"Gaslighting": my new favorite word!

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by TerryJ2, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Now I can't find who posted this on Sherril's thread, but thank you!

    Gaslighting is one of the most insiduous, viscious, nasty and effective forms of emotional and psychological

    Gaslighting is a sophisticated manipulation tactic which certain types of personalities use to create doubt in the minds of others.

    Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.
  2. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

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  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I want to rent or buy the movie, too. Although it's possible that Cousin P has it in her collection. Sooooo many DVDs.
  4. Sherril2000

    Sherril2000 Active Member

    Thank you for this! Didn't know there was a name for it but my ex is a master of this technique! My "dime store" diagnosis for him is Narcissistic anti-social personality disorder, & he fits all the symptoms. Our counselor laughed when I told him this, but said he was in total agreement.
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Yep. I got that a lot and people still twist what I did and why I did it until I almost believe them. Thank God for level-headed therapists. It's a nasty, but common tactic to try to make the person doubt his recollection and make the person feel crazy.

    I'd love to see that movie too.
  6. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Totally agree. Learned the term on this forum and oh, boy---have husband and I experienced it.

    We hear from difficult child less and less, but a couple weeks ago, he posted on a forum (about my brother who recently experienced a freak accident that kinda went viral). The things difficult child posted were Unbelievable. It was 100% untrue. He listed 5 or 6 travesties we had dealt him. Hey "mom", do you remember was the way he started. One referred to a friend who was awaiting surgery (He did have a high school friend in a bad accident, so that part was true). Supposedly, husband and I brought in a stranger "when time was of the essence". It made not one lick of sense. Like the surgeons would wait on us so we could bring in this stranger???? husband and I have no memory of bringing in a stranger, duh. There were other eerily strange claims.

    His gas lighting used to be just annoying crap, but this time it got scary crazy. difficult child tried to make his uncle's very serious accident (in hospital 18 days, 4 of those in ICU) about himself.

    I think Gaslighting can be just irrational-thinking irritating. It can also get creepy.

    And, what can we do? He's 33yo.
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  7. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    TerryJ2 -- When I first came to this site, I first heard that word and gasped aloud......... "Gaslighting!" That's it!

    CrazyinVA -- Thanks so much for the link and the clip! I didn't know! That film clip is very revealing.........says it all!
  8. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah.

    Read "The Gaslight Effect" by Robin Stern. I was horrified by how many times I recognized myself. It is really helpful in defending against this sort of psychologic warfare.

  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I know I was gaslighted a lot by my son when his addiction was at its most active state. My ex-husband did it too.

    I just remember trying to even have what I thought was a simple conversation about a problem, and ending up almost literally pulling my hair out with the severe frustration of it all. Circular talking, no attention to the topic, turning the conversation completely around, all kinds of crazy-making techniques.

    It kills trust and it kills love.

    I would rather be hit in the face with the awful truth anyway.
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  10. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    One of my favorite moves actually! Appropriate in this forum context...
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    In the movie, does the victimized woman, now turned mad, do away with the husband?


    P.S. It is so good to have a word for this.

    I remember the first time I heard it, too.

    For it to work, there must first be trust. That is the thing betrayed.

  12. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Remember, if our adult kids are using drugs, they may be posting under the influence. True gaslighting is not lying. It is a real attempt to make you believe that what you experienced is or was not real in a malicious attempt to make you think you are losing your mind.

    Example of how I understand gaslighting:

    Wife: Why did you move the furniture around last night?

    Husband: What? I didn't.

    Wife: (who has been under pressure and feels vulnerable) But the sofa was over there and the coffee table...

    Husband: (in a kind voice) Honey, I think you should sit down and I'll make you a nice cup of hot cocoa. You've been under SO MUCH pressure lately.

