This is a question we should consider every election year. A “DesManCon” is a DEStructive MANipulative CONtrolling personality.

I was a mental health counselor for 25 years. Early in my career, I began noticing a disturbing personality profile I had not studied or found in any diagnostic manual. This “type” embodied traits of several unfortunate diagnoses without exactly fitting the criteria of any of them.

After hearing about (and meeting) only a few cases, I wrote down a constellation of traits which proved to be remarkably accurate and consistent throughout two decades of observation and study. Almost no revisions have ever been necessary. These people, once identified, are as predictable as Boston terriers. For brevity’s sake, I began referring to them as DesManCons.

DesManCons can be of any gender, race, nationality, culture, age group, historical period, or religion. They are few in number, but they can be anywhere.

Because of their supreme skills in charming and manipulating people, they tend to rise to the tops of their professions. You will find them in the hierarchies of corporations, religious groups, school systems, and–you guessed it–government and politics. In the sample below you will likely recognize someone you know, if not in politics, then in your personal life.

I am listing here only about 20 relevant characteristics of the 25 I have in my files. The list is not altered in any way to make it fit any one of our current slate of candidates. Remember, this profile was written in the 1980’s, long before I had ever heard of ANY of today’s candidates.

Few DesManCons share every one of these traits, and the presence of two or three items on the list doesn‘t make someone a DesManCon. But genuine Destructive Manipulative Controllers will have a large percentage of these qualities.

—Their core, their driving motivation, is the desire to control other people, even if it means destroying them.

—They are turned on by power, often literally.

—Deceitfulness–lies, lies, lies. Nearly everything they do or say is a lie, unless the truth can be used to control people.

—Narcissism is another core characteristic, accompanied by extreme jealousy and pride. Hubris is generally their only Achilles heel. For them, humiliation or even embarrassment is worse than death.

—They are obsessed with appearances, with how they look, with their image rather than their inner substance and character.

—They are very good at faking a loving concern for people. In fact, they can fake almost any virtue to build favor so they can gain power and control over others.

— They are highly judgmental and rigid in their requirements of other people but can adopt the victim stance in an instant if they are criticized themselves. Despite their “woundedness,” they are astonishingly adaptive survivors when under fire.

— They possess tremendous energy and resilience, but they can fake sickliness or helplessness to manipulate others or play on their sympathies.

—They are usually enormously charming or charismatic and can make unforgettable first impressions. This is an act, because within five minutes they can become chillingly intimidating. Their choice of whether to use the carrot or the stick boils down to which act is most likely to gain control over you.

—Since they can be both charmers and bullies, they often have a dual reputation: adored by some, feared and despised by others. DesManCons use this to their own advantage to turn the two groups against each other.

—They are masters of the “divide and conquer” game to create divisiveness and confusion.

—They thrive on chaos. Like Rambo, they will use guerrilla tactics that most civilized people find abhorrent and are thus not expecting.  They may fake an attitude of conciliation, but they have no interest in peace or “working things out,” unless they are buying time.

—They are skilled in creating double-bind situations, where the other person loses no matter what.

—They never admit to a mistake (which they find humiliating), unless it is tactically necessary to help them regroup, or unless it is the only way to save face. If you force them to do this, watch out–you’ll pay for it later, unless you manage to take away all of their power.

—Nothing controls like guilt, so DesManCons are the world’s grandmasters at guilt-slinging.

—They start a fire, blame other people for it, then rush in to put it out and play the hero.

—DesManCons are very good at using an old confusional technique from hypnosis. In plain language, we call it the “See-saw Treatment.” They disorient people by bestowing both “approval” and disapproval at unpredictable times, often for no discernible cause. This keeps those around them off balance and anxious to please them (which is impossible to do, unless you submit absolutely to their control).

—They are usually fueled by intense rage and hatred, but they have learned to hide successfully behind a mask of caring and calm.

—They are destroyers–of reputation, of the inner spirit, and of harmony. This brings them more of the control that drives their every calculated move.

—DesManCons can be brought down by only three things: their own arrogance, forceful confrontation (backed up with the threat of exposure or humiliation), or by being outwitted by a more clever DesManCon.

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