The power of psychological subversion is a hugely underestimated thing to the uninitiated. It is one of the most powerful and insidious ways of influencing others and getting your own way. The thing about psychological subversion is that if you are not aware of it, it can take a long time to figure out what is actually going on.
It has many forms and guises and here are a few:
- Ridicule and make fun of your opinion or viewpoint. As Arthur Schopenhauer once said when a new theory that challenges the accepted wisdom emerges, first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed and third it is accepted as self-evident. Humour can take the power and gravitas out of the situation which can be used in a positive or negative manner,
- Deflection and projection. This is when the person who has been challenged goes on the offensive. They will attack you personally and throw it back on you. They may project their own shortcomings onto you and twist things around to avoid responsibility. When you touch a nerve and strike too close to the truth you will often see this reaction. They may even accuse you of being over sensitive or making something out of nothing
- Not owning any opinion or decision. They make out that they have to do something because of an outside influence. This way they avoid the conflict. It’s a cowardly way of fulfilling an agenda and is very difficult to deal with
- Presuppositions used. They make statements and questions that presuppose certain things that are not true but support their agenda. So when you try and argue that point you have acknowledged that those presuppositions are true and straight away strengthen their position. These presuppositions must be addressed and challenged BEFORE the main point is dealt with
- Overbearing aggression and forcefulness. They don’t give you time to think and pressure you relentlessly to give the answer they want. Remember the person who asks the questions controls the situation.
- Hypnosis and NLP techniques can be used, but the user has to be skilled in this. It is more often used by politicans, sales people, in marketing, advertising and the media.
There are many ways in which this is done but the key to remember is you will not ever win an argument with these types of people. What you fight you give energy to and they may even turn it around and make it appear you are attacking them. Do not engage with these types of people but if you have to do not be confrontational. Reason or logic will not help you as whenever you get to the crux of the issue they will not debate and use the tactics listed above.
Being subversive is actually more powerful and hard to combat that an all-out overt attack. Being overt is easy to counter as most people will not accept it in today’s society.
Unfortunately many things that are not acceptable in our society then become pushed into its stealthful and covert form. Racism, sexism and homophobia all rear their ugly heads in subversive manner as people now know that these are completely unacceptable to explicitly state. It is cowardly and in fact the measure of an individual that when they attempt to subvert a situation they are unwittingly admitting that what they are doing is not acceptable.
So next time you feel uncomfortable and that you are being undermined or attacked but can’t figure out what is going on you may be being subjected to psychological subversion.