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The Controller-Victim Polarity: An Abstract


A current theme playing out in this time and across relationships and systems is the power asymmetry between controllers and victims. Drawing on concepts from Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence" (1995), controllers exploit others using manipulative tactics fueled by dark triad personality traits, while victims are targets selected for their deference, compliance, and emotional sensitivity.


Simon's "In Sheep's Clothing” (1996) examines manipulation tactics used by aggressive personalities to control others through verbal and emotional abuse. Herman's renowned “Trauma and Recovery” (1992) discusses the psychological imprisonment victims endure from coercive control in toxic relationships. In "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness" (1973), Fromm categorizes authoritarian powerholders drawn to positions where they can exercise dominance over subordinates. This behavior has further implications as we are now becoming more aware of the polority of overt "dominators" with the covert or nice guy leader who may use others seeking to play out their power control, for his domination.













Research shows controllers tend to select agreeable and conflict-avoidant personalities they deem unlikely to challenge their violating conduct (Babiak et al., 2010; Grijalva et al., 2015). Enabling environments for inequality also permit the rise of exploitative hierarchies (Keashley & Jagatic, 2011). However, insight into dark power dynamics will reveal that underneath controllers externalize inner insecurities, while victims must actively reclaim their self-efficacy.


Cultivating Awareness of unhealthy polarity in relationships and systems is the first step. Further research into fostering emotionally intelligent leadership over toxic control and establishing mutual understanding to reverse victim mindsets may help restore balance. Therapeutic approaches should avoid victim-blaming while outlining healthy boundaries. The controller-victim polarity highlights the need for ethical and wise wielding of power across society. Starting today by making a concerted effort to address "inner work" is something that may be required for all of us as we attempt to navigate the land mine of energy that is affecting most everyone and everything.





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