Psychologies: How to spot a pathological manipulator?
Alberto Eiguer: It’s difficult because one of his techniques is to go unnoticed. He rarely comes to consult on his own. As the pervert, he advances masked. He seeks that no one notices his maneuvers. It is sometimes possible to recognize him by spotting his contradictory attitudes and his double talk, which manifest themselves as time passes. Most often, it is identified backwards, thanks to the victims. It is not obvious because these patients generally do not suspect anything. And when doubt assails them, they are weakened, marked by what they have discovered.
What characterizes them?
Alberto Eiguer: They are marginalized, handicapped in life, adults who have been child bullies. Basically, they are in great personal distress. Their desire to manipulate comes from there. But there are degrees and levels: the pathological manipulator should not be confused with the simple manipulator. The second just seeks to defend its own interests. For example, the mythomaniacspeople with great adaptability, able to fit into molds, social chameleons, a bit like in the movie Zelig of Woody Allen, belong to the category of simple manipulators. The pathological, on the other hand, seek to hurt, to destroy the other, to enjoy while dominating them. They have the impression of demonstrating their superiority through their intelligence, their cunning, their strategy. When their prey falls into their purse, they experience great pleasure. Only, they never manage to make themselves truly loved because the feeling is not there. The answers they get pass through submission, crushing, the self-destruction of the other, but they have pulled the rope so much, worn out their victim that she no longer has the strength to love. She is exhausted, drained of her energy.
We all manipulate more or less. When does it become pathological?
Alberto Eiguer: I insist a lot on the purpose of the manipulator. If he seeks to dominate for the sake of dominating, to crush others in order to derive pleasure from them, we are in the pathological register. Transient manipulators find no pleasure in doing evil. One of the signs of pathology is the notion of instrumentalization: it is a question of subduing the other, but also of making him act so that he deceives and hurts third parties.
How do these predators manage to weave their web?
Alberto Eiguer: The manipulator has a flair for spotting his victim and his potential addiction. He feels his uprooting, his weakness. He puts himself in the position of the savior, the pygmalion or the one who will bring another way of seeing things. It is sometimes a sexual predator whose possibilities of phishing are multiplied by Internet. His strategy requires time and calculation. It proceeds in stages. At first he is very pleasant, very friendly, then, little by little, he deprives the other of a certain number of things. He isolates him from his friends, from his family, from all the love and benefits that those around him could provide him. He tends to seek out the contexts and environments where mental manipulation is accepted, even acclaimed: wars, industry, the deal… Many manipulators, for example, reveal themselves in adolescence in group phenomena, around drugs and their use. A drug dealer knows how to talk, to make young people who are clueless, lost, alone, believe that he is their friend, that he will help them, advise them, guide them, that he is with them to fight against the police, parents. He tries to create an atmosphere, a common ideology. He also handles hot and cold: he gives a lot then brutally deprives; is affectionate, tender and then becomes cold and distant. He cultivates an affective insecurity that disconcerts the other. He tries to make him nostalgic for the good times he gave her, so that he comes back to him and shows his addiction. On the other hand, he glories in saying that he does not need his victim. While basically it’s the opposite: the manipulator is totally dependent on his prey. Without it, there is nothing.
What is their background?
Alberto Eiguer: The manipulator has often experienced situations of emotional deprivation. His parents did not take care of him as a young child. His mother herself may have suffered from deficiencies, been ill, proved incapable of giving, incapable of empathy towards the child. He asked, asked for days, even weeks, and got nothing. So he ended up trying to stifle his needs and his inner pain. He anesthetized himself and developed a major lack of empathy, which will be at the origin of his actions. To get his parents interested in him, he had to make a lot of noise. Little by little, he learned to use others to get what he needed. Then he got caught up in the game. He believed in it and developed his tendencies in a pathological mode by trying to trick others, use them and make life difficult for them. In other cases, the manipulator may have been, as a child, an object of enjoyment for his mother. More exactly, he has become, through his abilities, the arrogance, the strength of the mother. If he was not the pride of her, he had no place in the family. In this type of functioning, the father remained a ghostly, erased figure. Even present, he was not in the right place, that is to say he was not involved in learning the rules, the law, respect for others. On the contrary, he made the child witness to his own miseries, asking him to protect him. This child’s place as an object of maternal enjoyment and pride is often at the origin of the structure of narcissistic perverts.
Are narcissistic perverts pathological manipulators?
Alberto Eiguer: They are the perfect embodiment of it. They combine the excesses of narcissism: megalomania, superiority complex, the feeling that everyone is obligated to them and owes them reverence… These intimate convictions also allow them to be endowed with charisma. They first give their victims the illusion of regaining some strength, passing through moments of exaltation, before sinking them. But beware, if all narcissistic perverts are manipulators, not all pathological manipulators are narcissistic perverts.
Can we stop manipulating? How ?
Alberto Eiguer: By failing. What stops a manipulator are the disappointments, the frustrations, the fact of being unmasked, rejected, abandoned by his victim. Lawsuits, justice can also block it, and especially therapy, by developing concern for others. What works well with these individuals are the group sessions: the confrontation with people who have been victims of other manipulators. When the therapy works, they experience a lot of guilt, which leads them to want to fix what they have done.
Go further with our file
All the advice from our experts to recognize narcissistic perverts, protect yourself from them and free yourself from their grip. Also find the testimonies of victims of “PN”, who managed to flee and rebuild themselves.