Shahida Arabi recently posted 7 Gaslighting Phrases Malignant Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths Use To Silence You, Translated
I found much familiar there. For example:
First phrase: “You’re crazy.” I got this one from Richard and Tracy (“you’re not all there”).
Translation: You’re not the pathological one here. You’re just catching onto who I really am behind the mask and attempting to hold me accountable for my questionable behavior. I’d rather you question your own sanity so you believe that the problem is really you, rather than my own deceptiveness and manipulation. So long as you believe you’re the one who needs help, I’ll never have to take responsibility for changing my own disordered ways of thinking and behaving.
There’s also a bit about narcissists provoking jealousy, and “Manufacturing love triangles and harems are a narcissist’s forte.” I saw this more than once: There was Richard, who I now realize made a habit of provoking people to jealousy, whether it was romantic partners or platonic friends, because he got off from people arguing over him. He once boasted that he got three best friends to hate each other because he was dating all of them at once. Then there was Phil, who constantly tried to make me jealous, while then accusing me of jealousy.
Third phrase: “You’re too sensitive.” I got that one from Richard.
Translation: It’s not that you’re too sensitive, but rather that I am insensitive, callous, and unempathic. I do not care about your emotions unless they serve me in some way. Your negative reactions provide me stimulation and pleasure, so please, do keep going. I enjoy putting you down for having legitimate reactions to my abuse.
Fifth phrase: “You need to let it go. Why are you bringing this up?”
Translation: I haven’t given you enough time to even process the last heinous incident of abuse, but you need to let it go already so I can move forward with exploiting you without facing any consequences for my behavior. Let me love-bomb you into thinking that things will be different this time around. Don’t bring up my past patterns of abusive behavior, because you’ll then recognize that this is a cycle that will just continue.
The post notes that this is a way of forming a trauma bond:
This form of abuse amnesia adds onto your addictive bond to the abuser, also known as “trauma bonding.” According to Dr. Logan (2018), “Trauma bonding is evidenced in any relationship which the connection defies logic and is very hard to break. The components necessary for a trauma bond to form are a power differential, intermittent good/bad treatment, and high arousal and bonding periods.”
I’ve experienced this now and then; it also features prominently in my work-in-progress, a novel about a time-traveler who puts a young girl in a trauma bond that neither of them can break.
Sixth, “You’re the problem here, not me”:
Translation: I am the problem here, but I’ll be damned if I let you know it! I’d rather subject you to personal attacks as you bend over backwards trying to hit constantly moving goalposts and arbitrary expectations of the way I think you should feel and behave. As you spend most of your time trying to fix your fabricated flaws while always coming up short of what I deem “worthy,” I can just sit back, relax, and continue to mistreat you the way I feel entitled to. You won’t have any energy left to call me out.
I’ve experienced this repeatedly. There was Tracy, with her constantly changing expectations that it was impossible for me to meet, and my “flaws” which she made up. There was Phil, who at first was the One, my perfect man–then turned into the abuser, never satisfied with me, always yelling at me for every little thing I did or didn’t do, and then accusing me of being the one with the problem (story here). Then there was the Avenger, a BBS troll who bullied and abused others (including me) while insisting that they were the ones with the problem, that she was just avenging herself and others. Then when she discovered I wrote about this on my website, said I had an “interesting perspective” on what happened–basically invalidating and gaslighting me.
Then seventh, “I never said or did that. You’re imagining things.” This one suggests that you keep records of everything the abuser does or says, and learn to validate your own perceptions and recognize red flags. Through all the abuse I’ve experienced from various people, I’ve held onto my own perceptions, which helps keep me from thinking I somehow “deserved” it.
Getting space from your abuser is essential. Be sure to document events as they happened, rather than how your abuser tells you they happened. Save text messages, voicemails, e-mails, audio or video recordings (if permitted in your state laws) which can help you to remember the facts in times of mental fog, rather than subscribing to the distortions and delusions of the abuser.
I’m certain that some of my abusers–Shawn, who complained that I wrote about everything in my diary, and Richard/Tracy, who tried to make me feel like a creepy stalker for saving e-mails and letters to/from friends–did this to try to gaslight me. If I couldn’t remember what exactly happened or was said, then they could re-write each incident in my head. But because I held onto my records, I could look back at them later and say no, that’s not what happened!
Comments are turned off here so you can put them on the original post.
Oh, by the way, also on that website, I found this post by Lenora Thompson. Seems she hoped her narcissist abusers would find her website on narcissism, so she could confront them without violating her No Contact rule, and–maybe, hopefully–help them see what they did and change their behavior. Instead of that, she got legal threats. But it shows me I’m not the only one who wanted to tell her abusers what they did, but in a safe way. She wrote,
While the debate still rages whether one should or should not inform narcissists of their Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I’m glad I did it and here’s why:
- I notified them of why I, their “loved one” suddenly went No Contact. I owed them at least that much.
- I confirmed their narcissism via the “litmus test” for my own peace of mind.
- I gave them the tools for informing and educating themselves about narcissism.
- I gave them the opportunity to change and become better people.
- I gave them the data to diagnosis the problems in other dysfunctional, painful relationships.
- I loved them enough to share a list of cancer cures.
Whether you inform the narcissists in your life that they are narcissists is entirely up to you. There are a lot of considerations. Are they violent? Are they vindictive? Will they use that information to turn your shared children against you via Parental Alienation? Are there a lot of flying monkeys about?
Are you doing it to benefit them? Do they honestly want to know? Is there a chance for them to change? Do you owe them that chance?
Do you owe it to yourself? Can you live with yourself if you don’t tell them? Can you live with yourself if you do tell them? What does your character demand? What will give you the most peace of mind, the clearest conscience?
So far, I see no evidence that they’ve accepted the “core dynamic,” learned, benefited nor changed. In fact, their continued actions continue to confirm my diagnosis of narcissism. I hope I’m wrong. I still hope against hope. At the very least, I put a bug in their ear. Perhaps, someday soon, they’ll look into it. Perhaps they have already! I hope so.
But, until then, I did what I thought was right and my conscience is clear.
I feel much the same: In the past, I had directly confronted abusers, who turned it around against me, making it fit their narrative that I was the crazy one. In Richard/Tracy’s case, I still felt the need to confront them with what they did and that it was abuse, that I didn’t deserve any of it, but could see no way to directly confront them–especially after what had happened with other abusers. My website was a way to get it all out. And of course, it went badly…and yet I don’t regret it. My reasons are similar to Thompson’s.