Narcissists need you to feel dependent and crazy – like you’re not capable of making even the simplest decisions. In this video, I’ll explain 7 specific, under-handed gaslighting techniques that narcissists use to control and manipulate you – whether it’s at work, at home or in other social situations.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a pervasive and highly effective tactic that narcissists use to manipulate you into questioning their own sanity. There are many different forms of gaslighting.
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What is the dog whistle effect and how do narcissists use it against you?
The term comes from the term Dog-whistle politics, but it is also a term that applies to narcissists as an extreme form of gaslighting.
Dog-whistle politics is defined as “political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The phrase is often used as a pejorative, because of the inherently deceptive nature of the practice and because the dog-whistle messages are frequently distasteful to the general populace.”
What is the dog-whistle effect in narcissistic abuse?
Clearly, the term is an analogy to an actual dog whistle, which has a high-frequency sound that is heard by dogs but is inaudible to humans. When it comes to narcissistic abuse, it can be used in gaslighting – especially in public.
Dog whistling, a form of gaslighting, is what happens when the narcissist manipulates you in front of other people without the other people knowing that they’re doing it. So, for example, the narcissist might give you a certain look or use a certain phrase that seems completely innocent to onlookers, but that causes you a great deal of anxiety or stress because you know that it means something different for you.
Examples of the Dog-Whistle Effect in Narcissistic Abuse
The ‘Secret Code’ Dog Whistle
One example of a dog whistle as a way to publicly manipulate someone without anyone else recognizing it is when a narcissist uses certain words that sound harmless to most people, but which are a sort of code inside the relationship.
Say a child is acting up in public and their mother bends over and sweetly says to the child, “Do we need to take a trip to the bathroom, Bobby?”
The child instantly straightens up and with wide eyes says, “No, Mommy. I don’t want to go to the bathroom.”
In that case, the use of “take a trip to the bathroom” implies some kind of punishment that will happen if they have to take that trip.
Of course, this happens in all kinds of toxic relationships and is exactly what it sounds like: the narcissist delivers a confidence-shattering dog whistle that only you can hear.
The Flirt Code Dog Whistle
In a romantic situation, there’s an additional kind of secret-code dog whistle, and it falls into the category of flirting. For example, the narcissist says or does something that their partner knows is one of their signature flirt moves, but that is ambiguous enough that it could appear they’re just being friendly.
So, if early in your relationship with your partner, a reference to “brunch” was a “flirty” code for sleeping over between the two of you, your partner might invite another attractive person to brunch. It might seem that they’re just being friendly in the context of the conversation, but a quick glance in your direction (to make sure you’re watching) followed by a quick, nearly imperceptible smirk will hit you like a ton of bricks – because you know the narcissist is subtly flirting. And they know you know, which makes it worse.
Of course, when you shrink or explode at the implication, what does everyone around you think? That the narcissist is right, and you really are crazy.
How do you deal with a narcissist who is dog-whistling?
You use the gray rock method; that is: you don’t react at all. You pretend you don’t notice, and if you need to distract yourself, do so. The narcissist will only continue this behavior as long as they know it bothers you. And while some will push it a little further, just to try to get you to crack, it’s worth holding out – not only to avoid giving them the narcissistic supply they’re seeking when they’re trying to get you to react to one of these painful manipulative attacks but to save your own sanity in the process.
Going no-contact can feel like a last-resort and you might feel miserable at first – but you know that in the end, it’ll be worth the trouble.
Trust me when I tell you that it feels like you’ve had a huge ton of bricks lifted from your chest/shoulders when you finally get the courage to stop contacting, interacting with and dealing with the narcissist.
It’s never easy to go no-contact, even when it’s not your choice. It feels like a combination of rejection and failure, mixed with confusing feelings of regret and maybe even guilt – especially when you’re dealing with a family member or even a long-term spouse.
