The three phases of Psychopathic manipulation
Remember only 1% of the population are psychopathic, other characters can play some of the same games, though probably with less commitment. While I want to encourage people to be on their guard, I don’t want them to be paranoid. From experience – during 28 years working at the BBC I was only ‘successfully’ bullied twice with 3 unsuccessful attempts – so people attempted to bully me less than once every 5 years. Back to being on your guard… please don’t read if what I’m writing about may be triggering for you?
Assessment, Manipulation, and Abandonment
“Phase 1: Assessment
…They often are on the lookout for individuals to swindle or scam, and this first phase of psychopathic manipulation involves identifying and then assessing targets or prey. Most psychopaths are opportunistic, aggressive predators who will take advantage of almost anyone they meet, while others are more playful, lying in wait for the perfect, innocent victim to cross their path. In either case, the psychopath is constantly sizing up the potential usefulness of individuals they meet as sources of money, power, sex, or influence. People who have power, celebrity, or high social status are particularly attractive.”
It’s fairly easy to find out those who have the most formal power in any organization but there is also informal power – PAs are often the gatekeeper to their boss and those willing to do more of the heavy lifting workwise can be useful as well. Just because you are not management doesn’t mean you can’t be exploited.
“In addition to assessing the potential utility of others, psychopaths assess their emotional weak points and psychological defenses in order to work out a plan of attack…
On the surface, psychopaths generally come across in public as being at the top of their game, wearing the suit of success. However, they are actually playing out a parasitic lifestyle. They prefer living off the work of others rather than their own efforts… psychopaths remorselessly use others…even psychopaths who have jobs mooch off others in overt and covert ways; they take from coworkers and employers alike.
Characteristically, the economic and emotional impact of their behavior on others is irrelevant to them, in part because they believe everyone in this dog-eat-dog world is as greedy and unfeeling as they are. They also seem unable to construct an accurate picture of others’ emotional depth, wrongly assuming that the emotional life of everyone else is as shallow and barren as their own. In psychopaths’ mental world people do not exist except as objects, targets, and obstacles…They truly lack the emotions of guilt, remorse, and empathy. Some might suggest that psychopaths are such effective predators because they are not plagued by doubts and concerns raised by a conscience.
In addition to their parasitic nature and lack of an emotional life, there is evidence that psychopaths need considerable novel stimulation to keep from getting bored…often leads them to search for new and exciting opportunities and to move casually from relationship to relationship and job to job…Most people are able to endure tedium and hard work over long periods in order to do significant things in their lives, such as completing a college degree, apprenticing, or working at an entry-level job in hope of promotion. Psychopaths search for easier routes to the same ends; they have very poor frustration tolerance. A surprisingly large number do manage to graduate from college or obtain professional credentials (many in our research possess graduate school, medical, or law degrees…,) but in most cases, their credentials are gained less through hard work and dedication than through cheating, getting others to do their work, and ‘working the system’…They cannot imagine how or why anyone would work hard-or wait their turn-for anything they wanted. Their need for stimulation is apparent in a penchant for high-risk thrill-seeking behaviors.
Psychopaths have a great sense of superiority and entitlement. Their Grandiose sense of self leads them to believe that other people exist just to take care of them and think nothing of helping themselves to property that belongs to others. Because they see most people as weak, inferior, and easy to deceive, psychopathic con artists will often tell you that their victims deserved what they got. Sometimes their sense of superiority is so great that they will say that they are conferring a gift by letting their victims support them.”
The psychopath’s arrogance is well demonstrated by Hare being told, more than once, by a psychopath in his research that they considered themselves, without the drag of emotions, the next step in evolution!
“Phase 2: Manipulation
Following the identification of individuals who may be useful to them and assessing their vulnerabilities, psychopaths begin to weave a shroud of charm and deceit that we have labeled the psychopathic fiction… the manipulation phase.
The first goal here is to gain the trust of the target individual. One of the most effective skills psychopaths use to get the trust of people is their ability to charm them through ingratiation and various impression-management techniques. They have an engaging manner and make a great first impression on people. With this first impression, they begin to build and elaborate fictitious persona…psychopaths can come across as strong, naïve, dominant, honest, submissive, trustworthy, worldly, or whatever they believe will get others to respond positively to manipulative overtures.
