Gaslighting: Dealing with an abusive and narcissistic relationship
Gaslighting is a form of emotional and mental abuse in a relationship, used by someone, usually a narcissist, to manipulate you in order to get what they want. They are a master at turning things around so you feel bad and question your self, and they are right, all-knowing and here to remind you or even help you with your flaws. Eventually, you believe you need them to make you feel secure and in need of their care or perceived strength. And anyone who tells you otherwise you think just doesn’t understand.
Over time, the narcissist wears you down and it becomes emotionally, verbally, mentally, and possibly physically or sexually abusive. Usually at the core of the victim is a root belief that they can’t find someone else, aren’t good enough, and possibly a background in which they grew up being put down (but not always). The victims feel alone. It is important to understand that we all have “parts” that reflect our inner selves. A wise part says-this is nuts! I don’t deserve this. But another part may say, “He/she is right. I will never find anyone else. I remember the good times we have. I love him-I can’t bear to be apart from him.” Or with a parent-“I AM a piece of crap. I screw up. I am so ashamed of myself. I can never get this right.” There can be positive qualities in the gaslighter-but just as fast, it turns back onto the victim of how bad they are, reminding the victim of their flaws and mistakes.
Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed, LCPC, CADA, CSAT, wrote a book called the Human Magnet Syndrome: The codependent/narcissist trap. An excerpt from his book: The Human Magnet Syndrome- Gaslighting is a brainwashing strategy perpetrated by highly manipulative narcissists who live secretly and undetected in our society. Like child molesters seeking prey, gaslighters have a keen eye for spotting vulnerable personality types who are susceptible to their pretend altruism, affection, and promises of protection.
Gaslighters achieve complete control by manipulating the environment so their victims identify with an overwhelming and incurable psychological problem, which they never had, or was only a minor affliction. The result of implanting an illness or disorder, and rendering a person helpless over it, is unfathomable distress, insecurity, and paranoia. Worst are the feelings of despair and powerlessness. Descending into an emotional world of hopelessness and isolation, the victim is manipulated into seeking protection and solace from the very person who orchestrated their incapacitation.
Gaslighting is everywhere: secretly lurking behind the locked doors of politicians, clergy members, husbands, wives, and even parents. Gaslighters feed off a person, people, or a society that is devoid of hope and full of anxiety. Only with such vulnerable people can the gaslighter play out their enchanting but mercilessly heinous emotional crimes.”
There is an excellent article on Psychology Today about the 7 stages of Gaslighting. 7 stages of gaslighting If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, seek counseling for yourself. Couples counseling may not resolve the problems in your relationship, as the gaslighter is likely a narcissist who won’t change. But do get counseling to help you get free and healthy.