Conspiracy Gaslighting Takes a Heavy Toll

Gaslighting by Conspiracy

Conspiracy gaslighting is all too common. And it takes a heavy emotional toll on its victims. Gaslighting by conspiracy happens when a covert abuser (e.g., narcissist, aggressive personality, etc.) persuades others to participate in your demonization. It’s somewhat like gaslighting by proxy. But in this type of gaslighting, the abuser remains the active ringleader. They successfully paint themselves as the good guy and you as the crazy one. And the better they are at impression management (i.e. looking good) and manipulating others into believing their depiction of you, the worse and more alone you’re likely to feel.

I did several workshops on covert characters and the phenomenon we commonly call gaslighting for back in the early 90s. The response from professionals was tepid at best. Then, I described it in the opening paragraphs of my first book, In Sheep’s Clothing. And the public response was overwhelming. Clearly, many folks knew just what I was talking about, even if the professionals didn’t. And sadly, many began writing to me to say how their lives had been nearly ruined by their experience with a covert character.

The “make you think you’re crazy” effect of the tactics manipulators use is bad enough. A skilled manipulator can get you to questioning your very sanity, which is extremely emotionally distressing. But when others pile on, whether by proxy or in league, it takes an even heavier emotional toll.

Finding Your Center In Sick Age

We live in troubled times. And while some disagree, I’ve long insisted that most of our troubles are traceable to the same source: character disturbance. In fact, I challenge anyone to name a social, relational, or even political dilemma that I can’t trace to the character dysfunction in various actors in those dramas. When good-hearted, decent people lovingly come together, there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved. But when folks of poor character corral or are handed power, everything and everyone suffers.

Now, as I’ve mentioned many times, we human beings have never been perfect. We’ve always had our character shortcomings. But we’ve long been in an age where character dysfunction has reached unprecedented levels of prevalence and severity. And that’s because a steadily churning vicious cycle has been at work for decades, eroding our individual and collective well-beings. It’s harder than ever to find and to be your best self in such a toxic environment.

I wrote Essentials for the Journey to help everyone find their psychological and spiritual center. Restoring wholesome relationships and healing our troubled world can only happen one heart at a time.

The print and ebook editions of Essentials are undergoing some needed textual improvements. And the audiobook version should be ready for pre-order by the end of the month. Stay tuned!  Stay tuned also for an announcement of the next LIVE Character Matters podcast.





13 thoughts on “Conspiracy Gaslighting Takes a Heavy Toll

  1. I have a question regarding gaslighting. When people who call themselves Christians do this at church, and you know you’ve never done anything to them, they gaslight by proxy, do you think they will be punished for it?
    I’ve had so many people work together for a pastor’s wife against me. When she and the pastor moved on in their quest for greater congregations, a trusted friend of theirs (an elder) was extremely angry with the pastor as he thought they had a friendship.
    He proceeded to announce in front of the interim pastor and all the deacons and other elders, that the pastors wife hated me with a passion. He said this all while laughing red faced.
    I guess he thought I was so dumb that I mistook all her abuse to be friendship as he had?
    She used just about everyone in the church she could find. I think she was jealous and I oftened wondered if the pastor was gaslighting her?
    Those people did an extreme amount of damage to myself and my family.

    1. Priscilla,

      I don’t know. I guess it depends on whether you are asking in general as in society/the church or by God. It depends on what your faith teaches.

      Beware of false prophets,who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves comes to mind.

      I tend to believe that the truth reveals itself and people get wise to these folks. You may not ever be aware of it.

      These people are everywhere and they do gravitate to the helping fields, the clergy and where they are likely to find people looking for answers, are vulnerable, etc…. It makes it easier to pull the wool over your eyes.

      I hope you find the right place to share your faith in a loving and supportive environment.

      1. Thank you, I have been very leary of going to church for almost 3 yrs now. I went faithfully 3 x’s a week plus all the days I spent serving the church. Why now am I so afraid to go?
        I’m more equipped than ever psychologially.

        1. I haven’t found one either. My experience is they are focused on politics, or shaming/scaring, judging. Not how I personally see my faith in a higher power expressed and shared. I live my life demonstrating my spirituality.

          Some of the cruelest people I have ever met are so-called Christians. I love this quote attributed to Ghandi: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
          That has been my experience as well.

          1. Me too. I’m a lifelong Christian that has steered clear of churches for this reason only. Jesus wasn’t hierarchical. Many church goers seem to go just to have power struggle and abuse others.

            I’m having a similar thing done to me at my local YMCA. The people there behave terribly. They all need to go back to kindergarten.

  2. Priscilla,
    I don’t have an answer to that.
    Even places of worship aren’t always safe and kind. In fact, quite the opposite, as you found.
    I sure hope you find a place of worship with good people, real Christians, ones who live right and support each other.
    We find toxic situations in so many people and organizations.
    This past year I’ve let go of several people who just are not good people. And it just keeps continuing. So many are just rotten in their core. I even gave up my social group because I just cannot surround myself with the leader anymore.
    I don’t believe in hell, so the only punishment I see to these churchgoer non Christians is that they make their own hell, their own ugly lives, and surround each other to back up their ugly.

