The word ‘Gaslighting’, or to be ‘Gaslit’ describes a specific type of psychological manipulation against a targetted individual by another, known as the gaslighter. They do this by using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and unconfirmable untruths. The result is emotional abuse, which some may even find hard to identify, that this is going on. A gaslighter will seek to sow seeds of doubt in their target, making them question their own memory, perceptions, and even sanity.
Before we go into the Therapy options to begin the process of flaming Gaslighters, let’s first go deeper into the story of Gaslighting, and perhaps you too will see something that may be resonating. Remember the first task is to realise it’s happening to you.
The Origins of Gaslighting
The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1938 play “Gas Light,”, which is a psychological thriller written by the British playwright Patrick Hamilton. The play tells the story of Bella Manningham, who is manipulated and psychologically abused by her husband Jack Manningham. The psychological manipulation begins with the abuser, her husband intentionally dimming the gas lights in their home, and then denying that they have done so, causing the victim, in this case, his wife, to question her own perception of reality.
The play is a masterful exploration of psychological manipulation and abuse and is groundbreaking in its portrayal of the insidious effects of gaslighting. The play was a commercial success, running for over 1,200 performances in London’s West End. It was also adapted into a film in 1944, starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won two.
Gas Light was notable for its depiction of psychological abuse and its impact on the victim’s mental health. The play’s exploration of the power dynamics in abusive relationships was ahead of its time. It has since become a touchstone for understanding the dynamics of psychological manipulation and gaslighting in relationships. But as we will see later on in this pot, it is just not in relationships that gaslighters lurk.
What makes this type of emotional abuse specifically hard-hitting, is that it makes its victims question their own judgment and perceptions, which can lean towards areas of paranoia if someone is prolonged long enough to the abuse.
17 Signs You May Be Being Gaslit
- You feel like you’re always questioning yourself.
- You feel like you’re going crazy.
- You feel like you’re not sure what’s real anymore.
- You feel like you can’t trust yourself.
- You find it hard to make decisions because you distrust yourself.
- You feel like you’re always apologising.
- You feel like you’re always walking on eggshells.
- You feel like you can’t do anything right.
- You feel challenged to recall specific details to counter-arguments, that you feel on balance is untrue
- You feel a sense of not being ‘good enough’ to live up to the expectations of others, even when they are unreasonable.
- You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong i.e. you’re losing it.
- You feel like you’re overreacting or ‘too sensitive, or are at the receiving end of such labels
- You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood, and depressed.
- You feel you are a weaker version of your old self
- You find it hard to trust your own judgment
- You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.
- You’ve become afraid of speaking up or having an opinion.
Are you at risk of Gaslighting by Councils, Schools, and Local services?
There is a risk or even perception risk of being gaslit when engaging with Local Services (including Councils, education providers, and other service providers). Have you ever raised a complaint with a local service entity to find at its conclusion, that the whole process was a self-serving recipe of self-protection? Have you ever requested information, or even more specifically, have you ever sort to seek clarification of the facts, only to find you have been put on permanent mute? Have you ever had a disagreement with a service provider, that you grew up thinking, represented the authority of the land, only to find misinformation, and untruths being openly documented?
Hopefully not for most of us, who have a vague at best interaction with these providers, but in the mailbag, this area does at times be a hotbed of gaslighting behaviour – comment below with your experiences – (but please no names), just the vague points of your experience.
7 Strategies Gaslighters Use to Gaslight
- Withholding information: This type of gaslighting involves deliberately withholding information from someone to make them doubt their own memory or perception. The gaslighter may deny having said or done something, leaving the victim feeling confused and uncertain.
- Countering: This form of gaslighting involves contradicting the victim’s perceptions and memories. The gaslighter may deny that an event occurred or claim that the victim is misremembering it. They may even present false evidence to support their version of events.
- Trivializing: Trivializing gaslighting involves making the victim’s emotions and concerns seem insignificant. The gaslighter may dismiss the victim’s feelings or experiences as overblown or irrational, making them doubt their own judgment.
- Projection: In this type of gaslighting, the gaslighter accuses the victim of the very behaviour or emotion they are exhibiting. For example, a gaslighter who is cheating may accuse their partner of being unfaithful, making the victim feel guilty and confused.
- Undermining: This form of gaslighting involves attacking the victim’s self-confidence and sense of worth. The gaslighter may belittle the victim’s accomplishments or abilities, making them doubt their own capabilities.
- Diverting: Diverting gaslighting involves changing the subject or deflecting attention away from the victim’s concerns. The gaslighter may accuse the victim of being paranoid or overly sensitive, making them doubt their own perception of reality.
- Denial: Denial gaslighting involves outright denying the victim’s reality or perceptions. The gaslighter may claim that the victim is making things up or imagining things, leaving them feeling confused and disoriented.
Seeking Therapy and closing thoughts
If this blog post has resonated something with you, therapy can be a powerful tool to help you heal and regain control over your life. One of the primary goals of Gaslighting Therapy is to help you regain a sense of control over your own life. The abuser may have made you feel powerless and helpless, but therapy can help you rediscover your own agency and autonomy. In therapy, we can help you develop boundaries, assert yourself, and make right decisions for you.
It can be difficult to recognise gaslighting, but if you feel like you are constantly questioning your own sanity, you may be a victim of this type of abuse. Seeking therapy for gaslighting can be an important step in healing and regaining control over your life. Reach out and contact us.
Therapy can also help you develop a support system outside of the abusive relationship. This may involve building new friendships, reconnecting with family members, or finding a supportive community. A therapist can provide guidance and support as you navigate these relationships and build a new social network.
One of the first steps towards healing from gaslighting is recognising that it is happening. This can be difficult, as gaslighters are often skilled at making their victims doubt their own perceptions. However, if you find yourself feeling confused, anxious, or questioning your own reality, it may be a sign that gaslighting is occurring. Seeking therapy can help you gain clarity and validation around your experiences.
It’s important to note that seeking therapy does not mean that you are weak or incapable of handling your own problems. In fact, it takes a great deal of strength and courage to recognise the need for help and take action to address it. Therapy can be a powerful tool for healing and growth, and it can help you build a foundation for healthy relationships and a fulfilling life.
Therapy can also help you rebuild your sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Gaslighting can be incredibly damaging to one’s sense of self, making one doubt their own abilities, intelligence, and worthiness. A therapist can work with you to help you identify your strengths, values, and accomplishments, and help you recognize that you are capable and deserving of love and respect.
In addition, therapy can provide you with tools to cope with the aftermath of gaslighting. This can include developing healthy communication skills, building emotional resilience, and learning ways to manage stress and anxiety. A therapist can also help you develop a support network of people who can provide you with emotional support and validation.
In conclusion, gaslighting can have a profound impact on a person’s emotional well-being, if this post resonates with you, reach out digitally for a confidential chat appointment.
Scientific American 21st Century Gaslighting