What is Gaslighting & How to Respond to it?

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Imagine a situation in which mental health problems stem from or are due to someone close to you! Gaslighting is referred to as a form of psychological abuse in which the sufferer is presented with a false narrative of reality.

To put it another way, gaslighting is a type of manipulation where a person makes you question your sanity, the perception of reality and sometimes even memories. This form of abuse can be pretty tricky to detect since it develops gradually and may appear completely ordinary in the initial stages. The following article will explore the true nature of gaslighting as we dive into recognizing and responding to it appropriately. Gaslighting Includes All This The following include some of the techniques a person may use to gaslight an individual:
Countering: Making someone question their memories by possibly saying things like, “Are you sure? You know you have a bad memory”.

Stereotyping: Using negative stereotypes associated with gender, ethnicity, race, caste, sexuality, age or nationality to manipulate someone.

Denial: Pretending to forget the occurrence of events, denying one’s own actions and words, or accusing the other person of lying.

Withholding: Refusing to engage in a conversation and pretending not to understand the other person to avoid responding.

Diverting: Changing the focus of a conversation and questioning someone’s credibility by saying, for instance, “that is just a crazy idea that your friends put in your head”.

What is GaslightingTrivializing: Belittling or disregarding someone’s feelings by accusing them of overreacting or being too sensitive even if the other person has valid concerns.

Types of Gaslighting
Intimate or Romantic Relationships: An abusive partner may try to undermine your confidence and gain more control over your life by accusing you of being irrational or crazy and trying to isolate you.
Institutional:  This gaslighting occurs
at an organization or company when the authority figures hide information or lie to employees about their roles and rights. They may also try to portray whistleblowers negatively by referring to them as mentally ill or incompetent.
Parent-Child Relationships:
Physically or emotionally abusive parents may try to gaslight their children to shame and control them by disregarding their feelings and manipulating their memories.

This form of gaslighting occurs when a political party or figure uses misinformation and lies to control the public for their benefit.

Medical Gaslighting takes place when a doctor or other medical professional trivializes a patient’s health concerns, assuming they are mentally ill. They may use words like “Your symptoms are in your head”.

Applying gaslighting techniques based on ethnicity or race refers to racial gaslighting. Despite the available evidence stating otherwise, someone may deny discrimination against a specific group.
Signs of Gaslighting
A victim of gaslighting may:
• Become isolated or withdrawn.
• Become indecisive regarding the simplest things.
• Frequently feel confused and doubt themselves.
• Often question themselves if they are being overly sensitive.
• Defend the abuser’s behaviour and constantly apologize to them.
• Lie to family and friends in order to justify the abuser’s actions.
• Feel incompetent or worthless.
• Feel a sense of hopelessness.

Why do people do it?
One of the primary reasons behind gaslighting is a certain someone trying to gain control over you, directly or indirectly. Some abusive people have personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder. Others usually have self-centred or narcissistic traits. In both cases, the abusers feel a sense of entitlement that the world owes something to them or their opinions and feelings are of the utmost importance. These personality traits ultimately lead to a lack of empathy and a strong desire to constantly have the upper hand. Responding Appropriately Is Important If you think you are experiencing gaslighting, it is time to take appropriate actions to protect yourself and keep your mental health intact. A few practical ways to do so include:

Keeping Evidence:

Since gaslighting often makes you question your sanity, keeping track of pieces of evidence can help you with a reality check. Write a journal with all the details of what happened, including the date and time. You may also click pictures, save chat conversations or record voice memos. Collecting evidence will also prove exceedingly valuable if you decide to confront the abuser or take legal action against them.
Getting an outside perspective:

Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help you get an unbiased view of the situation, thus making things more transparent. It will also be an excellent way to add additional external information to your track of evidence.

If you have been surrounded by a toxic atmosphere for a long duration, it is not easy to process your underlying thoughts and emotions. Therapy can provide an efficient means of catharsis for you to let out all your feelings in a safe atmosphere and gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances whilst discovering productive ways to deal with them.
Gaining distance:

Taking a step back from the intense emotions provoked by gaslighting can be advantageous as you physically leave the situation to participate in relaxing and therapeutic activities such as meditation, grounding exercises or indulging in a self-care day.
Setting Boundaries:
This course of action will let you clarify to the other person how you won’t tolerate them trivializing or undermining you. Boundaries allow you to inculcate healthy limitations in a relationship and put forward your emotional needs. Cut off with your abuser: This is probably the most challenging step to follow but also the most constructive one. Ending your relationship with the abuser or cutting off with them as much as possible can help you leave all the toxicity behind and start afresh.
You got this!
When someone you love makes you question your entire existence, the world can feel like a dark place. Nonetheless, you must never forget that this individual is just an obstacle in what is otherwise an incredible and beautiful journey. You are worthy of all the love and appreciation in this world, so realize your value and do not let someone else dictates who you are supposed to be.

(by Simmerdeep Kaur)

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