“Playing the Blame Game as a Manipulation Tactic” Comments, Page 1

Just click to return to the article “Playing the Blame Game as a Manipulation Tactic”.

22 Comments (7 Discussion Threads) on “Playing the Blame Game as a Manipulation Tactic”

  1. Hi George,
    I find your message here is really about defining the fine lines of a person who is decepetive in his actions with others. It seems also to follow the characterristic of narcissism as rule in these disturbed characters. It also seems that it is also falls under the catagory of master manipulater as well. Is it safe to assume most of the series is reflective of narcissism and that is why manipulation is the optimal choice these people generally use in their relationships.

    As so much of the message here is in contrast to a person who is neurotic in nature. Whose inner workings are always geared to others well-being with in relationship dynamics. As they are more prown to err on the side of not harming others yet are more vulnerable to these types of people manipulating them? And in so doing being hurt and falling into generalizations that are generally held as not wanting to see others as premedatative by nature. I think you called it being hood-winked and decieved by this erroneous thinking?

    Thanks for the clarity,

    1. Diane, you are right on the mark with your observations. These behaviors or tactics serve three functions simultaneously: 1 to conceal obvious aggressive/deceptive/manipulative intent, 2. to effectively manipulate the overly conscientious “benefit of the doubt” type of personality and manage the impression that person has of the manipulator, and 3. to perpetuate the obstruction of the internalization of values and standards of conduct that most of us adhere to.

      “Neurotics” are vulnerable to these tactics for all the reasons you indicate. Disordered characters know the tactics well and aren’t swayed when others use them.

  2. Another great article in which I recognize the behavior you describe in people in my life. Me, being a neurotic-type, ALWAYS fell for this particular one…blaming others, blaming circumstances, blaming the world, etc. Ugh. It’s actually embarrassing how many time I’ve fallen for this nonsense. It is fun to call them on it now when I recognize it. Even if they don’t admit to their own bad behavior, you know they are driven crazy by the knowledge that you are onto them.

    1. Mom, I agree with you. It’s not about blaming the victim, it’s about recognizing each person’s role in a mind game so that they can put an end to it. You said it!

    2. WOW!! What a powerful and TRUTHFUL article! I find these characteristics very prevalent in Bi-polar individuals. Narcissism, manipulation, the “blame game” and more. Oh yes!! They know they are manipulators!! I do not need that in my life!! And yes!! When they figure out that you are “on to them”, it get’s worse!! And of course, they blame you!! It is a vicious cycle!! Get out!!

  3. Hello Dr. Simon,

    Great article, indeed! As I was reading it, I thought about victims of emotional abuse who often point out this kind of behavior on their romantic (and abusive) partners.

    Usually, their partners refuse to accept their responsibility and, more often than not, they put the blame on the other person (the victim of abuse).

    Now, something interesting happens when the victims complain about the abusers (who are undoubtedly responsible for the abuse,) and it’s the fact that althought the victims of abuse will complain and point fingers at the real abusers who put the blame outside themselves, they will still do nothing about removing themselves from an abusive relationship. And, it is highly unlikely the abuser will remove himself from an abusive relationship in order to spare the victim.

    Personally, -and to some extent, of course- I see this kind of behavior on the victim’s part as analogous to the abuser’s blame game, since the victims tend to reasonably point out “it’s the abuser’s fault” and he/she “should change or leave,” instead of doing something about it themselves (other than play the abuser’s blame game.)

    While it is absolutely true and perfectly understandable whose “blame is it”, the fact that abusers usually do not acknowledge their responsability and will keep blaming someone else for their own behaviors, wouldn’t it be healthier for the victim to stop pointing fingers at the abusers -which is to say “stop losing their time” .(especially considering that the abuser couldn’t care less about what the victim says or thinks) and just leave the relationship or do something to quit playing the blaming game or any other kind of mind games the abuser is willing to play?

    Many victims of abuse also refuse to accept they are not helping themselves as long as they are willing to keep playing the abuser’s blame game.

    1. I agree 100% that adults who consider themselves victims of manipulators have a responsibility to themselves to stop playing their side of the game. However, getting to that level of self-awareness is extremely difficult for anyone used to being a victim and, at least in my case, took a huge life-changing event to shake me out of my denial.

    2. i have to say that your observations made me somewhat angry — blame the victim to some extent. no one asks to be abused, just as no one asks to be raped. yes, staying in a relationship where this type of control exists seems unwise and to an outsider, it’s the type of thing where LOTS of people say “so just leave” or “but he’s such a nice guy — he would never do that” or in marital counseling the abuser is charming and relaxed and cooperative but outside nothing changes.

      and when there are kids, it is very complicated. threats of bad behavior and emotional manipulation of the kids abound. accusations of ruining the family and hurting the children are frequent. shame and humiliation and guilt can make it very hard to get out of bed, let alone find the energy to leave a controlling individual.

      i am not sure what your experience or background is, but i am guessing you have been lucky enough to escape such a situation. i wish i had been lucky enough to have one single supportive partnership in my life so far — then i might have something to hold up as a gold standard. but despite years of therapy and support, i am finding it extremely difficult to change my situation.

