Gaslighting Image

Gaslighting is the most subtly and cunning Machiavellian behaviour used against the victim, where “nothing is ever as it seems”.

The Gaslighting Effect is truly a convoluted dance that involves an insidious set of psychological manipulative mind games.  It is the most difficult and dangerous underhanded form of abuse that is used by all narcissists specifically for conditioning, grooming, indoctrinating, controlling, and altering their victim’s reality.

The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self-confidence, and self-esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way.  At first it is subtle, but then gradually, over time, the behaviours worsen.  As the relationship declines, so too does the victims mental reality and identity, totally undermining their mental stability, and the unsuspecting victim believes that they are going mad.

Some examples of Gaslighting Behaviour:

Example #1:  The narcissist intentionally plays games that plant “seeds of doubt” in the victim’s mind so that they become confused and addled in their thinking. In time, the victim’s reality is altered, and they begin to doubt their own memory.

Victim: Did you see my car keys darling; I can’t find them anywhere?  I left them on the counter-top, and there are not there now.
Narcissist:  No. Are you sure?   Perhaps you left them upstairs when you went up there.                                                                           (The narcissist did remove the keys from the counter-top, and while the victim is looking for them upstairs they replace them back in the kitchen.  Ten minutes later the victim goes back to the kitchen and notices the keys on the counter-top.)
Victim:  Oh! I see you found my keys, why didn’t you tell me, I’ve been upstairs searching for them?
Narcissist: What do you mean, I never touched them, and I did not realise you were still looking for them.
Victim: Yes, you did, you told me to look upstairs.

Narcissist: You must be imagining thing, I never said that.  Anyway, you found them where you had left them, so relax.   You seem to be getting very absent minded these days’ honey, I really think that you need to keep an eye on that.

Example #2 The narcissist is a master of creating ambiguity by deflecting and denying:

The Narcissistic partner suddenly begins to carry their phone everywhere with them.  Their partner (the victim) notices that the password has been changed, and that they are being denied access to it seeing all messages.

This makes the victim feel very insecure. The narcissist is enjoying seeing the victim jealous and suspicious.  It would be so easy for them to cut through the mistrust that is building up by allowing access to the phone, and allaying any fears the partner is feeling, but the narcissist is sadistic and takes pleasure in their partner’s distress.

Victim: I notice that you are taking your phone everywhere. Are you hiding something?

Narcissist: I am not hiding anything! Jesus! What’s wrong with you?! You really have trust issues. You really need to get some counselling, because your insecurity is getting worse, and it is driving a wedge between us……… I can’t take much more of this (then storms off).

Victim: I’m sorry, I’m sorry…it’s just…well…okay…I’m sorry. I do trust you, it’s just that…

Narcissist: What’s going on with you, do you think that I am cheating on you?  You are becoming very paranoid; you really need to get help to deal with your insecurity.  It is wrecking my head.

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Christine is a Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Supervisor of mental health professionals for over 28 years. She was part of a team in the Trauma Unit of St. Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, and has worked specifically with victims of pathological narcissistic abuse in her private practice for many years.
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse.Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims.It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.
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