of what love truly looks like and erodes trust in ourselves and others are possibly the most damaging effects that we experience in the trajectory of our lives.

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lightworld

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2017, 10:52:52 AM »
PD parents have the advantage of knowing and moulding us from an early age so have a clear idea what manipulations will work. Also their way of behaving becomes so natural to us that we become  used to being manipulated and  see it as the norm. That I think leaves us vulnerable to manipulation by others.  I feel that other manipulative people can see our weakness somehow, perhaps it's our people pleasing demeanour, but I've noticed that I certainly attract the sort  of people who take advantage of me in life.

In terms if my parents, there is a strong element of me being an object so anything goes, they don't tend to hide their manipulations or use sophisticated techniques on me because they don't see me as a person and I certainly don't think they take into account my feelings, except to take a bit of pleasure sometimes from my acquiescence and naivity but that's more like a cruel person teasing an animal. What I find most insulting in their behaviour to me is the assumption that I am stupid and will fall for the most basic lies and manipulations but I believe that is  because I used to do just that as an innocent child.

It's sad that we  have to be vigilant about this as well as all the other stuff but it's certainly a fact of life for me. I am always on the lookout for manipulative tactics and dangerous people but even so I still fall for manipulation often and when others point it out I'm always shocked and try to make excuses not really believing that someone could behave in such a way. It's only later, after much processing that  I see it. I find  it distressing and  it undermines  my sense of self terribly, I sometimes  feel I can't trust anyone including myself. LW
An empathic, highly sensitive, caring, loving, naïve, emotional and vulnerable child is a prime target for a narcissistic parent
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practical

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2017, 11:34:12 AM »
What I find most insulting in their behaviour to me is the assumption that I am stupid and will fall for the most basic lies and manipulations but I believe that is  because I used to do just that as an innocent child.
Yes, and that I have no memory of what was said and done before. I think partially they really belief their own lies as the lies are often a reflection of their feelings and feelings equal facts. With F I think when I challenge him and he comes up with a lie, he may not quite belief it at that moment, but then it becomes a fact for him - till that fact doesn't fit with what he needs, is discarded and replaced by a new lie, all the while thinking I don't see it. Even before I came OOTF I was aware of the lying as often B and I heard different versions of a story, they were tailor made for us as manipulations, and we would compare to figure out what was the kernel of truth. Yes, there always was a kernel of truth, which made it so confusing, and left me doubting myself and my sense of reality and ultimately affected my ability to trust.
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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bloomie

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2017, 01:23:11 PM »
Quote from: all4peace
My uNM is highly manipulative and controlling. So is uNBPDmil and probably even enN?fil. It's incredible how long it has taken me to see some of their behavior as manipulative, but after a while in relationship with someone it becomes unavoidable to notice that nearly all their efforts are aimed at getting what they want. When you start to confront them with that, and their response is over-the-top anger, silence, excuse making and everything BUT acknowledgement, empathy and sorrow, it becomes unavoidably noticeable.

This is my experience as well and I felt really crummy having allowed myself to be duped time and again. I then began to detach emotionally a bit and it allowed me to see that the behaviors are as calculated and rehearsed as those of an illusionist and fully integrated with their personalities and way of looking at themselves and others. I have found with the uPDs in my life the thing the con wants to keep hidden at ALL times at any cost, by any means, is their true intentions to override our defenses and control - by direct or indirect means - to evoke the responses they want from us, or stop us doing what they do not want. 

Quote from: lightworld
PD parents have the advantage of knowing and moulding us from an early age so have a clear idea what manipulations will work. Also their way of behaving becomes so natural to us that we become  used to being manipulated and  see it as the norm. That I think leaves us vulnerable to manipulation by others.  I feel that other manipulative people can see our weakness somehow, perhaps it's our people pleasing demeanour, but I've noticed that I certainly attract the sort  of people who take advantage of me in life.

 :yeahthat: Having come from a disordered home does leave us extremely vulnerable to manipulation from others and unable to even recognize the inherently abusive nature of coercion or being treated as an object or tool or means to an end. Being viewed as something owned, or that another has a right to, and those in the position to have the knowledge of our tender quirks, uniqueness, our talents and abilities, dreams and desires, to have our vulnerabilities used against us for another's gain by those we have no defenses agains is incredibly FOG inducing and as Practical points out, makes it so difficult to trust.

Quote from: SaltwareS
I had a friend who said oddly narcissistic things and my npdParent said that friend would probably end up being kind of narcissistic later in life. But the friend was raised by parents who reminded her to respect others and she would catch herself talking bad about people behind their backs and sort of admonish herself. However other times she was really carefree and would just pick on people with abandon and laugh. It's like her natural self was to control others but because she was raised and really reminded to be civilized and to respect people, she would try to make up for it at other times.

