Definitions of Emotional Manipulation


Emotional Manipulation: The act of manipulating another into an intense desired emotional state (such as love, passion, anger) in order to absorb the resulting emotional energy.

Emotional Vampirism: Includes such practices as learning what someone needs in a mate and accentuate those traits so the person thinks he or she is in love.

Psychological Manipulation: A type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive tactics. By advancing only the interests of the manipulator, often at the other’s expense, such methods could be considered abusive, devious, and deceptive.

Emotional Intelligence: The Mayer-Salovey model defines emotional intelligence as the capacity to understand emotional information and to reason with emotions. More specifically, in their four branch model they divide emotional intelligence abilities into four areas:

1.    the capacity to accurately perceive emotions; being able to read others  

2.   the capacity to use emotions to facilitate thinking

3.   the capacity to understand emotional meanings

4.   the capacity to manage emotions  

Social influence is not necessarily negative. For example, doctors try to persuade patients to change unhealthy habits. Social influence is harmless when it respects the right of the influenced to accept or reject it, and is not unduly coercive. Depending on the context and motivations, social influence may constitute underhanded manipulation.

It is very important to understand that there are 3 basic levels of emotional manipulators: mild, moderate, and severe. People develop forms of emotional manipulation for various reasons, ranging from sexual/physical/emotional abuse and neglect to ineffective and/or inappropriate parenting. People who are mild or moderate emotional manipulators are able to engage in treatment and change their behaviors and beliefs. Severe emotional manipulators may not be treatable and are much more dangerous.  

Mild    Moderate    Severe 

In order for emotional manipulators to stop manipulative patterns of thought and behavior, they need to know HOW to change (Honest, Open, and Willing). They must explore their family of origin and their personal history. This will help them identify where their outlook on the world stems from. They will see how and why they developed these patterns in the first place and (by making peace with past experiences) they will be able to move forward. Emotional manipulators are not happy people. Manipulative behaviors do noy result in true happiness, self-esteem, or self-love, and they do not develop naturally in human beings. Rather they arise mostly as protection devices against fear, despair, and exclusion.