In the last few years, our society has been introduced to new terms for some age-old deviant behaviors.
They have cool names like ghosting and stealthing but the motives behind these actions are anything but cool. Thanks to Kashmira Gander and her article in Independent, we now have a heads up on the latest one; Gaslighting.
Gaslighting is “a form of emotional abuse where one person gradually manipulates another in order to gain control”. Don’t think your party to this abusive behavior? Well, let’s just see about that.
So, let’s further explain what’s going on here. According to the article gaslighting “can involve the abuser pretending to misunderstand their victim, or questioning how they remember events.” This leads the victim feeling confused and vulnerable.
But, how does someone get away with this you might ask? The same way they got so close to you in the first place. Sweet talking.
By using a carefully planned out mixture of charm and rage the abuser is able to keep the victim in a state of disbelief. The abuser is both good cop AND a bad cop. Think of it like a terrorist, hostage situation.
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, describes the relationship as being similar to “mental torment used so successfully by torturers and terrorists who know that they can keep their prisoners compliant by frightening them and disorientating them with rapidly changing moods and situations.” Before you know it you’re second-guessing yourself leaving you in a position to be easily controlled.
Going by the examples given in the article, this type of manipulation seems to be mainly used against women. I guess that makes sense since part of the strategy is for the abuser to use the perception that women are emotional and sensitive to their advantage.
Either way, if you are a man or woman and feel like this may be happening to you, you now have a model to compare against. And what’s even better you have a term to use for it.
I think that the use of slang has been more beneficial to our society than most would choose to believe. By giving names to situations and behaviors it makes it a lot easier for people to talk to others about sensitive subjects.
I’m sure there are many people being affected by the manipulative behavior mentioned here today, but they are either not sure of it (confused as mentioned above) or they’re afraid to talk to someone about it with others.
The results of this type of mental and physical abuse can result in dangerous conditions such as depression and suicidal thoughts. At least talking about it just got a little bit easier.
If you think the things mentioned here today could be affecting you or someone you know, just ask someone you trust if they’ve ever heard of ‘gaslighting’. The rest should hopefully work itself out.