Overcoming Gaslighting Effects

Gaslighting Effects

The term “gaslighting” refers to the crazy feelings victims of subtle relational abuse experience. (See also: Gaslighting Victims Question Their Sanity.) Some regard gaslighting as a manipulation tactic. However, as I assert in my books, while it can indeed be a tactic, it’s more than that. It’s the crazy-making effect of aggression and exploitation that’s hard to clearly see. Therefore, it’s really the effect of any or all of the tactics a skilled manipulator might use. (See: pp. 133-134 In Sheep’s Clothing.) Partners in relationships with covert-aggressors ask themselves questions like:

  • “If he (she) is so great and everybody else thinks so too, why do I feel so bad?”
  • “Could she (he) be right? Am I the real problem?”
  • “How come others don’t see what I see?” Am I just plain crazy?”

Gaslighting victims sustain emotional trauma. And all trauma victims can experience some similar distressing symptoms such as:

  • “Flashbacks” or unwanted “reliving” of painful events
  • Intrusive memories
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Hypervigilance (i.e. anxious anticipation of possible further trauma)
  • Mental confusion
  • Mood instability

Symptoms such as these are as difficult to deal with as they are to overcome.

Overcoming Gaslighting Effects

Recovering from gaslighting effects and regaining one’s sanity isn’t easy. Victims have frequently lost confidence in themselves. They’ve come to doubt their judgment. They wonder how they could have been so blind. Understandably, they also worry about making the same relationship mistake again. So, many have a very difficult time moving on. (See also: Moving On After An Abusive Relationship).

Overcoming gaslighting effects takes not only time but also a special kind of mindfulness. Victims have to accurately sort out what happened to them and why. They have to figure out what were truly their perpetrator’s antics and what were truly their own issues. This can be a painstaking process. And such a process often requires the guidance of a specially trained counselor. Working with a therapist who doesn’t understand the nature of character disturbance and its impact on victims can easily re-traumatize.  However, with time and the right help, any victim can restore a solid, healthy sense of self.

Reclaiming Oneself

I once worked with a woman truly beaten down by gaslighting effects. She doubted everything about herself. She questioned her very perceptions of things. Not only did she question her judgment, she questioned her reasoning ability.  She still felt too crazy. It was the lasting legacy of the abuse she had suffered.

Unfortunately, because she mistrusted herself, she looked to me for direction. Now, that’s quite understandable in the beginning. But the main task of recovery counseling is to help a toxic relationship survivor regain a positive sense of self. Accordingly, the first step is to help them sees things for what they truly were. And, as is often the case, it’s knowing and embracing the truth truly sets a person free.

Once a former victim understands what their abuser was really like and how they manipulated, they can stop blaming themselves. Then, they’re truly free to take a mindful look at those aspects of their own character that could place them at future risk.

Last week I wrote about how abuse victims try too hard to understand certain things. (See: Abuse Victims Try Too Hard to Understand.). But when, with proper guidance, a former victim comes to understand what really happened to them and why, they can become truly empowered.

Various Matters

Character Matters will air live Sunday, May 13. So, I can take your calls at (501) 258-8326)

Some new workshop information has been posted on the Seminars page.

Next week I’ll be debuting a series on the interface of psychology and spirituality.





58 thoughts on “Overcoming Gaslighting Effects

  1. From my experience, if your family of origin created a belief in yourself that you didn’t measure up, were not of value, etc. it is much easier to be taken in by a CD and much more difficult to recover because you started out feeling bad about yourself. There is nothing to restore to, no point in time in which you did feel like a person of value. I can understand why people stay in abusive relationships because they feel like that is what they deserve, whether they consciously think that or not. In this case you have to build a new you from the ground up. I never knew who I was, didn’t even really know what I liked and didn’t like. And people grow at different rates and in different ways. Its a complicated process. Dr. Simon, I truly wish you would write a book on how to recover from CD abuse from the perspective of the victim of the CD abuse. I hate even thinking about the CD’s anymore, other than on what effects they left on me and how do I recover from it.

    1. Hi Kate – I’ve fully recovered from it and I mean thoroughly. I can no longer be triggered by much at all. Finito – I am still upleveling but have transformed and shifted out the bulk of the false programs that allowed narcs to show up in the first place. You are aware how I did it – I’ve posted it previously. I suggest you take a serious look at it.

      Many things have totally turned around as foretold which was why I started it and threw myself into it wholeheartedly and it has paid off enormously. My life is totally turning around. Sealing gaps in me that allowed narcs to hook into me was the reason I signed up to begin with.

      My ex best friend has agreed to pay back the money owed. We will not be best friends again but at least she is civil and not attempting anymore of her b/s. I have let her know I know what has occured and that there will be no more that. So that has gone from NC to MC and will remain that way until I receive payment in full.

      Secondly the woman I was triangulated with – this situation is been sorted and resolved sufficiently to give me no further concern she will cause me any future problems. Again do I trust her no and will never be buddies but at least it’s not world war and things are peaceful. First game of pool comp for the year I played her lol.

      Another narc tried to hook me – failed promptly and is now dust in the wind. No drama. I am starting to see signs of other resolutions and they are in progress.

      Once we resolve old childhood programs (we instilled the false beliefs about ourselves nobody else did) albeit we had sufficient cause to do so. Once those programs are upleveled situations resolve. It all goes back to FOO. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever I am a psychopath free zone and will remain that way.

