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Psychological control is a form of mental manipulation that leads to emotional dependence. Everyone can one day be under the influence of someone: in their couple, in friendship, at work, with a parent…

I’psychological or relational influence settles down often insidiously and translates to a psychological ascendancymixing manipulation, blackmail and emotional dependence, whether in the couple, in friendship, in the family environment or at work. In the long term, it may have serious consequences for those who experience it. And it is not the prerogative of the victims of narcissistic perverts. Everyone can one day find themselves under the influence of a person. What are the signs to recognize it? How get out of it and find a form of freedom ? Definition and advice from Aline Nativel Id Hammou, clinical psychologist.

We can all, at some point in our lives, live in a form of psychological or relational influence with certain people.

The psychological influence corresponds to a form ofpsychological ancestryof mental manipulation even of “psychic torture” recurring used for the purpose of victimizing a person and achieve its ends. It can manifest itself in many situations of daily life: within the couple, with a parent, in friendship, at work…”We can all, at some point in our life, live in a form of psychological or relational influence with certain people, like a sort of loss of control or mastery. It does not matter his age, his intellectual or socio-professional level or whether he is a man or a woman. The word “emprise” infers that there is a dominant/dominated relationship. However, relationship issues are a little more complex than that. We are not always in a profile of pure “victimology” in the sense that the influence is not necessarily so powerful and destructive, as long as it is conscious. The influence can even have, in certain life situations, some benefitsespecially in the couple, in friendship, at work… When we are aware of this influence, we can sometimes gain some advantages and use it in the short term as a strategy. Nevertheless, this influence must not persist for too long, otherwise it becomes problematic“, warns Aline Nativel Id Hammou. The psychological influence can concern:

  • the couplewith an influence exercised by his spouse;
  • workwith an influence exerted by a colleague, a manager or a hierarchical superior;
  • familywith influence or manipulation exercised by a parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent…
  • friendshipwith an influence exerted by a friend, often toxic;
  • more rarely, a sectwith an influence exercised by “a guru”.

Psychological control is a kind of role play where the victim (the dominated person) does not choose anything and where everything is imposed by the one who has the power (the dominant person). Recognize it can be difficult and time consuming. However, some signs are typical of a psychological hold.

  • The person under psychological control has low self-esteem. “The dominant person will “empty” the self-confidence of the victim, to keep their influence and to silence their personality traits“, says our interlocutor.
  • The victim lives with the fear of losing the other or lose its “benefits”. “She is completely dependent of the dominant person, and feels unable to live without it“, specifies our psychologist. She tends to be in denial and to minimize the influence.
  • The dominant tends to use threat, blackmail or perverse strategies (through jealousy, contempt, humiliation, denigration, insults, acts of harassment, lies, financial dependence…) to achieve his ends and to make his victim feel guilty if the situation does not go well in its meaning. He can have a great demand for perfection towards his victim and even experience a certain pleasure in seeing this person under his influence. His blackmail or his threats can be interrupted by phases of flattery, empathy, tenderness or kindness. The dominant then becomes understanding (especially in the presence of other people) and shows a face diametrically opposed to that of the manipulator, a bit like a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.
  • The dominant tends to isolate the victim from the outside worldto strengthen his bond of influence and prevent those around him from taking him away from him.


A healthy couple relationship respects each other’s autonomy and freedom, as well as differences of opinion.

“There can sometimes be imbalances in the couple, but that’s part of life together. Roles are not always fixed : there are periods when you are the dominant, others when you are the dominated. Where it becomes problematic is when the roles never change, the imbalance persists and it becomes uncomfortable or even unhealthy.“, details our interlocutor. In other words, each can seek, at a given moment, to influence the other to achieve his ends. Nevertheless, when this behavior changes in systematic and deviant mechanism, it should not be accepted. A healthy relationship respect the autonomy and freedom of others, as well as differences of opinion. Thus, if you regularly feel shame, guilt, communication difficulties, fear, anxiety in the presence of your partner, a feeling of injustice, impression of being “policed”it may potentially be a relational hold.

A parent who is dominating, contemptuous, who criticizes you a lot, who is unable to offer you support, who denigrates your choices, who controls your decisions, who makes you feel guilty excessively, who constantly victimizes himself, to whom you owe all your time, your energy, your successes.. .may correspond to a form of psychological control. “You can be under the influence within your family, with a parent for example, and not go against this posture out of duty or loyalty. On the other hand, if this grip becomes uncomfortable or destructive, we must try to get out of it and put an end to it.“, advises our specialist.

