GASLIGHTING is so prevalent in our society – it is a terrible and yet effective behavior used to control and manipulate. It is very difficult to grab ahold of because it is not concrete – and when you try to respond and counter with reason or logic, your reality is denied. The more you try to get the person who is gaslighting you to understand, the worse it gets as in doing so, you are giving your power away. I see it so much in my therapy practice and I have personally experienced it. I am hoping to help educate others so they can move past this horrific type of attack.
What does gaslighting mean? Wikipedia describes it as a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity.
The term owes its origin to a 1938 play called Gas Light and its 1944 film adaptation.
Gaslighting is commonly used by toxic and abusive individuals to diminish others – most often close intimates or other people who they wish to gain control over, and punish.
Gaslighting is an incredibly malicious tactic. It is based on deep-seated anger and aggression. It is difficult to see it coming as the perpetrator purposely employs a premeditated, surprise attack to increase the traumatizing impact to their victim.
Why the need or impulse to gaslight?
The perpetrator is projecting their own unhealed emotional trauma onto an emotionally available partner. They become increasingly irritated and threatened with the partner’s emotional expression capabilities because it touches their own deep-seated fears of intimacy and emotional inadequacy. Consequently, they lash out in retaliation wanting to strangle and suffocate the life-force in another, as it painfully touches their own unhealed wounding. Wounding most likely due to an emotionally abandoning parent.
Gaslighting is used to punish people by stripping their power and getting them to distrust themselves. It’s also about consciously destroying a person’s own character to themselves and anyone else who will listen. It is mocking and shaming – leaving the intended victim disoriented and traumatized. It is important to realize that this is not normal behavior and is most likely pathological in nature.