Firstly, in case you don’t know or aren’t sure of what gaslighting is, it is basically psychological manipulation and control. It is abuse. It involves making you doubt yourself. You start to question your memory your perception and even your sanity.
This psychological manipulation and control is generally done in stages by the abuser.
According to Dr Sarkis, it is a common technique which is used by abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. Extremists of all sorts also use this method quite effectively. To some extent, I believe politicians also do this. It is intended as a slow process in order to prevent the person or persons being abused realising what is really happening to them, explains Dr Sarkis.
There are basically 11 stages of gaslighting. It is all about gaining power over someone else.
They blatantly lie to you while being able to keep a straight face. Why a blatant lie? Because they are trying to keep you unsure and guessing as to whether anything they say is actually true.
But you would never trust them, I hear you say. You might even think that perhaps you will confront them. Well, just go ahead. Their next step is to deny they ever actually said anything in the first place. They stand their ground firm. This will then make you think that perhaps they never really said the thing you accused them of. You then question your own reality. Did they say it, or didn’t they say it? They continue to do this; your insecurities start to grow. You start questioning your reality. You start to accept their version of reality.
This can happen to anyone.
They start niggling you. Targeting the things you hold most dear such as your kids, your lifestyle, perhaps even your opinion of yourself. They might tell you how you should not have had those kids; they tell you it’s a shame you have so many negative qualities because otherwise, you would be a great person.
One of the aims of those carrying out the gaslighting is to just wear you down.
Gaslighting is a treacherous and extremely crafty and an underhanded way of controlling someone. This can also be carried out on a mass scale. BUT! When it comes down to it, it is done gradually and over a substantial amount of time.
A lie here, a lie there, a nasty, malicious comment every so often before it all starts increasing in frequency. Dr Sarkis says that “even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective.”
The abuser’s actions do not match what they say. It is very important to look at what the person is doing rather than the words coming out of their mouth. The words they speak have absolutely no meaning; they are just words. The real issue is in what they are actually doing. Do you remember the saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’? That is because it is so very true. Always remember that!
Because then, if you were not confused enough and having doubts about yourself and your reality, they throw in some ‘positive reinforcement’. This is done for good measure, to ensure that you remain confused and unsure. The abuser, the person that has been telling you that you have absolutely no value throws you a curve ball by praising you or complimenting you for something that you did. You might start to think that perhaps ‘they aren’t so bad’ after all. Don’t be fooled. They really are that bad! It is a calculated maneuverer. Again, you start questioning your reality. What was it that you were commended for? Was it something perhaps that served the person carrying out the gaslighting? Hmmm
Confusion weakens people. It is a fact. You know it. They know it. We all like to feel that our life has a sense of stability and normality to it. The gaslighter’s purpose is to mess with that; make you constantly question everything. Perhaps even make you second guess yourself. We, as the human race, have a natural need to look to the person that will assist you to feel for ‘stable’ which, by now will be the person who had been gaslighting you.
Their next step generally involves constantly accusing you of whatever it is that they have been doing. So, take, for example, if they are cheating on you, they will constantly accuse you of doing that, and so on. It applies to so many things. Such as, let’s see, a religious extremist group blaming another religious group for heinous atrocities when in fact it is the extremists that are caring out those acts. This blaming and accusations are done so often that you start trying to defend yourself that you become distracted from the gaslighter’s own behaviour.
Because the gaslighter is so well versed in the art of manipulation, they are also able to convince others to go against you. They are able to find people they know will support them, no matter what.
According to Dr Sakis, the person doing the gaslighting will tell you that these other people have said that they know “you’re not right” or “this person knows you’re useless too”. You need to remember, the gaslighter is constantly lying. That is what they do. They do this on purpose. It is one of their strategies. The aim is to make you feel insecure and again, question everything because now, you have no idea whom to trust. You feel as though you have no one to turn to. Guess what? This tactic sends you right back to the person you need to get away from the most! You have played straight into their hands. Isolation gives them even more control if not complete control of you.
Has anyone been telling you that you are crazy? A lot? The person doing the gaslighting will tell you and everyone else that you are nuts. This is one of the premium tools that they use because it is also so flippant. If they, the gaslighter, questions your sanity, others will not believe you when you tell them that this person is abusive,
This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or controlling. It is a stroke of genius.
They continue to tell you that everyone else is a liar. You continue to question yourself, your reality. They reiterate that it is everyone else that is lying to you. This includes your family, your friends, your work colleagues, the media… Have you ever met anyone like this in the past? You think to yourself. No. No one could possibly be this bold. Everything they are saying must be true! NO! they are not telling you the truth. They are manipulating and controlling you. By this final stage of their deviant plan, you honestly believe that the gaslighter is the only person you can possibly turn to for the ‘right’ and ‘honest’ information which in fact is the complete opposite.
If you stay vigilant and are aware of the techniques used by people trying to gaslight you, you will have a much better chance of not falling prey to their deception. Don’t forget, some of these people are already within your inner circle of those you believe you can trust.