Narcissistic FOG – How Narcissists use Fear, Obligation and Guilt as Weapons

Fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) are powerful forces that are regularly wielded by narcissists to manipulate their victims. Narcissists employ fear tactics in order to make someone feel threatened or scared. They impose obligations upon them to keep them in line and control them. And they invoke guilt by manipulating their target to believe that they they should meet the narcissist’s often unreasonable demands.

This post will explain how narcissists use fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) to manipulate their victims and what you can do about it.

Narcissistic FOG – Fear

One of the most powerful tools in a narcissist’s arsenal is inducing fear.

It’s a manipulative tactic that can be both covert and overt, but its primary goal remains the same: to control and dominate their victims.

Fear of Abandonment

Narcissists are known for their tactics aimed at isolating their victims from their support network.

They do this systematically and subtly until the victim finds themselves completely dependent on the narcissist.

This dependency does not come about by accident, but is instead the result of calculated moves by the narcissist.

By stripping away their victim’s support system, they instill a deep-seated fear of abandonment.

This fear is then exploited by the narcissist to ensure the victim’s compliance and continued dependence on them.

Narcissistic FOG - fear of abandonment

Fear of Retaliation

Another potent weapon in a narcissist’s arsenal is the fear of retaliation.

Narcissists are adept at using threats, whether explicit or implied, to control their victims.

The threat could range from physical harm to emotional manipulation.

For instance, they might threaten to hurt the victim or their loved ones, or they might threaten to tarnish the victim’s reputation.

The victim, aware of the narcissist’s capacity to carry out these threats, lives in constant fear. This fear then serves as a powerful leash, keeping the victim tethered to the narcissist.

fear of retaliation

Fear of Being Exposed

A narcissist thrives on power and control, and one of their most sinister tactics is the threat of exposure.

They may hold onto the victim’s secrets or potentially embarrassing information like a loaded gun, ready to fire if the victim does not comply with their demands.

This tactic is effective because it strips the victim of their sense of security and privacy, leaving them feeling vulnerable and exposed.

Fear of Public Shame or Ridicule

Another common fear tactic used by narcissists is the threat of public humiliation.

Narcissists will manipulate their victims by threatening to reveal their secrets or embarrassing information to others.

They might also recruit third parties, often referred to as ‘flying monkeys,’ to abuse the victim by proxy.

The narcissist could launch a smear campaign against the victim, spreading rumors and lies to tarnish their reputation. This strategy is particularly effective because it leaves the victim feeling humiliated, exposed, and socially isolated.

narcissistic FOG - fear of being exposed

Narcissistic FOG – Obligation

Creating a sense of obligation in a victim is a powerful technique in the narcissist’s manipulation arsenal.

It allows them to manipulate their victim into following their wishes without the need for overt coercion or force.

Creating a Perception of Selflessness

One of the ways narcissists create a sense of obligation is by portraying themselves as selfless individuals who constantly put others before themselves.

They will highlight their own sacrifices and acts of kindness, often exaggerating or fabricating these instances to further emphasize their alleged selflessness.

public display of generosity

Public Display of Generosity

Another common tactic is the public display of generosity.

Narcissists will often go out of their way to show their benevolence in public settings.

This is a calculated move, designed to create a specific image of themselves while simultaneously pressuring the victim.

The public nature of these actions intensifies the sense of obligation on the victim, making it more difficult for them to resist or contradict the narcissist’s demands.

The Victim’s Sense of Debt

The ultimate goal of these tactics is to instill a sense of indebtedness in the victim.

The narcissist wants the victim to feel as though they owe something to them.

By creating this perception of debt, the narcissist gains leverage over the victim, making it more likely that they comply with the narcissist’s demands.


Narcissistic FOG – Guilt

Guilt is a crucial component of the FOG (Fear, Obligation, and Guilt) strategy employed by narcissists to control their victims.

This stage is where the manipulative FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) created by the narcissist comes full circle.

He will stop at nothing to get what he wants, gaslighting the victim to believe that it is their duty to comply.

The victim is left feeling scared, obligated, and guilty – all emotions which the narcissist has expertly exploited in order to control them.


Making their victims feel ungrateful

A narcissist will bring up past favors and express disappointment when their victim does not show appreciation.

This is a way of guilt-tripping the victim into fulfilling their demands.

Claiming that any criticism or disagreement is an attack on the narcissist’s character

By presenting themselves as feeling personally hurt by the victim’s words, a narcissist can lead the victim to feel guilty for causing such pain and do whatever it is that narcissist wants, to make things right again.

Belittling victims’ opinions and beliefs

A narcissist may try to devalue the victim’s thoughts and beliefs to convince them that their opinion doesn’t matter, which can lead to feelings of guilt in victims that worry they may be wrong in some way.

Narcissistic FOG Fear, Obligation and Guilt)

Saying things like “If you really loved me, you would do this…”

This type of statement implies that there is something wrong with their love if it isn’t accompanied by certain actions from the victim.

This creates an obligation on behalf of the victim to fulfil the demand otherwise it would mean that they didn’t love enough or care enough about the relationship.

Playing off of social norms such as “You should always help your family first”

Depending on one’s culture, family or religion there may be certain expectations placed upon people which can be manipulated by narcissistic people who use this kind of thinking to put pressure on someone else by saying they should do something out of obligation rather than free will.

Bringing up past mistakes and asking why those same mistakes are being repeated

By bringing up old issues, a narcissist can make a person feel guilty in the present.

depressed man

How to Deal With Narcissistic FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt)

If you are concerned that your partner is using FOG on you then try to identify what kind of fear, obligation or guilt they’re instilling into your life and how they are doing so.

Narcissists know exactly what buttons to push, but there are some things that you can do to regain your power:

Acknowledge your feelings

It is important to take the time to recognize and acknowledge your emotions. Doing so will give you an understanding of why you are feeling the way that you do and allow you to start processing these emotions in a healthy manner.

Reassess the situation

Step back from the situation and think about all potential angles objectively. Once you have done that, determine what it is that truly needs to be done, or if any action needs to be taken at all.


Set boundaries

When beginning any interaction with a person who may be manipulating you through fear, obligation and guilt (fog), it is crucial that you set clear boundaries as to what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour from them.

This will ensure that they know that certain things are not okay with you or up for discussion and will help make sure your feelings remain respected and protected.

Seek support

Talk to trusted friends or family members about your situation so that they can offer some objectivity and provide support during this challenging time.

Having someone else there on whom you can rely can help provide clarity and strength when dealing with difficult emotions related to a fog state.

build a support network

Take care of yourself first

It is important to remember that your wellbeing should always come first, no matter how much pressure there may be from others trying to manipulate you into doing something through fear, obligation or guilt (fog) tactics.

Taking care of yourself means making decisions based on what makes sense for YOU as opposed to what would make someone else happy at your expense.

So take the time needed to understand this before committing yourself to any agreement or course of action which may not serve your best interests in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Fear, obligation and guilt are powerful emotions that can have a huge impact on our lives. They can create feelings of unease and discomfort in relationships, lead to difficult interactions with others, and prompt us to make decisions which are not necessarily the best for us in the long run.

However, by taking the time to recognize, acknowledge and process these feelings, we can come out of situations involving fear, obligation and guilt feeling more empowered and in control.

Understanding that it is okay to set boundaries, and asking for help when necessary, gives us the strength needed to confront such situations head-on.

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