Gaslighting – What is it?

gaslighting blog post perfect six

What is it?

Gaslighting involves psychological manipulation, usually conducted over a period of time. It is a common tactic of pathological liars. It aims to undermine the victim’s confidence in their own rational. This behavior makes them dependent on the gaslighter. This can happen with friends, family, bosses, and coworkers.  Do you feel like you need to record conversations with a person because they change the narrative or story?  That is the most common signal you are victim of gaslighting.

How to recognize it

Common gaslighting tactics:

  • Attempting to convince the victim of something clearly untrue through forceful and repeated insistence or superficial evidence. For example: “I never said that” is a common phrase used by gaslighters.
  • Adamantly denying that someone said or did something that the victim clearly heard or witnessed.
  • Manipulating the physical environment to make the victim question his or her perception.
  • Dismissing the victim’s thoughts and feelings as invalid or crazy, or trivializing them.
  • Undermining the intelligence or motives of people who contradict the gaslighter.
  • Gradually isolating the victim from independent news sources and other people.

Common victim responses:

  • Experience low self-esteem and constantly second-guess themselves.
  • Apologize to the gaslighter and defend his actions; lie to family and friends to avoid defending the gaslighters actions.
  • Feel confused, anxious, worthless, depressed, hopeless, incompetent. Feel like they aren’t themselves anymore.
  • Frequently question the validity of their feelings, thoughts, reactions, or memories.
  • Blame themselves when things go wrong; feel like everything they do is wrong.

How to respond

People gaslight to manipulate the situation to their benefit. Therefore, standing in your truth of the situation will help you avoid being manipulated and emotionally distraught. To assist, check out your feelings and thoughts with trusted friends to gain perspective. You have a right to feel the way you feel.  As a result, validating your story with a reliable person is paramount.

If you are the victim of gaslighting, the best thing you can do is seek out a mental health professional.  For instance, they can help you process your experience and understand what is occurring. If you’re not ready to see a therapist, you can also reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Additionally, think about keeping a diary or recording voice memos so that you know for certain what you experienced. Similarly, take photos of your environment to help you keep track of things.

If you suspect someone is being gaslighted, reach out and do your best to validate their experience. Recommend they seek professional help while respecting their perspective. It is common that many people do not realize it is happening to them.

Author: Courtney Brodeur & Denise Grothouse