Kind of a horrifying visage, isn’t she? She is called “Blinded”, and is from the game Fatal Frame. I have her there to help me tell you a story about emotional responses, and how they can be garnered from you without permission.
Not too long ago I was playing the game Fatal Frame with someone who had never played it. We were playing in different places and communicating through voice chat. I was ahead of them because I know the game well, and had gotten to the chapter about Demon Tag.
Oh yes, spoiler alert for Fatal Frame, but seriously, if you haven’t played it and are annoyed about this you have had plenty of time to play it, so nuts to you.
Basically, in the game, there is was a ritual that was used to choose the next Rope Shrine Maiden, called the Blind Demon Ritual. The winner of the gamer is the child found last by the Blind Demon. It meant that they had the highest spiritual power, which means that they will be able to seal the Hell Gate after spending ten years in seclusion, and then ripped asunder by the Strangling Ritual. The child that is found first will be the next Blind Demon.
Why are they called the Blind Demon you might ask. A very good question with a perfectly gory answer. When the time comes for the next game of Demon Tag, they bring the girl forward in front of the Himuro family head, and all the priests that perform the ritual. They would retrain her, and then plunge this into her eyes:
Now you see why she is called the Blind Demon. In the game, the Strangling Ritual failed, and the Hell Gate opened, trapping everyone that was there that day in the Himuro Mansion, and plummeting it into darkness. It is now entirely haunted by very murderous ghosts, one of which is the Blind Demon.
All caught up? Excellent, onto the story.
So, we are playing, and as I mentioned I am in the chapter that has to do with the Demon Tag Ritual. This means that the lovely Blind Demon, in all her gory glory follows you around loudly wailing about her predicament. I get it, I’d be pissed too, it sucks what you went through. But I swear to God lady, if I have to hear, “MY EYES! MY EYES! one more freaking time….
Anyway, she’s probably very scary for most game players. She is a lot like the Resident Evil Village baby for me, however. She is a whole bag of annoying, and this particular time she was being very loud and very irritating. Because she was annoying me I played over the mic like I was upset about it, but in a really over the top, clearly messing around tone. Or so I thought.
I can cry on command, it isn’t hard for me, and part of that is knowing what it sounds like to cry at different depths. A light cry has a very different sound than a very upset bawling kind of episode. In this case, I didn’t actually cry, I just playacted it complete with the hitching voice, whining about how mean the ghost was being to me, and how unfair it was.
Mind you, the person I am playing with knows full well that I am psychopathic, and that in no way shape or form would this kind of emotional response from me be real or authentic in any way. It didn’t matter, the sound still triggered the empathetic switches in their mind and they teared up. It was entirely fake, no one part of it was real, nor did I try to make it sound real, and it still got that response.
Why am I telling you this long-drawn-out story about a video game that came out like twenty years ago? Because your emotions are that easy to draw out for someone like me. This is not a person that is high in emotions, and I would even say fairly low in empathy. I can still get this response because I know how to tool my tone and words to trigger it. Emotions being first chemical reaction in the brain and second thoughts, they are easy to mess with by those so inclined.
What I did was simply friendly joking around, and I didn’t expect that response from them, but I can pretty well make someone feel whatever I want them to because I understand how the tone and tenor of emotions should be conveyed to get what I am seeking. It was very useful when I was a kid, but because I don’t prefer drama, I don’t use emotions to manipulate.
Let’s chat a bit about those that do, and to do so, I am going to tell you another story.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a very far away place, I was a part of a neighborhood chat kind of thing to keep tabs on what was going on where I lived. I like being informed, even if I don’t participate. One day along came a spider in the form of a guy that seemed so sweet and helpless. We’ll call him Jim. He told of how he moved to the area and was so terribly ill. He had no friends, no family, and his neighbors were mean. He had no one to assist him, and without directly saying it, he implied he was not long for this world.
People responded appropriately, as good neighbors should. Sympathy and empathy came pouring in, everyone wanted to help, especially the women. Why do I mention the women? Because ya’ll have a habit of not seeing these snakes in the grass when they come looking for a warm place to warm their slithery little bones. I know, I am a woman so I am speaking to my own, but I also am not swayed by emotional manipulation. So I sat back, and I watched. I wanted to see what his method would be.
First red flag, he was so alone and so in need, but he shot down anyone’s offer to help him out… anyone male that is.
The reason that this one is significant is that people like this are often sniffed out by guys. Men are usually not hooked into emotional manipulation of other men. Jim knew this, so he avoided the males. He just wanted the females to keep showering him with sympathy, and they did.
Not long after this he wrote a short story and posted it on the chat. Again, this was a chat about the goings-on in the neighborhood. The story was not obviously a story until you reached the end, which annoyed some people. Mostly men. They replied with what the chat was for, and reminded people to keep it to the relevant subjects. Jim’s feelings were hurt and he removed his story, along with every other post he had put up so far.
Red flag number two. This is not preschool, and picking up your toys and stomping off is not the behavior of a mature adult. he also didn’t just do this because of his “hurt feelings”, he did this because of the inevitable response that it would have, which was a bunch of women jumping to his defense. Poor helpless Jim, how could everyone be so mean? After a while, it calmed down, and people did begin to agree that there wasn’t a place for just random writings in the chat and that it should be kept to the purpose it was intended for.
