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BOOK REVIEW: The Gaslight Effect

By Ox Drover

I recently read The Gaslight Effect—How to spot and survive the hidden manipulations other people use to control your life, by Dr. Robin Stern. I highly recommend this book to Lovefraud readers.

Robin Stern, Ph.D., is a therapist specializing in emotional abuse and psychological manipulation. She teaches at Hunter College, Teachers College and Columbia University, and is a leadership coach for faculty.

This well-written book is quite reader friendly. Dr. Stern starts off by defining the term “gaslighting” as being “pressured by someone else to believe the unbelievable.” She goes on to show that gaslighting is “an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that can be difficult to recognize and difficult to break free from.”

In the first chapter, Dr. Stern says:

I constantly encounter women who are smart, strong, successful. Yet, I keep hearing the same story: Somehow, many of these confident, high-achieving women were being caught in demoralizing, destructive and bewildering relationships. Although the woman’s friends and colleagues might have seen her as empowered and capable, she had come to view herself as incompetent—a person who could trust neither her own abilities nor her own perception of the world.

”¦ In every case, a seemingly powerful woman was involved in a relationship with a lover, spouse, friend, colleague, boss or family member who caused her to question her own sense of reality and left her feeling anxious, confused and deeply depressed ”¦ (and) whose approval she kept trying to win, even as his treatment of her went from bad to worse. Finally I was able to give this painful condition a name: The Gaslight Effect, after the old movie Gaslight.

In the 1944 classic film, Ingrid Bergman marries a charismatic and mysterious man played by Charles Boyer. It is the story of a young and vulnerable singer who marries an older man who, unbeknownst to her, tries to drive her insane in order to get her inheritance. He continually tells her that she is ill and fragile. He rearranges household items and accuses her of doing so, and manipulates the level of lights, which dim for no apparent reason. Eventually the heroine starts to believe she is going insane and begins to act “crazy.” She is desperate for her husband’s approval. She is only able to finally realize she is not insane when a policeman sees the lights dim and validates her reality.

Though Dr. Stern makes clear that not all gaslighters are deliberately trying to drive their partners insane, nevertheless, they invalidate the views and realities of their partners. In trying to please them, the partners let go of themselves and their view of reality.

Dr. Stern never uses the words “psychopath” or “sociopath,” but instead refers to emotional abusers as “gaslighters” and the abused as “gaslightees.” She does make it clear that there are patterns here that most of Lovefraud readers would equate with sociopaths and psychopaths.

Dr. Stern divides types of gaslighters into three categories of emotional abusers and three stages of gaslighting. She points out the internal signals, feelings that would tell a person being gaslighted that they are indeed experiencing some form of emotional abuse and invalidation of their reality by someone they want to please.

I am one of those people who, when reading a book, am apt to highlight passages in the book for later reference. With this book, I gave up highlighting because I tended to highlight entire chapters instead of a few phrases. In my opinion this book is a must have for every Lovefraud reader. It validates the very subtle feelings we get when we know something is wrong and can’t quite put our fingers on what is wrong with a relationship.

Not only does Dr. Stern point out how to recognize these feelings as warning signs, but she coaches readers in how to handle these in a way that is healthy and easily understood. She gives the tools to her readers to recognize even subtle signs of emotional abuse, and to confront this in such a way that if the victim is not dealing with a psychopath/sociopath, the relationship can be improved markedly. She also points out that there are some gaslighters that are so invested in being right that there is no hope for the relationship, and the only hope for the victim to be happy is to let go of that toxic relationship.

The Gaslight Effect is available on Amazon.com.



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202 Comments on "BOOK REVIEW: The Gaslight Effect"

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Thanks Oxy for bringing our attention to this book. I agree it sounds like a must read for us shell shocked veterans.

Even now, after 2 1/2 years NC, I have flashbacks of situations that my ex manipulated to keep me fearful, helpless and confused. Near the end, the effects of the gaslighting had me so chronicly stressed that out was the only way forward. The worst part was that some of it was very subtle, all of it was relentless, and within the framework of him bringing me flowers and professing his undying love and committment.

It is still totally shocking to me that people can be evil enough to choose to undermine, with the intent to destroy, their loving and faithful partners.

One breif example I would like to share, that I think would qualify, is this.

I had bred my dog and two days after giving birth to 10 pups she became immobile. It was a Friday nite and my vet had closed. My only option was to take her and the pups to an animal hospital in the city. But, they would only admit her with a substantial downpayment, and the total bill would be in the thousands. My ex was taking care of our US affairs while I was in Canada, and had me believing we were practically destitute.

I had no funds or credit to admit the dog. In response to my tearful phone call, he insisted he had no funds or ability to help either. Finally he said he would “borrow” from his sister, the dog was admitted and all ended well. (she had Lyme disease and was treated for it).

Two years later, during my preperation for my divorce case, I find the bank records. He had access to many tens of thousands of $$ at exactly that time. All of it was theatre, designed to make me extremely anxious and insecure. As a matter of fact, all of the $$ stress I believed we were under was manufactured for my consumption.

It is not possible for normal people to anticipate that kind of behavior, or be properly on guard for it. We are not capable of thinking like that, or imagining that someone could bother to make up all kinds of nastiness just to hurt another person.

We are not BLIND, it is their evil that they have learned to make invisible. But it is there, and it permeates EVERYTHING we do while in a relationship with a P.

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.
Peace to all.

Thanks, Anita! Glad you are doing well!
Well, this seems to be the only thread I can get on now, so can’t even read your posts or respond to them. So out of here for now, maybe the weather will pass and reception will be better! The only thing I hate about the boonies is NO DSL! UGH!

I am ordering this book tonight! Gaslighting is a very difficult idea for most people to understand, which is the very reason we dont know it is happening.

Looking back on my years and events that never made sense, I now see they were gaslighting, and this is a very incomplete list:

my collection of antique platters displayed in a cabinet had all fallen and smashed-some were gifts from the ex

“disappearance” of our 2yr old child, “found” by ex in the nieghbors home-the child could NOT have opened the back door

the ultimate..”staging” a series of home robberies ( the ex gave the items to someone) to frighten me

Hard to believe anyone is this calulating, deceitful and ruthless, until you have first hand experience. I would like a discussion of the effects this poison has on children. Mine are being force-fed “the unbelievable” now and it is mine warping.

Hope this book gives some advice on how to handle that..

one/joy_step_at_a_time

anitasee – thank you for your post. very timely for me.

best, one step

This is a great book. I’m glad you did a review on it, OxDrover.

If you don’t understand anything else about emotional abuse, know what gaslighting is.
Know it backwards, forwards, upside down and sideways.
Because this is how the abuser imposes their twisted reality onto us.

One of the main points the author stresses in this book is that as long as you are looking OUTSIDE of yourself for approval and understanding, you are leaving yourself open to gaslighting.

It’s very important to be centered, and know who you are and what you will tolerate in a relationship.

I gained a lot of valuable information and insights from this book.

OxDrover

Thanks so much for hilighting this book. This was the particular talent of the P I had the misfortune to attach to. in a very subtle way (psychologically and emotionally) he pulled the rug from under me, savoring every emotional humiliation and hurt that he inflicted without blinking an eye.