      I see no further need to discuss narcs, have no interest anymore in them and will be not be conducting any further research on them accordingly. My time with them is done. I only commented here today to give you an update on my situation and to let you know there is a way to heal and I’ve done it.

      All the best to you kat – cheers

      1. Eudoxia – good to hear from you! I knew you were on a mission and wouldn’t stop, it doesn’t surprise me that you have that healing. That takes a lot of courage to face up to your character weaknesses. I agree with you that we do build up these false beliefs of ourselves. I took my parents favoring some and not others and their neglect of me as me not being worthy of attention and not being worthy period. My mother doubled down on it and talked about it being natural to have favorites, kind of rationalizing the behavior. But I do realize her intent was not harm, she was not a analytical person and I do not believe she had a very broad focus in general. I could never talk to her about it because she would not own things like that, it threatened her too much and I don’t believe she could take it so I had to resolve it on my own. My Dad on the other hand was an alcoholic and just stayed out of the house for the most part, or else he was screaming at us. But then I was left with that faulty belief system I didn’t realize was faulty for so long, and acted out of that belief system. Its hard to untangle it, it reminds me of a plant with many fine roots that one has to untangle, you find one thing and it leads to another and then another and so on. Where does it end? Sometimes it seems there is no end. Anyways – I did take a look at the program you are in, and read some of the reviews. I think it works for a lot of folks, but if I can be upfront with you, and I think I can, I do not think it is for me, and I say that not because it is not a good program. I say it because I am a Christian and I cannot commit to any program that is not Christ centered – and I mean that it does not look to scripture for the answers. It is my life, this is what I live for and it has to have that focus for me to commit. Its hard to tell people because its sounds offensive, and it is not meant to be in any way. I have to trust the program to lead me in the path I am on with God. I can’t really explain it any better than that.
        I do think I am better at spotting narcs, but I don’t trust myself to be totally aware so I stay alert. My negative view of myself doesn’t help, and my natural temperament type tends to be moody and serious so it fights me at times and I need the word of God to temper it, I am looking to God to help me do the things that I cannot.
        I think you and I are totally different in our temperament types. I can tell you are very much of an extrovert – you wear your heart on your sleeve I believe. I am very much the introvert – it takes me a long time to open up and trust – so that fights me as well. I have to accept my temperament type because in my belief system it is God given. I know my weaknesses and I know my strengths and try to function as fully as possible within my limitations as we all have to.
        I am very happy for you, I know I just know you on the site, but you have shared so much and been so giving with your knowledge, you have helped me many times – I certainly appreciate it and wish you all the best.

    2. Kat,

      If I may ask, why did you leave the X? I would like to add further thoughts to your post and it would help knowing a few more details.

      Thank you

      1. Hi Btov, that’s a good question. I left him primarily because of the kids. I did not want them to be around him and their future did not look good with him in their life. Also – I believe God brought a wonderful woman into my life that helped me to believe I was strong. She was the owner of a motel we were staying at. I was cleaning the rooms for a place for us to stay. She said the ex was always in there bragging about how he held the family together. She told me that I was the strong one, that I was the one holding it together, she knew he was at the apartments next door spending his time getting high – she was very street savvy and knew what was going on. She told me I deserved better than that. She told me to get away from him and she gave me the courage to believe I could do it. It took me about 9 months after that, after we moved to another location to act on it. Sometimes I think if I didn’t have the kids would I have just gone down with the ship and started doing drugs and giving up like he did – but God started working very strongly in my life around that period of time and I believe he would have interceded. That was not Gods plan for me.
        How is your friend doing?

        1. kat,
          The motel owner is a life saver. Your story is one of hope and success, for you and your children.

          1. Thanks Lucy, she really came along at the right time. That weasel even stole one of her vacuum cleaners – she caught him. Nothing got past her. She was a tough cookie but had a big heart. She even paid the kids to help fold sheets, to help us out. I wish I would have wrote down her info. so I could have sent her a letter to let her know I followed thru and to thank her.

        2. Kat,

          It is true, God does work strongly in our lives, God does put people in our lives who He knows we will need someday. The woman told you you need better. You are making that “Better” come true. In all humility you give credit to God. Kat you will be blessed for this.

          Thank you for asking about my friend. He is slowly recovering. He can move his fingers slightly and is able to move his mouth. Hopefully, he will be able to have water soon. I have had so many things to take care of at my house and haven’t seen him for several days. I am looking forward to more progress. Again, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

        3. Kat,
          I had much of the same experience. I really considered the kids and what effect continuing in a healthy, abusuve relationship would have on them later in life. I also had a coworker help me to see how bad my relationship was and how it was hurting me. He really just listened and asked the right questions, which ultimately lead me to getting enough courage to leave. Once I left, I didn’t turn back. I had to separate and end any relationship that was shared mutually by my spouse, because I didn’t want him to use them to get to me. When I left, I told myself I could never believe him again. He told me so many horrible things, then he would apologize and repeat the cycle over and over again. Mentally and emotionally, it almost destroyed me.
          I was fortunate though. God brought me a new man, who showed me a healthy world and relationship. He helped me learn how to set boundaries.
          After going through a time of being bullied at work for 5 years, it made my healing process much longer and created more trauma.
          Now, I’m seeing a counselor to help me sort out how to feel safe and protect myself. Also, I want to learn skills on how to respond when I feel or reminded of the trauma. The changes have also caused me to be more aware of other controlling people, like a covert-aggressive person. With being more aware, I find it quite difficult to be around these people, including a family member. I recently decided the relationship will be forever changed, because every encounter with them is negative and difficult. I am still figuring out how I will interact with them when I have to see them again. For now, I don’t have to worry, because we are miles apart.

