Gaslighting is a term used quite often when talking about the actions of a narcissist or other type of personality disorder. While you may have heard it, what is gaslighting?
The definition of gaslighting, according to wikipedia, is: Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting).
So what does this mean in the real world?
Have you ever had one of those moments where you remember your partner doing something and it’s something that wasn’t right. Maybe they had said they wouldn’t do that again or maybe you knew it hurt someone else’s feeling. They might even have possibly been saying something mean and hurtful about you. It could be multiple things.
Later, you bring it up to them and they say something like, “You weren’t paying attention, that’s what you always do and it causes problems.” Or maybe they say something like “Well, remember when you did such and such, that is way worse and you have never done anything to fix it.”
Some other good phrases:
You are crazy and that doesn’t make sense.
Once again you are trying to cause problems.
You are wrong. Why are you always trying to make me look bad?
You just hate me and I can never do anything right.
They may even get mad and upset and act like they don’t understand what you are saying. Anything to get you upset and forgetting what you originally said.
Some of the techniques that a gaslighter will use:
1 – withholding – where they pretend they don’t understand but will refuse to listen to anything further
2 – countering – where they call into question your memory so strongly and so often that you begin to doubt yourself
3 – diverting – where they abuser tries to point your attention in some other direction, usually with an accusation against you, so that you stop talking about their fault/problem
4 – trivializing – no matter the problem, they make it seem like you are making a mountain out of a molehill
5 – denial – refuses to admit they did whatever you are telling them they did
When taken together and over a long term, the abused person will question themselves and think that yes, the problem does lie with themselves.
If any of this sounds familiar, you may need to get some close friends and family to validate your thoughts and help verify that you aren’t crazy and yes, your personality disordered partner is at fault.