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

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Product Description

"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.

Customer Reviews:

  • This can be a life-saving book!
    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!...more info
  • fantastic!!
    I would assume that most people have an emotional manipulator in their life. I knew I had several but I couldn't quite pinpoint how it was done and how they managed to drain me with such ease..
    This incredible book delivers with clarity HOW we are manipulated, the different types of manipulators and how to take back control from these emotional predators. Once you are able to recognize their tactics you will be more able block their self serving agenda.
    This book is a blessing and I give thanks to the author....more info
  • Good advice
    Forward provides useful analysis of the problem and helpful tips to help readers find their assertive selves. I use this a lot in my counseling work. Highly recommended....more info
  • Validation for emotional abuse victims at last!
    Victims of emotional and verbal abuse will find validation AND understanding in this excellent text on the legacy of hurt and shame left by master manipulators of the emotions. Good advice for victims AND their abusers who truly want to change....more info
  • Thank you-what a revelation
    This book saved my sanity!!. I spent two years trying to figure someone out. Up was down, black was white. She changed her moods as often as you change the channel. I continually took responsibility and apologized thinking I could get back the girl I once knew. This book taught me that that is the absolutely worst thing to do to an emotional blackmailer. It just empowers them to abuse you more. While I knew the relationship had soured, I did not know why or what happened. I thought I would spend the rest of my life wondering where I went wrong. Through this book, found someone who was admittedly insecure and stubborn to be a master manipulator and controller. And learned that it was not my responsibilty nor was it possible to "fix" her. She knew how emotionally attached I was and purposely became distant. While the book tells of strategies to deal with someone who is an emotional blackmailer, I feel liberated and confident that my decision to end the madness and the relationship was correct. Thank you Susan Forward, I am forever in your debt....more info
  • Brilliant and Funny
    This book hit the nail on the head for me. It helped me extricate myself from having to deal with emotional blackmail, PLUS confront my own maladaptive patterns that were equally bad. Uncannily enough, I had saved photocopies of a pile of letters I had sent to a long-term past boyfriend with whom I had a dysfunctional relationship. I went through all of those letters and underlined all my blackmailing tricks and named which category they belonged to. What a revelation and how wonderfully freeing. I then prayed for courage to overcome these ways and replace it with courage and insight to be honest. Wow! I've never looked back ... only to consult the book every now and again for a booster! And to re-read those letters for a laugh.

    The book is also hilarious in places. Humour is just what the emotional blackmailee and 'er' need!...more info
  • I loved this book - It really helped!
    I was fortunate to find a great book that explains how people displace negative feelings onto others - and how to respond to that. This is a great resource - thanks!...more info
  • A must read for any victim of blackmail
    The author does a great job in detailing the many overt and covert ways of the emotional blackmailer, as well as provides many real life examples of her clients as to how they relate to the different types of blackmail.

    Personally, I bought this book after I had left the woman I was involved with, whom I believe to be a narcissist. I knew something was wrong and at first I couldn't put my finger on it, which is normal in the infancy stages of blackmail. As time passed, it all came into focus and I realized that this woman's personality was not going to change and that I could not fix her so I saved what self-esteem and dignity I had left and left the relationship. The author does a great job explaining how a person's behavior can change, but their personality usually does not. That is unless however you can get the blackmailer and/or narcissist into therapy. Even then you still face dismal odds of that person changing. While the basis of this book was to deal with the blackmailer currently in your life, I used it as a reference to further reinforce why my decision to leave my relationship was the right move; and it did just that.

    ...more info
  • Pearls of Wisdom for Everyone
    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....more info
  • Excellent and great solutions
    The book goes into great depth about emotional blackmailers, and their techniques. Dr. Forward explains how the black mailer did not wake up one morning and decide to be a miserable so and so, but how they come to be how they are.
    The best part of the book is the strategies to cope with a manipulator and to attack the issue, and not get back into the old lose-lose sparring match.
    ...more info
  • Downright quotable
    I was doing a little research at my local public library on the process of dying and its impacts on families, esp. children, when I happened across this book. The title immediately resonated with regard to a situation I'm tangentially involved in. I read a couple of pages and -had- to borrow it for my dear friend who is going through a messy ugly divorce after many many years of abuse and emotional blackmail. I was skeptical of the author, as I don't consider Forward's most popular book to be particularly good, but this book is outstanding.

    My friend and I have been reading it together in bits and pieces, relying on chapter and section headings to navigate to the currently relevent part. It's often eerie how Forward's words precisely capture the words of his abuser. ...more info
  • Freedom
    My psychologist recommended this book to me. While carefully going through it several things became clear. This book enabled me to leave my controlling and emotional abusive husband. It also gave me the tools needed to effectively deal with my mother. If you're ready for change then you're ready for this book. It remains one of the most useful books I have ever read. I highly recommend it....more info
  • Don't buy into the blackmail
    Don't be a blackmailer and don't buy into the blackmail. Learn to recognize your own triggers and disconnect. Even if you don't have a pattern of emotional blackmail you can learn to recognize behaviors in yourself that are like blackmail. This is a valuable book for disconnecting from people pushing your hot buttons....more info
  • To put a term to my relationship gave me relief
    I read Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them. I am in the middle of an awful divorce. This book gave me a great sense of relief. It described my marriage to the tee. It has also helped me to put his behaviors and mine in perspetive so I am no longer in such a state of fear. I will say, the title is a turn off, but the content is a life saver. I know I will survive no matter what he does to me and no matter how much he emotionally blackmails me....more info
  • Quit being a victim!
    We've all done it -- gotten pressured into situations which compromise our value systems, given in to the unreasonable demands of bosses, spouses, friends or relatives. This book will show you how it happens, and more importantly, how to stop giving in.

