Surviving Emotional Manipulation Brief Presentation  

“When a person shows you who they really are, believe them.”

                                      -Maya Angelou  

The Ten Types of Emotional Manipulators

(Archetypes not People) 

1. The Constant Victim (the BPOO, Bitter Party of One):


"Nobody cares about me and nobody wants to help me. Nobody likes me, everybody hates, guess I’ll go eat worms.”

No matter what happens, with many twists and turns, this emotional manipulator becomes the victim. This person often starts “fires” and irritates people. Others often feel overwhelmed by the constant victim, as there are a significant amount of arguments and fights. Although the constant victim’s instigate tension and fights, they manipulate the situation so that they can be perceived as the victim. After their partners or other are engaged in emotional battles with the constant victim, the constant victim seeks sympathy from others involved and turns people against each other in order to gain control and power. Like all emotional manipulators, the constant victim feels a sense of entitlement. For example: “Since I am very talented and gifted, I deserve special considerations and others should know that and accommodate me.”   Constant victims may feel angry that they are not handling their own responsibilities, like working. They project their anger and other emotional states towards others. For example: when they manipulate people, they say that others hate them or that they are trying to hurt them or betray them in some way. Fear and anger are the two biggest emotions they struggle with; many can become paranoid. Frequently they will state that others have betrayed them and pull the “ethics card.” In other words, they project responsibility for their actions or lack thereof to others and thereby relinquish personal accountability.


 2 One-Upmanship (The Expert):


“Anything you can do, I can better. I can do everything better than you.”  


With skilled manipulation, this person needs to gain the higher ground over others. The One-Upmanship manipulator has a strong desire to be the “King of the Hill.” Having high social status and dominance is crucial to their ego even though they typically lack conscious awareness of this. They are gifted at determining where people are vulnerable and choose to be around people who lack self-esteem. Constantly using put-downs and insults to harm and exploit their victims gives them an advantage. They may be perceived by others as narcissistic, but are much more likely to conceal their arrogance. Shame and anger are the driving forces behind their use of manipulations, which are a tool they use to achieve their ultimate goal: getting rid of shame and self-doubts. For example: “If I am focused on belittling you, I am not focused on my feelings of shame. “

3.Powerful Dependents (The Victorious Weakling):


I just can’t take care of myself. Life just hasn’t been fair for me. Please save me. Please do everything I say.”

They hide behind the guise of being weak and powerless, but gain considerable power in the lives of those upon whom they are dependent. They are the prime example of learned helplessness and thrive on secondary gain. Unlike the One-Upmanship manipulator, the powerful dependents use compliments/ego-stroking to gain control over their victims. Acting weak and inferior to the people upon whom they are dependent allows them to garner a sense of control. However, if someone resists their dependency, they move from nice to nasty very quickly. For example: “You are just like the rest. I can’t count on you!” The hidden message behind all of their behaviors is, “Don’t let me down.” Overall they are quite self-centered and are driven to get their own needs met, regardless of the impact it has on others.

4. Triangulators (The Divider who Conquerors):



”It’s hard for me tell you this, but he said….she said… It’s an us-against-them world baby.”

They use lies, distortions, and other forms of manipulation to control the people upon whom they are dependent, in order to form support and gain the upper hand. They create alliances (usually with themselves in charge) and attack others who might stand in their way. At first they are friendly with their victims and use compliments and ego blustering techniques in order to facilitate a bond between themselves and their victims. Behind the senses they are saying nasty things about their victims and spreading rumors. By forming alliances with other people against their victim, they gain control and power. Anger is their driving force and they want to act out and hurt people, not physically but emotionally. On the outside they may appear to be the hero or the rescuers, but their internal motivation in self-centered. At times this appears within parent-child relationships, such as a parent who wants his/her daughter to get on the cheerleading team and spreads vicious rumors about the girls on the team, the cheerleading coach, and other parents, in order to accomplish the goal. Often Triangulators becomes great leaders due to the fact that their followers lack self-esteem and feel ineffective.

5. The Blasters (The Unapproachable Suspects):  

 “I’m pissed off that you would even ask me that. It’s all your fault. It’s all their fault.”

