There was a story to be told …. about a play called
“Gas Light” that was later adapted into a movie in 1944. In the story, a husband works diligently to convince his wife and their acquaintances that she is insane by making very small and subtle changes to their environment. When the wife would point out the changes, the husband convinced her that she was wrong about the changes and that she was crazy. Slowly but surely, the wife starts to give in to the self-doubt created by those subtle changes, namely a gas lamp that the husband keeps dimming, hence the term
Our Perception is Our Reality
In the play, the key was the husband’s ability to alter the wife’s perception of reality. She saw the lamp as being dimmer and the husband assures her that it is not. He made he doubt her perception, and therefore her reality. It is a form of mental abuse that people too often don’t even realize what is happening to them. For the perpetrator, the ability to control the victim’s own perceptions of themselves and the things around them allows them to control the victim themselves. In reality, it happens every single day. It’s all around us. How many advertisements do you see that claim that using their product will somehow enhance your life? That’s a mild form of gaslighting. You are made to think that some aspect of you or your life is incomplete. You are made to DOUBT yourself. Further, you are made to think that whatever product is being peddled is the solution to what is supposedly lacking in your life.
Gaslighting in our Lives
The specific situation that inspired this article involved one of the most beautiful and amazing women I have ever known dealing with a break up from a man that never deserved to be with her in the first place. I explained to her that there are people in our lives who will try to break us down to be on their level . So, what is the answer to gaslighting?
Maintaining your own reality through your own perceptions.
I’ll tell you now, the same thing I told her:
You see, my friend, there are people in this world who will look at a unicorn and think to themselves, “woah, that is a unicorn, which is something I will never be.” They will try to convince you, the unicorn, that you are just an average horse like them with a weird growth on your head that you should probably get checked out by some kind of medical professional that deals with head growths. They will try to steal your magic and make you as dull and ordinary as the plain, old horses that they are. Because they need you to be a plain, old horse like they are, just to bring you down to their level… https://media.giphy.com/media/LXiHkGX92nJlK/giphy.gif
As we’ve established: you are not just a plain,old horse. You are not a fast race horse. You aren’t even one of those fancy British horses that those chicks in those hot pant/knee-high boot getups use to jump over stuff…
That’s what that’s called?!
I’ve experienced that – a lot – but never had a term and explanation for what I was feeling.
Unfortunately, there is a good chance that we have all been gaslighted by someone at some point in our lives, even if it was just on a small scale by someone we barely know.
Sadly, many fall victim to it within their intimate relationships, or even in dealings with “friends” or family members.
There is also a high chance that we will have failed to spot someone was playing this insidious mind game with us and until we fully understand it, there is a high chance that it could happen again.
One of the main reasons we may not recognise it is that many of us will fail to believe those we trust and love are capable of manipulating us (it is this denial that keeps the dynamic going.) Also, the gaslighter will most likely be highly skilled at covering their tracks, keeping things subtle and being a skilled master or mistress of deception.
Gaslighting is one of the most extreme, dangerous and effective forms of emotional and psychological abuse and is mostly carried out intentionally. Gaslighting is a game of mind control and intimidation that is often used by narcissists and sociopaths as a way of controlling, confusing and debilitating someone.
The term gaslighting was coined in the 1938 play Gas Lightand the film adaptions that were then created helped to enhance its popularity.
In the play the husband used forms of manipulation in an attempt to drive his wife crazy, for example he deliberately dims the gaslights in the house but told his wife that she was imagining it. With the use of various tricks he tried to convince his wife that she was going insane and also that she was losing her memory.
The whole intention of gaslighting is to decrease someone’s self-esteem and self-confidence so they are unable to function in an independent manner. The person being gaslighted will eventually become so insecure that they will fail to trust their own judgment, their intuition and find themselves unable to make decisions.
Eventually the victim will become so unsure of what reality looks like that they become completely dependent on their abuser. The abuser will appear to the victim to be the only one to have a clear grip of their mind and also of what is going on around them.
The abuser will systematically and frequently withhold information and then deliberately alter facts to disorientate their victim. https://media.giphy.com/media/LXiHkGX92nJlK/giphy.gif
They may also remove things from certain places and then deny doing so to destabilize and confuse the other person.
The abuser will refrain from mentioning specific details and then convince the other person that they had told them, so the victim thinks they are losing their memory or their mind.
The abuser will say something then ask their victim to repeat what it is they have said. When the victim repeats clearly word for word, the abuser will lie to say they haven’t said a particular word, or that they have spoken it in a different tone of voice to that of which the abuser heard. For example, the abuser may say something angrily or aggressively, but when the victim gets upset, they will completely deny having used this tone, quickly changing their voice to a gentler and calmer tone. The abuser may then accuse their victim of deliberately trying to hear everything they say in a negative way—even though the abuser knows they deliberately wanted to appear as aggressive and negative.
