I once read a quote that said:
Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.
A gaslighter is a manipulator. He or she tries to control a targeted individual or group by sowing seeds of doubt, in the hopes that the targets start to question their memory and even sanity. The victim starts to question their self-worth and identity. Gaslighters do this often by telling blatant lies or exaggerating the truth.
The term is actually gotten from the 1944 movie, “Gaslight“, in which a husband slowly manipulates his wife into believing that she’s going loco.
According to Together:
A common method of gaslighting is known as the “double-whammy,” in which the gaslighter puts down the victim, waits for the victim’s response, and then attacks the victim’s judgment, perspective, or questioning of the original attack.
It’s a powerful way for manipulators to maintain control over others, especially if the person subjected to this treatment has less-than-robust self-esteem. In many cases, the gaslighter does this to help himself feel better by making someone else feel worse.
Gaslighting is hard to admit to. At the extremes, these behaviors qualify as emotional abuse. But even less egregious versions of gaslighting are insensitive, boorish, or just plain sexist.
The irony is that many people engaging in these behaviors—especially milder forms—may not even realize it.
No relationship is perfect so one or two instances of gaslighting might happen occasionally. However, if you find yourself constantly subjected to the some or all of the points mentioned below, constantly, then you need to take action.
- You are reminded of your flaws most of the time
One of the biggest signs of gaslighting occurs when you’re regularly subjected to reminders of your shortcomings, weaknesses, or undesirability. You start to feel like there’s always something wrong with you and what you do, and that you’re never good enough. A gaslighter does this so that he/she can put the victim on the defensive, not because the gaslighter actually wants to solve any problems.
- You feel alone
Victims of gaslighting usually feel alone because their self-esteem has been so battered that they feel as if they can’t do better. Some victims even isolate themselves due to duress from the gaslighter. Others may be hesitant to reveal their troubles to friends and family.
- Apologizing even after the gaslighter has wronged you
Victims of gaslighting tend to be overly apologetic to their abusers. They have been so made to believe that they’re crazy, irrational and worthless, that they feel as though apologizing constantly will make them stay in the good graces of their gaslighters.
- Less confident, less fun-loving, less relaxed
Gaslightees feel as though they have to do everything their abusers say or want. However, in doing this, they end up losing themselves. They might even end up being great pleasers to everyone else.
- Still looking to the gaslighter for acceptance and validation
Some gaslighters manipulate their victims with constant negative hostility, combined with occasional positive bribery. The victim might then want to avoid tension, and in doing so, becomes more compliant. A codependent relationship is then formed. The Oxford dictionary defines codependency as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner.” The gaslighter has the power to grant acceptance, approval, respect, safety, and security.
- Gaslighters hardly ever admit flaws
In a gaslighting relationship, the gaslighter is frequently on the attack. So, the gaslighter rarly admits his/her flaws. Even when he/she is criticized, the pathological gaslighter will quickly use blame and excuse-making to cover up his/her own inadequacies, or simply call his/her victim “crazy”.
A gaslighter usually pretends to have forgotten what really happened. He/she could even deny the promises he or she made to you. Gaslighters will usually say things like: “I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “You’re delusional.”
Gaslighting is emotional and psychological abuse. Please, seek help if you’re being gaslighted.