He would tell me that he loved me, I was the only one, he wanted to be with me, he wanted to marry me, he wanted me to be his wife and lets get married soon…..he lovebombed and seduced, flattered and
bewildered and gaslighted till the cows came home….in the background of these lies he calculated and plotted how to get my money, use me for his own goals, and take me for a mug. Dumped me and saunterd off with thousands of euro belonging to me and a car. Nice work Mr. Psychopath.

I WAS in a very healthy state of mind when I fell in love with him, so it is heartening to hear DR Stern say:

I constantly encounter women who are smart, strong, successful. Yet, I keep hearing the same story: Somehow, many of these confident, high-achieving women were being caught in demoralizing, destructive and bewildering relationships

Yes, I like to think I am smart and successful, he reduced me to a quivering wreck and he relished harming my emotional reality which has utterly changed , I am very damaged by his actions but Thank God I am here, and No contact for nearly a year and on the road to another recovery (on top of the last one)

Rosa says:

as long as you are looking OUTSIDE of yourself for approval and understanding, you are leaving yourself open to gaslighting.

Totally makes sense to me. But falling in love is having faith in the unknown….and yes we can fall WHEN FIRST WE HAVE RUN THEM THROUGH THE MANY CHECKLISTS so that maybe we can prevent it happening again for ourselves.

Gaslighting is also a good response to someone who is ‘out for a fight’ or looking for attention….Oxy I notice YOU using the technique here on lovefraud posts sometimes…you will change the subject and talk about the tree in your garden when you don’t like the direction a certain thread is going!
It leaves me puzzled, scratching the head thinking ‘I coulda sworn we were talking about such n such wtf is this ?’ it’s Oxy gaslighting!! aaah yess.

It’s a book I’d love to read, I feel it could be the best information for reading a psychopath, catching those subtle rug pulling words before it’s too late and the pheromones take over!

Dear Bullet proof,

LOL ROTFLMAO!!!! Yea, I guess that suddely switching to “potted plants” is “gaslighting”—hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s more or less just a signal to several other regular posters that someone seems to be getting very aggressive, so I’m just going to “talk about potted plants.” This started a long time ago when some Ps came on here and were flamming others, and some of us were talking about it later and we decided we would treat them like “potted plants’—in other words, just ignore them. So that’s what that’s all about, sort of an inside joke. Sometimes I forget that not every one is in on the joke, but you picked up very well. You ARE a smart cookie!

And that’s the thing Bullet, we are ALL SMART cookies, the parasite doesn’t hang on a sick dog, it wants a healthy dog it can suck the blood of. Of course when they are done, we may BE SICK but they pick healthy successful ones to start with.

I saw a lot of great information in this book, and how the emotional parasite can manuver the victim the way they want to and the victim comes out on the bottom of the “dog pile” because everyone else around the victim will consciously or unconsciously HELP THE ABUSER, at least they will not defend the victim. This tendency for others to “help” the gaslighter is something we don’t always appreciate consciously, and being aware of it, either as a bystander or a victim is important I think. I got so much good information out of this book.

I think the more ways we can look at OURSELVES and how to defend ourselves the better off we are in the end. Abuse may be subtle, but recognizing it early while it is “small” is the best way to put the “fire” out before it burns our house down! (((hugs))))

Oxy, I think there is a difference between “potted plant” and “silent treatment” and “NC”.

Potted plant: you decide temporarily not to pay attention in order to protect yourself, but every once in a while you have to water it and hence you are interested in some interaction.

“Potted plant” in this forum is also a kind of code word for other posters to go NC with another poster.

Silent treatment: abuse. Period. Goal: destroy the soul of another who wants to interact with you, get approval from you, worst form to show despise. Hard to spot from the outside, no defense possible

NC: extreme form of potted plant: aim is to protect oneself by cutting completely all interactions with another individual.

It is the INTENT behind, they all look the same from outside.

Therefore I think the potted plant treatment is something quite dangerous, it can become silent treatment. It might become bullying. And as we all are on our way towards healing we have to be aware of the different stages and “rawness” of LF-members. Time will tell what kind of poster is around, and with overt P/N/S then NC is appropriate, in my opinion.
Having that said, I believe that we are an incredible bunch of wonderful people well aware of it! (((((BIG CYBERHUG))))

Dear Libelle,

I see your point, and NC is an extreme form of “potted plant” but actually it can be a “Plastic” plant that you don’t have to even water, so is NC to protect yourself. We don’t have Ps troll here very often but occasionally do —we all I think understand how RAW someone can be. Ignoring someone when they are crying out in pain is not appropriate and I don’t think I ever have. In fact, since I have come here I have usually been the one to welcome others after their first post. Sometimes someone gets missed but it is I think important that people be recognized as being here.

Actually NC is a form of “silent treatment” in a way. But not so much to “punish” them as to protect ourselves. Ps frequently use “silent treatment” to punish us, and you could say that our NC is no different (at least from the outside looking in) and like you pointed out the INTENT IS DIFFERENT.

I do admit, however, that NC is “punishment” to the P,from their own point of view,because it TAKES CONTROL AWAY FROM THEM over US. That upsets them very much.

When we refuse to allow them to “continue the game” of control over us, it frustrates the heck out of them, makes them feel powerless (and they really are if we don’t respond) and for a while at least they will INTENSIFY their attempts to get us to respond.

Looking back through my life I can see that my family members would punish me with “the silent treatment” if I objected to their behavior toward me. I think you have expressed the same thing with some of your own family members as well in the past.

BTW how is your new living situation working out? Are you settled in yet? Hope all is well! (((hugs))))

Dear Oxy, just a long article vanished in Cyberspace.

I just wanted to point out that there might be a fine thin line between the different “non-communications” and that they are based on the intention. The “potted plant” can be percieved by the unprepared LF-newby as the odd “silent treatment” they got elsewhere.

I do not go NC to punish someone, but to protect myself, as you pointed out very well. My brother got NC/does the silent treatment with me to punish me by not having me see my nieces (whom I love a lot and he knows it) because I objected how he treated mother to press money out from her to finance his last extravaganzas.

Besides that I only have recieved the silent treatment from coworkers.

My situation turned out just wonderful: I left my work end of march, moved the apartment slowly and settled in in May, and I am pretty much installed by now. I take it slowly, and want to think about what to keep and what to give away, and have all things in place properly. It is a dream come true, a very nice flat.

And in the end of April an old colleague called me, and I start working with her in August, and have a LONG holiday till then. It is a small hospital, it will be just the two of us and a very small team, and she is very much looking forward to working with me. An old high school buddy is biggest boss there, also looking forward to working with me, I have emotionally close relatives there too. The one point is that it is 40 miles one way drive.

The alternative was a part time job with also old colleagues, with an old “friend” of mine in the team with whom I silently let go of the friendship after she waved some very rude red flags years ago. The third would have been a private, money driven, but highly prestgious job, also with dubious colleagues (I have known them how they act strangely and weird in different situations). My mom of course wanted me to apply at the prestigious place and not to go to the NoName-Hospital!

