Monday, December 03, 2007

Lying -- The Manipulator's Stock-in-Trade

The next tool in the manipulator's toolbox that George Simon, Jr. Ph.D. of "In Sheep's Clothing" describes is lying. It seems kinda obvious to list lying in the bag of tricks because we all have at least some awareness of the reality that manipulators play fast and loose with the truth to gain an advantage. Obvious or not, we all get taken in by lying manipulators because the truth isn't always readily accessible at the time you're being lied to. We may know that they lie, but we usually have a hard time detecting the lie...until long after they've gotten what they wanted from us.

Mr. Simon points out that the lies preferred by covertly-aggressive individuals are lies of omission. Damn, if those aren't the hardest lies to detect! They lie by telling the truth. It is what they leave out that makes it a lie.

Okay, when I get on the subject of lies and liars I just get pissed. I hate lies. I hate that I was duped by liars for so very long. The paragon of truthfulness, my mother, turned out to be one of the biggest liars I've ever met. Well, maybe my sister gets that prize. I think she lies even more than my mother does. Toss up. They both primarily lie in the most sneaky of omission. My mother had me fooled much longer than my sister. Mommy dearest was in a position of authority over me and, therefore, I was more susceptible to the lies. She had more clout to claim rights to define reality.

I believed that my mother was a truthful person until I was in my late 30s. Now I see the multiplicity of lies she has told and still tells and I still shake my head in amazement. The biggest unmasking of her plethora of lies have been the result of hearing the things my mother did and said to my dear cousin "Lee". My mother had much less accountability to Lee for history revisionism because my cousin didn't know the original history. Therefore, Lee had no way of knowing when the history was being revised. To hear how my mother was working day and night to create a new reality that she and Lee could live in; to hear the outright lies my mother her great shame; is to be confronted with the forceful truth that my mother is what I despise inveterate liar. With me, my mother mostly had to lie by omission or insinuation. With Lee and others she could tell outright untruths because the availability of the truth for her audience was harder to come by. This is why my mother went into absolute panic once she realized the Lee and I had forged a close friendship; a friendship that my mother was not in the middle of and orchestrating. She knew her exposure was inevitable. Her power broken.

"Manipulators often lie by withholding a significant amount of the truth. I have treated individuals who have lied most egregiously by reciting a litany of true facts!How does someone lie by telling only true things? They do so by leaving out important other, important facts essential to understanding the truth of the whole story." In Sheep's Clothing, pg. 98

So how do we protect ourselves from being taken in by a covertly aggressive and manipulative person? By bearing in mind that they lie, they lie often, and they usually lie by leaving out important facts. You must proceed on the presumption that they are lying; not that they are telling the truth until and unless you can prove otherwise. I wrote this a year ago:

They [narcissists] lie. They lie by omission, commission, by a look, by a sigh, by insinuation. They are the personification of a lie. We, the honest-in-heart, have a hard time conceptualizing someone who exists entirely in a lie. It is not socially acceptable to allow our first presumption to be that someone is lying. Especially when it is a parent. No, we are to presume they are representing the truth...and only accept that it was a lie when it can absolutely be proven to be one. Once a lie has been proven you then have to shift back to the default position of presumption of the truth. It is this default position that screws us up over and over.

The sad, yet absolute, fact is that the default position when dealing with a narcissist is that they are lying. The anomaly with a N is when they tell the truth. They so seldom tell the truth that you don't even have to worry about mistaking that truth for a lie. They don't deserve to have us believe one thing they say or insinuate. If we presume that whatever they are doing, whatever they are saying, is designed to manipulate and deceive, then we are in a much safer and saner position.

I would have been more accurate if I stated that they lie even when they are telling the truth!

To call someone a manipulator is to call them a liar. The definition of the word 'manipulate' when it applies to interpersonal relationships always includes the concept of deviousness. The manipulator, therefore, is a living, breathing lie. Once you've figured out that someone you know is a chronic manipulator, then you must also admit that they are a chronic liar if you are to deal appropriately with them. Proceed according to that knowledge. To assume they are ever being truthful is to set yourself up to be taken yet again. Mr. Do-Gooder may tell you that you are a bad person for assuming the worst of someone, but you are wiser than he. You know there is no virtue in being someone's perpetual dupe.


Anonymous said...

This describes my Husband's brother to a tee! He both outright lies but more importantly he lies by not telling all the details - I call it re-creating his own self-serving reality. The sad thing is - he was called on his bad behavior and cut off by my husband. Even worse - his parents have totally bought his crap and now cut my husband off completely - I'm still shocked by this one.

Does that mean that they are also Ns? I think we both are trying to figure out why they (the parents) got involved with this mess and then so readily chose the brother's side without even really bothering to ask my husband's take on things. Or if they heard of the brother's bad behavior they immediately had excuses for him - it was very disappointing. Even our counselor didn't think they would cut us off.

Anna Valerious said...

