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Book Review: Two Legged Snakes: Understanding and Handling Manipulative People by Dr. Ed Slack

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I recently got out of a manipulative relationship. I was good friends with a woman who seemed normal and friendly, though occasionally controlling. But over time, I started feeling lied to or pulled into doing things that I didn’t particularly want to do. This friend would do something hurtful then pretend the event never happened. Or she would blame her behavior on something else, playing the victim instead of admitting a wrongdoing. I wanted to trust this “friend,” but often felt there was just something wrong. Was I going crazy?

Every person has had to deal with a manipulative person at some point in his or her life, whether it’s the car salesman, a greedy preacher, best friend, or even family member. I must say in my life that I’ve dealt with more than my share of manipulative people — those who set traps, lie, and persuade to get their way.

I could never understand why I felt so strange in these relationships until I began researching psychological manipulation. Manipulative people know what they’re doing and use specific tactics to try to control those around them. Some of these manipulators can be very good at what they do. But some of them are close friends who you love dearly. So the question is: how can an ordinary person, who generally trusts people, handle a person bent on deception?

For my specific problem, I started researching on the internet, but I wish I had had Dr. Ed Slack’s comically illustrated book Two Legged Snakes: Understanding and Handling Manipulative People. Dr Ed Slack has been a psychologist for over 25 years and specializes in working with addicts and manipulators. His book is designed to give practical information to regular people.

In Two Legged Snakes, Dr. Slack outlines different types of manipulators and explains how you can respond to their snaky maneuvers. Other sections describe who is most likely to believe these liars as well as include advice on how not to become one yourself.

I really enjoyed reading Two Legged Snakes. It’s a great place to get basic information on manipulative behavior without having to flip through a massive text book. In fact, Dr. Slack purposely made his book simple and accessible to every day people.

For instance, the work is constructed around the comparison between manipulators and “Bipedal Snakes” or BSs. And yes, the pun is intended. As Dr. Slack says, “For BSs, BS is king.” I liked this aspect. The theme worked, especially with the humorous illustrations that depict manipulators with snake heads or with rattle-snake tails coming out of their three piece suits. It brings a relaxed, comical perspective to an otherwise serious subject.

Dr. Slack also keeps each chapter short and to the point. There’s not a lot of fluff or jargon to sift through, just quick information with a couple of short examples. In my opinion, the most valuable section was “Handling Two Legged Snakes.” This isn’t a detailed manual but depicts simple guidelines that anyone can follow. There are hints for how to spot liars or determine if you’re dealing with a manipulator. Dr. Slack also gives advice on what to do with close friends or relatives who tend to take your money, lie, or generally con you into doing things you don’t want to do.

That is especially the section I wish I’d had months ago. When my friendship became almost unbearable, I spent several weeks trying to figure out what to do or how to fix the problem. When it just continued down the same bizarre road, I had to make a decision — was this relationship worth saving? Dr. Slack would have told me to use the “three strikes” process. Instead, I tried to ignore my feelings until I finally gave up and ran.

I think it was healthy for me to get out while I had the chance, but I wish I had had this book. It is a great quick guide to dealing with manipulative people. So if you find you often question a relationship, have a relative that cons you, or want to be able to spot predators, get Two Legged Snakes by Dr. Ed Slack. When you alone are in control of your life, you won’t regret it.

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About Janica Unruh

  • Cesar Hernandez

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