The Effects of Gaslighting in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

Unbeknown to Paula, Gregory is not who she thinks he is, little does she know that in fact he is her aunt’s murderer, Sergius Bauer. It was no coincidence that he happened upon her in Italy. He had deliberately gone to search her out with the intention of seducing her into marrying him. His main objective was to gain entry into the house in London where he could continue his search for Alice’s jewels. It was his rummaging in the attic for the jewels that Paula had heard, and it was he that had caused the flickering of the lights (from the attic) when he reduced the flow of gas to the downstairs lights. She had become an impediment to his search, so he needed her certified insane and institutionalized so that he could be free to find his treasure. He came very near to realizing his goal, but by some chance encounter Paula meets Inspector Brian Cameron of Scotland Yard (acted by Joseph Cotten), who was an avid admirer of her Aunt Alice. He tells her that she is not going out of her mind, but that she is beings slowly and systematically been driven out of your mind by her husband. Together with Paula, and with the support of the old housekeeper (who had suspected the master of causing these events), he opens the “cold case”. The drama reaches its final conclusion when he arrests Gregory just as he has found his treasure of the long lost jewels.


What is the purpose of “gaslightings”?

As you can see, this “Gaslighting Tango” is a form of psychological warfare that is both deliberate and progressive in nature between one individual (the gaslighter) and another (the gaslightee). The Gaslighting Effect involves an insidious set of psychological manipulations that are carried out gradually in stages, and repeated time after time, in order to undermine the mental stability of its victim. It is truly a convoluted dance, where finally the unsuspecting gaslightee believes that they are going crazy. Anyone can become the victim of these gaslighting maneuvers; age, intelligence, gender, creed is no barrier against narcissistic abuse of this kind. It does not only happen in romantic relationships (such as Paula & Gregory above), it can occur in all different types of relationships: between parent and child, siblings, friends, and work colleague. Actually, it can happen between any two people in any walk of life if the intention is there. The gaslighting, as a harassment technique, starts with a series of subtle mind games that intentionally prays on the gaslightee’s limited ability to tolerate ambiguity or uncertainty. This is done in order to undercut the victim’s trust in their own sense of reality and sense of self, thus resulting in confusion and perplexity for the victim. Even when the victim is bewildered and left wondering, “What just happened there?”, there is a reluctance to see the gaslighter for what they are, actually it is this denial that is the cornerstone of the gaslighting relationship.


The “Puppet Master’s” Web of Deceit:

Narcissists are puppet masters who manipulate their victims for personal gain. With precision they are able to “pull the strings” of their victims without detection, and render them helpless. In order to understand how a person can become a victim of a narcissist in the first place, it is important to know that the narcissist has many faces (the proverbial man or woman for all seasons). Different faces are required by the abuser as they lead the relationship through different phases; The Idealization Stage, Devaluation Stage, and the Discard Stage. The good news is that the gaslighting does not happen all at once, it happens in stages, which means that if one suspects (in the early stages) that they are being gaslighted, they can protect themselves by walking away (physically or metaphorically). However, one needs to be informed as to what those stages look like, in that way, the individual will be able to understand and identify what is happening at these different stages. With this information, one will be able to spot if they are being gaslighted in any interpersonal-relationship (whether it is at home, work or socially), and guard themselves by keeping the narcissist out of their energy field.

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Christine Louis de Canonville
B.A. (Hons) Theology & Psychology, MIACP, MSIACP, CMH, CHyp, MPNLP. Christine Louis de Canonville is a licensed psychotherapist and clinical supervisor living in Dublin, Ireland. She is also an author, a professional trainer, and international speaker, a lecturer, workshop facilitator and external examiner.nbsp;She has worked in the area of mental health and trauma recovery for the last 28 years, providing psychotherapy to children and adults for a range of life issues, including Addictive Behaviours, Anxiety, Anger, and Relational Issues.
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