Sometimes the dynamic in a family is run by parental guilt. Often when there is a child (grown or not) who is basically a loser, who seems incompetent to run their lives, who keeps getting into "jams"...the parents will rescue or defend the 'loser' child. The rationale seems to be that the strong children (or child), who is capable and doing well, doesn't need the parents like 'loser' kid does. Of course, I have no idea if this applies to your husband's family, but it is one possible explanation. In families like this, one has to find the hidden compliment which is, "My parents see me as competent and realize I don't need them to survive." Not much consolation, but it helps to minimize the tendency to get sucked into a sibling rivalry.

I suspect your husband's parents feel some guilt for how the 'loser' kid has turned out. They are willing to screw over your husband because assuaging their guilt has taken precedence over actually doing the right thing by both sons.

Anonymous said...

Original poster here - Wow Anna - I think you hit the nail on the head. This brother has problems maintaining friendships - in fact has very few and was also dependant on my husband for helping him get a job, is overweight, insecure and the list goes on. I guess having someone else say it should make us feel better and you'd think I'd be relieved to have them out of my life but I can't help but think it must be very painful for my husband to be so casually tossed aside and abandoned by his parents.

By the way - I love your blog it has really helped me through all this since I have been the victim of the brother's nastiness for YEARS and finally said enough is enough. Which of course resulted in all of them turning on me and then when my husband took my side him - so I guess I feel somewhat guilty if that makes any sense.

Anna Valerious said...

"...but I can't help but think it must be very painful for my husband to be so casually tossed aside and abandoned by his parents."

It sounds like you're making an assumption about how your husband feels based on your own ideas of how you'd feel. Perhaps he doesn't feel it as being "very painful" as you are assuming. Let me elaborate.

By the time my father stated to my uncle, "I would already have cut Anna out of my life if her mother wasn't asking me to give it a year before I do..." I had figured out the sick dynamic of my family so it was not painful to hear how anxious my father was to get me out of his life. It was no surprise. It was even expected. Some kind and decent person could have heard my dad's statement and assume it would be very painful for his daughter to hear those words...and they would be wrong. In fact, my uncle (who is kind and decent) was extremely reluctant to pass along my father's statement to me. He eventually did so only because he thought I should know I was on probation just in case I wanted to kiss up to my father to earn his good graces again. (Didn't happen. Uncle understands, thankfully.)

I suspect your husband already knew his family was seriously f---ed up which may explain why he was ready to take a stand to defend you against his family's attacks when you finally tired of taking the crap. What I'm hoping you get from what I'm saying is that your husband may have already come to terms with what his family is about (and possible some time ago), and is not going through some horrible angst over it.

As for you feeling guilty for how things have turned is a total waste of time. I hope you can dump that piece of emotional baggage real soon. You took a principled stand. Your husband supports it. Done deal. Feeling guilt implies you did something wrong. Where is the wrong? If you can't identify a wrong that you need to correct, then change the verbiage. You feel sad. You feel regret that it couldn't all be Perfect Family, Inc. You worry about your husband's feelings. You wish it could be different. But don't call it guilt unless you've actually done something wrong.

There, Dr. Anna is done. Thanks for your comments. I'm very happy for both you and your husband that you've found freedom from the tyranny of the weak.

Anonymous said...

I also think there's often a bit of 'punishing the competent one for being competent' in these situations.

My parents told me, with perfectly straight faces, that they were going to disinherit me in favor of my sibling because ... wait for it ...

I could take care of myself, whereas my sib was a total screwup.

[Gosh golly thanks, Mom and Dad! I'm exactly what you raised me to be - responsible, adult, etc. - so now ... you're going to punish me for it!]

I've seen similar hostility in workplaces and elsewhere. People who are competent are overloaded, expected to help others while help is withheld from them - especially when they ask for it - and left to cope as best they can; meanwhile, the marginally competent and frankly incompetent are fussed over and mollycoddled.

I think it has to do with the need to feel superior. "We'll help him because we can look down on him. He 'makes us feel good about ourselves'. We can't look down on you, so we'll un-help you. That'll show you."

Anonymous said...

