6. Manipulation: The Use or Control of Others as an Extension of Oneself
Both narcissists and gaslighters have a tendency to make decisions for others to suit their own agenda. Narcissists may use their romantic partner, child, family, friend, or colleague to meet unreasonable self-serving needs, fulfill unrealized dreams, or cover-up weaknesses and shortcomings. Narcissists are also fond of using guilt, blame, and victimhood as manipulative devices.
Gaslighters conduct psychological manipulation toward individuals and groups through persistent distortion of the truth, with the intention of causing their victims to question themselves and feel less confident. In personal and/or professional environments, they manipulate by micromanaging (controlling) relationships, including telling others how they should think, feel, and behave under the gaslighter’s unreasonable restrictions and scrutiny. They often become critical, angry, intimidating, and/or hostile toward those who fail to bow down to their directives. Gaslighter manipulation is often highly aggressive, with punitive measures (tangible or psychological) executed toward those who fail to recognize and obey their self-perceived authority.
Perhaps the biggest distinction between narcissists and gaslighters is that narcissists use and exploit, and gaslighters dominate and control. While the narcissist does so to compensate for a desperate sense of deficiency (of being unloved as the real self), the gaslighter does so to hide their ever-present insecurity (of being powerless and losing control). Both of these pathological types betray an inability and/or unwillingness to relate to people genuinely and equitably as human beings. They become “special” and “superior” by being less human and by de-humanizing others.
In the worst-case scenario, some individuals possess traits of both narcissism and gaslighting. This is a highly toxic and destructive combination of vanity, manipulation, bullying, and abuse — all unleashed in order to compensate for the perpetrator’s deep-seated sense of inadequacy and fear.