It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gaslighting—the narcissist's crazy making tool

The term “gaslighting” is defined by Wikipedia as “...a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.” It is a stock-in-trade of narcissists and used intentionally by the malignant narcissist to keep her victim off balance and, often, to provide the narcissist with amusement.
That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? If you haven’t had the dubious pleasure of being in a close relationship with a malignant narcissist, it may even seem far fetched. But, sadly, it is the truth: garden variety narcissists gaslight just as malignant narcissists do, but their motives may be quite different.

The “ordinary” narcissist gaslights primarily to restructure history to favour her. (Yes, men are narcissists too and do the same things, but I don’t want to play with multiple personal pronouns so, for simplicity’s sake, I’m sticking to the female gender here.) Let’s say you and your narcissistic cousin are out shopping and you suddenly remember that Trendy Bootery is having a massive sale. You mention this to your cousin and after a little bit of convincing, she agrees to go to the sale. There, she finds some really cute boots but waffles on buying them and you convince her to do so. Later, you and cousin are with some friends having a drink and someone compliments cousin on her boots. The story she tells, however, is that she remembered the sale, you had to be talked into going and you tried to talk her out of the boots. Later, when you two are alone, you ask why she twisted the tale and she looks at you like you have two heads—“but that is what happened!” she insists. You have just been gaslighted.

Because your cousin is not a malignant narcissist, she has altered the reality of the experience simply to make herself the bright, decisive one. She remembered the sale and you were reluctant to go. She was bravely unwavering while you didn’t want her to have the adorable boots. It is all about making her look good—but not about making you feel bad. If you do, it is simply fallout, but not her intent.

The malignant narcissist, however, may use gaslighting for far more nefarious purposes: in the play and movie, “Gaslight,” the abuser intentionally “…uses a variety of tricks to convince his spouse that she is crazy, so that she won't be believed when she reports strange things that are genuinely occurring, including the dimming of the gas lamps in the house (which happens when her husband turns on the normally unused gas lamps in the attic to conduct clandestine activities there). Since then, it has become a colloquial expression that is now also used in clinical and research literature.” Oh, the malignant narcissist may also gaslight to reflect well upon herself and poorly on you, but she will also gaslight with malicious intent, anything from setting you up (like in the play and movie) to simply as a source of amusement for herself. The malignant narcissist, remember, has no conscience so using your feelings as a play-toy for her amusement is perfectly acceptable to her.

My mother used the technique not only to make me crazy but to distance family members from me. Victims of narcissists must not have allies, people who believe in them, if the narcissist is to succeed in using that victim. You cannot either scapegoat or gaslight someone if others are aware of the truth. Like all abusers, the narcissist will seek to distance her victim from all possible sources of support, thereby making the victim dependent on her abuser.

One of my NM's favourite techniques was to impute motives for my behaviour that, in truth, had nothing to do with my real motives. While taking a Home Ec course in school, we were taught how to set a proper table. When I got home from school I painstakingly scrounged up the necessary items to set a proper table, hoping to get praise from my mother when she got home. Instead, I got nothing except a suspicious eye and raised eyebrow. Later, when dinner was over and I asked my mother for a ride to that evening’s Girl Scout meeting, she leaped up from her chair triumphantly, shouting “Aha! I knew there was something you were buttering me up for!” and refused to drive me. Over a course of years of this sort of thing, I began questioning my own motives, even when on another level, I knew better.

My ex-husband was the kind of malignant narcissist who derived great amusement from gaslighting me—rather like a little boy who enjoyed pulling the wings off of flies. On one occasion in which I was insisting something happened one way and he was implacably insisting it happened another, I found myself twisting in the wind, torn between my own memory and his very certainty that I was remembering incorrectly. “Why are you doing this?” I remember crying to him. “Don’t you know this is crazy-making?” He merely smiled slowly and nodded his head. He knew—and he was doing it on purpose!

In a short sentence, gaslighting is a technique used to manipulate or even destroy someone’s perception of reality. Hilde Lindemann, philosophy professor and well known bioethicist, believes that with regard to women, the “...ability to resist depends on her ability to trust her own judgements.” I disagree, primarily because this smacks of blaming the victim. I think that women who have long trusted their own judgments but are intelligent enough to recognize that they are fallible and therefore may misremember something, fall prey to gaslighting as well as their less self-assured sisters. The thing about a person who gaslights another is that they portray a degree of absolute certainty that they are right, and that very certainty can cause anyone not as narcissistic as they are to buy into it.

Lindemann believes that “Establishing ‘counterstories’ to that of the gaslighter may help the victim re-acquire or even for the first time ‘acquire ordinary levels of free agency.’” I dispute this as well, for it implies that the victim must create her own tales that run contrary to those set out by the abuser. This is digging deeper into an alternate reality. The victim must stick firmly to the truth, write the truth down if necessary so she can remind herself of it through regular reading and re-reading. If there are witnesses, asking them for clarification helps. But the primary weapon against gaslighting is awareness not only that it exists but that one’s parent/partner/employer/co-worker may employ it. One must also develop the ability to recognize it.