I am looking forward to August! It is not prestigious at all, but good work and nice people; the pay is not so high, but my freedom of my heart is priceless.

Hope thigs are well with you too, and that the tempest did not destroy the cables (I alway wonder when I am in the US about the electricity system, the cable salad on the streetcorners) (((((HUGS back)))))

Dear Libelle,

I am glad for you that you are so happy with your new upcoming job. I can vouch that the less pay, but less stress, is a great trade off. Money is NOT everything! Peace IS EVERYTHING! The drive is about what I have most of my life commuted, so here in US not unusual. But for a good, happy, and peaceful working place it is well worth the time and effort.

I actually liked the alone time of the drive to and from work when my house was busy with family and friends, I could think, listen to a book on tape, or music, or just “zone out.”

It seems too that while we are having one P-attack at work, or at home, that another one will creep up on us at the same time. Like somehow they are “coordinated” to kick us when we are down. That is when we must be the BEST to ourselves and stay away from anyone who is TOXIC (P or not) so that we can use all our energies to take care of ourselves. I am so glad that things are finally turning around for you on the job market and that you have chosen so wisely to be good to yourself! TOWANDA!!!! for you!!! (((hugs))))

Hi Oxy,

I think I am going to go get this book today. I was invalidated my entire childhood by my step mother… and I tried and tried to get her love, approval and positive attention to no avail. I was convinced I was unlovable for some reason which I could not identify. I see how this pattern of thinking runs deep in me today.

Thanks for this review. I have a list of books I want to read and this is at the top but I forgot about the list. :O)

Aloha

Libelle

Just to acknowleadge what you say:

Therefore I think the potted plant treatment is something quite dangerous, it can become silent treatment. It might become bullying. And as we all are on our way towards healing we have to be aware of the different stages and “rawness” of LF-members. Time will tell what kind of poster is around, and with overt P/N/S then NC is appropriate, in my opinion.

this thought also crossed my mind in relation to blocking a conversation, leading to ignoring a poster, who may well be a P or also just a person wanting to vent, express stuff and be difficult. I have a high tolerance of different types of expression, so yes, I think it is a huge decision to suddenly “ignore” a poster without real proof they are’ trouble makers’.

I also want to acknowledge Ox Drovers welcome to each new poster and indeed to me when I came, I felt so welcomed and understood by Oxy, I was crying!! Oxy you are so warm and welcoming it is so soothing and healing and I thank you for that. TOWANDA!!!!(((hugs))))

Dear Aloha,

Yes, I REALLY got a lot out of this book. Seems for me at least the more I find I am doing “better” the MORE I LEARN from new books and new articles. This one doesn’t use the “P” word, but describes it very very well. The EMOTIONAL abuse we get with gaslighting in many facets of our lives, as children at home, from bullies at school and on the streets, at work, and from “friends” and “lovers” is really amazing and we discount it as what we expect.

The more we get the more “normal” it seems.

What is amazing too is how she points out that the gaslighter can recruit bystanders to join them in the bullying and why it seems to common. Of course we know that the smear campaign and so on happens but this explains a great deal of the whys and how to combat it, or, how to at least survive it and not place the blame on ourselves. I’d helplessly seen this happen to me and others and yet never seemed to be able to put it into words or concepts, this sure helped.

I have been ordering quite a few books lately off line (used) for very cheap prices and most of them have been really great. One by Martha Stout not so good–but over all mostly very helpful.

I read this about a year ago. It was pretty good.

Oxy,

Which one was by Martha Stout. I might have read it already. It sounds familiar.

I see how damaging it can be the messages people get from outside themselves… like the kids that are bullied and commit suicide. The believe what people are saying to them, that they are worthless and they succumb. It’s so sad.

I always tell the kids I work with that “self esteem” comes from yourself… you learn to esteem yourself. Am I off base here?

I read the Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout and found it fairly useful, but I was just at thr beginning of learning about this condition so didn’t know much at all.

I watched the original movie Gaslight on Youtube and although it is far removed from modern society, it had a powerful impact on me as I could relate to everything the heroine was going through. I used to think emotional abuse was just saying nasty things to someone – I had no idea about factors such as Gaslighting where the abuser warps and alters the reality of the victim. It;s an insidious and crazymaking experience and it made me very depressed … I could do nothing right and apparently my perception and recollection of everything was all wrong too – like banging against a brick wall day after day with no hope of anything ever getting better.

Aloha – I know you directed your question to Oxy, but it got me thinking. I think our self esteem is made up of what other people reflect back to us at least in part. It is our appraisal of our self worth as human beings and is based at least in part on external evidence. My self esteem plummeted with the P – I used to feel good about myself but the continual failure I experienced with him gave me evidence that I was a failure and incapable of sustaining or being happy in this supposedly ‘good’ relationship that he had no problem with. Iw as the weird one for being miserable – apparently I had no reason to feel that way.

It’s only now that I am out that I’m starting to rebuild a positive self image and self appraisal and it started from the outside and has moved inside. I undertake things that I think will result in success and I mix with people who reflect good things back to me – it’s making a real difference and healing me of all that pain. The P didn’t care how I felt about myself or anything – to him I was a doll on the shelf for his amusement and entertainment and I am sure my distress was a bonus for him – it showed him how ‘powerful’ he really was.

I haven’t read this book (at least I don’t think so!) so I will look into getting hold of a copy. I’ve read quite a few books in this area now – psychopathy, abuse, recovery etc

“The Myth of Sanity, Divided consciousness and the Promise of Awareness” about “multiple personality disorder” (mmore formaly called “dissociative idenity disorder”)—her reasoning didn’t make a lot of sense to me….she seemed to write like this was some “common everyday disorder,” which, though I am no expert and don’t pretend to be, I don’t agree with.

I totally agree with you though, Aloha, that getting our validation of worth from OTHERS is never a good way to do it. It has to be internalized. Sure we must get it from our parents and other adults as we are infants and children, but we have to internalize it, make it our own, I think, in order that “circumstances” of life or other’s opinions can’t derail us.

Working with teenagers I think you see, as I did, that too many times at that age the self esteem is totally from the peer’s approval rather than from internally. Media also gives images of what is “cool” or “good” that are unrealistic and if a teen doesn’t meet those criteria of skinny or popular then their self esteem suffers and they tend to seek it from others opinons of them.

Seeiing healthy adolescents with good self esteem is a different thing entirely. They make some mistakes of course but they are not totally depending on OTHERS for their self worth or seeking to “purchase” approval with promiscuious sex or other currency.

Not that they are all perfect, by any means, but most of the Scouts and college kids that hang out here at my house are great kids. They are all good role models for the Scouts they mentor at camp (most work at the big scout camp near here in the summers) and work very hard to direct the “little kids” in the right direction. It is amazing how a bunch of Eagle scouts will raise your opinons of teenagers and young adults! Involved with their parents and their troops, and their schools, churches and communities. It gives me a great deal of hope among newspaper and TV news shows full of teen crime statistics and unwed teenaged mothers!

I never realized that no matter how much I accomplished or succeeded or how good my grades were, or how “great” I was, my self estem was not dependent upon MY valuatiion of ME but on other’s valuation of me. I still find it difficult to accept a compliment from others, and have to work at not saying inside myself “well, boy have I got you fooled!”

