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Emotional Blackmail
– Susan Forward

“Successful adult relationships, whether between lovers or friends, require a significant degree of vulnerability, trust, and openness” 

“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. [From: Amazon.com]

“Criticism is the fountainhead of control.” 

Susan Forward breaks new ground with Emotional Blackmail. Drawing on real-life case histories, she illuminates the intricate dynamics of blackmail and helps you understand the kind of blackmailer you’re facing: Punishers let you know exactly what they want – and the consequences you face if you don’t give it to them; Self-Punishers turn the threats inward, telling you what they’ll do to themselves if you don’t give in; Sufferers are talented blamers and guilt-peddlers.

Who make us figure out what they want and then conclude that it is up to us to ensure they get it; Tantalizers put us through a series of tests and hold out a promise of something wonderful if we’ll just give them their way. Each of these blackmailers has a special way of surrounding you with a blinding FOG – the Fear, Obligation and Guilt that become the very atmosphere of life with a blackmailer and take the safety and trust out of what is a basically good.

Relationship. FOG is so penetrating and bewildering that you’ll do anything to stop the discomfort it produces – including giving in to a blackmailer’s demands. In her unique, clear and compassionate style, Forward shows you techniques for burning through the FOG of emotional blackmail. She’ll help you take an objective look at what you’re giving up to your blackmailer and decide if you’re ready to resist. Once you’ve made your decision, Forward gives you word-for-word.

Communication skills and actual scripts for presenting your decision to your blackmailer; then her four core strategies will empower you to hold your ground. With Susan Forward by your side, you’ll soon change the power balance of your relationship, regaining your integrity and breaking the blackmail cycle – for good. [Worldcat.org]

“When your lover is a liar, you and he have a lot in common, you’re both lying to you!” 

Susan Forward’s volume, written for the general public, but highly applicable to clients in therapy, as well as their therapists, provides a highly useful conceptualization of the interpersonal phenomenon colloquially known as “being manipulated. ” Emotional Blackmail is the aptly chosen, non-jargon description of this harmful process in relationships. Without explicitly identifying her theoretical base, Forward describes the nature of emotional blackmail, as well as its potential remedies, within a framework that is largely cognitive-behavioral (the author notes how certain, underlying dysfunctional beliefs can make a person vulnerable to an emotional blackmailer, and how changing one’s thinking can lead to healthier emotional reactions).

The book’s introduction, eleven chapters, and epilogue walk the readers through the steps necessary to recognize, assess, and modify their involvements with emotional blackmailers. Forward succinctly defines the credo of the emotional blackmailer; “If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer,” and she identifies some of their most frequently used catch-phrases, such as, “How can you be so selfish?” and, “If you really loved me…” Likewise, the author posits the typical core beliefs that people vulnerable to emotional blackmail often espouse, including, “If I love someone, I’m responsible for their happiness,” and “Getting rejected is the worst thing that could happen to me.”

Forward uses a series of running vignettes to illustrate the process by which victims of emotional blackmail can level the interpersonal playing field with emotional blackmailers, in order to improve their relationships, maintain their self-respect, or disengage from the relationships without excessive guilt. In the best tradition of a cognitive-behavioral approach to a problem, Forward includes written and action-oriented exercises for readers to practice to become more effective in their responses to emotional blackmail.

Part I of Emotional Blackmail provides a thorough explication of the process, and its concomitant problems. In Chapter One, Forward describes a common sequence of events that often identifies interpersonal interactions that are adversely affected by emotional blackmail. Although she does not describe the interaction in the language of a behavioral functional analysis, Forward’s sequence exemplifies a classic pattern – namely, a dysfunctional behavior, followed by an attempt to extinguish it, responded to by an extinction burst, resulting in capitulation and a reinforcing of the negative behavior with a highly ingraining variable ratio schedule. She also introduces the reader to the notion of setting limits, as well as the necessity of changing beliefs so that the receiver of emotional blackmail can better cope with guilt.

In Chapter Two, the author presents four profiles of persons who manipulate others. These categories are not mutually exclusive, but rather are presented for heuristic purposes. The subtypes include the following: The Punishers, who offer direct threats of retaliation if their demands are not met, The Self- Punishers, who threaten to harm themselves (including suicide) if you do not comply with their rules, The Sufferers, who make it clear that you are the cause of their martyrdom, and The Tantalizers, who perpetually hold out inachievable carrot sticks as the elusive “rewards” for your subjugation to their wills.

In Chapter Three, Forward presents the acronym of “F-O-G” as a useful mnemonic in understanding how manipulators can “cloud” issues, thus impeding the other person’s attempts to engage in reality-testing, and limit-setting. Specifically, the emotional blackmailer uses fear (“I’ll make sure you’ll be penniless!”), obligation (“After all we have done for you, you owe it to us not to marry someone of whom we disapprove”), and guilt (“I will be devastated, and it will be on your head”) in order to coerce people to do things that are against their better judgments, their sense of fairness, and their feelings of integrity and self-respect. … [From: Questia.com]

“Love is a verb, not a noun. It is active. Love is not just feelings of passion and romance. It is behavior. If a man lies to you, he is behaving badly and unlovingly toward you. He is disrespecting you and your relationship. The words “I love you” are not enough to make up for that. Don’t kid yourself that they are.” 

Continuing to excavate territory that is often buried in subterfuge and misunderstanding, psychologist Forward (Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them) here turns her attention to relationships in which one person repeatedly manipulates another at the expense of not only the victim’s autonomy but of their well-being, self-respect and integrity. Labeling such behavior “emotional blackmail,” Forward describes who does it, how it’s done and the many ways and reasons people succumb to it. She encourages the “targets” to take responsibility for their own behavior and for their compliance with their blackmailers. Forward helps readers identify the steps of emotional blackmail (demand, resistance, pressure, threats, compliance and repetition), the types of blackmailers (punishers, self-punishers, sufferers and tantalizers) and the inner motivations of both parties involved. Providing the kind of gentle support that a good therapist offers clients face-to-face, the author leads readers through the necessary steps to clear the “FOG” (fear, obligation and guilt) that “emotional bullies” use, to stand up to their pressure and to carry out effective “strategies… for ending emotional blackmail.” Forward offers useful information, effective skills and the compassionate encouragement that victims of this kind of manipulative behavior need to change themselves, their relationships and their lives. [From: Publishersweekly.com]

“Denial is the lid on our emotional pressure cooker: the longer we leave it on, the more pressure we build up. Sooner or later, that pressure is bound to pop the lid, and we have an emotional crisis.” 

About The Author:
Susan Forward
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Susan Forward, PhD is the author of the #1 New York Times best sellers “Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them” and “Toxic Parents” as well as numerous other books including “Obsessive Love”, “Money Demons”, “Emotional Blackmail”, “When Your Lover Is a Liar”, “Toxic In-Laws”, “Betrayal of Innocence” and “Mothers Who Can’t Love.” 

In addition to her success as an author, Susan is one of the nation’s leading psychotherapists, a dynamic lecturer and highly sought after talk-show guest including having hosted her own ABC Talk Radio show for six years. In addition to her private practice, she has served as a therapist, instructor and consultant for many Southern California psychiatric and medical facilities.

Through her books, therapy practice, lectures and media appearances, Susan’s groundbreaking work has opened up exciting new worlds of confidence, inner strength and emotional independence for countless women and men. [From: Amazon.com]

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