“Gaslighting”: One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Mental Manipulation We All Deal With
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the different forms of manipulation and mental abuse lately and I have been surprised at how vulnerable we are to such malpractices.
Mental manipulation is one of those things that we don’t even realize it’s been going on. We just see the results: self-doubt, diminished self-esteem, and reduced self-worth. Unfortunately, at this point that damage has already been done and we can just try to minimize the negative consequences.
Life has a way of beating even the best of us down from time to time, but Gaslighting is a specific form of manipulation that we can identify and deal with and It could be hard to prevent, recognize and recover from it.
Planting the Seeds of Doubt
Back in 1938, there was a play called “Gas Light” that was adapted for the big screen in 1944. In the story, a husband is trying all the time to convince his wife and their mutual friends that she is going crazy by making almost unnoticeable changes to the order of the things in the house.
When his wife starts noticing them, he tries to convince heр in that she’s been imagining things. Slowly but steadily, she begins to doubt her sober judgement and her perception of reality. Most notably, her husband keeps dimming the gaslamp whenever she exits the room, hence the term “gaslighting“.
Our reality will always be subjective
In the play, the key was the husband’s ability to alter the wife’s perception of reality. She sees the gas lamp’s light dimmer, while he maintains the oпposite. His strategy is to make her doubt her perceptions, and therefore her sanity. It is a form of mental abuse that people too often don’t even realize that it is happening to them.
For the abuser, gaslighting is all about control – he or she wants to control their victim entirely. Some TV commercials use subtle gaslighting to convince us that the advertised product is really the one we need.
Gaslighting in our Lives
The particular situation that inspired me to write this article involved one of the most beautiful and amazing women I had ever known. At that time she had just broken up with a man who never deserved to be with her in the first place. I explained to her that there are people in our lives who are always trying to debase us to their level.
So, what is the right response to gaslighting?
In a nutshell, do not let yourself be swayed by the manipulator’s tricks.
I’ll tell you now, the same thing I told her:
“You see, my friend, there are people in this world who will look at a unicorn and think to themselves: “Woah, that is a unicorn, which is something I will never be.”
They will try to convince you, the unicorn, that you are just an average horse, like them, with a weird growth on your head. They may even advise that you should probably have it checked out by some kind of medical professional that deals with head growths. In other words, They will make an attempt to strip you of your magical aura and make you a tired old horse like them.
As I said, you are not just a tired, old horse. You are not a thoroughbred race horse. You aren’t even one of those fancy horses performing in the circus.
No matter what anybody tells you, you are a Unicorn, and you beauty comes from your uniqueness.