Now I am working on saying to myself, “Yep, I AM GREAT, and I deserved that compliment, I earned it.” If that sounds narcissistic, that’s okay, because I don’t clammer after credit I have not EARNED or DESERVE by who I am. Healthy narcissism (self interest and recognition of accomplishments) is a good thing! It’s a great feeling because no one can take it away! It is mine! Heck, I’m becoming a healthy adolescent in my old age! (((hugs))))

This is a blog I did a year ago on my myspace about emotional abuse…

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=105302917&blogId=504767646

You will see everything we talk about here and more… I complied my info from various places, and you will see gaslighting and the silent treatment plays a big part of the abuse.

If the above link does not work, or you have trouble, I will be happy to post the written parts here.

Southernman…

I’d be interested to hear what these “three categories of emotional abusers” are–in Robin Stern’s typology anyway. There certainly are different “types” of abusers, but I didn’t see any information on Stern’s view of this in the amazon.com pages.

I have a concern about how some readers process a book like this. It was mentioned by a critical Amazon reviewer as well. In the movie Gaslight from which this term was taken, the wife started doubting her perceptions of reality partly because she observed the gas lighting to get brighter and dimmer–though her husband, who was causing these fluctuations, denied that it was doing so. However, he was not “turning” the gas up and down for the purpose of driving his wife crazy. That was not his ultimate motive.

Rather, the gas was going up and down as an unavoidable consequence of another activity he was carrying out in secret. It was because he couldn’t afford to reveal this to his wife that he denied anything was happening to the gas. So if she started doubting her own perceptions because of this, it’s not because his primary motive was to make her do so. That was just a side effect of what he was doing elsewhere.

To be sure, there were other considerations. For the wife to start thinking she was “going crazy” did suit the husband’s purposes in another way. It led her to discount any suspicions she might otherwise have of what he was really after. Yet even here there’s an important distinction. His ultimate goal was not “to drive his wife crazy.” If he did drive her crazy, that was only a means to an end. His real motive was to protect himself so that he could complete the secret activity he was engaged in. If his wife was “driven crazy” in the process, that was merely “collateral damage” to him.

This is an important point, because some people seem to misunderstand some of the motives of abusers (not necessarily psychopaths), and I suspect there might be a reason for that.

Anita provided what seems to me a good example of this:

Even now, after 2 1/2 years NC, I have flashbacks of situations that my ex manipulated to keep me fearful, helpless and confused. […]

It is still totally shocking to me that people can be evil enough to choose to undermine, with the intent to destroy, their loving and faithful partners.

Now of course I don’t know this man or anything about him. But why would anyone assume he was doing this with the intent of “destroying” his partner?

It’s not impossible, of course. Abusers who are angry enough at their partner (for all kinds of irrational reasons) can certainly do things with the intention of “punishing” their partner. That can “destroy” anyone in the long run. However, a great many things that abusers do, as unfair or even harmful as they may be, are not done with the intent of hurting a partner, but for some other reason. With abusers in general, most of what they do is not about you; it’s about THEM.

For one thing a great many abusers have distorted perceptions of reality. Patricia Evans for one points out in her own books that abusers, as she puts it, “live in a different reality.” (I don’t like the wording myself because I don’t like to confuse true (objective) reality with subjective perceptions of it, but her observation is valid enough.) Often what abusers tell you, as crazy as it may be, is only the way they see things themselves in their own twisted way.

Abusers can have a remarkable facility for telling themselves (as well as you) that something “didn’t happen the way you remember it.” Needless to say, this is particularly true if it’s something they “did wrong” themselves! Many abusers can’t bear to “see themselves” in the wrong, so they get very skillful over the years at rearranging their own memories. Then they can hardly believe the true reality you’re reminding them about.

The effect is very likely to leave you confused and disoriented. But that doesn’t mean their purpose is “to leave you confused and disoriented.” That’s the fallacy of confusing consequences with intent. If you’re left confused and disoriented, that’s only a side effect of what they’re really aiming to achieve.

In many situations an abuser may genuinely imagine you’re “confused” because you don’t seem to see reality the way they do! Yet even when an abuser is knowingly lying (like that husband in Gaslight), ten to one it’s not with the purpose of driving you crazy. Rather, it’s with the purpose of protecting themselves–from an accusation of wrongdoing, or something of the kind. In situations like this, it’s not about you or how you feel, not in the abuser’s mind; it’s all about THEM and what THEY feel or want. If you end up “feeling crazy” because they twist reality, that’s just collateral damage to an abuser, who probably won’t notice anyway. Many of them don’t notice half of what they do. They’re blind to it.

So it may not be accurate to talk about an ex who manipulated “to keep me” helpless and confused, as if that were his goal. That’s only a result of what he did.

I felt there were good grounds to pick on this example, because of the story about the dog that illustrated it. The dog was sick and the vet bill was likely to run into the thousands. On hearing this, Ex said he had no money to cover it. Finally, after further pressure, he gave in and coughed up some money, but said he’d had to borrow it from his sister. Only later did it transpire that he had access to some tens of thousands of dollars at the time.

One consequence of this was that you felt “extremely anxious and insecure” about finances in general. But I don’t see any reason to conclude that all this “theater” of his was actually designed to make you “feel anxious and insecure.” Even if he was not a psychopath or any other kind of abuser, to me his real motive was glaringly obvious. FEELINGS were not the point. MONEY was the point!–just as it was in Gaslight.

Of course I’m not trying to say “money” is always behind controlling behavior. Far from it! A great many more things are done for intangible motives, to protect an abuser’s emotional security. But in this incident it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Ex’s motive was simply to protect HIS MONEY. Your own feelings or goals didn’t figure in this–or only insofar as he did give you some money.

Exactly what factors made him behave that way, where other people would not have done, is another question. For all I know, he might have been very insecure about money himself. He must have been very reluctant to go spending thousands of dollars on a sick dog, when in his mind there might be other unexpected demands on the finances at any time. I’m sure he must have feared that if you knew what a nest egg he’d built up, you’d be putting more demands on him to spend it. Controlling people, rightly or wrongly, fear all kinds of things. Psychopaths aside, fear is what makes most of them so controlling. At any rate, telling you he didn’t have any money and had to borrow from his sister got the RESULT he was really after. It made you reluctant to ask him for more money, so he wouldn’t have to put up with the pressure and could keep more of his nest egg intact.

If he was indeed a psychopath, it’s particularly true that your feelings wouldn’t matter to him. If you felt “anxious and insecure,” that was immaterial to him as long as HE didn’t have to contend with demands on his bank account. At the very least, your feelings of insecurity were far less important to him than his own. This was all about HIM, not about you.

