Singed and Spinning From Gaslighting: An Emotional Abuse Weapon Of Extreme Narcissists

 / 

,

Many have heard of the term “gaslighting,” a weapon emotional abusers employ to maintain or regain power and control over their victims. The movie, Gaslight (1944) starred Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten. It was the first work of art to dramatically portray extreme narcissistic abuse and the cunning and calculating tactic of gaslighting, designed to elicit maximum confusion, or cognitive dissonance, in its victim.

Read 7 Signs You Are a Victim of Gaslighting

Ingrid Bergman’s character experiences a whirlwind romance with the Charles Boyer character, the latter of which very insidiously begins to inflict psychological abuse. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the gaslights in the new couple’s home flicker. Bergman notices this phenomenon, and yet Boyer denies and negates the reality of the situation, suggesting ever so subtly but then more intensely that Bergman is going mad. She begins to doubt her own reality of the situation and believes the insinuations of her lover. Bergman is not aware that Boyer is in fact calculatingly and premeditatedly flickering the lights himself, so as to intentionally cast doubt and create cognitive dissonance in Bergman. Boyer’s character also isolates Bergman from any social support system, so she is dependent upon Boyer to be the translator of her reality. She increasingly loses trust in her own capabilities of discerning the reality of the situation, which results in anxiety, hopelessness, despair, and dependence on her captor. In turn, Boyer can remain in power and control in the relationship, however sadistically he positions himself.

In modern times, we may not have gaslights, but we do unfortunately encounter emotional abusers who deploy gaslighting tactics in work, community, family, and love relationships. When an individual is involved in a love relationship with an abuser, initially, the perpetrator’s intentions of power and control and not readily known to the new love object. Oftentimes, a period of idealization typically occurs whereby a honeymoon stage ensues, and the target falls genuinely in love with (unbeknownst to her) the emotional abuser. Ever so gradually, the extreme narcissist deploys their emotional abuse arsenal of weapons. Gaslighting is almost always one of those tactics. Denying or negating doing or saying something that actually took place is the most common form of gaslighting. The abuser then subsequently moves on to cast blame and doubt at the target for “misperceiving” the situation.

The result of gaslighting is always a sense of confusion and feeling off-balance. When a survivor of extreme narcissistic abuse is reeling from the aftereffects of gaslighting, they are said to be experiencing cognitive dissonance. What this means is that the survivor is holding two contradictory thoughts at once in her mind, such as “I love this man, but he is confusing me and making me doubt my perception of reality.” By the time a survivor is experiencing cognitive dissonance, he/she has fallen madly in love with his/her abuser and is only beginning to recognize that there are some very real red flags of extreme narcissistic abuse proceeding forth. When gaslighting is woven into the fabric of the emotional abuse, the survivor is further confused and tends to seek comfort from the source of her pain, her captor. A trauma bond forms in which the source of pain is also the soothing agent, reinforced by many vicious cycles of binding the target to the captor through emotional abuse tactics such as gaslighting.

Read 5 Things That Someone Who Is Gaslighting You Will Say

Survivors of narcissistic abuse can and do heal from the effects of gaslighting and cognitive dissonance by embarking on a journey of self-care which includes going No Contact with their abuser, entering psychotherapy with a skilled and trained trauma-informed therapist who understands narcissistic abuse recovery, and working through the traumatic grief associated with narcissistic abuse. Recovery also involves connecting with a trusted support circle and developing safe, healing relationships, in addition to practicing self-soothing exercises to release trauma (yoga, expressive arts, etc). Recovery is multi-faceted and also includes restoring self-worth and investing in the present and future goals. With qualified help, survivors heal and move forward to reach a place of balance and restoration of their emotional health and wellness.

*please note that the survivor of narcissistic abuse can be either male or female, as can the abuser. *


Contributed by Andrea Schneider

Ads

— Share —

— About the Author —

Responses

  1. Karyn L. Goodell

    5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Up Next

8 Powerful Phrases To Shut Down Gaslighting With Confidence

Powerful Phrases To Shut Down Gaslighting With Confidence

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you felt like everything you are saying or feeling is being dismissed and invalidated, even though you know you’re right? If you answered yes, then you were subjected to gaslighting. If you have experienced this, then remember these 8 phrases to shut down gaslighting like a boss.

