Psychological jugglers: how to recognize manipulation

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Psychological jugglers: how to recognize manipulation
Psychological jugglers: how to recognize manipulation

If you think that you cannot be manipulated, then you are mistaken twice. First, anyone can be manipulated. Secondly, it means that you do not know anything about manipulative techniques, do not know how to recognize them, and therefore, you are probably manipulated very often. Unless, of course, you yourself are not a "psychological magician" by nature.


First, let's figure out the concepts. Manipulation is a type of social interaction that is the desire to change the perceptions and behavior of others through covert, deceptive and violent tactics. Although manipulations can be useful, but only if you have agreed in advance with the person about this type of communication (for example, in psychotherapy). Strictly speaking, this kind of relationship cannot be called manipulation, since it benefits another. True manipulation implies harm: when a resource is taken from you, giving nothing or almost nothing in return, it is always an impact, not an interaction.

Manipulations can be everyday, and can be professional, sent to us from the social and political arenas. Let's start with the "small" manipulators - our friends and family. Alas, such relationships between loved ones are not at all uncommon. And often they even enter the culture as a "normal" way of interaction. Manipulations are especially common among sexual and parent-child relationships. In general, all people in one way or another sometimes manipulate others, the only question is in the degree of harm they cause, and also in the frequency of using such techniques. The program for recognizing manipulations is inherent in every person by nature; not only our psyche, but also our body reacts to manipulations. Only not everyone knows how to correctly understand these signals. This is what we will learn.

Love at first sight

If on the path of life you meet a person who seems to be a beautiful prince or princess, be alert: you are probably dealing with a manipulator. “People cannot be ideal, only masks can be ideal,” says Anna Boginskaya, a business coach and a prominent specialist in manipulative techniques. Under this mask, as a rule, something unpleasant is hidden: otherwise it would simply not be needed. And one day a man will take it off. Although we all strive to make a good impression on new acquaintances (especially if they are of the opposite sex and we like them), this is not really a mask: we are only trying to emphasize the good that really is in us.


With manipulators, everything is fundamentally different - they are able to very subtly feel another person and have the skills of a fortune-teller: they are able to quietly ask for the necessary information in order to compose a psychological portrait. After that, they easily adapt to the partner, showing only what you want to see, even if in fact they are the exact opposite. “When we meet such people, our body reacts with an adrenaline rush, as in case of danger,” says Anna Boginskaya. Our palms are sweating, our heart rate quickens, pupils dilate, blood sugar rises, and a headache may appear. This is how our body reacts to danger, reading people capable of harming us on a non-verbal level: through gestures, facial expressions, and other microreactions.Alas, very often in our culture, such feelings when meeting a person of the opposite sex are usually associated with love at first sight. No wonder there is a saying: from love to hate - one step.

Forbidden tricks

The adrenaline rush has nothing to do with true love, which develops much longer and is based on the real positive qualities of another person. But an unhealthy passion, which later inevitably develops into psychological dependence, is exactly what we are talking about. Therefore, the first "symptom" of a manipulator is his apparent ideality, superficial charm. Such people will use one of the most popular methods of manipulation - positive reinforcement, convincing you of your irresistibility, great talent, intelligence and beauty. This technique works especially well for those who are unsure of themselves.

Positive reinforcement is more often used at the beginning of a relationship with such a person, and after a certain moment (usually after a short period of time) you suddenly find that the praise has become less, they have completely stopped or turned into a so-called negative compliment. They say to you: "You have such beautiful eyes, but this tie / skirt / dress does not suit you." The task of such techniques is to first increase the self-esteem of the victim, and then gradually lower it, make it dependent on the opinion of the manipulator, putting it on a psychological hook. The same goes for treating the victim well in general. First, they wear it on their hands, and then gradually lower the degree of passion. And not just downgraded, but changed to the opposite. For example, they may leave without giving any reason for quite a long time, without answering phone calls. And then come back as if nothing had happened.

Or another version of the same manipulation - ordinary assault (in this case, the victim, for obvious reasons, is usually a woman). Such an act of violence is usually followed by a violent reconciliation with apologies and crocodile tears on the part of the manipulator. Often in this case, despite the apology, there is an indirect or even direct accusation of the victim: "You yourself provoked." Incidentally, such accusations are typical of social stereotypes (“The girl put on a short skirt, so she was raped”).

Meanwhile, the supposedly uncontrollable anger and subsequent blame are also ways of manipulation. As in the case of sharp chills and the same sharp "warming" of relations. Thanks to these tactics, the victim falls on a psychological hook: living his life in an effort to understand what she did wrong again. She is constantly "improving", wanting to regain the "lost" trust and that beautiful prince / princess that her partner was at the beginning of the relationship. She thinks a lot about the manipulator, puts a lot of emotional resources into these relationships.

For this reason (and also because of the real physiological adrenaline addiction that forms from this emotional "swing") it is difficult for the victim to escape from the manipulator. And that's all he needs. And, having received from the victim what he wants (the resource can be anything: from sexual and material to psycho-emotional, when the manipulator increases his self-esteem by playing with the victim), such a person often leaves for another, even more resourceful partner.

