Gaslighting — one of the cruelest mental and emotional abuse tricks played on targeted scapegoats and preferred Narcissistic Abuse victims by social predators. But what IS gaslighting and how do you spot the mind game when and if it is being played by an Abuser or an Abuse Enabler?
Gaslighting is covert Narcissistic Abuse (and sometimes even Abuse by Proxy) to the extreme. It is commonly enacted by Dark Triads and their Enablers on people who love and trust them most readily. Regarding the all too common problem that occurs in households or places of business where a person or group of people have infiltrated a family or organization, Mind Body Green writes:
Sure, healthy couples [or healthy people] have misunderstandings and miscommunications all the time. But psychopaths will intentionally say things they know will provoke you. When you react, they’ll turn the tables and blame you for misunderstanding. Often, they’ll even deny that they ever said it.
This is called gaslighting — blatantly doing or saying something, and then blaming the other party for misinterpreting it (or denying that it even took place). The fact is, you understood what they said perfectly fine. They’re just trying to make you doubt your sanity.
When a victim is targeted by a social predator for abuse, typically they are carefully selected for their kind, emotionally sensitive, or trusting natures. People who are egocentric, have a Sadistic streak, and are Machiavellian by nature feel no guilt, shame, or remorse for taking advantage of the faith and trust of trusting people.
In the mind of a social predator, people who are caring, helpful, loving, trustworthy, and ABLE to trust are seen as an energetic food supply. They socially engineer it so that such people become dependent on validation from them and are constantly doing things to give intermittent positive enforcement alternated with abuse that encourages trauma bonding. The compulsive gaslighter strives to dehumanize their preferred target and use or directly abuse them for their own psychological, physical, or financial profit.
One moment, they will say the clearest, direct, and insulting thing they can think of, followed by denying either the word intent communicated or — if extreme — will flat deny having even SPOKEN. The more Machiavellian and Sadistic the Cluster B predator is by nature, the more extreme their psychological abuse of any people they believe might fall for a con or be willing to treat them as an authority figure.
Parents who have Cluster B personality disorders are far more famous for gaslighting their children, friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors more than any other cultural group, arguably. Teaching their children to keep things like physical abuse and sexual abuse a secret from a child’s earliest age helps them continue to abuse in private while confusing kids.
By denying abuse happens, blaming the child for abuse, or telling the child that they “love them” or were simply doing it for the child’s own good are common examples of gaslighting by predators with strong NPD, ASPD, and Machiavellian “Dark Triad” tendencies.
In romantic relationships, gaslighting tends to be more subtle. For instance, a Dark Triad might tell their current romantic partner lies about their previous lover. Striving to fuel a triangulation, they may do things like encouraging their new conquest to believe that their ex is still head-over-heels in love with them and desperately trying to get them back in order to make their new partner jealous and more inclined to abuse by proxy at their behest.
Or, they might do something less obvious but that causes them greater mental stimulation — like becoming a serial cheater but convincing their partner that he or she is simply imagining things like finding underwear in their marital bed that is not his or hers.
Or claiming every private call on a telephone is coming from a person the Abuser wants their new partner to target for abuse by proxy — while secretly having mistresses or paramours call using the blocked call feature.
The con leaves an innocent party targeted sometimes for decades for a rejected suitor enacting a vendetta, while enabling them to successfully cheat while simultaneously completely manipulating the psychology and emotional nature of the new narcissistic supply source.
Lovers who con also are known for playing the “love fraud” game. People who engage in love fraud activities typically tell more than one person at a time that they are monogamous. They also can remain faithful, but lie actively about loving, being romantically interested in, or wanting a serious relationship with their partner.
In the case of people who lie about their sexual orientation to a spouse, for instance, the Abuser may even treat a heterosexual life mate well but live a double life. By lydenying who they really are and putting the health and psychological well-being of their mate at risk, people who engage in same-sex acts without the knowledge of their hetero lifemate commit incredibly damaging social acts of betrayal on their partner.
Those who help people live a double life with a mistress or lovers are doubly guilty of gaslighting as well as enabling. People who help cover up for those having affairs, those who know about ongoing affairs but lie to protect a cheater when asked to cover for them, and people who know about things like domestic abuse or sexual abuse and minimize or lie to protect an abuser are all guilty of Narcissistic Abuse by Gaslighting.
