How to recognize the Narcissistic Manipulator

Throughout life, we encounter numerous types of people. As we approach middle-age, we begin to realize that variety among our peers is in short supply. People tend to learn by mimicking others and originality is merely a word with little meaning in modern society. However, we encounter those frequently in life that would be classified as toxic or a negative influence on the quality of our lives. These people operate under a separate set of rules than the rest of us. They are narcissistic, and use Intel they glean in various ways to manipulate their targets into a form of servitude. They take many forms and wear many masks but here today I hope to shed light on the darkness of the narcissistic manipulator.

We’ve all witnessed various Hollywood renditions of cloak and dagger films. These films usually follow the familiar formula of following a secret agent on dangerous missions as he or she performs their duty in service of some grand plan laid out in the opening scenes. I mention this example as spies typically use manipulation to accomplish their goals and to minimize the soiling of their hands. They present themselves with a larger than life persona to their enemies and “friends” alike. It is not unlike creatures within the animal kingdom that when threatened seek to make themselves appear larger and thus a harder target. It is a form of manipulation without ever saying a word. The weak must appear strong to survive, and a lone spy in a foreign land is in a precarious position. Should their real purpose be discovered, no amount of posturing or subterfuge will save their lives.  The go-to tool in a spy’s toolkit and that of your garden variety manipulator is lying.  Neither of these people could achieve any of their goals without first deceiving their target.

A touchy subject for many of us that work for a living would be the machinations and manipulations of our employers. Everyone, without exception, has had that one boss that is apparently disconnected with reality and only follows a standard of conduct when dealing with employees when they fear someone is watching. They will tell the target of their deception, we guinea pigs of course, that they wouldn’t dream of treating anyone differently than anyone else.  Gas-lighting is intentionally stating something that the victim, in this case, knows to be untrue with the hope of confounding them and make them question their sanity. The narcissistic overseer will magnify the discomfort of others to modify the behavior of the one they are seeking to manipulate. They will gladly blame you for all the ills of the world, to marginalize your contribution, so you always feel as if you need to prove yourself each day. Conversely, such a person will dismiss any problems that you have as manifestations of your paranoia and cite your proclivity for inciting drama in the workplace. Such a person will make unreasonable demands, offer their assistance, and disappear off the face of the earth until the task is complete. Once your mission is complete, they take all the spoils of your hard work and claim it as their own. They resort to threats, usually of the passive-aggressive and suggestive kind. One day they are your best friend in the entire world, or so they would have you believe keeping you emotionally off balance, and then they will flip their behavior one-hundred, and eighty degrees an make asinine demands and attacks upon your character. I’ve had ample experience with this example much to my dismay.

Relationships are where most people primarily find these low-hanging fruits of society. Our partner will make unreasonable demands, and it seems as if every concern they voice is a crisis we must solve. We are molded to feel inept and foolish until we meet their ever-increasing demands. Such a person is never satisfied, and there will always be another crisis of increasing severity that we will be tasked with and often blamed for its manifestation. Guilt is a favorite tool of the narcissist. We are brought down to the level of feeling sub-human overwhelmed with a guilt that can seemingly only be abated by acquiescence to their demands. They will criticize us all day long, and it is part of an emotional manipulation tactic. They have to break you down emotionally so you will willingly follow their direction. This reinforces what they believe is their superiority over others. In fact, they are lacking in morals and have no confidence in their abilities to prosper on a level playing field with everyone else. This is why they resort to gas-lighting and enact a campaign of manipulation to break the wills of all those they encounter that do have a conscience.

Dealing with these people is never easy. They do have one flaw that can be exploited should we wish to exact punishment on them for their misdeeds. Emboldened by their previous successes and manipulative strategies, they believe themselves intellectually superior. Such a person will often overlook the small details in a laser-like focus on the bigger goal. A perceptive individual can quickly discover the nature of such shallow creatures and devise plans for dealing with them. As I said most of us have a conscience and while initially, retribution will feel fantastic over time such acts will weigh upon us as selfish and counter to our very natures. However, we mustn’t overlook our self-preservation to satisfy principle. I would advise you if you can to remove yourself from the clutches of these people without ever having to seek revenge. Sometimes we can’t avoid satisfying honor, and an example must be made. We can though pick up on the signs and warning signals that such insipid people exude from their tattered souls and head off disaster for another day. Whether you believe in God or the karma principle, these people will be brought to judgment in one way or the other, and I know that we can all sleep better at night not having to seek callous revenge over an obstacle that might have been avoided. Life is as much about learning as it is living and we must uphold a higher standard for both.

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Author: James Borden

I'm a veteran of the U.S Army, with one deployment to Afghanistan. I will not pull punches in my articles and what you see is what you get.

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