Manipulation from the perspective of a psychologist

As a psychologist and psychotherapist, I encounter the topic of manipulation in various forms through clients’ stories, basically on a daily basis.

We can think about manipulation in a positive and negative sense.

Some people are manipulated in the area of ​​relationships – whether by their families or partners, others are subject to manipulation in the workplace or in contact with business partners, in relationships with colleagues or friends. We can think about manipulation in a positive and negative sense. Everyone manipulates in a certain way and is being manipulated within every interpersonal contact, consciously or unconsciously within a completely normal interpersonal communication. Problems arise when the process harms a person, its goal is to use the other person, to exploit his potential, abilities, thanks to which the life satisfaction of the manipulated person gradually – and often at first very inconspicuously – decreases. In the next stages, a person who is negatively manipulated suffers mentally and physically, and if a person fails to get out of the manipulative relationship or environment, it tends to have a serious impact on mental and physical health and the basic functioning in life.

Man has the power to free himself from manipulation.

Psychotherapy helps a person learn the art of recognizing signs of harmful manipulation at an early stage. Through self-knowledge, one learns to take responsibility and experiences a way of communication, thanks to which it is then easy to avert any unwanted manipulation. Manipulation can always be handled only by those who are currently manipulable. Thus, man has the power in his hands to break free from manipulation and remain very resistant to manipulation in the future. Unfortunately, the most manipulated person is the weakest- when he needs help, for example, in a difficult life situation. Prone to manipulation is also a person, with limited relationships, a person who has not learned to establish safe, supportive relationships during his life, and therefore cannot distinguish them from toxic ones.

One gains self-confidence, thanks to which one begins to establish equal quality relationships.

When one succumbs to manipulation in one’s vulnerability, one may not be able to break free from manipulative ties for many years. However, when a man succeeds in this wonderful change and, despite the threats, fear, loss of many – or all – current ties, he breaks out of the manipulative environment, this achievement demonstrates the tremendous power of the personality. When one can do this, one gets the liberating feeling that if one has mastered this, one can already do anything in the world. Paradoxically, the whole experience can strengthen a person incredibly, and after breaking out of the clutches of a manipulating environment, he can begin to perceive a life “light as a feather”, in which everything is possible. A person gains self-confidence, thanks to which he begins to establish equal quality relationships, which further strengthen him. Life satisfaction then rises in a very pleasant way, one begins to experience real joy in life. The book “With an Elephant on his Back” points out how easy it is to succumb to manipulation for many years, but above all that it is possible to make a huge change and reverse your destiny. I believe that the story can help people who are bound in manipulative relationships to find the courage and hope for change in their own lives, I also believe that this powerful story can help people avoid similar types of manipulation in their lives.  

Mgr. Alexandra Hrouzková, Ph.D. psychologist, psychotherapist