* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.
I have made a collection of more than 50 gaslighting phrases that narcissists say directly to people who have been in relationships with narcissists or have a narcissistic parent. This is real life with a narcissist!
Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique, a form of insidious and elaborate brainwashing, a pattern of disgusting and abusive behaviors with the intention of not only influencing you but completely breaking you down as a human being and then controlling you.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a bit misunderstood and misused.
Gaslighting is an emotional abuse tactic wherein an abuser tries to convince their victim that their own perceptions of reality cannot be trusted and that whatever the abuser most recently said is the truth.
Telling you that you did something that you didn’t do, in an attempt to get you to believe it, would in fact be one of the things defined as gaslighting. In fact, if I were you, I would ask myself how much evidence that I have memory problems comes from him.
Your partner sounds abusive and is extremely likely to be physically violent toward you and your dog in the future. I would urge you to get out and take your dog with you as soon as possible.
Many will lump gaslighting together with all the other manipulation tactics. It is easy to do this because we use the term gaslighting commonly such as “he’s gaslighting you,” implying that it is a manipulation tactic used purposefully by manipulative people.
While using the word that way is acceptable, I do it myself a lot. It is, however, misleading as it confuses what it is. Gaslighting is not a manipulation tactic; it affects a person who is/has been subjected to emotional and psychological manipulation tactics.
Remember that covert narcissistic abuse tactics are used to make someone believe, act, or think something they otherwise would not have without their knowledge it is happening.
The gaslighting effect is when the manipulator denies and therefore invalidates reality. Invalidating distorts or undermines the victim’s perception of the world and can even lead them to question their sanity.
Almost all manipulation tactics will contribute to the gaslighting effect. It is an inevitable effect of being successfully manipulated in some way.
You cannot make someone do something against their self-interest without them knowing they are even doing it without distorting their perceptions of reality in some way to some degree. So yes, lying is a manipulation tactic that contributes to the gaslighting effect as they all do.
Some tactics contribute far more to the gaslighting effect, and those are frequently called out as the ‘gaslighting tactic,’ which is incorrect. They are different tactics in their own right that happen to contribute more heavily to the gaslighting effect.
To make this answer more complete, let’s hit some of the manipulation tactics that cause higher degrees of the gaslighting effect. These often are referred to as using the ‘gaslighting tactics.’
That is not correct, though.
This is not a comprehensive list. As was previously stated, all tactics, even lying, contribute to the emotional abuse of the gaslighting effect.
Stonewalling– the abuser acts confused, pretends he doesn’t understand what the victim is telling him, and withholds feelings. (Note some definitions use stonewalling as synonymous with the silent treatment. I do not choose to use that definition. I find this one more accurate.)
- Why are you trying to confuse me?
- You are not making any sense.
- I have no idea what you want me to say
Countering – The abusive partner questions the memory and thoughts of the victim and supports the accusation with previous examples
- You never remember things correctly
- You know I never said that
- You have a very active imagination
- Get your facts straight
Blocking/Diverting – The abuser refuses to answer or comment, changes the subject, faults the victim accusing or blaming them, or faults the victim for acting the way they did
- I’m not going to go through this again
- We already talked about this
- You are always picking fights
- You always have to be right
Trivializing – The abuser makes the thoughts and needs of the victim seem unimportant
- That is hardly important
- Why would you let something so stupid come between us?
- You are just too sensitive
- You always blow things out of proportion
- Let it go already
Intentional Forgetting/Denial (really just a blatant lie, not neurotic denial, as there is no inability to face some reality of a traumatic experience causing the rejection. It is just simply a lie. Many times used just to dodge accountability) The abuser denies that things ever happened or denies promises he made to the victim to prevent them from getting a resolution
- I never did/said that
- That never happened
- I have never been there before
- You never told me that
- You are confusing me with someone else
- There is nothing wrong with my memory
- You know, I have a terrible memory.
The gaslighting effect can be applied to a massive impact in other ways. One example is making the mark think they are losing it. This could be done by hiding or misplacing things and then telling them they were never there, or their memory is failing them. This is referred to as abient gaslighting.
As I said, those tactics causing the highest gaslighting effects would also be unconscionable, which is why we see them the most in disordered pathological manipulators who lack the conscience and empathy to care about hurting others.
