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In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People Paperback – December 19, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 619 customer reviews

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About the Author

George K. Simon, Jr. received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Texas Tech University. He has studied manipulators and their victims for over 10 years and given numerous workshops and seminars on covert- aggressive personalities. Dr. Simon consults to various agencies and institutions and maintains a private practice.

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From the Introduction: Perhaps the following scenarios will sound familiar. A wife tries to sort out her feelings. She's mad at her husband for insisting their daughter make all "A"s. But she doubts she has the right to be mad. When she told him she thought he was being too demanding, his comeback "Shouldn't any good parent want their child to do well and succeed in life?" made her feel like the insensitive one. In fact, whenever she confronts him, she somehow ends up feeling like the bad guy herself. When she suggested there might be more to her daughter's problems than there appeared at first glance, and that the family should seek counseling, his retort "Are you saying I'm psychiatrically disturbed?" made her feel ashamed for asking. She often tries to assert her point of view, but always ends up giving in to his. Sometimes, she thinks the problem really is him, believing him to be selfish, ruthless and controlling. But this is a loyal husband, good provider and a respected member of the community. By all rights she shouldn't resent him. Yet, she does. So she constantly wonders if there isn't something wrong with her. A mother tries desperately to understand her daughter's behavior. No young girl, she thought, would threaten to leave home, say things like "Everybody hates me" and "I wish I were never born," unless she were very insecure, afraid, and probably depressed. Part of her thinks her daughter is still the same child who used to hold her breath until she turned blue or threw tantrums whenever she didn't get her way. After all, it seems she only says and does those things when she's facing discipline or is trying to get her way. But a part of her is afraid to believe that. "What if she really believes what she's saying?," she wonders. "What if I've really done something to hurt her and I just don't realize it?," she worries. She hates to be "bullied" by all the threats and emotional displays her daughter exhibits whenever she doesn't get what she wants. But she can't take the chance her daughter might really be hurting, can she? Besides, children don't bully unless underneath it all they really feel insecure or threatened in some way, do they? When you're being manipulated, chances are that someone is fighting with you for something but in a way that's difficult to see. Covert-aggression is the heart of manipulation.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: A. J. Christopher & Company; 2008 Edition edition (December 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 096516960X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965169608
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (619 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Written by someone who doesn't pass the blame, Simon tells it like it is. He puts the responsibility for abusive behavior squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrator. Controlling, manipulative people are free to make choices, but they choose narcissistic processes and outcomes. We must stop excusing their bad behavior and confront it.
Simon says (!) his readers have to take responsibility for their own lives; since they aren't likely to change their perpetrators' behaviors; victims must change the pattern of interaction with perpetrators---and that's the key.
His suggestions aren't just off-the-cuff remarks. They work! For instance, have you ever noticed how hard it is to think of what to say in the moment? How easily we can think of a perfect retort after the moment has passed? Simon's simple suggestion to say, "Will you please repeat that?" works wonders. It's just the break one needs to collect thoughts. Simultaneously, it throws the perpetrator off-base. They don't want to repeat themselves, particularly now that others might be listening more closely. Insults never come out the second time with the same conviction. Next, we're advised to repeat back the insult, such as, "You feel I am _____. Do I understand you correctly?" Being certain you understand the intentions of alleged perpetrators is important. Authors like Patricia Evans (Controlling People) see insults at every turn, her perpetrators typically being stereotypical men or "mothers". Sometimes words don't come out as intended. We don't need to do battle with those we misunderstand.
Once you grasp the accusation and have gathered enough facts to assess the situation, Simon advises you offer the perpetrator the option of taking the discussion into a more private session.
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After having read several books on several different self-help topics, psychology books, psychiatry books, etc., I MUST recommend you buy this one, first.

It cuts straight through the bs - neatly and cleanly.

If you are wondering what the heck is wrong with YOU and just can't seem to pin it down, I highly recommend starting here to discover what's at the heart of several disorders, at least how they will affect you when you deal with toxic, intolerant, self-important, crazy-making individuals.

Bottom line: I no longer CARE what's wrong with them. If they can't bother to diagnose themselves, why should I bother? I just want to spot these waterheads from a distance so I can steer clear, and control the damage from those I can't avoid, such as my insane family.

When you "See Through" the techniques as they happen, the only hard part will be keeping a straight face as you expertly deflect their sickness.

And I free my time for concentrating on living MY LIFE on MY TERMS. Wonderful!

And yes, it may seem like common sense, but bear in mind you are dealing with highly skilled manipulators. They've had years and years of experience being covertly aggressive - do not underestimate their power. It happens so quickly, so subtly, you must arm yourself with tools to fight such monsters. The short text makes it possible to "refresh" your "common sense" before facing a nut-inducing encounter (family, co-workers, spouse, etc.)

I have bought copies of this book for friends and can't recommend it enough.

Best wishes & good luck!
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I think aggression and manipulation is an "open secret" in our society, and an individual can lead a much more successful life if they have the mental tools to intelligently evaluate and take action against such behavior. "In Sheep's Clothing" could help a reader who is being manipulated and used take necessary steps to deal with a potentially ambiguous situation. If you are beginning to feel that there is something wrong in your relationship (with a relative, significant other, or boss) and that it is not YOU who is crazy, this book might be a good place to start. This would also be a helpful book for a young person entering the workplace or the world of dating to read. I think many of us go out into the world not realizing that we will encounter many people who are sizing us up as potential victims. Those of us who have not already learned to look for covert aggression in people we would hope to find trustworthy (lovers, teachers, therapists, supervisors) might be put on the alert by this book, since these users rely on the victim's and witnesses' denial of what the aggressor are actually doing. The section I found most interesting is the one entitled "Recognizing the Tactics of Manipulation and Control". I think this section is really the heart of the book because the reader can identify the concrete behaviors being used against him and see them for what they are: weapons and tactics of an aggressor. On the downside, I think this book could benefit from a more extensive section on personality disorders. A person who is in a close relationship with a borderline or narcissistic personality disordered abuser would be likely to read this book in the early stages of feeling like something is wrong in their relationship, since manipulation is a major part of the pathology. For someone in this situation, it would be really helpful to be told the characteristics of these disorders so they can more effectively "know their enemy".
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