Do you want to add layers to your antagonist? Is he or she a manipulative, slippery character? Why not make them an expert at gaslightling?
Gaslighting is a tactic that makes a victim question their reality. Abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders use it all the time. Mostly, they do it slowly, so victims do not realise they are being brainwashed. They make their victims question their own memory, perception, and sanity, using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying.
In the film, Gaslight, a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind. He isolates her, making her believe that he is doing it for her own good.
Shahida Arabi says: “When a malignant narcissist gaslights you, they engage in crazymaking discussions and character assassinations where they challenge and invalidate your thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and sanity. Gaslighting enables narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths to exhaust you to the point where you are unable to fight back.”
The best antagonists are people who play an important role in your protagonist’s life. They could be a spouse, a relative, or a business colleague. If the protagonist is supposed to trust them, gaslighting can be an effective way for them to unsettle your hero or heroine.
Writers Write is your one-stop resource for writers. Use these phrases to help you create a manipulative antagonist.
7 Gaslighting Phrases That Will Make Your Antagonist More Manipulative
Malignant narcissists and sociopaths use these gaslighting phrases to silence anybody who challenges them.
If you’re looking for a way to make your antagonist more manipulative, allow them to use the phrases when they talk to their enemies.
- You’re crazy./You have mental health issues./You need help.
- You’re just insecure and jealous.
- You’re too sensitive./You’re overreacting.
- It was just a joke. You have no sense of humour.
- You need to let it go. Why are you bringing this up?
- You’re the problem here, not me.
- I never said or did that. You’re imagining things.
Source for phrases: Psychcentral
You may also enjoy reading: 5 Common Phrases You May Not Realise Are Gaslighting
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