One error “normies” (normal people or those who were not raised in a narcissistic household) frequently make when dealing with narcissists is to base their opinions on their own selves. “Why would anyone want to do that?” they might ask. Unable to relate to gaslighting or why someone would gaslight another, too often the uninitiated are unable to grasp the motivations of the narcissist and turn it around to blame the victim: “what did you do to cause her to do that?” or even outright disbelief, which is tantamount to calling the victim a liar. The idea that someone would—or even could—offer…and pull off…a wholly distorted version of reality as the truth is pretty much discounted by normal people. You and I, of course, wouldn’t do it not only because it is dishonest, but also because we would be humiliated when the truth came out and we were revealed as liars. Narcissists do not suffer the pangs of conscience for dishonesty, and they bend reality to fit their needs, fully believing themselves justified and somehow avoiding cognitive dissonance in their own brains when they reassemble reality to fit their objectives. They gaslight because there is something in it for them, and they have no fear that others will have the temerity to call them on their lies—in fact, they count on the fact that their very self-assuredness will cause others to question their own recollections of a circumstance or event, and they can be very successful at it.

In the article “Gaslighting: An Abuser’s Favourite Tactic,” the following forum quotes have been assembled. Anything seem familiar?

For those who don’t know what gaslighting is, it’s something our abusers do or say to make US think WE’RE the ones who are going insane. They say and do things to make us question our sanity, our memory of events, our boundaries, our values, and our beliefs. It’s when they says things like:

• “I never said that.” (when you KNOW they did and have a clear memory of it)
• “You’re imagining things.” (when you KNOW you’re not)
• “You’re always overreacting.” (when you’re reacting EXACTLY as any normal, well-adjusted person would react.
• “You’re such a drama queen.” (when HE is the one creating drama)
• “You have no idea what you’re talking about.” (when you know EXACTLY what you’re talking about)
• “You’re always accusing me of things.” (when, the reason you accuse him of things is because you KNOW he has lied or cheated)
• “You’re always so suspicious.” (when he has given you AMPLE reason to be)
• “What about all the sh*t you’ve done to ME?” (when you haven’t done a THING to him other than love him, appease him, cater to his every want and whim)

These are examples of gaslighting, and we’re all familiar with it, because it’s this stealth form of psychological abuse that makes us start asking or telling ourselves:

• “Hmm, maybe he’s right. I need to lighten up a bit.”
• “I guess I shouldn’t be so jealous or suspicious. After all, he’s right: he did only cheat on me that ONE time. I should let it go.”
• “Perhaps I AM a lot more stressed out about work, and I really am taking it out on him.”
• “Yeah, he’s right, I’ve done bad things to HIM as well. Like the time I accidentally bought soap with lavender, which I know he’s allergic to.”

Narcissists gaslight—it’s what they do. It keeps them blameless, allows them to look like heroes or victims…or both…whichever will give them the best Nsupply at the moment in question. Some, the malignant narcissists, will gaslight people for no other reason than to sadistically enjoy the psychological torment of their victims. Their behaviour cannot be explained in rational terms because it is not rational. And the best thing you can do it you discover that you are in a relationship with a narcissist and you are being gaslighted is to leave.

But sometimes we can’t leave. We may be financially dependent on the narcissist or we may still be too young to escape a narcissistic household. What then?

Fighting with a narcissist is a losing battle. Even if you manage to win a battle—even if you win all of the battles, you are going to lose the war because narcissists don’t “get better,” they get even. And they use dirty, underhanded tactics to get even because life for them is a war and they don’t give a damn about fair, they only care about winning, whatever the cost. So, you don’t fight with the narcissist because it only makes things worse. But you don’t buy into the bullshit, either…and you make your escape plans, quietly and under the narcissist’s radar. Because the only way to win the war with a narcissist is to remove yourself from the field.

Learn what the narcissist’s tools are and how they use them. Be on the lookout for having those tools used on you and don’t let your belief in yourself waver. Agree superficially with the narcissist if necessary in order to buy yourself time, but never buy into the narcissist’s altered reality. Remember the truth—write it down in detail so you can refer to it if you must—and don’t let the narcissist persuade or intimidate or confuse you into buying her version of events, not even if the narcissist offers “witnesses” to bolster her version: narcissists often have “flying monkeys,” dupes or conscienceless little sycophants, who will echo whatever the narcissist has to say. Stick to truth and reality and get out as soon as you can.

Next: Triangulation: another narcissist’s tool


  1. Very interesting - but here is a question - do you think that the N remembers the abuse? Does is s/he so persuasive that even s/he actually believes the gaslighted version.

    1. I think both are possible--I know my ex-husband did both.

      But you have to remember that the abuse you have suffered may not be seen as the N as abuse. Remember their ability to rationalize and justify the WORST behaviour--and once they have settled on a rationalization, it is the truth to them.

