Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves.
The term gaslighting derives from the 1938 play and 1944 film Gaslight, in which a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she has a mental illness by dimming their gas-fueled lights and telling her she is hallucinating. Gaslighting is well depicted in the movie The Girl on The Train (2016).
The worse part of it is the victim usually not aware of it. In some cases, the abuser might do it, without knowing it but the intention is the same, so does the effect. Mostly Gaslighting refers only to the cases where the victim is a female.
Denying your reality by any means with ill intentions will always be categorized as Gaslighting. But in a broad sense, this could be lighter in reality than its described or defined.
Here are few things you should know how to detect the mild ‘gaslighting’ at the early stage. Because you can question everything, but not your sanity. Destroying your mental image of yourself is worse than killing a person.
Gaslighting may not be explicit
Often it is misunderstood, neglecting a person in a group by others as bullying or some form of cornering. But, it is actually a mild form of gaslighting if it is done often especially in places where you can’t avoid the group like workplace. If this omission triggers the question “am I not good enough for the group?” in you, then I would say its mild form of gaslighting. Sometimes, neglecting your opinions by pretending that you never said it or with a ‘sigh’ could be a signal. If this happens often and even in non-deliberate manner, you should be little cautious of what you think about yourself.
Manipulation of your thoughts
All manipulation is not gaslighting. Most negative manipulation influences your self-evaluating process and diminishes your self-esteem. But if it leads to influence your trust in yourself, makes you believe you can no longer trust your sanity, that’s where manipulation becomes gaslighting.
You may be kept on the pedestal, yet still gaslighted
Your partner may give very good attention, praising you more than needed, put you through cloud-nine and when you feel like cared, loved the person showered all the sweetness might withdraw from you just to make feel alone, lost and to see you going emotionally insane. If your partner is doing this, especially he is not giving his shoulders when you need it badly, but showers you with flattery often other times, then you should take this as ‘gaslighting’ on the case only if this frequently repeats.
Often, it is not in the tone of intimidation
The gaslighting should be in form of intimidation or threat. It is a slow cooking process and the abuser will take his/her time to make you feel comfortable around him and then work through gaslighting. In the end, you would be intimidated by your own thoughts, not by the abuser. In many case of gaslighting, the victim feels they are not good for their partner and they are the cause for their partner’s unhappiness. More or less like “Stockholm syndrome” where the victims start loving their captors.
forgetting is normal
If someone tells you ‘you can’t trust your own memory’, when you forget few things, do not take it as such. Forgetting is a normal tendency of human beings. If you can’t remember everything in a conversation, or even if you find yourself in another room without remembering how you end up there, it’s perfectly normal. These tiny blackouts are common for most people. You have to make sure whether those forgotten gaps been filled with undesirable information later by your partner.
other people will cooperate without knowing in gaslighting
Most people pleasers would like to say “yes” to anything your partner says in public even if they disagree with it. Do not take their opinions and their judgment is purely based on the information given by your partner to them. You’re more susceptible to believe when few people repeat the same thing rather than one. People want to go with a group’s decision because it’s easy and the obvious choice. If one says a thing, there’s much chance that the gather would always nod and tell the same in different phrases to you. Remember, they are just playing their social role, they might not be your well-wishers.
instilling social fear
When you talk to your close friends you may become self-aware and aware of what’s happening around you. The first thing the abuser does is isolating you from society. To make it possible, they feed you with the fear of social rejection, magnifying a few negative events that happened to you in the public (tiny embarrassments, few hiccups in conversation from your side) and gradually make you feel you will not shine in the presence of other people. If shying away from known people is encouraged by your partner explicitly, then that might be gaslighting.
Did I miss anything? What do you feel about ‘gaslighting’, comment below, our readers are eager to hear.