The Games We Play

From Wikipedia: Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics. By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at the other’s expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive.


Basic Instinct (1992)
Basic Instinct (1992)

Manipulation can be demeaning and frustrating. In extreme cases, it may even be dangerous, as detective Nick Curran of the SFPD found out in Basic Instinct.

There are also times we are manipulated for “our own good”. We’re often grateful for this kind of benevolent leading; e.g. a trusted relation gently swaying us toward a better life decision.

But we should make an effort to distinguish the difference; know when someone is deliberately or otherwise leading us down a wrong path.  Do you recognize the signs?

Manipulation can hide behind numerous disguises; tactics are as varied as the individuals employing them. Our personalities determine the methods we’re prone to use. Do you know your particular brand of control? Let’s find out.

If you don’t already know your Enneagram personality type, take the test at this post, remember your type number and return here.

Look below, find your type and see if you recognize behaviors you’ve enacted toward others. Conversely, peruse the list; unless you’ve lived in a bubble, you should see underhanded ploys tried on you.

And keep in mind… as we observed with Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner… who is manipulating whom?

Wile E. Coyote
Wile E. Coyote

Type 1:  The Reformer feels that to be loved he must be good, and to be good he must be right. Whether his argument is correct or not is irrelevant; his method of manipulation is to persuade others to agree with his views in his attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.

Type 2: The Helper feels he must earn others’ love by putting their needs before his. His method of manipulation is to learn and cater to the needs and desires of others hence creating dependencies in his attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.

Type 3: The Achiever feels he is worthy due only to his achievements and performances. Leaving his true self behind to be “successful”, he will manipulate by charming others and by assuming whatever facade seems appropriate in the attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.

Type 4: The Individualist is on a life-long search for his identity. In his insistence that he is unlike anyone else and that he is true to himself, he manipulates through making others very uncomfortable with his moodiness and eccentricities in the attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.

Type 5: The Investigator can only recognize self-worth if he feels a degree of expertise in at least one area; if he has mastered some thing. He will manipulate by staying preoccupied and detaching emotionally from others in the attempt to satisfy this underlying need.


Type 6: The Loyalist longs for support and guidance and the ability to stand on his own. Though it may undermine the support he strives for, he will manipulate by complaining and testing the commitment of others in the attempt to satisfy these underlying needs.

Type 7: The Enthusiast desires to be happy and satisfied, escaping anxiety. He feels OK if he has “all he needs”. In the attempt to maintain these heightened feelings, he will manipulate by distracting others and insisting they meet his demands.

Type 8: The Challenger fears dependency of any kind in his quest for autonomy in this hostile world. Feeling he alone is strong and works hard, he will manipulate by demanding others to do his bidding; becoming domineering in his attempt to satisfy these underlying needs.

Type 9: The Peacemaker desires peace of mind and stability in his inner and exterior world and believes all is OK if those around him are OK. He will manipulate by passively-aggressively resisting others and by disappearing into his daydreams in his attempt to satisfy these underlying needs.

Armed with this knowledge, can you visualize maintaining a more disciplined, forthright mode of interacting? Can you visualize banishing the games and relinquishing control over others’ lives?

– debi

3 thoughts on “The Games We Play

  1. The question you raise is interesting indeed. Can there be interaction without manipulation? It would require total selflessness by all parties concerned. Without the total commentment to selflessness from all, the manipulator would stand apart from the group prey upon them all over again, this time a wolf amongst a herd of sheep.

    You have made me think and think deeply. I like that.

    1. Hi Tim,

      I think interaction without some type of manipulation is fairly rare. Even if we approach a situation with no intention of manipulation, we often “react” to someone else manipulating, so we end up acting out our own brand of control strategy.

      The ideal situation would be to have the insight to:
      1) recognize objectively how someone is treating us, 2) diagnose their motivation and 3) rise above it by not “reacting”, but rather by becoming a voice of reason. In doing so, we would probably thwart their efforts (other than violence).

      Easier said than done. Our intentions often fall by the wayside during the moment.

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