The CON Game

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Every adult person realizes that there are times in relationships when we feel we are being conned.  There is a particular feeling that we get and, after having experiences in this area, a certain action that is observable.  Within addictions there is a higher tendency to utilize the CON game.  Here is how it tends to work:

Con + Gimmick = Response → Change of Ego state → Confusion = Payoff 

Con:  That which the compulsive person wishes to achieve.

Gimmick:  Method being used to bring about a strong response in the person being manipulated.

Response:  How the person being manipulated reacts – usually negatively — which places him/her in the role of persecutor and the “con” in the role of victim.

Change of Ego State:  Simply put this is “to act differently”.

Confusion:  The feeling that you have when you do not understand what is happening or what is expected.  You begin to question yourself and your actions.

Payoff:  Receiving what one wants – a positive outcome.

Let us provide an addiction example of this process for you:

A weekend binge drinker is married to a woman who reacts strongly when a beer is even opened.  The CON is for the drinker to be able to drink what he wants, when he wants and as much as he wants.  The GIMMICK is the drinker gets paid on Friday, cashes his check at the local bar, he drinks a couple of beers and heads home.  He is all smiles and happily greets his wife who smells beer on his breath.  Her RESPONSE is negative and she verbally displays hostility at which point she becomes the “persecutor” slamming the binge drinker into the “victim” role.  The drinking husband has a CHANGE OF EGO STATE stating he “works hard and only had two beers and has not done nothing wrong”.  He slams out the door and goes to the local bar where he proceeds to get drunk.  He has switched from the “victim” role to the “persecutor” role, thus displacing the role the wife had assumed.  The CONFUSION then is that the wife feels like a victim for a short while but then begins to question why she acted as she did as the husband really had done nothing wrong.  The confusion state has been entered by the wife.  To clear away the confusion the wife begins to tell herself she was wrong and should act better to her husband.  At this point she willingly becomes the enabler.  The PAYOFF happens when the husband comes home and gives the wife attention and she has open arms and an apology for the drinker.  The added bonus is that the drinker drank and the wife got love and attention.

This is only one example of many in our world.  Not all issues are addiction related yet the process is the same regardless.  This is a game that is used for manipulation in any/every transaction once people recognize that the process works in order to get desires met.  It takes a tremendous amount of insight and behavior change to move out of this “con game” once the process has taken hold in the relationship.

Should you see yourself in any of this process, please take the time to consider options available to you to change how you relate.  Finding ways to get our needs met in a healthy, efficient manner is always preferable.  Good Luck.

“In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.” — Walt Whitman


Omega J. Galliano
Owner/Therapist - MFT, LADC, LP - Meg obtained a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology and since college has been busy working in the behavioral health field. As a Nevada licensed marriage and family therapist, Nevada licensed alcohol and drug counselor, Minnesota licensed psychologist, and a Distance Credentialed Counselor, she has held various management positions in national corporations.