      Those rationalizations can be very convoluted, so much so that you or I would simply not believe it. But if you think of people who can be lured to a wrong conclusion with a slippery slope argument, you have the picture of a narcissist who convinces himself that a lie is truth through his own slippery slope of rationalization.

      My NM's favourite form of gaslighting was simple denial. It didn't happen unless she remembered it. So, any traumatic event from my childhood didn't happen if she had forgotten it. And anything she did remember could not possibly have happened any way except how she remembered it. Their powers of denial, rationalization and justification are so strong that once they have come up with a convincing argument to support themselves, that is what they believe.

      But some of them DO remember the abuse...they just have convinced themselves that you deserved it so they were justified in doing it, and because it was justified, it wasn't really abuse. That is how their twisted little minds work.

    2. They remember, the moment that it comes convenient, then get angry when you spot it.

  2. This is an excellent statement as it clarifies exactly what my family has been dealing with,a narcissistic daughter, and mother of our grandson, who has been tormenting this family for years. Her latest unspeakable act of revenge is to accuse the loving and devoted father of rape and child abuse. Fortunately, we are educating ourselves and the Court has awarded the father total custody and her parenting rights have been revoked. A trial is pending and to her surprise, we, as parents, have given our total support to the father. We have agonized over our decision, but we now know the truth and we no longer are confused. We have disassociated ourselves from her and her ex convict husband of 3 months and know that we have made the best decision in the interest of our grandson. Thank you for this blog as it goes far in keeping us sane.

    1. Thetabop, it had to have been a very difficult decision to support the father of your grandson rather than your own daughter. I applaud you for your stance for TRUTH! I had a similar ordeal. After almost ten years, my name was finally cleared of all the false allegations. Unfortunately, the Court's ruling on custody didn't go as in your case.

    2. It is not always easy to do the right thing when you are dealing with your children, Thetabop. As the mother of a narcissistic daughter, I can relate to you and your situation. On the one hand, you love your child...on the other hand, she is damaging her own child and that cannot be allowed to continue. Expect that your daughter will retaliate...that is what narcissist's do...but hold your ground. She will not get better over time, she will get worse and in all truth, as the child of a narcissistic mother, I wish my grandparents had rescued me when I was little. Even if my adult life didn't end up any different, it would have spared me years of abuse and that alone would have been a better outcome, so think of what you are doing for your grandchild's future.

      I am sorry you had to experience this--it has to be very painful for you, but you must focus on the innocent child, not on his mother--she has choices he does not have. And she must live with the consequences of her choices--narcissists have the same choices we ALL have, and if they choose to stay the same and blame others rather than seek help to change and better themselves, then they must live with the consequences of that choice without negatively impacting the lives of innocents.

  3. My mother constantly gaslights me. Today she had her caseworker come in and is accusing me of abusing her, when all I've done is to try to confront her when she has said and done things that have hurt me. She's denied telling me I deserved my late boyfriend's abuse! She's called me all kinds of names which is so obnoxious. Now her caseworker is threatening to call adult protective services on me when I just want to discuss why she said what she said! It's insane. She never acknowledges that my feelings matter and now I have to worry that people will believe her lies.

    1. I have also taken care of a 'difficult' (thats what I have always called it) parent. My father (crippled from polio) would do things like ask me to bring him some soup which he usualy ate cold and un prepared in the can, but one time, infront of guests he objected and said "This is how he treats me" and had me heat it and serve it in a bowl. I was 12. I could go on with more accounts. One time he admitted that a Psychologest diagnosed him wiht some N tendancys.

    2. You cannot discuss things with a narcissist. For them, life is all about "my way or the highway." Since you won't leave off trying to discuss things she adamantly does not want to discuss, the is invoking the "highway" by calling the authorities on you to shut you up.

      So, let's start with protecting yourself: shut up.

      You are NEVER going to get her to be willing to "discuss" things with you. If she is a narcissist, then she is right all of the time about everything and your desire to discuss is viewed as you challenging her authority and rightness--and that is NOT going to happen. Give it up. Seriously.

      The next thing you have to do is get away. If you live with her, move out. If you are a primary caretaker, get her caseworker to get another one--lie, if you have to, and tell her you are planning to move to another state to seek work and you cannot take NM with you. GET OUT. You have to in order to save yourself.

      If you cannot get out, then just close your ears and you mouth around your NM because she has already proven to you that she would rather you end up in jail that her be questioned (or contradicted). She is playing hard ball and you have two choices and two choices only: shut up and be safe or continue challenging her and end up in trouble with the law.

      Narcissists are consummate liars. Mine fooled family members, judges, social workers, and probation officers. I lost my children for eight years due to my NM's lies and the fact that the authorities believed them. Don't YOU end up the same way, in trouble with the law because you didn't read the writing on the wall: she will see you in JAIL, with a permanent criminal record before she will "discuss" anything with you, before she will admit she did anything wrong, before she will take back anything cruel she has said or done.

      Every day you remain with her, you are putting yourself in jeopardy. Save yourself: shut up and get out before she has you thrown in jail.

