Phantom Thread – Controlling Narcissist and the Trauma Bond

Phantom Thread is a 2017 movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the Controlling Narcissist (Reynolds), Vicky Krieps as the Victim in his trauma bond (Alma) and Lesley Manville as his sister, and dominant female ally (Cyril). The film is well-done in many respects, showing the trauma bond that is created between perpetrator and victim. However, there are some key moments where I felt that Daniel and Vicky came out of character. One scene was him giggling with her in the bathroom, with bowl on his lap and asking her to kiss him. It didn’t feel real to me. Another scene was when she was telling him about the egg dish and again there seemed to be an odd moment between the actors. I was also confused about how the director brought us into the movie. Was there another woman at the beginning of the film that was his girlfriend (I thought his wife, due to the time period) or was this Vicky’s character and we are later going back in time when he meets her in the next scene? We also hear Alma talking to some guy that we will later learn is Reynolds doctor. It was confusing because we see her (the girlfriend) for a brief moment, get to know the character Reynolds, his sister and then suddenly he is meeting his victim or next one, Alma and says he is not married. I already knew he was a controlling narcissist by now but not sure about the women.

Continue reading

Gaslighting: What Does This Look Like?

Now your just somebody that I used to know.

Gotye (A song about a narcissistic partner)

Many times in my office I hear this from women “My boyfriend/husband is/was gaslighting me.” I will respond by saying “So, he was trying to make you believe something that didn’t really happen?” Often times they will say “Well, no.” Sometimes they have looked this up and are very clear what it means. The term Gaslighting originated from the 1944 film “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. In this film, the husband (who would actually be diagnosed with Anti-Social Personality Disorder) is trying to make his wife believe she is going insane. For purposes of the title, he “goes out” for the day/evening, though he is actually going into the attic and he dims the light switches in his wife’s bedroom, so that only she sees this and not the housekeepers. He also moves pictures on the wall, hides a watch that he gives to his wife, many, many other things. This is Gaslighting. Making someone believe something happened that did not. It could be the statement of a pathological liar, in which case this is a reality they believe, or it could be like Charles Boyer’s character where he is purposely setting up the stage to torment his victim.

Continue reading

Confessions of a Trauma Bond Survivor

The Covert Narcissist taking his mask off – in the end.

I met with a woman, I will name “Annika,” (a favorite pseudonym of mine), who told me some details about her life story with men. She gave me permission to write about her story here. I am going to write this in “first person,” as if it were a memoir. She is not a client and, I say this, so if my clients are reading this, they won’t think it is their story. I am breaking this up into different parts. I start with this aspect of her journey: coming back from being in a trauma bond after the break-up with a covert narcissist.

Continue reading