They say picture is worth 1,000 words. The 91 cartoons in Dr. Ed Slack’s slender book, Two-legged snakes — understanding and handling manipulative people, communicate the essence of sociopaths, narcissists, and other exploiters. The pictures will plant an understanding of disordered people firmly in your brain:
They are snakes.
In fact, deceptive and manipulative people have been known as snakes for millennia. Dr. Slack points out that the original deceiver, according to Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions, was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, who tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. He says this Bible story “highlights one of our most important tasks as human beings: to choose well and not be deceived by snaky influences.”
In other words,
“To bite or not to bite, that is the question.”
Dr. Slack’s objective is to help you spot two-legged snakes, also called Bipedal Snakes, or BSs for short. He doesn’t include clinical descriptions in his book at all. But he does identify types of BSs, such as:
The Backstabber – “BSBSs work at making their ‘bitees’ feel safe and cozy, and then they cruelly betray them.”
The Misdirector- “Fear is commonly used to control their bitees, and flags of negative consequences will be waved at anything that is not supportive of their agenda.”
The Situational: “Many will be nefarious only with some people in their social environments; this is called two-faced or multi-faced snaking.”
This astute yet funny book brings up an important topic that I haven’t seen in many discussions of disordered people: their minions, their hangers-on. Dr. Slack refers to these fans of two-legged snakes as “apple-biters.”
It’s important to recognize these fans, such as “true believers” and “wannabes,” Dr. Slack says, because they’re always on the lookout for new recruits.
When two-legged snakes debate and persuade, Dr. Slack writes, their objective is often to get you to act agains your own best interests. He describes many snaky techniques:
Going Big: “Using any persuasive technique to such a huge degree that potential bitees are encouraged to buy the pitch, simply because it seems preposterous that someone would lie so wildly.”
Viperation: “Vicious name calling.”
Flattery: “To soften up a potential bitee, compliments, admiration, and even fandom are used to create the right atmosphere.”
More info and pictures
If, using the examples in this book, you’ve spotted a two-legged snake, then what? Dr. Slack offers suggestions on handling them, also illustrated, such as watching for inconsistencies. He also recommends not drinking around these snakes, because they become more aggressive, and your snake spotting skills become poorer.
He discusses relationships with BSers, pointing out that they can be incredibly seductive. He recommends slowing the pace of a new involvement, noting that “BSs age poorly when the heat of the moment passes and the pheromone high abates.”
Two Legged Snakes packs a lot of information into a 126 short pages – including 81 more illustrations and several copies of a “Two Legged Snake Spotter’s Checklist.”
I thoroughly recommend this book. Pick it up, and you’ll find great insight in the very first sentence:
“The greatest single factor in determining your level of happiness and success is who you listen to and who you trust.”
Keep reading, and within an hour you’ll have a really good understanding of what disordered personalities look like, and what to do when you meet them:
“Don’t hesitate to run.”
Two Legged Snakes — Understanding and Handling Manipulative People is available on Amazon.com.