Narcissist Gaslighting: Signs And Examples

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Lori Pace

Narcissistic gaslighting refers to a form of emotional abuse that involves manipulating or distorting truths in order to instill self-doubt. Hence, follow this definition, narcissist gaslighting is a technique used by narcissists in order to gain control from their victims.

Gaslighting, a form of narcissistic abuse, involves manipulating or distorting the truth to make a person question their mental health and doubt their reality. Gaslighting, itself, refers to a type of emotional and psychological abuse that involves distorted truths in order for a person to question their own self-worth. It can be described as questioning the credibility of others, minimizing or denigrating events that have occurred, and leaving out important facts.

What Is Narcissist Gaslighting?

Although narcissistic gaslighting is not different from regular gaslighting it can be used for manipulative purposes. These tactics could be used by a narcissist to protect or preserve their ego, keep others away from challenging them, or maintain a sense of superiority over others.

There are often specific stages in a relationship with a narcissist. The honeymoon phase is designed to build trust and then slowly devalue the person by using abusive or toxic behavior. After the narcissist uses love-bombing or other methods to win your trust, gaslighting usually begins at the devaluing phase of the relationship.

Some Examples Of Narcissist Gaslighting

A narcissist can use many gaslighting techniques, but they all involve distortion, emotional manipulation, or misrepresenting facts. This is a common tactic used by people with NPD to make them doubt themselves and question their actions.

Uses Your Past Mistakes On You

Narcissists often use gaslighting to undermine or question your credibility. They do this by pointing out past errors you have made. They will always bring up past mistakes to undermine your confidence and give you an excuse why they don’t trust your abilities.

You are more likely to be triggered by them if they choose to make mistakes that you are particularly ashamed of.

Narcissist Gaslighting You By Accuse You Of Being “Crazy”

Narcissists often accuse others of being “crazy”, or emotionally or mentally unstable. They may accuse you directly of being insane, psychotic or mentally ill. Or they might just suggest it using gaslighting phrases such as “You might like to get your meds adjusted” or “You might get upset or mad.” Your reaction may be used by them to further prove that you are unstable.

Questioning Your Memory

Another example of gaslighting is calling your memory into question, and suggesting that you are misremembering or mixing up facts. This tactic is used by narcissist gaslighters to suggest you are “confused,” mixed up, or misremembering something.

Denying Facts

Another example of narcissistic gazing is denial. It includes a blatant denial or misunderstanding of facts.

Playing The Good Guy

Narcissistic gaslighters will often try to be the “good guy” in all situations, making themselves the hero of every story. Another tactic is to pretend they are the only ones who love you and care about your well-being, while also pointing out how others have hurt you or betrayed you.

Avoids Accountability By Shifting The Blame

Narcissists are more likely to blame others and change the facts than take responsibility for their errors. A narcissist might, for example, claim that they were merely feigning revenge or that it was accidental. 

They may also try to shift blame by accusing others of wrongdoing or “provoking” them instead of taking responsibility.

Narcissist Projects Their Faults To You As Gaslighting

A classic form of gaslighting is to project personal faults to stop people being able to call them out on their mistakes. Another example is to accuse you of being self-centered or narcissistic, or to say you care too much what other people think about you. This type of projection is how narcissists react to an ego threat.

Pretending To Have Allies

Narcissists may form alliances with other people to attack or discredit someone, or pretend that they agree with them when in fact they are not. This triangulation tactic can make you feel isolated and also cause you to question yourself. To gaslight others, narcissists may claim that “everyone” has said negative things behind their backs.

Using Indignant Outrage

Narcissistic rage, or indignant anger, is when an individual’s ego is threatened. It aims to suppress anyone challenging the narcissist. They want to be seen as victims. You might use phrases such as “How dare they accuse me of that!” or “I won’t stand for this type of treatment!”

Compares You To Other People

Narcissistic gaslighters may also use this tactic to make you feel inferior to others. This tactic can be used to lower your self-esteem and confidence, as well as pit you against other people.

Tells You You’re Too Sensitive

Narcissistic gaslighting can also involve accusing someone of being sensitive or too emotional. The narcissist may suggest that the person’s emotions are preventing them from seeing the situation clearly. 

They can avoid being held responsible for any hurtful words or actions they say or do by saying things like “You’re too emotional” and “You take it too personally.

Using Doublespeak To Remain Intentionally Vague

Doublespeak refers to the use of language to conceal truths or present information in a more acceptable way. Doublespeak can also include language that is intentionally vague or has two meanings. A boss might announce that employees are “moving forward” when in fact they were fired.

