“No one can manipulate anyone else. In any relationship, both parties know what they’re doing, even if one of them complains later on that they were used.”

– Paulo Coelho

21 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Quoting Coelho? Give me a break!

  2. @Matthias, what is wrong with quoting Paulo Coelho?

  3. Paulo Coelho sure knows a lot about manipulation…
    swissmiss, PC is considered a best-seller author, but also a douchebag here in Brazil.

  4. @Bianca. Wow. Harsh words. And why exactly is he considered a db?

  5. PC’s statement is completely inaccurate. Both parties might know what they’re doing themselves – but if I know what I’m doing myself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you know what I’m doing.
    Luckily, most people merit our trust and sympathy. However, to believe that everybody is always honest and upfront is naive, bordering on dangerous. Sometimes people lie, sometimes they cheat, sometimes someone makes you feel bad just to get what they want.
    If there were no such thing as manipulation, how would you for example explain the horrific damage that sociopaths wreck on their victims? For there are indeed a small number of individuals who have a pathologically ruthless fashion to deal with the world, without qualms about causing harm to their victims if necessary – they’re physiologically incapable of feeling remorse. Psychological manipulation and sociopaths: it’s a Pandora’s box once you start reading about it, and it’s rather terrifying.
    Trust is a truly beautiful thing. It is vital, and merits careful taking care of. Give it away freely and copiously – but make sure it doesn’t get abused.

  6. @swissmiss:
    Well, everything is wrong about Coelho. He contributed nothing but a (large, large) pile of esoteric crap and self-satisfied nonsense to literature (well, to the amount of printed paper which is sold in bookstores). Waking up in the bed of some gorgeous woman and finding the latest Coelho novel on her bedside table is one of the most scary phantasies known to mankind.
    Or in the words of critic Denis Scheck: “Er ist wieder da: Paulo Coelho, unangefochtener König des Esoterikschunds, ein Autor, dessen in der Literaturgeschichte ganz und gar beispielloser grotesker Dilettantismus in umgekehrt proportionalem Verhältnis zu seinem Erfolg steht.” (

  7. I disagree. Manipulation is a skill acquired by someone who can taylor their wants and needs to control or guide another person who may or may not perceptive, to do what they want. Now that I say this.. It’s not that far from design…

  8. Maybe it reads better in context, but that quote sounds horrible. Is Coelho saying that unequal, exploitative, and abusive realtionships don’t really exist or that people just choose to be in them? It sounds very much like victim-blaming for domestic violence, sexual exloitation and such.

  9. I love this blog. LOVE IT. but so surprised to see a Paulo Coelho quote. My reaction to his writing (this quote included) is so viscerally negative, it would be very interesting to know why you connected with it.

  10. I think what he’s trying to say, is that one should know themselves. You should try to look objectively at how you tend to react and interact with others, then you will find, as I have, we all have certain tendencies in behavior. You can choose to be naive, you can choose to ignore what others tell you overtly or covertly, but you cannot always claim to have been “blindsided” by reality. It’s pretty easy to see the forest for the trees if you try. It’s just that most of the time we don’t want to, because its painful.

  11. @swissmiss, basically, because his writing is considered poor and his books, self-help disguised as shallow philosophy. And yet – or because of it – he’s a best selling author.

    There are so many good Brazilian authors other than him. Jorge Amado, Machado de Assis, Mário Quintana, João Guimarães Rosa… maybe we’re a little p.o. because the world knows PC but probably never heard of the real good ones.

    But anyway. He did something nice lately, allowing people to download all of his books for free because he doesn’t need to get any richer. That’s a douchey thing to say, but also an example to be followed by other authors.

  12. EW, sorry Swiss Miss but you’re picking the wrong people to quote about, why not better quote Fernando Pessoa!! he’s 1000 times better than quoting PC, last time I read a quote about Robert Moses, I think you need to quit quoting people who are/where douchebags.

    I will pick even any line of a song from Caetano Veloso or Chico Buarque, but Paulo Coelho? Ah…

  13. If it inspires you, then let it. Don’t let reputation, or connotations of the author change your perspective of their words. Take it in the context of which it is most meaningful to you. You may not always approve of the lifestyle your favorite musicians lead but does that change how you feel about their music? It could, but if menial things rule your life then how can one be happy. Thank you for bringing to light some lesser known authors of that nationality.
    Also, very disappointed in the repeatitive use of such an ugly insult. Get more creative! Use a thesaurus!

  14. @K

    Paulo Coelho is Honey Boo Boo

  15. “Take it in the context of which it is most meaningful to you.”

    Shhhh, first read all the Coelho books!, you will see.

  16. Wow.
    I don’t know his works – but I agree with the quote.

    I once met a woman who said to me “you probably don’t want any of my clients – they all squeeze the blood out of me”.

    And that was when I thought – “you’re letting them”.
    I only wish I had the courage to say this to her.

  17. @swissmiss Exactly. If it inspires you, go ahead.

  18. I don’t thing PC is considered a douchebag in Brazil… Some ppl might do but not generally.

  19. Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to create a really good article…
    but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything