Friday, October 12, 2007

Resisting Manipulation

Here is a suggestion for how to keep narcissists and other psychological manipulators from controlling you.

Never think to outsmart them or out-manipulate them. You might as well think to beat Roger Federer at tennis.

But straight thinking can help immensely.

Keep clear on this point: Your feelings are not under your control. Your conduct is. Do not let your emotions control your conduct. If you don't, you won't be manipulated.

Like a novelist, a manipulator manipulates your feelings. A novelist knows how to make you happy, sad. He knows how to put you on tenterhooks. He knows how to make you side with a certain character, even a villain. He knows how to make you desperate to see the hero get what she wants.

There are literary formulas for achieving all these things in the mind of the reader.

So, con artists, narcissists, and psychopaths aren't the only great manipulators out there. But they all manipulate by manipulating your emotions.

They CAUSE your feelings. If the situation is such that you can't keep them from abusing you at will, they control your feelings.

Bruised feelings are more sensitive feelings. So, continuing abuse gets more and more painful.

This is why it's best to get away from the narcissist. By doing so, you take away his or her power to control your emotions.

Those emotions aren't bad. In fact, they are what motivate you to put a stop to the abuse. They give you the courage to act.

Fine. But don't let those emotions do your thinking for you. They are housed in the primitive brainstem, so you can imagine what kind of bright ideas they come up with.

Not smart. Then YOU will have something to be ashamed of.

Your intellect should be in charge of your conduct.

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a masterful story of intellect and emotion battling for supremacy in this young man. His raging soliloquies are Emotion trying to make him just go murder that guy and be done with it, so that the world sees he does have a spine.

This inner battle tears him apart. The same inner battle tears the victims of narcissists apart. It's a living Hell.

But I'm sorry, but there's no way duck out of it. Many people think to do so by cheating: they just squelch their feelings.

There. Hell all gone.


That isn't the same thing as putting your intellect in control of your conduct.

What's more, these people don't really alter their feelings at all. They just delude themselves into thinking that they have controlled their feelings by repressing them. Repressed feelings aren't controlled. They are just pushed down to the level of the subconscious. And they still motivate your conduct from there.

The only difference is that now you are unaware of their influence on your conduct. So, you can't temper that influence with reason and good judgement.

That's dangerous. It's dangerous to have subconscious activity motivating your conduct!

So, there is no way to avoid this heart-rending inner battle of emotion and intellect. The psychological warfare of the narcissist has forced it on you. You are just going to have to win it.

Hamlet does. He never denies his emotions, but he also never cedes control of his conduct to his emotions. Painful as they are, his emotions are good for him. They keep him from the cowardice and treason of allowing the murder of his father by doing nothing about it. BUT, he never lets those emotions call the shots. His intellect steadfastly chooses to bide his time, waiting for an opportunity to do justice, putting the black hat on Claudius and the white hat on himself for the whole world to see. And when that opportunity arrives (at the end), Hamlet acts without hesitation as the legal Seat of Justice in the land.

Justice. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum!

The famous saying was coined by Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, a Roman statesman and Julius Caesar's father-in-law.

It is usually translated as "Though the heavens fall, let justice be done!" Although to a native speaker of Latin the sense would be "To hell with heaven, let justice be done!" Or in another sense: "To hell with celebrities, let justice be done!"

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At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Marisol said...

Great post in a great series of posts. Thanks for putting your heart, your talent and your sense of timing into writing about these things. Did you see the movie What Dreams May Come? The post was reminding me of those people stuck in hell without knowing they were dead, and all those various rescuers who wouldn't give up. I don't know which of those rescuers the post was reminding me of. They did get that one person out of hell, that was pretty impressive. I know it brought an awfully Hollywoody treatment to a lot of sacred subjects, but I liked it (I hope that's not some kind of controversial opinion people would rather you kept to yourself about yourself!)

At 6:06 PM, Blogger zubeldia said...

Hi there,

I just happened upon this blog and wanted to say 'hello'. I recently realised that my mother likely has quite severe NPD and I am now dealing with the fall-out at the age of 31. It's a pretty despairing experience, but so much makes sense to me now... I have been dealing with various eating disorders (mostly anorexia) from an early age and I'm beginning to see the role my mum played in its development,


At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Stef said...

Interesting post for me, since my NPD father *is* a novelist! (Or was--hasn't published anything in a long time.) I don't talk to him anymore and it's been so, so freeing.

At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

got a call from my narcissist. "Mum is dying" I went into Narcissitic Supplier mode and packed my bag: abandoned personal and professional plans and was about to set off on the 8 hour journey at 8pm.
Then I remembered to act on my logic. arrange to fulfill some person and professional obligations, get some sleep first. Tell myself "He is alone down there because he made living with him impossible"
When I rang the hospital at dawn, his mother was okay.
I, at least had my chores for next week done and wasn't 700 klms away being verbally denigrated.
Thanks Kathleen...great advice in your book....I feel I have turned a corner.


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