Being manipulated is a highly stressful experience. It is unpleasant, demeaning, and disturbing. How does one become a victim of manipulation? Why, when and by whom? What can be done to stop it? Who's Pulling Your Strings?: How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life by Dr. Harriet Braiker users her 25-plus years experience in practicing clinical psychology, to answer these questions.
My Favorite Excerpt
Have you ever felt as though someone is pulling your strings—making you do things you would rather not or stopping you from doing things you would prefer to continue? Have you tried to untangle the strings only to find that you become more entrapped with each futile struggle?
You are not likely to change a manipulator by pointing out that his/her tactics are unfair or that you feel unhappy with the way the relationship is going. To put it bluntly, manipulators
do not care about your feelings. They are out to serve one purpose: to advance their own interests and goals, frequently at your expense.
Who’s Pulling Your Strings? Let’s Find Out!Chapter 1: An Overview of Manipulation The book starts off by distinguishing between Manipulation and Influence. It highlights that manipulation reinforces dependency, helplessness, and victimization.
Chapter 2: Manipulation in Five Acts Describes five stories that are representative of the coercive control and helplessness that manipulation creates. The stories given were very practical and “real life”. It made me wonder about how I would handle such dilemmas.
Chapter 3: Are You Vulnerable to Manipulation? Dr. Harriet points out that everybody is vulnerable to manipulation and that some people are more vulnerable than others.
This chapter also provides a quiz to asses our own vulnerability to manipulation.
Chapter 4: Your Buttons Are Showing (I couldn’t help but smile at the chapter title) Examines the personality traits and tendencies that make you a mark for manipulators. It will make you aware of the “buttons” of vulnerability that you unwittingly expose to other people.
Chapter 5: Manipulators’ Motives I have often wondered, “what makes manipulators do what they do?” I got my answers here. Apparently there are two categories of manipulators: those who are aware and conscious of their manipulative motives and those who remain largely unconscious or unaware of the manipulative methods they employ in their relationships with others.
Chapter 6: Who Are the Manipulators in Your Life? Helps you to achieve greater understanding about the relationships in which you are involved. In particular, about the dynamics of power and control that characterizes those relationships.
Learning to recognize the personality traits of people who are likely to use manipulation as a customary practice, is a good way to arm yourself with an early warning system.
Chapter 7: How Manipulation Works States that manipulation, is much like a magic trick. Initial when I read that sentence my mind yelled, “What….”. The next paragraph explained that if you take the time to learn how manipulation works, it is less likely that you will be caught off guard when confronted with it because you will know what to look for. True enough, the mystery will be gone.
Chapter 8: What Are Your Hooks? Describes some hard truths that we know is true but find it hard to adhere to. “The areas where you feel most in need of gains and/or most fearful or concerned about losses are actually the hooks by which you are most likely to be reeled into a manipulative relationship” says it all doesn’t it?
Chapter 9: The Mechanics of Manipulation Talks of the five basic ways that manipulators control their victims. By being aware of these methods, you can make yourself a hardened target for manipulators.
Chapter 10: Are You in a Manipulative Relationship? Provides a quiz that will help reveal whether you are participating in a manipulative relationship.
Chapter 11: The Impact of Manipulation Highlights that manipulation is harmful to your emotional health because it creates and perpetuates your feelings and self-perception as a victim. The more victimized you feel, the less capable you will feel to free yourself from the toxic pattern.
Chapter 12: Resistance Tactics This is probably the core chapter of the book. It describes 7 key steps to resist manipulation. Basically, these are things that you can do instead of meekly giving in and reinforcing the toxic pattern of manipulation.
Chapter 13: How to Make Yourself a Hardened Target Makes an attempt to replace your flawed thinking with healthier, self-protective ideas, which will deter instead of attract manipulators.
Chapter 14: Final Curtain on Manipulation in Five Acts Revisits the stories in chapter 2, and analyzes them by using the resistance tactics. Dr. Harriet ends the book by saying,
If we succeed together, you will have a great answer the next time someone asks you, “Who’s pulling your strings?” You can look them dead in the eye and say, “Nobody but me.”
What This Book Is NotIt is not intended to apply to relationships in which physical violence—or the threat of physical violence—is used as a means of control.
Neither is this book intended for people being manipulated by someone who abuses alcohol and/or drugs.
Overall: Is Who's Pulling Your Strings? Worth Reading?I have yet to meet anyone who has not been manipulated by someone at some point in his or her life. Sometimes, we are aware that we are being manipulated. Other times, we are blinded by emotion don’t realize that we are being victimized.
So whether you believe you are a victim or not, Who's Pulling Your Strings? will help you strengthen those areas of your personality that set you up as a soft target or a “mark” for manipulation and teach you the necessary resistance tactics to help you break free of manipulation.
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