Controlling People
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Product Description

Does this sound like someone you know?

  • Always needs to be right
  • Tells you who you are and what you think
  • Implies that you're wrong or inadequate when you don't agree
  • Is threatened by people different from him- or herself
  • Feels attacked when questioned
  • Doesn't seem to really hear or see you
If any of the traits above sound familiar, help is on the way! In Controlling People, bestselling author Patricia Evans (The Verbally Abusive Relationship) tackles the "controlling personality," and reveals why and how these people try to run other people's lives. She also explains the compulsion that makes them continue this behavior-even as they alienate others and often lose those they love.

Patricia Evans is the founder of the Evans Interpersonal Communications Institute in Alamo, CA. She conducts workshops across the country, and has made numerous media appearances. Her first book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, was praised by Newsweek as "groundbreaking."

Customer Reviews:

  • Catch this lifeline before the ship sinks, with you still aboard!
    After 8 months of a roller coaster relationship and one month in therapy, this book gave me back my sanity. Ms Evans exposes the mysteries about controlling people and the secrets that they struggle to hide, at your expense.

    I now understand that it was not me, and there is not much to be done about it. Read this book before you drive yourself crazy trying to understand, or be understood. She delves into the core of the disconnected individual, frankly and with great insight.

    Controlling people exsist, they can ruin your life and they are oblivious. Save yourself with this read, before you are tempted to "help" that controlling person that is creating havoc with your life.

    ...more info
  • Great read
    I'm always been interested in psychology, and I bought this book because I was tired of dealing with people at my job that have bad interpersonal skills. I bought the book and found it very insightful. Patricia Evans writes very well, and is an expert in her field. She knows people really well. This book has helped me to understand the controler's mind; the controler is not aware of what their behavior is. I recommend this book for all psych majors, and to anyone who is tired of dealing with controling people....more info
  • Women can be controlling too
    I would have given this book 5 stars, except that it almost seems to be a male-bashing book. I am sure that the majority of controllers are male and there aren't enough examples to be found where the controller is female. Also, most men would never read this book because it's not "manly" to read these kinds of books. I understand the business end of this book. That is, most controllers are men and "macho" men don't read books like this, so to sell the book, let's write it to sell to the female side...more info
  • Just Say "What?" But Then What?
    OK, yes, this book is far more wordy than it needs to be, and it gets around to instructions on how to deal with a Controller at the very last opportunity -- but it's thought-provoking, not at all shallow, and best of all, a needed contribution to therapy. Because most shocking of all is Evans' admission that therapists have been slow to recognize the stark reality of controlling behavior, preferring instead to ask for more understanding and communication skills from the victims, overwhelmingly women. Ack! indeed. In a situation in which most women show up in the emergency room for injuries sustained AFTER they have left their abusers, therapists need to take this a lot more seriously than they have.

    Evans is correct that Controllers are under a "Spell" and therefore there is no rational communication to break through -- a simple "What?" is the least complicated way to do this. You can literally be driven crazy by a person who insists on defining you, so don't even attempt to explain or show understanding. You DON'T understand!

    (I would note Evans' exception to the "What?" rule when living with a criminal. A guy with a few weapons who is making threats, or a stranger on the street, is not an opportunity for a "What?". It's a signal to get out of there.)

    Even so, after "What?" I wanted to hear more about "Then what?" How does a person bring another person around to getting help? How to suggest therapy? How to point the way, after a simple defensive and temporarily spell-breaking move?

    Some might say that Evans digresses a little too far into spiritual, New Agey-sounding territory, but I wouldn't. Not only is the spirituality of this important -- because Controllers are quite often working in service to a brutal, proselytizing religion and it's about time someone openly stopped being "tolerant" of this kind of thing -- but the wider political message is, too. From Afghanistan to Arkansas, Controlling behavior is institutionalized and considered "normal." Even radio personalities -- too tactfully not identified as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity -- need to be questioned on this.

    By looking back at the negating childhood experiences of Controllers, Evans shows not just compassion but a hint of a social concern worth addressing. Old, "intrusive" or "socializing" childrearing methods have passed under the radar for some time now and need to be exposed for what they are -- child abuse and signs of a future political train wreck. Until they are, Controllers will always be with us and society will not change.

