Manipulation vs. Brainwashing - difference? affect on AS?

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Joined: Jan 31, 2011
Posts: 675

17 Jul 2011, 11:22 am

Hi all - something for you to ponder (and me as well :) ) - is there a fundamental difference between the notion of manipulation, and that of brainwashing? And does it affect AS people differently?

My reckoning is that manipulation (to which AS people are more vulnerable) has to do with an antagonist distorting the truth with the aim of instilling guilt or shame (or fear) in a target, bringing them under the antagonist's control to get an advantage in some situation, or demoralize them and "put them in their place". Whereas brainwashing is more on a macro-scale, covering a prolonged period of time and a larger audience, such as propaganda. It is my belief that Aspies are more impervious to brainwashing, by contrast to manipulation, because of a strong moral compass and less proclivity to do harm to others for social acceptance by the majority.

In past circumstances such as Nazi Germany or US racial segregation, I could easily see Aspies not being willing accomplices to the brainwashing that was going on. Since they don't seek approval of the masses, such would be their mindset. Same with the Rev. Jim Jones and his band of followers in Guyana 33 years ago, I can see the Aspies not drinking the kool-aid (both literally and figuratively).

However, when it comes to one-on-one manipulation, Aspies who are not predisposed to viewing hidden agendas and not socially agile at defending themselves tend to fall under "the spell". That's been the case for me on more than one occasion in the past, though I've wizened up now. I was bamboozled by bullies who told me that so-and-so said this or that about me (which was part of the bully's hidden agenda), and it took me some time to catch on their act, and eventually rejected what they had to say, so I was manipulated but not brainwashed.

By contrast, any time I was told that my bullying was due to my "inappropriate behaviour" around bullies was my own fault, I refused to believe that. That, to me, was brainwashing. I always believed that I did nothing wrong or offensive to others and they just didn't like my quirkiness. That, to me, was the same as telling a pedophile victim that they brought it upon themselves.

Then there's the variables of greed and envy that can come into the equation. Take for example that Nigerian scam which back in 2009 cost the USA economy over $8 billion (divide that by the number of American adults!!) which shows that NTs can easily be brainwashed when it comes to get-rich-quick schemes. I never believed any of those schemes, if they sounded too good to be true.

So, my conclusion is that NTs are more predisposed to brainwashing but Aspies more so to manipulation. Thoughts?


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Joined: Jan 27, 2007
Posts: 720

17 Jul 2011, 12:19 pm

I have many thoughts on these topics. You described them very well. This is why I highly recommend these two books by George K. Simon, Jr., Ph.D.:

1.) In Sheep's Clothing and 2.) Character Disturbance: the Phenomenon of Our Age

Those books changed my life in a huge positive way.

"Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." – Isaiah 66:2

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