Gaslighting is an effect of personal attacks and psychological abuse over a long period. The abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting their memory and perceptions.
Gaslighting is an insidious form of abusive behavior. It makes victims question the very instincts they have counted on their lives, making them unsure of anything.
Gaslighting makes it very likely that victims will believe whatever their abusers tell them regardless of their own experience of the situation.
Gaslighting often precedes other types of emotional and physical abuse because the victim of gaslighting is more likely to remain in other abusive situations as well.
The psychological term gaslighting comes from the 1938 British play “Gas Light,” wherein a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using a variety of tricks, causing her to question her and her own sanity. Gas Light was made into a movie both in 1940 and 1944.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is nothing to take lightly. Nor is it a label to lightly put on someone you think is arrogant. Though people who pass for normal have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it’s a severe mental illness.
The warped thinking is so ingrained and stubborn that the mental health profession has had little success in dealing with it. It’s called “malignant” narcissism because it is just that, malignant. So, it’s far worse than just being arrogant. A malignant narcissist is a predator.
In other words, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is as serious as sociopathy. It is increasingly thought to be a form of sociopathy/psychopathy.
NPD isn’t occasional behavior. It is a pervasive pattern of thinking and behaving that corrupts virtually every human interaction.
Gaslighting has become a well-known tactic of abuse in the abuse survivor community, particularly for the survivors of malignant narcissists.
Unlike more vulnerable narcissists who may possess more of a capacity for remorse, malignant narcissists truly believe in their superiority, are grandiose, and lie on the higher end of the narcissistic spectrum.
They have antisocial traits, demonstrate paranoia, bear an inflated sense of entitlement, show a callous lack of empathy, and display an egregious liking for interpersonal exploitation.
Gaslighting provides malignant narcissists with a portal to erase the reality of their victims without a trace. It is a method that enables them to commit covert psychological murder with clean hands.
WHY DO SURVIVORS BELIEVE IN GASLIGHTERS?
Executed effectively and done chronically, gaslighting causes self-doubt and cognitive dissonance – a state of turmoil stirred by inconsistent attitudes and manipulation techniques.
Survivors of emotional predators sense that something is amiss, but when they attempt to address it, they are often blindsided by their abuser’s complete dismissal and invalidation of their reality.
Gaslighting begins insidiously in stages; during the first step, while the seeds of doubt are growing, survivors still have a grasp of their reality even if they might not understand what is happening.
Initially, they may attempt to reiterate their perspective and express disbelief at the gaslighter’s claims.
As gaslighting continues, however, it wears down the victim. Gaslighting is only one common tactic that toxic people use to turn the cycle of abuse.
According to Lynn Hasher, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, “Repetition makes things seem more plausible…and the effect is likely more powerful when people are tired or distracted by other information.”
Chronic gaslighting eventually leads to pure exhaustion – victims develop a sense of learned helplessness as they are met with the intense consistency of denial, rage, projection, or accusations from the gaslighter.
Exhaustion from abuse and retaliation for asserting oneself creates a mental fog of epic proportions, one in which a survivor can easily drown in even the most ridiculous excuses as long as they carry a grain of truth.
The survivor of gaslighting becomes submerged in confusion about what actually occurred and whether anything indeed occurred at all.
How to know if you are a victim of Gaslighting?
Gaslighting comes in many forms.
Are you the victim of gaslighting?
In many ways, the one who is gaslighting their partner may intentionally do it to cover up anything from a guilty conscience, an affair, drug use, etc.
So they’ll be quick to lash out at their partners to make them feel a sense of guilt just to cover their tracks.
Not sure if you’re being gaslighted?
Check out the gaslighting phrases list to know:
- You often feel confused and even crazy in a toxic relationship.
- You’re always apologizing left & right and overdoing it at times.
- You can’t understand why you aren’t happier. You feel miserable
- You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior.
- You know something is wrong, but you just don’t know what.
- You experience imposter syndrome, feeling imperfect, vulnerable, crying, and depressed because you feel “less than”. This is your partner messing with your head.
- You feel oversensitive about everything when you’re sane. Your partner isn’t.
- They’re tactical with it. They will wait until you address something bothering you and then say you’re overreacting. They know when to push your buttons and will patiently wait for you to snap. Don’t give in.