    3. To anonymous with the father with polio: Narcissists are consummate victims...nothing is their fault, ever. They are also very concerned with their image, and they view truth as a tool, something to be massaged and reshaped to fit the moment. So it is no wonder that your father, in the presence of a stranger and conscious of appearances, made you look bad so he could look good. It is how they roll.

      I can only hope that you are now far, far away from him and his influences and are living a happy and fulfilled life.

    4. Yes, Sweet Violet, you are right. I finally was able to document the abuse because of social media. No one can deny it, but I have never heard an apology from my mother about what she has done to me over the years. She never had any interest in contacting me very often, but now that she has been outed, she acts like reconciling with me is the most important thing in the word and is playing all kinds of games, pretending that she is frail and she enlists one of her minions, my younger brother to contact me. She never will admit what she did. Now the game is she is so sad because we are not in contact. She is so sad because she doesn't have her little scapegoat to kick anymore. Poor thing.

    5. She cant ;"re disown you if she hasn't reconciled " the mother load of control. My ex is a N I have four children youngest is 16. The bullshit they and myself have to still deal with is criminal. Please tell me this isnt heredity. My poor kids.

  4. I've written a story about how a social worker from my county got my employer to fire me so she could separate my daughter and me. - True narcissistic behavior:

    No More Secrets and Lies
    A true story about the extreme measures taken by Blue Earth County in Minnesota and the State of Minnesota to separate a child with a mental disability from the only person who was able to help her — her father.

    I will link your blog.

    1. Thank you for the link, John.

      You know, a lot of people will disbelieve your story because they cannot imagine a person taking such action without just cause. What they do not understand is how narcissists operate and that they WILL do such things for reasons normal people could never imagine.

      I worked for a woman, head of the legal department of a Silicon Valley high tech firm, who sabotaged her legal staff (mostly lawyers) until things were a crisis, contracts were late, deals were tenuous, patents were about to expire, and outside bills were egregiously past due. She would create these crises by refusing to grant her staff the necessary authority to do their jobs and then, at the last minute, just as something was about to fall into the crapper, she would swoop in and rescue the deal and save the day. Subtly create a crisis (but make it look like an incompetent staff's fault), then be a hero by saving the day.

      My NM used to do the same thing: she would spread rumours and innuendo, even tell outright lies, to make another person look bad and create a false image that their children were in danger from their mother. I can think of three different women she did this to over a 20 year period (none of whom were guilty of her accusations). She saw herself as the rescuer of those kids when, in fact, they did not even need rescuing. She simply created a situation in which SHE got a lot of kudos from others for "saving" children who did not need to be saved in the first place.

      Professionals like therapists and social workers are not immune from narcissism and can use their positions to play out their grandiose fantasies. It sounds to me like you were victimized by such a person for just such a reason. I sincerely hope you are able to turn this around. You have my deepest sympathy for your situation, as I have been separated from my children due to a miscarriage of justice brought about by malicious lies from someone who was looking only to her own gain rather than the well-being of the children involved.

      My sympathies and wishes for a better future



  5. Recently I was threatened to be sued by my sister for telling involved parties about some sexual abuse perpetrated by her husband towards my niece L who is my little brothers daughter. Since then my eyes have been opening towards my sister's particular brand of crazy, and it hurts. I am a bug that my sister wants to squash. Years ago, she reversed an adoption of her older daughter, and her other daughter, my sister's golden child has a 5 yr old (my sister's grandaughter. I have been having memories of my sister involving me in her sexual encounters when I was too young to know what was happening (she is 13 yrs older than me. My dad was arrested for sexual molesting her oldest daughter. L's father, my brother was blind to what happened to L for a long time. Now, he understands sort of and is keeping L away from them at least. Bascally, my life is not what I thought it was. I was blind to it all for so long. I am 52 years old.

    1. I am 66 and did not get a grip on what was really wrong with my family until about five years ago. I spent years in therapy...and it helped a lot...but until I got a handle on NPD and started comparing stories with other people who had narcissistic mothers, I really didn't understand WHY my mother was like she I know. And that helps a lot.

      If you cannot prove what you have said about the sexual abuse, your sister could win such a suit. Better to involve the authorities and let them sort it out.

      Hugs and best of luck to you


  6. I am finding that the worst thing about the whole sorry situation, regarding NM is that "they are our mothers", and trying to rebuild our lives, and working through the guilt that has been placed on our shoulders over the years, has took its toll. I do not really think that I will truly ever recover from my 76 year old anorexic mother. She is in total denial, and tried to make us also feel in denial. I am now in the process of being a councillor, and am looking forward to taking my life to higher places. My mother says that since I have been studying "I have turned into a cold hearted person" .All because I told her that I have had my eyes opened.
    I never, ever want to put my adult children though what I have encountered, with my own mother.
    Its a heart-breaking shame that the one person in life we trust, turns out to be an emotional abuser, and we grow up thinking that it is normal.