    3. It’s not about blaming the victim. It’s about taking responsibility for our own choices. When we shift the focus to ourselves and stop trying to figure out or change the manipulator, everything else falls into place…I swear.

  4. your posts on this topic were sent along to me by a fellow blogger. i am currently working extremely hard on trying to extricate myself from a long-term (15 year) marriage that has been occasionally physically abusive, but primarily emotionally and psychologically abusive. i have been semi-aware of this and working on getting past my resulting depression and planning on self-sufficiency. but the comment above about why abused partners don’t leave has no true understanding of the effect of being constantly undermined and devalued for years and years, especially after growing up in a similar household.

    i am trying to get out for my kids’ sake — i don’t want them to think this is how things should be. and i know i need to get out for my sake — i deserve better. but i am afraid and i have to keep making the decision again and again — i have been saying it for months now, and still he will ask, after i have said i am meeting with an attorney and we should start discussing what to do with the house, “isn’t there some way i can fix this?” what he really means is “tell me the bare minimum you require so that i don’t have to go through this” — it is not out of love for me. it is all about control.

    thank you for your posts — they have been very insightful.

    1. Hi Lynette,

      I don’t think you’re failing. We have different experiences, each person is unique and we have a different timing. For instance, my parents got divorced after 35 years of marriage, when no one could actually fortell that would happen.

      As I said before, sometimes people change and sometimes not, but what others decided to do (change) is beyond our control, so don’t get depressed, you’re not failing, you’ve been trying to fix things all this time.

      There’s a nice quote by Thomas Alva Edison I always keep in mind… “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work” =) Any time is a good time to start changing. Honor your feelings and choices, and trust yourself. Just don’t sink in depression, I know it’s hard to get rid of it, but it’s not impossible at all.

    2. LynetteB, I GET IT! I have been in the same kind of relationship for almost 10 years. When I am ready to file the papers, he turns on the nice, I will change attitude. I love him very much, so I have stuck in the relationship because I honestly believed he could change. Sadly, I am realizing he can’t change, nor does he want to. So blame is always turned on me with “You do it too” as justification for his actions. He is also very angry all the time. Good luck to you. I make the decision every day and it is impossible to plan anything.

  5. Hi Mom and Lynette,

    I understand what you’re saying, I know the feeling, been there. I divorced my firts husband when my children (who are now 23 and 24) were only 2 and 3 years old. It was hard. I had no home of my own, no family support and no job. Fortunatelly, I had a best friend (she now lives in the UK and we are still best friends) who let me stay with her till I found a job and a was a able to rent a place to live with my kids.

    But it was for the sake of my own mental health and my children’s mental health that I dedcided to leave “against all odds” (whihc is to say in a thrid world country, with no means.)

    It wasn’t easy at all. But it was worth all the trouble because the alternative was keep playing the blame game and raise my children within a family of unhealthy patterns of behavior and thinking.

    Sometimes, relationships CAN be fixed, others they may not be fixed. Maybe leaving is not worth in all cases. To generalize is a simplistic thing to do, so I wouldn’t say in ALL cases you “have to” leave.

    It is true, and pointed this out in my comment, that the victim is not to blame for the abuser’s manioulative behavior. But if we are a victim, it is important to see when need to get as much information on this kind of “blaming others” behavior so as to be ready to deal with it, and confront the manioulator with his game.

    There’s a very old book, and a great book too, called “Games People Play” by Dr. Eric Berne. The more information we get, the better we are prepared to quit getting (unconsciously) involved in the abuser’s game, and the better tools we have to make safe decisions to preserve our own mental health and that of our children.

    Manipulators and abusers know it’s THEIR fault. So they need make themselves accountable for their actions. The mre we become aware of their games, the more chances we have to stop being part of an unhealthy relationship.

    Bear in mind that some people can change with professional help while others cannot. So we need to try to see what the case is.

    Thank you so much for your comments.

    1. mariana, thank you for your reply. i wish i had left when my kids were small — they are older now, and i am more accustomed (and perhaps tolerant?) of the behavior.

      maybe i am particularly sensitive about the issue right now, when things are coming to a head in my life, but i have to say your comments in your response result in my almost feeling as though i am failing somehow by NOT leaving. which makes me more depressed (when i start thinking that way).

      anyway, i am glad you were able to “make things right” in your life — i am working hard on doing the same.


