Off Label Patterns That Reveal Narcissism (Part I of III)

Maria Anna van Driel
4 min readSep 3, 2022


Gaslighting, what is it, and how it alters your reality

Happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger are the six basic emotions psychologist Paul Eckman identified during the 1970s. Basic emotions that he suggested are universally experienced in all human cultures. He later expanded his list of basic emotions with pride, shame, embarrassment, and excitement.

These basic, or core, emotions, we all have bumped into them in one way or another in our relationships where they are experienced on a deeper level when it concerns our romantic relationships. In a healthy relationship, these core emotions are experienced in a balanced manner. We can talk about our feelings with those people we share these emotions with in order to minimize the duration of the lesser moments, to learn from ourselves and others, create a mutual understanding, and have a healthy and close bond with the ones who are most important to us. But, when you are in a toxic relationship this is a one-way street, a business contract set up by a narcissist, these fundamental emotions are being used against you in a very twisted way.

Gaslighting is one of the sickest forms of narcissistic abuse you will experience when dating a psychopath. It is their secret weapon of ultimate mind control and they use it all the time to torture and psychologically abuse their victims.

There are numerous ways for the narcissist to execute their manipulative mind games but in a nutshell, the narcissist’s happiness becomes your reward, they punish you by making you doubt yourself and feeling sad, and their fear (insecurity) and anger become your daily stress and confusion. As for the emotion of disgust, this is what the Narcissist displays in projecting and leveling the emotions of their victim(s). The emotion of surprise, well, this is what most of these individuals often experience and translate as shame.

This wry way of thinking is caused by the narcissist being incapable of experiencing any depth of vulnerability and thus projects his/her shame and rage outwards onto carefully chosen ‘targets’ in order to not have to ‘carry’ his/her shame and rage within him/herself. The result is them gaslighting you and using you as a flying monkey in order to maintain the controlling power over you…their victim. The narcissists start to brag, exaggerate, and lie about their greatness and self-esteem which suggests that they are trying to convince themselves to disguise hidden self-loathing and feelings of inferiority.

Realizing that you are literally dealing with narcissistic abuse, suddenly changes everything. And with ‘everything’ I really mean everything. As you start to wake up from the narcissist’s altered reality, crawling out of this murky nightmare of sadistic mind games, you have to reprogram your self-image, your entire thinking, and emotions and is forcing you to step into a period full of confusion. And, most of the time, with a feeling of loneliness. This feeling of loneliness is spawning from the fact that the narcissist has already voiced his/her smear campaigns and worn the victim badge too many times with too many people meaning, others will not listen to you when you say “What you see happening here is not what is happening at home”. They think you are the problem!

This ‘wake-up call’ kicked in my front door during the 2nd week of Nov. 2020. A moment that cannot be erased from my memory…ever! Anyway, shortly after picking up the scattered pieces the chaotic months that followed had left behind, I did a lot of work in understanding and breaking down the diagnostic codes about how and why these toxic individuals do the things that they do. This 2-year journey in both deep self-reflection (what made me realize that the physical and mental abuse I grew up with is NPD and has created with me not being able to voice my personal boundaries from an early age what, in turn, made me, as an adult, attract these toxic individuals) and gaining the knowledge on the ‘world’ the narcissist is living in and their abusive mind games, I briefly discussed in my previous articles.

To read the full article published on the website of CPTSD Foundation visit



Maria Anna van Driel

In 2020 I realized I was trapped in a toxic relationship since '00. In Aug. '22 I found the strength to break away, flip my life to become a psychotherapist.