Gaslighting is a tactic that narcissists use to make the people around them doubt their own sanity. It is a form of abuse that can have long-lasting effects on victims’ mental health and well-being, as it can lead to feelings of confusion, self-doubt and depression. In this blog post, we shall look at examples of gaslighting by a narcissist so that you can better identify it if it happens to you.
The Origins of the Word “Gaslighting”
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that involves making someone question their judgment and memories, often leading them to believe that they are losing their sanity.
The term originated from a play called Gas Light, which was first performed in 1938.
In the play, an abusive husband attempts to make his wife believe she is going mad by manipulating her environment and dimming the gas lights in their home.
Since then, people use the term “gaslighting” to describe any situation where one person manipulates another person’s sense of reality, using methods such as lying, hiding information, or constantly changing the subject.
What is Gaslighting?
The abuser does this through manipulation tactics such as denying something happened, even though it did.
They will lie about events or memories, refusing to accept responsibility for their actions, invalidating the victim‘s feelings and opinions, or even countering the truth with false information.
The primary goal of narcissist gaslighting is to confuse their victim and make it easier to control them.
As the victim becomes more disoriented, they become increasingly dependent on the narcissist, and as a result they are more likely to stay in an emotionally abusive relationship due to fear of rejection or abandonment.
The effects of narcissist gaslighting can be extremely damaging.
Over time, it can lead to cognitive dissonance where the victim begins doubting their own perception of reality and accepting whatever version of truth the abuser dictates.
It can also cause deep psychological trauma leading to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), suicidal thoughts and attempts, among others.
How to Spot Gaslighting
The following are 8 common signs of narcissist gaslighting that you should look out for in order to protect yourself from emotional abuse.
It is important to recognize the signs early so that you can take steps to protect yourself against manipulative behaviour.
Gaslighting can be a subtle, yet powerful form of manipulation.
If your opinions, emotions, or experiences are regularly dismissed, disregarded or even ridiculed by another person, it can be an indication that you’re the target of this insidious form of psychological abuse.
Victims of gaslighting can suffer severe damage to their confidence.
When the abuser dismisses or ridicules their thoughts and feelings, it has a devastating effect on their self-esteem.
This kind of emotional manipulation can leave victims feeling powerless and invalidated in their own lives.
Over time, victims of gaslighting may come to question their abilities and decisions, leading to further erosion of self-confidence.
Gaslighters try to cut off their victims from supportive relationships with family and friends, as this makes it easier for them to gain control over the target’s life and decisions.
They may do this by belittling those close to you, or even spreading rumours about them in order to drive a wedge between you.
It is easy to miss the signs that you are being gaslighted.
If you find yourself constantly second-guessing events or memories due to the conflicting stories your partner gives, it might be a sign that something is wrong.
Gaslighting can have far-reaching effects on an individual’s confidence and self-esteem, leaving them feeling confused and disoriented.
They may start to doubt their own thoughts and reality, leading them to further isolation and feeling powerless.
It is important to recognize the signs of narcissist gaslighting in order to protect yourself from its long-term psychological effects.
Apologizing too much
Gaslighting victims often find themselves apologizing for things they have not done, in an attempt to keep the abuser happy and make them less likely to lash out.
This can be a very difficult habit to break because it becomes a part of the cycle of abuse.
Victims can start working to break this pattern by recognizing when they are apologizing out of fear and then actively practicing more assertive communication skills.
With time and practice, victims can begin to assert their boundaries and stop feeling like they need to apologize for everything.
Victims of narcissist gaslighting often experience unpredictable reactions to situations due to the stress and trauma caused by their abuser.
They may react in ways that seem out of character, or lash out in frustration over things that seem minor.
This is because they are constantly living with a heightened sense of anxiety, feeling like they have to be on guard against their abuser at all times.
Victims need to learn how to recognize these reactions and work on self-care strategies so that they can begin to manage them better and move forward in life.
Victims often blame themselves for things that are out of their control, due to all the manipulation they have experienced from their abuser.
This can lead to a lack of self-esteem and confidence in the victim, as they start believing what the abuser tells them without questioning it.
Victims may also start avoiding situations where they could be wrong or judged, because they are so used to feeling that everything is their fault.
It is important to recognize this symptom and seek professional help if needed in order to break free from this damaging cycle.
Lack of trust
Victims of gaslighting often struggle with trusting people, even those who have nothing to do with their abuser.
This is because they have been so traumatized by the manipulative behavior that they become wary of everyone and everything.
They may find themselves questioning the intentions of everyone around them, or constantly looking for signs that others are trying to manipulate them in some way.
In order to overcome this, victims need to start building a support system of trusted individuals and slowly learn how to trust again.
Narcissist Gaslighting Examples
A typical gaslighting tactic is when the narcissist tells you that something didn’t happen, even though you know it did.
They may say “I never said that” or “You’re making things up.” This can make you feel like you are going crazy and that your memories are not reliable.
Another approach the narcissist might take is to make you feel like you are always the one who is at fault.
The narcissist may say things like “You’re being too sensitive” or “I can’t help it if you misinterpreted what I said.”
This will make you feel like you are responsible for the problems in the relationship and that the narcissist is not actually doing anything wrong.
Of course, this is far from being the truth.
Practical Examples of Narcissist Gaslighting
Narcissist Gaslighting Examples 1
Sam and his wife Olivia are at a party. Olivia is flirting with his co-workers and he is worried that she had too much to drink.
Her behaviour is over the top and she is clearly enjoying the attention.
On the way home, in the car, he tells her that he had felt uncomfortable, particularly when she was monopolizing his boss’ attention.
Olivia is furious. She accuses Sam of being possessive and jealous.
“You should be proud that your wife is admired!” she shrieks.
Sam is taken aback at her reaction and wonders if she is right.
The following morning he apologizes for his comments and promises Olivia never to comment about her behaviour at parties again.
Narcissist Gaslighting Examples 2
Sandy works all weekend on a report her boss needs on Monday morning.
She emails it to him and arrives early at the office on Monday so as to have time to make any changes he might request.
Her boss breezes into the office an hour late, and she immediately asks him if he found the report useful.
He answers that he had not seen it yet because the presentation had been postponed to Wednesday, claiming that he had told her about the change in deadline on Friday.
Sandy sits at her desk, confused.
She could have sworn that he had not told her – could she have misunderstood him?
She convinces herself that she must have misheard, sighs, and gets back to work.
Narcissist Gaslighting Examples 3
Sarah worked tirelessly to meet deadlines and exceed expectations in her job. Her narcissistic boss, Mark, often took credit for her achievements, claiming them as his own.
One day, Sarah received high praise from a client for a successful project. Excitedly, she shared the news with Mark, hoping for recognition. However, instead of acknowledging her hard work, Mark belittled her accomplishments.
“You were just lucky,” he said dismissively. “Anyone could have done what you did.”
Confused and hurt, Sarah tried to defend herself, explaining the effort and dedication she had put into the project. But Mark quickly turned the tables, accusing her of being overly sensitive and seeking attention.
“You’re overreacting,” he sneered. “Stop being so dramatic. You should be grateful that I even let you work on this project.
Sarah’s confidence shattered, she began questioning her abilities and worth.
Gaslighted by Mark’s manipulative tactics, she started believing that her success was merely a stroke of luck, rather than the result of her talent and hard work.
As time went on, Mark continued to gaslight Sarah, undermining her achievements and leaving her feeling powerless and insecure.
It wasn’t until Sarah sought support from her colleagues and friends that she realized the truth: Mark’s behavior was a classic example of narcissistic gaslighting.
Narcissist Gaslighting Examples 4
Lily had always possessed a natural gift for painting and had dreams of making a career out of her passion. However, her dreams were about to be overshadowed by the manipulative actions of her partner, Ethan.
Ethan was a charismatic and charming individual who seemed attentive and supportive at first.
He would often shower Lily with affection and praise, boosting her confidence in her artistic abilities. But little did Lily know that this was all part of Ethan’s plan to exert control over her.
As Lily’s art started gaining recognition and she began receiving accolades and exhibition opportunities, Ethan’s true colors began to emerge.
Instead of celebrating her successes, he would subtly undermine her achievements, planting seeds of doubt in her mind.
