TU111: Navigating Narcissistic Relationships – Gaslighting Manipulation and Grandiosity Called Out

by | Dec 24, 2019 | Attachment, Brain Science, Episodes, Narcissism, Neuroscience, Relationships, Trauma | 0 comments

Show Notes

You deserve better!! Are you lost in a narcissistic relationship?
The term narcissism is easily tossed around, especially in this world of selfies. However, if you are deeply connected to someone with the personality disorder narcissism it is a very real, painful and a disruptive experience. It is also surprisingly difficult to identify when you are in the middle of it. And, it is really tough to get out of it once ensnared!   We break it down here!

This episode is a follow up to Episode 105, on what causes narcissim.

In this episode on narcissism,

Co-hosts Ann Kelley PhD and Sue Marriott LCSW, CGP continue the dialogue on narcissistic relationships from a patron-requested perspective. This episode is about being in a relationship with someone with the personality disorder, narcissism.

To hear episode 105 on what causes narcissism, click here.

Narcissism Overview

  • Early emotional wound which develops into an inflated sense of self-importance,
  • Self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.
  • Selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, a personality type.
  • Grandiose narcissism – protect our sense of self by looking better and being better, demands mirroring from others to stay in connection.
  • Depressed narcissism – we collapse on ourselves and feel like we are the worst person in the world. Hey gang, we just aren’t that special – thank heavens.
  • Both stem desire to be loved and cared for & empty sense of self

Signs of Being in a Relationship With a Narcissist

  • It’s always conditional
  • You know they are sensitive or vulnerable but they can’t see it or deny it – externalize
  • Can’t take feedback, turn it around on you
  • One-directional relationship – you orbit them not the other way around
  • Inability to accept any type of critique or criticism/accept that they have faults
  • Scripted gestures that aren’t an apology
  • Charming but superficial
  • You feel lucky to be in this “special” relationship
  • You begin to subjigate yourself, lose your self into them in order to keep the connection
  • Gaslighting – manipulative cynical
  • Can you say egg-shells? You are walking on them…

Who is attracted to narcissistic relationships?

  • ANYONE can get pulled in – the problem is the controlling manipulative behavior
  • But if you find yourself attracting these kinds of people, or can’t get out of a relationship that involves serious narcissism, it’s better to compassionately find and accept yourself so you can begin to resist their requirement to mirror them
  • Were you raised by someone with narcissism so you know innately how to put self aside and tend to the other
  • A feeling one might be fulfilled if the person (narcissist) “saves” them
  • Internal emptiness and relief around being told who you are, what you should do…
  • Prone to being vulnerable especially around actualizing of self

What Does Being In A Relationship With A Narcissist Look Like?

  • Allure of narcissist helping you be your best self
  • Seduction, jealousy, decisiveness – which gives way to controlling, possessiveness, and isolation
  • Giving up freedoms and limiting exposure to avoid upsetting narcissist
  • World orbits around narcissist instead of mutual orbit of a natural relationship
  • Narcissist makes you feel like you are doing something to them, always your fault
  • Ignore your own mind and perceptions to keep connected (dangerous)
  • Always in the shadow of the narcissist
  • Everything is about the narcissist
  • Unable to apologize sincerely and feel remorse


  • Comes from a movie where husband intentionally manipulates wife’s mind – something is happening, wife sees it, husband and others deny that it is happening
  • Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation.  It occurs in when a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group.  This behavior involves denial, misdirection, contradiction and outright lying.  It makes makes others question their own memory, perception, and sanity, all in an effort to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.
  • You know something as your reality. However, when you attempt to address it, your partner or somebody you love turns it around as your issue and makes you feel like you don’t understand reality.

