6 Ways Gaslighting Completely Destroys Your Reality

by | Jul 21, 2022 | Mental Health

Do you know what the difference between manipulation and gaslighting is? Well, there are 6 types of gaslighting and all of them are forms of manipulation. However, not all types of manipulation are gaslighting. So, what are the 6 types and how do we tell the difference? Bring out your lanterns and let’s dive into it.

Before we get started, remember to hit that like and subscribe button. The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1938 play “Gas Light” written by British novelist Patrick Hamilton. In the play, a husband intends to convince his wife that she is going insane and imagining things that occur. He turns out to be a murderer and was hiding things from his wife and convincing her she was crazy for suspecting anything. Kind of sounds like my dog who tries to get me to give him more food when I clearly just fed him.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GASLIGHTING AND MANIPULATION:

So, Merriam-webster has the gaslighting definition and boy, it’s a doozy. Are you ready for this? The psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories, and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.

I think you get a sense of what gaslighting is, so what about manipulation? It’s defined as to deal with or control someone in a clever and usually unfair or selfish way. Kells McPhillips lists 5 types of manipulation, and they include:

  • The silent treatment
  • Guilt tripping
  • Flattery
  • Love bombing
  • Gaslighting

Gaslighting can be seen everywhere. One of the greatest recent examples in media is the 2020 film, “The Invisible Man.” (Spoilers Ahead!) The main character Cecilia escapes from an abusive boyfriend who goes to extreme lengths to make her doubt her own reality and change the world around her in order to benefit him. Her boyfriend Adrian is found dead by apparent suicide, and Cecilia believes the nightmare is over, when in reality, it’s just getting started.

It’s found that Adrian actually faked his death and instead created an invisible suit in order to control Cecilia and make her and others around her doubt her reality. He begins doing subtle things like turning the fire up on the stove too high when she leaves the room, or sending a damaging email to her sister using her account. This causes herself and others around her to gaslight her. They tell her she’s just imagining or remembering things incorrectly. It eventually escalates to her being framed for murder by the Invisible Man and thrown in a mental hospital as nobody believes her truth.

Gaslighting is prevalent in the Invisible Man (2020).
The Invisible Man (2020)

EFFECTS OF GASLIGHTING:

So, what are some of the effects gaslighting can have on people? It can cause harmful effects that last years such as trauma, anxiety, and depression as pointed out by Medical News Today. A person could start to believe they can’t trust themselves, or they have a mental health disorder. If it occurs in a relationship, for example, it could make it harder for the victim to leave an abusive situation. It’s shown that gaslighting could become what is known as coercive control.

Coercive control is emotional abuse that gives the abuser control over the partner’s life. While it’s not illegal to do this, emotional abuse tends to turn into physical abuse. Basically, if you’re experiencing gaslighting early on in a relationship, that’s probably the time you should consider getting out. So, how do we recognize when we’re being gaslighted and what are some of the signs? There are 6 types of gaslighting you should look out for according to an article written by Rachel Nall, and they are as follows.

6 TYPES OF GASLIGHTING:

1. Countering

Countering is when someone makes you question your memory. They may say things such as “You’re wrong. You never remember things correctly,” or “Are you sure? You know you have a bad memory.”

2. Withholding

When someone withholds, they refuse to engage in a conversation. A person using this technique may pretend to not understand someone so they do not have to respond to them. For example, they might say, “I don’t know what you are talking about,” or “you’re just trying to confuse me.”

3. Trivializing

This occurs when a person belittles or disregards the other person’s feelings. They may accuse them of being too sensitive or overreacting when they have valid concerns and feelings.

4. Denial

Denial involves a person pretending to forget events or how they occurred. They may deny having said or done something or accuse someone of making things up.

5. Diverting

With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion and questions the other person’s credibility instead. For example, they might say, “that is just another crazy idea you got from your friends.”

6. Stereotyping

A person using gaslighting techniques may intentionally use negative stereotypes of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to manipulate them. For example, they may tell a female that people will think she is irrational or crazy if she seeks help for abuse.

