What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a type of psychological manipulation that involves an individual or a group of individuals secretly planting the seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group of individuals. This process leads to the targeted party being skeptical about their recollections or judgment, leading to serious mental repercussions for the victim. Gaslighting is an example of a trait present in the behavior of a narcissist or a sociopath since such individuals aim to win power over somebody.
What Are Some Examples of Gaslighting?
A person who gas lights wouldn’t want to push the boundaries too far initially, thus they first start from sly mischievousness to more severe crimes. Some examples of gaslighting include lying about and exaggerating any frame of events. Marital infidelity is also a common trait possessed by a person who gas lights. The abuser would flip the cards and would play the victim, making their partner believe they are ‘crazy’.
Gaslighting can also extend to one’s work life. A person who gas lights would be plain torture to work with, especially if they occupy a managerial position. They may verbally abuse their subordinates by distorting the frame of events and hiding the truth. Moreover, a parent who gas lights may be seen smothering their children with affection one second and the next second could be ignoring them and being as cold as ice.
Why Do People Gaslight Other People?
As mentioned earlier, one of the most common reasons a person may indulge in gaslighting is because they might possess narcissistic or sociopathic traits in their personality. Both narcissists and sociopaths aim to gain power over others. This quest for domination forces individuals to abuse their fellow peers, colleagues, or family member to stay ‘relevant’ or to have ‘the upper hand’ in a relationship. Moreover, insecurities or having low self-esteem may also contribute to one indulging in gaslighting. People who are insecure or have low self-esteem often try to validate themselves by making sure they are the dominant or influential in a relationship.
What Are The Harmful And Long-Term Effects of Gaslighting?
1. Anxiety and depression
Constantly being made to feel like you’re always wrong or perceive things ‘the wrong way’ can have a mental toll on anyone. It wouldn’t be surprising if the victim of gaslighting falls preys to mental issues such as anxiety and depression. Since gaslighting often affects one’s self-esteem, problems such as anxiety and depression are almost guaranteed, making the victim get further caught up in this vicious cycle.
The victim of gaslighting may prefer being alone most of the time since they may no longer trust their perceptions, instincts, and recollections. Thus, they may end up being isolated from society in general, even from their loved ones such as friends and family members. As a result of this self-inflicted isolation, they end up getting further trapped in the traps they set up in their minds. They may avoid meeting anyone since their false sense of self-esteem forces them to think they are always wrong.
Probably the worst of all and perhaps the root of all problems – the victim may start believing everything the abuser convinces them. They might get brainwashed into thinking that whatever recollection or frame of events they have in their minds is wrong and hence they get deluded into believing that perhaps they are wrong. These delusions are what contribute to the victim’s low-self-esteem, depression, and isolation. The victim may even start believing that they have an underlying undiagnosed serious mental condition such as schizophrenia or memory disorders such as dementia.
4. Mistrusting yourself
The victim may eventually start mistrusting themselves. Their behavior may change drastically. An outsider might notice they apologize too much, prefer staying quiet in social gatherings, or that they might avoid showing up and hanging out with friends and family members altogether. The main reason for all this could be the fact that the victim may not trust themselves anymore. They might feel that their opinions hold no value, that they are too sensitive, or that they are ‘crazy’ altogether. Even if none of that happens, one thing’s for certain – a victim of gaslighting would always have doubts and may second-guess certain frames of events or their personal opinions before saying them out loud.
5. Psychological trauma
Perhaps the most serious of all – gaslighting can force serious psychological trauma upon an individual. Even after they successfully recover from such mental abuse, they might never trust those that are close to them ever again. These include intimate partners, friends, colleagues, and family members. Moreover, another serious repercussion of gaslighting is that the victim may feel disoriented or confused for a long time after such a traumatizing experience. They may have problems speaking out, valuing their opinion, or sticking by their judgment – even after a while has passed since they fell prey to this psychological crime.
How Does One Overcome The Effects of Gaslighting?
1. Get rid of the abuser
First and foremost, one needs to get rid of the abuse themselves. At this point, you shouldn’t care how close they are to you – nobody deserves the kind of abuse and the kind of damage they inflicted upon you. At this point, it is to note that the abuser may make their last attempts to lure you in – trying to make you think you’re crazy for ever doubting them, but our sole advise to you would be to block your ears and do and follow your gut – one’s instincts never fail.
2. Trust yourself
Similar to what we talked about above, to overcome the effects of gaslighting, you need to learn to trust yourself again. Try to instill in your mind that people may deceive you, but your instincts would never betray you. If you find it difficult to regain your trust, we recommend you visit a therapist or join a local support group – you’d be surprised to see how many people still exist who support you and want to see you stand back up on your feet again.
3. Learn from your experience
Last but not the least, learning from your experience as a gaslighting victim may help you regain your strength, make it easier to practice self- love and be would make you ready to face the world again. Some of the ways by which you can learn from your experience are by making sure you have ample evidence to support what you say – in case something like this happens again. Keep a journal or events handy, make voice memos, and take photographs of people, objects, or places to ensure what you say and how you perceive things are correct.
How Can A Person Who Gaslights Are Helped With Their Behavior?
As we mentioned earlier, a person who gaslights is often fighting their demons and lack self-esteem themselves. You need to acknowledge their downfalls and make sure you are here to support them and there is no need for them to undermine you for them to attain self-gratification. Remember, it isn’t the person, rather it is the habit that is toxic. Moreover, you can also defend yourself early on the relationship and make sure you give off the vibe that you aren’t somebody who could easily be manipulated – have faith in yourself and what you believe in. The last thing you can do is to threaten them (in self-defense) that if such manipulation continues, you may have to end your relationship with them – if they want to be helped, you could always help them look for therapists out there who specialize in treating such social traits.
In summary, it can be said that gaslighting is a result of one already lacking faith in themselves. All you need to do is trust yourself and acknowledge the fact that how you perceive things is the only correct version of how things are. Of course, time and again we might be wrong, but if you ever feel like somebody is trying to undermine you to stay on top, the least you can do is stay firm on what you believe in and try to talk things out with the abuser. If things still don’t work out – walk out of such a toxic environment. Remember, your mental health is more important than somebody else’s sense of validation.