    3. Kat,

      To me finding out who we are is a lifelong process. Many people are not even aware something is missing in their lives, they just follow whatever they have learned and live it. Many live their lives in accordance to what society presents as the norm. Many live out their lives modeling what others do, such as sports and what the Kardashians are up to and false guru’s.

      I think many of the things you are looking for are within you. Many times we look to others, letting them define us. Many people who have defined us in the past haven’t been honest with us and we are left questioning ourselves.

      I believe all people are put into our lives for a reason, being children of the living God and our beliefs do set us apart from others whose beliefs are centered on a worldly perspective.

      Kat you are recovering, otherwise, you would not be interacting and sharing your experiences as you have thus far on the blog. From the little I know about you and the short time you have posted I have found you to be a kind, caring and most of all a sincere person who thinks of others. A selfish person is centered only on themselves and if they share it is self serving for personal gratification.

      I would like to direct you back to Dr. Simons Ten Commandments of Good Character. Read what others have posted and it may wake up those sleepy gifts you truly have. Kat, you have true character, a quality that many present but are lacking when one delves below the surface.

      Kat you have gifts of the spirit, meditate on them and the door will start opening and you will see. You have humility, a gift lacking in many today. Your humble, loving heart is a part of who you are. If you continue to feed these gifts you will keep growing, finding even more gifts, in this you will realize who you are.

      Kat, you are on the right path, whatever, you do, do not let someone pull you off that path to wander down the path of man. The grass is not greener on another road, the path of the CD man is destruction. The wrong path will dangle all kinds of false promises and they are a lie. When one has wisdom they will use the hardships and struggles in their life to make themselves stronger. Kat you are doing this, stay firm on this path and you will find the answers you are looking for.

      There are many who will present a quick fix band-aide, don’t be fooled. Be patient, the restoration and insight of which you are searching for will come.

      Many Blessings Kindred Spirit

      1. BTOV, thanks for the kind words, I know you mean it. Regarding your friend, isn’t the human body amazing, it is always trying to right itself. I pray for comfort for him, that’s a hard road.
        Good point that growth is a lifelong process, endurance can be difficult. I used to look for answers outside of God, I have learned over the years as a believer that God holds the answers I am seeking. I know the meaning of being a bond servant to God, no other path has meaning to me. And we truly are aliens to this world system, the ways of the world are like the words in Ecclesiastes about vanity. BTOV-bonfire of the vanities. Yep, burn it down and what remains is what is real and enduring.
        I don’t know what my spiritual gifts are either – I like your suggestion to explore that. I know whenever I have stepped out in faith it has been profitable. I’m a fearful person and its hard for me to step out, but I have and I will. My sister is currently reading a book by Max Lucado about laying our burdens down. I know there are answers there, so hard to let go and quit trying to control and give it over, but so good when I do.
        I appreciate your words BTOV, you have a lot of depth as a person. The band aids are worthless in the long run, it leaves you looking for another band aid, on an endless quest for band aids, not a way I want to spend my life.
        I hope you get your things around the house done, its always something that needs fixing it seems – I have got to get my kitchen gas cooktop fixed, its cramping my style when I want to cook up some vittles. Big Blessings to you also.

        1. Kat,

          Thank you for thinking of my friend, it is sad to watch someone so full of life laying in a hospital bed with diapers and dependent on everyone for every one of his daily needs. It is a slow process to recover, my friend is the type of person that will become even more empathetic in understanding anothers pain and suffering because of what he has suffered. He will not be bitter, he has embraced what has happened and making the best of it.

          What matters most is that people who care show up for him and encourage his healing. My friend is able to take what he has gone through, toss away the old and go forward. He had no health insurance so he will need all the gifts of the Spirit to deal with this. He will indeed see a bonfire of his old life. I know he has the strength of character to see the new growth. We have talked about shedding the outer shell of the material world for that of the spiritual.

          When we are able to shed the old for the new,, we grow. We are in the world but not of the world system. It takes courage to step outside of the box. Someone once said to me: “Fear is of the Devil,” when one is finally able to adsorb this context, the fear left will leave. One can lose their life, however, your soul is yours unless you give it away. Again, it all boils down to choice. The CD always choose too….

          Kat, the following will hopefully help you to see who you are. When we are born again in the Spirit, we become a new person. My friend, you have many of these qualities and gifts, they define who we are unless we choose otherwise. This is how one truly recovers.

          1. Kat,

            Some how, the rest of my post didn’t go through. in the following is you…..

            Gifts of the Spirit: Fear of the Lord, Wisdom, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude, and Understanding

            Fruits of the Spirit:

            Gentleness,: Humility and thankfulness toward God, and polite, restrained behavior toward others.

