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Destructive Manipulative Behavior

by Dr. Sidney Langston

Often the person who seeks therapy is experiencing feelings of fear, insecurity or other severe inner conflicts. The individual is frequently overwhelmed by the amount of anxiety with which he has to deal and is overpowered to the point that he cannot function adequately in his daily living (Psalm 55; Luke 21:34).  In an attempt to relieve the pain this anxiety causes, people engage in a variety of behaviors. One such behavioral expression is that of destructive manipulation (DMB).


Anxiety, as a symptom, is a component of almost every mental health disorder and generalized anxiety is widespread. In order to relieve this internal pressure, the individual may feel compelled to do something without understanding why he is doing it, perhaps by engaging in DMB. This is his way of dealing with anxiety and his attempt to gain mastery over himself and his environment.


Many therapists believe that some of the factors that subsequently lead to anxiety and the use of DMB are related to:


•Fear of close relationships;

    •The desire to be liked by everyone;

         •Distrust of others;

              •Difficulty in forming meaningful interpersonal relationships;

                   •The inability to gain and maintain self-control with a sense of personal integrity;

                        •Poorly defined repertoire of coping mechanisms;

                             •Decreased acceptance of rational authority; and

                                  •Unsatisfied love needs.


These therapists also believe the use of destructive manipulative behavior decreases the anxiety because it brings an individual the attention he desires by having his immediate needs met.


According to the research literature, DMB carries with it a heavy, negative weight and  is defined as an interpersonal behavioral process designed to meet one's needs or goals by exploiting and/or controlling the behavior of others without regard for their rights, needs or objectives (Phil. 2:3-4).

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