Manipulation techniques used in everyday relationships: positive reinforcement, punishment ("cold shower", "closer - farther", playing in silence, tears, demonstrative resentment, intimidation, threats, imposing guilt), traumatic one-time experience (verbal abuse, "Uncontrollable" outbursts of anger), denial of responsibility for what is happening, rationalization (justification of their actions with justified reasons), minimization of harm done to the victim ("I did not beat you, I just raised you"), false guilt (hints to a conscientious person that he is inattentive and selfish), simulation of innocence ("Anger was uncontrollable", "I left / left without explaining the reasons, because I was / was very angry / evil"), projecting guilt (when in very subtle ways the manipulator "incites" other people to the victim - his own or her friends, relatives, skillfully provoking her to commit impartial actions condemned by society) and so on.

Similar tactics can be used by parents with their children, and vice versa. Less often, friends and distant relatives demonstrate such behavior. “The main indicators that you are being manipulated are feelings of fear and guilt, as well as doubts about your actions, about your adequacy,” says Anna Boginskaya. Manipulative love partners tend to use pressure on feelings of fear and guilt. Parents - on feelings of shame, fear and guilt. By the way, if you want to know how the real voice of conscience differs from the feeling of guilt, think about your inner values. A true prick of conscience is caused by inner conflict with ourselves when we do wrong in our own understanding. Feelings of guilt are always the result of outside action.

Lies from screens

The state and social machine manipulates in a slightly different way. Most often this happens with the help of the media. And there are many tricks here too. For example, the presentation of knowingly false or distorted information. This is a crude technique, but it is used quite often when necessary and works best when combined with intentionally conflicting information so that the reader or viewer can draw the "right" conclusions for themselves ("These people think nothing happened, now listen to what the witnesses say."). This also includes the method that is used in everyday manipulation - a half-truth. When some facts are hushed up and others are emphasized. Or, for example, the technique of using rumors, conjectures and stereotypes as analyzed and proven facts.


To influence the mass consciousness, the method of substitution of concepts is also widely used, when logical statements are built on initially incorrect premises, connections between events are built where there is none in reality ("Coincidence? I don't think …", "If you destroy spiritual bonds and foundations - our the country will disappear as a state "). At the same time, the events themselves can be replaced with a simple verbal declaration (“We have already helped the poor, now we need them to support us in our decision”).

Another technique is the use of verbal suggestion. To promote the desired idea to the masses, it is enough to organize active "debates" on this matter in the media, speeches by "analysts" and other "authoritative experts". The essence of such discussions boils down to one thing: to convince the audience of a certain point of view, creating the appearance of a discussion. Another way is to transfer a particular factor into the general sphere, when a single case is shown as part of a large system. And vice versa: from the general to the particular - splitting a single chain into separate, allegedly unrelated facts.

Sometimes more hard methods are used - the so-called Goebbels method, that is, an absolute lie, which is based on the idea: the more monstrous a lie, the easier it will be believed. Or the creation of false events and custom-made news feeds, the substitution of facts and ideas with beautiful slogans and appeals that have no practical meaning.

Other methods work in the long run. For example, the technique of the so-called molecular revolution or the method of dissonance: when “alternative” facts, values, ideas, “different view” of scientific data are promoted to the masses. The purpose of this is the gradual destruction of historical memory, common symbols, meanings and values ​​characteristic of a particular group of people.

Works great for the audience and the introduction of the "acquired helplessness syndrome". For this, an atmosphere of deliberate protrusion of mostly negative information is created - about wars, acts of violence, catastrophes, epidemics and disasters. Such things are broadcast from the main channels during the prime hours of the air and on the front pages of newspapers. Thus, a person gradually gets the feeling that he lives in a terrible world, where evil and suffering rule.He understands that it is useless to resist, and he develops passivity and obedience, he does not seek to change anything. A passive position is also developed in a person by the introduction of certain ideas that show obedience as a positive and socially approved trait of character (“Russian people are patient and therefore wise”).

Psychological umbrella

Even if you know that you are being manipulated, you will still react. This is how our psyche works. But it is not only possible, but also necessary to protect yourself from manipulation. To counteract the everyday game on your nerves, learn to identify the essence of the behavior of a person and correctly place hidden accents. A simple example: if you are told, "Were you not taught to close the door behind you?" - they want to shame you. If that were not the case, you would simply be asked to close the door behind you.

The answer can be expressed in the form of mirroring and applying the method of psychological aikido developed by psychologist Mikhail Litvak. When, in response to such phrases, you calmly and gently answer: "No, I was not taught to close the door." To enhance the effect, you can add: "Thank you for telling me how to live." If you do not want a confrontation with an opponent and we are talking about more serious things than an open door, it is worth asking questions that would reveal the hidden subtext: “Why did you ask about this? What are you getting at?"

If the manipulation is too subtle, non-verbal, and a direct question is impossible, you should not show the interlocutor what he wants to see (for example, the reaction of anger, shame, guilt, fear). But you can show the opposite reactions. This will confuse the manipulator and avoid further playing on your feelings. It is also useful to build barriers (“Your explanations are incomprehensible to me”, “As a law-abiding person, I cannot do this”, “I am sick and cannot accept your offer”). And remember that the best way to protect yourself from the manipulator is to completely break the relationship with him. If for some reason this is not possible, you should keep communication to a minimum and always remember who you are dealing with.

It is more difficult to defend against manipulation of mass consciousness. Some just stop watching TV and reading the media, but if this is not your option, it makes sense to develop critical thinking in yourself: analyze conflicting sources, identify manipulative techniques and think about their causes. And, if possible, try to get information at first hand, which today is quite easy to do through social networks and the Internet.

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