As I mentioned earlier, I suspect there might be a reason why some people seem to misunderstand certain motives of abusers. I think people fail to grasp how “alien” is the thinking of many abusers–meaning how different it is from their own! They come up with all kinds of reasons why abusers do what they do–“it must be work stress,” “it must be insecurity,” “it must be anger over such-and-such,” “it must be something I’ve done myself”, and so forth–and some of them are right some of the time, and some of them are wrong a lot of the time. Yet I suspect what many people find hard to grasp is that often, abusers just aren’t aware of how their partners feel–or if they are, they don’t care one way or the other. Grasping this fact may be particularly hard for a partner who is personally very empathetic and caring and always tries to be cognizant of what others are feeling. “How could anyone not be like that?” Besides, if any of us as human beings takes on a mate who appears to “love” us, we’re operating under the assumption that they do “care” about us in the way that any normal human would care. Yet that may not be true of an abuser.

Then if the abuser ends up “driving the partner crazy” (or doing some other kind of harm), the partner may fall for a wrong assumption: that the abuser “must have known,” “must have seen” this was happening, or “must have felt something about it”–and “therefore” driving the partner crazy must have been the abuser’s conscious intent. It may even be easier for some partners to believe this, rather than accept that the abuser just didn’t care enough about them one way or the other. Yet because an abuser can be so preoccupied with some personal obsession, or so totally self-absorbed, or (in the case of the psychopath) so completely lacking any capacity for empathy, the fact that the partner is being “driven crazy” may not even appear on an abuser’s radar screen!

Redwald:
Bottom line…..it’s not always personal, but as a victim of these types…….the devastation sure is.

We need something to make sense of it all……and blame offers some clarity.

Welcome to Lf, I enjoyed your insight.

ThankGodImFinallyFree

Hello Oxy,

Thank you for the review, it sounds like an excellent book. I just joined Lovefraud today; I had an opportunity to read some of the Comments, Categories and Monthly Archives. I only wish I knew about this site early. I have dealt with a Sociopath for approximately 9 years, through prayer; God gave me the strength and courage to finally leave. I am glad I found this sight, because I still have bad days, I’m glad I can get support on this site, from people that understand how I feel.

Peace and Blessings……

ThankGodImFinallyFree

Oops….I mean Ox….sorry….: – )

ThankGodImFinallyFree: (TGIF) 🙂
Welcome to Lf. Keep reading and educating yourself……and taking one step at a time!

Again Welcome!

XXOO
EB

ThankGodImFinallyFree

Hello EB,

Thank you for the warm welcome! I will continue to educate myself and I never give up! NEVER…..

Peace and Blessings……

Dear TGIFF! WELCOME!!!! Yes, I think God helped Donna put this site together for us all! It has been a life saver! Glad you are here, educating ourselves first about them, and then about OURSELVES is the key I think. I’m finally at a point it is more about ME now than about them, and that is a liberating point. I got there and then back-slid several times, but it is more about me now, and so am making progress.

Healing is a process, a journey, and that is what we must enjoy cause it is “life”—and the lessons we learn from the things we overcome help us and help us to help others.

Donna is my HERO!!!! She has helped us all to help ourselves. In the end it is like giving birth to a child, no one can do it for you they can just hold your hand and encourage you to push!

Glad you are here.

REDWALD, your long and thoughtful post is very thought provoking and I agree with you in some things. The INTENT isn’t always there, they just take advantage of what naturally happens, but in many cases of emotional abuse the intent IS THERE.

The saying of things that are demeaning and devaluing and then when the victim becomes upset, feeling the demeaning and devaluation the abuser comes back with “Oh, you are too sensitive…etc.” (a lie and projection) The victim has the choice at that point to realize the truth (the person meant to demean them which their gut tells them is true) or to believe what the abuser is saying (YOU are taking it wrong.) So their GUT tells them the truth and the abuser discounts it and they feel both confused and demeaned and start to doubt themselves.

The use of projection by the abuser turns the “wrong” back on to the one who is being wronged.

I really do suggest you get this book and read it for yourself. It is very insightful and recopying great parts of it out would be okay I guess, but I think it is one that has to be taken as a WHOLE. The bottom line is she is talking about psychopaths as the worst of the abusers, and “tacky and hateful” people who are insensitive to others in a lesser way and those in between. (My words).

Glad you are here!

“gaslighting” he totally messed with my mind. He stole money out of the canisters after he talked me into to hiding the cash in the canisters. He screamed at me when I found the money missing. He screamed and screamed that my kids stole it. He sure used screaming to wiggle his way out…

He used every method to mess with my mind. He would pull coats off the hooks while I was downstairs doing laundry. I would have to pick-up the coats off the steps while I was lugging full laundry baskets up the steps. I finally figured out he was doing it after the third load. Cause I peeked around the corner to see him pull the coats off the hooks. He got pissed at being caught and screamed “I’m always accusing him”.

Why didn’t I think it was him before? Cause he kept me too busy.

He refused to help. He laid on the couch. When I asked for help he screamed.

He pointed the finger at me screaming that my kids need discipline, and he screamed that I should jump down their throat. Then he laid back down on the couch while he continued screaming about the flaws of my kids, and the flaws of my parenting.

When he finally got off his duff…. it was to tear down the house.

He tore off windows. With no plan to replace them. He tore up my back lawn with no plan to replace the grass, he ripped off cabinet doors with no plans to replace them. He cut down the awnings that I wanted (never addressed the awnings I didn’t want) . He never took care of the “touch points” that he bragged he knows how to do. The city came after me for that.

How was I so stupid? He talked me into each project by hounding me into it. He would work on me all day and all night. I would give in just to get him off my back.

and then when he didn’t finish the job he lead me to believe it was my fault. And, he also had the nerve to tell me to finish the job by telling me I’m “able bodied”. While he jumped back on the couch.

He was crazy. He did more than this. He also called my dad to say I’m the crazy one and that he is trying to save me. My sister told me this. She set dad straight. She told dad that he is the problem.

This told me that sociopaths really know how to pick their victims. They know to pick people from family’s where they don’t get support, don’t have a father to look after them.

Well, this man with all of his opinions on my child rearing and parenting committed suicide on March 2004. He jumped off a building after he lost at gambling. He gambled the $6000.00 he stole out of his mothers bank account. The police found him with change in his pocket.

I feel pathetic to feel that I made “someone” out of a homeless person. Though I didn’t know I was doing that. He had me fooled into thinking he was a normal employed person.

He fooled a lot of people including my family.

ThankGodImFinallyFree

Hello Ox D,

Thank you for the encouraging words, I can relate to the “back-sliding” again and again, I always had hope. But, the following words sum up how I felt after going back and forth, “The depths of despair to which I sank were beyond description. I spent hours each day weeping”.Alan Redpath”

I thank God for giving Donna the insight to create LF; I can’t express how happy I am to have a “blog family” to reach out to for encouragement support during my healing process.

Glad to be here.

Again, thank you!

Peace and Blessings.

TGIFF

@southernman, great My Space page, thank you very much for putting all that together, I have visited your page in the past… this time I am definitely placing a bookmark on this link, the part about having low self esteem and clinging to the manipulator/abuser really sums up what I was doing. You are such a decent, caring man to compile all this information. I hope you are doing well and God Bless you.

Redwald-
I agree that some gaslighting is secondary BUT my ex intentinally wanted to hurt me; as so many do. It is about THEM and we may be in the way of what they want.