- Emotional/Physical shut/down/cut-off is a form of control, but in rare cases, they KNOW this, and deep down, it’s driving you nuts. They are restricting any conversation sharing of ideas/thoughts. This IS intentional. You won’t change their ways.
- In rare cases, the silent treatment isn’t always gaslighting or intentional but ignoring you is shared in BPD patients. Those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can appear loving or caring and then cut off for no apparent reason. They can react to perceived situations of abandonment. Often they can read into things that are not even there. They can become triggered to feel unwanted, mistreated, or abandoned. It’s out of your control. You may not even know this, which creates unnecessary anxiety upon waking day after day.
If you’re experiencing any of the above, your best option is to exit your friendship, relationship, or whatever it is you’re having with this person at all costs. Gaslighting usually won’t present itself until weeks to months later in a relationship.
50+ CRAZY GASLIGHTING PHRASES NARCISSISTS SAY DIRECT FROM SURVIVORS
Gaslighting is usually done in questions that sound doubtful in the context at hand. It has the best effect when there are more than two people in conversation: the gaslighter, the gaslighter’s ally, who can confirm the lies or at least reinforce the doubt by siding with their master and, of course, the narcissistic supply.
I never said that.
That is not how it happened.
You misinterpreted things.
I only said that because of you.
You made me do that.
You always are twisting things.
Your divorce has taken a toll on me.
When I get old and can’t take care of myself, just have someone kill me because I know you won’t want to take care of me.
Stop trying to mother him.
You fail at home so that you will fail at school.
I have forgotten more than you will ever be able to learn.
You’re so sensitive.
Why do you always have to argue with me?
You are not making any sense.
You read into things too much.
You are so stupid and immature.
You don’t know anything about this.
You always do this.
Why are you like this?
I never did that to you! YOU’RE hurting ME for even suggesting that!
Shame on you.
Oh, so I guess I can’t say anything anymore.
Show a little respect.
It breaks my heart to hear you think we set out to hurt you.
Why do you always bring up the past?
Where did I go wrong in parenting?
Why can’t you be more like your brother and sister?
I’ve done everything for you; I’ve given you everything.
I don’t remember that happening that way.
Are you sure your mom didn’t do that to you?
You’re taking things the wrong way again!
It’s always something with you, isn’t it?
You’re putting words in my mouth.
You’re making things up.
You’re so ungrateful.
I’ve done everything for you, and you treat me like a piece of shit!
You’re being dramatic.
I provided you with a roof over your head, food in your mouth, clothes on your back, and toilet paper to wipe you’re a**! I gave you what you wanted (snacks and such) when you didn’t deserve it!
Don’t put words into my mouth.
You don’t know everything/I used to be arrogant too when I was your age.
I apparently can’t have any negative emotions!
I should have never encouraged you to speak.
I didn’t mean it like that.
You have a selective memory.
If you were paying attention…
If you were listening…
If you knew how to listen…
We talked about this. Don’t you remember?
I guess I’ll have to repeat myself since you can’t remember.
You need to learn to communicate better.
You’re being irrational.
Don’t you think you’re over-reacting?
You’re just over-sensitive.
Stop being so sensitive.
You’re too emotional.
You can’t take a joke.
You’re so thin-skinned.
You always jump to the wrong conclusion.
Stop taking everything I say so seriously.
Can you hear yourself?
I criticize you because I like you.
You’re the only person I have these problems with.
You’re reading too much into this.
I’m not arguing; I’m discussing.
I know what you’re thinking.
You should have known that this was not a good time to talk.
Why are you upset? I was only kidding.
Why would you think that? What does that say about you?
I had it much worse than you.
I only did it because of what you did/you do it.
It was just a joke.
You’re crazy. No one will believe you over me.
One day, you’ll understand when you get into the real world.
How much control do you want?!
Well, if you would just do what I tell you to do, we wouldn’t have this problem.
You need to learn to lighten up.
You’re so sensitive! How are you going to handle the real world?!
You’re being so emotional.
I don’t remember that/I don’t remember saying that.
Oh, come on, it’s not that big a deal. Why are you a big baby about this?
How much more [basic need/necessary resource] could you need?
You think you know everything and that you’re never wrong.