Anna, my NH's mother was the SN (SupremeN) in the family. Nothing was enough for her from my NH's father. Poor man, he worked double jobs to feed the family of 6 children. He would come home tired and to a household of NWife and NChildren. My NH's father always protected my NH and for a while, he succeeded. Then my NH's father passed away ... then my NH's mother passed away ... and with their passing, all their NChildren blossomed into full-fledged Ns ... My NH being seen as the favourite was further ostracized. There is one 'golden child' and this was my NH's brother. He is a big liar, a cheat (cheated all of his father's savings), has fantastic grandiose ideas but has failed many times in business attempts ... and the rest of the NChildren rally around this 'golden child'. The NDaughter wrote malicious letters which caused her father's business to fail...wrote endless malicious letters which created malice and evil in innocent people's lives....and she effectively is the 'trainer'...her daughter detests her ... but is helpless ... her husband encourages her evil behavior as he is too tired to fight her anymore ... in the face of these evil Ns, and if one is caught in its web, one has to stay the course or be overwhelmed ... that is how they wear you down ... like you are an animal ready to be feted by them! They will devour your heart and soul if you are must never show them your fear as they will hunt you even did we have such evil with such innocent guises in our midst? Now my NH has been sucked into their evil and turned against his own family ... and he has a NMistress which he NBros and BSis approved of, just to watch my NH tear up his own family! You either lure them or kick them out! To lure them sucks up your life. To kick them out is the best as the are a waste of humanity. If you, like me, is in a similar situation, stay strong and NEVER give in to their evil. Just ignore them and they wither and die by themselves.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog. Funny that I had saved this blog a log time ago maybe and saw it today in my favorites. I was married to a narcissist for 22 yrs and loved him. At the time of my marriage I had no idea what he was, I just seemed to be always supporting him financially and emotionally, being his greatest fan. I did everything for him. Signed all the loan papers he needed. Putting up with his fucked up family, paying for his endless business undertakings, etc., etc., then suddenly, he started withdrawing, staying out all night, saying he was partying with the other car salesmen after work, etc. and me just going along with it. Then he comes up and says he is not attracted to me anymore and doesn't think he ever loved me. WTF? And...he wants a break from marriage for a while and wants to live with our best (male) friend and get his head together so he can become a better person, husband, father. I helped him pack for his little get away (he wanted to make love to me before he left and I said no, I was too sad) and SUPPORTED his trying to get his head together. All along, he was seeing another woman(flight attendant) and I never knew. I would cry for him to come back home to his family and he would say he was still thinking. After he was gone 4 mths, then I discovered what he was thinking about. We were together a long time. We have a 22 yr old son together. It has been 10 yrs and I never seen to miss all the Holidays we shared together. We were best friends, I thought. He treats me like garbage now, tells everyone he left me because I was "crazy" and makes me out to be the bad guy, when I was the supportive one. His life is filled with BMWs, Mercedes, Volvos, he talked me into giving him our home, he is out on the town wining and dining beautiful women of all ages, he doesn't have a real job, but he can sell anything, specifically cars, home improvements and always has everyone doing his work for him. He just sips on scotch on the rocks all day, dresses like a king and has a wonderful life...while I am a nurse, work my ass off and drive a car my son wrecked! Anyway, thanks for the helps me sometimes to actually KNOW what type of person duped me and to see that he is not as perfect as he appears....your blog is like a slap upside the head. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The best thing, then, is assume that everything they say is a lie. Works for me.

Barbara said...

My late N-mom did so much of this, and she was so caught in her own reality she had no idea where the lie began & ended.

The other thing manipulators (and people who use NLP) do is to pepper the lie with bits of truth. Because they the truth covers the lie like chocolate sauce - and you can't tell the truth from the lie. You're also predisposed to swallow the lie because you know the truth tidbits to be honest.

I hate lying too Anna. With a violent passion. When someone lies to you they truly are telling you that you weren't worth the truth.

Isn't that lovely?

Anonymous said...

Hello, has anyone out there successfully divorced a NH? How does one avoid pitfalls in the process?

~Karen~ said...

Wow. This totally reminds me of my Dad... ever since I've been married (2 years) I've been un-learning so many of the lies my Dad TAUGHT ME MY WHOLE LIFE... I keep finding out something I believed my whole life- is a lie! I will give one example! My Dad told us we could never have a vanity license plate because they were SO EXPENSIVE... Well one of the first things my new husband Tony wanted to do when he got his new Virginia plates (he moved from Washington State to Virginia just to marry me:)) was get a vanity plate that said, "LVS KLM" (My initials)... Can you imagine my SHOCK when I found out it was less than twenty extra dollars a year to have a vanity plate! I almost couldn't believe it because I feel like from infancy I've been taught that vanity plates cost tons and tons of money! Ah! As I posted before... I have so many things to un-learn! ~Thanks again for your blog! As you say, N's lie about things they don't even need to lie about!!!!~ ~Karen~

Anonymous said...

"My mother had much less accountability to Lee for history revisionism because my cousin didn't know the original history. Therefore, Lee had no way of knowing when the history was being revised. To hear how my mother was working day and night to create a new reality that she and Lee could live in; to hear the outright lies my mother her great shame; is to be confronted with the forceful truth that my mother is what I despise inveterate liar. With me, my mother mostly had to lie by omission or insinuation. With Lee and others she could tell outright untruths because the availability of the truth for her audience was harder to come by. This is why my mother went into absolute panic once she realized the Lee and I had forged a close friendship; a friendship that my mother was not in the middle of..."

WOW!! My Mom to a T!! I don't have one close relationship left in my former hometown or among relatives because of this(and other NMom trickery). I have one friend from very early childhood I see maybe once a year who tried to warn me my mom was saying some exreme stuff about me to HER parents by phone( in a different state)(also N's)- since noone speaks to me anymore directly, they get all their info from her. My friend wanted to know, from me, what was up? I had no idea the image being spread around was so bad until I even talked to her. when Nmom found out I knew specific things she was saying she completely freaked and demanded names, trying to figure out who had talked to me without her knowing and how much they knew or had told- all those interrogating trapping ??'s guilt heaping key words to get me to tell. Nope..hehe..of course I 'paid' for that...but for a brief second the mask was off-we both knew someone else knew and was talking..the whole truth and nothing but...added or withheld, that is!!
Great blog!!