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Manipulative mind games?


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I am not sure if "manipulative mind games" are the same as psychological abuse, but I think people must be aware that a game is going on before they can determine whether they are players. I think that bad manipulation tends to devalue others and their efforts.

So, acts of manipulation can include someone giving you one account of a particular situation, and then telling someone else a variation of the same situation. Usually this is not bad because not all people need the same interpretation of a particular case. But, when the variations are used to portray someone has incompetent or foolish for the purposes of social ostracism, then that's starting to look like bullying.

Another example may be where one colleague's reactions are easily read by others. Particular responses from this colleague can then be encouraged by others for self-serving purposes that may damage an environment which requires respect and cooperation.

Perhaps one last act of bad manipulation would be when people in positions of respect and authority abuse their positions with some form of blackmail to manipulate the decision-making of others, and devalue their efforts.

Just a few ideas.

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I think mind games are a very bad abuse.... It is using some sort of power over someone else... instead of hitting them you are saying or doing things...

For example a person in a relationship keeps telling the other they are no good and worthless... WHY?? In order to have some sort of control.

I lived with a man I call a "con" He would con anyone... he could manipulate any situation... Plus he constantly told me I was no good etc... ( and he was physically abusive) ... He is a very dangerous man.. I would much rather be hit than to have my mind played with...


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I've experienced psychological abuse like JT is describing. Manipulation, mind games, control, rage, sabotage of personal life's progress, etc..

But I guess there are folks who are just playing mind games. I guess it is normal with the male/female relationship when it is new as the two are still getting to know each other. In this case, I don't think people mean to play mind games, it just happens that way until they reach emotional intimacy.

Just my .02 cents worth. :)

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi WinterSky and all,

Can you tell me what is meant by "mind games?" It is hard to know if its abuse or not if it is unclear what is really meant. We may have different definitions about the term. Help??? How are each of you defining "manipulative mind games?"


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I really don't know that's why I'm asking, or I think I do- I'm just not sure that's why I'm asking. I would think what JT said about telling someone they are "worthless" and/or "no good," would be more like emotional abuse.

Another example may be where one colleague's reactions are easily read by others. Particular responses from this colleague can then be encouraged by others for self-serving purposes that may damage an environment which requires respect and cooperation.

I think Kaudio's quote above has happened to me in the context of a relationship, and it was so subtle I wasn't aware, or I was trusting, or I was confused, or I was unsure, or I was , hell I don't know what I was! The more I said the worse it became mentally where I became "lost." If that's the word? That's just a part of it, and I'm so angry right now at the position I am in, and all the things I am trying to move through that are all equally important I could just scream!!! Because It's hard to communicate or separate that yes it is this, AND yes it is also this too! and not because of or only because of the first yes. Damn! I don't even know how to explain right now! If this helps I'm married with 3 kids 18, 5, and 3. We moved to another state when the 5 yr old was 2 mnths old. I've been a full time mom for the last 5 yrs, and before that I had 5 classes to complete to obtain my Assoc. Degree. He gradually threw himself more and more into his job, and the more and more and more I became unable to start a life in another state besides mom/wife. My emotions are boiling, and I am overwhelmed to say the least, so I have to cut this off, but where I am now is I can see over the last 10 yrs the self-blame I layed upon myself for all the misery that was occurring in the relationship. I did over the last yr get back into the self blame believing, when I communicated with him how I felt what I thought that I was not happy ect., the things he would say..."Many women would love to be in your shoes, My mother did it...your mother did it...You've got to get "your" kids on schedule...get up earlier....he constantly says "You've got it made"he worried me about trivial things all day long-still does I rarely answer the phone, when he came home, demanded all my time, no respect for space/privacy/time, doesn't like me to go out with a friend or even to a grp meeting once a week...but yet he's screwed around on me and lied to me so much so convincingly. As far as that it's not the "act" it's the betrayal for me. He hides very well, but he can't from me anymore. Even our marital counselor said he cares for you has shown caring behaviors-works and provides for me...how convenient. I even told him "I don't think you know him like you think you know him..to really know him you would have to actually live with him.

