Learning To Recognize Narcissists and Gaslighting Behaviors

Many people know someone who is a narcissist. The American Psychological Association has listed narcissistic personality disorder or NPD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders since 1968. While there are relatively few diagnoses made, leading researchers estimate around 1% of all adults show symptoms

Narcissism is more than just run of the mill egocentricity. There are a very specific set of traits that people with NPD exhibit. According to leading American psychiatrist James Masteron, the seven traits of NPD are:

Shamelessness–A narcissist views themselves to be flawless. Shame isn’t present in their emotional range. For example, while they may acknowledge they made a bad choice, while they may not experience remorse for their actions.

Envy–They can’t bear to see other people be successful. This will cause them to undermine any praise or achievements of those around them.

Boundaries–the narcissist takes and takes and ignores others’ boundaries. This like the other behaviors comes from their feelings of superiority and entitlement.

Additionally, the narcissist engages in a range of behaviors that create uncertainty, isolation, and even feelings of distrust in their partner’s own memories.

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Gaslighting is Psychological Abuse

This is done through a behavior known as gaslighting, which is a type of psychological abuse. When I work with my coaching clients, most who have been in a relationship with a narcissist have experienced some form of gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a process. It happens over a long time and involved telling a partner a false version of a story, telling them they’re imagining things, or that they’re overly dramatic or emotional. This constant deceit creates doubt in your memories and experiences.

Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting, and it occurs in many dysfunctional relationships. In my book, Love Smacked, I talk about how gaslighting can be used by narcissists in codependent relationships, leading to long-term challenges in seeing the abuse in the relationship at an emotional or even a physical level.

Key Signs of Gaslighting

Knowing the signs of gaslighting can help you to recognize the feelings of confusing and emotional distress you are experiencing. These signs include:

  • Physical and emotional abuse that is denied by the offender, even as it is occurring.
  • Clear recollections of an event that are dismissed or corrected by a partner.
  • Feeling the need to apologize for constantly being at fault, even if the argument or conflict was started by your partner.
  • Lack of trust in your own senses, memories, and actions.

Often gaslighting is almost impossible to identify if it has been going on for a period of time. Working with a coach familiar with gaslighting can be critical in gaining confidence in yourself now and in the future.

Entitlement–Narcissists expect to be treated differently and better than others, because they think they’re superior. Failing to respond to these superior needs may trigger rage or retribution. In their mind, they’re unique and therefore deserve the doting they desire.

Magical Thinking–They believe they are directly responsible for bringing about all good things in their world. Anything negative that happens is distorted or the fault of someone else, typically the partner.

Arrogance–Narcissists make themselves look better by putting others down. This is often done in very public forums and based on their knowledge of another person’s areas of insecurity or fear.

Exploitation–Narcissists may manipulate people into relationships into subservience or inferiority complexes positions to get a sense of power over them, without any consideration for the hurt it may cause.

Do you know a narcissist? Have you experienced gaslighting? Have you been losing confidence in yourself? What are steps you will be taking to deal with this? Be sure to share your thoughts and questions using the comment section below so we can all learn from and help each other…

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