            Peace: The serenity and tranquility that flows from order

            Charity: To love God hove all things and to love others

            Kindness: Concern for those who are in trouble or need

            Goodness: Doing what is right under very circumstance

            Joy: The feeling awakened by the possession of expectation of something good

            Patience: The ability to endure hardships without complaint

            Generosity: To give freely our time talent and treasury beyond what is required

            Faithfulness: To be reliable and trustworthy

            Modesty: The moderation of our dress, speech and behavior

            Chastity: The moderation of our pleasures according to the right reason, faith, and state in life

            Self-control: To control ones desires so we can focus on what is good and right

    4. Kat,

      You can recover, there is a world out there for you. You have posted about your family of origin. I understand, as mine is similar. If I may ask, can you look back and remember anything, any instance where you were happy?

      I remember, how I loved the library. I had flashlight and would read comics and other things under the covers when I should had been sleeping. When I think about this moment in time, a smile is on my face and it is a pleasant, happy memory. There were many small moments like this. I know that little girl, she is me.

      Kat, in order to recover, we need to be honest with ourselves, we must be willing to reach out, we must be able to forgive, we need to own the stuff that belongs to us and at times be painfully honest.

      Thank you, for sharing your journey, as it helps shed more light on mine. These are times when we can grow in leaps and bounds. It is so true, what Dr. SImon has written on this topic: “it’s knowing and embracing the truth truly sets a person free.” This applies to us also. Keep asking and searching, with open arms you will embrace the lovely person you are and understand her.

      1. BTOV, I have been depressed since about the age of 8, I can remember recognizing the change. Maybe just because we become more cognizant, but I also think it is part of my natural temperament that I need to work with God to temper. Funny you mention the library, I always loved it as well. I used to use a flashlight to read under the covers as well. Since I have such an issue with rejection it is super hard for me to reach out. I am also a natural introvert. My Dad used to say things that were very damaging regarding my likeability. I realize now it was because I was stubborn and he was stubborn. He used to say he thought something was wrong with me because I would take all my dolls and stuffed animals and put them in a circle and talk to them. I guess that is pretty weird, but I had fun doing it, I remember that. My Dad was very rejecting of me and my Mom only had her certain favorites, I felt I was lowest on the totem pole, so I really built up a belief nobody was going to like me, like my Dad always used to tell me. That has been the hardest thing for me to deal with. I know I tend to be self-focused, that is part of my temperament I need to go to God with as well. But I did have fun as a kid, playing with the neighbor kids, jump rope, riding bikes, etc. I was outside almost all the time because that was the way it was in those days, you didn’t come home until supper time. I still love the outdoors and enjoy being active, and I really feel blessed that I am able to be active, so many cannot. Its very kind of you BTOV to ask these things and to post what you have posted. I do forgive my Dad, I know he was alcoholic and very stressed out and he didn’t mean to do harm, he was just unaware of the impact of his words and he had his own stuff. It is also a part of my natural temperament to feel like that – something that I really battle with daily. I try to be honest with myself but there are always things we are blinded to and have yet to discover. I tend to reject people before they can reject me. I think I need to see a counselor because this is something that I just haven’t had much progress with and I don’t seem to be able to move forward. If I could get my mind off myself its better, but still there. I just don’t know how to deal with it. Its hard to say all this on a blog, but we are all anonymous so that helps! BTOV, your friend sounds so lovely, I hope he knows God.

        1. Kat,

          Many kids round up their dolls and stuffed toys and talk with them.. One fella at school had the GI Joes and we would have the dolls do the talking. Your also not self-focused, if you notice many of the posters here talk about themselves and what has happened to them. We talk about ourselves for many reasons. I have never found you to be, all about you. You have shared a lot and injected a lot of sound thoughts.

          Kat I do know it is hard to post intimate details about ourselves on a blog, it can be very scary. We take a chance when we post, I don’t post on any other venue and it took some time for me to decide to do so. I am glad you are posting, you add a lot to this blog and please, never feel your words aren’t valuable, they are.

          As far as this blog is concerned, I believe Dr. Simon is a man of principle and tries to keep this blog well monitored. Dr. Simon has given the posters here a lot of latitude to speak.

          I am sorry you have to deal with depression, that is not easy. I do think it wise to stop thinking about what others may think of you or the negative tapes playing in you from your childhood. All of it is untrue, you are a good person and are valuable.

          My friend is a good person, he gets used and abused by CD people. I try to tell him things and he is stuck getting dumped on, one day I will write what is going on with him.

          My friend is mad at God, he feels all these big churches are filled with hippocrates. I told him I can’t deny that fact, however, there are core believers who are good people like him. Its his choice, my pastor came up to see him several times. I know my friend keeps a lot in his head, I am not sure what his thoughts are on this, I will ask him though.

          Kat, I understand you are going through a lot, it is even more difficult when we are alone. I wished I could help you, I think it is a blessing you found this blog. Just know we accept you for you, I know the others feel this way too.

          Please don’t be so hard on yourself, try to let those false tapes go, its all so untrue. I know easier said than done, you can do a little each day. Take that little lost girl and tell her it is OK, be her friend and confidant, hug her and nurture her. If you choose to, buy that precious little girl a pretty doll and some friends (stuffed animals). Be kind and loving to her, I did this and it helped. If I could I would share some of my friends with you.

          Hugs Dear One, It is going to get better for you, just take one step at a time.