People who gaslight might also use it as a subtle way to psychologically influence the emotions and thoughts of any person who they can infect with verbal bait. For instance, someone might strive to make a Narcissistic Rival self-conscious about some part of their anatomy in order to undermine their self-esteem.
Knowing full well, for instance, that Mary looks fantastic, Bob might say something to her like, “Wow — you look really tired… didn’t get much sleep last night, eh?”
Or Mary might make a suggestion to Bob right before the big business presentation that he has something in his teeth or a spot somewhere on his tie — simply so that while he’s worrying about his appearance, she will be able to present a more effective sales pitch to the boss (at his and the team’s expense striving to make herself look great).
Then there is the ploy of the gaslighting ENABLER.
For example, Stan — a father — is a serious alcoholic and drug abuser with a criminal past and basically no education whatsoever.
His new wife Janine tells everyone she knows that he’s a wealthy and successful engineer, hiding the fact that he abuses she and the family with alarming regularity while openly lying about his *true* source of income (running drugs and engaging in criminal enterprises to “feed the family”).
Stan pretends to go to work at his regular day job week after week, but despite claiming he’s working 120 hours, truly only puts in 20-30. When and if the wife catches on, he begins to smear campaign against her with friends and family, telling everyone — including his many mistresses and junkie friends — that she is “crazy”.
At home, he rages. In public, he’s charming. Janine tells NOBODY, including her own children or anyone in either of their families.
Claiming she’s too afraid to go to the police because she does not want to damage his reputation or embarrass the children, she enables him to keep abusing based on her own sense of complex attachment to Cognitive Dissonance about the state of his character, their marriage, or the family. When anyone asks how she or the children are doing, she makes pleasant small talk and casual conversation, dying a little bit more inside each time she misleads in order to protect the Abuser willingly.
Janine is guilty of Enabling and Abuse By Proxy when she engages in gaslighting to convince people that she and Stan are doing fine, as is their family. Children who break the silence and tell a teacher, friend, another adult, school counselor, or social services that daddy is an abusive drunk or drug addict who treats they and their mother terribly are typically labeled “difficult children” and punished.
But make no mistake — when and if a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, who is a Narcopath, or who is Machiavellian and has a Sadistic streak lies or hurls an insult… they are well aware of the implications. They know what they are saying, doing, and thinking (in essence) is wrong, but all willingly delight in engaging in deception and mental manipulation as a sport or hobby.
Most likely because they have a limited biological capacity to process complex emotions, narcy people who delight in feeling powerful and in control of other people’s beliefs and emotions start to play games with people’s heads for no other reason than to stimulate their own emotions. After all, when a person’s insides tend to flatline all the time emotionally as well as psychologically speaking, it tends to leave them in what most Sociopaths will openly admit is a nearly chronic state of boredom.
When a Cluster B person manipulates — whether they get away with it or not, they tend to have sensations of pleasure waft gently across their physical body, experienced as happy emotions. Thriving on competition socially in every human encounter, the social predator — a pack animal by nature — engages in acts like hiding their true nature from prey much in the same way a lion or lioness stalks prey in the jungle.
That’s part of the reason they tend to lash out so violently against anyone who exposes their gaslighting or con artist criminal schemes to the general public. After all, for a hunter to be spotted by prey can lead to the end of an effective hunt — or them having complete psychological, spiritual, and emotional control over the living, breathing, prey they have targeted.
The only people worse than Social Predators are those who enable them while following up with blame shifting lies such as “I have to stay — for the sake of the children”. Only parents and people who enable abuse while telling patent lies and falsehoods about why they do what they do are more morally guilty than abusers themselves.
Because they freakin’ know better. Enablers choose to overlook, minimize, and trivialize abuse for one reason only — because they want to stay romantically or physically involved with a stronger predator in order to advance their personal needs mentally, emotionally, financially, or socially.
There is no merit in abusing other. There’s also no true benefit to enabling, as Enablers tend to get the worst rap historically for ethically betraying any friend, family member, or person they themselves elect to gaslight while they selfishly and for reasons solely known to them willingly choose to protect, defend, or facilitate Narcissistic Abuse by Cluster B predators.