The ultimate gaslighting in my marriage was when his “buddy”– a longtime single male friend ??? moved in. They”gave” furnishings to a woman who thought I was selling the items.

I reported the items stolen; this happend 3 times totally $30,000. I later found the items in HER HOME and had her arrested.That day I was too upset to deal with this at police station so ex did.

The ex denied any knowledge so it was his word (a well known business man) against her. The police didnt believe her story of being sold the items…she had not paid for them yet.

Ex told her if she confessed , she could go home that day –so she did . She was warned to NEVER contact me. Now has a felony on her record.

A set up by him. I discovered this after the divorce. She denies being a girlfriend and she isnt his type. He used her to do this; she is terrified of him.

was this done—
just to be mean and frighten me?
insurance fraud?
if I hadnt discovered the real thief was my body going to be found after theft number 4 ?

Looking back, motives could get very ugly when you know the truth about “secrets”. I know now that at that time my ex was in a serious relationship and supposedly got the woman pregnat…. maybe he wanted to get rid of me…

Oxy-I think they use projection as a way to divert or distract you from their secrets (they are very paranoid with good reason) or just shift blame and never be wrong… If you read all this, yet another reason I watch my back. He and his buddy are sicko.

jeannie-sounds like you had a real monster to deal with; manic and suicidal.

TGIFF-welcome and thank God we are all free.

Emotional abuse erodes a person’s identity and kills the soul.

It is done very systematically, because it starts out as seduction.
Then the abuser starts to destabilize you, to make you doubt yourself and keep you in a constant state of confusion (gaslighting!).

Once control is established, the emotional violence/destruction begins.

According to the book, “Stalking the Soul”, which discusses emotional abuse by a perverse narcissist, the ultimate goal of the abuser is absolutely to destroy the victim.

Paraphrasing from the book:

“A perverse narcissistic abuser is filled with anger, hate, and most of all…ENVY towards the victim.”

“The goal is to destroy the attractive qualities that the victim possesses, and leave him/her without a shred of autonomy.”

“A narcissistic abuser grows in stature at the expense of another.
These types of abusers must degrade others to acquire self-esteem and power.”

“They are not concerned about relationships, and have no compassion or respect for others.”

Thank you shabbychic….the blog was helpful to me as well when I created it… I discovered so many things about behavoirs that were abusive that I did not see as abusive before my encounter with a socio, but in hindsight can see how these behavoirs undermine others.

Rosa, well said..I agree that their goal is to destroy the attractive qualities of those they pick to be in relationship with…mine did the same to me and it can take years to heal from it and in some ways, I wonder if one can ever completley heal from the evil intent of a purposeful act of premeditated murder of anothers soul… and don’t let anyone tell you they don’t intend any of this.. it’s on PURPOSE and it’s their MO…. relationship after relationship.. it’s all the same…..it’s what they do and who they are….

After a year of being a wonderful, loving, man to my abuser…after her discard, I could not understand the HATE in which she showed towards me….that.. above all the underhanded abuse, was the most painful thing to me….those beautiful green eyes that melted me in the beginning, eyes that were once filled with admiration for me… were filled with hate, contempt, and disgust towards me….for everything I was and everything I stood for.

She is a textbook socio and has all the traits and I saw many of them in recounting the relationship.. but even with all the lies, crazy behavoir, toxic exchanges, For me….that look of hate and evil has been has been the most hurtful and the hardest to understand, although I do understand “why” on a intellectual basis (she’s a sociopath)….it’s the visual that never leaves my memories…A heart that shows it’s self through her eyes… Eyes filled with hate.

ROSA-I agree with the ENVY and hate that motivates the behavior. In my previous post I describe the “thefts”. When the detectives came to investigate, they asked if I had any enemies.

When I asked why? they said somebody hates you because they took YOUR FAVORITE things (silver,pictures,rugs) and left the ones you didnt care about.

I also had a wonderful horse, sp threatened to shoot. He was so jealous of the enjoyment the animal gave me. Interestingly, the horse died of unknown causes.

Southerman- I have also seen the hate and contempt expressed in the sps eyes. I believe it is contempt for our compassion, seen as weakness. Mine told me in the divorce that if I would go along with him, he would not have to “squash me like a bug”.

In Biblical times Romans 1:28-30 describes sps very accurately:

“they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, so he abandoned them to their ways… their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed,hate, envy, murder,quarreling, deception….backstabbers, haters of God,insolent, proud and boastful”.

As a Christian, I agree with the biblical explanation, giving God the power of abandoning them to wickedness since ignoring moral laws was their CHOICE.

I was weak to the sp. I stayed in the relationship and continued to show love despite the treatment. Disrespect came first, then contempt for this. COMPASSION is the total opposite of RUTHLESSNESS–LIGHT VS DARK.

Notice the word “abandoning” by God…that is NO CONTACT. Leaving them to their own choices, to suffer the consequences since they dont want to change.

I am afraid sometimes our current stance with psychiatry is to explain this as something other than a choice.

We ALL could choose this path. CHOICES.No excuses. There is no understanding why. It is the decision between right and wrong. Since the beginnings of time.

Dear Flower,

I don’t understand what his point was, but it is difficult to understand their motives many times because what would be something desirable to them owuldn’t make sense to us. That woman taking a felony hit is a shame but whether or not she was also at fault I can’t tell. I’m just glad that you got your stuff back.

When they have given themselves over to a “reprobate mind” they have passed the point I think of being “saveable” or of turning back from their ways. They do not want to turn back and so there is no saving them from themselves.

Yes, it is a choice, but sometimes our choices can’t be UNdone. We can’t take back what we have done because the consequences preclude that like a drunk pickling his brain with booze or an addict frying their brain with drugs, there is no way to UNdo it from the choice we made earlier. A psychopath is the same way, I think, and when ever that CHOICE is made it is a DONE DEAL.

I think you are on the right path and keeping your faith strong will help you! “All things work together for good to those that Love the Lord”—keep that in mind. It isn’t always apparent at the TIME it happens how it will work out for good, but if you keep your faith strong it eventually will! IT HAS KEPT ME GOING when things were darkest! (((hugs)))) and prayers

thanks. i guess trying to make sense of the “senseless” is a waste of time. I do feel that seeing these events in the light of truth as I now know it, is wise.

He does have a reprobate mind.To change would be to admit too many “awful things” as he confessed to my mother. It is his choice to surround himself with those with like minds.

Thank God my son sees it but God save his father…

ThankGodImFinallyFree

Hello Flower Power,

Thank you for the welcome, I give all praises to God, for guiding me to this site, all of the resources, comments and articles, provide me strength and positive reinforcement. I am glad I have my “LF family” to share my feelings with. And yes, we are all FREE”

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace and Blessings”.

TGIFF

Redwald, Interesting points you bring up, and of course you are correct, it isn’t about us…it is about them. And destroying a persons sense of security is just a byproduct of whatever other agenda they may have. But in the case of a P that by product is sort of like a bonus.

The underlying “intent” in my case was to have me totally under his control, feaful, dependant, confused. And, if I should ever have the temerity to leave him and the untenable “relationship”..to have me walk away with nothing after 27 years of marriage.
But I have many, many other examples where the ONLY motive for certain behavior was to undermine my sense of reality and wellbeing, to prevent my being joyful or happy about anything.