          1. Kat,

            Thank you for asking and caring about my friend, this is very kind of you and speaks volumes of your character. Its means a lot to me.
            I just received a note from my friend. The doctors told him today he will never walk again. I told him I refuse this condemnation and the name of Jesus will heal him. Thank you for listening and caring….

          2. BTOV, the doctors have their opinions, but those opinions do not consider Gods work or His will. Plenty of people have recovered they said would not and others have not – nobody really knows but God. I don’t know if you have ever heard of Joni Ereckson-Tada but she is a Christian who had a neck injury at age 17 and was left paralyzed from the neck down. I am reading a book she wrote called “The God I love” and it is her story about this. She was very angry with God for years. I agree with your friend about hypocrites, but they are everywhere not only in churches, and even sometimes we can be hypocritical at times as well. I hope he can overcome this, and find true fellowship.
            Your perspective is very helpful to me, I was going about my day feeling a little more confident – I know it has to be within me but we are not islands and your words are very helpful. I do need to stop the tapes and especially I need to stop thinking what people think of me. As long as I am doing what I think is right in God’s eyes I know I am on the right path. I had determined I was going to be my own best friend and I need to keep that forefront because I become my worst enemy as times.
            I pray God will move big in your friends life and help him to have peace. Thats so difficult what he is going thru.

          3. Kat,

            I hope you can at least feel like yourself somewhat here. For now this is the only way we can communicate. I find you have much to say on many topics and can see you think deeply about posts. It is also obvious how much you care about others.

            Please keep sharing, I think we can make headway with many of the things that occupy your thoughts. We have experienced many of the same things and I think can help each other. Lucy is a very caring person too, she has experienced a lot too and is always willing to lift another up and share.

            Just know we all care for you and want to see heal and restore your life to a satisfying and happy one. To let go of of the false narratives of the past and live joyfully in the here and now. I believe with time these doors will open for you and you will be able to live comfortably in your truth.

            I will be looking for your posts, be it a comment or something you would like to discuss. Remember most of us are looking for the same thing you are, we are just at different junctures in the process.

            I think you are in the US, the weather is very nice with everything growing and so much life go about its business. Enjoy some small things today, watch the birds, watch the sunset, gaze into the midnight sky and let yourself reside in these places for as long as you can, for that short period of time your body and mind can be one with God. This is our safety and refuge, when we do this for a short period the depression should lift. Try it many times if you are able. Just a thought. I know it has helped me in some dark hours.

            Many blessings and looking forward to hearing more.


        2. Kat,
          Thanks for sharing your story. It now gives us an idea of who you are and what you’ve been through. Family upbringing certainly can leave us with wounds, but once we understand it, we can heal.
          Playing with dolls isn’t weird at all. We all did it. Maybe your father had never seen a child play make believe, it probably was weird to him. Anyway, those are HIS thoughts. You know your truth. Never doubt yourself. You know who you are.
          And when it comes down to it, what other people’s thoughts are , are just that, thoughts, thoughts in THEIR head.
          It is difficult to have a good friend whom one can share deepest core issues with, because once you share that they will voice their opinion. That’s how conversations work. Get to know someone well first, see if they have kindness, patience, integrity, watch what they do, not say. But if you keep introverted and to yourself and don’t reach out to share time with others you’re kind of destined to be alone. People pick up vibes when one does not want to be around others.
          You’re going to be ok. You’ve got the core essentials of good character to live a good life.
          I hope you get out and enjoy life.
          As far as depression, that’s a difficult topic. I suffered it temporarily due to circumstances that threw me into one, and I didn’t get out of it till the situation played out and eased up. Clinical Depression is a beast. I don’t even have appropriate words to someone who is suffering from it . I don’t even fully understand it, I just know it can be a battle just to get out of bed in the morning. I just hope you aren’t severely depressed.
          By the way, how are your children?

          1. Lucy, thanks for the thoughts. You are right, I have to reach out, its the only way. Therein lies the problem, at times I am so uncomfortable doing that, that I make the other person uncomfortable and at that point I have defeated myself, nobody wants to engage with someone who is that uncomfortable. This is why I am thinking of finding a counselor, I can’t seem to overcome that hurdle. I do not suffer depression like that, its more like a dark cloud over me but I function and do what needs to be done, I also do enjoy things so I have not lost the ability to enjoy life, I just wish I could live it more fully.
            Thanks for asking about my kids. My son is in a new relationship, I hope it works out for him. My daughter has her Dad in her, he trained her to some extent. I keep her in prayer all the time. She is nowhere near like him but I hope she will see in time what she is doing and why. She has a new husband who is a decent man, I think he really wonders sometimes about her and doesn’t understand some stuff. But he came from a family background that is similar, he just choose not to go the same way.
            I am glad you have such growth after the relationship with the X ended, that’s amazing. Its like you were a little seedling flower just waiting to bloom after it got some sun and water.

          2. Lucy, Kat,

            I apologize for popping in the middle, there were no more reply buttons. Great post Lucy, all so true. Kat many times we get stuck in a rut, I know I do. The bad thing is the less we reach out the deeper the rut can get and as we get older, it becomes more difficult to get out of the rut.

            We can change these introverted behaviors by getting out more, even if we do this one day at a time or even one hour at a time. It may seem wacky, you can even strike up a short conversation with someone at the store. I do understand what you are talking about, my Mom is 85 and always has been rather introverted. She came out of her shell some when she finally understood to a degree about the CDN and forgiveness.