    1. How right you are!

      If you don't think you can recover, then you probably won't---the old "self-fulfilling prophecy" thing. But if you believe in yourself and believe you can overcome her legacy, then you will make it. Too many people have made productive, happy lives for themselves after having had to deal with a parent such as your NM for it to be impossible to achieve. YOU are the deciding factor and if you decide you can do it, you can!

      Your mother's remark was designed to provoke guilt in you. Taking care of yourself, it means not bowing to her every whim, denying her,...she would see you as "cold hearted" because she sees herself as being deprived of what she believes she it entitled to have from you. Take it with a grain of salt because she is never going to leave off seeing herself as coming first in everyone's life and you coming last: you can go back to agreeing with her, or you can simply accept that the price you have to pay for having a life of your own is that she is going to feel resentful and do her best to guilt and shame you back into what she believes is "your place." (I cannot even begin to tell you how many times over the years my NM told me I should know my place, like I was some kind of serf and she was the bloody Queen of the World!)

      We have to find our own "normal."

  7. So many good points in this post. The economic factor is truly tragic as many children of narcissists are forced to move back in with abusive family members in these trying times. Another common tactic is to claim that you promised to do something that you never in fact promised to do (usually the narcissist pulls this on his children when they are adolescents, reserving more subtle tactics for later.) Or you said something that is the contrary of what you are saying now, but never in fact said. Narcissists, themselves inveterate liars, know others do attach value to things like your word, telling the truth, etc., and project the guilt for breaking with these values onto their victim. I had a narcissistic uncle who during a family trip to Paris declined to go with me and my cousin to the Centre Pompideu Museum, but years later claimed he wanted to go and we were the ones lacking in culture who refused. Another Narcissist listening to the discussion took his side as I remarked how he had turned things 180 degrees on their head. Narcissists tend to cluster around each other and give each other succor in their war against the world (great formulation in this blog post) or against their common enemy: reality.

  8. This is all gaslighting. Your uncle sounds just like the "Trendy Bootery" example I used in the entry! These people are just so predictable!

  9. It's been a year since I actually told someone some molestation was happening to my sister. Now my narcissist mothers husband is going to jail and she will be without supply. I have no choice but to live in the disfunction at least for another 3 months when i turn 18. My mother knows that I was the truth teller and her abuse has gotten worse but CPS doesn't seem to hear me that I'm in a bad place but my sister has been removed, which I'm thankful for. Once my step dad goes to jail will my mother take her revenge out on me, will she kick me out and discard me since I destroyed her perfect family? I'm super quiet and and letting believe her gaslighting worked which it did begin too. It sickens me that this "family" all believes he's innocent do to her lies, but he pled guilty and the family doesn't even know he's going to court. She says I ruined everything by spreading my sisters lies.

    I tried leaving and when I did I was put in isolation for 8 weeks, screamed at and it has been nasty all because I told... What do you think after he goes to jail will she just kick out .... I never know what's next

    1. Quite frankly, I think it is highly unlikely she will throw you out simply because you are all she has left, with your sister out of the house and her husband in jail. Until she lines up someone else as a source of Nsupply, you are all she's got.

      That doesn't mean she won't abuse you, scream at you, blame you...but it you have only 3 months until you are 18, that is not a very long time. I am a lot older than you (my grandchildren are older than you!) but I SOOO remember what it was like to be 17 because I had an abusive mother and that time in my life is etched in stone. I know that at 17, 3 months feels like an eternity, but in reality, it is a very short time. And it is just the right amount of time for you to put together a plan and get it into action while she is still paying for your roof and your food.

      Get busy finding a job: ANYTHING will do, but something that includes room and meals, like a live-in baby sitter, is a good start. If you can't find that kind of work, take anything you can get that is legal and rent a furnished room...they are cheap.

      If she is the one who put you in isolation for eight weeks, you have to know that is against the is called "false imprisonment" and even parents do not have the right to do this. If she does it again, call the police, tell them you are being held prisoner, locked in isolation. It would be a good thing to have a cell phone hidden in your room (tape it to the back of your dresser or under your dresser with duct tape) in case she does this again. If she threatens it, you can choose to either "play dead" (act like she has scared you with her threat which will probably be enough for her) or you can tell her "That is against the law and if you do it to me again, I will call the police and have YOU arrested for false imprisonment." Sometimes that kind of confrontation is the only thing that works: my mother tried to force me to have an abortion back in 1964 (when they were illegal everywhere in the US) and I told her that if she did it, I would call the police on her and have her arrested ("playing dead" would not have worked in that situation). Only YOU know which way to go depending on what is going on.

      But in the meantime, try to line up a place to live and a job so that when you wake up on the morning of your 18th birthday, you can give yourself a present: freedom. Get up, pack up, walk out.

      Just be sure you don't tell her where you are going, change your cell phone number, don't tell her where you are working. If she finds out, tell her you don't want to speak to her, go away, and if you bother me again, I will call the police and swear out a complaint against you for harassment. And start reading up on narcissism, because too many young women like you get caught in the "I just want my mother to love me and I'll do anything to get that" and end up wasting decades of their lives trying to squeeze blood out of a stone.

