The Controller: An analysis of a toxic person

I have to raise a very sensitive subject that many of us experience but may not realise is happening to us. No matter how strong we  think we are no matter how well we think we read people; we all have someone in our lives who tries and often successfully manipulates us. People who physically control us are fairly obvious. They may use violence as a form of control. However many controllers are more subtle than this. What is important is that controllers generally read people very well they have a whole swag of strategies they use to control and manipulate others. These strategies range from violence right through to what is known as love bombing.

Imagine you’re in supermarket or walking through a mall when a person approaches you and ask for money. Some people are naturally more generous than other’s and may comply with the request. Others like me aren’t as charitable because very often people who ask for small amounts of money ask lots of people and it adds up. They may innocently ask for $2, it seems harmless enough but if they are successful in getting $2 or $3 from twenty people over a day or even a few hours that is enough   to buy drugs or a bottle of alcohol. I will buy people food or a drink but I won’t give them money.

Controllers are a little more subtle.  Controllers often use touch. It may only be a hand on the arm or a pat on the shoulder but it appears to reduce resistance even in people who are more resilient to manipulation. The whole purpose is to gain information that allows further control.

After this there are little signs that creep in like subtle criticisms of ones writing style or spelling just  to use an example. It seems fairly harmless but for the person they are targeting it is actually an attempt to make the target doubt themselves. If that works the controller begins to manipulate that one small thing until eventually they gain control over larger areas of the targets life. This may include but is not limited to getting involved in the targets personal relationships, their families even finance and business.

The controller may then begin to isolate the target. They then may interfere in the targets personal and or romantic relationships. For the controller there is no extent to which they will go to achieve their end goal; honestly unless you know the controller’s real motives then you have no idea what their end goal is

Social experiments have been conducted and repeated many times where people approach strangers and ask for money or directions often they are met with resistance. The experiment is then modified and repeated. The same people may be approach strangers making a request only this time they touch their target often disarming their defences.  Even more interesting is when different people approach a prior target that was resistant to the request and touched their arm, hand or shoulder, the result was sometimes different.

The result wasn’t always successful however very often the subject was disarmed and become more open and communicative or compliant. Those who were conducting this experiment often used volunteers who were similar in age height and appearance that ranged from fairly attractive to being dressed like homeless people. The researchers found that people who were more attractive were more successful but people who used touch when asking for money or directions were even more successful. Where someone rejected a request a person with similar features was used where they made physical contact with the target. All of the targets were later debriefed and informed that they had been part of an experiment.

The experiment was fairly innocuous but controllers are not. Controllers often use touch to gauge their intended victim’s response. If the response is positive the controller has a new target on which they can work. If someone reacts negatively to touch the controller will seek out a different method to manipulate their intended target. Some targets figure out fairly quickly what is going on while others don’t but no one is successful 100% of the time. We all get suckered although after a certain point many realise that the controller is a toxic person and avoid or resist them altogether.

Yes controllers are toxic. To the controller targets are a means to an end It inevitably serves the controllers purpose; it is selfish. They will shower gifts on people, invest their time in others, even invite them into their homes and give them a room or a meal but it is all in their own self-interest not the person they appear to be helping.

Don’t get me wrong controllers can be altruistic. Controllers can be genuinely compassionate and concerned about others. We can all see a total stranger in need that needs a drink of water or help with changing a flat tyre on the side of the road; we aren’t invested in those things. The Good Samaritan is a prime example of someone acting purely out of compassion for another person. If you know the historical background of the Samaritans and the Israelites they hated each other. The Israelites saw Samaritans as being lower than dogs. The Israelites saw dogs as unclean animals. My point is that the Good Samaritan wasn’t invested in helping the Jew he found lying in the side of the road. He simply saw his own moral obligation and understood the commandment to love God and others as himself.

Now that I have said  that, here is the problem; when you catch a controller out and ask  them why  they are doing what they are  doing  they will reply that yes  there was a time  when they were  doing it for themselves  but  they aren’t now….  They know they’ve been exposed. It is a standard response. I am not claiming to be an expert on human nature but I have worked alongside people long enough to know when someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

When a controller is exposed they often resort to deflection by twisting what you have said to try and make you feel guilty or make you look like the one that is in the wrong.  They may resort to tears and a threat of self-harm when they’re exposed but they rarely have any intention of following through, it is simply a form of emotional blackmail. Controllers can’t stand being out of control

Controllers will use personal information about you to control you especially when they are exposed. If they can’t do that once more they will twist information to try and reach a stalemate because  they can’t stand  to lose… controllers can’t afford to lose because  they have invested so much time in their target; exposer takes away any control  they have over  you or others around  you. They may resort to threats or they may engage in character assassination.