You always have to have the last word.
You only think that because you’re too [young/stupid/female/queer/etc.] to know any better.
I never said that! That’s not even something I would say…
I’m not sure why you’re so insecure or whatever your issues are…
I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Maybe because your mom, dad, and sister died, there’s something broken inside you……
I don’t know why you insist on relating to the person you say I am when I’m not that person…..
If anyone is abusive in this relationship, it’s you. You hit me once, did I ever hit you?…
You’re ruining the family by not following my lead….
Maybe you do need to get on some medication after all…
I’m a happy-go-lucky person, I’m easy to get along with, but you can’t live without drama……
What’s wrong with you? You just need to fight, don’t you? You just can’t be happy………
I don’t know who you think you’re relating to, but that guy you describe as me is not me……
You’re leading the family astray, just like Solomons’s pagan wives…..
A woman is commanded to submit to her husband, and you know that. I’m not telling you that. God tells you that…..
You have no respect for the Word of God. Don’t talk to me about the Bible….
I don’t understand if it’s a compréhension problem with you or if you’re just playing dumb……
Wait, wait, wait… You’re not trying to say that (…), are you?”
“I mean, EVERYONE knows that (…)!”
“Not sure what are you on but take my advice and halve the dose….”
“(…)? You must’ve been dreaming, haha!”
“Erm… is it me, or you just said (…)?”
“Are you shitting me?!”
“Don’t give me that shit….”
We may all find ourselves saying some of those things at times. Those gaslighting phrases do not necessarily imply manipulation, though.
We may not be trying to deceive the other person with the intent to dodge accountability or distort their reality and confuse them. We maybe are genuinely confused or don’t know.
However, if I know something is accurate and even worse, I know you also know it to be accurate, but I play dumb or say those things to confuse you and question yourself, then it puts that person in the twilight zone.
It messes with their head. It distorts their sense of reality. It makes them question their sanity. That is creating a gaslighting effect.
Manipulation is a consequence of emotional immaturity and power imbalances. This is why we see a lot of manipulation with children. The personality-disordered pathological manipulators are emotionally immature as well.
There is also a complete power imbalance in romantic relationships with disordered people, with the victim having none.
This can sometimes lead the victim to resort to manipulation as self-defense. Intentions do matter as well.
Bad behavior is bad behavior that cannot be changed, but context and intentions will always be a factor in deciding a person’s blame for that bad behavior. In this case, the victim was being exploited.
There was a significant power struggle in the relationship, and the victim defended themselves by resorting to manipulation tactics.
How many of these gaslighting phrases have you heard in your relationships?
Comment below what other gaslighting phrases you have been told and they will be added to the list here to help others recognize the signs of gaslighting and emotional abuse.
Continue Reading About Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- What To Do When A Narcissist Is Mad At You?
- How To Communicate With A Narcissist
- How To Make A Narcissist Respect You
- What Happens When You Ignore A Narcissist?
- Who Does A Narcissist Marry?
- Dating Someone Who Was Abused By A Narcissist
- How Long Can A Narcissist Stay Married?
- What Is The Opposite Of A Narcissist?
- How Does Dating A Narcissist Change You?
- When A Narcissist Leaves You For Someone Else
- What Is Love Bombing When It Comes From A Narcissist?
- How to use The Grey Rock Method on a Narcissistic Abuser
- What Does A Narcissist Look For When Dating?
- How Long Does It Take To Recover From Narcissistic Abuse?
- How To Heal From Narcissistic Abuse
- How To Help A Victim Of Narcissistic Abuse
- Top 6 Narcissistic cheating patterns
- What A Narcissist Does At The End Of A Relationship
- Do Narcissists Know They Are Narcissists?
- How To Know If A Narcissist Is Finished with You
- Can A Narcissist Be Faithful?
- How To Live With A Narcissist
- Can A Narcissist Change?
- Are Narcissists Born Or Made?
- Do Narcissists Feel Guilt?
- 5 Things You Need to Know About Narcissists to Protect Yourself
- The Steps of Loving a Narcissist
- 52 Questions to ask Yourself- Am I a Narcissist?
- How to heal from being raised by a Narcissistic Parents
- What will destroy narcissist’s ego?
- The Narcissist’s Secret Weapon