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Destructive Manipulative Behavior (2)

Research reveals there are two forms of destructive manipulative behavior: (1) overt, aggressive, hostile behaviors directed against or toward others and/or themselves and (2) covert, passive behavior that attempts to control others or to get needs met in an indirect manner.


Some behavioral manifestations of destructive manipulative behavior might include: profuse flattery; extreme tearfulness; lying; cheating; deceitfulness; sneakiness; pretending to be helpful; gift giving with the purpose of obligating the receiver; pitting one person against another; asking for special favors; making excessive, unnecessary demands of significant others; and pretending to be self-destructive when they really do not intend to harm themselves.


Mental health researchers believe that all people are manipulators to some degree. Not all manipulators are awkward and offensive, but those that are need to change their behavior to be more honest and considerate of themselves and others (Ephesians 4:32). This results in actualizing behavior. A person who is actualizing: trusts his feelings; communicates his needs and preferences; admits to desires and misbehavior; enjoys a worthy foe; offers real help when needed; and is honestly and constructively assertive (Gal. 5:25-26).


People who engage in DMB usually believe that others are manipulatable and that it is all right to exploit them to have their own needs met. They are willing to practice or attempt manipulation and are highly skilled at doing so. For most it becomes an art form–to see if they can outsmart the other person. Unfortunately, people who engage in destructive manipulative behavior are reluctant to seek professional help or to change their behaviors.


Is Change Possible?


One of the most important things that can be done for a manipulative individual is to assist him to gain a healthier sense of self-esteem and to learn how to constructively cope with the activities of daily living. There are many scriptures about God’s view of us, including Isaiah 49:1, 44:24,43:4; Psalm 8; Matt. 6:26; John 14:2-3; and Phil.1:6. this individual will also greatly benefit from meaningful opportunities to develop trust in his interpersonal relationships. However, developing trust to the point that he is willing to become open, vulnerable and to take risks is a goal that is not reached overnight.


The manipulative person also needs to be given the opportunity to identify unfulfilled needs which he is trying to get met through DMB. Once these needs are identified, it is important to explore alternate, less alienating methods of having his needs satisfied.


Another responsibility of recovery is for the individual to learn self control (Gal.5:13, 19-23; I Peter 5:6-10). Once his choices have been made, he needs to be given the opportunity to experience the consequences of his choices and, even though we would like to spare him this difficulty and pain. We must help him to realize that no one is going to rescue him from the situation. However others can help by consistently affirming the individual’s demonstration of self-control and healthy independence and interdependence.

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