No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (1 Tim. 5:23)
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored? (Jer. 8:22)
For thus says the LORD: Your hurt is incurable, and your wound is grievous. There is none to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you. (Jer. 30:12-13)
We live in a psychologized culture. It is difficult to turn on our TVs, or listen to the radio without coming across some psychologist or self-help guru preaching their wares and philosophies about how we should live and why. In our day-to-day lives, we meet many people who have bought into the lie that counseling psychology has the answers to all of our problems. I am not against all psychology, only that which leads us away from God, away from true psychology, and away from lasting help and healing. Like the woman in Mark 5 who had been bleeding for the past twelve years, who had seen every doctor of every kind but to no avail, and who finally sought out Jesus for help, so others come to us with their pain and suffering, needing to hear a word from Jesus. How do we help people who are taking medication as a means of living with their situation?
What We Should Know About Diagnoses
There are two popular methodologies, or schools of thought, concerning how to diagnose a person who is ill, either physically or mentally: the medical and psychological. In the world of medicine, a body has a disease if something has been introduced to it from an outside source. There are organic causes resulting in some behavioral problems, but these organic causes are found through medical testing. These tests show physical evidence and describe a disease within the body, rather than reports about body functions or feelings from the patient alone. To qualify as an illness, the condition in question must show damage to the body’s physical tissue.
In the world of psychology, the diagnoses are made on the basis of the reported behavior, feelings, and thought processes of the counselee, and are not testable or verifiable reasons for the behavior. Various theories are proposed to account for the behavior, but there are no scientific tests given to justify conclusions.
To contrast the two schools of thought, in physical medicine, a disease produces physical and testable symptoms. Also, in medicine there are no moral implications directly related to the disease or illness. In psychology, verbal reports of symptoms reveal “illnesses, diseases, etc., and virtually all mental illnesses include a moral component. In other words, when a person has polio, diabetes, or cancer, the disease does not cause the person to sin. He may sin because his self-control is influenced by the disease, but the sin is not tied to the disease. But if a person has been diagnosed with ADHD, OCD, or any other “mental illness” it is precisely because he is exhibiting moral/sinful or unusual behavior. His thoughts, motives, feelings and behavior is responsible for the diagnosis in the first place. (For more information on his go to The Biblical Counseling Coalition web site and type in “mental illness” in their search engine.)
Reasons Folks Give for the Use of Drugs
From our perspective Man A is living according to his feelings rather than according to Biblical principles. He does not see God in his circumstances (Rom 8:28). He believes that if he could only change his feelings, his life would change. He has been told that he has a chemical imbalance. This may be, but there has been no measurable or testable proof to verify this diagnosis. Dopamine and Serotonin are the most recent culprits in the chemical imbalance game.
Eric Kandel, MD, a Nobel Prize laureate and professor of brain science at Columbia University, believes it’s all about biology. “All mental processes are brain processes, and therefore all disorders of mental functioning are biological diseases,” he says. “The brain is the organ of the mind. Where else could [mental illness] be if not in the brain?”
Kandel adds, social and environmental factors are undeniably important to understanding mental health. “But they do not act in a vacuum,” he says. “They act in the brain.” (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/roots.aspx)
The theory is that the brain is filled with chemicals interacting with one another, and when our behavior goes awry it is due to too much or too little of the various chemicals. But again, this is theory, not fact. The introduction of medication may improve a person’s mood, feelings, and by extension behavior, but this does not mean that the problem was chemical in the first place. It could be a placebo effect, a change of heart, or choice about mood, or it could be that the person’s behavior changed his chemical situation.
The obvious question arises, “but what if it is proven that chemicals do cause symptoms to change?” That would mean that we are able to test for chemicals in the brain and we would give the disease a name and have a specific medical treatment. We don’t have any of that now.
Questions You Might Ask Someone Taking Meds
When you encounter someone on meds you might pay attention to how they talk about the medication. Ask the following questions:
- What tests were run to prove a physical problem is present? How did the test prove the diagnosis?
