What is narcissistic Gaslighting?

gaslightingHas someone said something to you that stopped you in your tracks and made you question your own sanity?

Did it make you doubt your own memories and your perception of reality? Chances are you have been the victim of gaslighting.

Basically, they lie to you accusing you of doing something that you know you didn’t do.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological/emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into doubting this/her own memory, perception and sanity. Gaslighting is a form of mind-control leaving victims afraid to trust their own experience and memories of a situation.

There is an old 1940’s movie called Gaslighting, you can find on Netflix or Amazon Prime – it’s old with creepy music but the idea is that the husband hides things and then accuses the wife of losing them. She knows she didn’t touch them but then she looks, and they are gone.

Other things they might do is argue that you said something or did something that you know you didn’t do, they are relentless, and you start to get confused.


  • Do you feel confused or belittled?
  • Is your intuition telling you something is off?
  • You might start to have trouble making decisions or distrust yourself.
  • Do you feel like you lost yourself or don’t know the person you used to be?

Gaslighting doesn’t usually start all at once, like most of their devaluing and discarding behaviors gaslighting starts slowly. I often use the story of a frog that gets dropped in boiling water knows he is being boiled, but a frog that starts in cool water and the temperature is slowly turned up never knows he is being boiled.

They start with a little lie mixed with a spoonful of truth because it’s more believable that way and will confuse the victim. Remember the spoon full of sugar?

They continue to repeat the lie brainwashing the victim slowly (like the frog)

If you dare question the truth it gets thrown back at you and you are accused of having a bad memory, you are told you always forget. Be careful with this one, in the Gaslighting movie the husband then showed genuine concern for her which confused her even more.

Common things you might hear

  • You thought that last time and you were wrong, don’t you remember?
  • Where did you get an idea like that?
  • Quit bitching I am not listening to that crap tonight!
  • You’re making that up, I don’t remember that at all.

Common ways Gaslighting done – do you remember any of these?

  • Withholding: the abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. “I don’t want to hear this again” or “you’re trying to confuse me”
  • Countering: the abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even when the victim remembers them accurately. “you’re wrong, you never remember things correctly”
  • Blocking/Diverting: the abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts. “is that another crazy idea you got from {a friend}?” or “you’re imagining things”.
  • Trivializing: the abusive partner makes the victims needs or feelings unimportant. “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive”.
  • Forgetting/Denial: the abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what occurred or denies things like promises made to the victim. “I don’t know what you are talking about” or “you’re just making stuff up”.

Of course, this leaves the victim confuses and blaming themselves, and leaves you feeling crazy as you question your own reality.

What you can do

  1. Review things that happened with a different lens, can you identify any of these patterns?
  2. Often journaling about events that happen will trigger the clearer memory of truth. Keep records of things they say that confuse you because you might come back to it as you remember things and this journal will be your lifeline to sanity.
  3. Talk to a therapist or coach to get validated at what is going on, so you can learn you are not crazy. We heal faster if we drop the concern that we are losing our minds.

I have heard hundreds of stories and can help you be less confused. Click here to learn about my coaching.

Gaslighting and Narcissistic Abuse - How to heal with Amy Marlow-MaCoy

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