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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I want to understand why someone has a manipulative

Resolved Question:

I want to understand why someone has a manipulative personality, where does it come from? What experiences shape their personality?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

Although some people can be born with manipulative traits (such as sociopaths), most people usually develop manipulative personality traits as a result of childhood trauma. When a child is abused, witnesses abuse or is exposed to any type of trauma, they need to develop a way to cope. A child in these circumstances is most likely not getting their basic needs met such as love, care and attention. In order to compensate, they need to develop ways to relate to the dysfunctional world they live in. One way is to learn to manipulate to get what they need. For example, if a child has an alcoholic parent that does not provide food on a regular basis, the child may learn to manipulate other adults outside the home to take them in and feed them. Asking outright would require an explanation of the situation so they learn to lie and manipulate in order to get what they need.

Once that child grows up, the only way they know how to relate to the world is to manipulate so that is what they do. They don't understand (or they may not want to) how to act to get their needs met normally. In order to change how they relate through manipulation, they would need to confront the reasons why they manipulate and that may be too painful to confront. So they continue with the same behavior, even if it is harmful and has negative consequences.

I hope this has helped you,

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