GASLIGHTING – what is it and what damage does it do to a target of a Narcissist!
GASLIGHTING – what is it and what damage does it do to a target of a Narcissist! Breaking the spell, the Narcissist casts over you with the insidious gaslighting that they use ALL THROUGHOUT the relationship they have with you! I really wanted to go into some detail of how the Narcissist basically uses gaslighting to make YOU question your own sanity, well-being, memory, or basically everything about you so they gain the upper hand by keeping you in a constant state of confusion/control and reality questioning – YOUR reality not theirs!
From my Book: Greg Zaffuto – Author – From Charm to Harm and Everything Else in Between with a Narcissist
With “gas-lighting”, the Narcissist will emphatically call into question the MIND of their target/victim by manipulating the memory, thoughts, and ideas of the target/victim. The Narcissist will now employ whatever method necessary to control these thoughts in a manner to confound, confuse and debase the target/victim, to cover lies, affairs or accountability, or make them think they are experiencing memory loss, or have mental issues that are of great concern to the target/victim’s well-being. The Narcissist will even “recycle” these old issues over and over again to further use at a later date to reinforce the target/victim’s ineptness as a “countering” point AND drive it home even DEEPER in a continued effort to damage the target/victim’s psyche. A Narcissist will even backstab and smear you to OTHER family members, friends, or whoever they can, to make you out as having issues. THEN they turn around and LIE again and say that THESE people (the ones the Narcissist poisoned) were the ones that told the Narcissist YOU had issues – a double whammy of manipulation to isolate and control you by surrounding you with so much desperation concerning your very ow well-being!
Have you ever heard these words before from your Narcissist? “Did you forget when you didn’t get things right the last time!” OR “You thought the same thing the last time and you were wrong; DON’T YOU REMEMBER?” The target/ victim did remember things correctly, but the Narcissist is so very adept at confusing and confounding their target/victim by consistently BUT slowly, and methodically “countering” every real thought. This throws the victim off the subject matter at the time, getting them to instead mull over their memory confusion or mental acuity. DIVERSION!
Ah Ha – this is where the real struggle within starts for the target/victim, but it is ever so slow and insidiously done. If the target/victim has not already started questioning their own thought processes (sanity) or confusion, they will in time. When you are constantly told that your memory, thoughts, experiences, feelings, and instinct is emphatically wrong, chances are, you will eventually start to believe the Narcissist. Remember the Narcissist spent a great deal of time to “charm” you and gain your adoration, love, and TRUST. When we trust someone, we BELIEVE that they have our best interest at heart. Unfortunately, we never realized that we were charmed to be harmed because the Narcissist’s agenda is to objectify us in an effort to extort as much “supply” from us that he/she can.
Do you recall hearing things like this? “You see everything in the most negative way” or “You are nagging about something all the time” or “You’re making things up in your head or blowing things out of proportion” or “You have an overactive imagination, and you see or take everything wrong.” Or better yet the Narcissist embellishes it with a little emotional spice! “You have never believed in me, and you probably never believed in me – ever!”
The target/victim is never entirely clear what the abuser’s intentions are because they were charmed into believing that their partner is “good” and can be trusted. So, when the abuser responds quickly with anger and word diversions to confuse/confound, the target/victim starts to believe that he/she may have “taken it all wrong,” this is why we are met so quickly with the Narcissists anger. It is a matter of conditioning us, but the conditioning is coming from someone we love and what is that saying, “love is blind?” We want to trust the person we love; we want to continue this love; we apply empathy in an attempt to fix every situation and that ends up distorting the reality that we are being manipulated BY A MONSTER! So, the Narcissist puts another notch in their belt by gaining more control and will now start upping the game to gain full control. Thus, the cycle of this abuse.
There is more method to the Narcissists madness that still deals with gas-lighting and that would be a method called diverting whereby communication is controlled and manipulated at a higher level. The Narcissist refuses to comment or answer maybe stating “I’m not going through this again tonight” and closes the discussion on things the Narcissist has already discussed. Also, when withholding information, the gas-lighting Narcissist prevents all possibility of coming to a fair resolution, to their target/victim. We could use the term “silencing” here as well. This leaves the target/victim full of anxiety and yet buried by another level of confusion so there is never any real closure or satisfaction – JUST “blame and shame.”