            Yes, I do know of Joni Tada, Cory Tenboom is good to. A real good book to read is: Mans Meaning to Life by Victor Frankl. It is not specifically about religion, it is a true story, I would say for me, reading it left me much to contemplate. It is a story you will never forger, a story like Helen Keller. If you have time look it up.

            Lucy, I like what you had to say about others planting their thoughts, views and beliefs in our head. Many time it is the agenda of another to try to program us to what they think is right. So true, these are their thoughts, if uncomplimentary to our journey it is a great way of dealing with those thoughts, let the thoughts stay with that person, recognize those thoughts don’t belong to us and reject them..

            Lucy is right, don’t doubt yourself, when we do it opens the door to being stuck and making wrong decisions. Kat you are a valuable person. Your thoughts are kind and gracious something that is missing in many today. Lets see if we can help each grow.

            Lucy and Kat, thank you for sharing, what you have said has helped me, know this is good for me.

  2. I dealt with some severe gaslighting a few years ago from siblings. It messed with my head pretty bad. I checked with my husband about my supposed out-of-control temper and begged him to tell me the truth. Was it really that bad? He told me that he found me irritable when I was feeling physically miserable but had rarely seen me having a fit of temper.

    I told the new man in my life about this and he had the same reaction as my late husband. I asked all my friends…same reaction.

    My new partner recently had the experience of witnessing my brother, (visiting from Alaska) badger me for no apparent reason and just not let up.

    When I am upset and also confused by someone’s behavior, I tend to go silent while I try to process what’s going on.

    Partner did NOT go silent and told him he was out of line and if he continued to treat me badly he wouldn’t be welcome back. He followed up by telling him it wasn’t the first time he witnessed him treating me this way.

    When we talked about it later he told me that he could clearly see how siblings, particularly older brother, act in a way that guarantees intense anger and then stand back and accuse the other party of having ‘anger issues.’

    It’s so great having new partner as a witness. My husband was a little oblivious to what was going on in real time, quite often, so had a low key or no key reaction. But new partner is right on it and has been aghast on several ocassions.

    It’s taken a long time and A LOT of reality checking with those who know me to establish that I am not the greater problem here. I definitely have some problems but flying off the handle with siblings isn’t one of them.

    1. LisaO
      Good thing your partner had your back, saw it clearly, and tried to put a stop to it. We all need friends like that.
      Your brother, like my X, played the false anger card. They weren’t angry. It was a tactic.
      I’d like to put all these jerks together in a town and let them just dump on and toy with each other till they self destruct. They are all so similar.

  3. The main point about Gaslighting ” That IT IS THE PRODUCT OF A HEAVILY intellectualized Process” It is not done with out a great deal of thought.
    They mean to explote your perceptions

    1. J
      Yes it is done with a lot of thought. That is what makes these people downright destructive evil human beings.

  4. I have found this article to be spot on of what my healing process involved.

    “Accordingly, the first step is to help them sees things for what they truly were. And, as is often the case, it’s knowing and embracing the truth truly sets a person free.

    Once a former victim understands what their abuser was really like and how they manipulated, they can stop blaming themselves. Then, they’re truly free to take a mindful look at those aspects of their own character that could place them at future risk.”

    Through the reading of Dr. Simon’s books, articles, group discussions, I was able to understand what happened, which helped me recover, and that’s what we all need to do, is recover. Going through turmoil with the horrible emotions brought on by the betrayal of the X, the sadness, the volatile anger phase, all of these emotions were so high and lasted quite a while, it was very difficult to get through at times without the help of medications to calm and quiet it down. But with time, lots of time, going through all this, getting the education needed to understand it all, having the support of a well-informed and good friend, and most of all, the end of the relationship with the toxic person I was finally able to get my life back, my untroubled self back, my zest for life again, my spirit and my soul back. Those toxic people are soul stealers.

    Thank you, Dr. Simon, and the supportive group here.

    1. Lucy,

      It has been such a pleasure to follow your journey and relieved that we didn’t have to follow your gurney!! Had it been me, I would have had to be strapped down and rushed to the nearest psych ward!

      1. LisaO
        It went on far too long. I settled out of court to end it, couldn’t afford to have the attorney on my payroll any longer and the toll it took on me emotionally and physically and financially was tremendous. I had some really dark times. Once the court battled ended and the house sold the strings attached to the CD ended.
        I just don’t believe there is any curing a toxic relationship, that you have to get out of it somehow, or have a little contact as possible.

  5. One thing the P who targeted me and my older brother have in common is they are both, (technically speaking), geniuses with very sharp verbal acuity.

    Now your average run of the mill gas lighter is difficult enough, but a covert manipulator with a 170+ IQ, who likes to project intellectual AND moral superiority…OMG!!

    Bro’s favourite method is to defend his actions with Rube Goldberg machinations where blame is the little pellet that enters the contraption at his end and after several confusing convolutions ends up in my lap. It is SO hard to follow.

    And J is right, it is an intellectual process, for the most part. One of the reasons it’s hard to follow their ‘reasoning’ is because their ‘explanations’ (though possibly intellectually rigorous in an absurd mad hatters tea party way) are profoundly counter intuitive.

    1. LisaO
      I know what you mean. Because they are brainiacs you give them more credence, because they have brains, but it can make them that much more disturbed.