- How was it shown to you that the physical condition has caused your emotional or behavioral state?
- How does the medication help your condition?
- Does the medication change your relationship to God? Or How does the medication change your relationship with God?
- When will you be able to come off the medication?
These questions will most likely not help your friend in the counseling context, but their answers will be good for understanding what your friend is hoping and trusting in, regarding their life and situation. And, the answers will also help you know how to pray for them. However, I would be very careful as you ask these questions because the person may become defensive or distraught depending on the answers they are able to give. Most people assume the meds are what is needed and to ask these questions indicates a possibility that they have placed their trust in the wrong god. Knowing this can either help you in your ministry to them, or get in the way. You’ll need a lot of wisdom in this area.
What the Bible Teaches About Feelings and Behavior
The Bible teaches that feelings exist, but the emphasis throughout is that what is important is to think and act first (Jn. 13:17; Jas. 1:25; Prov. 29:18). The assumption is that feelings come after the doing, not before. With this in mind we can go on to say that when a person feels sad, lonely, depressed, angry, anxious, etc. it is a result of prior situations, circumstances, and choices. The Bible teaches that everything is about worship, and right worship leads to lovely emotions: love, joy, peace, etc., thus we can conclude that negative feelings are the result of faulty worship and unbiblical thinking.
People who are worldly base their lives on their feelings and desires (Eph. 2:1-3). When Christians live this way, they are living according to the world, not according to Christ. Jesus tells us to die to ourselves, to our passions and desires and to live to God. Paul tells us to think on good things, to train our minds to be renewed day by day, and to focus our attention on the glories to come (Phil 4:8; Rom. 12:1ff.; Heb. 12:1ff.). It is when we think rightly that we do rightly and when we do rightly God blesses us with emotions that reflect that right attitude toward God. Right worship produces right thinking and right thinking produces right feelings.
What We Know About Psychotropic (affecting the brain) Medication
There are many instances where medication does help people function with respect to their difficulties in living. However, there are few medications created specifically for the applications for which they are being used; and none that have been proven to do anything for the underlying causes of the symptoms that are being treated. For example, lithium is prescribed for psychosis and manic activity. Nevertheless, lithium does not do anything for whatever is causing the psychotic behavior or the symptoms. It simply numbs the mind in such a way that the person suffering can, in some limited sense, function. We can give praise to God for this result, because in many cases people who are taking lithium could not function at all if they were not taking it. In this case, lithium makes ministry with the person possible. And in this kind of situation, I have no problem with medication. (Originally, lithium was prescribed for gout which was associated with Uric acid. Excess uric acid was linked to depression and manic disorders and was then prescribed for mania. It was abandoned for that purpose in the early 1900’s because the drug companies did not want to produce it because it could not be patented).
But the vast majority of psychotropic medication is given simply because people can’t function at the level they desire or in the way they want. In years past people were even taking Prozac not because they were depressed, but because it gave them new, zippy, outgoing, and aggressive personalities. They were fine before, but the Prozac gave them new lives and this was worth the side effects until people started dying. People tend to blame their low or bad feelings for their inability to function as well as they should or would like to. The medication is used to numb them to the truth of the way they are living, by reducing the level of their bad feelings. In reality they are masking their lives and hiding from the truth. Medication does reduce, even change feelings, but they do not change the heart and so, while the feelings are dampened, the reasons for those feelings in the first place are not dealt with. The person is bound to be the slave of his medications (idol) for the rest of his life.
Counseling Someone Taking Medications
Counseling someone who is taking medication is very much like counseling anyone else. The main difference is that they have been more psychologized than the average person. It is helpful for you to ask all sorts of questions about their experience with psychology and psychiatry, but not helpful to argue with what they think or even to hint that you think it is all a bunch of bad stuff. Continue to build hope in God and in the Biblical process. Teach Biblical principles as normal, working to love the person, shine Jesus on them by being a consistent living example to them. Strive to bring to a deeper knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ by giving Biblical homework and using counseling time productively and redemptively. You need to remember that the medication is not dealing with the source of their problems, God is. Also, keep in mind that as you go through the counseling process the counselee may not need the medication after a while, but he may never get off the meds. The goal of counseling with regard to medication is to render them unnecessary by letting God work in the person’s heart to clear up the reasons they are taking the medication in the first place.