  6. Great discussion, all! A word here about the balance of responsibility. It’s not a fault per se that normal “neurotics” are conscientious to the point that they afford others the benefit of the doubt, strive to see the good in others, and try to see the other side of issues. But such characteristics do make them vulnerable to a good manipulator. Remember, the tactics they use are effective precisely because malevolent intent is not OBVIOUS when they use them. One has to finally get the picture of what kind of person one is dealing with to realize what they’ve been up to and sometimes that takes enough time that a lot of damage has already been done and a lot of entrenchment has already occurred in the relationship. Still, the key to EMPOWERMENT for someone who would otherwise be a victim is to take charge of their own issues and how they have responded – setting new terms of engagement for those with whom they would have a relationship.

    1. Looks like this blog took a life of it’s own! :)

      I personally found that gathering and learning new information (like the one you provide through the articles you write here) has been the source of my self-empowering and what has made me “move on” in my life.

      Back 25 years ago or so, I found that through reading some books, like the one I mentioned here, as well as getting as much information from professionals and from real life experience as well, provided me with the tools I needed to understand other people’s manipulative behaviors and be in a better position to deal with them or with such situations.

      To me, information was the key. If we don’t know how we and other people function, little can we do to change the way we respond.

    2. thank you dr. simon. so how does one find a way past one’s own damage to get the strength to actually believe the reality of what has happened? i have two parallel versions of my marriage playing through my head and my heart — the real one and the one i want it to have been. i can’t seem to reconcile the two — it is too painful to admit what i have allowed to happen to me.

      years of therapy, medication, and depression, and i am still stuck here.


  7. lynetteb’s question related to depression is such an important one that I thought I’d add one more comment. As I write briefly about in “In Sheep’s Clothing” and will be expounding on in a future post, the “formula” for depression, which I discovered in my early work with victims of master manipulators, is simple: Invest your emotional energy in something you don’t have the power to make happen (e.g., someone else’s behavior, an emotional response from another, an outcome you desire, etc.). Similarly, the “formula” for joy is investing your emotional energy in something you have absolute power over – namely, your choices and actions. DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Don’t focus on the outcome, merely the act of will. On top of that, attach paramount VALUE to your decision. Recognize its merit and reinforce yourself internally for taking action. If the choices you make don’t lead you to where you want to go, modify your choices but keep trying. We get depressed because we get too emotionally invested in what we can’t control and forget to validate ourselves and our acts of merit.

  8. I think many therapists are trained to prevent burnout by blaming their clients. I had a therapist who pushed my “resistance” to being near my abusive mother and I attended therapy with her. When I was traumatized the therapist said he couldn’t see me anymore, he did not want to face up to his own screwups and he blamed and shamed me for my “anxiety” – my mother used the therapy sessions to run out the clock on my emergency fund and persuaded the therapist to beg me in our one-on-one sessions to ask my mother for money. When I finally did, my mother used another month to run out the clock then refused to hand over any money.

    Psychotherapy is a very risky thing to enter, it is criminal profession until the licensing boards decide to reform themselves. Thankfully the Internet is allowing people who would otherwise be at the mercy of unsupervised, zero-accountability blame-shifting therapists can now find each other online, compare notes and participate in peer-to-peer rehabilitation. The few honest competent therapists need to act to reform their profession because the bad apples among their peers will soon reach a tipping point and before they know it, the competent therapists of character will find themselves in the poorhouse.

  9. Am getting here VERY belated for the release of this article but wanted to say thank you. Your article helped me to understand a issue am having with an employee and his seemingly very well developed methods of avoiding responsibility for property damage. Has been anything but mature or reasonable to deal with his strange ability to turn tables on others. Now reading this I see he is likely very skilled at this projection response. The worst part is his attempt to make others feel guilty and bad for him when he caused harm. This is a nasty trait of the strong self grasping/ self preserving at all costs! Thanks. It helped me understand what approach to take: a phone call to the local police. Am finished with his games. Take care

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
 characters available

In accordance with our Privacy Policy, your email address will not be published with your comment or shared in any other way. Please do not SPAM. Comments which solicit personal advice, are rude or inflammatory, are not about this specific post, or are otherwise not in keeping with our Terms of Use may be deleted at our discretion. If you would like to make a comment or ask a question about something other than the subject matter of this post, please do get in touch directly.

Overseen by an international advisory board of distinguished academic faculty and mental health professionals with decades of clinical and research experience in the US, UK and Europe, CounsellingResource.com provides peer-reviewed mental health information you can trust. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. CounsellingResource.com is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation.

Copyright © 2002-2021. All Rights Reserved.