The Mental and Emotional Harm of Gaslighting
By: Donna M.
According to the Wikipedia dictionary (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting) gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's belief.
The term gaslighting was originated in 1938 when Patrick Hamilton’s play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, where a husband dims the gas lights in his home and then persuades his wife that she is imagining the change.
Gaslighting is a tool that one person uses to manipulate another person; the intent is that the person who is being manipulated will doubt their perception, their feelings and even their self-worth. The person who is doing the gaslighting won’t have to look at him/herself, change his/her behavior or be uncomfortable when another person challenges them. Gaslighting is prevalent with people who are active in their addiction/alcoholism. They use gaslighting to keep the heat off of themselves in hopes of making parents, family members, friends or business associates feel like they are the crazy ones.
Common gaslighting comments are: “It was just a joke, nobody likes you, you twist my words, you take things so personally, you’re crazy- that never happened, I never said that, you make things up, That’s not right, your memory is wrong”, your bipolar, you’re too sensitive”, the list could go on and on and on. I recently read that when a person tells someone that they are too sensitive, what it boils down to is that, the person saying it doesn’t want to be held accountable for the other person’s reaction when they mistreat them or talk down to them. Gaslighting is inadvertently telling someone that they cannot trust their own mind or judgment.
How to recognize when you are a victim of gaslighting:
You feel put down.
You feel like you have to walk on eggshells.
You feel insecure and iffy to express yourself.
Gaslighting isn’t about the person who is being manipulated/controlled, it’s about the gaslighters need to feel in control and in power over another person.