The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive?
The term Gaslight first originated from Patrick Hamilton’s play published in 1944 called Gaslight, which was also later made into a motion picture in 1944. Gaslight is a type of mental manipulation where a person tries to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted person or members of a group, making them a question and doubt their own perception, memory, and even sanity. The person uses continuous misdirection, denial, lying, and contradiction to destabilize and delegitimize the victim’s state of mind.
How Does the Gaslight Effect Work?
For the gaslight effect to work the gaslight-ee has to idealize the manipulator and seek his approval. You may think that the gaslight-ee then has to be a weak and submissive individual, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the most confident working woman may need acceptance and validation from her romantic partner, which makes her vulnerable in front of him. She willingly and irrationally accepts his critical view of her.
There are some sure ways you can understand that you are being gaslighted. The first sign is the feeling that you cannot get a proper footing in your relationship. He always finds a way of showing how you are wrong or you did something wrong. The second red flag is he makes you think that you are nagging, demanding and emotional partner. Whenever he does something wrong he very slyly turns the blame on you. And you end up thinking that you must have done something wrong that justifies his reaction. Another very easy sign to spot is when all your friends and family members say that he is wrong for you and you constantly end up justifying and making excuses for his actions. Sometimes a third person outside of the relationship can see more clearly how a partner manipulated the other.
Common Ways of Gaslighting
The person who gaslights is generally a master manipulator that plays with your mind. Some leaders of cult actually use the gaslighting technique to manipulate and brainwash the cult members into believing things that are not true at all.
- They can lie with a straight face. They will lie with such a conviction, that even though you know it is not the truth, you start questioning your reality. You start thinking maybe you misunderstood the situation, if they are so determined, they must know better.
- Sometimes they will flat out deny that they have said something or done something. The more they do this the more you start doubting your judgment and choices.
- They use your weak points and your weaknesses to control you. If you have children and he knows how much you love them, he will start using them to attack you and dominate you.
- They wear you down over time. It is not easy to identify the gaslight effect when it starts. Gaslighting happens over time before you realize he is controlling you psychologically the damage is already half done. Even the smartest and self-aware people can fall victim to gaslighting. It happens so gradually that it is too late before you realize that your self-esteem is nothing but a heap of broken images.
- Then they use positive reinforcement to make the situation even more complicated. Imagine a person who you adore and desperately seek approval from, suddenly praises you. Suddenly you start thinking the situation is not that bad, he is not that bad. He uses positive reinforcement to confuse you even further. This person is very well aware that people are fond of a sense of normalcy and stability. They do not want that, they constantly want you to question your reality and judgment.