Control. We all want it to some degree.

But most of us accept that other people have rights and feelings just like our own. It’s a trait known as empathy, and it’s what stops us from controlling others against their will, for fear of hurting them.

But the psychopath’s brain works a bit differently; they don’t feel empathy or the remorse that comes along with harming others.

As a result, psychopaths tend to be some of the most controlling people out there.

With 70 million psychopaths in the world, many of which are in managerial positions, there’s a good chance you’re going to bump into one at some point – assuming you haven’t already.

So, when you inevitably meet a psychopath, how do you avoid falling under their control? Well, for starters, you should become aware of the psychopath’s controlling tactics.

Let’s take a look at a few.

8 Strategies Psychopaths Use To Control Others

1. The Stare


Psychopaths possess a very striking stare that tends to make people uncomfortable. Why? Well, it lacks in humanity.

One writer says the stare makes it seem as though the psychopath has nothing inside them except a vast and endless void.

It’s not that the psychopath doesn’t know their stare makes people uncomfortable – in fact, they use it for that very reason; to exert control over another person’s emotions.

The best way to deal with ‘the stare’ is to be as unphased as possible. Recognize that the psychopath is looking for a reaction. Give them apathy instead.

2. Gaslighting

Another way a psychopath will exert control over you is by convincing you that you’re crazy or overreacting when you call them out for their odd behavior.

This is known as gaslighting.

One way to avoid being gaslighted is to stick to your intuition. If you think something is off with your partner, your friend or your boss, don’t let them convince you otherwise.

Also Read: 10 Signs You Are A Victim of Gaslighting

3. Brainwashing


You know how you’re convinced that your worldview is correct? A psychopath is no different. The only difference is that their worldview is completely abnormal and, in many regards, inhumane.

Most psychopaths don’t want you to think that, though. They want you to think their worldview is correct.

And so, they brainwash you. Pretty soon, your morals are just as twisted as theirs – only your decisions ultimately bring you stress and remorse, while theirs don’t phase them at all.

When dealing with a psychopath, stick to your guns. Don’t let them – or anyone for that matter – convince you that wrong is right.

4. Bullying

Psychopaths endure an incredible amount of suffering and tend to have very unstable self-esteem as a result.

Those conditions are prime breeding grounds for bully behavior.

Add the psychopathic need for control and you wind up with someone that loves breaking down everyone in their sight in order to build themselves up and get what they want.

It’s not unusual for those around psychopaths to require therapy in order to restore their self-esteem.

5. Gossip


Gossip is an enforcement mechanism psychopaths often use to turn everyone against a certain individual.

Because of their charm and high intelligence, people tend to believe what a psychopath says. This places them in a position of power where they’re able to cut a person off entirely from their support system with hurtful lies. This makes that person a lot easier to control and bend.

If you’re suspicious that someone around you may be a psychopath, gain the upper hand by making others aware before the psychopath has the chance to spread rumors about you.

6. Baiting

A psychopath will promise you the world and shower you with attention, kind words and gifts. That’s how they trap you in their world.

They know that if people saw their true nature, the game would be over before it began. And nobody wants to be alone – not even a psychopath. And so, they overcompensate.

If a person is willing to let you use them as a footstool before you’ve even really gotten to know each other, that should be a major red flag.

7. The Tight Leash


Psychopaths know that the farther they let you stray, the lower their ability to control you sinks. That friend of yours, the one that really has your back? The psychopath won’t want you to hang out with him or her becausethe psychopath knows that eventually, that friend will try to save you.

This can be one of the most dangerous strategies for control because it places the victim in isolation, raising their risk of emotional distress and harm.

8. Self-Sabotage

Psychopaths will throw themselves into the depths of despair if it means someone will follow them there. It’s one of the ways they prey on those who possess sympathy and empathy.

The bottom line is that a psychopath wants you in their world. That’s where they’re best able to control you and get what they want.

Check out this video to learn about a few strategies for dealing with psychopaths from author Sam Vaknin.

Do you know a psychopath? What are some of your strategies for avoiding their control? Let us know in the comments!

Psychology Today