Happy Tuesday! Another Tell Me How You’re Mighty podcast episode has dropped, and I think it’s the best yet. Sarah and I interviewed long-time blog friend, Dr. George Simon, who I like to think of as the Godfather of Decoding Mindfuckery. You want to do some skein untangling? He’s your guy.
When I first found his book, In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, it was revelatory. Here was a psychologist who wasn’t blaming me for my ex’s cheating. Nor was he going into deep, subterranean reasons why FWs were FWs. Did my ex feel toxic shame? No, argued Simon. The good doctor looked at BEHAVIOR.
Narcissists (or “character disturbed” people, the term Simon prefers) are actually operating out of self interest and feelings of entitlement. What you see is what you get.
This idea, which now seems second nature, was quite radical at the time: I had a different operating system. I was looking at the world through my own moral lens. Moreover, because I was mistakenly thinking the jerk and I were on the same team, and that jerk had an insight problem (I’ll just explain again why this hurts me!), I was setting myself up for MORE PAIN. My ability to feel shame, to reflect on my behavior, to shoulder burdens, while useful in many ways, in this situation just set me up to be further manipulated.
Think about it. You cannot easily manipulate someone who doesn’t feel shame. There are no levers. It only works on people who want to please you, or feel bonded to you, or who don’t want to hurt you.
Dr. Simon gave us the great saying: “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”
Of course they know they’re hurting you. They don’t care! They disagree that they should change their behavior.
Dr. Simon argues it’s not just chumps who struggle with this insight vs. behavior issue — shrinks have the same problem! Listen to the podcast to hear more on the therapy models that gave us the “I’m okay, you’re okay” nonsense of dual accountability in All Things.
We also take a call from listener “J” whose family have sided with her ex — a cheater who cheated on her with prostitutes, during high risk pregnancies. Can you imagine? If you have Switzerland friends in your life you probably can, but her own mother.
J, I’m sorry your mother has utterly failed you on this. Please consider CN your grizzly bear tribe. We would fight your ex off and crush him with our grizzly bear teeth should he be foolish enough to approach. God, what is WRONG with people?
Character. Some people lack it. Have a listen.
Oh, and in other podcast news — please check out the new Tell Me How You’re Mighty website. There’s all sorts of links to our guests, show notes, and the latest episodes uploaded weekly. You can subscribe to get every episode sent to your mailbox. And if you want to be extra wonderful, become a patron at Patreon — where you get the podcast early, ad-free, and you help me pay the sound engineer. Thanks!