Manipulation: a negative element in care



Manipulation is an integral factor in interaction. It can take either a positive or negative, constructive or destructive form. It can be either a conscious factor in the relationship or the external outcome of an unconscious need on the part of either person in the relationship. This compulsion to care can become very destructive and non-fulfilling for those involved. This compulsive need to care leads to stereotyped care, which, therefore, makes no allowance for the fact that, despite similarities, all men are different and individual, to be treated and cared for as such. Compulsive caring is no longer considering care as a partnership, a learning creative encounter, but a grasping, selfish act of a domineering, over-anxious person. The characteristics of ‘the helping personality’ are identified and their relevance to the discussion. It is argued that both carer and patient can manipulate or be manipulated, depending upon the extent of conformity to ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ positions within the patient-carer relationship, and personality characteristics of those involved. The importance of being aware of manipulative behaviour, its positive potential, and negative consequences is stressed: gaining awareness by considering the caring relationship in which one is involved.