Charming Pattern


Charms people with force of personality.

Seductive, flattering, vivacious, cute

Entertaining, using humor or story telling





1. To get others to like her and admire her to compensate for underlying feelings of shame and rejection, or other deficiency issues.

2. To get what she wants without risking rejection or failure.

3. In service of controlling, to protect against harm, especially sexually.


Core Issues/Origins

Deficiency issues, especially shame and rejection

Occasionally harm issues

Shaped charming

Natural ability in this area


Conscious Statement

Look at me. Aren’t I terrific!


Unconscious Thought

If I charm people so they like me, I won’t feel so deficient.

If I charm people so I have some control, I can avoid being harmed.



Self: likable, admirable

Other: admiring


Sees Others As

Potential admirers or followers


Healthy Capacities Blocked

authenticity, vulnerability


Activating Conditions

Social or public situations, large groups

Situations where there is an opportunity to perform



The compliant person also tries to please others, but from a one-down position. The charming does it from a one-up position.

The charming person is usually prideful, but about a specific issue—her personality.

It is a healthy capacity to be charming. It is only when the charm is used for compensation or control or to avoid vulnerability that it is a pattern. Then it often becomes inauthentic.





Sometimes used in service of controlling pattern, to control others in order to prevent the person from being harmed or to get her needs met without becoming vulnerable.


Combinations of Charming Pattern with Other Patterns

Needy: Charms to try to get nurtured

Entitled: Charms to be able to use people (extreme is sociopathic charm)




Mutual attraction between charming and idealizing patterns

Conflicts between charming and suspicious patterns




Related Technical Concepts

Extreme is histrionic personality disorder

Marketing character (Erich Fromm)



Tries to charm the therapist rather than working in therapy


Countertransference toward Charming Client

Therapist becomes charmed—sexually attracted, entertained, entranced, flattered, etc.


Countertransference of Charming Therapist

Becomes more focused on developing a following of admiring clients than helping the clients, especially a problem for group and workshop leaders.

Self-worth of therapist is defined by popularity rather than success in helping people


Group Roles/Positions

Attractive member, social center of group




Entering Therapy

Therapist may need to be charmed by client at first to allow her to bond with therapist


Circumventing Pattern

Point out that story or joke telling is not self-exploration and ask the person to do that


Understanding Needed by Client

That the charming behavior is not always authentic. You can point out defensive laughter or joke telling, ask about cutesy or seductive behavior.

That the charming is motivated by a need to compensate for a deficiency or by fear.

In general, ask the client to explore the feelings and meaning behind the charming behavior. What response does she hope to get from you.


Accessing Core Issues and Origins

Underlying shame and fear


Experimenting with Healthy Behavior

Client needs to experiment with being vulnerable, especially shy, awkward, insecure. Very difficult.


Healing Reponses

Appreciation and compassion for client’s vulnerability and authenticity


Healing Relationship

The client is able to be herself (in whatever form that takes) and know that she is appreciated and cared about.