    Thanks for telling it how it is....more info
  • A good place to start.
    I read this book almost two years ago, and while I understand the reasoning behind some of the negative comments, and, in fact, agree with much of what others have said, I would still recommend this book. It helped me recognize the controlling and manipulative behavior of someone I was involved with at the time, and although I never used any of the techniques the author suggested, it was a good place to start. I'm very glad I read it, and I think others might benefit from a quick look at it as well. ...more info
  • Understanding, Comfort, Support---A Breath of Fresh Air
    This book is an in-depth exploration of the psychology behind controlling people. The subtitle is: "How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People Who Try To Control You"---and that is exactly what this book delivers. For those of us who are worn down, discouraged, frustrated, puzzed, or struggling to cope with controllers, it's a breath of fresh air, validation, and support.

    "Controlling People" would be an outstanding book for counselors to give their clients as bibliotherapeutic homework. Although it's easy to understand, it's not just for clients---it offers a new model of viewing controllers that will interest even seasoned professionals.

    Patricia Evans' previous two books, both about verbal abuse, are classics---and this one, I'm sure, will be one as well. Highly recommended.
    *****...more info
  • A New Clarity, Breakthrough in Understanding!

    This book is awesome. It offers understanding where no one else does. I truly believe it is new groundbreaking insight into the world of the Controlling Person. I say this with confidence because I, like the reviewer "Alliasus" here, have also read stacks and stacks of psychology and self help books in all-out effort to understand my Controlling Person husband of 18 years.

    En route, I gained lots of helpful insight, but, NO insight, at all, as to why he is the way he is. On this basis I can say I don't believe this information existed until Patricia Evans wrote this book. I think this is all-new insight, and counselors and lay people alike really need to read it!

    I think when people begin to discover this book there will be no stopping it. Because there are legion of us out here who live in relationships that make no sense. Our partners act awful and senselessly, but yet, we know in our hearts they are not evil at heart, and our hope in humankind says there must be some sense to this? Well, there is. Patricia Evans finally makes sense of it in this book.

    What a relief, to have the pressing mystery solved. When you are a woman and this is your marriage, the mystery rather takes over your whole life. It is a major epiphany to finally get the light of understanding. Therefore, I understand exactly why yet another well-read reviewer here says that this book is second only to the Bible. I know just what she means. The Bible is the most important book in my life too. I know I will always have this book (Controlling People) right up there on my list of most important books I have ever read in my life. Bible-Lovers: this doesn't mean Patricia Evans has Bible quotes in here. There are none. But, she speaks truth in this book, and you will recognize truth when you see it.

    What a disservice the editorial reviewer, Susan E. Burdick, has done here at the top of this review page - telling librarians through the Library Review magazine that this book belongs in the hands of lay counselors. No way, Ms. Burdick! As the readers here attest, this is Every Person's book. Evans writes extremely clearly, and her unique style is absolutely engaging. Ms. Burdick makes quite a pressumption, an ignorant one, when she says "lay readers who feel controlled will find this a hard read." On the contrary, those of us involved in controlling relationships will not be able to put this book down, and will want to start back in the beginning and read it a 2nd and 3rd time.

    I shudder to think what kind of impact Burdick's review might have. Will her influence discourage some librarians from ordering this book, keeping it out of the hands of the many persons in every town, no matter how small, who need this book? What a shame. I hope another Editorial Reviewer will review this. I do not expect Burdick to get a second on this one....more info

  • Recommended Reading For Every Body
    Evans has undertaken, and successfully achieved, a lucid and compelling portrait of an aspect of human behaviour that has been difficult to identify and therefore address. Consequently, it has become so widespread and pervasive as to be considered ordinary and 'normal' in spite of the harm, injury, and occasionally tragic results of this behaviour.

    While some may disagree with the words and ways she chose to illustrate and articulate this behaviour, her unexpected terms allow us to view with fresh eyes ("through a lens") and, hopefully, arrive at newly awakened insight and comprehension.

    She has shed light and brought clarity to a condition that is fostered in an atmosphere of chaos and confusion, and has done so without condemnation or bias. In addressing the witness and witness experience, the injury to the psyche can be discovered; the potential for a witness likewise becoming a controller can be lessened and the self perpetuating cycle of psychic assault/psychic injury/psychic defense/psychic assault... can finally be broken.

    While the majority of examples are seemingly woman/victim/witness and man/perpetrator/controller, Ms Evans made no gender discriminations but rather addressed behaviour universally using the examples that would most clearly illustrate the point she was attempting to reveal.

    The aspect of psychic control is an issue facing each one of us today. It is both a personal and a global issue which has ramifications and repercussions throughout the fabric and the layers of our world, our society, our community, our homes - our individual and our collective lives.

    A must read for everyone, all ages, all genders. Every school library shelf needs several copies.
    It is both a survival manual and a directional compass for everyone living, and growing, in today's world.

    Highly Recommended....more info
  • An eyeopener
    My therapist recommended this book and it was an eyeopener -- described my (now-ex) husband to a T! Fascinating insight into human behavior. Even if you don't currently think you're in a controlling relationship, you'll be surprised to recognize the behaviors Evans describes. ...more info
  • Define the concepts
    I like Patrica Evans's book and am on my third reading but she really does not define her concepts well enough and I find it difficult to know what on earth she means by this "Teddy" idea and the "Witness" idea.
    The Bubble analogy is useful as one can begin to see controlling people inside the bubble. In fact, a psychic took it to put oneself inside a bubble for protection. Nevertheless I would ask her to make a glossary and define her concepts. Does she mean Teddy bears and people like religious witnesses? Or are they like legal witnesses?...more info
  • Understanding and Addressing Controlling Behaviors
    If you are struggling to understand the confusing and counter-intuitive nature of controlling behaviors, this book is for you. Patricia Evans has done an outstanding job explaining the causes, nature, behavior, and potential strategies to address controlling behaviors. Primarily written for "witnesses" - people that are being subjected controlling behaviors, this book is an outstanding resource for therapists, counselors, and people that recognize their own controlling behaviors and want to understand and address them. If you thought "controlling behaviors" were just "do it or else" threats, intimidation, and other abusive acts, you'll learn that those behaviors are just the "tip of the iceberg" - and what the far more serious - and less recognizable forms of controlling behaviors are. Most readers will find the explanations clear and accessible, though some of the material is obviously more suitable for counselors, therapists, and others in caregiving roles. ...more info
  • Significant book for understanding human behaviour
    I am a mature student of social anthropology, currently on fieldwork in Australia. I observed the phenomenon in the field, wrote 'controlling people' in a search machine, and that is how I found the book. I read it in one go. The insights are just amazing.

    Psychology is my long-standing interest, and I have read both professional and popular books on different subjects. This is one of the most impressive works I have come across. Free from the professional jargon - brave choice on the part of author - the principles and the insights are described extraordinarily well. The explanatory power of this book is astonishing. I really wonder what methods did the author use to reach her insights.

    A week after I read the book, in the field, I was approached by a scary person who staged a controlling attack at me. He was a true bully. I was pretty scared, but thanks to having read this book so recently, I managed to recognise the behaviour and defend myself. Not as if I could not have defended myself otherwise. Only now I used a fragment of time I would have used before to understand what is going on, and I could understand the strategies as the person was using them, and respond appropriately. He did get very angry because he could not control me, and tried all kinds of strategies for an hour, but in the end I just walked away.

    I admire the author's ability to describe and demystify the controlling people in such a calm manner. She explains how people become controlling without judging them for it. This does not mean that they cannot be dangerous, or that we have to accept their behaviour; to the contrary. But she gives an explanation, not the judgement; this is important distinction. This means that the book is meant as a self-help book for both the controlling people capable of recognising the behaviour in themselves, and their victims. It also has broader implications for all studies of human behaviour. I will certainly re-read it, and reflect on it more....more info

  • It's all so clear now!
    I have never written a book review before, but this book is just so excellent I had to! Everytime I was manipulated, I felt so confused because I couldn't understand what was going on. Very frustrating!!! The author does such a good job of explaining all the different aspects of this type of behavior. It's like a heavy fog has lifted and I see it all so clearly now.

    With the help of this book my life has gotten SO much better! Another book which helped equally was "When I Say No I Feel Guilty". Both books have very effective ways of dealing with the situation.

