Tough/Generous and Charming/Manipulative Character Strategies

charming manipulative

This article provides and understanding of the Tough/Generous and Charming/Manipulative Character Strategies of Body-Centered psychotherapy.

Traditional Name: Psychopath/Sociopath

Stage of Development: Phallic Stage (3.5 years to 6 years)

Function Truncated: Autonomy

Trauma Through:

  • overpowering caregiver
  • caregiver putting the child down
  • caregiver uses the child to satisfy their own needs or to feel gratification

Experience: It is unsafe to show true feelings

The Tough/Generous and Charming/Manipulative strategies form during the Phallic stage. This is a time when a child becomes more conscious of their genitals and their bodily functions. It is a time of sexual understanding; confusion may occur between the child and caregiver (Oedipus complex). It is also a time when the child is developing autonomy yet still needs help.

If the caregiver is overpowering, the child may feel weak and unimportant. Most often, in the case of the Tough/Generous and Charming/Manipulative the caregiver has used the child to satisfy their own needs and the child gets seduced into pleasing the mother. They may hold the child back, not allowing him to thrust out into the world and satisfy his need for autonomy. The caregiver may want the child to go out into the world, but in a way that pleases her. This dynamic is more commonly seen between mother and son.

Because of their fear of being controlled or used by others, these types have learned to control others any way they can, even lying when they see it as useful. Eventually, these types may not be able to distinguish their own lies from the truth; they will make up stories, shifting and changing things so much that they don’t know they are telling a lie. In the Tough/Generous strategy, the lies are more individually oriented and in the case of the Charming/Manipulative, they are usually oriented around the other person. They do not view their stories as lies, but as what the other needs to believe in going along with them.

Both the Tough/Generous and the Charming/Manipulative have a drive for power and domination. They demand support and encouragement from others and use direct manipulation by dictating and telling others what they “should’ do.The Tough Generous (Psychopath) is more of a bully; assuming a power stance, using strength or force to avoid ever being used. The Charming Manipulating (Sociopath) is a “smooth operator”; using seduction and charm rather than force.

The Tough/Generous and the Charming/Manipulative have an ideal picture or themselves. They feel superior to others and may act with contempt towards others; however, inside are feelings of inferiority.  It is important for the Tough/Generous and Charming/Manipulative not be viewed as vulnerable.

The energy of these types is out there; they exhale fully and come across as expanded. These types have more energy in the upper half of their bodies and it appears as if they are holding themselves up to prevent defeat. There is less energy in the lower body because these types function primarily through mental energy and will.

On an emotional level, the Tough/Generous and the Charming/Manipulative can explode in rage, but they explode in a controlled manner which is different than the Expressive/Clinging strategy.


Tough/Generous Character Strategy


  • finds weaknesses in others
  • denies their feelings
  • acts tough and important


  • “I won’t let anyone see my true feelings; then I can’t be used.”

Relationships and Emotions:

  • denies feelings
  • feels unimportant
  • can’t take in nourishment (underlying oral)
  • are actually longing for intimacy
  • are close only to those who they look up to
  • unreliable
  • desires to be the leader and the one to make decisions (in charge)
  • acts generous to get to the top


  • barrel chested
  • tension in the shoulders
  • looks strong
  • bottom half is smaller
  • exhales fully


  • more focused upward, less in the bottom half of the body

Positive Traits:

  • good at leading and managing people and projects
  • good at solving disagreements
  • powerful speakers
  • charismatic and fun
  • versatile
  • generous and takes care of others
  • adventurous and creative

What They Need:

  • to feel it is safe to tell the truth and show their needs
  • to show weakness
  • to express rage from being used
  • to feel free from being used and manipulated

Synthesis of the Tough/Generous Character Strategy

The Tough/Generous is heavily invested in their image, giving off an impression that they are stronger, more intelligent and more important and in charge than they really are.  This is to compensate for their uncertainty of whether they are really respected or in control. They desire power and authority and want to be the leader or the best. Due to their history of being used by others, they need to use others, they accomplish this through deception and manipulation. They are clever and often elusive. This strategy forms as a way to protect their vulnerability and to feel they are in control; making it as if they cannot be hurt.

On the positive side, the Tough/Generous can be loving, generous, and take care of others. They make good leaders, are competent at what they do, and have a drive to accomplish. They will stay calm under stress, unless they feel vulnerable; this is when they get triggered and feel the need to toughen up; they will display anger and rage, and become overbearing in trying to control the behaviour of others.

People with this strategy have difficulty forming relationships. They do not receive help or compliments well from others for fear of someone having power over them emotionally, intellectually, or financially. They are afraid of being hurt, but long for tenderness.

They are not likely to seek therapy because there is a power differential in the relationship which will make them feel vulnerable which makes them want to compete with the therapist or devalue the therapist. They do well if they are allowed to be generous in giving their expertise, advice or praise.


Charming/Manipulative Character Strategy


  • conceals vulnerability and insecurity
  • deceives; hides true intentions
  • manipulates and charms others to get what they need


  • “I need to hide who I really am”

Relationships and Emotions:

  • denies feelings
  • charming and clever
  • opportunistic
  • will have empathy if the other is on board with their agenda
  • uses sex as a power play


  • more regular in shape (not barrel shaped like the Tough/Generous)
  • supple and attractive
  • moves in a seductive way


  • more energy in the head and upper body
  • can be hyperactive at first, then collapses

Positive Traits:

  • charming and sweet
  • has integrity and love when not in their strategy
  • charismatic and entertaining
  • adventurous
  • make good politicians and salespeople

What They Need:

  • to be real
  • to accept themselves as they are
  • for their needs to be met in a straightforward way
  • to not feel they will be persecuted
  • to let go of the need to control others

Synthesis of the Charming/Manipulative Character Strategy

The Charming/Manipulative strategy uses charm, seduction, trickery, and manipulation in their interpersonal interactions. They hide their real motives, appearing caring, but are actually just trying to get what they want. They expect that others will use their vulnerabilities against them, so even though they seem confident on the outside, they are insecure on the inside.

Because seduction and making themselves attractive is part of their strategy, they tend to be more sexual in their behaviour than other types. They have a longing for intimacy, but lack commitment, making their relationships somewhat superficial. If they get close to someone, they feel that their strategies of manipulation may appear to the other, and they will be discovered as a phoney.

Because the child felt used for the gratification of the caregiver and was not able to take care of their own needs of autonomy, their strategy is to figure out how they can use someone else. They had to make a choice between submitting and being used or learning how to outsmart their caregiver by becoming manipulative. At this stage of development, the child is old enough to know they can lie and stretch the truth.

People with the Charming/Manipulative character strategy believe that surrender means defeat, but to move into a higher place, they need to learn how to trust. They need to go from trying to control others to a place where they can give in.

What the Tough/Generous and Charming/Manipulative Need to Thrive

One will not make any headway by being virtuous with these types; their strategy is to tell stories and defer blame. They need someone to be upfront and to set clear boundaries with them. Because they are so good at manipulation, it is important to remember that the Tough/Generous and Charming/Manipulative are using their strategies. Often a person with have both strategies and go between the two.

These types usually will not seek out self-improvement. They might be forced into therapy on a court-mandated order, or if they are in a situation where they will lose money. They have a lot of ego and it ‘s hard to get past their initial layer, but once they become available and get to a place of vulnerability, they will actually do the work.

The Tough/Generous and the Charming/Manipulative types may not be into playing with the arts. Start by giving them something that they are more familiar with. They are often professional types, so going back and forth with them via email, may open them into more creative storytelling.

To learn more about how we form character strategies and read about other character types please read the article Character Strategies of Body-Centered Psychotherapy.

Photo: ChenPG


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