      1. Lucy,

        I spent a good ten years believing I was lesser than, believing I had ‘cast a pall over my elder sister’s entire life! Some part of me believed I was a whiner, a complainer and WAY too easily offended.

        The final straw for me was when she talked to my best friend, a therapist, and told her I was so angry and crazy, she suspected I had early onset dementia! My friend was livid.

        That was many years ago. It was beautiful to wake from that bad dream!

        1. LisaO, it seems to me anger would be a natural response to being manipulated. Who could blame you if you were angry at them trying to manipulate you. Of course the preferred response would be to understand what was happening and disengage and be confident it was all about them, but I have found they trigger the doubts we have about ourselves, that’s their goal anyways. Too bad your siblings are like that, its sad actually, that you cannot have a relationship with them like it is with all CD’s . They are the ones missing out.

  6. Hi Btov,
    IQ is a very imprecise tool and reducing people to numbers is cold and clinical. I only mention it to illustrate just how impossible it is to deal with on my own and because cleverness is so tied to superior manipulation skills.

    People who are hyper cerebral can also be heartless. It’s as if all their processing power bypasses their empathy centres. It’s not a state of being to wish on anybody. It’s a curse to be born out of balance.

    1. LisaO,

      I agree IQ is a imprecise tool. I am seeing the CDNSP more in the light of a feral instinctive predator.

      As far as wishing another into this state of being is beyond my comprehension. Whomever, would wish this curse on anyone is far sicker than the actual curse.

    1. Readers,

      This commentator’s remarks have been significantly redacted by me. Using the name “Amanda,” this commentator claimed to be the person I gave the fictional name “Amanda” in one of the vignettes in one of my books. As the disclosures in all my books indicate, this is simply an impossibility. So if “Amanda” tries to assert anything similar again, or posts comments that appear to have a primarily disruptive intent, I’ll take action to block future posts.

  7. My mom signed some release form with you. You even used a shortened version of her name in there. Every other Wednesday we’d drive the 2 hours to little rock so I could be seen by you because I was so out a control. And I’m not trolling I’m very interested in talking with you. Hell, even thanking you for the difference you made in my life back then. I suggest you look back over your old files. No need to get defensive so quickly. Is there a better way of contacting. Have a lovely day.

    1. Amanda,

      You can contact Dr. Simon at the top of this page by clicking on contact or at the bottom of this under the heading “LINKS.” I hope this is of help to you.

  8. Bro and I had a heart to heart on the way to the airport. Things have settled out. We have a better understanding of what we have both been going through, so all is good. No manipulations. It was nice!

    1. LisaO,

      Please correct me if I am wrong. I thought you said your brother got divorced from a rather manipulative wife. I think many times when a person is married to a manipulative person the non CD’s personality can be skewed and many times significantly distorted.

      I am glad your relationship with your brother is getting better. I hope it continues to flourish and gives you joy.

  9. Hi Kat,

    I had an avoidant personality and still do, to a milder degree. I am extroverted but actually quite shy and self conscious. I have rarely been able to completely relax around anyone. I think I know a bit how you feel.

    It might be helpful to see a counsellor who offers group therapy for people with a range of difficulties. Fear of rejection is a really common one! You would be in an atmosphere where you weren’t being judged and that would be a first step, socially.

    What has helped me get out of my own way is reaching out to those who I can see have similar but worse fears of rejection and abandonment. God (or the Universe or Big Kahuna) sends them my way. This takes a negative and turns it into a positive. They are helped and I, in turn, am helped by helping. I feel that my life has purpose and meaning. The internal critic is lulled to sleep and that allows me to feel like I am a good and worthy person.

    Without proper action, motivated from within, or externally imposed, there will always be a disconnect between what we think and how we feel.

    1. LisaO, I guessed you were an extrovert from what you have written. Yes, very hard to relax around someone unless I have known them for quite a while. I work alone and live alone so theres not much opportunity to gain social skills. I go to a very small church so not much social there either. I went to a large church to some groups that were led by volunteers that dealt with different topics like boundaries, depression, etc. but I don’t do well in groups like that because they are not led by professionals and the extroverted people tend to take over and do all the talking while others like me don’t know how to get a word in. I think in a professional setting it would be more productive. I like that idea if I can find something like that. I went to a group one time that was for people with social phobias, but the leader wanted to bow out, she had done it a while and she wanted to do some other things, but the group disbanded because nobody else wanted to lead it. I had just found it and had only gone a couple times, but with everyone there with similar issues I found it much easier to socialize, I guess I just didn’t feel judged or embarrassed of my shyness.
      I read what you said about your brother – that’s surprising he stopped with the game playing, I thought that behavior didn’t change. Its great you were able to have some real communication going with him, I hope it happens more often.

      1. Kat
        Have you tried the Meetup social group? Most towns have them. You can join a group with similar interests. I’ve joined one local one. The group leader posts events in the surrounding area and you can choose to attend any that interest you. I’ve also just recently joined two more of the groups, one a local walking group and the other a dance group.
        You’ll see in the group situation some people are introverts and some extroverts, but everyone enjoying the event the same. I do notice how quiet some members are, but they are getting out to events regardless. No one is there to judge you. They are all there to have a good time.
        I joined to meet new people, to try new places, new events with a group of like-minded people.
        Let me know what you think.

