The term “gaslighting” has definitely come up before, but do you know what it really means? In a good relationship, “gaslighting” is a manipulative technique used to change the power dynamics such that one person has total control over the other. We sought the opinion of psychologist Jeremy Bergen, MS, LCPC, in order to obtain insight into the psychology underlying this toxic interpersonal dynamic.
How Does Gaslighting Work?
Gaslighting is a persistent psychological manipulation technique that makes the victim mistrust or questions their memory, judgment, and sanity. Bergen emphasizes that gaslighting is fundamentally emotional assault. It’s a strategy one partner employs in an effort to control, dominate, and cause emotional harm to the other. Gaslighting, in Bergen’s words, “is suchIt might be challenging to spot the warning signals since it makes you doubt your experiences, making it a malicious type of emotional abuse.”
Psychotherapist Jeremy Bergen, MS, LCPC, practices in Chicago and specializes in individual, family, and couple counseling. The Bergen Counseling Center was established by him. Bergen goes on to explain the psychology of gaslighting in relationships, including how to see the warning signals, comprehend the motivations behind this poisonous conduct, and take appropriate action. 6 Telltale Signs a Relationship Is Over, Per an Expert
They Cause You to Question Your Reality Perception
“Your partner questions your view of situations, of yourself, of your ideas, of your feelings, and of their actions,” according to Bergen, is the main indicator of gaslighting. “OneThis constant feeling that what you saw wasn’t exactly what you saw is one of the major warning indicators. And you didn’t actually experience what you claimed to have. You weren’t actually feeling what you were feeling.
They Lie to You Consistently and Openly
“Their lies are designed to be manipulative for control,” claims Bergen. Bergen advises you to ask yourself questions like, “Does my partner consistently make me question my views and experience of things?” if you suspect your partner of gaslighting you. Do I discover their lies?
They Dismantle You to Make You Feel Insecure
A gaslighter will constantly focus on the gaslighted’s anxieties in order to achieve control and authority. Bergen proposes asking yourself these questions to help you assess if your partner is tearing you apart.
They attempt to drive people who care about you away from you.
According to Bergen, “They do this because they want to control the narrative.” They intend to sever these bonds in order to stir up strife.
They Fabricate Statements When You Present Evidence.
Making the victim doubt their reality and sanity is the main goal of gaslighting. A gaslighter frequently acts as though the victim is crazy while denying saying or doing something. The gaslighter, also known as “countering,” may challenge the victim’s memory of an incident, will deny it ever occurred or will behave as if they have forgotten what actually occurred, even if you have proof. They’ll downplay or misrepresent the veracity of your proof.
Examples of Relationship Gaslighting
Using “Love” As a Very Defense
When doing something you view as abusive, domineering, or wrong, a person is likely gaslighting you if they justify their actions by saying, “You know I only do it because I love you,” or “Believe me, this is for the best.” In order to justify their behavior, gaslighters may claim that you don’t love them equally if you disagree with what they say or do. To exert influence over you, the gaslighter might, for instance, ruin your chances at employment or friendship while rationalizing their actions by claiming to be worried about you or to care about you.
Arguments That I’m Paranoid
Gaslighters frequently accuse their victims of being paranoid as one of their most prevalent strategies. 2 This frequently occurs when a love partner cheats. Instead of accepting responsibility for their own inappropriate behavior, gaslighters will blame their spouse for the issue. They will utter phrases such as, “Do you really believe I would betray you?” or “Why are you so paranoid? ” or “You’re just insecure.” You can be sure I never would. ” In an effort to get the victim to stop believing their intuition or observations, the gaslighter will accuse them of being too sensitive and envious.
Continuous Critiquing Or Disparaging
In an effort to keep their victim in the relationship, a gaslighter may attack their target verbally. They could consistently slander you or say things like, “You’ll never find someone better than me, or you’re a lousy money manager. I have to manage the finances because of this.
What Causes Gaslighting?
The justifications for gaslighting differ from case to case because people seek power and control in relationships for a wide range of reasons.
