13 Eye-Opening Brainwashing Tactics Used by Narcissists

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is akin to enduring constant emotional torment. Narcissists have a knack for brainwashing their victims, employing various tactics to gain control over their partners.

Initially, they shower their targets with excessive affection, known as “love bombing,” only to later resort to threats, degradation, blame-shifting, criticism, manipulation, verbal attacks, domination, blackmail, withdrawal, love and affection withholding, and gaslighting.

Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed narcissist and author of “Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited,” provides a vivid description of how a narcissist torments their victim:

“The narcissist breaches her defenses, shatters her self-esteem, bewilders and humiliates her, invades her personal space, abuses her trust, drains her resources, harms her loved ones, jeopardizes her stability and security, engulfs her in his paranoia, terrifies her, withholds love and sex, induces dissatisfaction and frustration, publicly and privately humiliates and insults her, highlights her flaws, criticizes her excessively and ‘scientifically’ – and this is just part of the list.

Interestingly, the narcissist often disguises his sadistic tendencies as a well-intentioned concern for his victim’s wellbeing. He pretends to be her psychiatrist, guru, mentor, trusted friend, or father figure. This is all designed to undermine her defenses and besiege her crumbling nerves. The narcissistic form of sadism is so subtle and toxic that it could arguably be considered the most perilous of all.”

A narcissist will attempt to brainwash you using various methods. The objective is to keep you under their control and ensure they receive the attention and affection they believe they rightfully deserve.

Here Are 13 Ways Of Narcissistic Abuse

Love Bombing

In the beginning stages of a relationship, a narcissist often engages in what is known as “love bombing.” This involves overwhelming their potential victim with gestures of adoration and grand displays of affection.

The unsuspecting individual is lulled into a false sense of security, believing they are cherished and valued. However, this is merely a manipulative tactic used by the narcissist to gain trust and establish control


Narcissists have a tendency to regularly demean and berate the individuals they target, engaging in hurtful language and actions. This constant barrage of insults is strategically used to chip away at the victim’s self-esteem, making them feel inferior and worthless.

The narcissist’s goal is to weaken their victim’s confidence, rendering them more susceptible to manipulation and control. It’s a destructive tactic that further entrenches the power dynamic in favor of the narcissist.


They are experts at shifting the blame for their mistakes onto their victims, making them feel at fault. They manipulate situations and conversations in such a way that the victim begins to feel they are at fault for the narcissist’s missteps.

This cunning strategy not only absolves the narcissist of any accountability but also instills a sense of guilt and self-doubt in the victim. It’s a key component in their arsenal to maintain control and superiority within the relationship.


Narcissists often employ persistent criticism as a strategic tool to undermine their victim’s self-confidence. By constantly pointing out flaws, real or imagined, they gradually erode the victim’s sense of self-worth.

This incessant negative feedback can leave the victim feeling insecure and doubting their own abilities. Ultimately, this tactic serves to enhance the narcissist’s control over the victim, keeping them in a state of constant self-doubt and vulnerability.


Being master manipulators, they utilize a wide range of tactics to exert control over their victims. They skillfully twist situations and conversations to their advantage, manipulating the thoughts and actions of their victims.

These individuals often employ techniques such as gaslighting, blame-shifting, and persistent criticism to undermine their victim’s self-confidence. The ultimate aim is to create an environment where the victim is constantly off-balance, ensuring the narcissist’s dominance and control.

Verbal Assault

Narcissists are known to employ verbal assault as a means of control. They wield harsh and hurtful words like weapons, using them to inflict emotional pain on their victims.

This form of psychological attack can range from outright insults to subtle jabs, all designed to belittle the victim and erode their self-esteem. It’s a brutal tactic that serves to maintain the narcissist’s dominance while leaving the victim feeling devalued and disoriented.


A defining characteristic of narcissists is their overwhelming need for control. They often dominate their victims in various ways to maintain an upper hand in the relationship.

This dominance serves to feed their sense of superiority and power, while simultaneously keeping the victim in a state of submissiveness and vulnerability. It’s a manipulative tactic that allows the narcissist to dictate the dynamics of the relationship according to their own selfish needs and desires.


They are notorious for using sensitive information against their victims as a means of manipulation. They may initially present themselves as trustworthy confidants, encouraging their victims to share personal stories and secrets.

However, they later weaponize this information, using it to blackmail, embarrass, or control their victims. This tactic not only helps them get what they want but also further entraps the victim in a cycle of fear and submission.


Narcissists are known for their manipulative tactics, one of which is the withdrawal of love and affection as a form of punishment or control. They often establish a pattern of offering warmth and attention, only to abruptly withhold it when their victims fail to meet their unrealistic expectations.

This sudden shift can leave their victims in a state of confusion and desperation, striving to regain the initial affection they received. The narcissist exploits this desperation, using it as a lever to manipulate their victims into compliance. This cruel and calculated cycle serves to maintain the narcissist’s dominance while keeping the victim in a constant state of emotional turmoil.


This manipulative tactic known as “gaslighting,” is a psychological manipulation technique often employed by narcissists. The aim is to make someone question their own sanity, memory, perception, or reality, leading them into a state of constant self-doubt and confusion.

By doing so, the narcissist creates an environment where the victim becomes dependent on them for what’s perceived as “truth”. This imbalance of power allows the narcissist to control the narrative, further manipulating the victim to their advantage. It’s a form of emotional abuse that can have profound and lasting impacts on a person’s mental health.

Abuse of Confidence

Another manipulative tactic often employed by narcissists is to gain their victim’s trust, encouraging them to share personal secrets and vulnerabilities. They may initially present themselves as caring and understanding confidants, making their victims feel safe and understood.

However, once they have gathered enough sensitive information, they use it against their victims. This could be in the form of blackmail, public humiliation, or simply as a weapon in personal arguments. It’s a calculated move designed to maintain control over the victim and keep them in a state of fear and submission.


Narcissists commonly employ threats as a means to maintain control over their victims. These threats can take various forms, ranging from emotional and physical harm to the exposure of personal secrets. By instilling fear in their victims, narcissists manipulate them into submission, preventing them from challenging the narcissist’s authority or leaving the abusive situation.

This constant state of fear also serves to isolate the victim, making them more dependent on the narcissist and less likely to seek help. It’s a disturbing form of manipulation that underscores the power dynamics inherent in relationships with narcissists.


Resorting to both private and public humiliation is used as a means to degrade their victims and keep them in a subservient position. In private settings, they may belittle or ridicule their victims, causing them to feel worthless and inferior. Public humiliation takes it a step further, as the narcissist seeks to damage the victim’s social standing and self-esteem in front of others.

This not only reinforces the power dynamic in favor of the narcissist but also serves to isolate the victim, making it more difficult for them to seek help or escape from the abusive situation. It’s a dehumanizing tactic that can have severe emotional consequences for the victim.

Final thought

These manipulative tactics – withdrawal of love and affection, gaslighting, using secrets against victims, threats, and public and private humiliation – are all part of the narcissist’s arsenal. They are used with the singular intent of maintaining control over their victims, ensuring a constant supply of attention and adoration that the narcissist believes they are entitled to.

It’s a distressing reality for those caught in their web, underscoring the importance of recognizing these signs and seeking help when needed. Remember, everyone deserves respect and kindness in their relationships.

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