Not all relationships go well and not every Prince Charming stays that way when your relationship starts to last a little longer and pretend to be serious. In this article, we will discuss the issue of gaslighting and understand why people try to make their loved ones look crazy.

how to deal with a gaslighter

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In this article:

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a term that comes up a lot these days. However, it is not new at all. Many experienced this while communicating with friends, relatives, or even a soul mate. What is it and how does it manifest itself? Let’s figure it out together.

gaslighting It is, first of all, one of the forms of psychological violence. This phenomenon in relationships is characterized by constant devaluation of judgments and experiences, as well as attempts to make the partner doubt their own adequacy and mental health.

The main role in this form of violence is assigned, first of all, to the denial of reality.

For example:

  • Denial of emotions: “You think you are angry, but in fact you are not”, “You only think that you are in a bad mood.”
  • Denial of facts: “This never happened!”, “I didn’t say that!”, “I couldn’t / could do this, you made it all up!”.
  • Constant allusions to a possible mental illness: “You’re kind of strange lately,” “You should take some pills,” and so on.

Gaslighting for world psychology is not a new term for a long time. It comes from the title of the play “Gaslight” in 1938, in which the husband of a young woman steals jewelry from her, and in order not to get caught, he tries with all his might to make her look crazy. To do this, he rearranges objects in the house, hides things to show that she has memory problems.

Who can be a gaslighter?

The initiator of gaslighting, contrary to the original source, can be not only a manipulative spouse, as in the original source from which the term originates. In fact, this phenomenon is very complex and unequivocally unhealthy.

So, who can be the initiator of gaslighting:

  • First of all – the second half. It often happens that a husband or wife begins to “powder their brains” to their partner, make him feel out of his mind.
  • Then, of course, parents or any other relatives.
  • And, of course, friends, colleagues, a boss, or even a psychologist can think of gaslighting.
how to get rid of a gaslighter

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Why does the aggressor need to make a fool of you?

Why do you need to mock your loved ones and cause him such suffering, you ask. Well, sometimes it happens that a gaslighter is not even aware of what he is doing, and only a professional can help him in this: a psychologist, a family psychologist, a psychoanalyst.

Sociopaths and narcissists often engage in gaslighting: it is quite possible for these people to step over generally accepted norms, not to recognize them and use other people in order to achieve their goals and whitewash themselves. For example, to make the victim disbelieve that she saw a bad deed from the gaslighter.

Gaslighting in a marital relationship can also take place: if one of the partners cheats, applies physical violence to the other.

Gaslighting by the former is also very common between parents and children. The parent may lie to the child, try to distort his perception of the world, or even (most dangerously) try to force the child to deny the abuse done to him.

The main purpose of gaslighting is to disguise bad deeds, to make their witness not believe what he saw or heard personally.

Checklist: signs of gaslighting in a relationship:

  • You are made to doubt your own memories;
  • Forced to question their own adequacy or expose it on their own;
  • You are presented as a stupid, mentally and intellectually bankrupt person;
  • Imaginary incompetence (“You were little”, “All you women, whatever you don’t see, you’ll think of”) according to one of the signs: gender or age, for example;
  • Facts or feelings that are important to you are denied;
  • You feel oppressed in relationships, weak, stupid.
what is gaslighting

Photo: Freepik

How to counter gaslighting

This is a rather sensitive question, because there is simply no specific algorithm of actions and everything depends directly on the gaslighter and his victim. It is important to remember a few key steps in resolving this issue and proceed further based on the current situation:

  • Stop reacting violently. You should not try to prove something to the gaslighter, scandalize and cry: this person is unlikely to feel sympathy for you and admit that he lied, and therefore you should just stop the backlash in his direction.
  • Be firm and unwavering. Tell the gaslighter that this behavior offends you and that he should stop.
  • Don’t try to check. Trying to verify the truth of your thoughts and memories will only prove once again that in your own eyes you are untenable and begin to trust the gaslighter.
  • Say directly. You can make the assumption that the partner is gaslighting, and suggest that he be examined by a psychoanalyst. Thus, you can turn the tyrant’s weapon with a point towards him, doubting his mental stability.

The best way to deal with this situation is to cut off all contact with the gaslighter: leave your husband, stop communicating with a toxic girlfriend, change your work team. The main thing is to finally and irrevocably make it clear to the person that you do not want to contact him anymore.

And, of course, you should seek help and rehabilitation from a psychologist.

Psychological abuse is just as much abuse as physical abuse. The fact that it’s not you who gets slapped, but your psyche does not make this kind of abuse any easier, and therefore you must deal with it radically and ruthlessly.