Narcissists deny responsibility for their behaviors. If you’re familiar with narcissistic personality, then you’re heard terms like gas-lighting, crazy-making and blame-shifting. What these are, really, is an attempt to shift the responsibility for the behavior in question from themselves onto you. So from this perspective, narcissistic behaviors at their core, are really about denial of responsibility.
Why Do Narcissists Deny Responsibility
Emotional abuse is a deeply troubling and insidious form of mistreatment that can wreak havoc on the lives of those involved. One of the most prevalent tactics employed in emotionally abusive relationships is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a term used to describe the manipulation of one person’s perception of reality by another.
It involves various tactics, such as outright denial, blame-shifting, and disguised insults, all aimed at distorting the victim’s sense of reality. In this article, we will delve into the core issue behind gaslighting – a disorder in responsibility-taking – and explore how narcissists and abusers deny responsibility in their destructive behavior.
Gaslighting Tactics: The Shift of Responsibility
To understand why narcissists and emotional abusers deny responsibility, it’s crucial to examine the tactics they employ in gaslighting. Gaslighting takes many forms, but they all share a common goal – shifting responsibility from the abuser to the victim.
- Outright Denial: In this tactic, the abusive party flatly denies that an event or statement ever occurred. By insinuating that the victim has a faulty memory or perception, they shift the responsibility for the situation onto the victim. “I never said that” becomes a way of deflecting blame.
- Blame-Shifting: Instead of denying the event, the abuser places the blame on the victim. They might acknowledge the occurrence but assert that it happened because of something the victim did or said. This tactic places the responsibility squarely on the victim’s shoulders.
- Disguised Insults as Jokes: Abusers often use humor as a cover for their insults. When confronted by the victim, they dismiss their feelings by questioning their ability to take a joke, effectively avoiding responsibility for the hurtful remarks.
- Invalidating Feelings and Desires: Abusers can also undermine the victim’s feelings and desires. By asserting that what the victim feels or wants isn’t true or valid, they create a false narrative that shifts responsibility for the situation onto the victim.
- Creating Confusion: Gaslighters use tactics that create confusion during conversations. They may spin the conversation in circles, revisit settled matters, or introduce unrelated topics. This confusion makes the victim appear illogical, further deflecting responsibility from the abuser.
The Core Issue: Responsibility Disorder
At the heart of gaslighting lies a critical issue: a disorder in responsibility-taking. In gaslighting scenarios, the abusive person refuses to accept any responsibility for their actions or the health of the relationship. Instead, they place the blame and responsibility on the victim. This refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing or accept responsibility perpetuates the cycle of abuse.
The Treatment Process
Understanding the dynamics of responsibility disorder is the first step in addressing gaslighting and emotional abuse. However, it’s essential to recognize that treating this disorder is a complex and often lengthy process. Here are some key points regarding the treatment process:
- Treatment is Possible: Responsibility disorder, while challenging to address, is treatable for both the abusive and victimized parties. Seeking help and professional intervention is crucial in breaking the cycle of abuse.
- Abusers Need Intervention: Rarely do abusive individuals come to a realization on their own or change their behavior without external intervention. Professional therapy and counseling can be instrumental in helping them acknowledge and take responsibility for their actions.
- Victims Also Benefit from Support: Victims of gaslighting and emotional abuse often require therapy and support to rebuild their self-esteem, regain confidence in their perceptions, and learn how to set healthy boundaries.
- It Won’t Resolve on Its Own: Responsibility disorder doesn’t naturally dissipate over time. It necessitates proactive efforts to address and resolve. Ignoring the issue typically allows it to persist and worsen.
Gaslighting is a devastating form of emotional abuse that hinges on the abuser’s refusal to accept responsibility for their actions. By employing various tactics, such as denial, blame-shifting, and disguised insults, narcissists and emotional abusers create a distorted reality that keeps the victim trapped in a cycle of confusion and self-doubt.
Understanding that gaslighting stems from a disorder in responsibility-taking is essential for both victims and abusers. Seeking professional help and support is crucial for breaking free from the destructive patterns of gaslighting, promoting healing, and fostering healthier relationships. If you find yourself in such a situation, remember that you don’t have to face it alone – there is help and hope available.
Also read: How to Heal Negative Emotions in 5 Steps
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.