        1. Lucy,
          I have looked online at these groups. There’s one hiking group I’d like to join but the drive is over an hour away. There’s a lot of groups though. I need to take another look. I may still try that hiking group and see if my allergies can take it. Otherwise I can find something else. Its scary to me to go to one of these meetups, I always feel so tongue tied and stressed out around people I don’t know, and it makes me feel so silly – at my age. I’m going to try to find a few that interest me. I see one that does volunteering, I may try that one. This weekend when I have time I’m going to take a look, I need to make it a priority. Thanks for suggesting this to me.

          1. Kat
            You’ll be fine. I’ve noticed some people that show up for a meetup sit at the table quietly. That’s fine. No one judges. When it’s an event that you have a common interest in, it might be easier to talk. Anyway, just getting out amongst people is healthy, talking or not talking, but getting out and enjoying places, people. Hopefully it will get easier the more you do it.
            And hiking, not a lot of talking during that, depending on the difficulty. Maybe a lot of panting . . . . .
            And these groups do events at different locations, they don’t always stay in the town they originate in. The group I’m in goes all over the place.
            When you sign up for an event, other members will look to see who plans on showing up. You can introduce yourself, or not. I always like to introduce myself and try to remember people’s names.
            You’ll be ok.

          2. Kat and Lucy,

            Nowhere , to hop in. I think Lucy is right about this Kat. I am introverted like LisaO explains herself. I joined a club many years back and I believe it is divine intervention just as you have found this blog. Turns out the group is 90 miles away, however, I have built a special connection with this group.

            I think the ride can be used a time for tranquil thought or prayer. When you get involved with a caring group of people you will know, I think just the same as you know who you feel a trust for on this blog.

            I know Lucy has suggested this before and I think this is an excellent venue for meeting others. I know about discipleship, use your gifts and experiences to reach out to others. Know this, yo have touched me in many ways for being who you are. I found who I was looking for (Me) was there all the time.

            Thank you, for being you, and most of all sharing your experiences that another may reach out, learn, be open and grow. Know, you are planting seeds, where ever you are in your journey, you may not see the results, however, you have planted dear one.

            Following is a to Marat Gandhi. Take what you will and leave the rest, Many have referred to my gifts to Mahatma, I only give credit to Jesus. Please read and give the glory to Jesus and then use accordingly.

            Kat, I have been told I have gifts I have not realized, I get frightened many times as this calling can be a great burden, in the short time I have been conversing with you, I see and earlier version of me, God is working in you, be cautious but open, God is working through you and has plans.

            I am attaching the following link for all, take what may help you and disregard what you feel is not compatible with what you are looking for.

            Hugs, dear Kindred Spirit.
            Thank you for sharing…..

          3. To All, great input, hope to see input from AndyD, Jean and E, etc…

            I apologise, no reply, so where to post. I didn’t attach the link and think there is a lot of wisdom here. Please feel free to comment your thoughts, nothing is set in stone.

            As we all know, hopefully, we are growing.
            Thank you and many blessings to all……………….

  10. BYOV, Lucy,
    Thanks so much for the encouragement. It is good to get out and about and be with people, my mood always improves. I tend to try to get everything done around my house and yard and make that the reason I don’t go out, but at the end of my life am I going to be concerned if things were cleaner? I think not. BTOV, I know you know that God will equip you for what you undertake in his name and in His strength, I can say you have the gift of encouragement for sure, also mercy. I printed the Gandhi article to read, there are many Biblical principles there. I like what he said about a sense of humor, its always so uplifting. I so appreciate you guys, I do think this is divine intervention. I felt myself going down in a hole and even though I am a Christian, we still can get depressed, have bouts of bad self-doubt and many other negative thoughts, and not have the faith that God wants us to give us. We don’t do well as islands, God made us social creatures, so we need others and you guys have been a real positive, thank you for that.

    1. Kat,

      I am glad you found the blog too, you have been very positive and thoughtful and I enjoy reading your posts, you think deeply about things. Its nice having you post.
      A friend of mine tells me when I am feel down I am having a Job moment, I think you may be too. It does pass. I found when I don’t get out as much as I should I do feel more unhappy, especially in the winter months. I say who cares about the housework it will be there when you get back home.

      I have found if I watch funny videos with kids and animals all the laughing does help cheer me up. I know I need to be kind to me and to others in a positive light, this brings happiness, also showing gratitude. I think you can find other things to do with like minded people. I think you have been given some good ideas from Lisa and Lucy.

  11. I was married to a covert aggressive. Right from the beginning I put him on a pedestal. And, when he fell, and he fell far and I saw, in part what was happening I still didn’t leave because I was so brainwashed into thinking I couldn’t survive without him. He finally left, quite cruelly I might add, and that is when I truly saw the mask fall. It made my blood run cold to know I’d been with a man for 30 years and hadn’t seen how horrifying he actually was inside. I doubted everything he ever said or did. And, I know he never loved me for me. Since, I’ve worked hard to try and feel better but I doubt myself a lot. He has gone onto a series of relationships (leaving one after she got sick) and is getting remarried to a nurturer. I shutter to think what might happen to her if she gets sick or fails to live up to his expectations. Oh, that’s another sign, when and adult keeps saying they have these expectations of how you should be. All in th name of supporting your “growth.” Unfortunately you can never live up to their expectations because that would take away their control.

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