Unmasking the Dark Side of Psychology: How Manipulators Twist Terminology to Their Advantage

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We do a lot of videos on psychology, especially as it relates to personal development and interpersonal relationships.

As such, we felt it was important to do a brief video on how people may misuse psychological terminology to manipulate or exploit others. We see it ALL the time on social media especially when bringing up a scientific topic—> GASLIGHTING! This isn’t to say gaslighting never happens, but rather it’s not as common as some claim.

More often than not it’s just a discordance in perspectives.

It’s a bit ironic, actually, that such concepts which were originally intended to help us understand human behavior and emotions can be so readily distorted by exploitative individuals for their own gain.

Overwhelmingly, such a thing happens within interpersonal conflicts the most. This can be romantic relationships, business colleagues, etc. Since we talk a lot about psychology for the purpose of understanding and insight, we really want to warn against those with ulterior motives who might exploit this type of knowledge to gain the upper hand in disagreements or to undermine the credibility of the other person.

Diagnosing Others: Manipulators sometimes misuse psychological terminology by casually assigning psychiatric labels or unfavorable personality traits to those they interact with. You’ve probably encountered it before—terms like “narcissistic,” “paranoid,” or “borderline” are tossed around like verbal grenades, intended to chip away at the other person’s credibility or evoke emotional responses. However, this tactic not only simplifies complex psychological conditions but also shifts the focus away from the real issues at hand.

Deflection and Redirection: Manipulators adept in psychological terms might divert attention away from their own actions by accusing their opponents of psychological manipulation. For example, they might claim that their adversary is “gaslighting” them to deflect from their own manipulative tactics. This not only confuses the situation but can also create doubt and mistrust in the minds of those involved.

Weaponizing Empathy: Manipulators can exploit terms like “empathy” or “validation” to demand that others cater to their emotions or perspectives while refusing to reciprocate or by painting themselves as the perpetual victim of a cruel world. By accusing people of lacking empathy or being dismissive, manipulators can guilt-trip others into complying with their wishes or conceding their stance. No one wants to be seen as not having compassion for their fellow humans.

If you ever encounter such a scenario, it’s crucial to remain centered on the primary concerns and steer clear of becoming entangled in alluring jargon. Embrace open communication and make a sincere effort to comprehend their perspective—this can be as straightforward as requesting an explanation for the actions they attribute to you. Such an approach can unveil manipulative tactics and pave the way for constructive dialogue.

Something worth noting: manipulative behaviors aren’t inherently good or bad; they simply reflect how many individuals have learned to navigate the world. People sometimes resort to such behaviors as a means to secure their sense of safety or fulfill their needs. It’s essential to remember that they aren’t necessarily bad people; often, they act unconsciously, driven by their ego.

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