“Narcissistic” Manipulation Tactics

| Oct 7, 2019
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Last week I came to the sudden realization that I needed to learn about narcissistic patterns of behavior both for personal and professional reasons. I remember from high school, a particular illustration in my Latin textbook of the mythological character Narcissus looking at himself in a pool of water. Narcissus was a male who became so engrossed in looking at himself that he rooted and turned into a flower, now known as the daffodil. Freud, who never found a myth that he could not exploit, sexualized the idea and made it part of his psychodynamics. I had read articles by psychiatrists that our current President suffered from narcissism but I did not give it much credence, given the traditional psychiatric tendency to try to provide answers based on unobservable events in the nervous system.


I had always dismissed the Latin mythology and the Freudian mythology as being useless and/or pseudoscience. But I learned that there are recognized injurious behavior patterns that have been studied and have been categorized and labeled as narcissistic. These have nothing at all to do with either mythology but they can become dangerous for both the user and the recipient. For this reason, they are worth understanding. They involve objective behavior which can be observed and studied. Many people use these behavioral patterns as tactics for dealing with other people without going to extremes. However, taken to extremes they warrant pathologization of a person as having a narcissistic personality disorder. Some even go further overboard and conduct antisocial or criminal behavior. Impeachment may provide a judgement on those for Trump.

But the tactics should really be seen apart from any psychiatric narcissistic meaning as tactics to simply manipulate people to do hurtful things that they might not ordinarily do which might be considered unethical.

Transgender people should be aware of these tactics because transgender people, like most people, look to others for understanding and empathy but transgender people are especially vulnerable since tolerance and understanding are not always easy to come by. As I was preparing this blog post, one of my friends told me that she considered me to be one of the least narcissistic people she had ever met. I thanked her but later felt especially vulnerable since I had no appreciation for these tactics. It also set off some self-reflection as to whether I might have hurt someone by using these tactics inadvertently. But that was quickly overshadowed by the realization that I had been hurt by them and continue to be hurt by them. For what it is worth, in the psychological literature this situation is known as narcissistic abuse syndrome. But as Gloria Gaynor sang “I will survive, as long as I know how to love” and I love transgender people and transgender science.

I recognized a few of these manipulative tactics but some were new to me and I had to learn the current labels in order to write about them. It suddenly dawned on me that I was not just seeing them being used in my personal life but I had also witnessed them in political and institutional contexts without being able to identify or name them. We are all familiar with the tactics that our current President uses. I also observe these tactics when dealing with academics who are pushing to get political power through an intersectionalist agenda. I described intersectionalism in a previous post. In all these contexts the manipulator seeks to use people to get what they want—raw power. I am unable to diagnose them as having narcissistic personality disorders but I do not approve ethically of their tactics. Either they are true believers or their Neo-Marxism/intersectionalism philosophy is useful in legitimizing their behavior because it claims to be relieving oppression. But we know that once Marxists take over it’s a catastrophe; collectivists killed hundreds of millions of people in the 20th Century. External to the U.S., Vladimir Putin is also currently following the Neo-Marxist playbook by attempting to set one group against the other in the U.S. through social media.

The Intersectionalists use psychologically injured transgender people as poster children and claim to be offended as proxies for transgender and other suffering groups. This is again right out of the Neo-Marxist playbook to stir up trouble between groups in order to divide and conquer politically.

So, what are these tactics that have been identified as manipulative? Here is a list with examples at each level of my experience.

1. Lack of Empathy and Shamelessness. Trump never apologizes, even when his policies mistreat asylum seekers, transgender people and others. Intersectionalists do not care about people outside their “religious” group and probably not even their poster children. All people outside their group are infidels, apostates and heretics and are not welcome to associate or speak publicly. On the personal level, after an intense positive period of initial “friendship-bombing,” narcissists have no empathy for their prey. Not only do they lack empathy for the new friend but they take delight in the suffering that they can cause through manipulation.

2. Entitlement, grandiosity and exhibitionism. Trump expects special treatment, not just because he is President but because he is Donald J. Trump. All of his actions are labeled by him as the best, grand and wonderful. He expects his business to make money off of his political fame as an entitlement and emolument. Intersectionalists revel in the self-perception that they are more moral than others and entitled to civil and political power. They practice standpoint epistemology ( knowledge creation), meaning that they restrict free speech for those who are not in the group or are at one of their currently favored intersections. The phrase “Sit down and shut up” is commonly heard. They dominate conversations and interrupt those who might disagree. There is no place for civilized discussion. On the personal level, narcissists devour the time and energy of their prey, dictating grandiose events. This is called their interpersonal “supply.” They may have several people at once in various stages of narcissistic abuse to build their self-esteem. When supplies run out with one friend, they simply switch to another.

3. Superficiality. Trump betrays lack of depth in knowledge of history, world events and science. For a start, he is a climate change denier and has gutted Federal research science in this area, particularly within the Department of Agriculture. Many Intersectionalists are science deniers, claiming that people are shaped only by nurture and cultural environment. They believe that people are a blank slate at birth to be written upon by culture. They deny the universal humanity of people and value only those who will help them achieve power. In the personal realm, narcissists value only external qualities and attend only to current phenomena and arts, lacking the depth to appreciate the richness of the past. They only want to have a good time.

