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Welcome friends and fans. Thank you for following my work and sharing your feedback. I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness and gratitude so many of you have conveyed in your comments and messages. I’ve been moved not only by the pain and power of your stories, but the courage you’ve shown in sharing them. I wish I could reply to each of you, at length, but due to the volume of correspondence I receive, I’m no longer able to. But please know that I read all your questions and comments and often address the issues they raise in my articles. One other disclaimer: HIPPA law restricts psychologists from providing therapeutic advice or conducting sensitive conversations through social media or email. I apologize for any inconvenience this might cause. If you’d like to set up a confidential face-to-face, skype, or phone consultation, please call my office: 617-491-1660. You can find fees here. I‘m grateful your interest and support! - Craig Malkin.

Can Abuse be Invisible?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Recently, I was interviewed by Elle magazine for a piece on emotional abuse—an important and all too often neglected topic. One reason it’s so often overlooked is that there are no laws against name calling, putdowns, and mind games, though there should be. Broken legs mend far more easily than broken selves. But the fact that legislation ignores the danger of emotional abuse seems to mirror the way our society, in general, appears to look the other way.

One question that emerged during my interview was “is it possible to not realize you’re being emotionally abused?”

And the answer, terrifyingly, is yes.

One of the most dangerous and insidious forms of emotional abuse is something called gaslighting, a term inspired by the stage play, Gas Light, in which a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she’s crazy by moving things around and literally dimming the gas lights, then telling her she’s seeing things or "mistaken" when she notices the change.

21 Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive #Relationship Just did an interview on this topic--it's finally getting more attention!

Posted by Dr. Craig Malkin on Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Why would anyone do such a thing?

Gaslighting is shockingly common with extremely psychopathic narcissists, who thrive on controlling others and feeling powerful, but sometimes, sadly, gaslighting is simply a re-enactment—a horrible echo—of the perpetrator’s own abuse.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder does terrible things to adults who never process their traumas; they often grow up to become abusers to ward off, consciously or unconsciously, terrifying fears of becoming victims again.

Years ago, I worked with a man, Jay, 42, who didn’t even recognize that moving objects around and lying about having done so was sadistic and not simply a "prank." The habit went back to his childhood. “My mother pulled stuff on me all the time," he said matter of factly.

Once, when Jay was 8, after days of lying about having moved a book my client loved, his mother, unrepentant, finally admitted, "of course it was where you left it dear! I was just having fun."

He grew up to become a man who often played the same "pranks" on his partners--except, unlike his mother, he rarely confessed.

One day he told to me, "At least no one can ever pull the wool over my eyes--ever again."

As if by controlling the reality of someone else, he never had to worry that someone might control his, the way his mother had with him.

Thankfully we seem to be waking up to the problem of emotional abuse. Just days after my Elle interview, I was asked to review sample chapters from an excellent book by an expert on emotional abuse, Carol Lambert MSW, who’s run recovery groups for nearly 25 years.

I’m glad to see more of an effort to understand the dangers of a form of abuse that even the court system remains oblivious to.

All abuse has a legacy. If we want to end emotional abuse, we can start by educating people about what it is and how it works.

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To learn more about dangerous narcissism, including specific, research-backed strategies to protect yourself from it, order Rethinking Narcissism today. Advance critical and expert praise for Rethinking Narcissism (more here).


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The internationally acclaimed book named Amazon's Book of the Month, Daily Mail's Book of the Week, featured on The Oprah Winfrey Network, in the New York Times, the cover story in Psychology Today, and selected as The Millions "most anticipated book of the year".

After teaching at local universities, Dr. Malkin became a Chief Psychologist at Harvard Medical School’s Cambridge Hospital, in Cambridge Massachusetts, where he instructed interns, residents, and fellows in the theory and practice of psychotherapy. In 2003, he left this position to expand his private practice and continued to supervise and teach for Harvard Medical School’s training program. Read More...

Top 10 Psychology Clinics in Cambridge, MA 2015
A Cambridge Psychologist winner of the 2015 Patients' Choice Awards.
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