Understanding Manipulation – What Does Manipulate Mean?

Manipulation has become an oft-used phrase in our society. We commonly hear it used in the media when discussing politics, or in everyday conversations as well. But what does manipulate mean and under what context is it used?

What Does Manipulate mean?

The word manipulate comes from two Latin words, manus meaning “hand” and pilare meaning “to control”. So, at its most basic level, manipulation means “to control with one’s hands”.

However, nowadays the term manipulate refers to the process by which one person exerts influence over another person, without their explicit permission or consent. It involves influencing someone else’s behaviour, thoughts, or emotions in a way that serves your own purpose.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines manipulate as “to manage or influence skilfully, especially in an unfair manner.” This definition implies that manipulation involves using tactics or strategies to achieve your desired outcome, whether those methods are ethical or not.

In fact the most common tools used by manipulators involve tactics such as guilt, coercion, threats, or even deception to get what they want from their victims.

How Does Manipulation Work?

Manipulators typically rely on psychological techniques to manipulate and control their victims. They may employ fear tactics to scare people into doing something against their will or use false promises to entice them into doing something that benefits the manipulator. Additionally, manipulators often use flattery and charm to gain trust and make victims feel obligated to comply with their demands.

In psychology, manipulation refers to behaviour control techniques such as gaslighting, which involve unfairly influencing another person by exploiting their vulnerability and making them feel insecure. By manipulating another person’s emotions or thoughts, you can gain control over them and change the outcome of a situation for your own gain.

Different Manipulation techniques

Guilt Tripping

One of the most common manipulation tactics is guilt tripping. This can involve someone constantly reminding you of their own sacrifices in order to make you feel obligated to do something they want, or playing off of your feelings of guilt in order to get their own way.


Another form of manipulation involves instilling fear in another person in order to manipulate them into doing something they wouldn’t normally do. This involves threats of violence or punishment to get someone to do something they don’t really want to do.

Social Withdrawal

When someone refuses to speak or interact with you unless you comply, they are using social withdrawal to manipulate you. The people who do this want to cause emotional distress, which often leads people into giving in just to end the silent treatment.

Reverse Psychology

Manipulators also use a tactic called reverse psychology, which involves trying to convince someone that the opposite of what a manipulator wants is actually what they should be doing.

Playing Victim

This type of manipulation occurs when one party turns the tables on another and positions themselves as the victim instead. This way they can prevent themselves from having any responsibility for their actions while manipulating others into believing they were only acting out due being wronged first.


People often find themselves falling prey to manipulation tactics like flattery as compliments are hard for many individuals resist, especially if said compliments come from someone we admire or trust! However, flattery should always be taken with a grain of salt since it can easily be used as means to manipulate someone and getting one’s own way.


Gaslighting is a very dangerous form of manipulation which relies on constantly making someone doubt their own perceptions, memories and reality itself in order influence how they think and behave towards their abuser or manipulator. It is intended to lure victims further into abusive situations by denying facts and discrediting truths.

Manipulation vs Persuasion

There are some people who say that manipulation can be used both positively and negatively. By positive manipulation they mean convincing someone to do something beneficial for themselves or others without necessarily knowing why they are doing it.

However to my mind even in such situations it is not right to use manipulation, because this involves taking advantage of the vulnerability of another person without their consent or knowledge.

If you want to convince someone to do something, we should respect them enough to use persuasion and not try to manipulate them against their will.

Persuasion and manipulation both involve influencing other people towards certain outcomes. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Persuasion involves convincing others through logic and reason, while manipulating involves using more underhanded tactics.

The Effects of Manipulation

Manipulation can have severe consequences for its victims. It often leads to feelings of guilt or shame when they realize that they have allowed someone to manipulate and take advantage of them.

Loss of Autonomy. Manipulation can be very insidious, causing a person to lose touch with their own thoughts and feelings. Over time, this can lead to the victim becoming increasingly submissive and dependent on their manipulator, resulting in a loss of autonomy. As the manipulation continues, it can cloud the victim’s judgement and cause them to act against their own interests.

Distortion of Self Image. When someone is constantly being manipulated, it can eventually cause them to question their own interpretation of reality and become unsure of themselves. This creates an altered self-image in which the victim starts to believe that they are inadequate or incapable, leading them to distrust their own decisions and beliefs.

Emotional Turmoil. The psychological distress caused by manipulation can take a huge toll on a person’s emotional wellbeing. Victims may feel confused, frustrated, helpless, or guilty — all feelings which can have long lasting effects on mental health and stability over time if left unchecked and unresolved.

Damage To Relationships. Manipulation has a destructive effect on relationships because it creates an imbalance of power between two people which disrupts trust and honesty.

How to deal with someone trying to manipulate you

Identify and Label the Behaviour. Manipulation is often subtle, so it can be easy to miss or downplay the signs. Take a step back and assess the situation to identify what is happening – labeling the behavior as manipulative can help you make sense of it and recognize it as a problem.

Set Boundaries. Speak up for yourself and respectfully communicate your needs in order to set clear boundaries with this person. Make sure to practice assertiveness when responding and do not allow yourself to be talked into doing something that makes you uncomfortable or unsafe.

Stay Calm. Maintaining a calm demeanour helps diffuse tension in tense situations, giving you time to think before responding and enabling better communication with the manipulator.

Seek Professional Support. Consider seeking help from a mental health professional in order to get advice on how best to handle manipulative behaviour. Talking about your experiences in therapy can also be beneficial for better understanding your own emotions and thoughts in relation to the manipulator’s actions – allowing you to gain control of the situation while taking care of your own wellbeing in the process.

Healing after being hurt by a manipulator

Acknowledge Your Feelings. It is important to acknowledge your emotions and take time to process the hurt that has been caused by the manipulation. Recognizing and accepting your feelings is a necessary step in healing from any kind of emotional pain.

Talk About It. Reach out and talk to someone you trust such as a friend or family member and share your experience. Talking about it with another person can help you process the situation in a more healthy and constructive way.

Challenge Negative Thoughts. If experiencing self-doubt or negative thoughts, challenge these beliefs by counteracting them with positive affirmations about yourself. Remind yourself of your worth, strengths, and capabilities in order to rebuild your confidence in yourself again.

Practice Self-Care. Take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Engage in activities that make you feel better such as spending time outdoors, exercising, or reading an inspirational book. Connecting with nature or engaging in a creative activity can also be helpful for releasing stress, restoring balance, and boosting overall wellbeing.

Conclusion – What does Manipulate Mean?

Manipulation can be an unsettling and confusing experience. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the tactics used and recognize them for what they are.

When faced with manipulation, remember that it is not your fault. You have every right to protect yourself by setting boundaries with those who try to manipulate you.

Empower yourself by acknowledging your feelings, challenging negative thoughts, talking about it with someone you trust, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and take care of your wellbeing.

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