Gaslighting is a tactic used for a person or entity to gain more power. When done effectively, it can make the victim begin to question reality. Unfortunately, this is a tactic that works much more effectively than many people realize.
Additionally, anyone is susceptible to becoming a victim of gaslighting, and it’s an extremely common for dictators, cult leaders, narcissists and abusers to use. It’s done slowly, over time so victims don’t even realize they have been brainwashed.
A classic example of how gaslighting works is seen in the 1944 movie, “Gaslight” where a man manipulates his wife to the point she believes she’s losing her mind. While you can learn more about gaslighting at thoughtcatalog.com, you can also used some of the techniques used by people who gaslight others, here.
1. They Tell Outright, Blatant Lies
As a victim, you know what they are saying is a lie. However, they tell the lie with a straight face.
Why are they so blatant in their lying? Because, they are creating the precedent – once they have told a huge lie, you are no longer sure if anything they say is true. This works in their favor, as you become off-kilter and unsteady.
2. They Deny Something You Have Proof Of
You know they said they would do something and you know you heard what they said. However, they deny it.
This is a tactic that makes you begin questioning what is real. You may even wonder if they ever really said something. The more this is done, the more you question reality and begin accepting what they say.
3. They Use Things Important to You as Ammunition
They understand how important your children are to you, and your identity. As a result, they may begin to attack you using these things.
If you have kids, they may tell you, you should have never had the children, or that they may attempt to take your children away. They may also tell you what a great person you would be without an extensive list of bad or negative traits. The goal is to attack your very foundation.
4. They Work to Wear You Down Over Time
This is one of the more insidious things related to gaslighting – it’s something that’s done gradually, over a period of time. Snide comments here and there, mixed in with lies from time to time – then, the pattern begins to increase.
Even the most self-aware, brightest people may be affected by gaslighting – it is just that effective. It is the same as the old “frog in a frying pan” analogy. The heat is turned up ever-so slightly, so the frog never realizes it is being cooked alive.
5. Words and Actions Don’t Match
When you are dealing with a person or an entity who is gaslighting you, take time to look at what they are doing, instead of what they are saying. What they say means absolutely nothing – it’s all talk. What they actually do is the main issue.
6. They Use Positive Reinforcement to Confuse You
As the person cuts you down, telling you that you have no value, they may also mix in praise. This causes you to think that perhaps, they aren’t so bad.
The truth is – they are. This is just another calculated attempt to help keep you off-kilter and to have you question your own reality. Also, take a look at what they gave you praise for. Chances are, it was something that served the gaslighter.
As you can see, gaslighting is subtle and hard to detect if you don’t know what to look for. If you believe you are a victim, take a stand and get help, if necessary.