Narcissists seem to have a “gift” for making their victims feel that they are the problem in the relationship, that they are the ones who are dysfunctional, not the narcissist. Often, they are so talented at doing this, a victim is completely baffled as to how it happened. This post will explain some ways narcissists accomplish this.
Narcissists love gaslighting. Gaslighting is the systematic tearing down of a person’s sanity. Narcissists will deny having done something, deny the incident happened as it did, find a way to blame the victim for the problem & more. Constant gaslighting tears down a person’s ability to trust their own memories, feelings, perceptions & yes, even sanity.
Narcissists either imply or say outright that their victims are crazy. My mother used to tell me often, “You need help.” It was accompanied by a pitying expression. She was implying I was in dire need of psychological help, yet, never got it for me. Why? Because she knew I was sane. I, however, had doubts for most of my life about my sanity. After all, no one would say such a thing to their own child if it wasn’t true, I thought.
Narcissists project their faults onto their victims. Narcissists view others through a very distorted lens. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to the corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure; both their mind and their conscience are corrupted.” (AMP) One aspect of this is accusing their victims of the very things that they themselves do, even when there is no evidence of the victim doing anything of the sort. They often accuse their victims with such certainty, the victim may believe the accusations are true. There is one good thing about projection. It can be useful in learning what the narcissist is really up to. The narcissistic husband who claims his wife is unfaithful is most likely having an affair. The narcissistic mother who accuses her child of lying is a lair. Listening to what the narcissist accuses you of can give you a great deal of insight into what they are truly like.
Narcissists love the silent treatment as a weapon. In my late teens, my mother & I argued constantly. One of her favorite ways to hurt me was to give me the silent treatment. I would beg her to tell me what was wrong, & she either refused to answer or would say, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” At the time, either scenario was devastating. Saying nothing showed me I wasn’t worth her time or energy to speak to. Saying she wouldn’t tell me if I didn’t know what was wrong made me feel crazy, stupid & ashamed for not knowing what egregious sin I had committed.
Narcissists lack self awareness. Rather than question that maybe, just maybe, they might be the problem in their relationships, they blame all relationship woes on other people. If you aren’t aware of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can be quite easy to believe that the narcissist is right, & you are at fault for their problems or the problems in your relationship.
Narcissists are provokers. In other words, narcissists will do whatever it takes to push their victims to the point of rage so they can use that rage to prove to the victim that the victim is crazy, abusive, irrational or anything else. Since the narcissist stays calm while the victim is clearly upset, it’s easy for the victim to believe what the narcissist says at this point.
Narcissists will say that they forgive you, even when you have done nothing wrong. By saying this, they are implying that you are the problem in this situation, & they are very good & kind people to forgive you for the awful things you have done.
Learning about these tactics can help you to protect your mental health, & not fall for the narcissist’s lies that you & you alone are the dysfunctional one in the relationship.