Counseling Someone To Come off Medications
You are not doctors, so what you do with and about medications is not something you should deal with. When I encounter people taking medications, I ask about the side effects. I ask about how they are coping with the side effects and are they taking medications for the side effects. When I think the counselee should ask questions, of their doctor, about their medications or do something with them, I suggest that they talk with their doctor. If you get to the point where you think the changes of heart and behavior have rendered the medications unnecessary, you might suggest to the counselee that she ask her doctor about a) the exit strategy and b) to re-evaluate the need for the meds with the idea of weaning or coming off them.
I am very careful to encourage counselees not come off their meds too soon. If the meds are making it possible for them to function, they should be very careful about not taking them. I would advise you to stay very far away from this kind of counsel. (People who are taking lithium, for example, do not generally want to take it. They are looking for any reason not to take it and your encouragement does not need to be very strong to get them headed in a bad direction. If they need lithium, they need to be under a very careful doctor’s care when they come off the drug). Always remember that you are not a doctor.
If the person is taking depression medication, you may not know if the drug has caused them to not be depressed anymore or if God’s counsel has given them new hope and joy. I would say that generally, if the person has become a new believer or has become a new believer again, there is cause to wonder about the necessity of the meds, but again, have them ask their doctor. Do not tell them they don’t need them anymore. The last thing you need is to cause someone greater distress because you read the situation wrongly.
Finally, if someone you are counseling comes off their meds, make sure that you continue to keep in touch with them for a season afterward. Do not counsel them, have them come off their meds, and then let them go. You might wean them off counseling by having them come in less often and then to call or write and send in reports to you about how they are doing. If you don’t hear from them when you should, go after them and see what is going on.
Smith, Bob. The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference.
Welch, Edward. Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave.
Welch, Edward. Blame it On the Brain
Powlison, David. How Do You Counsel A Psychologized Counselee? This is an article. You can find it online here: http://www.ccef.org/product-download/how-do-you-help-psychologized-counselee.
How the Psychotropic Industry Works
You might check out Listening to Prozac, by Peter Kramer.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:7-9)
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.(Job 2:7-10)
Virtually everyone older than thirty five knows that the young spry body you were born with is neither spry nor young. In the past, things that went wrong with your body usually went away after a short time of pain and suffering, but it is rapidly dawning on you that this may no longer be the case. From here on out, life will be plagued by various and permanent physical maladies. On the other hand, many people have known this for a long time and have been suffering with illnesses of different kinds for quite a while.
How We Should Think of Illness
It is important, before encountering sick people, to know and understand what the Bible has to say about physical illness.
- Some physical ailments come because of sin, but will probably not be alleviated by repentance—Brain damage due to: an accident, drug abuse, liver problems due to alcohol abuse, contracting AIDS because of sexual immorality, etc. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11:30-31) .
- Some illness comes because of sin, and go away when sin is confessed and repented of—Ulcers, some stress related illnesses such as migraines, and other ailments we may not know anything about; Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin (Psa 32:1-5) andIs anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (Jam 5:14-15). See also Pro 14:30; 17:22; Psa 22:15.
- Some illness comes because of sin, but we don’t know if the illness will go away with confession of sin—And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”(Mar 2:5-11)
- Some illnesses are unrelated to our individual sin—the man born blind in John 8, Paul’s thorn in the flesh, and Job’s illnesses, the flu, various viruses, etc.
- Some illness comes from the Devil—God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.(Act 10:38) and ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?(Lk. 13:16).
- Many illnesses we simply don’t know anything about for certain. They might exist because of sin, but there is no specific sin to point to. They may be totally unrelated to our own personal sin. Some autoimmune diseases more than likely fit into this category. Many of these conditions are even a mystery to doctors, which makes me think they are spiritually related in some way.