Often, the abuser will want to create levels of distrust within the relationship to make the victim feel they either are cheating, or would cheat at the first opportunity. They may say things to make their victim feel insecure and jealous, for example, deliberately mentioning a certain person in a way that makes it sound as though there is more going on behind the scenes. When the victim questions this, the abuser will accuse the victim of having trust issues and this will falsely further confirm in the victim’s mind that they have serious insecurities and also, that they are extremely paranoid.
The abuser will make up very convincing lies to deliberately upset the other person and then call them names, mock them and put them down for getting upset and for overreacting. The abuser will also make light of anything that the victim feels is important to make the victim’s opinions, life-choices and thoughts seem juvenile or that they are inferior to their own. It is likely that the abuser will laugh at or sneer at their victim, but when questioned, convince their victim that they were imagining it.
Some warning signs that gaslighting is taking place:
Apologizing. A victim of gaslighting will constantly be apologizing for doing things wrong, even if they have done nothing wrong. Feeling sorry for everything means that the accountability and responsibility for all perceived wrong-doings has been claimed by one person—the victim. This ensures the perpetrator remains innocent and the victim is continuously guilty.
Can’t Make decisions. The victim will find decision making increasingly difficult, as they will feel that whatever they choose will be the wrong choice. Everything they do or say is wrong, so they feel that they are no longer capable of making rational decisions about anything, so they will leave it up to their abuser. This just gives the abuser even more power and control and prolongs the toxic dance that is taking place between the two.
Change. Change is not always easy to notice, since most change happens bit by bit, so the process can feel very natural in some ways. However, if the victim thinks back to who they were before the relationship and who they are now, they will probably see significant differences.
Confusion. Victims of gaslighting will often be in a constant state of bewilderment and confusion. They find it very difficult to trust their own mind, and constantly doubt their thought process. Their instinct fails to kick in because whenever it does, it is very quickly told that it is wrong, so it becomes a silent tool that ensures the gaslighter remains on top of their game. The victim will know that there is something seriously wrong, but they will find it extremely difficult to work out what. The person being gaslighted will always be wondering if they are overly sensitive as they always feel triggered to react to the gaslighter’s behaviour.
Withdrawn. The one being gaslighted will become withdrawn and often reclusive as they feel so low and beaten down that they have little confidence to socialise with anyone. The victim will feel safer spending time alone than with other people, as when those around them question what is wrong, or what is happening within their relationship, the victim just will not have the answers to justify what is going on.
Due to either depression or severe anxiety, the victim will find it extremely difficult to function normally within society or even with close friends or family. The abuser at this stage has won the battle for control, as without anyone to confide in the victim will find it very difficult to work out that it is the abuser that is causing the damage. The abuser will not want anyone to figure out their game, so, they will work hard to make sure their victim becomes alienated from anyone who could offer support.
Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.
The gaslighter wants to appear superior to the one being gaslighted. By making their victim feel completely helpless with very low self-esteem, the abuser has complete domination over them, so they are very successful in manipulating their victim to get whatever it is they want. This can range from simply having their ego stroked by feeling like they are significantly better than the person they are with, and at the extreme end to being able to gain financial, sexual or material benefits as their victim feels too emotionally and mentally weak to fight back.
There are many reasons that someone would gaslight someone else, but it is always done for personal gain. The abuser has very little interest in their victim, other than using them for their own twisted benefit. When the victim becomes so low down that they are no longer of any great use to the gaslighter the relationship will die out. The abuser will distance themselves by ignoring their victim and using silent treatment as an intense form of emotional torture.
The victim will have no idea what to do to please or satisfy their abuser, and will often try anything to win over their abuser to regain the affection that was shown in the beginning stages. By now though, it is far too late. Any little amount of respect that the abuser had for their victim will have been completely depleted and it is very unlikely that the dynamic will change again.
The abuser will often walk away from their victim leaving them with a deep sense of frustration, shame, guilt, anger and often riddled with anxiety and depression. The victim is usually left in a vortex that they will struggle to climb out of, however, this will be compounded by a deep sense of relief that this vicious dance is over.
The abuser will walk away with a great feeling of satisfaction having won each and every battle and will move onto their next innocent victim with even more skill and experience, so they can begin this horrendous war once again.