Psychological control can occur in the workplace, from a colleague, collaborator or supervisor who can use and abuse manipulation to achieve his ends. With the help of seduction at first (at first, the manipulator tends to be attentive, understanding and open), then with fear, blackmail, denigration and threats in a second time. The manipulator is difficult to identify, but present typical behavior : it tends to pull the blanket to him, to take all the credit, to turn the situation around, to point out the mistakes of others, to be vague or ambiguous in their requests, to blame others for their mistakes, to act in faux-gentle or in faux-modestto withhold important information, to divide his team to “better reign”…

At first glance, the manipulator tends to be attentive, understanding and open.

A person who has just arrived in the company is particularly easy prey because he tends not to rebel for fear of jeopardizing his professional future. No matter how long you’ve been in the business, when you feel there’s emotional abuse from an employee – which can result in excessive coping, emotional fatigue, fear of going to work, loss of efficiency, professional burnout – talk about it around you, try to collect opinions from other people in your company and do not hesitate to seek the help of human resources.

When it persists and lasts over time, a psychological hold can lead to:

  • A affective dependance of the victim towards his manipulator.
  • A loss of freedom and autonomywith isolation and a strong withdrawal into oneself.
  • relationship problems, with an inability to trust in the other.
  • A personality/identity deeply affected by this destructive relational experience for the victim who has the feeling of no longer being themselves and no longer recognizing themselves (feeling of depersonalization).
  • A depression may lead to suicidal thoughts.

What not to do in the case of a psychological influence

  • Act out of anger and raise your voice. The dominant may be even more aggressive towards you and make you pay for your anger.
  • Let yourself be softened and cajole by his words or actions, often precursors of manipulation or blackmail.
  • Accept all and stop acting/thinking for yourself.
  • feel inferior to his “executioner” and give him more credit than necessary.

It is quite possible to get out of a psychological grip provided you are accompanied and do not remain isolated“, warns our psychologist from the outset. This is done gradually:

First step: deconditioning. First, the victim should recognize toxicity and the reality of the excesses of relational influence. She will have to gradually reduce the admiration felt for the manipulator, in order to give him less and less credit (phase of de-idealization). She can write a letter to the manipulative person, which she will not send but in which she will put words to her suffering. Surrounding yourself and not minimizing the support of loved ones remains essential. Do not hesitate to talk about it to those around you, to ask for help and advice to take a step back from the situation, no longer be tempted to accept the unacceptable and regain a certain form of freedom and autonomy. , as well as his judgment skills. The surroundings must with tact and understanding, bring the victim to reflect and become aware of what is normal or not in a relationship, then let them come to their own conclusions. It takes time, you have to be patient.

Step two: reconstruction. It is quite possible to be accompanied by a health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, home social worker, sophrologist, hypnotherapist, etc.) if necessary. This will make it possible toessential work on self-esteem because very often the victim feels stupid, stupid, guilty, ashamed or even responsible for the situation when he becomes aware“, indicates Aline Nativel Id Hammou. This will also allow the victim to relearn how to live outside the relationship of influence and to regain emotional independence. It is also advisable to read works on the theme of relational influence (Getting out of control and rebuilding yourself by Julie Arcoulin, Control at work: Understanding it, freeing yourself from it by Wadih Choueiri, Freeing yourself from emotional control by Sylvie Tenenbaum…). Participating in discussion groups or daily life management workshops can also be a good solution for collecting testimonies and realizing that you are not alone in suffering this kind of influence. Finally, we can also work on the body with the use of theater, singing, meditation, yoga, art therapy…

Psychological control can be done in a way conscious or unconscious. Sometimes, the manipulator does not realize his actions. In general, the psychological influence translates an injury, an inner emptiness or one lack of self-confidence. By doing so, the manipulator compensates for his suffering and puts his fears at bay by having an ascendancy and making others suffer. Handling is like an engine for him. In some cases, the psychological influence is linked to certain psychic disorders such as personality disorders (sociopathy, psychopathy) or a tendency to perversion (narcissistic pervert, moral perversion…).

Thanks to Aline Nativel Id Hammou, clinical psychologist.

#signs #couple #work

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