It got him exactly the response he was looking for, and he slowly came back to the chat. However, he didn’t have quite the same pull, and he was much quieter. I formulated my evaluation of Jim from the very first post. I mentioned it to both a friend and my Significant Other. I said to them at the beginning, “that guy is a straight-up manipulator. Just wait, he’ll show his true colors soon enough.”
My friend was one of the people that initially thought that he was sweet. I told her what I thought, and she decided to be more cautious in her estimation of him. It didn’t take long. It just took someone posting something that was neighborhood-related, uplifting, and kind, which just rubbed him the wrong way. Apparently, it went against whatever beliefs that he had, and all that innocent victim shroud that he had been wearing melted away into a nasty tempered angry man. Just like that, no one wanted anything to do with Jim anymore. As it turned out he wasn’t ill, he wasn’t helpless, his neighbors weren’t the devil incarnate, he was just someone that knew how to sell an image to so he could nurse on sympathy.
Jim knew how to garner the reactions that he was looking for, and as much as his game was clear as day to me, pretty much every single female, and even a number of males fell for it. This is why I tell people never to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Jim didn’t deserve it, and his grift was a very common one. He just made up a story that had the right elements to pull out of people their empathy. He was a victim manipulator. Someone that plays to your sympathy why being such a strong, yet long-suffering and vulnerable individual.
Someone with bad intentions can pull a certain number of strings and get what they are looking for from people that don’t look beneath the surface of what they say. Amazingly, when I point these people out at the beginning of their nonsense, people will insist that I’m wrong and that I am being unfair. Every. Single. Time I have been right. Every one, but I still have to do this song and dance with people, because their “feels” were engaged. No matter how often they are proven wrong, people still fall for this, and it is really perplexing to me.
I get it, emotions are really powerful, but I have never cried wolf about someone. When I call these people out I am always right about it. Why people want them to be what they are pretending to be, I will never know. If you want to help strong victims, go volunteer at the children’s cancer ward. At least there you aren’t getting taken for a ride.
Wanting to help someone is a noble thing. I am not trying to tell you to be as cold as I am. What I am saying, however, is that there are a lot of people that understand that humans operate on chemical reactions, and initiating one of those reactions is not at all difficult, especially for someone practiced in that kind of thing.
Think about how easily I made my friend feel like crying with a completely manufactured imitation of crying. They couldn’t even see me. It was done entirely through sound. If I can do that without even trying, imagine what someone can do with intention and dedication to the art.
Love is a chemical reaction. Trust is a chemical reaction. Empathy is a chemical reaction. All of these can be called upon by someone with nefarious intent. Salespeople are doing exactly this when they either charm you into buying something, or pressure you into it. Both work on different emotional responses, but both are engaging those responses and causing you to act. If you understand this process, if you know that is what they are doing because you recognize it right away, you can counter it, and have the upper hand.
A sweetheart swindler is exactly the type of person that knows how to induce your brain into producing the chemicals that they need you to have in order to get from you what they need. In this case, it is your life savings. Think about how many people are taken in by these kinds of people. They use the same sort of story, they are in a foreign country, they are wealthy, but cut off from their funds, they write poetry, and have fallen madly in love with you… for some reason.
Then, they have a medical emergency, they are arrested, whatever the story is, they need your help. They’ll pay you back, they’re fabulously wealthy, remember? Of course, by now you’re engaged as well. They get you to send them more and more money, all the while telling you that they love you, they cherish you, they can’t wait to be with you, just keep sending them money… because they need you right now. Until it all falls apart, and you find out that their profile pictures were stolen, the poetry is listed word for word on a “known love scammers” website, and they have taken you for a lot of money.
None of this story happens without that unchecked chemical response. Have the response, I’m not telling you not to, but check it and confirm that what you are seeing is real. I get that emotions can act a lot like drugs, but that high cannot be more valuable than self-preservation.
There are a lot of people out there that know how to get you to respond how they want, and their motivations are never pure. Make someone tell you who they are through their actions over a long period of time. Don’t assume what they are telling you has an ounce of truth in it. If they are worth your time and trouble, then they will have no problem letting you see who they are, and make that judgment for yourself. Only someone toxic will hold that against you.
Just because I have no time or interest in emotional manipulation doesn’t mean that it isn’t a powerful tool. It is, it just isn’t worth the effort, trouble, and fallout to me. I see emotional manipulation as a rather weak play and those that use it to be rather lazy and without standards. They will always hit a brick wall with me, but they won’t with a lot of other people. The best thing you can do is know that they exist and how to recognize them. The most telling sign, in this case, was the sob story coupled with freezing out the men. It may seem sexist, but the fact is, he did it that way because it works.
If someone comes to you with a tale of woe, step in front of that immediate inclination to offer help. Watch them for a while. If they are in truly dire straights, point them to a charity that is set up for that kind of thing. If they aren’t grateful, or they still try to pull you in, then you will know what you are dealing with. My advice? Walk away and don’t look back.