Manipulators, narcissistic perverts: who are they?

Manipulators, narcissistic perverts: who are they?

Manipulators, or narcissistic perverts, make up only 2-3% of the population, but being around one of them is very often a destructive experience. More difficult to spot than you might think, they are highly toxic personalities. Who are they ? How to recognize them? Protect yourself from it? Advice from our experts.

They are called manipulators or even narcissistic perverts. They can be a spouse, a relative, a boss, a colleague, a friend. Attractive, sympathetic, sometimes reserved, they please with their charming and flattering side. But very quickly, upon contact with them, uneasiness sets in. And their victims enter a downward spiral of guilt and devaluation. Real dangers for our physical and mental integrity, the manipulators are narcissistic personalities who represent, according to Isabelle Nazare-Aga, author of The Manipulators Are Among Us (Éditions de l'Homme), 2 to 3% of the population. We are therefore all led to meet one day, if we have not already done so, a person suffering from this pathology. “A lot of times I hear that after all, we're all a bit manipulative. No, the same way you can't say we're all liars or schizophrenics. There is a big difference between manipulating once in a while and being manipulative. "The reason for these? "Make yourself worthwhile by crushing yourself to feel superior." They are like viruses. They distill evil among several victims at the same time - their spouse, their children, the baker… - You are just a pawn on which they lean for self-esteem ".

Narcissistic perverts are born comedians

Esperances, 53, has lived with a manipulator for a long time. “I see his closed, icy face again. I remember his prolonged silences, his murderous little phrases. Every day he belittled me, humiliated me, while pretending to want me to be happy. From the outside, the others looked at me enviously, thinking I was living with the perfect man. " The characteristic of manipulators? They have many faces. They can be extroverts, bon vivant, flirtatious, cultured, altruistic, or more timid but also bossy and tyrannical ... and move from one side to the other in just a few seconds. "If you've upset them, for example, they can go from deep sadness to terrible fury in an instant. Besides that, they obviously have positive sides, they can be very funny, very original ... But it is to manipulate you better. "

Toxic personalities

But more often than not, it is difficult to recognize the highly toxic personalities who hide under these different masks. Isabelle Nazare-Aga has thus determined thirty characteristics that allow it - knowing that she qualifies as a manipulator an individual who acts according to at least 14 criteria from this list -. Among them: guilt, criticism and devaluation of others, transfer of responsibility to them, fuzzy communication, frequent change of opinions, lies, jealousy ... "If you have the feeling that you are no longer free, if you constantly talk about a person when she is not there, and if in her presence you are not serene, or you behave like a little boy or a little girl and more like an adult, you are probably dealing with a manipulator. The same goes for those people who take five days to recover from a simple phone call from them. "

Experts in seduction

“At the beginning, I thought I had met the man of my life,” recalls Angéline, 45 years old. He loved everything I loved, always wanted to please me, and was, sexually, completely at my disposal. “Behind these attentions, these flattery and these (false) promises, hides, for Christel Petitcollin, psychotherapist and author of Escape from the manipulators (Guy Tredaniel), a real stake for the manipulator. “He will seek to capture the secret dream that lies dormant deep within us. We all cherish one: having a family life, making films ... He will make us believe that it is through him that we can make it happen. And will be able, thereafter, to hold us by this dream ”.

Then comes the moment when the manipulator drops the mask. Gone is the model employee, the wonderful woman or the perfect father. That moment, all of Christel Petitcollin's patients remember with precision. Sometimes the day a trial period ended, a wedding, a move in, a positive pregnancy test… The day the fairy tale suddenly turned into a nightmare. And where permanent denigration and daily humiliations began. "The victim will then start to fear reprisals, to feel guilty when the other is not in a good mood, for example not to go out with his friends, for fear that he / she will make him / her pay it. And to no longer live except in the fear of upsetting him ”.

People without affection

Are the manipulators aware of the harm they cause? “No,” replies Isabelle Nazare-Aga. But of the influence they have on others, yes. "For Christel Petitcollin, this pathology is explained by a" frozen immaturity. According to her, narcissistic perverts are as if stuck in childhood. “These are adults who have the same reactions as a 5-year-old who likes to pluck the legs of flies without realizing it hurts. They are not able to see the suffering of the other. They do not respect him and will seek to satisfy their needs at his expense ”. After more than twenty years spent studying the question, Isabelle Nazare-Aga is moreover categorical: "the manipulators love no one".

Manipulators from an early age

But are we born or do we become manipulators? Isabelle-Nazare Aga observed manifestations of the thirty characteristics that allow her to identify a manipulator in very young children. “But there is no profile. It is not just about children who have not been loved by their father or mother. More often than not, I rather observe children kings, admired, respected and feared, because they are so young manipulators. At this age, it is still possible to try to change them. Afterwards, it is too late, according to the therapist. Same story with Christel Petitcollin. “Most of all, they don't want to change. They believe they have the truth. There is never any questioning. They are in frightening denial mechanisms. "

People to flee

In the face of them, the recommended attitude is… flight. "You should know that in the case of a couple, for example, any hope of a happy and harmonious married life is futile," explains Isabelle Nazare-Aga. As a general rule, it is best to avoid contact with manipulators. You lose your energy and your soul. Another solution, for those who are forced to deal with them: counter-manipulation. “We should no longer communicate in a normal way. Use short, fuzzy sentences, use a lot of humor and irony. The important thing is to show through your responses that you are not hurt emotionally. But that doesn't work in the long run. It’s about survival, to avoid constant arguments. »As long as you prepare well for your departure (photocopy important papers, open another account…), it is possible to leave a manipulator. Esperances succeeded, "not without difficulty". “Today, I'm rebuilding myself little by little,” she says. I no longer know what desire is, I no longer trust men. But I left. "

"Each of us can be the victim of a manipulator"

Why do some fall into the nets of manipulators and not others?

Isabelle Nazare-Aga: Many people do not understand that manipulators can exist, that a mother wants to psychically destroy her children, or a spouse, his wife. A lot of people find it hard to accept that meanness can go that far. There are also those who are unaware of the existence of these personalities. And then, people who lack self-esteem, self-assertion or who, in love, are emotionally dependent. They are vulnerable prey.

Can we all fall victim to a manipulator?

Absolutely. According to my calculation, made from my training groups on difficult personal relationships in public companies over several years, only 10% of people would be indifferent to any manipulation. It is very rare not to feel any emotion when we are threatened, made guilty, or belittled.

Why is the support of those around you essential when dealing with a manipulator?

Being a victim creates enormous mental confusion. An emotional upheaval that prevents all fluid, rational thought. Two friends are enough. But it is also good to go to a very knowledgeable psychotherapist.

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