- 1 Bergen notes that there are a few patterns.
- They think it’s the only strategy for keeping the relationship alive.
- According to Bergen, “gaslighting is sometimes used as a really abusive approach to try and maintain someone you want to be in a relationship with; there is this belief that this is the only way to preserve the relationship.”
- When they are in control of someone else, they feel better about themselves.
- Sometimes, there is a sincere belief that “If I’m in charge of other people, then I feel better about where I’m at,” and that desire for power manifests itself in the following ways: They merely relish the control and power.
- There is a “reasonable study” that, in Bergen’s words, “shows there are people who legitimately find joy in having power over others.”
How to Respond If They Gaslight You
Choosing to end the pattern of abuse is the first step in getting over gaslighting.
3 Avoid letting your abuser interfere with your plans; if they know you intend to leave the relationship, they’ll probably step up their manipulation. In order to maintain the greatest level of disassociation, be ready for this and try to keep one step ahead of the pattern. Here are some more ideas that could be useful:
Ask for Assistance from a Person Outside the Relationship
Speak to friends and family. member, or a dependable coworker to confirm your emotions. This won’t be simply because the victim of gaslighting, who has been led to believe that their abuser is the only one who genuinely understands them, often feels alone. 3 Find a confidant who can assist you in assessing the situation, validating your memories, and/or confirming that something is wrong once you realize that this isn’t the case.
If you feel like you are being gaslighted, it is not advisable to tell your spouse since they would probably claim that what you are seeing is not what you are truly experiencing. They wish to continue to be in charge of the power dynamic.
Don’t sprint toward recovery; instead, treat it like a marathon
Despite the fact that talking to loved ones can be beneficial, you might need, no matter the type of relationship in question—romantic, familial, platonic, professional, or otherwise—you should seek the advice of an objective third party (think psychologist or therapist) to not only help you out of the smoke and mirrors but also to help ensure you don’t slip back into the cycle of abuse.
Are you and your spouse thinking about couples therapy? Go ahead, but make sure to schedule your own private sessions as well. And keep in mind: Regular, long-term counseling with a licensed professional may be important to give you the skills you need to leave (or at least remove yourself from) an unhealthy or one-sided relationship. After all, it’s improbable that you can construct a strong bridge between your previous failures and your future triumphs in only one session.
Keep your sense of self intact. This can create the ideal circumstances for wallowing, especially when mixed with the aftershocks of a breakup (even if it’s from a family member or friend). But before it becomes a habit, you should break your couch and sweatpants habit. Bergen advocates making space inside, mentally, emotionally, and then externally by interacting with individuals who are not in the relationship. Give any connections that may have been neglected some much-needed care while also making room for new acquaintances. Consider enrolling in a workshop, class, retreat, or similar opportunity to combine a hobby with socializing because a common interest is always a terrific icebreaker.
Belief in Your Gut
Decide right now and always trust your gut and go with your instincts. Making the decision to not question your ideas, feelings, or perceptions about anything, advises Bergen, is the first internal step to take if you feel like you are being gaslighted. “Nobody is permitted to re-narrate anything for you. That is a decision you make as a person.” In other words, your feelings, ideas, and recollections shouldn’t ever be contested.
FAQs: People Also Ask
What constitutes a gaslighting instance?
Gaslighting occurs when an abuser tries to manipulate a victim’s perception of reality. A partner abusing a partner and then denying it happened is one example of gaslighting. Additionally, gaslighters may persuade their victims that they are excessively sensitive or psychologically ill.
What is a personality gaslighter?
A form of psychological abuse known as gaslighting occurs when a person or group makes another question their own sanity, recollections, or sense of reality. When someone is gaslighted, they could feel uncertain, frightened, or untrusting of oneself.
How does gaslighting sound?
“It sounds like you have strong feelings about something, and I have strong feelings too.” “I want some space because I feel like I’m not being heard,” “I know what’s best for me” or “I comprehend that this is what’s best for me” Right now, this is what I need and want.
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