      Best of luck to you: you have three months to get your immediate future set up, which should be enough. When it gets tough over then next three months, just think about your secret---your plan to get out---and grit your teeth. Three months is a VERY short time compared to the rest of your life, which is what you are saving by getting out.

      Hugs and best wishes


  10. Mr. Wutever Wutever I. DowutiwuntskiNovember 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Once again the universe has provided for me. Reading this blog for the past, whoa, two hours has me in tingles. And that signifies growth to me, good growth if I nurture it. Time now for bodily functions with a smile. Thanks ever so much!

  11. I have only recently begun to understand that my mother has been gaslighting me and scapegoating me for many years.

    Last summer, I read all her emails of the past 4 years discussing me with my family, and I was horrified! While telling me me she was my defender, my ally, my confident, to all of them she was telling lies, pathologizing me, and encouraging them to estrange. Now they apparently think I am a drug abuser, sex addict, college drop-out, friendless failure when in truth I have never done any drugs, have never been promiscuous, have loads of friends and an active social life, and have a BA, MA and JD (and the papers to prove it). But none of this matters, because everyone calls me a liar, and I'm not allowed to argue my side or show my evidence.

    Beware the gaslighter! It's indeed crazy how much power they can have in an age when people will believe any smear campaign without ever checking the facts.

    1. Bee there with my family believing the lies my x told. How in the he'll can they believe him? They know me and who I am
      The narcs can convince anyone of anything. How?? The victim never wins. The more I took a stand against the lies he made life harder and I ended up in jail for nothing. Now it will always be on my record and he's the persecutor! ; why and how they convince every one that their lies are true? If you are around a narc, get out quickly. Don't argue...just walk away.
      Get away and hide as they are vindictive and dangerous! !##

  12. This sounds so much like both my mom AND my dad... I'm just so scared. I'm 17 and I've been treated like this as long as I can remember, and I don't know anything else. I really want to say that my mom has no idea what she's doing and that I haven't been the best child by far. My best friend is in her 30s and she keeps telling me not to fall back into it but its not that easy. You WANT to love your parents and have a relationship with them. And I think to myself... its not bad all the time. Maybe the good times are worth the bad. But I just can't anymore. I'm exhausted, I feel like I'm having to run through waist high mud just thinking! And then what if I'm just imagining this to make myself feel better? Make myself not feel so crazy. What is I'm the one gaslighting? And its so believable even I believe it.

    1. I'm in the same situation, I only started to notice about a year ago when someone new came into my life and made me see what was really going on. You have to realize that they are the ones at fault and keep a strong grip on reality. Prepare yourself for life on your own, because the only way out is escape, you can't change their behavior or their tendencies because they are always right. I myself am waiting for my chance to leave, but not without telling them that they are wrong first. My whole family has been turned against me and my little sister won't even talk to me anymore. Just be prepared, you don't want to give them the chance to screw you up.

  13. The best day of my married life was the day I realized that my husband was doing this to me as well as other means of emotional and mental abuse. Unfortunately, I woke up too late to save my older daughter from it, but in time to help my younger daughter. I stayed married to him. The abuse no longer exists because I don't allow it to. He still tries some of his stunts from time-to-time, but I can see it for what it is and nip it in the bud.

  14. It's so mind numbing.
    A few more..
    You're delusional
    You should have zero expectations - that's you're problem
    Remember when you were 12 and stole my hairbrush?
    No one likes you because you are impossible to like
    Your feelings are irrational
    Your honestly is the problem
    I let things go, that's what you need to do
    Stop bringing up the past (after I was told I did something I didnt, proved it, and asked for the reason or worse, an apology)
    You like to argue
    Everyone else agrees with me - so, you're crazy
    These people don't care about winning based in fact, they just want to win! They don't care if they lie, manipulate, discredit or literally destroy you - in fact, if you dare disagree & prove the truth, they literally try to destroy your existence!

  15. Thank you for your article .Story of my life.It nearly drove me insane because I truly believed that I was insane after my mother and her children had finished with me.I spent my life being told I was too sensitive, that there was something wrong with me.I attracted emotionally abusive friends, employers and partners.My own son even thinks it's all my fault and has distanced himself from me.If it wasn't for my innate resilience suicide would have been an option.
    I have had 3 instances over the last 3 days that have shockingly brought me to my senses.Its not me, it's them.They are hell bent on proving me insane, why ? Because I have dared tell the truth about our NM abuse.I was/am the family scapegoat.They have staged interventions telling me that I am mad.They are all apparently praying 'everyday' for me.How else was I to know that I am normal when all I have been fed all my life was that I wasn't? Of coups all this has made me sensitive which is further proof that I am insane and round and round it went until I came to a screeching halt this morning!
    It's not me! I've been well and truly gaslighted! So help me God!!

  16. I, for the most part, have disliked my family and now I know why, they're narcissists. As someone above mentioned, I too have attracted narcisstic friends and a husband who I didn't take long in divorcing.
    Two of the closest people in my life growing up, my sister and cousin, are two sides of the narcisstic coin. One is invulnerable, the other vulnerable. Thankfully, I've cut my family off for the most part and deal with them on my terms. It's quite freeing and truly a blessing.

  17. My Nfather abuses his his mother, my Ngrandmother (non-physicly), and she abuses me as a surogate of him, mirroring his crap onto me, because she is unable to stand up for herself, and she will never tell, and he will never do it around other people, which is the same thing her late husband did, abusive alchoholic; and I am stuck being the scapegoat, sometimes they tag-team, but usually both are running a smear campaign - Besides her son, my father, my grandmother has six other daughters, who all have children, and so I have a massive horde of monkies shunning me. Aunts, uncles, cousins, people I don't even know. What makes it worse, is that I am financially compromised, and pay a reduced rent to live on the family property which is large. My Ngrandmother is my landlord. My Nfather who pays no rent and still has his now 80 old mother cater to him by making him food, paying for things he wants, other such things, because he is an alchohlic who drank untill he got diabetes and is weak and feeble, worse than his mother, or so he puts on. He lives close to me. They both do, and my crazy aunt monkey too. I would leave if I could, I am working on it, and I will. Recently she said to me, you only think you are going to university, and not to set the bar so high, because she ofcourse insists on me having a mental handicap. And that I am insolent and won't get far with teachers or authority job figures. I used to call their sidekicks "Cronies", untill now, where I just learned how familiar my story is to all of you. Now I will call them flying monkies. I don't suppose theres much support for a mother son narcisistic relationship in which the son is a surogate husband and I, the grandson, am the surogate son...Who recieves the abuse. And ofcourse this story goes deeper and deeper. I do not submit, therefor, I must be systematically annihilated.

  18. What do you suggest a person does when they believe they're child is being gaslighted by the other parent? I'm bound and determined not to let my ex do to my child what he did to me but it seems that confronting it is not the answer

  19. I guess that I've never been in such predicaments. It ALL seems rather stressful, I don't go there :)

  20. it is possible to manipulate the narcissist. .. after all their modus operandi is now well known.

  21. my ex - would take things from my children (his step children) it wasnt till a few yrs later that we found some of these things missing up in the basement rafters that i started cluing in it was him. Always denied it of course. For just over a year i was getting a numbing feeling in my mouth and tongue and caught him putting pills in my food when he made me something, again he denied it and accused me of being f****ed and how dare i accuse him of such a thing. Now that he is my ex i still see him on holidays as he is close to one of my daughters. Just today a phone went missing that was a xmas gift to my grandson (his step grandson) and after 3 hrs of dumping garbage and recycling on the garage floor and searching the house top to bottom and no phone (he even acted like he was helping in the search) was after 3 hrs and my daughter started to cry that he happened to look in a hall closet and all of a sudden it was there.(it was last placed on the coffee table and no one would of put in a closet) There is so much more to this story and so many things that went missing and so many searches where he sat and watched us search for things. without a doubt it was him doing this ..what i want to know this gaslighting? is he narcissistic? what hes doing is so left field im just trying to understand!

    1. Why do you allow him into your life, even on holidays? The fact that he is "close" to one of your daughters should send you screaming in the opposite direction because by allowing him into your home and to have access to you and your family simply gives him permission to continue his gaslighting behaviour.

      Yes it is gaslighting, what he is doing, but that is unimportant. What is important is that you are INVITING abuse into your life, fully knowing that he is abusive and will do abusive things to you and your family. YOU are creating this problem, not him, because YOU are freely giving him access to yourself and your family.

      STOP IT!!

  22. This post completely describes my mother. She sometimes tells me that because of my poor social skills I will be subconsciously attracted only to those with equally poor social skills, creating a child so severely mentally ill I will be forced to quit my career. Other times she accuses me of psychopathy, or feeling down just to spite her. Every time we are alone she goes on about my father (a man too emotionally weak to resist her) and how the little things he does (the reality is that he's being gas-lighted as well) apparently make her life a nightmare. However if I calmly suggest maybe she was being slightly unreasonable, or that he didn't mean to upset her, she accuses me of being selfish. But when I mention her saying these things, she cuts me off, accusing my active imagination of running wild. It's getting to the point I have to write down everything she says to me so I know I'm not crazy.

  23. I never heard the term Gaslighting until about a year and a half ago when I went to see a counselor. I don't think I was with her 5 minutes and she handed me a packet explaining gaslight.When I read it I was astounded!This was the absolute description of my ex husband whom I divorced 7 years prior. I was 18 when I had my eldest daughter, met my ex when she was 4. When we got married he was awarded full custody of his 3 children from his previous marriage, the youngest was 10 months old. We then had another daughter together. We were married for 13 years, more than half of which I was unhappy and wanted out but had no possible way. I had no access to our bank accounts, I had to give him receipts for everything if I went shopping. He would check the receipt verifying the time I checked out to the time I arrived home to be sure it calculated properly. He question me about things and if I couldn't recall specifics, he would then "inform" me of what those details "actually" were. I literally thought I was a crazy person towards the end. I was not allowed to have friends and occasionally I would even get in trouble for speaking to my mother. I would ask my mother for advice and was told "you have 5 children to consider, is not about you, you've made this bed, now you lie in it" so I did, what other option did I have? My eldest was about to start driving and wanted nothing more than to go to medical school in her future. I knew if I did leave she would never have any of these luxuries. My counselor told me to think about how my daughter would feel if when she grew older she learned that I stayed in that situation so she could have a car, she pointed out that by staying I was teaching the girls that it's normal to be treated that way by a spouse and I was teaching the boys that this is how men treat their wives. It was THAT conversation that opened my eyes! I was done! of course it took a while to get out from that point as it all had to be perfectly planned. I bought it with my own money, I knew my income of course but I never saw any of it. However, I knew I made enough for that car. Because I was a mother at such a young age this was the first thing I ever chose myself, the first thing I ever "bought" for myself and you know anytime that car was mentioned he would say something like "well, because I let you get that car", my counselor also set that in perspective for me quickly! His favorite line to myself and my girls "every female should be medicated and their husbands or father's should had control of the dosage"!!!! He says it to this day! I repeated it in custody court and it was amazing how easily and quickly he was able to take such a negative phrase and make it not bad at all! Now that we've all been away from him for so long, his daughter, the one that was 10 months old, came to live with my husband and I for a while, when she first moved in of course my 3 girls and I would sit and conversate about everything and of course childhood memories would arise. Any parent who is reading this right now and is still in that relationship, make note of this part.....I thought I was the one mistreated, I thought he was "a good dad", you cannot imagine how horribly incorrect I was!! HORRIBLY!!!! AND I DIDN'T SEE ANY OF IT!!!! HE WAS TERRIBLY MENTALLY ABUSING THESE CHILDREN FOR 13+YEARS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND I DIDN'T HAVE A CLUE!!!! I cannot give them their childhood back, I cannot erase all of the mental trauma they now deal with as adults and it absolutely kills me to know that it all happened, right there, right in front of me!!!! I'm a mess mentally but honestly it's what it is, I deal, but knowing that I could have prevented their mental anguish, the mental anguish that they will NEVER rid themselves of, THAT IS THE WORST!!! NOTHING IS WORTH LETTING THAT TAKES PLACE, NOTHING!And guess what, my daughter had her own car at 16, graduated with honors from ASU and is now waiting for acceptance to med school!

    1. I would urge you to look into your mother--any mother who gives you the "you made your bed..." spiel instead of offering at least empathy is not a loving mother. I am guessing that you gravitated towards and stuck with that NHusband of yours because you were groomed to accept that kind of abuse since childhood.

      Your relationship with that husband is over, yet you are still moved to anger by memories of it--that means you are still emotionally engaged with him. You don't say if you mother is in your life or even if she is alive, but my own experience (which has many similarities to yours) is that being raised a narcissistic mother leads us to choose narcissistic partners. In your place I would be focussing on my mother, not my late husband. Please give it some thought.

  24. I have a 17 year old son, and an exwife who used to gaslight me. I didn't even know what the term was until she accused me of being a narcissist one day and said that I gaslighted her. This meant that I was accusing her of a lie or distortion which she had a chronic pattern of. After I went and read about it it really opened my eyes about not self-doubting my awareness of events or trueness of facts etc. Living with her was incredibly bizarre and only worked when I was very busy in my job during the early part of our marriage. My middle son now displays this similar behavior and it has gotten worse over time and has been emboldened my his mother who has convinced him that I am a narcissist who uses gaslighting. Its such a paradox for a gaslighter who is a chronic liar and distortion machine to accuse the one who accuses them of distorting of being the distorter. Its insane. There is no solution. Sticking to the truth is all you can do. Like the other night we came home and he had been in the master bedroom. We knew because the light was on and we never leave it on and because he was sitting in the living room with my personal laptop torn apart. When I started asking him why he was tearing my laptop apart he said,"Well I went into your room because the TV was on. I turned it off." No answer to the problem at all. Merely a distraction. Well the TV was still on so when he was confronted with this he said, "well I turned it back on." But I still don't understand how you get to the point of thinking a) you can come into a parents private space and snoop around, b) take their personal property and tear it apart, and then his stories got more and more convoluted the more I asked him about explaining his logic with distorted convoluted analogies. He started claiming I was gaslighting him(his mother speaking). Luckily I had my long time partner present with me who is familiar with this problem as she grew up with a mother who gaslighted her. Anyway, I really am looking for a chat group where one can discuss these types of issues and attempt to receive advice on how to approach it so as to maintain a relationship in as healthy a condition as possible and at the same time maintaining the boundaries these kooks seriously need.

  25. Unfortunately, The Narcissist's Child Facebook group is dedicated to helping adults overcome the legacy of having had a narcissistic parent, not for parents of children who display narcissistic characteristics. Perhaps some parenting groups might be of help? Good luck to you.


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