QUICKLY Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People in Your Personal Life, Job, and National Politics
You will encounter manipulators in your life/work/politics, so you'd better know how to identify them and deal with them
Realize that cruel and manipulative people exist in your life/work/politics
Know how to spot them via a) inconsistency and self-contradiction, b) shape-shifting, and c) consistent struggle for power-over, “one-upmanship” and “I-win you-lose”
Once you spot them, immediately protect yourself, separate/distance/leave, and take away their sharp objects and nuclear keys
You can work on identifying/addressing your personal vulnerabilities later, after you are out of danger
This is going to be a brief and efficient post on an important topic, and I am going to use the book/audiobook In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People by Dr. George K. Simon (Ph.D. Clinical Psychology from Texas Tech University) as the discussion’s main reference along with a few perspectives from my own life experience. The purpose of this brief (I’ll keep it as short as possible) note is to literally raise awareness so that everyone accessing this can more effectively see and deal with 1) the manipulation confronting them in their personal lives and 2) the political manipulation confronting all of us internationally right now.
“If you are naturally intelligent, honest, and compassionate, then you will naturally assume that other people are, too, and manipulative people will use this against you. You have to learn to maintain and protect these good qualities while not allowing them to be vulnerabilities when confronted by psychopathic and sociopathic people.” Dr Vasquez
I have recently drafted two larger discussions on this topic (see also the previous discussion about Leadership vs Manipulation), but—while those are still being detailed and edited—here is what we all need to know now:
1) First step: You have to realize that cruel and manipulative people exist, and that many of them seek and gain positions of power, especially in administration and politics
We will all encounter manipulative sociopathic/psychopathic people in our personal lives because they comprise 1-5% of the population, ie, up to 1 per 20-100 people have diagnosable psychopathic traits. If you’re older than 30-40 years old and you’re not already recognizing these people, you’re either very lucky (the rest of us wish we could have your luck!) or you’re under their spell and you just don’t see it.
In the professional and political realms, the people we are going to encounter are high-functioning psychotics: people who are sociopathic/psychopathic and mentally ill yet able to hide their illness and/or use it to their advantage to gain and keep dysfunctional power over others. Many high-functioning psychotics are able to attain higher education at the masters/doctorate levels and gain employment in administration (eg, academics), business (eg, cutthroat entrepreneurs), and politics (eg, benign-appearing authoritarianism, especially in medicine).
In my own life, I realized in my early 20s that I was the prototypic Naive Male (by Robert Bly [Link1; Link2]), and that I was getting clobbered by the manipulative people around me; I decided to use my successful academic abilities to study human behavior while I worked my way through graduate school, and I’ve continued to study psychology/psychopathology since then.
If you want clear evidence, see these prototypic examples of high-functioning psychopaths per the videos/links provided below:
the documentary “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father”—noted true story of a high-functioning psychopath: medical physician with BPD who murdered her partner and child
the case of Canadian Air Force commander Russell Williams—noted true story of a high-functioning psychopath: decorated military officer, rapist, murderer
the case of Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski—psychopathic serial killer with a picture-perfect American family
the movie “Fatal Attraction”—not a good movie but a good example of the passion, drama, and danger that typifies romantic relationships with psychopaths/BPD
2) Second step: You have to appreciate the few fool-proof tools that you can use to identify these people
Inconsistency and self-contradiction (a form of gaslighting): Their inconsistency is their crazy-making tool, but it is also their identifier—it gives them away if 1) you pay attention to their details and catch the lies and then 2) trust yourself that you’re not crazy, wrong, or imagining things.
Shape-shifting (a form of gaslighting): Manipulators will shift from needing you (victim), to helping you (rescuer) to hurting you (villain), and this confusion/disguise is their main tool, ie, a form of the Karpman drama triangle. Obviously, if they were harmful all the time, then they would be easier to identify; they use kindness to bait their victims, hide their intentions, and learn vulnerabilities to gain advantage. If you “can’t figure them out” then that is your signal to leave.
Consistent struggle for power-over, “one-upmanship” and “I-win you-lose”: In a normal relationship, both people take turns teaching/learning, leading/compromising, winning/losing. If you’re always on the losing side, then either you’re lucky to be being mentored/taught by someone with superior expertise or you’re being squashed by a manipulator who is playing you like a game.
You must trust yourself and listen to your unrest: These identifiers/tools only work if you trust yourself, listen to your instincts, and trust in your experience to identify normal versus abnormal situations.
Self-trust becomes even more crucial if you are working with several manipulators at the same time in the same organization. Imagine working with a University President who is stealing from the scholarship funds, the Vice President of Academics who uses the school to gain employment for his family, the Vice President of Finance who is cooking the books to cover the theft, and the Dean of Academics who is just trying to keep them all happy so she can keep her job.
3) Third step: When you identify these people, you have to realize that most of them are incurable psychopaths/ sociopaths/ character-disordered people and that they will not and/or cannot change, and thus your best course of action is to separate from them and/or remove them from their positions of power. Don’t try to fix them, and don’t try to “understand” them. Cut the cord, cut the cables, cut the ties, and free yourself.
If you can leave, then leave.
If you cannot leave, then you have to 1) protect yourself (eg, at least gain some distance and try to ignore them), and 2) get ready to deal with the drama.
4) Fourth step: You can work on identifying/addressing your personal vulnerabilities later, after you are out of danger
If you are naturally intelligent, honest, and compassionate, then you will naturally assume that other people are, too, and some people will use this against you.
Manipulators will use your honest, intelligent, trusting nature against you, so you have to learn to maintain and protect your good qualities while not allowing them to serve as vulnerabilities with manipulative people.
Dr Alex Kennerly Vasquez (introduction; brief Bio-CV) writes and teaches for an international audience on various topics ranging from leadership to nutrition to functional inflammology. Major books include Inflammation Mastery, 4th Edition (full-color printing, 1182 pages, equivalent to 25 typical books [averaging 60,000 words each]), which was also published in two separate volumes as Textbook of Clinical Nutrition and Functional Medicine (Volume 1: Chapters 1-4; Volume 2: Chapter 5—Clinical Protocols for Diabetes, Hypertension, Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Vasculitis, Dermatomyositis and most other major inflammatory/autoimmune disorders); several sections have been excerpted including Antiviral Strategies and Immune Nutrition (ISBN 1502894890) (aka, Antiviral Nutrition [available as PDF download] and Brain Inflammation in Chronic Pain, Migraine, and Fibromyalgia. Dr Vasquez’s books are available internationally via bookstores such as BookDepository, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks, BetterWorldBooks, WaterStonesBooks and his new Telegram channel is https://t.me/DrAlexVasquez.
the documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: youtube.com/watch?v=cDSgMlVWbfU
the case of Canadian Air Force commander Russell Williams: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/canadian-sicko-russell-williams-life-prison-murder-rape-article-1.190913
the case of Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski: https://www.vintag.es/2018/02/richard-iceman-kuklinski-life-through.html