You are currently viewing Narcissistic perverts, manipulators: how to recognize them?

The manipulators, or narcissistic perverts, represent only 2 to 3% of the population, but rubbing shoulders with one of them is very often a destructive experience. Harder to spot than you might think, they are highly toxic personalities. Who are they ? How to recognize them? Protect yourself from it? Advice from our experts.

They are called manipulators or narcissistic perverts. They can be a spouse, a relative, a boss, a colleague, a friend. Seductive, friendly, sometimes reserved, they please with their charming and flattering side. But very quickly, on contact with them, a feeling of unease sets in. And their victims enter into an infernal spiral of guilt and devaluation. Real dangers for our physical and mental integrity, manipulators are narcissistic personalities who represent, according to Isabelle Nazare-Aga, author of The Manipulators are among us (editions of Man), 2 to 3% of the population. We are therefore all led to come across one day, if we haven’t already, a person suffering from this pathology. “Often I hear that after all, we are all a bit manipulative. No, in the same way that we cannot say that we are all liars or schizophrenics. There is a big difference between being manipulative once in a while and being manipulative. The reason for these? “To make ourselves valid by crushing ourselves to feel superior. They are like viruses. They distill the evil to several victims at the same time – their spouse, their children, the baker… – You are only a pawn on which they rely to develop themselves”.

Narcissistic perverts are born comedians

Esperances, 53, lived with a manipulator for a long time. “I see his face closed, icy. I remember his prolonged silences, his murderous little phrases. Every day, he belittled me, humiliated me, while pretending to want my happiness. From the outside, the others looked at me enviously, thinking that I was living with the ideal man”. The characteristic of manipulators? They have many faces. They can be extroverted, bon vivants, seducers, cultured, altruistic, or more shy but also authoritarian and tyrannical… And go from one facet to another in just a few seconds. “If you have upset them, for example, they can go from deep sadness to terrible fury in an instant. Besides that, they obviously have positive sides, they can be very funny, very original… But it’s the better to manipulate you. »

toxic personalities

But difficult, most often, to recognize the highly toxic personalities that hide under these different masks. Isabelle Nazare-Aga has thus determined thirty characteristics which allow it – knowing that she describes as a manipulator an individual who acts according to at least 14 criteria from this list -. Among them: guilt, criticism and devaluation of others, transfer of responsibility to them, vague communication, frequent change of opinions, lies, jealousy… “If you have the feeling that you are no longer free, if you constantly talk about a person when they are not there, and if in their presence, you are not calm, or you behave like a little boy or a little girl and more like an adult, you are probably dealing with a manipulator. The same goes for those people who take you five days to recover from a simple call from them. »

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Experts in seduction

“At first, I thought I had met the man of my life,” recalls Angéline, 45. He liked everything I liked, always wanted to please me, and was sexually completely available to me. “Behind these attentions, these flattery and these (false) promises, hides, for Christel Petitcollin, psychotherapist and author of Escape the manipulators (Guy Tredaniel), a real challenge for the manipulator. “He will seek to capture the secret dream that lies dormant deep within us. We all cherish one: having a family life, making films… He will make us believe that it is through him that we will be able to achieve it. And will be able, thereafter, to hold us by this dream”.

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Testimonials

Then comes the moment when the manipulator drops the mask. Gone is the model employee, the wonderful wife or the perfect father. This moment, all of Christel Petitcollin’s patients remember it with precision. Sometimes the day of the end of a trial period, of a wedding, of moving in, of a positive pregnancy test… The day when the fairy tale suddenly turned into a nightmare. And where did permanent denigration and daily humiliations begin. “The victim will then begin to fear reprisals, to feel guilty when the other is not in a good mood, to forbid himself, for example, from going out with his friends, for fear that he/she will make him pay for it. . And to live only in fear of dissatisfying him.

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People without affect

Are the manipulators aware of the harm they cause? “No, replies Isabelle Nazare-Aga. But the influence they have on others, yes. “For Christel Petitcollin, this pathology is explained by a “frozen immaturity. According to her, narcissistic perverts would be stuck in childhood. “These are adults who have the same reactions as a 5-year-old child who likes to pull the legs of flies without realizing that it hurts him. They are not able to see each other’s suffering. They do not respect him and will seek to satisfy their needs at his expense”. After more than twenty years spent studying the question, Isabelle Nazare-Aga is also formal: “the manipulators do not like anyone”.

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They loved a pervert
Trapped, imprisoned by their husbands, they experienced the hell of daily psychological – and sometimes physical – violence. Three women, three different stories, but the same courage: that of breaking up to regain one’s freedom, one’s identity. They told us about their long journey to flee and rebuild themselves.

Manipulators from an early age

But are we born or do we become manipulators? Isabelle-Nazare Aga was able to observe manifestations of the thirty characteristics that allow her to identify a manipulator in very young children. “But there is no profile. It is not just about children who have not been loved by their father or their mother. More often than not, I rather observe child kings, admired, respected and feared, because they are so young manipulators. At this age, it is still possible to try to change them. Afterwards, it is too late, according to the therapist. Same story with Christel Petitcollin. “Above all, they don’t want to change. They are convinced that they have the truth. There is never any questioning. They are in frightening mechanisms of denial. »

people to flee

Faced with them, the recommended attitude is… flight. “You should know that in the case of a couple, for example, any hope of a happy and harmonious marital life is vain,” explains Isabelle Nazare-Aga. As a general rule, it is best to avoid contact with handlers. You lose your energy and your soul. Another solution, for those who are forced to deal with them: counter-manipulation. “We must no longer communicate in a normal way. Use short, fuzzy sentences, show a lot of humor and irony. The important thing is to show through your answers that you are not emotionally hurt. But it doesn’t work in the long run. It’s survival, to avoid permanent arguments. “Provided you prepare well for your departure (photocopy important papers, open another account, etc.), it is possible to leave a manipulator. Esperances succeeded, “not without difficulty”. “Today, I am rebuilding myself little by little,” she says. I no longer know what desire is, I no longer trust men. But I left. »

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“I left a manipulative pervert”.
The testimony of Esperances.

“Each of us can be the victim of a manipulator”

Why do some fall into the nets of manipulators and not others?
Isabelle Nazare-Aga: There are many who do not conceive that manipulators can exist, that a mother wants to psychically destroy her children, or a spouse, his wife. Many people find it difficult to accept that wickedness can go so far. There are also those who ignore the existence of these personalities. And then, people who lack self-esteem, self-affirmation or who, in love, are in a situation of emotional dependence. They are vulnerable prey.

Can we all be victims of a manipulator?
Absolutely. According to my calculation, made from my training groups on difficult personal relationships in public companies over several years, only 10% of people would be indifferent to any manipulation. It’s very rare not to feel any emotion when someone threatens us, makes us feel guilty, belittles us.

Why is the support of those around you essential when dealing with a manipulator?
Being a victim creates enormous mental confusion. An emotional upheaval that prevents any fluid, rational thought. Two friends are enough. But it is also good to go see a very knowledgeable psychotherapist.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.