In that spirit, I’ve put together this list of things that you’ll no longer need to deal with once you’ve gone no-contact with a narcissist – so if you’re struggling with your decision today, please consider the following.
When you go no-contact, you no longer have to deal with:
1. Gaslighting and manipulation.
2. Being treated like you’re stupid, crazy or not good enough.
3. Giving up your time and energy for someone who doesn’t deserve it.
4. Babying/codding the narc.
5. Harassing phone calls, text messages and conversations.
6. Passive-aggressive Facebook posts.
7. Humiliation and degradation.
8. Ruined weekends, holidays and birthdays.
9. Being isolated and not allowed to have real friends.
10. Having no control of your money.
11. Being financially abused.
12. Not worrying if the rent/grocery money gets spent.
13. Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
14. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you hear the narc’s car pull in.
15. Being yelled at for looking the wrong way.
16. Being treated like your thoughts and feelings aren’t legitimate.
17. Sending or giving gifts and cards on birthdays and holidays that will never be considered “good enough” for the narc.
18. Narcissistic limbo – having to wait for the narcissist to commit before you can RSVP to an event or party. And missing out on the parties and events you want to attend (and having no one to make you feel awful while you do).
19. Being held responsible for things you can’t control (such as other people’s behavior) and being “punished” when things don’t go the narc’s way.
20. Having to keep your kids or pets quiet in order to keep the narc happy.
21. Feeling like you’re wasting your life.
22. Being dissociated and suffering from the worst symptoms of narcissistic abuse-induced PTSD.
23. Missing out when your friends have a GNO.
24. Narccissistic altruism – when a narcissist is “generous” but expects you to “perform” for him/her.
25. Not being heard. Narcs never really listen – they just wait until you’re done talking so they can say what they have to say.
26. Your entire life being all about someone else.
27. Everything always being YOUR FAULT.
28. Always being WRONG, even when you’re not.
29. Never being a priority.
30. Having your other relationships destroyed.
31. Never being treated with love, respect or empathy.
32. The narcissist’s deep and erroneous sense of entitlement.
33. Having to tell the narc how amazing he is every day or risk the wrath of his ego.
34. Having to put the narc’s needs before yours and even your kids.
35. Extreme aggression mixed with passive aggression.
36. The narc’s inability to handle any criticism at all.
37. Having to say “I’m sorry” when you don’t mean it (and he doesn’t desrrvve it) just to keep the peace.
38. Having to make excuses for the narcissist all the time.
39. Having to explain why you didn’t show up for an important event.
40. The devalue and discard phases.
41. The repeating abuse cycles of rollercoaster proportion.
42. Having huge arguments over tiny things.
43. Being disregarded when you have a legitimate concern.
44. Having all of your happy moments and successes ruined by the narc.
45. Accepting less than you deserve.
46. Feeling alone in a crowded room.
47. The tiny betrayals that a narcissist puts you through every day.
48. And the bigger betrayals.
49. Doing things you would have once thought unthinkable to get the narc to stay happy.
50. The “look” you get out in public that means you screwed up – and that you’ll be “getting it” when you get home.
51. Getting in trouble like a “bad kid.”
52. Feeling like your life is beyond your control.
53. Apathy and the daily struggle to find meaning in your life.
54. Forgetting who you are.
55. Feeling like literally everyone else is better than you, at least in the narcissist’s eyes.
56. Not enjoying your food because your stomach always hurts.
57. Living under the narc’s iron fist.
58. Feeling guilty for not living up to the narc’s ridiculous expectations.
59. Wondering if you really are the problem.
60. Trying to fix an unfixable person.
61. Being responsible for the narcissist’s emotions.
62. Pretending to like stuff you don’t to make the narc happy.
63. Having to beg the narc to do basic things (like “babysit” his own child so you can go to work).
64. Trying to protect other people in your life from the narcissist’s rages.
65. Interacting with someone who believes they are above the rules.
66. Saying “Please don’t be mad!”
67. Flying monkeys.
69. Being part of a narcissistic harem.
70. Feeling guilty when you do ANYTHING for yourself (or your kids).
71. Having to sneak around to take care of your kids’ material needs. (For example, if you need to buy your kid some new shoes but the narcissist refuses to let you spend the money because he needs to buy beer.)