- All illness is in the world because of Adam’s sin—in the beginning all was very good (Gen. 1:31), Adam sinned, was cursed, and from then on everything went south (Gen. 3:17-19). From that point on death and illness characterized man’s plight on the earth.
- Then, to confuse things even more, many of these things combine and join together to produce illnesses of various kinds.
Because all these things are true, it is very difficult for the counselor to be strict with his characterization about what is happening in the counselee who is ill. The best we can do is be patient, check things out, pray for wisdom, and go from there.
In your data gathering you are generally looking for two things: is this illness due to sin? And is this illness causing sin? The answers to these questions will dictate the direction you take when moving forward. Because God is the God of hope and the God of healing, there is always hope for physical healing. But if healing does not happen, or does not happen right away, there is reason for hope to get through the illness with real victory. This is true even if it all ends in physical death. Hope is present and should be cheered for in every situation.
Generally, people don’t come for counseling because of physical illness, but sometimes the physical condition becomes an obvious factor in the counselee’s spiritual situation. A woman might suffer regular and ongoing migraine headaches. This will impact how she is able to put up with her husband’s short temper. You may need to make some suggestions to her regarding the alleviation of her headaches in order to work with her regarding her husband. Keep in mind, however, that you are not a doctor and cannot make medical diagnoses nor prescribe medication.
You can, in the process of gathering data find out how the woman knows what is wrong with her, how was the trouble diagnosed? What kinds of test were rendered? Did she actually see a doctor, or is she self-medicating? You may not be a doctor, but you can suggest—perhaps strongly—that she see a doctor for her illness.
While gathering data, pay attention to how the illness was contracted, what she thinks about her illness, how she feels about it, what she has gone through as a consequence of the illness. What I mean by this last point is how are her friends and relatives treating her as a result of her having contracted the illness? Are they shunning her? Helping her? Encouraging her? Causing her to feel guilty for having it? Etc.
You will also want to ask her about side effects of the medication, complications as a result of other things she has done to deal with her situation, and how having the illness has affected her walk with God.
Again, we will find most of these answers by asking careful and wise questions; not assuming anything, and not jumping to conclusions. The questions should be infused with hope for the person. Not necessarily hope that the sickness will go away, you simply don’t know, but hope that God is in it with her and will not leave her nor forsake her (Heb. 13:5).
All Illness is a Kind of Suffering
No matter how a person contracts an illness it is safe to say that the person is suffering. She may be sick as a result of her sin, but she is still suffering. The Biblical counselor cannot reject or ignore this fact and while we cannot give medical help, we can help the person to live in the midst of suffering with triumph and victory. God gives us victory over every situation through Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57). We gain victory when we are able to find contentment in whatever situation we find ourselves (Phil. 4:11-12). But we can only think this way when we realize that (1) suffering is normal in this life, especially for the Christian (2 Tim. 3:12), (2) God is in control of the whole universe, including each facet of our lives, (3) he is in it with us (Pr. 21:1; Dan. 2:21; Rom. 8:28-29), and (4) the temptation to despair will not overwhelm us (2 Cor. 10:13).
It is important in the counseling process to help the counselee verbalize her questions. Often they are the same questions the various Biblical characters had: Where are you God (Psa. 63:1)? Aren’t you paying attention to what is going on with me (Psa. 69:3)? Who do you think you are putting me through all this (Job 31:35)? It hurts, why aren’t you helping (Psa. 27:9)? When a person is crying out to God, even in anger, confusion, hurt, dread, fear, angst, and suffering they are still coming to God. They are still crying out to the only source for help. They are still exercising faith. We want to encourage them in that direction.
If they aren’t crying out to God, even if accusing, we need to work diligently to help them turn their face and attention toward Him. For he is the primary source of comfort and peace for them.
Once the person is turning their focus toward God, we can begin the process of helping them to think correctly about God and about their situation. You see, it all comes back to faith in God, trust in his provision for his people, reliance on his wisdom and his will for our lives.
