Gaslighting and Narcissism: Kissing Cousins

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If someone’s narcissistic, the chances are there are gas lighter as well. And if someone’s gas lighting you for sure they’re narcissistic. These are kissing cousins! To quote Forest Gump, these go together like peas and carrots! There’s also a tremendous variation in both of these qualities which will touch on briefly here.

narcissism and gaslighting

Where Do These terms Come from?

Let’s start out with being narcissistic; being narcissistic does not necessarily mean you have a diagnosis of narcissism. Narcissism derives its name from The Greek myth about Narcissus who fell in love with his own image. In psychology, the term has been coined to describe someone who thinks of themselves more than others. This doesn’t mean they don’t think of others at all, it simply means they always come first. 

Gas lighting derives its name from The 1938 British stage play called Gaslight. This was also produced into a film in the UK in 1940 and in the US in 1944. The play and the movies depict vividly the elements of the gaslighting technique. This is to convince someone that they are wrong or crazy in some form even if they’re not.

Are you beginning to see why these go together like peace and carrots? In order to want to convince someone that they are wrong or crazy, you certainly would not have their well-being on the front burner. Gaslighting is the premier tool for a person who is thinking mainly of themselves.

Narcissism vs Narcissistic Tendencies

Narcissism occurs on a scale. Think of one being mother Teresa, completely self-effacing. Think of 10 being Miranda priestly in The devil wears Prada, or perhaps Cruella Deville in 101 Dalmatians. These are characters who will do anything to get what they want. They don’t care what the cost is to other human beings. They will use other human beings to their own ends. In this sense, they might think of what motivates another human being. However, they never think about what motivates a human being in terms of what’s a benefit for The person they’re motivating. It’s always to get that person to do something they want. In essence, the narcissist views all creatures as tools, or a means to a specific goal that they want. 

Not all people who engage in narcissistic behavior are necessarily gas lighters. It’s far more likely this if someone’s on the upper end of the scale, they will also engage in gas lighting. On the lower end of the scale we’re more likely to see manipulative behavior and denial on the part of the narcissist, but not to the level of trying to convince the other person of the reality of their point of view. Most narcissists are perfectly content to live in their own bubble. Only a highly evolved narcissist, someone who is on the higher end of the scale actually tries to invite people into their own bubble and try and keep them there. Gaslighting is all about keeping you in their bubble. They want you to see the world the way they see it. Regardless of evidence to the contrary!

narcissism and gaslighting

Gaslighting Defined

In essence, narcissism is about getting people to do what you want them to do. Gas lighting is a highly evolved form of this. Gaslighting involves convincing another person that your point of view is correct. Truly talented gas lighters will take the point of view of the other person and turn it upside down to match their own. They’ll take the facts and arguments of the other person and twist them into their own frame so to speak.

Forms of gaslighting are obvious convincing someone that their point of view is insane. Another is simply convincing them that they’re wrong. Really deep gas lighting is a form of brainwashing when you think about it. This brainwashing shows up as using your arguments against you. Making up facts perhaps is passed on by other people to the gaslighter as evidence that you’re wrong. Describing a situation as being dangerous to you so that they can rescue you from it, whether it is or it isn’t. Painting a beautiful picture about a situation that’s incredibly appealing to you, that makes you feel good about yourself, so much so that you stop seeing facts that are to the contrary. Straight-up emotional bullying is another form of gaslighting. Creating a terror-filled environment where you don’t dare step out of line. Telling you it’s quote my way or the highway ” can also be a form of gas lighting.

Sound Familiar?

If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to take a closer look at the relationship that you’re in. To be clear, the narcissist is not necessarily evil. The chances are they were badly damaged as children. They’re creating their particular reality because it’s what feels safe to them. They don’t bully, control, cajole, or manipulate others just for the fun of it. They do it because it is vital to them that they maintain their own personal bubble in which they are right and their view of reality is correct. That doesn’t make it good, it just makes it understandable.

There’s a big difference between someone who’s an emotional bully and someone who’s a narcissist though they can be one and the same. It’s possible that you’re living with someone who is an emotional bully and has some narcissistic tendencies but is also capable of compassion. Compassion, as opposed to empathy, is an indicator that you’re not dealing with a full-on narcissist. While empathy is the ability to see into other people, compassion is the desire to act on their behalf.