The underlying objective was of course to have me locked into the marriage on his terms, with his total contempt for my well being simmering beneath the surface.

Bottom line, is they are actually very needy people. And they “need” to injure others to make themselves feel powerful. Whether that is a byproduct of a larger goal is not all that relevant. More like saying, well that person didn’t set out to run over a pedestrian, they were just in a hurry to get where they were going. So the pedestrian should not take it personally.

The gaslighting takes forthought, cunning, deception and lots of other efforts. It’s purpose is to control.

Contol, power and sex is what motivates them we are told. Whatever it takes to have it is just collateral damge. Freindly fire I guess.

I’ve got to get a copy of this book – not only to explain my PAST, but to help me to construct strong boundaries for the present and future.

Good review, Oxy. Enjoyed your delivery-fast, to the point-bottom line.
I spent my childhood trying to please a demanding, gaslighting, older brother, which set me up to step into 2 marriages with P’s. I was groomed at a young age to please others before myself, working for approval from people whose main goal was to always deny this. I do believe, though, from my situation, these were/are people who do not really accept themselves. I now realize the main reason and, for all of them, I believe it’s the same issue. I am going to purchase this book. I see gaslighting in many forms, and the passive/aggressive, covert, subtle gaslighting is what I am interested in learning more about.
Thanks for posting this!

I ordered this book just now. I did read a few pages in it and found help already! It helped me understand what my male friend does to me. I really like/appreciate this friend, yet I feel badly and depressed many times after being around him [also feel he’s sabotaging me]. Sure enough, it explained it: he’s a “Good Guy Gaslighter”! Nailed it! Those actions are him to the T! Small example: After just discussing some book he had read [of which I didn’t agree with the findings and opinions] he drug me into Barnes and Noble to find the book and PROVE to me it’s true and passively FORCE me to agree with him. I didn’t though. 😛 Even my PX’s said I might agree verbally, but NOBODY could really change my mind when I believed or disbelieved something. I do think this is what saved me from being totally destroyed in these toxic relationships and why my cruel, gaslighting brother couldn’t totally destroy me either. I will admit, they came close. But, here I am, by the grace of God, able to live, be happy and still have my sense of ME!

Good for you, TB!! Hi, Im back home after 3 weeks in Scotland. I had a great trip, and hopefully, it also served to help me lay some old ghosts to rest.
Last night, I had what I think was a “warning” dream re my older daughter,{46 on 6th July}. In the dream she was all over me, being extra nice, trying to con me into giving her money to study hairdressing, and get some paper qualifications. I think this was misplaced guilt at me paying for my new “adopted’ daughters first terms hairdressing fees.
In the dream, I agreed to pay my daughters fees.
Aso, in the dream, she admired a huge bunch of bright yellow chrysanths. Id been given. Gave her most of them, but kept a few back for myself. yellow is the Bhuddhist colour of the mind.
I think this dream was a red alert warning that if she contacted me again, even after all the abuse shes put me thru, and zero apologies, Id weaken and give her everything she wants. So, I still need to be on my guard re her.I obviously still feel love for her, though its not reciprocated,Id only be used and dumped yet again.
Its great to be back, I love you guys!!
Mama gem.XXXX

This hits a nerve. I’ve encountered “gaslighting” exclusively in men who try to manipulate me as a woman.

E-mail seems tailor-made for the experience. For instance, he can manipulation the discussion so that you forget the question you were asking. Instead, you get accused of accusing him of something, or saying something you never said. Always talking past each other, and it’s always your fault!

But certainly, many women have memories of physically present attempts to manipulate them for sex when they were young. As in, “You led me on, you little tramp.” It’s amazing how many men can be temporary S/Ps when their hormones are talking.

There are also attempts to make you appear insane because of something you brought to his attention (as opposed to his figuring it out himself, genius that he is). “I’ve got 25 years in the business, and I’ll tell ya, sweetheart, that’s not proof of anything,” etc.

Or — my personal favorite — “Don’t be such a ball-breaker; I’m a macho man who only likes little bunnies, and I’ll leave you for a sweeter, younger one.” But any man who uses his masculinity as a power trip should be left in the dust.

I actually saw a controlling ex on the street last weekend, and I walked right by him. But he was so good at “gaslighting” when we knew each other, that I walked right back — convinced I was crazy not to say hello. Thankfully, he wasn’t there when I swung back. Lesson learned: What the heck was I doing even in his neighborhood?

His lingering effects are that strong. He really wanted to “help” me not “make such an ass of myself” in front of his friends, he had said. It was “as a friend” that he warned me. Didn’t I want him to be such a good friend? Wouldn’t I have done the same for him? Was I really that “defensive”?

I’m crazy for showing up for that. Not for discounting it.

After reading an article on gaslighting, I bought this book. It explained my mother. The past unraveled so fast as I connected with one memory after another. She seriously gaslighted me from day one. I saw how I attracted gaslighters to me-it was all I knew- without being aware of it. This book changed my life.

Peace-
Redheeler

Dear all,

I have been reading Love Fraud for about 3 years now and it has been of great help!!

I have a question and maybe you can comment/advice on my situation, I will appreciate it very much:

It’s related to my best friend of 24 years-

We have been friends since we were teens and is (or was) a great person, however, during the last year or so, she has been through some conflicts with her husband (he is a N. Abusive, control, etc); and I suspect she has become either a N or at least, someone who is into gas lighting. I think that she has become like him in order to cope with the misery and anxiety that this man does.

Let me tell you that I have done absolutely nothing to her and have always been there for her; I used to lend her money (she paid back btw), listen to hours to her problems, visited her (she never comes to my house because of her busy schedule).

About a year ago I confronted her and told her that I was getting very anxious because she was calling me almost every day asking for advice and support and to keep me informed about her husband’s latest abuse (verbal, that is).

The conversation went fine, she had NO IDEA of how I was feeling, basically she would call to vomit and that was it. I referred her to a psychologist who, I suspect, knows nothing about N and S because she kept seeing my friend even without the husband. And not only did the psychologist continued therapy without the husband (the husband, as all N/P, refused to go to therapy), but she told my friend that her husband’s problem was that her family was *putting their nose in their marriage*.

My friend left her family, she doesn’t visit them (maybe once every 2 months), etc And from what I know, her husband has not changed, what I mean is that the psychologist has no idea of what a personality disorder is.

Also, take in mind that my friend left therapy without the psychologist ending it, this is typical of patients who don’t want to continue with reality, imo.

So, then a few months ago, just ONE day before my birthday, my friend calls me and she was drinking, out of the blue she told me that I want everything to be perfect (because I broke an engagement and told her that I wasn’t going to keep up with abusive behaviors from my Ex); this reminded her of her abusive spouse I suspect and it moved her territory.

Anw, she told me a lot of hurtful things, that I want to be perfect and that I expect everyone to be perfect, she told me that I have a way of conducing myself that doesn’t permit errors (just because I have a stable life, I don’t get into trouble, have my career, etc), etc

Basically, she confronted most if not all of my good traits, but she also cried and told me that she was telling me because she *cares for me*. Yeah, especially on my birthday and when I have done nothing wrong.

