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Gaslighting: What Is It And How To Deal With It

Gaslighting is a type of psychological abuse that questions the individuality of a person. It needs to be checked and fought against, in time.
Pragya Singh Mar 26, 2019

What Is Gaslighting?

The term 'Gaslighting' originated in 1938 from a play with the same name “Gaslight”, written by Patrick Hamilton.

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation of a person to make him doubt his perception and sanity. In this form of abuse, Gaslighter - the one who overpowers or forces - manipulates the other person to stay in relation, but under control.

Signs Of Gaslighting

Denying, Forgetting and Downplaying

The gaslighter denies having done or said anything the victim complains of. He might pretend to be forgetful of the situation, so that he is excused for having done something wrong.

The target is downplayed; made to feel that his reactions were over dramatic or not needed. The victim starts believing that he over-reacted to a situation.

Redirection, Obstructive Reaction And Concealment

The gaslighter redirects the target of not thinking right and positive. In obstructive reaction the feelings of the target are shrugged away. The gaslighter gets off the topic and walks away, ignoring the victim’s words.

As concealment, the gaslighter shows no interest in whatever the victim shares, as if he doesn’t understand what the target explains.

Opposition and Secrecy

The victim narrates his experience for a feeling or an event very well. Yet, the gaslighter disagrees with the victim, and argues stating him wrong.

The person facing gaslighting feels as if he is kept in the dark, because the gaslighter conducts the activities secretly leaving the victim in doubt or confused about everything that goes on around him.

How To Deal With Gaslighting

Be Confident: Gaslighting must be acknowledged. The moment you realize that you are being targeted, you should become confident enough to not get coaxed by the gaslighter’s acts and words.

Limit or Avoid The Gaslighter: Limit the time spent with, or if possible, completely stay away from the gaslighter.
Be Close To Family: Be with your family for a help, guidance and the emotional support.

Talk To a Therapist: 
Psychological therapy sessions gradually erase fears and doubts, helping you get over the trauma.

Get Creative: Start afresh and go on accomplishing your goals, fulfilling wishes and adopting new hobbies.

Gaslighting Examples

Gaslighting may occur at work, in a relationship, or by parents to children.

A boss or a colleague might deny from an earlier statement. One partner may blame the other for a confusion, for a failing relationship, or for any petty reason. Children might not be allowed to express themselves, and might not be asked for their suggestions, ideas or opinions.

How To Stop Gaslighting

Unintentional Gaslighting

In case of 'unintentional' gaslighting, the gaslighter may become aware of his mistake by self realization. To stop gaslighting, he then must stop making excuses, admit to the mistakes and change his behavioral pattern. The gaslighter must try to be supportive, and may visit a therapist for a guidance if needed.

Intentional Gaslighting

How to stop gaslighting if it is 'intentional'? Well, in this case, if you are a victim, the best option is to walk out. Intentional gaslighters consciously engage in abusive activities, and talking to them brings no relief. If you cannot walk out, just stop responding and limit your contact with the gaslighter.