Pretends To Be Concerned For Your Well-Being

Gaslighting is another form of narcissist gaslighting. They pretend to care about or be concerned for someone in order to suggest that they are crazy, irrational or unstable. 

Feigned concern can be a passive aggressive tactic to make someone seem kind but it is intended to undermine their credibility. They might ask repeatedly if you’re feeling okay or if you have been sleeping enough.

Using Your Own Words Against You

Narcissists also use gaslighting to make you feel guilty. They often twist or take your words out of context. They can use the past to attack you, or make it seem you are being contradictory or hypocritical. 

This can be done by using phrases such as “Like You Always Say …,” or “You were the one that suggested …”.

Narcissist Gaslighting You By Inverting The Truth

Gaslighting is another type of inversion. Inversion is the opposite of truth. For example, accusing another person of doing or saying the same things as you do. Inversion can also be used to describe abusive or controlling behavior that is interpreted as acts of love. 

It’s obvious and can cause people to question their own motives more than subtle forms of gaslighting.

Trivializing What Matters To You

Narcissists may trivialize important or significant things. Narcissists may, for example, make a person’s career or passion less important by calling it a “hobby” or trivializing painful past experiences.

Saying Your Opinions Don’t Count

Invalidation refers to a form of gaslighting in which someone’s thoughts or feelings are directly discredited. To silence your views, it is possible to say that your opinion doesn’t “count” because you don’t know enough. This tactic is most common for narcissists when you have a different opinion from theirs. They see this as threatening, insulting, or challenging.

A Gaslighting Narcissist Uses Circumstantial Evidence

Narcissists will often use circumstantial evidence in support of their claims, or to refute another’s. This type of evidence is not objective and can’t be proved. It relies on weak correlations and someone’s opinion. They might accuse you of having bad intentions, but not have proof, or cite evidence that suggests a pattern in behavior.

Stonewalling To End a Conversation They Can’t Win

Narcissists will often shut down conversations when they are “losing” in a conversation. This frustrates the other person and prevents them from being right, making a point or resolving a misunderstanding. Stonewalling can be described as declaring, “This conversation is over,” and/or saying, “I won’t discuss it with you anymore.”

Recognizing Narcissist Gaslighting

Narcissist Gaslighting
  1. Pay attention to what you feel. What is the narcissist doing to you? Angry? Frustrated? Ashamed? Unsure?
  2. You must take responsibility for your emotions and perceptions. Gaslighting works because you are made to doubt your reality, rights, and even your feelings.
  3. This is a sign that you are gaslighting someone if you notice it happening with them. This is easy to ignore or justify, especially if we feel vulnerable in a relationship (e.g., with a boss, parent, friend, or colleague).

Dealing With A Gaslighting Narcissist

It can be difficult and frustrating to deal with a narcissist. Many therapists advise against having a close relationship with someone with NPD. Gaslighting can have many negative consequences, including lower self-esteem and confidence, increased anxiety and depression, and increased risk of suicide. You may need strategies to deal with situations where it is impossible to distance yourself from a gaslighting person.

Strengthen Your Support System

Abusers will often attempt to isolate victims and cut off their support networks from family members, friends, and other outsiders. It is possible to protect yourself from the harmful effects of toxic stress caused by a gaslighting, narcissistic person by reconnecting with or creating a new support system.

Set Boundaries And Stand Your Ground

When dealing with someone with personality disorders such as NPD, it is important to stand your ground and set boundaries. This means speaking up, refusing to be bullied or disrespected by others, and learning how to say “No” when you don’t like someone.

Write Journals

Keep track of the truth with journaling: Journaling can be a useful tool to combat gaslighting. It helps you keep track of all events. Keep track of the dates, events, and any patterns. This record will help you to stay grounded and true to your story, rather than letting the narcissist change it later.

Be Careful

While self-help articles often encourage you to be more vulnerable and open up, this advice is not applicable to narcissistic gaslighting relationships. It’s best to keep your abusive partner from gaining access to information you can use against them in toxic or abusive relationships.

Look For Alternative Perspectives

Another way to combat gaslighting is by seeking out other ideas, opinions, or viewpoints. To get an objective view, it helps to open up to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member or therapist. Researching or seeking information from trusted sources can help keep you grounded.

Avoid Arguing With The Gaslighting Narcissist

Refusing to engage in arguments, debates or have conversations with the narcissist will make it harder for them to gaslight you. To disarm a narcissist, one of the best phrases is “Let’s agree to disagree” (or “I guess we just view things differently”) This avoids the need to have a debate and makes it much easier for them to gaslight you.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!