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on 26 August 2006
This book is has given me many useful insights into the whys and hows of emotionally abusive behaviour. The other reviewers here have effectively listed it's many plus points.

However, the title says "How to Recognize, Understand and *Deal* with People Who Try to Control You

I had hoped for more concrete methods described in the dealing with controllers aspect. The book's concluding chapters seemed to me to consist of many quotes from people congratulating either themselves or Evans on having 'broken the spell'. I found it hard to distil firm techniques that would help me practice spellbreaking. The abuse I witness is very subtle and hard to pin down and confront in the workplace and the methods mentioned seem to me best suited for "In your face" abuse.

Finally so many books and websites on abuse and bullying are overtly gender biased and Patricia Evan's book is no exception. I think a better balanced insight could have been gained from illustrating the patterns of control and abuse with more examples of people abused by female partners or colleagues. When the "typical" gender dynamic is reversed it really does highlight the power and recurring pattern of controlling abusive behaviour.

The path to becoming an abuser is not a "Man thing". It can flow from mother to daughter from wife to husband, even employee to boss! Being a target of abuse is not the female prerogative.

Myself, my father, my partner and her father, have all been the objects of "control connections" from spellbound women and those women in turn were the victims of maternal abuse and neglect.

I feel the book's bias is disingenous because I would have thought it more empowering to recognise and emphasise that abusive behaviour is not gender specific but that it is simply it's own self-perpetuating legacy. More examples of female to male or same gender incidents could've illustrated her points as well as, if not better than the limited spectrum of "typical" abusive relationships she presents.

Also many men, my father included, remain in denial (spellbound) about their situation. This is a good book but its predominately female perspective still allows him to say "This doesn't apply to me" or worse "It *is* my fault - I'm the abuser!"

Despite these misgivings I will still be recommending "Controlling people" to friends and relatives who have found themselves in the thrall of "spellbound" behaviour.
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on 21 April 2009
In describing how the controlling mindset works, this is the best book I've ever read: clear in its theories, insightful, convincing, perceptive and not unsympathetic to the controlling person. If you want a view into how such thinking works, this is your book.

On the other hand, it suffers several flaws. Minor ones first: Evans spends time reflecting on the worldwide political implications of her psychological theory that start moving into unsupported vagueness, and that's pages that could more usefully have been devoted to constructive advice, plus over-reaching a bit. Also, she rather over-uses her invented phrases, 'Controller', 'Pretend Person' and so on, which gives the book an almost cultic feel at times. There are times when the book feels a bit over-excited about its theory.

This wouldn't be too bad, but there are two serious flaws: it offers frustratingly little advice on what to do about such situations - saying 'What?' whenever someone makes an inappropriate remark is honestly about as far as it goes - and its structure is rather meandering.

It's a real shame that she speaks vaguely of the 'Controller' throughout and doesn't consider any changes of nuance according to the relationship. Why not, for instance, have a chapter on husband-to-wife control, wife-to-husband, parent-to-child, friend-to-friend, boss-to-employee and so on? All of these are slightly different situations where the same problem can occur, and the victims' options are very different in each. Such a structure would not only be more helpful but would also make the book far easier to navigate and reread. As it is, it's hard to remember what Evans says where; it all blurs into one general theory.

A great theory, to be sure. But in my experience, the best audience for this book is not someone suffering at the hands of a controlling person - there's pretty close to no advice for that - but instead a person who's just woken up to the fact that they've been controlling of others, and is trying to understand themselves and learn how to stop. Someone in my life is doing just that, and for them, it's a book of advice. But most people who want a book about controlling people are likely to be victims rather than perpetrators, and for them, the book's wandering structure and lack of advice is a problem.

It's very well worth reading, but it could have been much better than it is if it was a bit more disciplined and constructive. If someone in your life has control issues, do read it, but don't expect it to solve the problem: unless the controlling person is you, it's background reading rather than self-help.
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on 1 June 2012
An interesting book that provides a real insight as to why some people feel the need to control others to a greater or lesser extent. I found the chapter on how to respond less comprehensive, but maybe it really is that simple. I'm glad I bought the book, found it very useful and have already recommended it to a friend who has bought it and is benefiting from it. It does make sense of the senseless behaviour that controllers exhibit and does give an answer as to how to respond.
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on 24 January 2013
I very much liked TVAR and Survivors Speak Out. This book was less useful to me. I found the repetition of "Teddy" to be really irritating: the idea being that some people have their favourite teddy bear (called Teddy in the book) who speaks back to them and is always loving. They then somehow treat their partners in later life like that teddy bear, expecting them also to be always loving, always receptive and very controllable.

I couldn't get on with that theory, or maybe it was just the jargon that put me off.
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on 7 January 2013
Chose this book because I have realised how destructive controlling people are, especially for the naive, which I was. This book gives invaluable insight into a subject that I believe should be taught at schools from every level. Once you understand what's going on, you can protect yourself and support others. This book is an eye-opener and teaches awareness.
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on 25 August 2013
I found this book very useful and enlightening. The easy-to-read format enables the reader to digest bite-size chunks before moving on to each section. For those of us unlucky enough to be 'blessed' with such difficult people in our lives, this book not only helps the reader to feel less alone in their plight, but gives useful insight, practical advice, tips and guidance in dealing with such controllers. Beware - this book is more than likely to stir up some difficult memories and inner turmoil, but one is so much more enlightened, forewarned, and empowered upon reaching the end of the book.
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on 15 August 2014
An excellent book for understanding how some people become controlling. Gives examples of controlling behaviour and describes what is going on the (unconscious) mind of a controlling person and how it comes about. Useful for both victims and for controlling people themselves, to help them become more self-aware. Doesn't give much advice on dealing with the problem but helps by giving good insight so that controlling behaviours can be more easily recognised. Easy to read.
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on 22 December 2012
I wish this book would be a mandatory read in primary schools - it would save many people from suffering. Patricia Evans managed to crack one of the biggest mysteries in our society. I read the book and my life will never be the same again. It is a total eye opener. It shows tactics and examples how some people around you manipulate you and others. It also explains the whys. I hope one day there will be a way to stop this phenomena. Thank you very much Ms Evans.
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on 15 March 2013
After many years of reading self help books, all coming from slightly different points of view I thought I'd learned most of what their is to learn on the subject of self understanding and understanding others. I didn't expect to find anything new. This book has been a revelation to me. I'd recommend it highly. I almost never write reviews for books but was so taken with this one I'd like to encourage others to read it.
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on 6 July 2011
I am currently attending a men's group, working on identifying and managing my own controlling and abusive behaviours. This book was recommended to me by one of the other men on the group and previous to that by one of the workers running the service.

On a personal level I've found it very helpful to read a book that explains not just the types of behaviours that qualify as controlling, but offers an insight into the underlying beliefs about the self and other that give rise to controlling behaviour and how those beliefs develop. As other reviewers note, it does not offer a step by step way of dealing with the problem, but it's my view (through bitter and long experience of failed attempts to change) that once the cycle of abuse in a relationship is established, only involvement with an outside agency can do that.

There is a tendency for abusive partners to blame their current partner or their past difficulties for unacceptable behaviour. Without in any way denying the need for accountability, this book seeks to understand, rather than blame. Once you have new information you have a choices that weren't there before.

The level of understanding this book offers (in clear and jargon free prose) would surely help any victim or perpetrator take the issues it raises seriously and increase the chances of seeking outside help appropriately. (Seeking outside help is a must, by the way!) Bear in mind that most perpetrators of abuse, myself included, think of themselves as loving partners, but can behave very defensively, especially when confronted with suggestions - or evidence - to the contrary. Taking the right information on board is surely going to improve the chances of positive change. I would suggest that this is a good book for both partners in a relationship to read and at as early a stage as possible if things are going wrong.

When would that be then? The book suggests, and I agree, that when a controller feels sufficiently secure in the relationship, things can start to go wrong. That might be after moving in together, marriage, conception, childbirth, anything that should throw a couple closer together but in some cases can feel like a negative turning point. It seems to me that all abuse is underpinned by a need to maintain control, so I would suggest that this book would be relevent to the whole spectrum of the problem, from mild to severe.
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