“You’re not really that talented,” he would say with a smirk. “I’ve seen better artwork from amateurs.”
Confused and hurt, Lily would try to defend herself, but Ethan would dismiss her concerns, accusing her of being overly sensitive and insecure.
Slowly but surely, he started making her question her own artistic abilities, making her believe that she was only successful because of his guidance and influence.
Whenever Lily received positive feedback or praise from others, Ethan would downplay it, insisting that they were just being polite or didn’t understand real art.
He would twist her words, making her doubt her own perception of reality.
Over time, the once-confident Lily became a shadow of her former self.
She stopped pursuing new opportunities, convinced that she wasn’t talented enough.
Her vibrant paintings turned into dull, uninspired works as she lost faith in her own creativity.
It wasn’t until Lily stumbled upon an article about gaslighting that she finally realized what was happening to her.
The pieces of the puzzle fell into place, and she saw Ethan’s behavior for what it truly was: narcissistic gaslighting.
What to Do About Gaslighting
If you think that you may be the victim of gaslighting, there are a few steps that you can take in order to protect yourself.
Does the behaviour fit the criteria?
Firstly, it is important to recognize the signs of gaslighting and determine if your relationship or situation fits the criteria.
Signs of narcissist gaslighting may include feeling like you are constantly in a state of confusion, questioning your own reality and judgement.
It’s a big red flag is you are being made to feel as if something is wrong with you even when there isn’t, or being deliberately isolated from friends and family who can provide an objective perspective.
If any of these things sound familiar, it is important to trust your intuition and take steps to address the problem.
Lean on your support network
Speak out and discuss your concerns with family or friends who can provide an objective perspective.
Unfortunately, however, it is sometimes the case that those closest to you may be the very people that are manipulating or influencing you in unwanted ways.
Therefore, it is wise to seek out unbiased sources of support from people who can help you assess the situation and take action if needed.
Additionally, it is important to seek professional help from a mental health professional such as a therapist or psychiatrist if necessary.
A mental health practitioner can provide the objective expertise and guidance needed to navigate difficult situations, establish boundaries and work through any underlying issues.
Additionally, try to create a safe environment for yourself by setting strong boundaries and limits about what kind of treatment you will accept from others.
This can include things like refusing to be yelled at or talked down to, not allowing people to pry into your personal life, or not allowing people to make decisions for you without your consent.
Finally, remind yourself of your worth by engaging in self-care activities such as meditating, spending time outdoors, and taking part in creative pursuits.
This can include things like meditating, spending time outdoors and being creative which can help lift your mood and provide an outlet for stress or anxiety.
Additionally, look into activities such as yoga, art therapy and mindfulness practices that are designed to relax the body and mind while providing a sense of clarity and balance. .
It can be hard to believe that life can get better when you’re in the throes of narcissist gaslighting, but there is always a way out.
If these examples of narcissist gaslighting sound close to home, do not ignore your intuition.
Reach out to a friend or family member who you trust and lean on them for support during this difficult time.
Take time for yourself, practice self-care and make your mental health a priority – it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.
It’s important to remember that while the experience can be painful and overwhelming, it won’t last forever.
With patience, determination and self-compassion, you will eventually come out the other side with a newfound resilience and strength that will serve you well in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions About Narcissist Gaslighting
Narcissistic gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation used by narcissists to make someone question their own reality, memory or perceptions, thereby gaining power and control.
Narcissists use gaslighting by denying facts, dismissing your feelings, accusing you of being too sensitive, manipulating conversations, lying, projecting their faults onto you, and generally creating confusion and doubt.
You might feel constantly confused, second-guess your memory or judgment, feel like you’re ‘going crazy’, find yourself constantly apologizing, feel isolated from friends and family, or have a sense of dread or uncertainty about making decisions.
Stay grounded in your reality – trust your perceptions and feelings. Keep a journal of incidents for clarity, seek support from trusted individuals or professionals, set boundaries, and consider distancing yourself from the person if possible.
Posts About Gaslighting
Carla Corelli is an author, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse. Having grown up with a narcissistic father, Carla experienced firsthand the profound impact of psychological and emotional abuse. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her insightful articles and resources, Carla endeavors to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
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