Mental Wellness

The Flickering Lamp of Gaslighting

Do you doubt yourself sometimes? Do you think you might have remembered incorrectly? Although it is easy to forget once in a while, sometimes we have a little help to reach confusion. At times people would prefer we reach the wrong conclusion.

It’s the combo sandwich, the one two punch of bullying and lying called gaslighting.

A classic movie, Gaslight, is the source of the term. Summary: A man wanted to discredit his wife so she wouldn’t realize he planned to steal her deceased aunt’s jewels. He arranged it so every so often the lights would flicker in their home. She would get alarmed and he would tell her she was imagining it. Then he accused her of kleptomania, because he’d hide his and other people’s belongings in her handbag. This happened again and again and again. She felt as if she were losing her mind. Very suspenseful film; nightmarish to live through.

Gaslighting is subtle, insidious, and very damaging to our mental health.

What to look for:

  • Do you feel like you remember it differently?
  • Does it seem the other person is very persuasive or even pushy?
  • Is the other person indignant, saying phrases like, “I would Never say that!” or ” I Never said that!”?

If this happens to you, what I would suggest is to write down the plans, the thermostat settings, whatever it is that you agree on next time in order to have proof of it later. This kind of situation convinced me to end a serious relationship, with ample proof. For me it is a deal breaker.

I’d say to keep your eyes and ears open for repetitive situations where your memory is doubted when you know you’re no more forgetful than the next person. Gaslighting is a type of verbal and psychological abuse. If you’ve ever been told that gullible is not in the dictionary (it is) and doubted yourself, then you might be in danger of this harmful type of mind control.

What To Do Next
*Believe in yourself.
*Test your hypothesis.
*Act to protect yourself.

What are your experiences with gaslighting?

Happy Manic Monday! –Rebecca

Ceiling Lamp Photo: Rebecca Cuningham