Psychological Manipulation In Leaders
Joseph Stalin famously said, “Death is the solution to all problems. No man- no problem.” (“Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote.”) This is the typical mentality of some narcissistic people, who think of others only as a means to help them gain something. They are so concerned with making themselves feel better, that they manipulate people to seem “weaker,” so the narcissist can have a feeling of control. Understanding how the minds of manipulators work can help people better realize why some individuals may do the things they do. Psychological manipulation is a technique that has been used by many leaders throughout history to exploit people into getting what they want, which can be seen in leaders such as Joseph Stalin, Queen Elizabeth I, and Cleopatra.
Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, is one leader notorious for using manipulative techniques to rise to power. He used statues and other propaganda of himself to become so widely known that people couldn’t avoid him, and first was a public figure purely by popularity. This escalated, until people began to admire him, and he became the leader of an obsessive cult of people that “in private, he probably regarded with cynicism.” (“Joseph Stalin.”) These actions are a cutout example of the way many manipulators despise the victims they manipulate for supposedly being weak. Yet another one of the exploitive actions Stalin took to rise to power was his use of police violence to terrify the public into fearing him and viewing him as superior. (“Joseph Stalin.”) His reasoning for using such techniques was most likely to make himself feel better, or to feel like he was in ultimate power to validate himself, the exact reasoning of manipulative narcissists. Finally, he eliminated all individual freedom, which made the citizens dependent on him because they were then unable to do anything themselves. (“Joseph Stalin.”) This is another technique of manipulation people use to make victims so dependent on them that they can’t get away. These psychotic actions of Joseph Stalin are not the only times that psychological manipulation can be witnessed in leaders. Techniques quite similar to these were also used by Queen Elizabeth I.
Queen Elizabeth I was infamous for finding ways to acquire anything she wanted. She was the Queen of England from 1558-1603, a time which became known as the Elizabethan Era because of the amount she publicized herself to be seen as a pillar of society. She fashioned a thoughtful plot of each of her actions until she became a powerful figure in politics and a symbol of ruthlessness. (“Elizabeth I.”) This is a common technique used by manipulators, so people “look up to them” in a way of fear. By doing this, she led many to believe that somehow, she was not only the queen, but the fate of England, and they started to see her as a key part of England’s destiny as a whole. Her manipulative ways could have been created from a denied insecurity due to the fact that her father, Henry VIII, wanted a son to be his heir, and was always discontent with the fact that she was a daughter. There was also significant criticism toward a woman solely leading a country, and she was even investigated for treason before her accession. After this, she became colder, and was determined to unmercifully assert her position as an adequate ruler. For example, torture was more popular during the Elizabethan Era than under any other ruler. (“Elizabeth I.”) This inner insecurity and desire to prove to people she was good enough assimilates her to manipulative narcissists, who put down others in order to feel like they are good enough. Although the bond of her kingdom could be fragile, she used her people’s intimidated admiration of their queen to somehow hold them together, securing England’s power, and making her one of the most infamous royals of all time. (“Elizabeth I.”) This is yet another similarity of Queen Elizabeth I to manipulators, as she made her country feel dependent on her, so they didn’t dare disobey. Not only Queen Elizabeth, but Cleopatra was also a leader who used psychological techniques like these to exploit people.
Cleopatra was a leader who did anything necessary to remain in power and help her country rise above. She had an affair with and later married Julius Caesar, who, after his country, Rome, defeated Pompey, she realized was a huge threat to her. It is said she knew she had to attract him to her side, and did so by seducing him. He became infatuated with her, and Cleopatra knew Caesar wouldn’t dare threaten her country. After his death, she then formed a relationship with Mark Antony, his successor. These marriages created an alliance with Rome, and she was able to make both Caesar and Mark Antony “do her bidding” (Schiff, 3, 4). This shows how she toyed with others only to further herself, and formed emotionless relationships whose purpose was purely to increase her power. Cleopatra also did not hesitate to take down those who threatened her. She ordered Mark Antony to murder her sister after she began rallies to overthrow Cleopatra, and poisoned her brother, Ptolemy XIV. (Schiff, 8). Her ruthlessness even toward her siblings proves how she was only seeking to improve her kingdom, no matter who had to be hurt or used in the process. Lastly, She committed suicide by allowing a snake to bite her, an action carefully planned to dramatically and effectively put her down in history. (Schiff, 1,8). Obviously, Cleopatra even manipulated her death to be a method of solidifying her posterity, plotted so she knew others would never forget her.
As shown, Joseph Stalin, Queen Elizabeth I, and Cleopatra are several examples of famous leaders who used psychological manipulation to get their ways. Whether it be Cleopatra’s remorseless murder of her siblings to gain power, or Joseph Stalin taking away his people’s freedom to make them dependent on him, many actions of past world leaders were lead by manipulative techniques. Additionally, Queen Elizabeth I’s denied insecurity due to the disapproval of her father is a motivation similar to many controlling narcissists. Even Cleopatra herself may have recognized her ruthless ways, once simply stating, “I will not be triumphed over.” (“Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote.”)