72. Cheating and/or inappropriate friendships with the opposite sex.
73. Constantly being compared to other people.
74. Being expected to give 100 percent and get nothing back.
75. Double standards.
76. Having to go along with the narc’s lies to save face.
77. Love bombing, hoovering and the related forms of manipulation.
78. Being treated like an object or possession.
79. The narc’s grandiosity.
80. The “dual personalities” thing – one personality at home and another in public.
81. Being exploited when it suits the narc.
82. Being the subject of envy and being hated for it.
83. Watching the narc be sweet to someone else when he’s been an ass to you.
84. Watching your kids’ hearts break when he fails them, yet again.
85. Trying to hold it together when he breaks your heart, yet again.
86. Having your fears and insecurities used against you.
87. Having to rescue the narcissist.
88. Having yourself placed in various types of “danger” in order to be rescued by the narc when he feels like being a hero.
89. Having the narc talk about you behind your back and break your confidence.
90. Being told that you’re lazy, boring or otherwise unsavory.
91. Being taken for granted.
92. Being put down all the time so the narcissist can build himself up.
93. Always walking on eggshells.
94. Cognitive distortion – watching the narcissist believe his own lies and getting mad if you don’t.
95. Being forced to do everything the narcissist wants when it comes to your look – your hair color and style, the clothes you wear, etc.
96. The weird sex stuff.
97. Being publicly confronted and humiliated when the narcissist feels you’ve wronged him.
98. Having to defend yourself after the narc tells everyone how crazy you are and realizing it’s pointless.
99. Being told that what you witnessed and heard isn’t real.
100.Having all of your boundaries crossed relentlessly.
101. Being undermined.
102. Constant criticism of the destructive variety.
103. Narcissistic injury.
That’s my list for today. What would you add? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. Let’s discuss it.
Living with a narcissist is a lot like living with your own personal psychological terrorist – and while this is obviously a situation no one wants to be stuck in, sometimes life puts us in the place to remain challenged.
If you can’t leave your narcissist and/or go no contact for some reason, you’re going to have to figure out a way to survive the narcissistic abuse and gaslighting without losing your mind – if you value your sanity, anyway.
This video offers you the solution you’re seeking.
“In the ancient world, dancing Bees were special – the Queen Bee in particular, for she was the Mother Goddess – leader and ruler of the hive, and was often portrayed in the presence of adoring Bee Goddesses and Bee Priestesses.” ~Deborah DeLong, RomancingtheBee.com
Are you ready for an interestingly sad/funny/odd story about yet another narcissist? Here we go.
For example, I got this message from a reader through the private messaging system on my Facebook page.
Hi Angela, did you know Sam reposted your article on his Facebook page titled “LESSON: Never tell a dumb person they are dumb.” I follow him on Facebook and read your article. I noticed all the comments were supporting Sam, which seemed weird. I wrote “I agree with her. Sam, way too harsh on someone who sincerely admired you and wanted an interview.” Ten minutes later, he removed my comment then blocked me. What the hell? Even though his insights on narcissism were helpful, he doesn’t get to decide what I say! LESSON: call out a narcissist on their Facebook page and get blocked! #noregrets. Plus, think of the free exposure he is giving you!
Each time someone reached out to me, I felt vindicated and supported at the same time. But, you had to know it: not everyone was so supportive.
The Attack of Vaknin’s Followers
Some of Vaknin’s followers are fellow narcissists. And narcissists? They can’t help themselves.
Despite the fact that they see nothing wrong with their less than human behavior, narcissists can’t help but take an opportunity to proverbially (or literally) “kick” someone while she’s down.
