Healing and Transformation

Via FlickrAre you being gaslighted?

manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.

Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse where a person, by way of manipulation, starts to question their own perception.

Does the following seem familiar?

“You’re imagining things.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You’re being over-sensitive. It’s all in your head.”

“You’re losing your mind, that never happened.”

“You’re completely mistaken.”

“You’re making things up.”

“I never said that; You’re dreaming.”

“Are you sure? I don’t think your memory is that good.”

The term “gaslighting” originates in a play (1938) called Gaslight, whereby a husband tries to drive his wife out of her mind by turning down the gas-lights in their home and claiming he didn’t dim the lights when asked by her.

Unquestionably, gaslighting has evolved from primitive tribal interactions where manipulation moved one higher in the tribal hierarchy, and at times could be the difference between starving to death or getting to share in the rewards of the hunt. It comes from the oldest part of our brains – the “reptilian brain.” Our reptilian brain includes the primary structures found in a reptile’s brain: the cerebellum and brainstem. A narcissist’s lack of empathy has now been documented in brain scans.

Hello reptile. Let’s not hate each other. We are humans after all.

Perhaps survival could be depend on learning to manipulate – or otherwise face being manipulated.

Often within relationships, a partner will communicate in a way that lowers or demeans a perspective, to the point of making another person question themselves – so the very narrative is constantly being attacked, changed, hybridised, violated and nullified.

What this does is prevent a person from developing a healthy sense of self, as their perception is being threatened. A sensitive person would start to naturally question themselves – is he right – am I wrong – maybe there is something wrong with me?

Over time, this corrosive emotional abuse will cause a partner to feel their own feelings are invalid and the abuser will gain the upper hand in the power dynamic. A narcissistic abuser wants to feel in control and powerful. He wants other people to support his narrow and unrealistic version of himself.

What is the source of this behaviour?

Gaslighting is a narrow vision of the world with paranoia at its root and trauma in its source-code – the need to feed the ego and feel in control of other people and in control of life.

In a review of Martha Stout’s book The Paranoia SwitchHarrison Koehli states:

Traumatic events overload our limbic system. The heightened response of our amygdala, which registers the emotional significance of the event, leads to a decreased response in the hippocampus, which usually prioritizes information and allows the higher brain centers to create coherent memories, based on their emotional importance. So, traumatic events do not get integrated by the higher brain centers as true memories, but instead leave us with non-integrated fragments of memory: isolated images and sensations. These memories can then be “triggered” by similar images. In this way, a backfiring car can trigger a war vet into a state of paranoia. His “paranoia switch” has been flicked.

If a person makes other people question their own feelings and sanity, something is potentially amiss. In a broader context beyond the scope of personal relationships, narcissistic behaviour can be particularly dangerous, and lead to narcissistic rage.

The danger is in deconstructing perceptions and breaking the victim’s confidence in himself/herself. In many cases, the more a person’s confidence is broken, the more likely they are to stay with the abusive partner, often forever or until they reach breaking point.

Power is returned in identifying the issue, the perpetrator and the victim, and finding balance. Often the best way out of a narcissistic relationship, is out the back door. However, with careful counselling and spiritual care, solutions are available, and healing is possible. Feeling can be learned. The trauma both the perpetrator and the victim have suffered can be healed.

Deep spiritual work can shift the old patterns, perceptions and acts that come from the reptilian (primitive) brain. All is not lost, we are just uncovering more of what it means to be human – and reptile!

If you have experienced something similar, and can relate to any part of this article, please seek the advice of a qualified psychologist or counsellor, who can accurately assess your situation and offer help and a pathway to full recovery and healing.

Much love,


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David Starlyte (ND) – Australia’s Leading Soul-Coach, Speaker and Ascension-Guide.

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Image via Flickr.




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