New Life Thought
It is important at this point to help the counselee to know and to remember that God has not stepped out for a bite to eat. He is still seated on his throne and in charge of the situation (Is. 45:3, 5). God is also still the God of love (1 Jn. 4:16). If both of these are true, and they are, then something else is going on in your life than you think. The Bible tells us that God has a plan for our lives (Rom. 8:28ff). His plan is to make us into the image and likeness of his Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). He is making us into a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5). He is removing all our spots and wrinkles (Eph. 5:27), all for his glory and honor.
We all need to remember that we all need to be like Jesus. Jesus was a man of suffering (Is. 53:3), he suffered in all the same ways we do (Heb. 2:18), he learned obedience through his suffering (Heb. 5:8), and when he suffered he offered himself to God in order to please him (Heb. 9:14).
To this, and much more, we were called: Paul tells us that we were called to share in his sufferings (Phil. 3:10). Peter tells us to have the same mind in us when we suffer that Christ had in his sufferings (1 Pet. 2:21).
But what about the pain? Belief in Christ doesn’t diminish the pain, though it might, but it does give reason and purpose for the suffering. It explains our pain and gives it a goal. We aren’t just suffering for nothing. We are suffering in order that we might grow in grace and in glory. Romans 5 tells us, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5). The suffering is, according to the Bible, a “light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
I know that we as counselors take everything back to faith, to belief, to trust in God. The Bible tells us that everything that happens in our life is for our good — that it has a purpose, an eternal purpose (Rom. 8:28-30). Do you believe that? Can you say, “I believe, help me in my unbelief” (Mk. 9:24)? We must begin our counseling here. If God is God, then we can trust that whatever is happening to us is happening for our good and his glory.
Pain and suffering are horrible things. But God knows all about suffering and he gives more grace to those who need it more (Jas. 4:6). Where does the temptation to reject God come from?
What are the alternatives? Trust and rely on God or what? What is left to do? We can either become depressed and inward focused, which gets us nowhere, or we can turn to God in faith and trust and rejoice in our situation (Jas 1:2; Phil 4:4). We can ask God to teach us what he has for us and to use our circumstances to glorify him and to make us more like Christ (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
We can trust God and be content with where he has us in our life. And in the midst of our suffering we can look for ways to serve God and others. God says if we draw near to him, he will draw near to us (Jas. 4:8). He says that his strength is perfected in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:10). God says he is pleased when we serve him with our whole hearts, minds souls and strength.
Standing on the Promises
As Christians one of the ways we can walk with God in faith is by learning to stand on the promises of God. We do this by offering our sick and dying bodies to God and not being conformed to this world (Rom 12:1). We keep ourselves from being corrupted by the world when we learn to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) and by striving to renew our minds moment by moment (Rom. 12:2). When we renew our minds we do two things: 1) we learn to discern what is God’s activity in our lives and 2) we focus, keep, and dwell on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise (Phi 4:8).
Here is a short list of the promises of God:
- God promises to be with me in my suffering. He promises never to leave me (Hebrews 13:5).
- Jesus wants me to go to him in my suffering. He is my great High Priest who has conquered death and now continually intercedes for his people (Hebrews 7:24-25).
- Jesus rules over all things so I have nothing to fear. He willingly experienced pain for me when he took my penalty on the cross so that I could be made righteous (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- God is in control of all things and his control is good (Proverbs 21:1; Psalms 119:68; 136:1).
- God has promised that because I love him, everything (including any pain I experience) is for my good to make me more like his precious Son (Romans 8:28-29).
- God promises that he will never give me more than I can handle without also providing ways to handle my suffering with growing obedience (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Through it all, ask God to redirect your thinking. One of the things suffering does is to “focus your mind marvelously.” When you suffer, everything seems to be brought to a single point, life stops except with regard to this particular situation. You need to ask God to change your focus. Ask him to become real to you in a new way. Ask him to remind you, when you feel distraught, pain, anxious, worried, stressed, etc. to use that opportunity to think about the things God has promised you. God may not remove your suffering, but you can draw near to him in the midst of your suffering and be content and at peace (2 Cor. 12:10).