Having emotionally mature and grounded parents can make a such a difference in the life of a child with aggressive or controlling tendencies that are harming them and others. Having parents that continued to point the way toward appropriate treatment of others and chose to build into the good character of their child hopefully spared this friend and those that love her many heartaches down the road.

Quote from: Practical
Even before I came OOTF I was aware of the lying as often B and I heard different versions of a story, they were tailor made for us as manipulations, and we would compare to figure out what was the kernel of truth. Yes, there always was a kernel of truth, which made it so confusing, and left me doubting myself and my sense of reality and ultimately affected my ability to trust.

Tactics like outright lying, omission of inconvenient facts when telling us something, telling the truth with the intent to deceive, exaggerating, having a kernel of truth in the story, gossip, smearing, raging, intimidating tone of voice or snide nonverbals, denying wrong doing, the threat of raging...

For the longest time I misapplied the shame factor I would feel if I behaved any of these ways to PDs.  So an example - a uPD in law was in the midst of a major medical hoover maneuver. She had a common, easily treated issue which was sadly self induced to a great extent that she had blown up into a life threatening illness. Those in our family circle, including her H and children were buying in 100% and were emotional messes thinking she was potentially going to die.

I was in the uncomfortable and unique position through no instigation of my own to know that she was exaggerating and lying greatly. And she knew without a doubt that I knew her true condition. She made it a point to come into any gathering we all were in and stand in the middle of the room, look me right in the eyes, and bold faced lie about her treatments and condition to concerned and caring family members gathered anxiously around her awaiting an update.  :dramaqueen:

It took my breath away and confused the heck out of me until I saw the sly smile on her face. If I spoke up and called her out - which is what I truly believe she was provoking me to do - I looked like a total jerk and would be betraying some ethical concerns of my own, and she would be emboldened even further and continue to lie and her family would continue to believe her. She won and she was delighting in her power and control over actual truth. She was high on duping everyone and being in a position to control me.

Another example is gossip and smears. If I allow myself to engage in something I believe to be morally wrong such as gossip and smearing another person, exaggerating, lying, running them down, and it got back to the person I was maligning I would be horrified and contrite. Filled with shame and remorse.

Not so my uPD in laws. When called out directly on their gossip and smearing there is no discernible embarrassment, shame, remorse, concern. These tactics are acceptable and everyday behaviors serve them as avenues of intimidating other family members/people, triangulating, telling someone what you really think of them, but keeping the face to face phony image of loving family members who care so much about me, yet acting on the resentments and malevolence through these PA behavior.

It took me many years to realize they want this stuff to get back to me.  :doh: It's part of the tactic. They control the narrative, they control what others will think of me, they control my acceptance in the family circle, they control what is morally accepted behaviors, and they are above reproach and reproving. They want me walking around with the specter of what they may be saying behind my back... and eventually finding out exactly what they are saying behind my back... to keep me in line and in my place.

Quote from: lightworld
It's sad that we  have to be vigilant about this as well as all the other stuff but it's certainly a fact of life for me. I am always on the lookout for manipulative tactics and dangerous people but even so I still fall for manipulation often and when others point it out I'm always shocked and try to make excuses not really believing that someone could behave in such a way. It's only later, after much processing that  I see it. I find  it distressing and  it undermines  my sense of self terribly, I sometimes  feel I can't trust anyone including myself.

It is sad we have to be so vigilant in all of this. Even more so that it is with those who are our family members. It undermines trust and can easily destabilize our belief in our own ability to discern truth for ourselves.





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all4peace

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2017, 02:50:40 PM »
This forum has been so aptly named OOTF(og). The less time my FOC spends with our FOO PD families, the more the fog clears. For us, for our kids. We had two lovely older couples over recently, and at the end of our time together it was incredible to realize that there was nothing to detox from, nothing to try to figure out, to puzzle about motives, to recover from. It was a time full of appropriate small talk as well deeper topics, a time in which everyone served everyone else (we were hosting a shared meal in which the biggest part of the event was making food for one another in a specific way I won't explain here). No adult was trying to get credit for what they had brought or created. No child was being treated in an interrogative or inappropriate way. No person was being intrusive, unkind, manipulative. It was just lovely.

And what I'm starting to see, for me and my kids, is the more time we spend in the presence of healthy people, the more clear manipulative behaviors become for us. Maybe we can't identify it at that exact moment, but we can feel something off. Our bodies are expressing it, or our minds are trying to puzzle it out. Normal healthy evenly balanced interactions don't require a lot of puzzling or detoxifying afterwards.