She ended the conversation telling me that she admires me, that I am a good role model, etc. she left me very anxious = gas lighting.

She told me that she doesn’t give a shit! But then told me nice stuff!

A few months after that, I told her that she wasn’t right and that I have not done anything wrong to hurt her and that all that she said to me that night, had nothing to do with me but with her personal problems and what she is going through.

She asked me to forgive her BUT, again, she told me “I am sorry but if you don’t want to continue the friendship, it’s ok”

Again, she didn’t really acknowledge how much she hurts when she confronts, mind you that when she drinks she gets aggressive, she once threw something to someone when she was very drunk.

As to this date, she is full of guilt but she is the same person, we chat occasionally but nothing has changed and has gotten worst, for one, I don’t listen to her problems anymore and she didn’t continue therapy, second, she continues with an hostile and aggressive vibe, this is actually why we don’t talk much anymore because I just change the subject and pretend that I am busy; we have no bond now.

Next week its going to be her birthday and I am not going, I used some excuse and she is fine with it, I didn’t tell her the truth, that I don’t want to be around her, that she is toxic, I don’t think that she will understand, she has been so mean, its so sad but she makes me very ill.

Everyone is going to be there at the party and she sure is the life of the party and I feel bad and alone because I am not going but I made my decision and it doesn’t feel that bad.

My concern now is, how should I handle her? I would really, really want to end the toxic environment and I am afraid that I will only get to a safer place of tranquility if I cut her forever but I am afraid, I don’t know if I should confront her big time and ask her to end our friendship or, just don’t pick up the phone anymore = N/C

I know this is a long story and I appreciate it very much that you are reading it, thank you for your time and any opinions/advice is welcome.

Thanks!!

Brown Eyes

Brown Eyes, as you know from reading this site, TOXIC PEOPLE DO NOT CHANGE. They don’t even know they are toxic. My advise, if you care to take it … is to make sure your answering machine is on and you can screen your calls. When and if she calls, just don’t answer your phone and don’t call her back. She obviously doesn’t take time to come over to your house … and you’ve ignored the confrontation and resolved your problem with her.

Peace.

Wow! I never even considered my mother was gaslighting us…although I knew reality was extremely fluid around her. Have to think about this new revelation.

My X was definitely trying to convince me I was insane. It was working nicely too, except he went too far. I had already told him that in another relationship the man had tried to gaslight me by supposedly quoting me, and it hadn’t worked. I know I wouldn’t even THINK the things he tried to convince me I said. But I guess drugs had addled X pretty far by then. He was much more subtle, and almost got me, but he tried to tell me he was quoting me word for word. I thought about it for a few days, it really bothered me as it concerned his mother who I adored. I questioned him about it again, and this time really listened to what and how he said it. No WAY! I recognize speech patterns and that was the way HE thought and spoke, not me! Numbly I added it to all the other things I didn’t understand, the appliances that suddenly quit working, although he swore to others they were fine, how the items I cared about always seemed to get ruined and a few more sinister things. I started insisting he see a doctor, because while I was very ill, I was darn sure he was not acting normally. Luckily, this and the fact my web friends were on to him made him run, and he ran…blaming me for all of it of course.

I’m still trying to sort things out three years later. Still finding out things he lied about. Having those “Aha!” moments when a bit of the puzzle pops out of my subconcious. I think I better check this book out!

Dear Romantic,

My egg donor would say X and I would say to her “but you said X” and she would then say, “Oh, no I did not say X, I said I had INTENTIONS OF X, but I didn’t say I would DO X” (or not as the case might be) I would think, then, “maybe I did misunderstand her, my memory is not good” OR I would think, “she would never lie to me, maybe SHE has no memory of saying X” But either way, I was not SURE if she actually said X.

She used to do that to me all the time to the point that becau8se I did know I had CRS from the PTSD that I doubted what WAS REAL in my observations.

She would also say to me, “YOU said X” and I would say, “No, egg donor I said Y” and she would CRY and say “No, you are LYING you did say X” I would cry and try to get her to “believe me” and she would go on calling me a liar.

OR EVEN WORSE, ,sher would tell me “YOU THOUGHT X” and I would say “Egg dononr, that is not true, I did NOT think X” and she would say “You are a liar, you did too.”

HOW CAN SOMEONE BE SO SURE OF WHAT YOU ARE THINKING? The THOUGHT POLICE? How do you combat peopl4e who saya they can READ YOUR MIND? Sheet that ius like STALIN’s Russian government, prosecuting you for what you MIGHT THINK OR DO. She never seemed to grasp that she was not a MIND READER.

THAT IS GASLIGHTING TO ITS [email protected]!!!

My first mistake is believing that she COULD NOT, WOULD NOT ***LIE**** in the face of evidence she WAS LYING.

From now on, I will TRUST MY OWN instincts and REALITY. ot assume I am “mistaken” or “forgetful”

Dear Browneyes,

Your friend is playing a “game” of WOW, AIN’T IT AWFUL!” with you. The game goes this way, she calls you up and starts telling you how BAD her husband is and how she is abused by him, and then YTOU say, “Wow, that is awful” and VALIDATE her feelings of he is mistreating her.

HOWEVER, SHE HAS NO INTENTION OF LEAVING HIM, so if you try to insist that she STOP PLAYING “Wow, ain’t it awful” and GET REAL HELP and DO somethi8ng about the abusing, which she has NO intgention of doing, then you are NOT MEETING HER NEED FOR SYMPATHY and validation.

I have had friends who chose to play this game with an abusive spouse and they will become3 very upset with you if you want them to actually HELP THEMSELVES AND QUIT PLAYING THE GAMES.

The ony thing you can do is what I did (unless you WANT to go on playing this game) is to say, “Susie, I know you and Harold are having your problems, but I really can’t get involved in them, They haven’t changed in 18 years so, why don’t we AGREE to NEVER TALK ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS WITH HAROLD EVER AGAIN. We will just do the fun things we always have.” I think you may find that there really are very few FUN things you have done with her, and that most of the relationship has now become about you telling her how awful Harold is to her.

The friendship will not last long if you don’t want to play the game, she will find someone else to “support” her habit of “Wow, ain’t it awful.”

Dear Brown Eyes,

It sounds as if this relationship has been terribly one-sided. You have listened and advised and supported without getting anything in return. After awhile, this gets old. You could articulate one last time to your friend about the lack of balance and support from her. If she isn’t open to your feedback, she never truely was your friend.

She may be incredibly needy and not having the emotional maturity to be the kind of friend you deserve. Her actions are louder than her words, she can profess her undying devotion, but if you don’t really see it, you need to say goodby. Some people just can’t get over their selfishness (i.e. possible narcissism), and staying in this relationship will be unsatisfying for you, to say the least.

You sound like you’ve given her many chances but you don’t need to bang your head against the wall anymore if she can’t reciprocate. Some people are stuck and will never change. You deserve better, more fullfilling friendships, and don’t sell yourself short. It really sounds like she blew all of her chances. She does sound toxic. Good luck!

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