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Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You Hardcover – May, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 314 customer reviews

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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.


"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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060187573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060187576
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Kate McMurry TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on February 19, 2001
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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By A Customer on March 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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