4. Temper tantrums. Trump has hourly tantrums when he does not get what he wants. He knows so little about government and civics that he often cannot get what he wants (which may be a good thing.) The tantrums are to create fear in his staff and in the country which gives him power. Intersectionists practice what Johnathan Haight calls “vindictive defensiveness.” They are instantly angered by the smallest attack on their “religion” or micro-aggression against their current token groups. They are offended as proxies for these groups which is equivalent to intercessory prayer in other “religions.” This keeps outsiders on eggshells and unable to speak. At the personal level, people who are quick to have tantrums to keep their human prey, their “supplies” of self-esteem, in line. They become fearful and easily manipulated.

Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (1944)

5. Gaslighting. The term “gaslighting” is derived from a 1938 play and 1944 movie in which a husband tries to make his wife believe that she is crazy. The American Psychological Association defines gaslighting as “a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her or himself, and ultimately lose her or his own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.” Trump has taken public gaslighting to a new high in that he is denying his crimes in the face of clear objective evidence. He attempts to normalize or decriminalize his behavior by repeating it over and over again in public. For intersectionalists, facts do not matter. There is no objective reality, which is supported on campus by the popularity of Postmodernism, a philosophy with close ties to Marxism that denies that one can find a reliable reality. Neo-Marxists deny the failures of collectivism in the 20th century that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, including the deliberate starvation of several million Ukrainians on the basis of their race. When I was in Ukraine for three years, I saw this in the dip of older age demographic groups who were wiped out by Stalin. On a personal level, you know when someone is gaslighting you when you want to record conversations to confirm your memory of what was said as opposed to what the gaslighter said happened. Another sign is when the manipulator attempts to change how you dress or look, with the implication that you started out as a defective person. Such manipulators can make you doubt your sanity and keep you in constant state of confusion.

6. Preemptive Rejection Due to Fear of Abandonment. Narcissists have a deep seated fear of abandonment which results in preemptive rejection. If Trump believes that one of his staff is becoming disloyal, he immediately fires them and replaces them with temporary appointees who are on a short leash. Intersectionalists preemptively reject people outside their group based on their histories. In my case, from my resume alone I am probably currently rejected because I went to two Ivy League schools, even though I was not born rich and my parents paid the full expenses of my undergraduate education. I worked my way through graduate school as a research assistant and teacher. Undoubtedly, I am tagged with the ‘original sin” of being white and male, even though I have changed one of these. They do not understand that my grandparents came to the United States from Wales to avoid legalized racism by the English. (The 400 castles in the small country of Wales are a testimony to the struggles against invaders). The concept of white-on-white racism in the cases of Ukrainians and the Welsh would probably blow their minds but their convenient ignorance of history insulates them. My grandparents were also fleeing from the advance of Marxism in the coal mines and politics of South Wales. My resume indicates that I have been opposing Marxists both external to the U.S. and internally since I was a junior in high school and I will not give up. Their attitude is that they do not care about me as an individual, only groups, again a collectivist idea. On a personal level, “narcissists” frequently break off communications with a friend when the friend is no longer providing enough emotional “supply” for their personal self-esteem. These manipulators build their self-esteem through a steady “supply” of emotional pain, anxiety and suffering of their prey. These breaks support a breakup-and makeup cycle that keeps the victim under control and allows the manipulator to keep multiple victims “on tap.” The only remedy is a totally cutoff of communication with the manipulator, forever. This takes considerable discipline because the narcissist will seek to communicate to keep the victim on the hook and bring them back in. Do not worry about the narcissist, they probably already have a “new supply” of friends lined up.

So what factors go into making a “narcissist” manipulator? Like predisposition for gender category in transgender people, there seems to be a genetic factor. But unlike being transgender, there also seems to be parental involvement. For such manipulators, parents overindulge in recognition of their kids for their accomplishments but do not provide enough emotional support. My mother taught well over 1000 elementary school students over 35 years and she was very familiar with such kids. She had a name for them—“spoiled brats.”

The first of two takeaways from this post are to be aware of the use of manipulative tactics in politics, in institutions and in personal life which can cause you to suffer. We had a saying in the ‘60s about social reform movements and manipulative people—”don’t get sucked in.” Dump the politicians and those who seek to inflict abuse on you in personal life. As I said in my previous post on intersectionalism, resist their attempts to use you as a transgender poster child in their fight to obtain power. If they achieve their goals, they will turn on you as fast as their intellectual forbearers did in the 20th century; transgender people were some of the first to be humiliated and murdered in collectivist societies. In Russia and other countries, this rejection continues. But be careful where you speak out; they will mob you into silence if you give them a chance. I have recently witnessed their mob scenes which reminded me of the the Maoist hazings of the Cultural Revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The other takeaway is not to spoil your children. Be there for them to witness both their successes and their failures and always carefully listen to what they have to say when they need emotional support. For those things, you first need to take care of yourself.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Dana Jennett Bevan holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and a Bachelors degree from Dartmouth College both in experimental psychology. She is the author of The Transsexual Scientist which combines biology with autobiography as she came to learn about transgenderism throughout her life. Her second book The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism is a comprehensive analysis of TSTG research and was published in 2014 by Praeger under the pen name Thomas E. Bevan. Her third book Being Transgender was released by Praeger in November 2016. She can be reached at danabevan@earthlink.net.

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