Right now..I'm in individual-the focus isn't on him so he's all trying to be caring wanting me to share with him NOT! I just want to make sure where I am relating from is from me and not from my abusers from the past_I really don't think so or there is more clarification, but some of his actions/behaviors give rise to intense anger-always focusing on me and my history as the source of the problem(s) even when I've communicated appropriately to him the reasons I think and feel the way I do is reflected elsewhere like grabbing for straws, until finally there is no more to grab. Using me as the scapegoat-the messages I get is "I can't handle it," I'm inadequate" "it's that new medication your on," threatening to call 911 to put me in psych ward(terrifying to me) because I wasn't doing anything irrational, ..the focus always on ME. I finally caught on to that, moved up out of it and became aware of when he was doing that to me. I wasn't backing down and haven't because I will not and cannot let him hide his imperfections in me anymore. I can't stand it it makes me seethe! It makes me hate. I think it's cruel and I hate him for it.

There's so much I haven't even begun to share, and I so hate where I am today, and trying to move up out of this wondering am I making the right choice for myself, my children, and the future, or am I not? It really sucks!

I feel so immobile, locked in, stuck in everything!

I'm not asking for "What do I do?" just some simple clarity would be nice to help ease all this distorted mess I've been walking through, and never, ever want to walk through again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I'd rather have my butt kicked and get it over with. At least it would be visible! Someone could have seen even me.

Edited by FlowFreak
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Hi FlowFreak,

I think you managed to give a few relevant examples! :-)

And I would tend to agree that what you describe is psychological abuse.

Living, as I am, in a similar situation with my wife, I'd say you've actually done pretty well to see that it's his problem, not yours.

Now, if I had solutions, I guess I wouldn't be living in that situation, so I'm not sure how helpful I can be. In fact, because I tend to bury all that emotion instead of experiencing it, there are lots of times I wish I could just rant about it, the way you did.

I've lost any point I might have had ... Just, there are people who understand, and who are listening.

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Guest ASchwartz

Yes, "mind games" or emotional abuse is just as bad, if not worse, than physical abuse. There was a psychiatrist who wrote about this many years ago and called his book "Soul Murder." The point is that, whether the abuse is physical, verbal, or emotional, the person is attempting "soul murder." That is the murder of you spirit and sense of self worth. Yes, get out of the situation quickly.


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Hi to all,

I've got one of those splitting headaches, so I can't be here long, but I did want to respond.

This sucks!

Malign..I visited your profile, and read your blog..keep writing..it's took me yrs to sort through this junk, and now I'm at the bottom of it, and have to dig myself out, and I wish I could make it happen quickly, instantly or would have trusted me more, and done it before the place I am now-deep.

Have you ever tried an AA grp meeting? I'm not an alcoholic, and neither is my husband, but it's been a huge help for me. This was after my "I've had enough" this is crazy...I couldn't back down or believe even as I tried only to bob right back up again knowing "Hey wait a minute!" I totally detached, and was able to see more clearly where the path was leading, and I would very calmly just cut it off, sometimes telling him "Talk to the hand." I didn't want to hear it anymore.

You will find eventually how well trained your mind has become because of the aerobics it has been subjected too. What's put out won't work anymore, or if it does it doesn't hang around, and eventually isn't around even though it's still there.

You just hang in there, and I think the most comforting words that could have ever been said is in your entire last sentence-need I say more, except I understand and I can hear you.

I think out of all the things I've had happen in this life of mine the mental has been the absolute worst, and I don't know how to explain. I wish I could unzip my head, and say "Here take a look at this" pull my brain out on the table like a magazine, and say "Read and Look at This" for someone to see and know what a battered mind experiences and looks like, but first it has to be taken out of the enclosed box with threaded mailing tape complete with super glue it's been encased in that's been battered from the inside and outside.

Thanks all for listening and responding

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Manipulation by it's very nature is unclear and difficult to explicitely define. If it weren't then it would be easily spotted and the person doing it, labeled and discarded. Or at least getting a reputation as a 'user' etc.

We all play games though, i've got a book called 'games people play' which is part of transactional analysis ... i haven't read it yet but i'm familier with the PAC model and that helps to identify when someone is playing a destructive game with you.

It's kinda like an arms race where the boundarys are constantly shifting and changing colour.

It's a very difficult thing to address if you have an under assertive, passive character with people.

I'm currently being 'abused' by some of the staff at the hostel i'm living at and are having a great deal of difficulty dealing with it as the staff here are supposed to be supportive ... lets just say that some tenants get more 'attention' than others and I'll leave it at that for now. Favouritism is very damaging and can be used as a mind game.

I would say that an important ingredient in manipulative mind games is 'plausable deniability' ... equivocation on various levels of communication is highly effective.

Edited by silentmist
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