Review of Dorothy McCoy’s The Manipulative Man

(See radio broadcast featuring Dr. McCoy):

http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2474626187239&id=1299968029&ref=notif&notif_t=wall#!/profile.php?id=1299968029

Manipulative individuals say and do things to control and undermine others. In its extreme form, manipulation is a form of emotional abuse. The Manipulative Man by Dorothy McCoy, EdD, is essential reading for everyone who wishes to work on problematic relationships with flawed, manipulative individuals who are not full-fledged personality disordered. All human beings are flawed yet most of us still manage to have close relationships with our family members and romantic partners. Many have tendencies of personality disorders; few have full-blown personality disorders, however.

While as Sandra Brown, M.A. explains in How to Spot a Dangerous Man, personality disorders are not fixable and relationships with such individuals are very dangerous and damaging, what do we do about the rest: namely, our relationships with 90 percent of the population, who, like us, has human flaws that can be worked on and improved? This is where Dorothy McCoy’s book, The Manipulative Man: Identify His Behavior, Counter the Abuse, Regain Control, offers very useful coping strategies that can strengthen our ties to our significant others and mend our relationships.

Dr. McCoy first explains the manipulative personality types and his (or her) strategies of manipulation, which include: excessive flattery (especially at the beginning of the relationship), deceit, bullying, stonewalling, pity play, and projecting blame upon the victim, among others. She then offers a typology of manipulative men that women are likely to encounter and have problems with. These include: the Mama’s Boy (characterized by dependency and need for caretaking and adulation); the Workaholic (who is a perfectionist, often suffers from Obsessive Personality Disorder and defines himself in terms of his work); the Eternal Jock (who relives his glory days and can’t move on and deal with the responsibilities of his life); the Dependent Man (who can’t make decisions and defines himself excessively in terms of his relationship to his partner, thus draining her time and energy); the Antisocial (who engages in risk-taking, transgressive and even criminal behavior, with no remorse, for the thrill of it); the Womanizer (who is often a love or sex addict, whose appetite for new conquests can never be satiated); the Passive-Aggressive man (who wallows in self-pity and constantly  undermines his partner’s self-esteem and accomplishments); the Narcissist (who essentially worships his own altar and views others as a mirror that reflects his perfection and greatness); the Psychopath (the social predator who charms his way into women’s lives with flattery and deceit in order to use and harm them) and the Violent Manipulator (who engages in domestic violence).

The Manipulative Man explains each of these manipulative types by including not only descriptions, but also case studies that offer concrete examples and engage the reader. The book also offers coping strategies for such troubled relationships and outlines the difference between problematic traits and full-blown personality disorders. In other words, the author distinguishes between character deficiencies that can’t be fixed–the best one can do in such situations is escape the relationship with minimal harm–and tendencies that may be able to be improved by working together, as a couple, on the relationship.

Even in those situations that can be ameliorated, Dr. McCoy emphasizes that both partners have to be willing to make changes for the sake of their relationship  and sustain those improvements consistently, over time. The Manipulative Man makes an important contribution to the field of couples’ counseling and offers an excellent supplement to therapy. This book tells readers in a clear and engaging manner how to save salvageable relationships while not shying away from advising not trying to save unsalvageable relationships with personality disordered individuals.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

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