Monday, February 15, 2010


How many of you have a member of your family or a "friend" whom you consider toxic? By this I mean within minutes of beginning of a conversation you feel drained, pissed off, and/or off-kilter? People who deliberately try to manipulate you into "helping" them? Or worse, people who covertly manipulate situations to their advantage—even if the only advantage is having the upper hand?

If you know or have ever known someone like this (and who hasn't?), YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. This book focuses more on the covert manipulators rather than the emotional vampires, but even so, it should help you in many areas of your life. Dr. Simon doesn't give a lot of specifics on how to handle these people; sometimes he admits that the only solution is to emotionally disengage from the person causing you misery—but he leaves it up to you to make that call. Still, reading the book was a revelation, not only because I saw several people I knew in the book, but because I saw some of myself (I'm ashamed to say). Reading it a second time was painful, because it was only then that I realized my behavior was negatively affecting my relationships. I'm not saying I'm totally a changed person, but I'm definitely more assertive in a healthy way, and I don't feel like a panting dog performing tricks anymore, trying to please everyone.

You might think this kind of book can make you paranoid, seeing manipulative behavior all around you. But it doesn't. You learn to separate the wheat from the chaff (that's probably not the right metaphor here, but you get the idea), and you'll wind up with a deeper understanding of people—and yourself. I first read this book a few years ago and then again about six months ago (when a real change began to take place) and am getting ready to re-read it again. That may seem like overkill, but so far it's been illuminating upon each re-read, with certain passages that had no meaning before leaping out to give me new insight. I have a friend who's always been very good at "pegging" people, and now I see that her parents simply taught her many of the same issues found in this book. But if you didn't grow up learning that critical thinking skill, this book will really help.

This is also a great book for writers for the same reasons.

1 comment:

stacy said...

I've already edited this post once and don't want to edit it again, but I forgot to include the link:

You can easily find it on Amazon. I should also add that Dr. Simon's term "covert aggressor" is rather revolutionary, as he doesn't operate from the old Freudian standpoint that manipulators are operating out of insecurity, or a bad home life, or any neuroses—which is one of the reasons traditional therapy may fail a person who is trying to deal with a manipulative relationship of some sort.