I know of one situation where a controller was caught out. They attempted to prevent exposer by trying to further isolate everyone from their target. The controller told all the targets friends that the target had family issues and needed time out requesting everyone stay away. When this failed they resorted to threats of physical violence actually pulling one man up on the side of the ride and standing over him and threatening his life. All that did was result in further consequences for the controller.

As I write this I see that a controller has many if not all the characteristics of a narcissist. People who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder are not aware that they have a problem however there is more than one type of narcissist.

I am not an expert on narcissism I don’t have to be and neither you. I have had the misfortune of knowing quite a few over the years. Some narcissists are overt meaning they have no qualms saying how superior they are to everyone else. Other narcissist are covert they will often pretend to be self-deprecating and humble but it is also a way of drawing people into their web of deceit.  The type I am most likely referring to is the narcissist that is complementary.  They can appear to be kind, sweet, helpful and very generous but once more it is really about them not you. Again not everything the controller does is self-interested but the end game is the goal.

The worst and most dangerous type of narcissist is a combination of all three that I mentioned above.  They are real they are smart and they are selfish don’t underestimate them.

Imagine you’re in a situation where all the information above I have talked about is known to the controller and they know you know this as well. Now imagine that you have to confront them…

Everything I just said will be used as a weapon that they will throw back at you. Everything you accuse them of, they will accuse you of.  It is a form of intimidation. If they know that they will likely lose the confrontation they will try the tears and threats, don’t buy it its phoney. They will want to control the information by making a confidentiality agreement. Don’t buy into it as it may put other innocent people at risk. The controller may try to enlist people to their side or say they are talking to someone and they realise their mistake.  Words are meaningless without actions. People don’t change overnight. Rarely do people change in the wink of an eye; that process can take years. Don’t believe a word they say unless or until there is evidence of real change.  In other words there is no negotiating… None! It’s an either or agreement; either they get help and change or you leave. You might have to leave until there is evidence of real change or it may mean leaving forever. I can’t tell others which road they should follow that is up to each individual and how strong they are.

Some Christians will react and say God doesn’t approve of divorce. You’re right God doesn’t. God also doesn’t approve of people staying in an abusive relationship that puts their partners and children at risk of further harm. Saying “Honey I’m sorry it won’t happen again”, is meaningless unless there is real change. Adultery is not just a sexual act of unfaithfulness; adultery is also physical, material and spiritual desertion of a partner. If one person in the relationship is emotionally and physically absent having invested their strength and devotion into something else that takes them away from their primary responsibility to their spouse; that is adultery!

Sadly narcissists rarely change. The controller may have invested a whole life time honing their skills. It’s not just a pattern of behaviour it’s who they are it’s their personality.

As with my previous blog on shallow thinking and lies it is pertinent to repeat that God is the one who changes people’s hearts. I have seen dramatic even miraculous changes in personality when a person repents of their sin and asks God to forgive them. They didn’t change overnight some of those changes took years; some of those changes will take the rest of their lives. That applies to all of us.

There are no quick fixes. Real Christianity doesn’t provide quick fixes, change can be a long drawn out very painful process of self-revelation.  The beauty of that self-revelation is coming to the realisation that God loves sinners and He fixes broken people. We are all broken, we are all imperfect. The promise from God the Father is that we will one day be healed of that brokenness through His Son Jesus Christ.

The bible tells us that we are sanctified through Jesus Christ we are cleansed with His blood. The bible also says that we are being sanctified. In other words sanctification is immediate but also an ongoing process.  It is immediate in the sense that we are cleansed so we can enter into the presence of God through prayer. God no longer sees our sin. Sanctification is ongoing in the sense that through our trails God is refining us and teaching us to trust in Him though faith. Sanctification is the process that God uses to make us more like His Son Jesus Christ so that he might use us as His instruments in drawing others to Himself.


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