    Thank you Patricia Evans for writing this book!!!...more info

  • Thank Goodness For Libraries
    I was going to buy this book but then decided to check it out from the library. I am glad I did. What a waste of paper. Should be subtitled "From a Feminist Perspective"....more info
  • Lots of stories, little useful advice
    Book was disappointing. Lots of stories but didn't offer any concrete advice on how to deal with controlling people other than saying "what" to them. ...more info
  • Great help in defining your experience to others
    This book is greatly helpful in many ways, one of which is giving you a way to describe and define your experience of being controlled to others who may not have a clue what being controlled is like. On a side note, I'm rather alarmed about the reviewer who claims he is a psych graduate and stated, "Rather than spend time complaining about being controlled or fending off attempts of control, why don't two people in a distressed romantic relationship (or friendship) realize that they may not "fit" together? Instead of departing, both stay... " Um, didja ever hear of a little something called "domestic violence," "stalking," and "fear for one's life?" It may not be possible to depart from a relationship if the controlling person has threatened your life or the life of your children. It's scary to think that someone who may actually be advising people on a professional level doesn't have the intelligence or understanding to realize that sometimes someone remains in a relationship because they are AFRAID TO LEAVE--afraid for their very lives. Guess he must have skipped that day of class? At any rate, this book is worth the price....more info
  • This is a good reference book to keep on hand.
    I rented this book from the library before purchasing. It gives insight into the many aspects of "control".
    Controlling others can be good or bad.
    Being controlled can be good or bad.
    Bottom line is that we all should be able to identify when being controlled is bad for us and, conversely, we need to know when we are selfishly controlling others.
    This book is excellent for self improvement purposes as well as improving our relationships with others.
    ...more info
  • Patricia Evans' book will change lives!
    Some books are good, others are great, and then there are those that change lives. Patricia Evan's latest book, Controlling People, will change lives. In her first book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Patricia Evans pulled back the curtain on the "Wizard" of verbal abuse, to reveal varying realities and control techniques existing in verbally abusive relationships. In Controlling People, Patricia Evans takes us on a journey through the "Wizard's" inner workings, in what can best be described as an unprecedented comprehensive analysis of controlling behaviors in verbally abusive relationships.
    Facing the ominous task of revealing one of our cultures long-ignored social taboos, Controlling People, as the title suggests, takes its reader on a step-by-step analysis of how we can recognize, understand, and deal with people who try to control us. In doing so, Patricia Evans continues to offer validation, strength, and hope to those who have suffered in verbally abusive relationships. Controlling People not only reveals these behaviors for what they really are, but then goes further in analyzing, and providing a conceptual vocabulary that makes it possible to discuss, address, understand, and deal with controlling behaviors. The Verbally Abusive Relationship introduced us to new concepts and vocabulary in a world of dysfunctional interpersonal communication which was relatively uncharted. In The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Patricia Evans introduced us to Reality I, and Reality II, perspectives, as well as signs to help us identify verbally abusive relationships. The articulation and establishment of these concepts and vocabulary made possible, for the first time, a meaningful dialogue on verbally abusive relationships.
    Controlling People takes it to the next level by introducing us to more details and sophisticated concepts - Disconnections and Backwards Connections; The Pretend Person and Giving up the Anchor of Pretend Person; Silencing Separateness; The Spell, The Spellbound, and The Spell Breakers; Confabulation and Clarity - Concepts which will continue to revolutionize continuing dialogue in the realm of verbally abusive relationships and associated controlling behaviors.
    Written in a manner which can be easily followed and clearly understood by both layperson and professional, Controlling People presents an honest, straight-forward and hard-hitting look at verbal abuse related behaviors. Whether the reader is victim, or abuser, this book will not let you escape the truth....more info
  • An Important Book, Poorly Written
    Ms Evans has made a ground-breaking stand in helping people identify a controlling relationship. The behaviours of "controlling people" are made clear and unmistakeable, which will definitely be a comfort to people who may have felt that they could not put their finger on precisely what is wrong in their relationship with a controller. As has been previously noted, the rather fluffy terms Evans uses throughout the work (Teddy, Spellbreakers, etc.) do tend to grate after a while, and Evans does not go on to give much advice on how to cope with a controller once s/he is identified. If the author is leading up to something, I'd love to see it. As it stands, it's spot-on for identifying the problem, but lacking in how to solve it. ...more info
  • Help! My authentic person has been raped and my psychic boundary has been assaulted!
    What I didn't like...

    1) If I wanted to read a children's book, I'd break out my favorite Dr. Seuss. That may be too harsh, but I really disliked the "Teddy" analogy, and she wouldn't stop using it, it was everywhere.

