What is gaslighting? - Psychological manipulation: Gaslighting can be present just about anywhere from school to work, and even in some families, relationships. Know more!
Even if you don't yet know the meaning of gaslighting, you may have already experienced this phenomenon. Gaslighting can be present just about anywhere from school to work, and even in some families, friendships and relationships. It's a kind of psychological manipulation that makes the victim question even those things that they were certain of - and it, of course, happens in a way that benefits the manipulator.
Gaslighting is a kind of psychological manipulation when somebody makes another person doubt even obvious things, much to the benefit or will of the manipulator. Those who are gaslighting often distort the truth even if the victim has evidence. This behaviour can be very damaging, and it's most "efficient" when the victim already has high levels of self-doubt, because that way, they will be a lot more vulnerable against the manipulator.
Gaslighting is a term that originates from the British Play Gas Light, and is now widely used in psychology.
This kind of psychological manipulation may cause low self-esteem and cognitive dissonance in the victim, who may in fact depend on the validation and emotional support of the manipulator. The gaslighter might use denial, or misinformation, contradiction, perhaps misdirection to make the victim feel confused about his/her own beliefs and emotions.
Someties the gaslighter denies previous abuse, while at other instances, the abuser belittles the emotions and the feelings that the victim has. The main goal of the manipulator is however the same: to confuse the victim so he/she won't be able to confidently distinguish truth from what's false, right from wrong, etc.
People with certain personality disorders, such as sociopaths or narcissists tend to use gaslighting quite frequently, and unfortunately, they may have other ways of causing emotional and psychological abuse as well.
How to deal with gaslighting?
First of all, you should know that emotional abuse is not at all your fault. You've done nothing to make it happen, but it's merely the choice of the abuser.
Sometimes people are ashamed when they are emotionally abused, and such can be the case with gaslighting. Yet, there's no reason for you to feel ashamed, as all that happens is the fault of the abuser.
For example, if someone has a different opinion than yours and says it in a rude way, it might not be gaslighting. Remember that gaslighting is a repeated pattern of manipulation, and results in you feeling doubtful about yourself, apologizing frequently, feeling unhappy and being indecisive, among other things mentioned above.
When it seems to be gaslighting that you're facing, one important advice is to distance yourself a bit from the situation, try to calm down, and remind yourself that what the other person is saying might not actually be the truth - as lies are often part of the manipulation.
It's also useful if you collect evidence, so you can later check what truly was said and done in certain situations, often contrary to the false claims that the abuser says. You can also try to speak up about the abuser's behavior, even though it's important to do it in a polite and calm manner. What is also important is to remain confident about what you know, and don't let the manipulator make you doubt your own version of the story.
Focusing on self-care is also a way to deal with gaslighting, even though it does not directly focus on the issue. But just as a healthy immune system can fight off illnesses more efficiently, a happy and healthy mind will be a great aid when you need to face gaslighting.
Involving others and seeking professional support can also be very useful when dealing with gaslighting.
Examples of gaslighting
Gaslighting can come in a surprisingly wide spectrum of examples. Yet, there are some forms of gaslighting that seem to be quite frequent - such as trivializing (when the manipulator is belittling your feelings or say that you're just overreacting), countering (when the abuser questions your memory or deny things that actually happened or even blame you for a situation), withholding (when they reject discussions about certain topics that you find important), diversion (when they suggest that you're just making your concerns up about their behaviour or when they suddenly change the subject), forgetting/denying, and of course, discrediting (when the abuser says that you or others don't remember things correctly, or just made things up).