Gaslighting

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that causes victims to doubt and question their own judgement, reality, self-perception and sometimes their sanity.

Gas-lighters twist and distort the truth in order to manipulate, confuse and control their victims.

The term originates from the 1938 play Gas Light, by Patrick Hamilton which was adapted for film in the 1940’s. The storyline features a man who manipulates and deceives his wife into believing she is going insane. One of the tactics he uses is to dim the gas lights in their home, making them flicker. Whenever his wife ask about the flickering gas lights, he convinces her she has imagined the dimming flames. Gaslighting also featured in the 2001 film, Amelie, Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, written by Jeunet with Guillaume Lauran. The main character, Amelie, sneaks into a shopkeepers home and moves numerous objects around and programs his phone to dial a psychiatric institution when he believes he is phoning his mother. Frightened and confused, the shopkeeper believes he is losing his sanity.

We now use the term ‘gas lighting’  to describe the tactic of manipulation victims into doubting their reality, memory or perception.

Victims can be gas-lit by questioning, mocking or denying their reported experience until they lose confidence in the own senses. Over time, victims of gaslighting struggle to know what is truth and what isn’t. This often becomes a trigger point for victims in the aftermath of an emotional abuse which we refer to as Trauma. Living in the era of persona and fake news, the world can become a scary place for victims of gaslighting.

At A Positive Start we use the S.T.A.N.D strategy – Stop, Think, Act – NEVER DOUBT, to re-train our minds how to respond in situations when we might otherwise doubt our own judgement.

Gaslighting may occur in many different types of relationships including; romantic partner relationships, professional relationships and friends and family relationships. The side affects of gaslighting can have lasting effects in many areas of a victims life and may include;

Lack of Confidence/Self Esteem
Uncertainty
Guilt
Shame
Unhappiness/Loss of Joy
Repeated Apologizing Unnecessarily
Indecisive/Incapable of making decisions
Confusion
Self Doubt
Anxiety
Denying/Unable to recognise Gaslighting Behaviours
Depression
Extremely Stressed


Abusive Relationships

LIFTING THE FOG

Before you can begin to cope with an abusive relationship, you must first be able to recognise that it's abusive.

The very nature of the abusive relationship can leave victims confused and uncertain of which way to turn.  They will often question whether the relationship is indeed abusive, or if the problem is with them; “I’m over-sensitive” ” I take things the wrong way” or ” I’m reading too much into it”, ideas reinforced by the abuser.

Abusers are extremely manipulative. Understanding the 3 C’s of Manipulation and how they work, may help to lift the fog of confusion.

CONTROL

People who set out to manipulate and abuse others, begin by taking control of the situation. They will use their knowledge, skills and powers of persuasion to talk people into things that they may not otherwise be inclined to do.

CONFUSE

People who manipulate and abuse others, aim to confuse. They may overwhelm their victims with information, focusing and narrowing their attention and preventing them from ‘stopping and thinking’. This may be experienced by the victim as overwhelm or bombardment. Should the victim be given the opportunity to stop and think, they may realize how awkward or uncomfortable they feel, which is dangerous territory for a manipulator who has an agenda

COMPROMISE

Abusers often use a technique that I refer to in the training as the Invisible Seduction, which aims to influence the victim and coerce them into the manipulator’s way of thinking.
The manipulator’s intention is to reach an outcome that is advantageous or in some way beneficial for themselves, often, without giving consideration to the victim.
An unsuspecting victim may assume they are reading too much into a manipulator’s actions, failing to recognise the manipulator’s true intentions.
As a result, the victim is often left confused and compromised, having inadvertently responded in a way that may not be of their choosing and which may not reflect the victim’s true values or beliefs.


Abusive Relationships

LIFTING THE FOG

Before we can begin to cope with an abusive relationship, we must first be able to recognise that it's abusive.

The very nature of the abusive relationship can leave victims confused and uncertain of which way to turn.  They will often question whether the relationship is indeed abusive, or if the problem is with them; “I’m over-sensitive” ” I take things the wrong way” or ” I’m reading too much into it”, ideas reinforced by the abuser.

Abusers tend to be  extremely manipulative, recognising the abuse is the first step to escaping it.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that causes victims to doubt and question their own judgement, reality, self-perception and sometimes their sanity.

Gas-lighters twist and distort the truth in order to manipulate, confuse and control their victims.

Gaslighting is only one aspect of manipulation used by an abuser. When we care about someone, especially someone who appeared to be ‘perfect’ in our eyes in the initial stages of the relationship, it can be difficult for our heart to accept what our heads already know to be true!

Understanding the 3 C’s of Manipulation and how they work, may help to start lifting the fog of confusion and seeing things as they really are.