What To Do About It

  • Begin to get yourself back
  • Don’t let anyone annihilate your feelings
  • Own your reality, stay in it, and hold tight
  • Feel your own pain and disconnection from yourself
  • Stop trying to change the narcissist’s reality
  • Treat yourself with self-protectiveness and compassion
  • Set boundaries
  • Boundary off belittling feedback
  • Get out of an abusive relationship
  • Get into therapy
  • Recognize the emotional exhaustion & take care of self
  • Listen to those who say they don’t like how you’re being treated. If you defend that treatment, really evaluate the relationship

Measuring Narcissism

  • Measured on the Likert Scale from a 1-7, some as short as one question
  • Narcissists are likely to self-identify on this written scale (asked directly) even though they don’t want others to perceive they are narcissists. They admit to it because they see everyone as less intelligent than them, but resist a “diagnosis” because there is nothing wrong with them.
  • Associated to some degree to dismissing / avoidant blue attachment.  This makes sense, remember blue is about “self” and need to attend to interpersonal relationships whereas red preoccupied anxious attachment leaning tend to be “other” oriented and need to ground in themself to move toward the balance of green – security.




Recent Episodes

Security Individually, Relationally, and in Community with Ann & Sue 3 of 3 (237)

Security Individually, Relationally, and in Community with Ann & Sue 3 of 3 (237)

This is our final part where we lean into the last section of the book to help us all build a deeper connection, Moving from individual to interpersonal and then societal levels, we discuss the complexities of human connection. Ann and Sue touch on leadership and the need for nuance in navigating today’s challenges while aiming to expand beyond just the Western lens. Whether it be with your partner or even how you navigate your community – building security helps us find a state of curiosity, openness, and wonder.

read more
Shifting Activation Levels: Part II of Secure Relating with Ann & Sue (236)

Shifting Activation Levels: Part II of Secure Relating with Ann & Sue (236)

Following the launch of the book, our virtual party, and our Modern Attachment conference in Austin, TX, Ann and Sue open with gratitude from the event, and for the overwhelming outpour of love and support from our community and those who help inspire this content. As we dive into more chapters of the book, we lean into understanding the attachment spectrum colors, recognizing what is happening internally when we feel activated, and shifting activation levels.

read more
Holding Your Own – Behind the Scenes and Part I of Secure Relating with Ann & Sue (235)

Holding Your Own – Behind the Scenes and Part I of Secure Relating with Ann & Sue (235)

After years of hard work, Sue and Ann could not be more excited to celebrate the release of their book. Today’s episode offers behind the scene’s conversation and a deeper dive into Part 1 of the book, Secure Relating Holding Your Own in an Insecure World. You can purchase it now directly at www.securerelatingbook.com and get an ad-free podcast feed at www.therapistuncensored.com/join.

read more
Integrative Attachment Therapy with Dr. David Elliott (234)

Integrative Attachment Therapy with Dr. David Elliott (234)

Exactly 100 episodes later, Ann and Sue are thrilled to be back discussing Integrative Attachment theory with Dr. David Elliott. Together they delve into the therapy model’s development, centered around three key elements: enhancing collaboration, fostering metacognition, and constructing new internal working models through imagery. Dr. Elliott elaborates on how the therapeutic journey prioritizes the therapeutic alliance, perspective-taking, and employing mental imagery to cultivate fresh attachment dynamics. Despite limited empirical validation, anecdotal evidence suggests its efficacy in symptom reduction and enhancing overall well-being. Ann and Sue share insights into crafting their book and course on attachment insecurity, emphasizing the significance of mental imagery and collaborative engagement in therapy, while underscoring the necessity for more therapists skilled in attachment therapy.

read more
Information Processing: Sunglasses, Early Attachment & More with Ann & Sue (233)

Information Processing: Sunglasses, Early Attachment & More with Ann & Sue (233)

Ann and Sue are back for another deep dive, this time on all things information processing. Using the concept of sunglasses as a metaphor for information distortion, they explain how our internal working models and attachment experiences shape the way we perceive and interpret information. The sunglasses represent different states of activation, with clear glasses indicating a secure state and aviator sunglasses representing a defensive, self-protective state. Sunglasses can affect our relationships – but they don’t have to stop us from building healthy connections. Follow along as we explore the importance of curiosity, self-reflection, and open-mindedness in navigating relationships.

read more
The Neuroscience Behind Our Collective Dysregulation: Navigating Today’s Social Crisis (232)

The Neuroscience Behind Our Collective Dysregulation: Navigating Today’s Social Crisis (232)