  3. Gaslighting by Conspiracy

    This is what the mother did to me when she was diagnosed with cancer. She went to war against me. She was as violent as any one could be with out raising their hand. The brother and it’s children were the enablers in the process.

    1. Thanks Joey,
      Yes, it is sad how a mother or father can be so cruel to their children.
      Obviously, when we are young some of what our parents do seems cruel.
      But when we are older and their cruelty is not beneficial to our development it really is sad and disgusting.
      Sorry for your pain and loss.
      When my mom died I grieved the loss of my mom, and also the loss of who I know she was supposed to be.
      Growing up she singled me out. I was number 5 for 8 1/2 yrs . She was extremely mentally and emotionally cruel to me. When I was 16 my 19 yr old boyfriend and I got pregnant.
      My mom and dad were disgusted with me and told my 6 other siblings not to speak to me. I had to do the dishes for 9 people now by myself. My siblings all gladly complied.
      In 2010 my dad died. I went on ancestry to discover old family.
      I entered my dna. So did my 70 yr old long lost half sister??? Big surprise!

      Turns out my dad got a 16 yr old girl pregnant when he was 19 and he booked on her signing himself up for the National Guard!
      His girlfriend Gloria gave the child up for adoption.

      How do ya like them apples???

      Funny thing, when my boyfriends step mom found out I was pregnant, she came over to tell my mom.
      When Gloria’s parents found out they came over to tell my grandparents.
      They ALL hid this from us kids.

      I’d like to say I’m “over it” but it still stings. Oh and by the way, I have gone no contact with all my siblings. I never knew it was called narcisissm but as I’ve discovered it’s what they’ve all been doing to me all these years.
      Praying for wellness and forgiveness towards my enemies.

  4. To All

    “I feel weak, but at my weakest
    I am at my strongest.
    Because my strength is in Jesus Christ.
    Please God, I will
    give it my best.
    For nothing else.

    Bartley Gorman

  5. To those wondering what the first paragraph In Sheeps Clothing Dr. George Simon is referring to:

    Whether it’s the supervisor who claims to support you while thwarting every opportunity you have to get ahead, the co-worker who quietly undermines you to gain the boss’s favor, the spouse who professes to love and care about you but seems to control your life, or the child who always seems to know just which buttons to push in order to get their way, manipulative people are like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. On the surface they can appear charming and genial. But underneath, they can be ever so calculating and ruthless. Cunning and subtle, they prey on your weaknesses and use clever tactics to gain advantage over you. They’re the kind of people who fight hard for everything they want but do their best to conceal their aggressive intentions. That’s why I call them covert-aggressive personalities.

  6. I was in the hospital recently and it re-confirmed that it is very common in the medical field.

    A medication was giving me tachycardia (really fast heart rate) and emotional effects, like anxiety. I let the nurse know. She blew me off. I let another nurse know and she said I was causing it. Just relax! I was crying because I felt trapped and helpless (I just had 2 strokes and was paralyzed on one side). The first nurse told me to stop crying because she doesn’t like it when people cry. (It was all about her apparently). I asked for the charge nurse and explained what happened. I told her I didn’t want that nurse anymore. She confirmed the medication causes rapid heart rate.

    I thought that was that and we would move on. Nope. They chemically restrained me one day while that nurse was on duty! They gave me something to knock me out for most of the day! They (illegally) treated me like I was the problem.

    In rehab, they kept patients confined to their bed, even if they could walk! Control. It made no sense to me, as I needed to walk and had improved greatly in the 3 weeks in the hospital. (My arm was completely flaccid). They kept insisting I be escorted to the bathroom and back even though I could walk – safely and stably, unassisted. They were short staffed so one would have to wait 30 min. I just starting pushing back politely. Demonstrating my ability to walk and sticking to my room. It was run like a prison.

    They did all kinds of weird things to “catch” me walking. One set a alarm on my bed! I just turned it off. They harassed by opening the door at night and leaving it open. The guy across the hall had alarms and a monitor on him that went off at night. It was really crazy. Finally they showed there true, controlling selves. I was chatting with my roommate, 5ft from my bed, it was close to when we went to sleep. We liked to just chat a bit before bed. A nurse came in and said I wan’t supposed to be out of bed. I explained that I had no issue walking. She could see that was true. Her response. I’m going to put a camera on you. Seriously. She threatened to put one of those camera monitors on me for being out of bed. I said you do that and watch how fast I pack my stuff and leave.

    This is a well known Hospital system in the states.

    Now, when I went to the dr. afterward, (I didn’t say anything about what happened) he acted like I was the problem. Gaslighted me and then wrote in the note that I refused things that I actually asked him for! Down is up and up is down.

    If I try and correct him on the note (and not let him control the narrative with lies), it probably won’t help.

    I’ve found they are ALL like this. It is all about manipulation and control, If you disagree, look out. It is usually more subtle, but can be very overt. Their way or the highway.

    It is terrifying. I am a survivor of domestic abuse with CPTSD. I have worked very hard to recover and the thought of having to depend on them for my survival is very challenging. I dread having anything to do with them.

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