Then there is “diverting,” the gas-lighting Narcissist changes the subject, and NOW accuses the target/victim of accusing them (the Narcissist) wrongly or in the wrong manner and “HOW DARE YOU DO THIS!” Gas-lighting in this manner effectively dodges any resolute answer, much less provides a healthy resolution or even a concern that two people in a relationship should have. The Narcissist diverts the targets/victims attempts to gain clarity or sympathy, and “diverts” from the actual subject by displacing the entire topic at hand using irrelevant declarations or even raging to side-track the whole conversation PLUS inflict more convincing damage that IT IS ALWAYS THE TARGET/VICTIM.
How about these sayings? “You always have to be right” or “Where did you get a crazy/stupid/weird/dumb idea like that” or “Stop, and don’t say another word, we have already been through this” or even “Whatever” (sarcastically).
Healthy partners do not want to see their partner feeling bad or hurt when they are deeply committed and love one another, and they would want to comfort each other and resolve the issue. Alternatively, the goal of manipulative accusations is to blame/shame the partner for THEIR (the Narcissists) anger, irritation, or insecurity, making the target/victim the person at fault or wrong for the way THEY REACTED AND ACCUSED the poor Narcissist. It justifies the Narcissists actions or misleads the target/victim from questioning and keeps them in a fog and feeling mentally unhealthy.
Let us add another aspect called “Trivializing.” It is a subtle form of gas-lighting also. It makes the target/victim very frustrated because they feel they cannot appropriately explain themselves and they are left feeling depressed and frustrated and NEVER with any closure to any important situation – just confusion. The Narcissist will toss it aside by saying “this isn’t important to us” or “you are going to let something like this come between us?”
“Forgetting” is also a method of gas-lighting. It is denial that an event happened at all. These forgotten events usually have had great impact on a target/victim. Targets/victims will try to discuss incidents to help resolve issues sometimes only in the hopes of avoiding the same hurt, rage, or confusion in the future, but the Narcissist will still deny it ever happened, with an accusatory comment like: “What are you talking about” or “I don’t have to listen to this crap again!”
The flip side of this is when the Narcissist consistently “forgets” making the promises which are most important to their partner, thereby causing more pain and confusion. It could simply be a promise to go to a movie or the Narcissist forgetting the target/victim’s birthday – but in every case it is always done intentionally. The result is still the same, leaving the target/victim in emotional peril as well as confused and with no possibility of reconciliation.
Finally, the Narcissist will also use plain old “denial.” “Nope, not me, didn’t do it.” Again, more gas-lighting and the target/victim is just left to deal with the fact that the Narcissist knowingly denied whatever the issue was, so the target/victim starts to wonder what else could there possibly be as far as lies, affairs, etc., etc. THEN how does the target/victim even have the slightest bit of reality to see through any given hour of any day clearly. Life is always laden with doubt, confusion, manipulation, none-of-which can be reconciled so the target/victim has been rendered motionless and unable to function normally in this toxic relationship. The Narcissist has done their damage and can easily move in and out of the target/victim’s head as well as live their disordered and out-of-control life. No-one is the wiser as far as it concerns the Narcissist and suddenly in our disabled state of emotions we look like the guilty and crazy “ones!”
So eventually a gas-lighting Narcissist wins the ultimate war, and the final argument, when the target/victim begins to collapse mentally and emotionally. The Narcissist will then mock and humiliate their target/victim even more by accusing them of so many crazy “wrongdoings.” That shrewd Narcissist has been searching for a solution to “help” the target/victim by enlisting the aid of their mutual friends, hoping to get a response that will pin the abuse and craziness on the target/victim by backstabbing and smearing them. Just another subtle approach to spread the poison everywhere and there is no anecdote strong enough to save the target/victim from all the damage the Narcissist has done.
NO CONTACT so that you can breathe again, live life again, feel HOPE again, and BE FREE to feel goodness and real love again. Greg