The victim will very likely need counseling and a huge amount of support to build themselves back to a stage where they have confidence and can trust their own mind and intuition. It is imperative that the victim realizes that they have been a pawn in a very nasty game so they can let go of all the blame they have placed upon themselves and become familiar with the warning signs so that they do not fall victim again. https://ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/hannibal-kaiseki-review/
Anyone who has come through this type of experience will feel debilitated at first, however, they will only be temporarily weakened. They will bounce back stronger than before, having learned painful but valuable lessons along the way. The most important lesson—having complete faith in their intuition. As difficult as it is to accept, there are always red flags and warning signs in the initial stages.
When these signals show up, this is when we must trust completely in our instincts and never fail to listen to what our gut feelings are telling us. Our fight or flight reactions are there for a reason—to prevent us from entering into dangerous situations. When we feel an urgency to take flight—fly.
Fly far and don’t look back.
. Owning honestly that we are being victimized is necessary. Then we can take honest action to care well for ourselves.
“Why do I always have to spell it out for you?”
The reason we have to spell it out for the men in our lives is that they don’t live in our heads.
Stop expecting him to know exactly what you want, need, or are thinking.
He’s not pretending he doesn’t know—he honestly doesn’t know.
Not because he doesn’t pay attention or because he doesn’t care about you, but because he’s different from you; he’s the man that we love and care about, not because he knows what we are thinking every minute, but because somehow, he makes our lives better.
tolerate the behaviour or take a stand & say enough is enough. Any person who makes you feel bad about, unsure of yourself, puts u down & humiliates you to make them feel better about themselves is unworthy of a relationship with you. Being related does not justify this behaviour at all. Positive healthy relationships are ones of mutual respect, understanding, empathy & the ability to listen to each other irrespective of personal views/prejudices.
- You feel sabotaged but can’t explain it.
- You’re the one “needing” to apologize.
- You second guess yourself and feel a lot of draining confusion.
- You constantly feel like you have to prove yourself.
- You shoulder a lot of the blame in the relationship.
- Guilt follows you no matter what you do.
- It’s often implied you are inconsiderate, disrespectful, or too sensitive.
- You often defer to the other person’s take on a situation or matter.
- Life feels out of whack, but you can’t pinpoint the cause.
- As you think back, you remember being more carefree and confident.
- Lying seems easier to avoid drama or explanations.
- You feel you can’t defend yourself verbally or emotionally anymore.
- You find yourself accepting weird or bad behavior in the other person as normal.
- Confrontation with the other person has them offering a reasonable explanations and making you feel bad for questioning them.
Gaslighters feel so insecure, they are compelled to make you think they are right and get you to accept their version of reality, even if this shifts blame to you. Those on the receiving end often respect or admire this person and try to desperately seek their approval.
If you are in the middle of this kind of relationship, you are going to feel raw and drained. Please remember:
- You are valuable and no one has the right to tell you otherwise.
- You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.
- Know you aren’t crazy. They are the crazy makers.
- Talk to healthier people about your value to them.
As always, I am unpredictable. I hope that as many people as possible catch my drift. And, my, G.u.y. na chologyst. On the run. Gotta run.
Gaslighting describes actions that 1) make another person believe he or she is crazy, and 2) discredit the person by making others think they are crazy. The term comes from the play and 1944 movieGaslight starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. In this movie, the Charles Boyer character, acts as a primary aggressor. What he does is to manipulate the gas light in the house randomly from the attic. When the Ingrid Bergman character, his wife, reports this, he responds as though her perception is wrong. Because she has no explanation and because his manner is confident, she begins to doubt herself. It is not necessary to deliberately manipulate the environment to gaslight another person (although this happens).
Gaslighting happens mostly commonly when a survivor senses or perceives something about the primary aggressor that he does not not want to admit. When the survivors brings this up, the primary aggressor denies what the survivor is actually perceiving or sensing. This is more than just disagreeing–by tone and innuendo, or even outright, the perceptions are labeled improbable or crazy. Since information is incomplete, and since a sincere person is willing to contemplate being in error, the survivor begins to doubt herself. The primary aggressor also will emphasize and increase for a while those behaviors of his that are seemingly different. Also since the primary aggressor knows what is actually going on, there will be a certainty of manner, which while it is a lie, is still convincing. Over-time doubt can grow to the point at which the survivor doubts her sanity.
Being in relationship with someone with a hidden double life is also gaslighting. Because the primary aggressor has a contrary image to the rest of the world, the survivor knows that she or he will not be believed. This can be accentuated if the primary aggressor flaunts the secret behavior to the survivor, so that if she tells of the behavior to others, it will sound ‘over-the-top’ and therefore a fantasy. Others will be disbelieving and distance themselves from the survivor. The young women patients of Sigmund Freud who described their sexual abuse to him experienced this. The descriptions seemed so unlike the public image of the men responsible that Freud ultimately concluded it was fantasy, and he then took to telling the young women this. That is, he told them they were crazy!