What is Gaslighting?
Inspired by the 1940 and 1944 films “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy, the term “Gaslighting” is now commonly used to describe behaviour that is inherently manipulative.Gaslighting, at its core, is a form of emotional abuse that slowly eats away at your ability to make judgements.
Essentially, a Gaslighter spins their negative, harmful or destructive words and actions in their favour, deflecting the blame for their abusive deeds and pointing the finger at you. This is often done by making you feel “overly sensitive,” “paranoid,” “mentally unstable,” “silly,” “unhinged,” and many other sensations which cause you to doubt yourself.Commonly adopted by psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic types of people, Gaslighting tends to eat away at you slowly until you realize that you’re a shell of the former person you were.
Let’s take a look at some examples of Gaslighting.In a family scenario: Andrew’s father is an angry, bitter man. Every day Andrew is afraid to “tip the balance” of his father’s mood because he often bursts out in fits of rage calling Andrew a “bastard” and a “worthless little loser,” among many other hurtful names. When Andrew confronts his father about this aggressive name calling, Andrew’s father laughs and tells him “to stop being so sensitive.”
In a relationship scenario: Jade has been married for 5 years and has two small children with her husband Mike. For the past few months Jade has been trying to establish a small art shop, but when she asks for her husband’s assistance his mood darkens: “I can’t believe you’re spending so much time on this shop—don’t you care about me—don’t you care about your kids? You’re supposed to be mothering them!” he exclaims. Jade is shocked, “But I just wanted you to help me with setting up the store! And I haven’t been neglecting anyone!” Mike comes up very close to Jade’s face: “You see! Now you’re denying it. When I married you I thought you’d be there for your family. I should just take the kids and go already!” Mike storms off. Later, when Jade sits down to talk with Mike about his threat, Mike says, “Honey, you know you were over reacting, and you know that you’ve been obsessing over this shop too much. That makes the rest of us feel very ignored and excluded, I hope you understand that.”
At work scenario:
Sophie has been working in her department for the past five years when she is given a promotion to migrate to another level of the company that pays a higher salary. However, Sophie has been given a trial period to determine whether she is capable of fulfilling her duties or not. Nervously, she meets with her new supervisor, Kelly. At first Sophie likes her supervisor and fulfills all of her tasks on time. However, her supervisor begins to ask her to do belittling chores and favours here and there with increasing frequency. While Sophie is fine with helping out, she finds that Kelly is becoming more and more demanding. Finally, as Sophie’s work piles up to an unbearable level, she tells Kelly that she needs to focus on completing her work, but she can help another time. Later, in a staff meeting, Kelly introduces Sophie to everyone and says, “Although she’s not keeping up with us yet, I’m sure she’ll learn to embody our hard-working ethics soon!” Immediately, Sophie blushes and feels publicly insulted and humiliated, fearing for the security of her new job. Later when Sophie asks her supervisor why she thinks that “she is not embodying their hard-working ethic,” her supervisor says: “I think you misunderstood me. I just said that you’re not used to our pace of work so that other people can help you out.” From then on Sophie accepts all extra demands and chores, no matter how much work she has, or how demeaning the tasks are.
How to Know Whether Someone is Gaslighting You
Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns. So the question now it: are you being gaslighted? How can you know whether you’re experiencing this subtle form of manipulation in your life? Review the following tell-tale signs: Something is “off” about your friend, partner, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, colleagues, boss, or other person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what. You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events. You feel confused and disorientated. You feel threatened and on-edge, but you don’t know why. You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are. You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way. You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.” You feel like you’re constantly overreacting
Source: You’re Not Going Crazy: How “Gaslighting” Erodes Your Sanity ⋆ LonerWolf