Granted, some psychopaths lay the charm on too thick, coming across as glib, superficial, and unconvincing. However, the truly talented ones have raised their ability to charm people to that an art, even priding themselves on (and often bragging about) their ability to fool people by presenting a fictional self that is convincing…
What contributes significantly to their success in engendering trust in their victims is their almost pathological ability to lie with impunity, without any hesitation. Unencumbered by social anxieties, fear of being found out, empathy, remorse, or guilt-some of nature’s brake pedals for antisocial behavior in humans- psychopaths tell tales so believable, so entertaining, so creative, that many listeners instinctively trust them.”
Many of their victims once ensnared readily minimise their crimes and forgive them, being caught in their webs feels better than facing the future without them.
One might think that a long series of lies would eventually become transparent, leading to unmaking the psychopath, but this is rarely the case. The reason most observers do not see through the lies is that many psychopathic lies serve both to allay the doubts or concerns of the victim and to bolster the psychopathic fiction. Their often theatrical, yet convincing stories reinforce an environment of trust and genuine delight, leading people to accept them for exactly who they appear to be – and almost unconsciously excuse any inconsistencies they might have noted. If someone challenges them or catches them in a lie, psychopaths are not embarrassed. They simply change or elaborate on the storyline to weave together all the misarranged details into a believable fabric. Well-practiced oral communication skills make this endless stream of disinformation seem believable, sensible, and logical
Surprisingly, psychopaths can lie convincingly to people who already know the truth about what they saying. Victims often come to doubt their own knowledge of the truth and change their own views to believe what the psychopath tells them rather than what they know to be true. Such is the power of psychopathic manipulation. Some psychopaths are proud of this expertise, making fun of their victims’ gullibility and often bragging about how they fooled this person or that person. To give the devil his due, in many cases, this self-praise is justified.
It is not clear to researchers whether psychopaths lie because it is an effective tactic to get what they want or the act of lying itself is pleasurable, or both. It could be that psychopaths fail to learn the importance of honesty in their youth and learn, instead, the utility of lying to get what they want from others. However, in the typical child, lying and storytelling lessen with age, while psychopaths continue through adulthood. They do not see the value of telling the truth over lying unless it will help get them what they want; it is a business decision.
The difference between psychopathic lies and those told by others is that the latter typically are less calculated and destructive. They are also far less pervasive…unlike psychopaths, cynical, facile lying is not an integral, systemic part of their personalities.
Another characteristic of psychopaths is an ability to avoid taking responsibility for things that go wrong; instead, they blame others, circumstances, personality clashes, fate, and so forth. They have an impressive supply of excuses for why they are not to blame for anything that they have said or done to hurt someone else. Interestingly, pointing the finger at others can also serve their manipulative plan well, especially if well-executed, as it can be used to elevate their own image while spreading disparaging information about rivals and detractors. They do this by positioning their blame on others as a display of loyalty to the listener. That is, psychopaths, appear to be helping or protecting the individual from harm by passing the blame on to a third party.
Phase 3: Abandonment
Once psychopaths have drained all the value from their victim, they abandon that victim and move on to someone else. Abandonment is typically abrupt – the psychopath just disappears one day- and it often occurs without the current victim even realizing the psychopath has been looking for someone new to use.
In crimes such as identity theft….the arrival of the Internet has made the psychopathic criminal’s life easier, as running and hiding occur at the flip of a switch and targets are plentiful, readily accessible, and anonymous….
To be able to abandon people in such a callous and harmful manner, one must be immune to the feelings of those one hurts. Psychopaths can easily do this because they develop poor or weak emotional and social attachments with others. Most people feel at least a twinge of guilt or regret if they have hurt someone. Psychopaths have only a vague appreciation of these concepts, and sometimes find the idea of guilt or remorse an amusing weakness the rest of us possess-something that they can use to their advantage…
To summarize, first psychopaths assess the value of utility of individuals and identify their psychological strengths and weaknesses. Second, they manipulate the targets (turning them into victims) by feeding them carefully crafted messages (the psychopathic fiction) designed to build and maintain control. They then drain them of psychical, psychological, emotional, and financial resources. Third, they leave the drained and bewildered victim when they are bored or otherwise through with them.
In personal intimate relationships, “they approach many individuals offering ‘commitment,’ but then leave when their usefulness has expired…They often leave behind a trail of jilted lovers, possibly abused ex-spouses and unsupported children…this pattern of behavior leads to a reputation as a ‘player,’ and some psychopaths will even promote these reputations themselves to build up their status and mystique. Unfortunately, for the psychopaths’ partners, these relationships are one-sided and often plagued by intimidation, abuse, and violence. Sadly, as many as one in five persistent spouse abusers have psychopathic personalities.
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