    2) The hokey labels Pretend People is ok, but I truly couldn't believe how much she used "Teddy". When I first saw the word "Teddy" I thought she would somehow work sexy lingerie into her story, but I was sadly disappointed. My point is - don't make me embarrassed to describe this book to someone. Maybe my pretend friends will understand, but my authentic friends will probably think I'm signing up with another cult!

    3) She repeats her theory far too many times in practically the exact same way every time. Many many pages dedicated to this repitition and meanwhile, if you blink, you might miss the magical phrase you can say to "break" the "spell"... What? Did I miss it? oh, "What". Huh. can I have my $15 back please?

    4) I'll repeat this one because I can't see "What" or "nonsense" working on anybody. Sorry, that's not going to cut it. Them's fighting words for most people. I don't see how frustrating your controlling abuser is going to help someone.

    5) The examples she listed didn't convince me her theory is provable. SOme of them seemed completely made up, but it was as if she was trying to pass them off as real.

    What I liked about this book:

    1) I hate to say it, but as much as I hated the "Teddy" references throughout this book, I have never seen this theory before... that people can have a tendency to allow their imaginations blend with reality, which leads to the inability to relate to others and the desire to control them. I hate to admit this, but I think my mind actually works in that sick twisted way, too sometimes. And I picked up this book because I thought everyone around me was too controlling and hoped it would help me sort out some of my problems. What I found was, yes they are controlling, but so am I. I might not be as annoying about it, but I could be someday if I don't stop it. So, even though there were things I disliked about this book, overall, I'm glad I read it. I would have preferred to read it as a condensed article in Psychology Today instead of spending $15 on it and having it take up most of my Sunday, but you can't have everything, can you?

    And now I might be quicker to to identify a "backwards approach" or an "assault on my psychic boundary", but I'm sitting here wondering if there's anything I can do about it or if I'm just going to use this information to prevent the stupid things others do to me from really getting to me or to prevent myself from becoming like them. I have more questions now than I did before I started reading. I don't know if that's good or bad, so I give it 3 stars, but in reality, to a living breathing person, I would be too embarrassed to actually recommend it.
    ...more info
  • repetitive and simplistic
    disappointing - not a very helpful book for some circumstances, clunky writing style - very repetitive...more info
  • Made up words, absolutely no practical applications
    I really needed help in dealing with a controlling abuser. What I got was a book full of made up theories like "backwards connections", the abuser being "beside himself" or "spellbound". Gee, that really helps! How about the fairy tale about Teddy? This book illustrates quite clearly how a person has a deep need to control and will go to any lengths to do it, but let's not forget the author promises to discuss how to deal with them. That part was literally 5 or 6 bullet points of things like "say 'what?' over and over" or "say 'nonsense'". Oh, I guess those magic words just never occurred to me. I guess next time my husband is verbally assaulting me, calling me names, threatening my hairstylist so she won't cut a single inch off my hair, I'll just say "what?" and he'll magically stop!!
    Get real!!
    This book is truly bizarre. I really wasted my time, money, and worst of all, my hope....more info
  • This Book Is Dangerous
    I think this is a very dangerous book. Part of understanding a problem is using the correct words to identify it. Evans makes up her own definitions for words. I think you would be hard pressed to go to a health care professional and tell them...I'm "spellbound" or I have "backwards connections."

    There is correct terminology to describe controlling people and their problems. I suggest you find a book that introduces you to that terminology such as Compelled to Control by J. Keith Miller or Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. While both these books also deal with the 12-Step program, and that's not for everyone, I think people can gain a lot from the other elements of these books. As well as learning the widly used terminology to describe the problem.

    Lastly, if you are a controlling person it is unlikely that you will find much help here. The book is written from the point of a victim not someone seeking help. Evans finds controlling people everywhere as noted in previous reviews.
    ...more info
  • Insightful
    If you read this book, there is no need to consult a pshychiatrist in person. A brilliant analysis of a controlling mind tells so much about the COMMON signs of controlling people that you wont ever make a mistake in determining controlling personalities( and staying away from them too..). I always felt helpless in spotting these kind of people until too late but i am sure now i will be able to tell immediately about a controlling person and not blame myself for that spellbound person's behaviour. Excellent book to know why you fall into their confusing maze of distorted reality and feel guilty to make it worse!...more info
  • controlling people
    This was a very enlightening book. I recommend it for everyone, who is in any type of relationship. It helped me deal with every day issues. I bought ir for my 21 year old daughter who keeps dating these controlling men. Then I read it after she did. And I was even more enlightened....more info