3. Facade of altruism/heroism/outer mask:
Many people in positions of power and successful status in the professional world are healthy, authentic individuals. However, there are some who are very deceptively NOT healthy, and they hide behind the mask of doing good for the community (pastor, doctor, therapist, teacher, lawyer, politician, etc). This mask allows the predator to hide amongst the masses and extract Prime Grade Ego Fuel (attention, adulation, praise, and eventually emotional pain and suffering) from large quantities of people. In turn, pathological abusers can present as high functioning on the outside (or on a dating profile) at the beginning of a love relationship. With time, however, the mask inevitably slips, and the disordered underbelly is eventually revealed.
Abusers will deploy this trick when they want to destabilize their love object, throwing them off-center. Extreme narcissists will retract something that they said or did and project onto their lover the insinuation that the lover made up the situation or is going crazy. The term was coined from the movie Gaslight (1944) starring Ingrid Bergman. Gaslighting results in cognitive dissonance, the state of confusion and dichotomous thinking that a person feels when they simultaneously feel love for their abuser and also know that their abuser is engaging in a form of psychological abuse, causing them harm. Gaslighting happens in the devaluation and discard stages, and will resume after a hoover if the target allows another cycle.
An abuser verbally regurgitates his feelings onto his love object. Most often, an extreme narcissist ironically does not have high self worth and most definitely lacks solid insight. Narcissists are not able to examine and acknowledge their own transgressions and inadequacies. Grandiosity prevents a narcissist from allowing him/herself to be vulnerable as a human being and examining areas of growth. Instead of accountability, a narcissist “vomits up” their buried feelings about themselves onto their love objects. Over time, the target is repetitively abused, shamed, blamed and castigated for the very issues the extreme narcissist committed. Eventually and with exposure to relentless and persistent projection and gaslighting, the target’s self esteem plummets.
6. Trauma Bond:
Patrick Carnes discussed the notion of the trauma bond in his work, The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships (1997). Narcissistic abusers are notorious for blending their love-bombing with abuse tactics such as gaslighting, the silent treatment, and projection to intersperse the devaluation stage of the trauma bond, sprinkled with crumbs of consideration here and there. the intermittent reinforcement of the dizzying cycle of abuse perpetuates the trauma bond, rendering otherwise very strong and fortified individuals as paralyzed and feeling chained to their abuser. Fortunately, this trauma bond can be broken with intensive therapy for the survivor and no contact with the abuser.
7. The Silent Treatment:
The silent treatment has been written about extensively and is a cruel form of emotional abuse, not to be confused with No Contact. A survivor goes No Contact when they have decided to end the relationship with their abuser, as a way to create a healthy and safe boundary and to end the emotional pain and suffering inflicted upon them by their abuser. Pathological abusers use the silent treatment to invoke a state of power and control over their victim. Often the love object has set a limit or a boundary, perhaps criticized and action of the narcissist (and rightfully so with the egregious behavior that surfaces during devalue and discard stages). In response, a narcissistic injury follows for the narcissist who cannot fathom having their grandiosity and “specialness” questioned. To punish their transgressor, the narcissist deploys the silent treatment for as long as the abuser sees fit to resume power and control in the relationship. Often, endings of relationships initiated by narcissists are extended silent treatments whereby the abuser hoovers at a later date to tap the target for additional ego fuel (if the survivor is willing the play the game again).