When someone makes you question your reality, it can feel extremely frustrating and depressing. We’ve all been there at some point. These little digs can make you feel like you’re on thin ice, be it from a friend, family member or that one co-worker.

But hey, you’ve come to the



Up Next

The Emotionally Absent Mother: Overcoming Her Legacy And Healing From The Wounds

The Emotionally Absent Mother: Healing From The Wounds

Having an emotionally absent mother can take a heavy toll on your mental and emotional well-being, and that too from a very young age. This article is going to explore what it means to have an emotionally unavailable mother, how her emotional absence can affect you and how to heal from it and move on.

Growing up with a mother who wasn’t emotionally available may have complicated your relationship with your emotions. Our early experiences of emotional attunement play an important part in the subsequent regulation of our emotions.

An emotionally absent mother may fail to develop the kind of satisfying attachment bonds in her children that make sustaining ordinary relationships possible.



Up Next

Is It Love Or A Trap? 10 Ominous And Warning Signs Of Love Bombing

Ominous And Warning Signs Of Love Bombing: Love Or Trap?

Have you ever experienced the turbulent side of love, that comes from falling head over heels for someone? The butterflies in your stomach, the passion you feel, and the feeling of being swept off your feet – feels amazing, doesn’t it? But what if I told you that behind this seemingly perfect façade lies something dark and sinister? What if I told you these are warning signs of love bombing?

Welcome to the dark world of love bombing; a psychological tactic used by manipulative people to gain control over your mind and heart. In this article, we will talk about what does love bombing mean, and the signs you are being love bombed.

Let’s get started first with what does love bombing mean, shal



Up Next

Surviving Toxic Friendships: 15 Shocking Signs Of An Abusive Friend You Can’t Afford To Ignore

Signs of an Abusive Friend: Surviving Toxic Friendships

Do you feel like your BFF is jealous of you? Do they constantly criticize and always try to influence your decisions? Are they always around when they need a favor from you, but immediately disappear when you need support? Then it is likely you have a toxic, abusive friend. Let us explore the signs of an abusive friend and how to deal with an abusive friend.

A friendship is one of the most authentic and purest forms of relationships we can experience as it is not bound by blood or any compulsion. Friendships are born out of mutual respect, support, companionship and happiness. Our friends support us and pick us up when we are down and guide us when we stray too far.

However, some individuals use the mask of friendship simply to exploit, dominate and abuse us. They pretend to be our friends as long as we are of use to them and freque



Up Next

The Playbook Of Deceit: 11 Narcissistic Games Used To Torment You

Narcissistic Games Used To Torment: Playbook Of Deceit

Have you ever encountered someone that made you question your own sanity? Or found yourself caught in a web of manipulation, unsure of how you got there? If so, then you may have encountered a narcissist and have been a victim of narcissistic games.

Narcissists are masters at psychological games. A charming smile hides their darker agenda as they play several mind games to control and exploit you. These mind games narcissists play can be psychologically damaging, without you even realizing it at times.

In this article, we’ll unravel 11 narcissistic games, exposing all their tactics, so that you don’t fall



Up Next

Under The Narcissistic Veil: The Struggles Of Sons Of Narcissistic Mothers

Sons Of Narcissistic Mothers: Understanding Their Struggles

Having a narcissistic mother is, safe to say, one of the most traumatic things to go through. Sons of narcissistic mothers look at the world and relationships in an entirely skewed way, and this is due to the lessons they have learned growing up with a narcissistic mother.

KEY POINTS

The worldview of a young man whose mother has narcissistic personality disorder becomes skewed.

NPD is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy, among other traits.

Once one have been gaslit, they may always suspect the people they are close with may be ho



Up Next

How Men Suffer From The Lack Of Maternal Love And Affection When Raised by Unloving Mothers

How Men Suffer From The Lack Of Maternal Love

It is a commonly accepted belief that motherly love and affection are essential for the healthy development of a child. However, research suggests that a lack of maternal love and affection can have particularly negative effects on men.

According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, men who reported having a lack of maternal love and affection during their childhood were more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety as adults, compared to men who reported having a warm and loving relationship with their mothers.

Similarly, ano