    From her clinical experience, Forward shows us plenty of situations of what she has come to call "emotional blackmail" and many of these will probably mirror your own experience or that of someone close to you. Many times reading this book, I found myself shaking my head, trying to get rid of that nagging feeling that "I knew these people."

    My only criticism of this book is that with few exceptions, blackmailers are described as such, and they can come across sounding like monsters. Forward spends a little time exploring their motivations and insecurities, and she does point out that often we can turn into blackmailers ourselves, but perhaps not enough.

    By and large, she speaks only to "blackmailees," and this book certainly makes them feel good about themselves, perhaps at the cost of dehumanizing the blackmailer.

    As long as you can keep in mind, though, that this book aims to build constructive dialogue and not to destroy your connection with the blackmailers in your life, it is a most valuable tool to reasserting your own needs in any relationship....more info

  • What a 'great' book!
    I have read a number of books that deal with learning how to deal with others in our lives, but none as well written as this one! Maybe it's the words she choses to use to describe what's really happening--that we are literally being 'blackmailed' by someone, to do something that we're not feeling so good about. The first half or so of the book, she talks about what's happening and how to recognize it and then in the second half, she teaches one the skills needed in order to bring back sanity to your life. I just finished reading it through the first time with lots of underlinings, and now will go through again, with more underlinings and to study it in depth. Trust me, if you're feeling whipped in your life, this book will help get you to the other side....more info
  • Wonderful specific tools to deal with difficult people.
    This book validates many lessons I learned the hard waybecause of my family of origin incest history, child support andcustody issues, work issues and so on. You don't have to learn on your own without any direction. This book offers real tools that you can use to deal with the difficult people in your life....more info
  • Recommended...with Reservations
    This is an exceptionally helpful book that everyone should read (because who hasn't been manipulated by fear, obligation, and/or guilt at one time or another?).

    The one, and only, problem I have with this book is that the author recommends that the target of emotional blackmail say, "I'm sorry you're upset" to the blackmailer. Unfortunately, many folks take the words "I'm sorry" to be an admission of guilt, and therefore this response is inappropriate in most cases (in my humble opinion).

    The author does give other more useful possible responses to emotional blackmail, such as "I can understand how you might see it that way," and "Let's talk when you're feeling calmer."

    Overall, the book is great. Best of all, it gives the reader an action plan to deal with emotional blackmail.
    ...more info
  • Mommie the manipulator
    I think that Susan Forward must have interviewed my mother before she read the book. I never realized how cunning and manipulating she could be until I read this book, and that she was actually using the family as a weapon. She has told me that I am no longer part of the family until I get rid of my husband. I also have a beautiful 17-year old, whom she cares nothing about. The chapter about "fog" particularly applies to me. Thanks Susan, keep on writin' 'em.E-mail me if you have had a similar experience.Maryellen...more info
  • Emotional Blackmail
    If you have ever wondered why you always feel that something is your fault...if you've always felt it is just easier to shut up and put up....if you have ambivalent feelings towards certain people in your life but somehow think that there is something wrong with you.....you need to read this book. It brings a whole new meaning to the word enlightening. ...more info
  • Wow! What an amazing book!
    I just have to say how incredible this book is! It was written in a very clear, easy to read way and was truly insightful. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I think anyone who chooses to read this book will see someone they know & relationships they've had. I really love that this author not only does an incredible job of describing emotional blackmail and it's effects on the person being blackmailed, she also does a truly amazing job of teaching how to overcome those effects & deal with the blackmailer in a completely different way. I will continue to read this book over and over until I have her ideas memorized!! This book truly has changed my life for the better!!...more info
  • Useful Insights to Change Behavior
    The author clearly defines the various types of emotional blackmailers, the tactics they use, and the reasons they are effective. Most importantly for me, the book explains how the targets of emotional blackmail become vulnerable, or in some cases, help to create the situation with their own behavior. And she gives specific steps to use in taking control back and ending the cycle of manipulation. Just reading this book was a tremendous affirmation for me, and I have been using the concepts and suggested actions with great success. The dynamic can be changed if one has clarity and the will to follow through....more info
  • This book was excellent.
    I enjoyed this book very much and learned a lot from it. I found it easy to understand, which some psychology books are not. It explained about the subject very clearly and offered excellent ways to solve the problems when they arise. I would like to read it again in a few months to make sure it really sinks in!...more info
  • Outstanding book--truly helpful!
    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!...more info

  • Amazing. . .
    I am currently being given THE SILENT TREATMENT by my mother. I am desperate for help.I am not much of a reader and was skeptical about ordering this book. I ordered it. It is amazing. I read it in 2 days and it addressed so many issues going on in my life centering around my emotional blackmailer. I can truly say this book is the most helpful information that I could have hoped for. It has given me understanding and possibilities for reclaiming my integrity and happiness. It has given me the tools for constuctively dealing with negative and controlling people in my life. I asked the universe for help and thankfully this book came my way. Thank you Susan!...more info


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