It’s like when a comedian’s on stage before a distracted crowd and some jerkoff starts heckling them from the back row. It’s enough to make anyone feel a little crazy.
But sometimes, the hecklers are so wrapped up in their own special kind of obliviousness that they fail to notice that they are, in fact, entirely predictable.
Your Standard Narcissist: This One is No Different.
Every now and then, one of them strikes out at me in a huff, probably as a direct result of some type of narcissistic injury, real or imagined, as a result of something I wrote.
See, I have written extensively on narcissism, including several books as well as a whole host of articles and blog posts.
My Theory on Narcissists and Insecurity
I have a theory about these folks, and it’s pretty much the same one I have about every narcissist: they are so insecure with themselves that they need to attempt to pull others down to their levels.
In the convoluted mind of a narcissist, this evens the playing field, allowing him to climb up on your proverbial back to reach the level just above yours – but in reality, this behavior simply exposes him for what he truly is – an insecure, sad and lonely little person.
Why We Shouldn’t Feel Angry at Narcissists
It’s really a handicap if you think about it – the crippling insecurity and lack of personal development that leads to narcissism. When it comes to the haters, the naysayers, the bullies, and the narcissists in general, there are things you’ve got to remember if you want to avoid going completely insane.
Do you know what it feels like to be underestimated? It really used to bug me. A lot. But now, I recognize that people are actually not hurting me when they make stupid assumptions about me. They’re simply showing their true ASSumptive selves.
Narcissist See, Narcissist Do: Vaknin’s Fan Fires a Shot
My favorite (absolute favorite) kind of heckler is the unprovoked one. For example, I got a comment on my Facebook wall from a “woman” who promptly blocked me after posting the comment, without even giving me an opportunity to reply.
Since she’s clearly a very insecure person, I thought I’d offer her the pleasure of being the subject of this article.
So, dear “Yuriko Unicorn” (AKA Yuriko Naradi Beniwal, if that’s your real name), this one’s for you.
Sam Vaknin’s Facebook Follower Offers Up Yet Another Display of Narcissism
Apparently, this “fan” of Dr. Sam Vaknin, who recently gaslighted me on Facebook, felt compelled to follow up on Vaknin’s original insults with a few of “her” own.
Now, to be fair, the thought has crossed my mind that this might actually be a Sam Vaknin alternate account, but for now, let’s assume that “Yuriko” is a real person.
I find your use of the metaphor of being a queen bee fascinating…… here’s a biology lesson… there is only 1 queen per hive….. the drones ( the male bees) are born simply to impregnate a new queen when the hive either kills the old queen because she can no longer lay eggs (her only function), or because the hive is too large and it’s time to establish a new hive. The drones never eat… they are never fed by their sisters (the other bees) nor do they eat on their own… after one impregnates the queen, they are driven out of the hive to starve to death or outright killed if the won’t leave by their sister bees. The bees that kill the queen are all her own daughters. Dr. Sam Vaknin says that it is pointless to argue with the stupid…. let’s find out:) BTW, did u know that there are insects called wasps? Like bees, but they are mostly solitary, non hive living… they can sting repeatedly, unlike bees, who die when they sting you:) Buzz buzz buzz….
I honestly could not help but laugh when I read this again just now. I mean, really?
To be fair, I DO like the whole Queen Doing thing, so you can expect me to do something with that in the future. So to my new little block-happy friend, thanks for the thoughts – and thanks for the blog post material. Keep it coming. 🙂
Other than that, I don’t even want to justify this ridiculousness with a response. But I’ll tell you this: I use the Queen Bee in its symbolic form, not its literal one. It is, after all, a symbol.
So tell me: what do you think of this person’s attack? Am I wrong to call it rather narcissistic? Do you believe the person is as insecure as I do? Tell me your thoughts below. I can’t wait to hear your two cents.
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery, right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.