I am sure many have heard of the term “gaslighting.” If you have then chances are, you have been this situation at some point. If you have not, please read on and there is a possibility you have or might be in this situation and it is a topic near and dear to my heart that everyone needs to learn about.
But another topic that can either be confused with or go hand in hand with gaslighting is manipulation. I am going to break down both for you.
I am not a psychologist or claim to be an expert, however, I have been in the situation of both and sometimes experience is the best knowledge a person can have.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to put self-doubt and confusion in their victim’s mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.
Manipulation is the exercise of harmful influence over others. People who manipulate others attack their mental and emotional sides to get what they want. The person manipulating, the manipulator, seeks to create an imbalance of power, and take advantage of a victim to get power, control, benefits, and/or privileges at the expense of the victim.
The difference between the two are, manipulation is about getting your way whereas, gaslighting is about controlling another person. The two very much sound the same however, they really are quite different, but they do run together normally. When you are wanting to control someone’s mind, you are doing so for a reason or power trip that will benefit you in some way. Sadly, it all mind games and a lot of the time it is being done to people without them even realizing it. Gaslighting and manipulation are both powerful tools of mind control and interpersonal abuse. While the two concepts may seem similar at first, they are in fact vastly different. The difference between gaslighting and manipulation can be seen by the intent behind them. Gaslighting usually occurs when one person wants to gain power over someone else, while manipulation more often has another motivation, like greed or control. Additionally, gaslighting is more extreme than manipulation because it usually involves creating a false reality for the victim; that makes them unsure of what is real and what is not. Finally, gaslighting is often characterized by an escalation in frequency and intensity over time.
The history of gaslighting
Gaslighting has been around for centuries. Hitler during WWII often used it to convince others that they were wrong, while gaslighters are often using it today to gain power or control over someone. There have been various known gaslighters throughout history who have used this technique of manipulation on other people, even though the word gaslighting was not used back then. Although the term gaslighting was not coined until 1952, this type of behavior can be found in William Shakespeare's Othello and Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Those with narcissistic personality disorder will tend to use manipulative tactics like this when trying to hurt someone or use them as a scapegoat.
Is there gaslighting in your life?
Gaslighting can happen in many places. Your romantic relationship, at home, or even with your friends and family. And yes, people do experience it on their own. Here is how to spot it, why people have the need for power trips (to put others down), what manipulators are actually doing when they get someone else to question themselves and how gaslighting effect other people (which is a lack of self-esteem). For instance, your friend, family member, or any person says: Remember I was telling you the other day about that car I saw drive pass the house like three times within 5 minutes, I saw it again today. You respond: What car? You did not tell me about a car. They say, yes, I did. I cannot believe you do not remember that. We were sitting right here, and you even asked what color the car was. I am really getting worried about you; you need to talk to someone or something. You know very well a conversation about a car did not take place but after them doing this over and over you begin to doubt yourself. You may begin to think something is wrong with you. Then they may begin to demean you by texting you all day with things to do, or write little notes left around of a list of things to be done, making you think you cannot remember things. It is a power trip. That is just one example, but it is a clear example of the ways and the strategies a gaslighter will use.
The effects it has the victim.
Being the victim of a gaslighter and manipulator can have long term effects on you. It can cause anxiety, depression, PTSD, mental trauma. It can cause extreme self-doubt, insecurity, and low self-esteem. It can also have physical effects on you such as weight gain or loss, insomnia, substance abuse, social isolation, memory loss. These are just some of the things that can impact the victim.
There is help if you suspect you are such a situation
Some of the things you can do on your own is:
- Acknowledge you are in this type of situation and reassess your own self-worth and value.
- Cut off all communication with the one who is abusing you.
- Take time to reconnect with yourself and who you were before you were made to feel inferior.
- Learn forgiveness
For me, because I have been in the situation, I finally realized what was going on. I told myself, I am not crazy, I am not forgetting everything, I am better than this, and I am a strong person. I would have panic attacks even after I picked myself up and someone would try to do this to me again. Then I would step back and say again, I am not crazy, I am not forgetting everything, I am better than this, and I am a strong person. I learned to have a voice again. I did talk to a psychiatrist also and in doing so, there were many things I was holding in from way back in my childhood even. I was angry at people I did not even realize I was angry at, but I was able to figure that out, talk it out, and let it go. I felt like I could hold the entire world on my shoulders and my knees would never buckle again. This calm and peace has came over me that I had never felt before.
Do not ever just give up! Know your worth and know that every single person in this world has someone to talk to. My inbox is always open!