Sunday, March 30, 2008

Braiker on the Manipulator's World View

by Harriet Braiker, PhD

How Manipulators Look at the World(pgs. 62 – 64)

First, it is important to accept that manipulators look at the world in a different way than nonmanipulators. And in some critical ways, their worldview determines their behavior, which, in a cyclic turn, helps to validate their view of the world in the first place.  

As mentioned earlier, manipulators see the world in general black and white, either/or terms, especially with respect to manipulation: Their view is that either you play or you get played.
In other words, manipulators believe that there are only two roles in relationships – you are either manipulated (the victim), or you are the manipulator (in their view, the one in power and control). Manipulators see no other way that relationships operate. They cannot envision participating in a relationship between equals, for example. Such a relationship is beyond their understanding and comprehension.

They simply cannot imagine their role in a mutually interdependent relationship in which there is a balanced decision making and shared control and in which the rights of both parties to make critical decisions about their own lives are acknowledged and respected by both participants. They cannot imagine trusting someone else enough to make such a shared and balanced relationship possible, and they fundamentally do not see themselves as trustworthy in the sense that another person cold really trust them to respect and protect the rights of both.

Second, because manipulators see life as a zero-sum game, in almost every important dimension – which to a manipulator primarily comprises power, control and superiority – the manipulator believes that there are winners and losers. In a two-person relationship, someone must win, and someone must lose. It is not complicated math. There is no room for a win-win or a lose-lose scenario. In any interpersonal setting, the manipulator believes that if she gives something to the other person — or allows the other person to claim or attain something that the manipulator values – the pot is diminished, and there is necessarily less for her. This view, of course, gives rise to competition, rivalry, and jealousy – toxic emotions that taint and compromise the quality of manipulators’ relationships.

The third element of the manipulator’s worldview is that other people exist to serve or meet his needs. This allows for no exercise of empathy – the ability to feel as another person feels. In fact, there are many manipulators who lack the capacity for empathy altogether. They literally cannot fathom that there even is another way to feel or think or need other than that arising from their own perspective.

The fourth element of the manipulator’s worldview, closely related to the third, is a huge sense of entitlement. The manipulator operates from the viewpoint, consciously or unconsciously, that he deserves to have his needs met and purposes served. He may believe that this is true because of a bad childhood or other negative life experiences in which the manipulator perceives that other people (or life in general) wounded him in some important way; therefore, the world owes him back. Life becomes about evening up the score and making sure that he does not get cheated, mistreated, hurt, damaged, short-changed, or otherwise injured in any way. The manipulator who operates out of this mind-set of entitlement believes that he is special and therefore merits special compliance from others. It is difficult for the manipulator to grasp the concept of violating the rights of others because (1) he cannot really feel that others have rights of their own and (2) he is entitled to have other people subordinate their needs to his.