(THE BOOK) Chapter 7: Overt and covert

Controlling may also be overt or covert.

Overt controlling is observable or obvious.  Covert controlling is hidden or disguised.

When I tell my son to take out the garbage, that’s overt controlling.  When he forgets and I retaliate by ignoring him, that’s covert.

Remember All in the Family?  Archie Bunker’s treatment of his wife (Stifle, you dingbat) was overtly controlling.  But Edith controlled Archie right back – by shutting her mouth, agreeing with him, bringing him a beer.  She manipulated Archie, and manipulation is another name for covert controlling.

Most of our controlling is covert.

Do you ever lie?  Go along to get along? 

Hide your true thoughts and feelings?  Tell people what you think they want to hear?

Laugh at jokes you find unfunny?  Act politely towards people you hate?

Take better care of others than of yourself?

All covert controlling.

Covert controlling is, in fact, the universal social lubricant.  

It’s how socialized human beings relate to each other.

Whether they know it or not.

Whether they like it or not.

Universal.  Inevitable.  Inescapable.

Like a psychological ocean in which every one of us swims.




We’re still forming two Skype-based study/support groups for readers who want to explore these ideas with me in real time.  One is for therapists who want to integrate these ideas into their clinical work.  Both groups will be small, six members at most, and meet weekly. Fee is $50 per session, and group members may purchase Monkeytraps (The Book) at half price. Interested?  Write me: fritzfreud@aol.com.


2 responses to “(THE BOOK) Chapter 7: Overt and covert

  • alexis

    One could then say that etiquette/courtesy/politeness are ‘controlling,’ too [albeit, good, social lubricants in a world where we are still, mostly self-centered children]. i’m thinking that you are addressing the automaticity of most of our controlling, the mindlessness of behaviors we no longer choose, consciously, because the behaviors…er…control us.

    • Steve Hauptman

      I think that’s true: politeness is a form of controlling, and a necessary one at that.
      Fact is, much of our controlling — even some that’s unconscious and automatic — is necessary and healthy.
      The trick is distinguishing what’s healthy from what’s not.

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