Today’s discussion on commonly used tactics and tools of the manipulative personality is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and control where a person is made to doubt their memory and perception of reality. In order to achieve this aim gaslighters present another, untrue version of events or ideas to the person they are trying to gaslight, while continuously denying said person’s claims as false, if not delusional.
Out of all forms of emotional warfare, gaslighting is one of the most intriguing. It is subtle, cunning, and extremely malevolent, but can indicate insecurity on the part of the gaslighter — since they believe they can not counter the other person’s claims, they simply deny that they exist. Gaslighters can seem harmless, if not helpful and well-informed. Through apparent innocence, charm, and/or insistence, they can convince not only the other person, but those who are aware of or observing the situation. Gaslighters are always a generally manipulative personality –whether aware of it or not– and gaslighting is but one tool of many in their belt.
Gaslighting can take place in many ways, and in a variety of situations. A parent telling a child that what they saw they really did not, a husband insisting that the perfume his wife smells on him after work is really her own, a woman telling her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend that he never cared about her.
Gaslighting involves various angles, some popular ones being:
- Repeated questioning and recreating of events (“Are you sure you were chosen to organize the project? Are you certain he said that?”)
- Insisting on another version of reality (“I really don’t think that’s what happened when you talked. What really happened is he dumped and you got angry.”)
- Claiming to be in the know (“You know, your ex-friend told me some things about what you did when you visited her house. She told me all about it.”)
- Dropping hints and “secrets” (You think your husband goes on business meetings? Your husband goes to the local hotel. All of the neighbors are talking about it, didn’t you know?)
Gaslighters use these techniques in such a way that their assertions seem completely plausible and utterly true — they are pros at what they do. However, an individual’s mind is stronger. If a person knows and believes their own mind and can vividly recall events, they will be a great challenge to the gaslighter. When presented with the covert psychological control of gaslighting, remember that strength of mind wins out over manipulation and psychological bullying every time.
Have you ever experienced gaslighting? How did you respond?