Manipulative behaviour and advice in dealing with such characters

Avoiding prosecution by playing the age card

In the 1990s one of my offices was in Sheffield. The owners for some bizarre reason had rented this office in the heart of the red light district where there was an abundance of crime! A large percentage of the crime was conducted by one lone teenager. He was a master of manipulative behaviour and spent all his time steeling cars. This guy knew exactly how to work the system. His main ace in the hole was that he was under the age of sixteen. Literally on a daily basis he would be arrested in the morning, released, and then arrested in the afternoon for exactly the same offences.

This went on for years. The local police could do little at that time to constrain such enthusiasm. He was highly motivated and as his sixteenth birthday approached we all thought “He’ll realise that the law will be different and he’ll change his behaviour.” Guess what? On his sixteenth birthday he stole a car and finally he could be dealt with as “an adult.” Many such characters are very familiar with the system and know all the potential loopholes, but become over confident and their own selfishness ultimately is often their downfall.

The “Oliver North” defense…

This is one of many examples of such manipulative behaviours. Other examples include feigning illness and blaming the illness for all subsequent behaviour. “It’s not my fault it’s X, that made me do it!” The “Oliver North” defense is also very common – “I can’t remember…” Of course the loss of memory is almost always very selective. The person remembers what is convenient to support their own manipulative behaviour! Fortunately both medics and legal professionals are now more wise to such shenanigans. These days there is easier access to shared information, this attention seeking behaviour has useful and appropriate consequences.

Changes in the law, and key advice

The law too has changed in recent years to protect members of the public from attention seeking and manipulative behaviours. There are now quite serious penalties available for such characters who engage in such selfish behaviour. This means there is a better chance for good manners to ensue which is good news for all of us! If you find yourself on the receiving end of such nonsense, there are a few golden rules –

  • Document everything in detail
  • Make the authorities aware of the situation, but remember it may take time for action to really take place
  • Be prepared to “play the long game” often these characters rely on victims not taking action
  • Remember such characters will always reframe any situation so they maintain their own manipulative behaviour so they can continue to abuse others!

Bringing such characters to account can take a great deal of time and energy. However I always advise others to not stand for such nonsense as often the attention seeking/manipulator is endlessly seeking out new targets. Doing nothing will only encourage them in such behaviour. Fortunately these situations are rare and often family members have also been fooled into believing this “playing the victim” behaviour and essentially become complicit in encouraging the problem. There’s good information available these days for such situations and I always encourage those on the receiving end to be relentless in curtailing such nonsense.

manipulative behaviour


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