Dark Psychology Techniques in House of Cards

Frank Underwood dark psychological methods that led him to gain the ultimate power

– Blackmail and Extortion
– Backstabbing.

Blackmail in addition to backstabbing were used by Frank nearly in most of his encounters with either members of the congress, house of the representatives or even those outside the oval office. He used all methods at his disposal to gather information about his targets and used them against them. Backstabbing was also seen during the 2016 Democratic National Convention when Frank wanted Claire to become his vice president. Underwood publicly endorsed Catherine Durant for the position of running mate, but was secretly supporting Claire

Creating the problem then the solution

This was seen very clearly when Frank succeeded to pass the education bill. He trapped Marty Spinella to meet him in person and punch him in the face which incriminated Marty Spinella by punching a member in the congress. Frank used this against Marty and made him withdraw all protests against the education bill. Another example to this trick was when Frank created a vacancy in the Pennsylvania Governorship after killing Peter Russo. Frank aim was to push Jim Matthews who was then the vice president to take over and become the governor of Pennsylvania thus leaving the vice presidency vacant for Frank.


Abusing people’s addictions against them

The second trick was seen in the relationship between Frank and Peter Russo. Peter was just a tool to Frank and when his role was about to finish, Frank got rid of him.


Fabrication was seen when Frank fabricated evidence against Michael Kern in seasons one that drew negative attention against Michael regarding the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Media Leak

Leaking classified and sensitive information to the media was the go-to method for Frank whenever he needed to pass a bill or to assign/impeach someone from the white house administration. This was clearly seen in his relationship with Zoe Barnes and later with another reporter to reveal the ties and connections of the money laundering scheme to the white house which led to the resignation of the president Walker. Another scene was when Frank was given a first draft of an education reform bill (which proposes massive increases in government control of education) written by Donald Blythe, which he then secretly leaks to the media, which forces him to take the fall for the controversy so that he could assume control of the education bill.

Energy draining to make the other person accepts anything suggested by the manipulator.

This was seen subtly when the state wanted to fill the position of vice president. Frank and White House Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez created a fake list of Vice Presidential nominees.The nominees are incompetent and definitely not appropriate. This leads the President to become desperate and be ready to say yes to anything. They cross off every name, as they attempt to build up to Underwood becoming the Vice President.

Intimidation and instilling fear.

The use of fear was obvious when Frank used the war on terrorism to stack up votes during the second presidential elections. Another example was when the vote turnout was low during the second elections which promoted Frank to forge terrorist threats in an attempt to get states to not certify their election results.
In another scene, Frank sent naked photos of Zoe (which he had taken before) to her colleague Janine Skorsky to scare her out of town and away from the investigation she was conducting to reveal the truth behind Peter and Zoe’s death.


This was not technically spying but rather the use of an evidence acquired through spying. This was after spending a weekend at an elite getaway known as Elysian Fields, Underwood is given an incriminating tape of Conway. Underwood collaborates with Usher to win Ohio and Tennessee, winning him the election.


This was seen when Frank tries to divert attention away from the allegations of his exposed crimes by declaring war on terrorism.

The below methods was seen to be used throughout the series in most interactions

– Provoking someone to take an action against their interests.
– Making deals by offering win-win agreements.
– Hiding intentions and using duplicity.

House of Cards TV Show Quotes

Frank Underwood’s quotes
[1] There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things._
[2] Take a step back. Look at the bigger picture. That’s how you devour a whale — one bite at a time
[3] The nature of promises, Linda, is that they remain immune to changing circumstances_
[4] I love that woman. I love her more than sharks love blood.
[5] Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value. Centuries from now, when people watch this footage, who will they see smiling just at the edge of the frame?
[6] We’re in the same boat now Ms. Barnes. Take care not to tip us over, I can only save one of us from drowning
[7] If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.
[8] I have zero tolerance for betrayal which they will soon indelibly learn.
[9] I must not lose my resolve. I will march forward even if I have to do so alone
[10] For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted.
[11] If we didn’t do the things we shouldn’t do we’d never feel good about doing the things we should.
[12] We are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal
[13] Shake with your right hand, but hold a rock in your left.
[16] You build your future, It isn’t handed to you.
[17] Friends make the worst enemies.
[18] There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth.
[19] Proximity to power deludes some into thinking they wield it
[20] The road to power is paved with hypocrisy, and casualties
[21] A great man once said, everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power.
[22] I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful men on their backs.
[23] You can’t turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ without a ‘maybe’ in between.
[24] The best achievement of a man is that he converts his ideas into action.
[25] Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the MC-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.
[26] Success is a mixture of preparation and luck.
[27] You build your future, it isn’t handed to you
[28] Generosity is its own form of power
[29] Of all the things that I hold in high regard, rules are not one of them
[30] A person’s character isn’t determined by how he or she enjoys victory, but rather how he or she endures defeat
[31] Sometimes the only way to gain your superior’s respect is to defy him
[32] History is earned. You win the day, and then you win the day after, and you do the same thing every day until you’re dead. And you’re remembered not for the winning, but because you never lost.
[33] A diversity of ideas makes us all wiser, and that holds true even for your president. True leadership is not running away from those who disagree with you, but embracing them.
[34] I’ve always said that power is more important than money. But when it comes to elections, money gives power.
[35] Peace should not have to be bought. Peace should be its own reward.
[36] I’ve never given someone a third chance.”
[37] The only problem with common sense is that it’sso common.

