You may be one of those individuals who finds it too hard to accept the notion that there really are people as cunning, devious, and ruthless as your gut tells you the manipulator in your life is. That is, you may even be prone to engage in "neurotic" denial. If you are, even when you're confronted with abundant evidence you're dealing with a ruthless conniver, you may refuse to believe it, reluctantly accepting reality only after being victimized too often.
Dr. Simon notes that when dealing with ruthless individuals, we have to stop doing something what most human beings are prone to doing when connecting with others. We have to stop automatically projecting our own capacity for empathy and conscience onto them. We cannot assume that every person has the same sense of character and integrity - that they suffer similarly when they harm others, like we do. Instead, we should approach any person that harms us with a healthy sense of doubt - one that allows us to see how he or she might be using that situation to gain control. Observing their behavior rather than their words (or seeing just how ill aligned someone's behavior is with their words) helps us to take a step back and assess the pattern of behavior that exposes their manipulation. It requires acknowledging what is often unbearable for us to acknowledge - that some people do in fact lack empathy or remorse for their actions. In any case, even if those people do have remorse, the impact of malignant behavior does not go away and still needs to be addressed.