Home » Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

In the image: Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron is a French politician who has been serving as the president of France and ex officio co-prince of Andorra since 14 May 2017. Wikipedia

Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. That weakness is usually an insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can also be a small secret pleasure. Either way, once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage.

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Finding The Thumbscrew

1. Pay attention to gestures and unconscious signals

  • The key is not only what you look for but where and how you look.
  • Everyday conversation supplies the richest mine of weaknesses, so train yourself to listen.
  • Start by always seeming interested
  • Appear to open up to the other person, share a secret with them.
  • If you suspect someone has a particular soft spot, probe on it indirectly.
  • Find people’s idols, the things they worship and will do anything to get.

2. Find the helpless child

  • Most weaknesses begin in childhood, before the self builds up compensatory defenses.
  • Knowing about a childhood need gives you a powerful key to a person’s weakness.
  • One sign of this weakness is when you touch on it, the person will often act like a child.

3. Look for contrasts

  • An overt trait often conceals its opposite. E.g people who thump their chest are often cowards.

4. Find the weak link

  • Sometimes it is not what but who that matters.
  • The behind-the-scenes powerbrokers are the group’s weak links: win their favour and you influence the king.
  • There is always a weak link in the chain — find the one person who will bend under pressure.

5. Fill the void

  • The two main emotional voids are insecurity and unhappiness.

6. Feed on uncontrollable emotions

  • Can be paranoid fear, lust, greed, vanity or hatred


  • Playing on people’s weakness has one significant danger — you may stir up an action you cannot control.
  • Know your limits to this game and never get carried away by your control over your victims.


Cardinal Richelieu would find out the weaknesses of everyone around him, then worked on it by being useful to them until they were of no use to him. One by one he worked his way up to the king, who at the time was a mere child.

Know the weak spots of your opponents, the crack in their defense and you will know what to work with when you need it. In reverse do not betray your own weaknesses.

About The Book

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States.

Buy The 48 Laws of Power or Listen to it for FREE on Audible