Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Sinister Art of "Gaslighting"

Of all the gadgets in a narcissist's toolbox, the most sinister of all is "gaslighting." This term is taken from a 1940's movie starring Ingrid Bergman. She is married to a psychopath who tries to drive her insane. He makes her doubt herself by playing little tricks on her. First, he rearranges things in their home, but denies doing so. Later, he dims the gas lights in the attic, while she is up there looking for something. However, at this point, she catches on to his sick act.

A malignant narcissist also attempts to get you to doubt yourself, and to blame yourself for the problems they've created. People with this disorder are extremely deceptive. They construct elaborate scenarios, leading up to a situation in which you take the fall. Much of this is done by gaslighting.

My own experience with gaslighting? Believe it or not, it happened at church. I was heavily involved in a certain project. However, this effort attracted the interest of a malignant narcissist. An extremely manipulative individual, she created an uncomfortable situation that forced me to abandon the project. Much of this was accomplished with heavy gaslighting, the details of which I'll spare you.

Pretending to be in the background, and not involved at all, she worked behind the scenes to assume control of the project. (By that time, I no longer cared about it.) This is how malignant narcissists operate.

How do you know you're being gaslighted? First you need to recognize that you're dealing with a malignant narcissist. Learn the signs of this disorder. Then, the events will replay themselves almost like a movie. The confusion evaporates. All those things that didn't make sense before make perfect sense now. Someone was messing with your mind.

Breaking free of this dynamic is the only solution. Malignant narcissists are dangerous. We need to put a lot of space between them and us.

Flickr photo by Thomas's pics

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