    Could be wrong here too. That's just what I understood it to be. A real attempt to make you think your reality is not real.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    That is my understanding as well.
  14. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    One of the things I learned from the book is that gaslighters are not always doing it on purpose...it is their own personal pathology at play. An example would be along the lines of
    husband: I saw you flirting with your co worker at the office party last night!
    wife: I wasn't flirting! I was just talking to him!
    husband: you know it bothers me when you shower attention on other men.
    wife: but I wasn't ! I am not even attracted to him that way! I was just talking to a colleague!
    husband: you can't see yourself. your approach was very flirtatious. It makes me feel jealous and insecure. I wish you would stop it.
    wife: (now feeling sort of guilty even though she genuinely was having a professional conversation with no sexual or flirtatious overtones)..Well OK, honey, I will try not to do that (WHAT????) again.

    She is now confused about what she has done wrong She is even wondering if she was flirting, which she wasn't. She also promised to stop behaving in a way that she can't even define and therefore can't know when she is doing it or how to stop. This is clearly a totally losing proposition for her.

    She's been gaslighted.

    He is controlling and jealous, but he wasn't deliberatley trying to confuse her.

    Happens to me all the time!

  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'm not so sure. In this picture, I see it as him trying to make her view of reality match his view of reality... and his view is skewed. So, while he may not be consciously trying to confuse her, in some ways it is deliberate. (if that makes sense)
  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    In the movie, does the victimized woman, now turned mad, do away with the husband?"

    Reminds me of the famous story about Freud at a cocktail party. Someone told him a story about an abusive family, where a son was behaving oddly. Turned out that the father was manipulating and abusing the young son (can't recall the details). The cocktail party woman asked, "What would you recommend in that case?"
    Freud quipped, "Kill the father."
    I know it got a good laugh.
    But dark humor is sooo close to the truth ...
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    He was successfully distracting her from being present in her own life and present to the time passing, of her life. Beautiful women (and beautiful men) are a wonderful gift to all of us. They are fun to look at and talk to and play with and be around.

    They are just so darn pretty, they make us happy.

    I am noticing that, now that I am old.

    Young people are just so unbelievably pretty.

    I chose a controlling male, too.

    Now that I am stronger, I think the time will come when I will be strong enough on my own.

    The trick in controlling someone is how much of the essential them the controller can twist or destroy before the controlled decides it is too much.

    So...who controlled whom, right?

    I certainly am chatty, this morning.


    But I began healing intentionally with that resolution to be kinder to myself. Not kind. Just kinder. It came to me at the strangest times.


    I think what happened is that, because I was on the lookout for unkindness to myself in my own thought patterns, I could know it when someone else was being unkind to me.

    And I found I don't much care for it.

    I am not going to close this with my usual "F you, mom." because I don't want you all to think I am weird.

    But you know I am thinking it.

    Maybe I am doing alot of healing this morning.

  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It is how they perceive the situation, I think. They see differently than we do, in these instances. Perhaps there are times we are that way, too. Manipulation would be a form of gaslighting, in a way, right?

    But respect for the other person comes into play. Or, like it is with our darn kids, they do what they want to whatever we say. But there are people in the world who encourage intimacy and then, blast us out of the water with what they have learned about how we tick.

    That is gaslighting.

    And I think they do it absolutely on purpose.

    We are left shaking our heads and going, "Whoa. What happened." We try to pull all the disparate pieces together and it just doesn't make sense and we assume they know better than we do what happened.

    There goes our locus of control.

    We no longer trust ourselves to define our situations.

    Maybe, in the same ways that here on the site our intention is to understand and support one another through growth and change and stability and reperception, there are people determined to destroy those same things.

    It makes sense that this would be so, but again, I truly do not understand the win.

  19. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    yes, I have had a lifelong illness of thinking that pretty much everyone else knew better than I what was happening. In a corollary, if I can't get "the bad guy" to agree that they did something wrong I AM NEVER QUITE SURE THAT THEY DID.

    I would make a lousy judge or juror.

    Yes, that is the set up for gaslighting. She is unmoored from her reality, from real life, by his distraction. Now she is floating with no orientation, like in space.

    I think it can get pretty far!

    I love your weird, Cedar.

    We are philosophical and comtemplative today!

  20. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    But you make a pretty wonderful Echo.

    On the judge and juror question? Let's just decide to go for the death penalty every time.

    Case closed.


    P.S. You know what's in that little bag on the back of my motorcycle, right everyone? It's a cross stitch rendition of "F you, mom."

    I love cross stitch.