Tom Hammerschmidt Quotes

[1] Grief demands an answer, but sometimes there isn’t one.

Claire Underwood Quotes

[1] The blood is on all of our hands, and doing nothing is the same as pulling a trigger.
[2] Now, history judges every leader, every president, by how he or she treats his or her own people.
[3] I am willing to let your child wither and die inside you, if that’s what’s required, … Am I really the sort of enemy you want to make?

Key Facts About Key Characters in House of Cards TV Series

Claire Underwood
– Psychologically manipulative and ruthless.
– Chief Executive Officer of Clean Water Initiative
– Current President of the United States `In the Show`
– She was sexually assaulted by a classmate, future General Dalton McGinnis, during her freshman year at Radcliffe.
– Had strained relationship with her mother
– She has had three abortions while with Frank with his consent.
– She was aware of Frank’s sexual relationship with reporter Zoe Barnes was okay it as long as it achieves their ends.
– She also had an affair with an old boyfriend, photographer Adam Galloway.
– She refused to grant Gillian Cole, a pregnant former employee, her health care severance and said her famous quote `I am willing to let your child wither and die inside you, if that’s what’s required, … Am I really the sort of enemy you want to make?`
– When she was Frank’s vice president, she killed her lover speechwriter `Tom Yates` by poisoning him and he died while having sex with her. She did that because he threatened to reveal the Underwood’s secrets and crimes in his books after she told him they can’t see each other anymore.
– She bailed on Frank and didn’t grant him pardon after he orchestrated his resignation from presidency to make her the president so that she give him pardon for his crimes and therefore he would continue being in Power but from the private sector.
– She called Frank `my biggest regret` during her presidency.
– She betrayed Frank many times while he was trying to pass some political bills out of retaliation for some acts he committed.
– She was in an internal battle between her spiritual yearnings (This is what drew her to freelance photographer Adam Galloway) and her lust for power (she can’t give up what she has with Frank).

Rachel Posner
– Former prostitute
– Had a physically abusive father.
– She was hired to seduce a politician `Peter Russo` by sleeping with him and having him under the effects of hangover leading to a poor performance on the radio. This causes Russo’s chances of being governor to end, and he spirals out of control
– She had bisexual inclinations by developing a relationship with Lisa Williams.
– She was killed and ran over by Doug’s van. Doug used to love her but was not getting any reciprocation.

Doug Stamper
– Very loyal character. This was seen when he offered to give up his liver for a transplant that Francis required whilst in hospital after being shot in season 4.
– Stamper was a recovering alcoholic.
– Stamper killed his own non-reciprocal lover.

Zoe Barnes
– She was an American journalist who wrote for the Washington Herald. She was well-known for her large stories about political changes in the White House, including the leaking of Donald Blythe’s education reform bill and Michael Kern’s possible anti-Semitism.
– Ambitious and hungry for more but somewhat impulsive and naive.
– She worked with congressman Frank Underwood to leak classified political info to the media to advance her career and give a political edge for Frank while he was aiming to further his political career.
– She was part of the investigation that was dedicated to unearth the hidden details regarding Peter Russo DUI cover-up and later his death along with Frank Underwood role and involvement in the events.
– She died when Frank Underwood pushed her to be run over by an oncoming train.

Peter Russo
– He was the member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania’s first congressional district
– Alcoholic and drug abuser. Described as weak and lacks self control.
– Russo was arrested for DUI (driving under the influence)and soliciting a prostitute (Rachel Posner)
– He was the reason when 12,000 employees lost their jobs after the closure of the shipyard as he refused to testify due to Underwood’s orders.
– He was used a foot-soldier by Frank Underwood when the latter encouraged and supported him to run as a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania only to cause his downfall when Frank sent Rachel to seduce him and cause him to have hangover the day before a radio interview which he botched as a result.
– He was killed by Frank Underwood when he decided to go to the police to atone for his past crimes.

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