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Understanding Control Freak Dynamics

In Losing Control, Finding Serenity: How the Need to Control Hurts Us and How to Let It Go and on this blog I write about how to deal with control freaks (and excessive controllers) and what’s behind their often abusive behavior.

Thomas J. Schumacher, a psychiatrist, in an article recently appearing in Health and Lifestyle Magazine offers excellent insights about the psychological dynamics that fuel control freaks, and strongly supports what I have been saying for some time:

The primary catalysts for the need to control are fear and anxiety.

In his article, Dr Schumacher pertinently states,

“The need to control is almost always fueled by fear and anxiety—though control freaks seldom recognize their fears.  At work, they may worry about failure. In relationships, they may worry about not having their needs met.  To keep this anxiety from overwhelming them, they try to control the people around them…. By becoming proficient at trying to control other people, they are warding off their own fear of being out of control and helpless.  Controlling is an anxiety management tool.”

Dr. Schumacher also offers some helpful coping strategies in dealing with control freaks, such as staying as calm as you can, speaking very slowly, being very patient, and initially letting them control the agenda. To those tools, I would add,

Don’t engage control freaks and don’t take their exhortations personally.

It is important to remember that it is all about them—their insecurities, fears, anger, uncertainties, and the like—and not about you.   Simply put, control freaks are not healthy. Detaching from them is not easy to be sure—particulary in the midst of a “control” storm–but it gets easier with practice, and I can assure you that you will have greater peace of mind by removing yourself from the dramas they create. (see “How Confidence Helps Tame Control Freaks” for other suggestions.)

What are your experiences in coping with control freaks?  Have you learned any useful tools and strategies that you can share?

In the meantime, remember to,

Let It Go–and Accept “What Is!”


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