Abuse: Emotional Manipulation (Part 1)

social-and-psychological-manipulation-bergencountyIn this mini-series of blogs, I would like to discuss the covert abuse that leaves no visible evidence except for the victim’s psychological suffering. Psychological abuse, also known as emotional abuse, is a type of abuse that can eat away at a victim’s self-esteem, autonomy, and happiness. This abuse is typically associated with power imbalance and manipulation; the abusive perpetrator is usually dominant and passive-aggressive but can seem pleasant and reasonable. This type of negative social influence has devastating effects on the victim; the goal of this abuse is to change the victim’s perspective and behavior through devious, exploitative ways in order to control the victim to get what the manipulator wants. The targeted individual rarely sees what is happening to them because manipulators conceal their true, aggressive purposes. The relationship is clearly unhealthy. This causes severe psychological damage to the victim and she becomes so dependent on the manipulator that she can no longer think for herself. Manipulators need their victims to fear them, oblige to their requests, and feel guilty if they cannot comply with those requests. Victims of psychological abuse are often codependent and abusers know how to play on their emotions and vulnerabilities. The victims can lose their sense of self, and harvest anxiety and emptiness.

There are several techniques manipulators use in order to control their victims. All of these techniques can twist a victim’s thoughts, actions and desires in order to mold her into what the manipulator wants her to be. Manipulators tend to make excuses to justify their actions, deny certain promises or agreements, play on your sympathy, use bribery to get what they want, portray fake concerns to undermine confidence, and use passive-aggressive tactics in order to express their emotions indirectly. These mental schemers also use emotional blackmail, such as guilt and fear, to cause shame and self-doubt in the victim. There are eight common warning signs to know when you are dealing with an emotionally abusive manipulator:

  1. Uses an individual’s statements against her
  2. conveniently forgets promises and agreements, and denies he ever said them
  3. uses guilt and sympathy to control the victim
  4. undermine the victim’s problems, emotions, and difficulties
  5. perform passive-aggressive actions to express anger or disappointment
  6. drain positive energy from the people around him
  7. shows little of responsibility
  8. always seem to have it worse than the victim

Emotional manipulators are controlling and this desire to control the victim is usually because manipulators are insecure themselves. Their underlying purposes in their actions are self-serving, and they have a constant need to feel more significant than the people around them. Passive, susceptible individuals are perfect to manipulate so that manipulators can obtain that feeling of power and superiority.

If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and might be suffering from psychological and emotional abuse such as manipulation, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information


Lancer, Darlene. “Psych Central Search.” Psych Central.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2015.

Lenda, Paul. “8 Ways to Spot Emotional Manipulation.. and Free Ourselves From It.” The Mind Unleashed. N.p., 03 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 June 2015.


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