The Devaluation Stage:
The relationship has now shifted into the “devaluation phase”, and it is as if a lethal freak fog has descended over the relationship. Almost overnight the narcissist becomes decisively cold and uncaring. The effects of Gaslighting using this technique is that the victim’s falls from grace is a hard one, they cannot seem to do anything right anymore; the narcissists loving words turn to criticism, everything the victim tries ends in a negative effect, and they find themselves devalued at every turn.
Totally confused, the victim has no idea what is happening, and they become increasingly stressed, unhappy, and depressed with the situation. The roller-coaster relationship leaves the victim in a state of constant chaos, as if always “walking on eggshells”. All their energy is directed at defending themselves, so the narcissist is not getting a positive attention that they crave; this is likely to be the time when the narcissist starts to look for a fresh provider of narcissistic supply.
The narcissist gaslighting is now at its peak, and there is no reasoning with them. Confused by the narcissist’s bizarre behavior, the victim works harder and harder to please their abuser in the hopes of getting the relationship back to where it was at the start when it felt safe. Deprived of their “narcissistic drug”, the victim is suddenly thrown into strong withdrawal symptoms.
They are distraught with anxiety, turned inside out with confusion, and bereft of what they thought they had, a soul-mate. In order to cope with the pain of this deep wound of abandonment and rejection, they escape into a range of unconscious defense mechanisms (a mix of denial, rationalization, infantile regressive patterns, cognitive dissonance, trauma bonding, etc.).
Alone and isolated from the real world, these behaviors become their only way of surviving the narcissistic abuse, and the effects of gaslighting they are now experiencing. No matter what they do, they only seem to create narcissistic injury to this stranger, and each time they do that, they inadvertently release an almighty rage down upon themselves (without even knowing how they are doing it).
By merely engaging in these survival tactics, the victim becomes the hostage that is overly dependent on their captive (Stockholm Syndrome), where unpredictability and uncertainty is the order of their day. As a result, they are now caught in the macabre dance with the narcissist’s pathological grandiose self, where hell reigns supreme, and they regress into infantile regressive patterns of behavior (Regressed Infantilism). At this stage, they are most likely suffering the effects of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome (NVS), where they are reduced to a shadow of their former self. Finally, they are at the mercy of the whims and pleasures of their “puppet master”.
The narcissist despises who their supply person has become; they view them as powerless, inferior and worthless victims, but at the same time, their worthless prey is providing them with a bountiful amount of narcissistic supply. Therein lays the paradox; the more the victim shows their distress, the more they become a narcissistic supply for the abuser, and the more important and powerful the abuser gets to feel.
The more important and powerful the abuser feels, the more blatant their verbal and physical violence becomes. This “pull-push” scenario leaves the narcissist acting in a way that says, “I hate you, but don’t you dare leave me or I will kill you”. They will react to any perceived movement away from them as a threat to their narcissistic supply, therefore any show of self-determination by the victim will surly be devalued.
The narcissist is merciless in the way they devalue the victim. Devaluation of the victim can be delivered through many different forms and levels of attack; through victims’ own attachment needs, their intellectual capabilities, physical body, sexuality, creativity, etc. By this time, like Pavlov’s dogs, the victim has been conditioned, and appears to the outside world that they are willing partners in the narcissists “convoluted dance”. Even if they do manage to escape from that narcissistic individual, they are at high risk of future re-victimization and entrapment with other narcissists, because they are primed in a way that other narcissists can spot.