Understanding Gaslighting: Protect Yourself - COMPARE what is happening with these ideas
Stephanie Sarkis Ph.D. from Psychology Today
In the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.
Gaslighting is a tactic of behavior in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality and is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.
It is done slowly, so the victim doesn't realize how much their thinking has been altered. Anyone is susceptible.
People that gaslight use the following techniques:
1. They tell you blatant lies.
You know it's an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they're setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you're not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.
2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
You know they said they would do something...you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality - maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.
3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
They know how important your kids are to you, they know how important your identity is to you. So that is one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you did a disservice by having those children. They will tell you that if only you weren't _____________, you'd be a worthy person. They attack the foundation of your being.
4. They wear you down over time.
This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting - it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often...and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting - it is that effective. It's the "frog in the frying pan" analogy - the heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what hit it.
5. Their actions do not match their words.
When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing. It is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.
6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don't have value - is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, "Well maybe they aren't so bad." Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter - and again, question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for - it is probably something that served the gaslighter.
7. They know confusion weakens people.
Gaslighters know that all people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans' natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable - and that happens to be the gaslighter.
8. They project.
They are a drug user or a cheater - yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so repetitively that you start trying to defend yourself - and are distracted from the gaslighter's own behavior.
9. They try to align people against you.
Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what - and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as "____________ knows that you're not right", or "___________ knows you're useless too". Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. The gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don't know who to trust or turn to - and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that's exactly what the want. Isolation gives them more control.
10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.
This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter - because it's dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It's a master technique.
11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.
By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You've never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be right, right? No. It's a manipulation technique. It makes people turn more to the gaslighter for the "correct" information - which isn't correct information at all.
The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them before you fall into the gaslighter's trap.
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