Tricks of the Trade
Have you ever been told you are blowing things out of proportion during an argument? Or perhaps someone has insisted that your recounting of an incident doesn’t align with what actually happened. Your memory may not be to blame—you may be the victim of a gaslighter.
A popular recent buzzword, gaslighting refers to the practice of manipulating a person into believing their interpretation of reality isn’t correct. For example, a person may be told by a gaslighter that they are remembering events differently than they occurred, or that they are overreacting to a situation.
Though statements like these can be true, a gaslighter will use such tactics to convince a person to question the world around them and the decisions they are making.
Gaslighting can occur both in the home and at work and can even be employed by politicians to control the narrative of an event. Many abusers also solicit some form of gaslighting to exert power over their victims.
5 Common Signs of Gaslighting
1. Telling blatant lies and denying facts, even when proof to the contrary is provided
2. Saying one thing and doing the opposite
3. Claiming everyone else is the liar
4. Using positive reinforcement to confuse and control
5. Trivializing a person’s opinion
In some instances, gaslighting is not intentional. But it’s still important to be able to recognize when it’s occurring, especially because it often happens as part of a power dynamic: between a boss and an employee, a parent and their children, or a political leader and their followers, for example.
This uneven distribution of power can make it difficult to gauge whether gaslighting is taking place, as one party is supposed to be acting as a trustworthy leader.
3 Ways to Cope with a Gaslighter
1. Keep a record of the instances you feel you are being manipulated, along with evidence,
2. Get a second opinion to see if others also identify the behaviour as gaslighting.
3. Validate your feelings and allow yourself to believe your interpretation of the events.
What’s in a Name?
The term gaslight is taken from a 1944 thriller of the same name starring Ingrid Bergman, which was in turn a remake of a 1940 British film based on a stage play. In the film, a woman’s husband manipulates her into thinking she is suffering from mental health issues by insisting her belief the lights in their house are flickering is false.
Sources: psychologytoday.com, nbcnews.com, wikipedia.org