Here's what I'm getting at. In the past, I was highly susceptible to uNM's blasting of reasons and excuses and aggressive tactics to knock me off balance. And I was highly susceptible to FIL's sad-eyed "misunderstandings" and innocence and inability to understand what I was saying.

I'm thrilled to see how quickly some of these lessons are finally coming together!

When I'm around healthy people, none of this happens! They're not pushing boundaries in the first place. And if they cross an unseen boundary, I name it, they apologize, and we move on. They do not cross it again. They do not try to get what they want through my kids. They do not manipulate me for their own ends. There is no power imbalance, no weirdness in communication, no backstabbing, dishonesty, hidden motives.

Spending time with healthy people is a wonderful inoculation against being manipulated or harmed by PDs!

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bloomie

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2017, 06:49:43 PM »
Quote from: all4peace
Spending time with healthy people is a wonderful inoculation against being manipulated or harmed by PDs!

All beautifully described and well said, but I especially like this! SO TRUE! I have begun to have zero tolerance for difficult behaviors and relationships that are a drain and strain at every turn. Self serving manipulation for control and personal gain is not the norm and the standard for many and I dare to believe not the intention of most.

I am learning that redirecting my positive energy and investment to building relationships with healthy people is a very healing and grounding experience. Time and distance... cannot underestimate what those two things can do for us on this journey OOTF!

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lightworld

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2017, 07:01:15 PM »
Spending time with healthy people is a wonderful inoculation against being manipulated or harmed by PDs!

Oh this is so true all4peace. After two years of being far away from both DH and my  FOO we've made some wonderful friends with no agenda and, as you say, nothing toxic and no recovery time needed just nice, warm,lovely people. It nourishes the soul just to be able to 'be' with people and not be hypervigilant. It's also less tiring because there is no processing time afterwards, you can just go back to your life. LW
An empathic, highly sensitive, caring, loving, naïve, emotional and vulnerable child is a prime target for a narcissistic parent
Clare Lane

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all4peace

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2017, 07:06:01 PM »
I am learning that redirecting my positive energy and investment to building relationships with healthy people is a very healing and grounding experience. Time and distance... cannot underestimate what those two things can do for us on this journey OOTF!
Absolutely!! When I asked for NC for 6 months (2 months ago) from next-door uPD ILs, I had no idea how quickly the healing could be. I have a lovely SIL who is mightily struggling from the effects of way too much contact with my uNM, and I'm encouraging her also to back away until she is able to heal and focus on the really amazing people and things she has going on in her life.

When dear SIL recently told me she needed a couple days to recuperate after having spent the day with my uNM, it brought back terrible memories and makes me so glad now for time with the non-manipulators.  I sleep well at night, we laugh and cry and feel safe. We can expose our vulnerabilities without fear, share our thoughts and feelings without judgement or future retaliation, and just enjoy the other person!

Really, though, getting back to the point of this thread.... my kids are teens. I am highly motivated to send them into life able to recognize and deal with problematic behavior in others (and hopefully not exhibit it themselves). The more time they spend around healthy people, the more obvious the bad behavior will become, and it will not be normalized for this generation in our family.

Oh this is so true all4peace. After two years of being far away from both DH and my  FOO we've made some wonderful friends with no agenda and, as you say, nothing toxic and no recovery time needed just nice, warm,lovely people. It nourishes the soul just to be able to 'be' with people and not be hypervigilant. It's also less tiring because there is no processing time afterwards, you can just go back to your life. LW
I'm so glad that you've reached this restful place!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 07:07:40 PM by all4peace »

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bloomie

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Re: The Con and the Mark
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2017, 07:21:09 PM »
Spending time with healthy people is a wonderful inoculation against being manipulated or harmed by PDs!

Oh this is so true all4peace. After two years of being far away from both DH and my  FOO we've made some wonderful friends with no agenda and, as you say, nothing toxic and no recovery time needed just nice, warm,lovely people. It nourishes the soul just to be able to 'be' with people and not be hypervigilant. It's also less tiring because there is no processing time afterwards, you can just go back to your life. LW

Yes, it nourishes the soul! Perfect! Like a long drink of cool water on a really warm summer day is how refreshing it is to enjoy loving, safe interactions with others. Where the agenda is... simply to be together and share life.

I sometimes find myself watching... waiting... for the wind to shift and the love and acceptance to be pulled out from under my feet... those drat fleas!

Learning about manipulative tactics and to recognize highly controlling people and single sided relationships has been like learning to spot the weeds that grow up right next to a flower or veggie seedling in my garden. Often, at first glance it looks so similar to the healthy plant that it is easily overlooked and soon spreads to overtake and choke out the good plants if not spotted early and pulled out roots and all!