Disidentifying With The Gaslit Voices In Your Head


Neutralizing the Gaslighting Virus
(Part 1 & 2 of Three)
By Ross Rosenberg

Gaslighting is simply impossible to comprehend, identify, and permanently eradicate without an accurate understanding of what it is and how it evades detection. Because of its complex nature and apparent invisibility, it secretly lurks in the shadows while perpetuating unfathomable harm upon its victims.  To overcome this scourge of a problem, we must update, redefine, and broaden our understanding of it. To further the advancement of the mental health field, the following definition is provided. 

Gaslighting is the systematically applied mind-control strategy that sociopaths and sociopathic narcissists use to covertly prey upon vulnerable Self-Love Deficient/SLD[i] (codependent) individuals.  Because of many factors, most notably, “The Human Magnet Syndrome’s[ii]” unconscious attraction and relationship patterns, gaslighters and SLD’s predictably choose each other for a romantic partner.  

As a result of Self-Love Deficit Disorder’s/SLDD’s[iii] (codependency’s) specific interpersonal and mental health related deficits, SLD’s are vulnerable to both falling in love with, and subsequently believing their gaslighter’s false altruism, affection, and promises of protection. Unlike the SLD, who begins the relationship with intense infatuation and OCD like happiness, otherwise known as “limerence[iv],” the sociopathic gaslighter, feigns limerence while executing the earliest stage of the systematically devised gaslighting plan.

Once the Gaslighter sets their sites on the chosen SLD, they carefully begin the process of observing and identifying their insecurities and deficits.  Strategically creating the illusion of an intimate and safe environment, they encourage their willing victim to engage in personal and revealing self-disclosure. This when the choreography of the victim’s environment begins.

The SLD victim, who is eager to establish connection and intimacy, is easily manipulated and encouraged to feel guilty for their mistakes, deficits, and insecurities.  Berated, ridiculed, and taunted, they become painfully ashamed of the chronically impaired and subjectively worthless person they have become. The gaslighter’s imposed false narratives and distorted versions of reality has weakened and neutralized their defenses, and turned their own mind against themselves. The SLD has now effectively been rendered powerless.

As a result of the gaslighter’s methodically developed and executed plan to re-shape their victims “self-narrative,” the SLD victim is invisibly coerced to identify with their core shame and consequently believe they are inherently broken, unlovable, a burden to any person for whom they formerly felt kinship and/or love. The following definitions of “Self and Gaslit Narratives” is based on material taken out the “The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap (2018). 

Self-Narratives are subjectively understood and communicated “life story” that portray a person’s assessment of their total self—strengths, limitations, and everything in between. It is comprised of autobiographical information that is factual and anchored in accurate memories.  Self-Narratives are metaphorical mirrors that, in real-time, accurately reflect a person’s self-reality.  It is also an ever-evolving “life painting,” which a person looks at when they want to either understand or explain where they came from, and who they are.

This unadulterated “self-story” is formed by the organic interaction of the person and the people and events in their lives. It comes from the competing forces of experience and memory, which by their very nature are in a constant state of development. When communicated, it relays a person’s subjective belief structure, thoughts, perceptions, and feelings.  Because it is reflective of a person’s self-evaluation of their worth and significance to others, it is predictive of current or future emotional/mental and relational health.

Gaslit Self-Narratives are life-stories that a sociopathic Pathological Narcissist[v] covertly manufactured and systematically implanted to ther oblivious SLDD victim.   Such a purposely reshaped and distorted self-narrative meticulously challenges, degrades, re-packages and ultimately replaces the SLD victim’s organic and previously unsullied Self-Narrative.  This is accomplished by a sustained gaslighting campaign that by its very nature, introduces and eventually reinforces a person’s beliefs about being fundamentally defective, incompetent, and/or unlovable.

These narratives are implanted in a cunning and methodical manner so the victim doubts, forgets, and casts aside healthier and more self-promoting narrative versions. This covert form of mind-control and personal and relational manipulation is motivated by an over-arching plan of isolation, control, and domination.”

The gaslighting campaign ultimately manifests into a self-reinforced state of despair and resignation.  By accepting and believing the meticulously revised self-story, they are prone to deep feelings of insecurity, hopelessness, and paranoia. Such a conquest of their natural psychological defenses eventually validates the implanted beliefs about being irreparably broken, fragile, weak, and, therefore, unlovable. 

The SLD predictably falls victim to the implanted belief that fighting back or wanting to escape their “protective” but fake lover, would be manifestly futile.  In addition, they are manipulatively provided falsified proof that their former loved ones neither love them nor want to be with them. Such a gaslighting campaign ultimately dissuades any future attempts to communicate or visit their former unconditionally accepting support systems. 

Much like victims of Stockholm Syndrome, gaslit SLD’s are manipulated to be loyal and protective of their captor while believing they are the only person who unconditionally wants to protect and love them. Manipulated to protect their pretend best-friend at all costs, they dutifully and loyally report any rescue attempts.  All the while, the gaslighter feeds them false information about their pre-gaslit life for the sole purpose of further alienating or severing the relationships. The gaslighter has therefore established themselves as the “only safe, accepting, and unconditionally loving” person in the SLD’s vastly shrinking world.

Foundational Gaslighting is the profoundly traumatic childhood gaslighting experience that predictably transmigrates into an adult gaslit relationship with a Pathological Narcissist. Gaslighting narcissists (Covert Narcissists or Sociopaths) purposely seek SLD victims who have experienced foundational gaslighting, as they are the most vulnerable and defenseless to theirexpertly disguised sociopathic gaslighting plans.

Foundational gaslighting can be traced back to an SLD’s childhood, when survival required them to be molded into their narcissistic parent’s “feel good” object. By assuming the “trophy child” role, such children were spared from rejection, humiliation, abuse, and neglect.  By becoming this parent’s crowning achievement, while proudly showing off their “painted on” “sparkly gold luster,” they found a way to be spared of crushing abuse­­­­ and neglect.

By creating a “trophy hungry” child, the narcissistic parent manifests their fantasy of creating a perfect child, while playing the pretend role of a deeply loving, devoted and sacrificing parent.   This child’s trophy status would temporarily relieve them of their repressed, or unconsciously hidden core shame, while boosting their fragile self-esteem.

A dysfunctional and harmful form of “safety” is reached when the trophy child is conned into believing and trying to maintain a personality façade of being grateful and loving to the person who is most harmful to them. Failure to reach and maintain such “safety” is unthinkable, as the consequences are extraordinarily frightening.

For the trophy child, falling from grace was always unfathomably frightening. These children witnessed firsthand the punitive harm of intentionally or accidentally activating their parent’s hurricane-like narcissistic rage. Although less harmed than other family members who were denied the coveted “gift child” status, they still endured terrible “trophy child-specific psychological harm. Perhaps the most harmful was the nefarious swapping of their authentic values, beliefs, and thoughts—their inner voice—with one that dutifully echoed the narcissistic parent’s gaslit imbued judgments and conclusions.

Inevitably, the broken trophy child, a future SLD, would mistake the implanted self-hate inner dialogue with their own unforgiving, judging, and constantly shaming self-judgments. Ultimately, these children identify with, surrender to, and blindly accept their implanted ‘chronically flawed personality’ and its inescapable manufactured thoughts and beliefs. These “gaslighting echoes” become the metaphorical straight jacket that they may never be able to remove.[vi]  

By repackaging their feelings and their expressions of themselves, this safer[vii] but entrapped trophy child molds and contorts their developing personality according to the narrative being continually fed to them. They become intrinsically intuitive, exceptionally pleasing, spontaneously accommodating, and perpetually submissive and self-sacrificing – a people-pleasing future SLD. Foundational gaslighting is complete when the child’s real-life story is unknowingly replaced by their parent’s inculcated gaslit narrative.




[i] I changed the name of “codependency” to “Self-Love Deficit Disorder” or “SLDD.” I also changed the term “codependent” to “Self-Love Deficient” or “SLD.”

[ii] Rosenberg, R. (2018). The Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap. Morgan James Publishing, NY NY

[iii] Rosenberg’s updated term for codependency

[iv] Limerence was coined by Dorothy Tennov in her book “Love and Limerence (1979).

[v] A term used in The Human Magnet Syndrome (2018) that explains the group of narcissists with whom the SLD typically falls in love: (Borderline, Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disordered individuals.

[vi] Explained in detail in Chapter 8 (The Origins of Codependency) of the 2018 version of my Human Magnet Syndrome book.

[vii] Siblings who do not meet the “trophy child” standards, are recipients of severe trauma – abuse, neglect, and/or deprivation.