“Five stories – Five Lives.
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well-balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.”
I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and when I was approached by the author to review this book I was instantly intrigued. Manipulated lives consists of five fictional short stories: The Narcissist, Tess and Tattoos, The Spell, Runaway Girl, and My Perfect Child. All very different but having one common factor – manipulation. Each story is crafted differently to demonstrate very different relationships and situations where one may fall victim to a manipulator. I particularly enjoyed how the author was able to show both sides of the story, from the manipulator’s point of view and the person being manipulated.
In psychological manipulation, one person is used for the benefit of another. The manipulator deliberately creates an imbalance of power, and exploits the victim to serve his or her agenda. We all know someone who is a manipulator however we may not know that they are a manipulator.
Some of the manipulators in the book are presented as psychopaths, whilst others are motivated merely by their own sense of entitlement and self-importance. Leuschel also explores the idea of whether manipulators are simply born that way or created, nature vs nurture debate.
All five of these stories are thought-provoking and emotional and it is clear that the author has well researched her subjects. There is a lot of psychology of manipulation in this book, but Leuschel gets the balance between information, education and entertainment spot on. Being composed of short stories the book is a quick read and perfect for those people like me who are obsessed with the human psyche.
Thanks to HA Leuschel for the review copy of the book.
About the Author
Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.