Ask God to give you a glimpse of Heaven. We are all going to go there one day, some sooner than others. Paul had the attitude toward death that he actually wanted to go there more than he wanted to stay on earth. He said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” (Phil. 1:21-24). Wouldn’t it be great if we had that same attitude? We want to be with the Lord, but because we are needed by our friends we will stay and serve them. Remember that when writing, Paul was in prison (1:12, 13).
God does not promise pain-free lives, and everyone suffers in some way. But if you remember that you have a God who knows and loves you, and who uses his power to free you and bring you nearer to him, you will handle suffering in ways you never thought possible. As you learn to invite God into your suffering more and more, you will experience a renewed freedom that pain will not impede. May God bless you as you trust him through the challenge of fibromyalgia, and may he give you the grace to say along with Paul, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). From Fibromyalgia, by Robert Smith, New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC, 2012.
Manipulation of others happens at very small levels, and at very serious levels.
Why was this a topic of interest to me?
What frustrated me as I studied the topic?
- No one defined it
- Inadequate strategies for confronting and changing the problem
- It parallels the experience referred to as “verbal/emotional abuse”
My goals today are to attempt to cover enough ground on this topic to (1) motivate you to help those suffering through manipulative relationships, (2) describe and define what manipulation is biblically, and (3) give you some basic strategies for confronting the problem in a biblical way (or to equip those you’re helping to confront the problem).
Why Manipulation is Such a Big Problem
The GENERAL Principle – God Created us to Flourish
Physical Effects of Destructive Relationships
Mental Effects of Destructive Relationships
That leads us to consider…
How to Define and Recognize Manipulation Biblically
“To control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means.”
“Using unbiblical means of controlling or influencing others… [in] an attempt to gain control of another individual or situation by inciting an emotional reactionrather than a biblical responsefrom that individual.” (Lou Priolo, Manipulation: Knowing How to Respond, p. 5-6)
“Manipulation is: defining words and framing questions (by verbiage or through emotional expressions) in such a way that makes an appropriate response from the other person seem selfish, mean, or unreasonable.” (Brad Hambrick, “Manipulative Repentance,” http://biblicalcounseling.org/2016/manipulative-repentance/accessed March 15, 2017.)
Let’s see if we can combine some of these elements.
DEFINITION of Manipulation
Manipulation is the sin of SELF-WILL combined with some other sinful behavior, designed by our deceitful desires (consciously or unconsciously) to get what we want.
BRIEFLY: It is self-will and sinful behavior coming together to get what we want at the expense of another!
How Manipulation Manifests Itself
Manipulation is the sin of SELF-WILL, plus…
- Outright Lies
PLAYING THE VICTIM
- Harsh words
- “Silent Treatment”
- Temper Tantrums
ULTIMATUMS – Limiting Their Choices
CREATING FALSE DICHOTOMIES (only “two views” of a situation)
How to Respond to Manipulation (and Help Others)
Proverbs 15:28 –28The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
We will use the examples of:
- Jesus with Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
- Jesus and the Chief Priests and Scribes about paying taxes (Luke 20:19-26)
- A manipulative mother trying to get her daughter’s family to spend the holidays with her.
Four strategies for assessing and responding to manipulators…
ASK THEM, “WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?”
- Is their desire wrong?
- Can you legitimately fulfill their desire?
- Is there a possibility of compromise?
LISTEN FOR, AND EXPOSE, ANY FALSEHOODS OR FALSE PREMISES
- Consider some of the categories from above (like limiting choices, and creating false dichotomies, or making you feel guilty in an unwarranted way)
- Blatant falsehoods and half-truths must be pointed out
- The “obligatory statements” should be answered wisely
APPEAL TO THEIR CONSCIENCE REGARDING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES
APPEAL TO GOD’S WORD AS THE STANDARD BY WHICH THEY WILL BE JUDGED
Lou Priolo’s MANIPULATION WORKSHEET
Circumstances surrounding manipulation:
Manipulative remarks made to me:
My response to the manipulation:
Christ-like/biblical response the manipulation: