Gaslighting is a psychological term used to describe psychological violence aimed at undermining the victim's self-confidence or awareness of reality. The name derives from the 1944 film of the same name directed by George Cukor, Gaslight, which very vividly depicts this type of violence in family relationships. The goal of gaslighting is to disorient a person, to isolate them from other people and thereby create an addiction. In some cases the victims are even afraid of losing their minds or going crazy.
Gaslighting can occur between any number of people, including in a group where several people can manipulate one person. But most often, gaslighting occurs in relationships.
If you have been exposed to Gaslighting, you should know that it can and should be resisted.
So what do you do to counteract Gaslighting in a relationship?
- Trust yourself;
- Don't let yourself be manipulated;
- try to talk to your partner. Explain your point of view, try to defend your position;
- If talking doesn't help, distance yourself;
- seek professional help.
Unfortunately, the right thing to do when gaslighting is to break up. But deciding to do so is often not easy. After all, in relationships we are often guided by feelings rather than common sense.
Is it possible to maintain a relationship with a gaslighter and not lose yourself in the process? Let's take a closer look at this form of psychological abuse to answer this question.
What should I do if my partner puts psychological pressure on me?
- The first step is to recognize gaslighting in a relationship.
If you notice that your partner is trying to manipulate and control you, trying to change you, limit you, make you doubt your abilities, and distort the facts - beware! Pay attention to how you feel at that moment. If you are constantly confused, uncomfortable, insecure, and catch yourself thinking, "I used to be different, but now I'm so worthless and pathetic," you are probably a victim of gaslighting.
- Trust yourself.
If you notice that you doubt yourself or your reality, it is a clear sign that there is gaslighting in your relationship. Listen to your gut when you think something is wrong. Try to figure out what you really believe, and what are you trying to make you believe? Keeping a journal or just taking notes will be helpful. Reach out to friends or family - people outside the relationship can do a good job of assessing what's true and what's not and restore your confidence. Therapy is also a great way to get help.
- Discuss the situation calmly
Arguing with a gaslighter is often pointless. He will defend himself by trying to deny everything. He will try to convince you that you are exaggerating or that you have lost your mind and nothing of the sort is even close - this is one of his manipulation strategies. His goal is to throw his victim off balance. So the best way in this situation is to stay calm. Start the conversation roughly as follows: "Obviously, we see things differently, let's talk about it calmly.
- End the relationship.
Sometimes there is no choice but to leave. However, your leaving may lead to even more gaslighting. In this case, you will need to gather all the strength in your fist and firmly follow your decisions. Stop all contact, avoid meetings, change your phone number, block him on all social networks. Warn your friends so that if the gaslighter tries to contact you through them, they will let him know that you no longer want to communicate. Outsiders, whether friends or a therapist, can help you regain a clear view of yourself and the situation and protect yourself from gaslighting. First and foremost, it is important to free yourself from emotional dependence. You need to learn again what a healthy relationship should be like so that you never get hooked on gaslighting again.
The 8 Signs of Gaslighting
Detecting gaslighting is often very difficult because in most cases the gaslighter is someone you love - or at least someone you think you love. As a result, much is perceived through the prism of rose-colored glasses, one blindly trusts one's partner and finds it unthinkable to have emotional manipulation over them. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have good friends with whom you regularly discuss the relationship. Outsiders are usually quicker to recognize manipulative behavior.
Here are some basic signs of gaslighting. If you notice them in your partner or in your friends' relationships, be vigilant:
- repeated lies and accusations. The gazlighter often blames you for everything, until you yourself begin to believe it. The reason can be absolutely anything;
- Gaslight likes to provoke controversy. In most cases he is well aware of his guilt, but will hide or deny it, and try to blame the situation on you. Do you notice your partner flirting with others? "Nothing like that happened. You're out of your mind!";
- you are told that something is perfectly normal, even though you don't agree with it. This can manifest itself in small things and concern, for example, your clothing or mood. The gaslighter will try to narrow your personal boundaries while saying that your reaction to attempts to defend them is abnormal. They will tell you that you are overreacting, or that you are very sensitive;
- They say one thing and do another. It gives you hopes that end up not being fulfilled;
- you notice that you can't remember exactly what you were doing. Gazlighters manipulate your memory: you remember the truth and facts, but your memories are denied or distorted;
- you begin to doubt your perception of reality. You begin to doubt how you perceive reality, you trust the person who gives you the feeling that you are out of your mind, and slowly but surely you begin to believe it too. You begin to trust the other more than you trust yourself;
- your self-esteem goes down. As a result of constant manipulation by the gaslighter, your self-esteem will constantly fall, making you more and more dependent;
- The gaslighter always dominates you. But in front of strangers behaves very differently. All your arguments about him changing in front of strangers will be denied.
Reasons for gaslighting
The Gaslighter's personality often resembles that of a narcissist. The narcissist has an overly positive view of himself. He idealizes himself and ensures his greatness above all by devaluing others. People who have been in a relationship with a narcissist immediately recognize these patterns.
He sees himself as the center of the world. In psychology this behavior is called immanent behavior. This is true when your own perception is focused only on yourself.
Of course, a healthy egoism is valuable and vital to a person. However, the narcissist cannot think outside the box and considers himself infallible.
The Gaslighter has a great need for admiration. He places his desire for power above the needs of his partner.
The main characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder is a profound picture of grandeur. Therefore the narcissist resists advice. He must devalue everyone in order to maintain a grandiose image.
But why is this happening?
The need to gain control and power over a partner and to make him emotionally obedient can arise for a variety of reasons. One of them, for example, is an attempt to compensate in this way for their own lack of self-respect. Because of the psychological weakening of their partner, they may feel validated in their perceived superiority.
In most cases, gaslighters do not realize what they are doing. If you find yourself exercising power over someone and manipulating them for your own benefit, you should think about why you are doing it. Perhaps you are insecure about yourself? Or are you afraid of being abandoned?
If you can't manage on your own, ask for help.
Gaslighting is a form of human abuse. If you notice signs of gazlating in your relationships or in those around you, don't ignore it.
Finally, we would like to answer a few more important questions about gaslighting.
Are women really more likely than men to be victims of gaslighting?
Indeed, it is a statistical fact that women are particularly frequent victims of abuse, and that the perpetrators are mostly men. This also applies to psychological violence, including gaslighting.
Is therapy effective in combating the effects of gaslighting?
If you are in a gaslighting-prone relationship or have just come out of it and are unable to cope with your emotions on your own, be sure to seek help from a psychologist. A specialist will help you find the right way out of your situation.