Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You

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Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You [Paperback]

Susan Forward , Donna Frazier
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 4, 1998
"If you really loved me. . ."

"After all I've done for you. . ."

"How can you be so selfish. . ."

Do any of the above sound familiar? They're all examples of emotional blackmail, a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They are our mothers, our partners, our bosses and coworkers, our friends and our lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to give themselves the payoff they want: our compliance.

Susan Forward knows what pushes our hot buttons. Just as John Gray illuminates the communications gap between the sexes in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, and Harriet Lerner describes an intricate dynamic in The Dance of Anger, so Susan Forward presents the anatomy of a relationship damaged by manipulation, and gives readers an arsenal of tools to fight back. In her clear, no-nonsense style, Forward provides powerful, practical strategies for blackmail targets, including checklists, practice scenarios and concrete communications techniques that will strengthen relationships and break the blackmail cycle for good.

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Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You + Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life + Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Forward, who gave us the best-selling The Men Who Hate Women, and the Women Who Love Them, offers a course on self-defense for anyone manipulated by guilt.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Breathe a sigh of relief! Susan Forward helps you identify and correct an intensely destructive and confusing pattern of relating with those you love. I highly recommend this important book!" -- Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060928972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060928971
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
712 of 728 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book--truly helpful! December 28, 1999
This book does a very clear job of defining emotional blackmail so you can begin to easily spot emotional blackmailers in your life. It then concludes with telling you specifically how to deal with emotional blackmail, that is, how to keep your energy, resources, and sometimes your very soul, from being stolen by them.
Something that was particularly important for me personally in the book was the part at the end where she talks about not emotionally blackmailing *yourself*! What an insight! I realized that even when rigid, controlling people are not around to inspire guilt, fear and shame in me to get me to do things that are hurtful to me for their selfish benefit, I have a "voice" in my head that does the job for them, telling me that whatever I do that doesn't fit the world view of past and present blackmailers is "wrong," "selfish," or even "evil." So I beat myself up on behalf of my blackmailers even when they are not around to do it.
I also was impressed by the insight that not only does it "take two to tango," that no one can blackmail me if I don't let them, but that it is also possible for me to actually "train" people to blackmail me. This is particularly, true, I think, for those of us raised in rigid, controlling homes with emotionally blackmailing parents. Thereafter, we are, so to speak, fertile ground for any future emotional blackmailers.
I had rather been realizing these sorts of things the past few years now that I'm in my 40s (the middle years when we suddenly reevaluate our whole life), and gradually eliminating emotional blackmailers from my life, without exactly using that term. (The term I used was ridding myself of people whose presence felt like "being nibbled to death by ducks.") This book has validated my innate human "right" to not be eaten alive by the selfish demands of others.
Kudos to Ms. Forward!
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273 of 285 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pearls of Wisdom for Everyone February 19, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have done a pretty thorough reading of books dealing with control, cults, emotional abuse, etc. I feel like I could write a thesis on this stuff by now. This was the best all around. I am a third party observing a loved one in a controlling relationship. There isn't a book out there that really addresses my situation, but I have gleaned wisdom from many. What I love about this book is that it gives very concrete strategies for dealing with controlling people. The strategies are very well laid out, lots of examples of phrases that neutralize the offender. As a therapist, she also addresses the discomfort many of us would likely encounter when trying to put these strategies into practice. In addition to the concrete information on strategies, she describes why it might be hard to recognize that you are in an unhealthy controlling situation and how to know for sure. She helps clarify the personal damage victims of control sustain. I have become much more aware of people in my life that may be using unhealthy methods of control and have used the advice to stop, think and strategize to help me. It even helped me become a little wiser to ploys of friends of my kids. This book shows us how to resolve unhealthy control without necessarily having to end the relationship. With these techniques everyone might just come out a winner.
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147 of 151 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are not victims March 17, 2003
By A Customer
We are not victims of manipulation. We allow manipulation to happen to us and with careful observation we can neutralize it. This is what Susan Forward believes. I don't know if I agree because I haven't yet had a chance to practice her techniques in earnest, but I needed to comment on the content itself of the book, "Emotional Blackmail".
It is impossible for an author to address every specific detail of every reader's personal situation. But this is as close as you can get. Forward gives stories and testimonials of people she has worked with who have used her techniques with success. Unlike other authors that do this, however, Forward does not simply apply the techniques to those situations and expect that you'll be able to apply it to a scenario of your own. She separates the stories from the guidelines. She provides some fantastic exercises for further clarity of the techniques she describes.
One of the techniques I especially enjoyed reading about was "buying your time". Don't respond immediately to your blackmailer. Give them time to "stew". In other words, try to avoid snap decisions when dealing with blackmailers. She groups manipulators into different categories. "Tantalizers" are the group I deal with most often. They are the ones who get you to do what they want by making it appear there is something incredible in it for you. This may sometimes be the case, but it's important to realize that your needs are not the manipulator's true motivation. Forward explains and clarifies this beautifully.
This is a very well-written book and I recommend it highly.
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124 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This can be a life-saving book! July 29, 2006
If you think you might be a victim of a parent or loved one who is using emotional blackmail to manipulate you and keep you from growing or changing, then this book is for you.

I had such a loved one in my life, who was manipulating me with her own pain, keeping me from growing up, keeping me from being a man and doing what I needed to do.

I won't go into the details, but you know if you are a victim of manipulation by this "emotional blackmail". Does someone threaten to write you out of their lives if you do such and such? Does someone break down and cry or get sick every time you bring up a certain subject? Does someone make you "walk on eggshells" around them, around certain subjects?

If any of the above ring true, then you are a victim of emotional blackmail and should read this book.

I read it, and it made so much sense to me, it was like I was seeing clearly for the first time in my life.

This, along with therapy for only a couple months, really helped me change my life, release me from this blackmail, and in the end, the blackmailer "got over it" and I now have just as good - actually much better - relationship with her than before.

My therapist read the book and is now recommending it to other people like me.

Thanks to Susan Forward for writing this book! Do yourself a favor and read it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money
Easy read, makes sense.
Published 7 days ago by R. L. Hutchings
5.0 out of 5 stars AM I THE CRAZY ONE?
So I wasn't crazy. I was always caught off guard. Now I have some rational responses for emotional blackmailers. Thank You! I have recommended this book to my siblings.
Published 22 days ago by Virginia Silva
4.0 out of 5 stars emotional blackmail
I wanted to focus more on solutions to blackmail. The descriptions were vivid of emotional blackmail. I felt an anger when reading the situations. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Elf
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it. I do spiritual and energetic healing ...
Well worth it .
I do spiritual and energetic healing work with people and will refer this book to appropriate clients.
Published 1 month ago by Kawena Charlot
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
anything by Susan Forward is super
Published 1 month ago by Jaine L. Benson
5.0 out of 5 stars I bought this book for a friend it was so good!
I think we have all experienced emotional blackmail and done it to some extent, this book helped me have a clear understanding of what I was experiencing with someone and helped me... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Debs
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It brings to light a subject that is hidden from most of us
Published 1 month ago by racerep
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very informational.
Published 1 month ago by Wendybird210
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reading for anyone
Good reading for anyone. If the title catches your attention, chances are there is some useful info in here for you, and you really should read it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 2 months ago by Ardis McElhaney
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