They use angry outburst to deflect and avoid facing issues that really need to be addressed. It is normal for teenagers to use this technique, but they should not be classified as a Blaster. A true Blaster is more sophisticated than the average teenager. The victim often feels the blaster is doing something they shouldn’t be doing behind the scene, but cannot identify what it is. Within a couple, the Blaster may be occurring credit card debt, stealing from his/her place of employment, or having an affair. When they are confronted about their behavior, they derail their victims by saying that the victim is being suspicious or paranoid. They may say, “I can’t believe you don’t trust me.” They may also put the blame on the victim. For example: “If you would have spent more time with me, I wouldn’t have had the affair. It’s all your fault.” They have a strong need to resist change and use deflection or denial in order to avoid taking on personal responsibility for their actions. They hate being confronted about their dysfunction and will scream, yell, and make threats to people who call them on it.  

 6. The Projector (The pot who always calls the kettle black):

   “You are always wrong and I am always right. I hate people who hate.”  

They use denial to defend their egos. They never take responsibility for their actions and have very poor self-insight. They become very defensive when their character or motives are in question. Blaming others for their own behavior or character flaws is the primary aspect of a Projector. Projection is like looking at a mirror and thinking you are looking out a window. This is how the projector views the world and experiences life. Much of the time they are unconscious about this. Some examples of this are: “You are racist,” when they are the ones who are racist, or “You’re controlling,” when they are the ones who are controlling. Similar to the Triangulator, they may try to get people to join their cause, but not necessarily to hurt others, but rather to deflect accountability. They never give-up and are relentless, because they strive to avoid looking in the mirror at any cost. If you don’t give them what they want they will trash you and accuse you. They truly believe their bad quality is your bad quality. They feel excessive hatred towards others, but they actually hate themselves. By blaming others, they justify their own behaviors.


7. The Intentional Mis-Interpreter (The Complex and Innocent Liar):

”I’m sorry I must have misunderstood what you said. You confuse me. That’s not what I heard.” 



They use exaggerations, half-truths, and lies to gain power and control. By spreading rumors and gossip, they tarnish their victim’s reputation. Specifically, they will tell a part of the truth, but slant the truth around it. By purposefully interpreting what their victim says incorrectly, they are able to manipulate and get what they want. They are very superficial and have a great need to be the most popular person around. They appear outgoing and friendly, which is a way to gain personal information about their victims so they can use this to gain the upper hand. In their minds, they create justifications to make it okay for them to change/slant a story and many people believe their distortions. When they are confronted they may back down and become tearful.  

8. The Flirt (The Devil in Disguise):


”What’s wrong with having a little fun with someone else’s husband. She not giving him what he needs. It’s not my fault other women hate me, I gorgeous.”  


They use flirtatious behaviors to attract people and achieve their goals. They are very superficial people. They believe that they are attractive, even if they are not. Being everybody’s favorite person is very important to them. They are very self-centered. Many are very sexually active and often use sex as a catalyst to gain attention, power, and control. When they act flirtatious they want others to acknowledge them and want immediate positive feedback. They seem to enjoy causing rifts between friends and family member. It is not uncommon for them to break-up a marriage and then gloat about it later. They like to stay connected to their current partners/spouses, while actively looking for new ones. They are competitive with their partners. When they are tampering with families, couples, friendships, and communities, they feel empowered to watch these systems fall apart.

9. The Iron Fist (The Intimidator):


”Don’t get me mad or things are going to get very ugly! If you don’t give me what I want, I’m gonna mess you up!”


They use intimidation and bullying to get what they want. They are very demanding and insistent that you do what they say, when they say it. Some of them use their physical presence to intimidate their victims, by either using a threatening posture or actual physical aggression. Some use their intelligence to hide the fact they are manipulating their victims. They will try to destroy those who will not give them what they want. They are surprised when someone disagrees with them, because they feel superior to others. They believe in forcing things to move and bend to accommodate their desires. They view their victims and other people as if they were pawns or tools they can manipulate so they can get what they want. If their victims don’t do what they are supposed to do, the Iron Fist/Intimidator will act aggressively and force them to do so. They feel it’s their right.

10. The Multiple Offender (The Adaptable and Resourceful Attacker):


"If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

 They use a blend of the above types of emotional manipulation. Normally, they use three or more types. For example, they use a combination of the constant victim, one-upmanship, triangulator, and the blaster. They modify this blend to their victims. If a person is hard to manipulate using the constant victim type they use triangulation.