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.

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Patterns in the Narcissists Behaviors

Personally and professionally, I have dealt with narcissistic men in relationships, as family members, as clients, and in business. I like to study patterns that I see that continue to appear over and over again, as a psychotherapist and began to reflect on this when it came to the narcissist specifically; for this post. This is not research, just an observation that I have seen, heard, learned of. I do not work with the narcissist (except when they are part of one of my couples), so I often hear it from the partner. If I am working with a couple, I am able to listen to them when I do a family history and glean more from them with the questions I ask. You have read many articles on line, most likely, about the narcissistic relationship to the wife/girlfriend. This article is going in a different direction.

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