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published: 2009-10-14

I’ve been wondering about this nasty little word called manipulation. Somehow, it is always seen as a negative and indicative of some dangerous psychological disorder such as borderline syndrome. Anorexics, as we all know, manipulate. As do drug addicts and so on. To be told that one is manipulative is therefore an insult. Moreover, it’s confusing as it results in self-doubt. Am I, do I, manipulate? The answer to that is “yes”. Everyone does. Watch a toddler and you’ll see that manipulation is not just a character trait. It is an intrinsic part of human nature. The reason being: there are no truths. Therefore, in defending a certain truth to ourselves and the rest of the world, we are by definition manipulating. The baby cries, knowing he will be cuddled. Sometimes it’s cries are hairraising, even when nothing’s wrong. By then, however, the baby itself will have started believing something is. Consider the toddler who argues why “this one time” she should be allowed to have a cookie and puts on her most angelic face. If that doesn’t work she won’t hesitate to say, “dad said I was allowed to have one.” And sometimes she might even move on to claim, “but you promised.” Perhaps you did. You’re not even sure. When it comes to borderliners and anorexics, boy are they good at making the entire world believe nothing is wrong with them. Whoever does dare confront them is made to think he, in fact, is insane. But here’s the catch. If you then claim, argue, defend why you are certain the bordeliner or anorexic is in danger, chances are you – in turn – are manipulating. Same goes for when you’re trying to convince your toddler to eat her vegetables. Or pee on a potty.
I guess the only way not to manipulate is: not needing to convince others of your truth. 

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