6 Ways Gaslighting Completely Destroys Your Reality 1
Immigrant workers tend to experience a lot of gaslighting

See, while gaslighting is mostly seen in an abusive relationship, it can be in many different contexts such as when it comes to racial or gender issues. It can occur when a person or entity portray people who speak out against oppression as irrational, crazy, or deluded, according to a 2017 article in Politics, Groups, and Identities. For example, criticizing how a person expresses themselves to divert attention away from their message. Trivializing or downplaying racist or sexist incidents. Even denying that documented events took place, like the holocaust.

Immigrants are a group that tend to be extremely vulnerable to gaslighting. A person who has recently arrived in a new country may be unfamiliar with its laws, language, and culture. As a result, it’s easier to lie to them about their legal rights and what’s normal. Like when an employer tells an immigrant employee they have no right to complain about their working conditions. Well, we’ve talked a lot about how others can gaslight you, but is it actually possible for you to be gaslighting yourself?

SELF-GASLIGHTING:

Yes, self-gaslighting is very real. It commonly involves suppressing and invalidating your thoughts and emotions, according to an article written by Kathryn Lichlyter. Say you’ve been hurt emotionally, and you start thinking to yourself, “I’m probably overreacting,” or “That other guy has it worse than me, I shouldn’t feel this upset.”

If you’re doubting yourself, it may be because someone else has been gaslighting you, or maybe there’s a deeper issue stemming from different mental disorders. Because you shouldn’t confuse humility with gaslighting. You can be a humble, confident person, but also recognize when other people or, even yourself is diminishing your worth and confidence. Being gaslighted can destroy your right to acknowledge your strengths or accomplishments and can stop you from improving as a person.

HOW TO DEAL WITH GASLIGHTING:

Now that we know what gaslighting is, how can we deal with it? Well, it could be best to step back and take a breather from the situation according to an article written by Crystal Raypole. It can cause anger, frustration, worry, sadness, or fear to be an immediate reaction. However, remaining calm can help you handle the situation more effectively. If someone see they’re making you distressed, they could continue to try and manipulate you.

Keeping calm and focusing on the truth makes it less likely they will destroy the confidence and faith in yourself. Being gaslighted is a form of abuse, and it’s best to step away from a relationship early on if you notice it happening. If it goes unchecked, it could go on for years or decades before a person realizes it. That’s why recovering takes time. You might need support from a therapist, or from your loved ones. If you frequently feel confused or find yourself questioning your sanity, consider you might need to step away from a situation.

You could also try to speak up about the behavior, call someone out if you feel they’re gaslighting you. It works because it aims to shake your confidence. Calling out criticisms, insults, backhanded compliments, or offensive jokes will help them understand what they’re doing and they don’t stand for it. If you show it doesn’t bother you, they might decide it isn’t worth the struggle. That doesn’t mean to get into an argument with a manipulator, because that plays into their hands and can put you in a bad position. Refusing to argue is the best way to protect yourself and maintain control over the situation.

Focusing on self-care is a great way to improve your state of mind. While it won’t directly address the gaslighting, being more confident in yourself is a great way to build up mental defenses. Finally, involving others and seeking professional support are other things you can do to combat gaslighters. It’s important to get insight and support from people you trust. Seeking input from people you love can help reinforce that you’re not confused, going crazy, or losing your memory. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to seek professional help.

For more ways to learn how to improve your quality of mental health and life, visit https://pheccinc.com/. You can also call 1-800-799-7233 to talk to a free Domestic Violence Hotline that is available 24/7.

SOURCES:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gaslighting

https://txarchives.org/uthrc/finding_aids/00367.xml

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/long-term-effects-of-gaslighting

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gaslighting

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-deal-with-gaslighting

https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/manipulate

https://www.wellandgood.com/types-manipulative-behavior/

https://tealfeed.com/gaslighting-yourself-f5e67

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