Personal Growth, Relationships, Self-Discovery

The Emotional Criminals We Deal With and How To Recognize Them

This article was updated on January 25, 2021.  

Have you ever wondered what the heck happened to some people that they ended up turning into spiteful, controlling, temperamental and petty people?  Were they born that way or did something cause them to take out their frustrations on the rest of us?

I recently asked those questions when I was forced to come face-to-face with an individual, we’ll call “Mr. Nasty”.  How this misguided soul, hell-bent on trying to steal the joy from a group of individuals trying to enjoy themselves was simply mind boggling.

“He’s a Joy Robber; that’s what he is”, I exclaimed to one of my colleagues.  She chuckled, but went on to bestow him with the title, “Mr. Nasty“.  Why was this person so miserable? We may never know, but it was enough to make us want to scream and call the Emotional Police to our rescue.

Mr. Nasty” got me thinking.  I could let the frustrations he was creating consume me, become miserable myself and let him win.  Or, I could simply use his bad behavior as a learning experience in order to recognize other Emotional Criminals that may cross my path.   Yes, I did call them criminals — it’s what they are.  It may sound harsh, but in reality, these are the people who set out (whether intentionally or not) to steal your happiness, to create havoc, or to inflict emotional wounds –  all which are crimes against our self-worth and our soul.

Some Emotional Criminals of the world are easy to spot because of their blatant and rude behaviors.  But others are so deceptively nice, we tend to let down our guard and become easy prey for them. Unfortunately, we do not have special jails for these people, so we must be aware of who they are and learn how to protect ourselves from any emotional attacks they hurl at us.


The Top 10 Most Wanted Emotional Criminals and How To Spot Them


  1. Joy Robber: These are the people who set out to steal your happiness.  Angry, bitter or jealous in nature, the Joy Robber’s sole purpose is to create havoc and situations where you are no longer enjoying what you once did.  They may try to take away opportunities, impose restrictions or act in such a rude and angry manner that your mood has become tainted.  They may be so miserable, that all they want to do is to rain on your parade.  Their motto, “If I am not happy, then no one should be”.
  2. The Petty Thief: Quite simply, they are petty and look for any reason to accuse you of wrong doing – even if you’ve done nothing at all.  The petty thief is self-centered, insecure and at times vengeful.  They are known for creating drama; are whinny, overly offended and nitpicky; and thrive on creating negative emotions.  They drain your emotional bank account and have the need to tear others down in order to boost their own egos. They like to play the victim even when they are not.
  3. The Blackmailer/Backstabber: Better to have enemies, than a friend like this.  These people lure you in and gain your trust only to gather your secrets and expose them for their gain.  The Blackmailer tends to be an extremely jealous Emotional Criminal whose sole purpose is to harm those they are jealous of, or to get ahead. They thrive on collecting knowledge and are master manipulators at getting you to divulge your secrets to them.  They lay in wait to hurt you when you are at your most vulnerable.
  4. The Trespasser: These individuals are commonly known as, “Nosey Nellies”. They butt into your business any chance they can get, and feel the need to know everything you are doing.  Certain types of “Trespassers” have a gift of inviting themselves and worming their way into events or groups that did not want them in the first place.  The Trespasser may not cause great emotional harm, but they create emotional nuisances we can all do without.
  5. The Slanderer: Ever so evil, the Slanderer, sets out to assassinate your character.  They may be subtle about it or storm in with brutal force.  They specialize in spreading lies and twisting bits of truth it into falsehoods in an attempt to discredit you and cause others to form false opinions of you.  They are usually great at convincing others to see you in a bad light and are one of the masters at the “Art of Lying”.  Standing up for yourself and exposing the truth are important weapons in defending yourself against this Emotional Criminal.
  6. The I.D. Thief: At one point or another, we are bound to run into the I.D. Thief.  These are the Emotional Criminals that try to take over your life.  The I.D Thief comes in many forms.  Some will try to hijack your circle of friends and then try to exclude you from the group. While others will slowly take on your personality, likes, etc., becoming a mini you.  The I.D. Thief is very cagey and often appears, friendly and nice, but underneath is lacking self-confidence.
  7. The Kidnapper: Unlike the I.D. Thief, the Kidnapper is not set out on stealing your identity or becoming you, but they are more focused on stealing your spotlight.  They tend to be egotistical individuals who have a hard time dealing with others’ success.  They set out to take away anything that puts the focus on your accomplishments or talents, and tries to step into the spotlight themselves.  The Kidnapper is usually extremely self-absorbed and self-centered and will do anything to keep their victims from being seen in a good light or having something they don’t have.
  8. The Con-Artist: They set out to steal your trust (and sometimes your material possessions).  These Emotional Criminals inflict great injury to your self-worth.  They are so manipulative; you may not even see them coming until it is too late.  The Con-Artist is a master at twisting reality around, making you feel like you are the bad guy/gal if you don’t go along with their ulterior plans.  They easily convince their victims to do things for them, look for handouts or create situations that allow them to take full advantage of them.  They are the masters of deceit and leave you unable to trust.
  9. The Assault Artist: These Emotional Criminals are easy to spot.  They are the mean, nasty, controlling egomaniacs we find all around us.  Not to be confused with the Terrorist/Bully, these people will hurl four-letter words and insults at you just because you are breathing.  It’s not physical assaults, but the insults they dish out every chance they can. They derive their pleasure by putting people down and stripping away their self-confidence and self-worth.  The Assault Artist is typically trying to cover their own short-comings and have deep seated issues from emotional scars that never healed.
  10. The Terrorist: These are the bullies of life.  They take pleasure in causing emotional trauma in those they see as weak.  They are the worst offenders when it comes to stealing another’s self-worth.  The wounds an Emotional Terrorist will inflict often take years and decades to heal.  The victim is left empty and shattered.  Emotional Terrorists may carry their own pain and lash out in an attempt to disguise it.  They prey on weak, insecure souls who haven’t gained the courage to stand up to them.

Now that you recognize the most common Emotional Criminals, what do you do to protect yourself from their attacks and bad behavior?

Read more: Tips to Protect Yourself From The Emotional Criminals.



Tagged , ,

About Paulette Klein

Paulette is a freelance writer and the creator of She writes and blogs about travel, parenting, relationships, and adjusting to the next chapter of life. With coffee in hand, you will find her searching for her next big adventure or lost somewhere in a shoe store.
View all posts by Paulette Klein →

3 thoughts on “The Emotional Criminals We Deal With and How To Recognize Them

  1. Great article. Unique twist on recognizing toxic people. I now have some new names to describe some people I know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *