How you are gaslighted by narcissists (explained in 32 points)

Gaslighting is psychological violence.

Narcissists (and psychopaths) selfishly want to dominate everyone and everything. Gaslighting is one of the narcissists’ most important and effective domineering techniques. In practice, gaslighting is a dangerous psychological weapon (psychological warfare).

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique, a form of insidious and elaborate brainwashing, a pattern of disgusting and abusive behaviors with the intention of not only influencing you, but completely breaking you down as a human being and then controlling you.

The technique is frighteningly effective, and psychologically devastating (much worse than you might think).

Through this technique, the narcissists succeed in making you an emotional and intellectual slave, a prisoner, and you become completely dependent on the narcissists in your thinking and in your emotions. Narcissists strive to hold you forever. They mould you and dictate your reality, without you realizing it yourself. You live in their fantasy world (where the sick narcissists set the rules and the standards).

There is a lot of information about gaslighting on the internet. I am researching narcissism and will give you a general and introductory explanation of gaslighting here, but recommend that you yourself look for deeper information (for your particular personal situation). Learn as much as possible, and you will quickly recognize narcissists and gaslighting every time you encounter them.

Gaslighting at all levels of society

Gaslighting is used by narcissists at all levels of society, from personal and workplace relationships to politics, mass media, advertising, culture, religion and history writing.

We must remember that we live in the narcissistic world system, where most of what we see and hear is gaslighting in various forms. Gaslighting is the narcissists’ means of power.

Most politicians are narcissists, so gaslighting is more normal than empathy and humanity in politics. The truth has no value anymore – we are all constantly gaslighted by those in power in society. That way, they can control your life without you understanding it.

The manipulator can be one or more individuals, or a group, and the victim can also be one or more individuals, but also an entire country or an entire world. The manipulation can e.g. take place within the family, at school, in the workplace, in the church, in culture or in society as a whole.

Whenever someone has power and control over information, there is potential for gaslighting. The one who has control over the information can dictate reality to everyone else.

Gaslighting in brief

The tactic of gaslighting is to undermine in the long run (slowly and gradually) your ability to distinguish between what is accurate and what isn’t accurate. You no longer know what is true and what is false, or what is right or what is wrong. You get confused and lose your grip on reality. You do not know what to believe, and no longer trust your intuition, your observations, your memory or your own abilities.

The narcissists isolate you and turn everyone around you against you. Your surroundings believe the narcissists’ lies, and begin to think you’re crazy. The environment helps the narcissist to oppress you and keep you a prisoner. You will be completely alone and excluded. That way, the narcissists will have complete power over you. You are forced to rely on the narcissists and their distorted reality.

You do not understand yourself that you have been brainwashed.

Finally, you are not only questioning your perception of reality, you are also questioning your own mental health. You think you’ve gone crazy and that everything is your own fault.

Gaslighting seen in a relationship perspective

In all its simplicity, narcissists can be said to deliberately lie, deny, distort, falsify and omit information – to confuse, manipulate and control you, so that they have complete power over you.

They criticize, condemn and belittle you, so that you lose your self-confidence and get a negative view of yourself. You begin to think that something is wrong with you. You begin to think you are a bad person with a lot of faults that make you unlovable and unlikable. That way you never dare to abandon or leave the narcissist.

When your self-confidence is gone, you begin to accept the narcissists’ abusive and disrespectful treatment. You think you are not worth anything better. You think you deserve the bad treatment.

You always think that everything is your fault. You become insecure and stop trusting yourself. Then it becomes even easier for the narcissists to lie to you, or deny and distort things. They control the narrative. You are fed with lies and misinformation. You believe everything they say.

You constantly feel confused. You become scared and insecure.

Making decisions becomes difficult for you. You think that you no longer can make the right decision yourself, so you have to ask the narcissist about everything. The narcissist makes the decisions for you. You become completely dependent upon the narcissist.

When something goes wrong, you always think it’s your fault, so you apologize and ask for forgiveness all the time. In reality, everything is the narcissists’ fault, but in this way they avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

You feel like a big disappointment (that everyone is unhappy with you). You hear it all the time from the narcissists. You yourself become disappointed in yourself.

You no longer remember who you used to be. You remember that you were different, but you no longer recognize yourself. You’re like a different person. You have lost your identity.

You are surrounded by psychological terror. At any moment, the narcissist can explode. You walk on eggshells and try to adapt. You are constantly on your guard, on full alert. You can never relax.

If you confront the narcissist, you will face even more aggression and evasions. You are severely punished. The narcissist always takes revenge. It’s not just words, it’s a behavioural pattern. You feel that the risk of physical violence is always imminent.

You abandon your own will. You agree on everything just to avoid conflicts.

You think you are too sensitive and that you overreact to things. And that that may be the reason behind all the problems you have.

You know that something is seriously wrong, but do not understand what. Others may see it, but you don’t see it yourself. You do not know what to do. You think that everything is your fault, all the time.

The narcissist creates smear campaigns against you and destroys your reputation (with lies). Eventually, everyone thinks you’re crazy. Nobody wants to help you. Everyone hits at you.

It’s a captivity. You are stuck and cannot see a way out. You see no opportunity for change. You think that this is your destiny.

You’re thinking of suicide.

Maybe you go to a clinical psychiatrist who tries to find the fault in you, and incorrectly diagnoses you with various personality disorders that you do not have at all. You are given medication and therapy, which of course do not help.

The only thing that can help you is No Contact, to be free from the narcissist for good.

May be difficult to detect

Narcissists are masters at gaslighting (as well as deception, fraud and acting). For an ordinary person, it can therefore be extremely difficult to discover this tactic. Even if the victim becomes aware of the tactics and asks for help, no one believes him. The narcissist shows a completely different face to the outside world, and always plays victim in a very credible way. The narcissistic system protects narcissists.

By examining patterns instead of persons, one can more clearly detect gaslighting. Narcissists have a distinctive pathological pattern, but also the victim’s behavioral pattern and mental state help to detect gaslighting.

32 elements in Gaslighting

Here I explain (in a very simplified way) some of the most basic elements of the Gaslighting technique (there are many more).

  1. Lies

Narcissists lie about everything. They are pathological liars. They lie to you straight in the face, over and over again. Nothing is based on objective facts or evidence, everything is based only on the narcissist’s lies. At first you may know that they are lying, but their lying is so consistent, and their lies so inconsistent, that you eventually no longer know what is true or not. Your stability is shaken, you become insecure about yourself.

  1. Denials

Narcissists deny everything. They deny that they ever said or did anything. You know they said or did it (and you have proof of it). Yet they deny it. You begin to question yourself. Maybe you’re wrong, what if it’s true, that they never said or did it. You begin to question your reality, and accept their false reality.

  1. Projections and false accusations

Narcissists always accuse others of what they themselves are guilty of. They accuse you of what they themselves have done. You get distracted and start defending yourself. The focus shifts away from the narcissists’ behavior (and so the narcissists always get away).

Here is a valuable lesson: listen carefully to the narcissist’s accusations and you will find out what crimes the narcissist him/herself has committed.

To clarify: What the narcissist accuses someone else of, the narcissist has done him/herself (= reverse truth).

  1. Withholding of information

To control the narrative (and weaken you), the narcissists withhold information from you. You will not receive all the necessary information.

  1. One-sided and subjective information

Narcissists only give you information that benefits their perspective. You do not receive objective information.

  1. Propaganda

The narcissists overwhelm you with propaganda, misinformation, disinformation and false / derogatory information.

  1. Exaggerations and distortions

Narcissists are pathological liars, who lie about everything. Their best lies often have a shred of truth in them. It is then easier to make people believe in them. Narcissists pick out disconnected details that they distort or exaggerate to suit their narrative.

  1. Repetitions after repetitions

When something is repeated often enough (and a lot), people begin to believe it. Through repetition, the narcissists’ gaslighting becomes more efficient.

  1. Rewriting history

Narcissists lie, deny, distort and manipulate to keep their power over you. They must make sure that their fictional stories become dominating truth.

They control the narrative and rewrite the history to fit their agenda. In this way, their charade becomes more trustworthy. This is how narcissists can represent “truth”, “history” and “tradition”.

  1. Erasure of objects and information

Narcissists hide, erase and destroy objects and information to hide crimes they have committed, or to accomplish their selfish agenda. They hide and erase evidence. Their lives are full of secrets. That way, they think you (or anyone else) will never know the truth about them.

  1. Words and actions do not match

Narcissists say one thing and do another. Their words and actions do not match. They are hypocrites. Their words are useless.

  1. Stagings of bizarre events

Narcissists stage bizarre things and events to further confuse their victims and the environment.

  1. Drama

The narcissists overwhelm you with drama. It can be intense outbursts of anger, manic outbursts and various forms of aggression and hostility.

It can also be artificial and false charm offensives in order to seduce you, such as flattery or promises of reward.

  1. Triangulation

Narcissists always triangulate. In this way, they make you feel threatened and worthless.

Narcissists use other people to put pressure and shame on you, and to make you think you are weird and lonely. Narcissists always prefer that someone else does the dirty work for them, because then they get away more easily.

The (often unsuspicious) people that the narcissist has recruited are trying to convey (and reinforce) the narcissist’s distorted version of reality to you.

  1. Different tests

Narcissists put you through various tests to see how far you are willing to go for them. Their goal is for you to serve only them and do all you can for them, since you are the narcissist’s slave.

  1. No respect for the boundaries of others

Narcissists are selfish and want everything to revolve around them. They do not respect the boundaries of other people. They exploit everyone and are specifically looking for people they can exploit emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually, materially or financially.

  1. The victim is changed and reshaped

Narcissists want to change and reshape the victim so that the victim fits into the narcissist’s imagination (their fictional reality). The victim needs to change his/her behavior, thinking and perhaps his/her appearance.

  1. The victim’s feelings are irrelevant

Narcissists do not value the feelings of the victims. By suppressing your emotions, narcissists gain more power over you.

  1. Aggression when confronted

Narcissists become very aggressive and hostile when you point out their games. To regain control, they multiply their attacks. They deny everything and become even more hostile and arrogant. This drama scares you and you start to beware instead of confronting them.

  1. Avoidance of the actual issue

Narcissists deny everything and then avoid answering. They twist and turn all discussions in order to always get away. They change the subject and refuse to discuss the actual issue. They use every argumentation error one could think of. They often rely on Ad hominem attacks. They pretend not to hear relevant questions. Their answers are vague and irrelevant. They never take the blame or responsibility for anything.

  1. Personal attacks

Narcissists attack a person with deliberately false claims and accusations, unfounded exaggerations, negative and condemning statements and personal attacks. The goal is to destroy other people’s character and reputation.

  1. They always attack what is important to you

Narcissists attack everything that is important to you and your character. They hit it as hard as they can (and take it away from you). In that way, they shake the very foundation of your identity.

  1. Verbal abuse, but sometimes praise

Narcissists take every opportunity they can to intentionally criticize, belittle and mentally abuse you so that your self-confidence is shattered. They press you down as deep as they can. They degrade you. They ridicule you. You begin to think that you are useless.

Suddenly they praise you (only to confuse you). You no longer understand anything, you become completely confused. You do not understand what you are experiencing. You think there’s something wrong with you.

Sometimes the verbal abuse is hidden in jokes. Narcissists often make sarcastic comments followed by the words “just kidding”.

  1. False promises

Narcissists make promises they have no intention of keeping. They are fooling you. You get an unrealistic hope that things will get better, and tolerate even more exploitation and abuse.

  1. They wear you out over time

Gaslighting takes place over a long period of time, gradually. It is a sneaky process that slowly tears down your reality and your self-confidence, and drives you insane. You eventually become so tired (and scared) that you can no longer defend yourself. You are mentally locked.

  1. Smear campaigns to turn everyone against you

Narcissists are experts at manipulating people. They find people that they know will stand behind them no matter what, and they use those people against you. Narcissists always want to control the narrative.

They create smear campaigns against you. They invent stories that make everyone think you are crazy, dangerous and manipulative. They turn everyone against you.

You have no one to turn to anymore. You become completely isolated.

Narcissists do not want anyone else to be able to help you or influence your thoughts and actions. It gives narcissists complete control over you. You are then completely in their power.

  1. Lack of empathy and morals

Narcissists lack empathy. Other people’s thoughts, feelings or well-being have no weight when it comes to gaslighting. Everything only revolves around the narcissists. They can witness human misery without reacting at all. They have no heart and no morals. They do not care that they cause pain and suffering to others. On the contrary, they get pleasure out of it.

  1. No regret and no remorse

Narcissists have no conscience. They do not show and do not feel regret or remorse, no matter what mistakes or crimes they commit. Narcissists think that they never do anything wrong. Thus, they cannot learn from their mistakes. They never change. They are incurable. Almost nothing stops them. If things do not go the way the narcissists want, they only see themselves as innocent victims.

  1. Playing the victim

Narcissists are skilled actors and always present themselves as either victims or heroes, or both. They present themselves as suffering, persecuted and oppressed. They want everyone to feel sorry for them and help them. Narcissists always maintain this false victim facade at all costs.

  1. Division of people

Narcissists always divide people into different groups, which they then turn against each other. It can be e.g. family members, groups in society, countries, peoples and religious groups. The goal is for everyone to be preoccupied with (and weakened by) strife and conflict that the narcissists control. When people quarrel, everyone’s attention is diverted from the crimes of the narcissists.

  1. Arbitrary inequality

Narcissists treat people differently (according to how it suits them at the moment). Sometimes they show kindness and respect for some people, while other people are punished in cruel and inhuman ways. It’s confusing for everyone. The confusion maintains the power of the narcissists, because then all people become afraid, insecure and on their guard. Fear is an effective weapon. The narcissists’ power is based on fear.

  1. They keep telling you and everyone else that you’re crazy

If everyone thinks you’re crazy (yourself included) then no one will believe you. You are effectively excluded, and the narcissist always gets away.

Some phrases that characterize Gaslighting

Finally, here are some phrases that are characteristic of the narcissists’ gaslighting:

  • That has never happened.
  • I have never said that.
  • You’re just fantasizing.
  • You just misinterpret everything.
  • You blow everything out of proportion, as usual / You overreact, as usual.
  • You’re way too sensitive.
  • You take everything so seriously.
  • Relax a little.
  • You’re just jealous.
  • I will not argue with you, this is pointless.
  • End of discussion.
  • You always cause problems.
  • You’re the problem, not me.
  • You are insane / You are crazy / Are you completely crazy?
  • You need help / You have mental problems.
  • If you would listen for onceā€¦
  • I was just kidding.

Something to consider

When you know how horrible and disgusting people narcissists are in their personal relationships, then why do you think narcissists would be different when it comes to political, business, religious and legal relationships?

We must focus on anti-narcissism and impose restrictions on narcissists.

This article originally appeared in Swedish on Kia Karlberg’s personal blog The article is auto-translated to English. You can visit an English auto-translation of here.