Gaslighting In Relations

Gaslighting is 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.

gaslighting-mean-girl-photoThe best example of this is the Hindi movie by Gauri Shinde starring the famous Actress Sridevi called “English Vinglish”. In the movie both the husband and her children involve in gas lighting her and make her doubtful about her own abilities subtlety but in many ways but she triumphs over them in the end. Even “Mean Girls” where there is a power struggle between females and also you come across the term “Frenemy”(Friend who is an enemy).


The term gaslighting-in-relations-image Gas Lighting came to be known from an English play called “Gas Light” where the husband tries all sorts of tricks on his wife to drive her crazy causing her to question her own sanity and perceptions turned into a movie in 1944 starring the famous Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.

Have you ever had a class mate call you “fat” and then later accuse you of being overly sensitive about it upon seeing your reaction driving everyone around to believe that they were the victims and not you? That’s gas lighting in the real world.

There are many techniques.  It is subtle but a sneaky kind of emotional abuse resorted to by many has come to the forefront over time.gaslighting-in-relations-photo

There are various techniques of gas lighting like “Withholding” where the person feigns lack of understanding of the situation and denies any feelings whatsoever.  Statements like “I don’t have time for this rubbish again”

There is “Countering” where the person starts counter questioning the thoughts and perceptions of the victim leading to development of self doubt example saying, “When was the last time you remembered anything at all correctly?”

Another technique is “Trivializing” the issue  completely  belittling it as if it were of no consequence by staying things like, “You are going let this small thing come in between us, Are you crazy!”

Many use “Forgetting” or “Denial” or even  “Mocking” like making statements  like I don’t  remember ever demeaning You, you are out of your mind?” Or “You completely lost it right, you’re so funny”.

The people who fall victims suffer from withdrawing from activities or discussions. Often are overly apologetic for trivial matters. Have very low self esteem and not confident in expressing ones thoughts.

Unfortunately all of us might have been gas lighted at some or the other points in our lives often in intimate relations or even among friends.

gaslighting-english-vinglish-imageBut to break free from the circle of gas lighting  like Sridevi’s Character Shashi says in English Vinglish that The ones that truly  never mock or demean you. She realises herself worth is beyond the measure of knowing or not knowing English. Self respect and realisation realization of one’s self worth and loving  and accepting  ones entire being leaves the gas lighting person powerless and releases any whatsoever   control they might have  on the victim, it’s  all a mind game.

In our current times also there is lots of gas lighting  examples where administrations are driving people to believe in mind bending  crazy things and also many anti social groups use these very techniques that threaten one’s and the world’s  peace at large.

the-gaslight-effectIn her book “The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Used by Others to Control your Life “by Dr. Robin Stern who is a Ph.D., is a therapist specializing in emotional abuse and psychological manipulation. She teaches at Hunter College, Teachers College and Columbia University, and is a leadership coach for faculty talks about dealing with it and has excellent tips to deal with gas lighting.

Just go provide a gist the victim needs to put the gas off to stop the lighting.  In order to do so you need to first reassess the situation and check if it’s a power struggle then you should opt out. Gauge your feelings rather than just what is Right or wrong.

An example I could give is where a colleague would come late but when questioned would say that there was some or the other problem but after a time the person started saying things like “You seriously have a problem  with me” making an issue and changing  the subject from the real thing and blaming the one who  was just doing their job and we started doubting ourselves and at first felt very bad and somehow the colleague gas lighted and got control and manipulated our feelings for a stretch  but it dawned upon is very  soon that there were only excuses and no truth to what was said and it was just a way of completely shifting focus from the matter. Disciplinary action was taken and the person has no choice but to start coming on time.

A few more tips I can think of are to practise healthy detachment and de-clutter your life. Recognise and come to terms with emotionally harmful behaviour and constructive criticism there is a huge difference. Do not let yourself respect and morale down. You have the keys to your happiness in your own hands don’t hand it over to someone else they might drop it.

So get a grip of your feeling and recognise the red alert signs. Don’t provide fuel to the unrequited fire which is being used to light you.  Douse it or rather nip it at the bud.


Image courtesy – Pinterest


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