We can understand our social pain by considering the nervous system, just think of it as a collective amygdala hijack!  Threat is pressing us to live in an alarm state and then we get used to it, as if it’s normal to be so divided, hopeless and disdainful to those who are holding different positions in the world. We need to cultivate secure (mature) relating to move ourselves back into a social, relational place that makes us more generous, compassionate and able to work with complexity to stay engaged to solve some of these pressing world and community issues. Keep hope alive! Iwww.therapistuncensored.com/join

read more
Hypnosis for Healing: Understanding the Powerful Science with Dr. David Spiegel (231)

Hypnosis for Healing: Understanding the Powerful Science with Dr. David Spiegel (231)

Join Dr. Ann Kelley and Dr. David Spiegel as they dive into the benefits and misconceptions of hypnosis. Hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention and cognitive flexibility, allowing individuals to explore new possibilities. Whether it’s trouble with sleep, intense anxiety, or a need to break bad habits, hypnosis has proven to be an effective tool for many. Dr. Spiegel has dedicated years of research and emphasizes the importance of accessibility to hypnosis in our healthcare systems. His app R E V E R I has over 1 million downloads and allows you to rewire your brain, conquer negative habits, and achieve personal growth from home.

read more
Mind, Body, Heart, Spirit: Embodying Liberation Psychology with Dr. Shena Young (230)

Mind, Body, Heart, Spirit: Embodying Liberation Psychology with Dr. Shena Young (230)

Join co-host Sue Marriott and Dr. Shena Young as they dive into liberation psychology and the conflict between intuition and the traditional European model of psychology. Dr. Shena highlights embodying a holistic approach to help heal traumas and deeply root us in our most authentic selves. Whether through connections with nature and/or the exploration of ancestral traditions, this discussion is enriched with various opportunities to reconnect and liberate our mind, body, heart, and spirit.

read more
Setting Boundaries that Stick with Juliane Taylor Shore (229)

Setting Boundaries that Stick with Juliane Taylor Shore (229)

We’re back with long-time friend of the podcast and expert, Juliane Taylor Shore LMFT, LPC, SEP. As we reflect on our episode from six years ago on boundaries, we dive into new knowledge and how we can create boundaries that stick. Juliane Taylor Shore blends
her original methods like “the jello wall” with new research to share exciting and thoughtful insight on how through boundaries we can harness compassion in our relationships with others and ourselves.

read more
Decolonizing Mental Health Delivery with Melody Li (Part 2, Episode 228)

Decolonizing Mental Health Delivery with Melody Li (Part 2, Episode 228)

This is part two of a two-part series with the founder of Inclusive Therapists, Melody and TU Co-host, Sue Marriott. This episode features challenging yet important conversations on active anti-racist practices, exploration of oppression, and dismantling whiteness in mental health structures. Melody emphasizes the need for white clinicians to examine their own complicity in upholding oppressive systems and to listen to and center the experiences of marginalized communities. They also highlight the interconnectedness of healing and the power of collective liberation through rehumanizing.

read more
Decolonizing Mental Health Delivery with Melody Li (Part 1, Episode 227)

Decolonizing Mental Health Delivery with Melody Li (Part 1, Episode 227)

series with the founder of Inclusive Therapists, Melody and TU Co-host, Sue Marriott. We are pushing for more inclusive, anti-racist, and decolonialized practices.The conversation is  challenging but important as we explore liberation psychology that helps us recognize and unlearn patterns of thinking that are rooted in colonization and European Western education. You may not agree with everything this guest says but you will learn something and likely feel quite a lot. Discomfort is a necessary part of liberating ourselves from engrained traditional patriarchal and white supremist thinking that continues to harm so many. Don’t forget to help us reach our goal – if you appreciate TU, then please pre-order your copy of Secure Relating today & help raise the bar of secure relating in the world. www.SecureRelatingBook.com

read more

What else do you want to learn today?

Get Your Modern Attachment-Regulation Spectrum (MARS)Bundle

3 videos, 3 handouts, and 7 podcast episodes to get you started on your path toward secure relating.

Success! Please check your inbox to confirm your subscription and access your starter pack.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This