How many of you have watched the 1944 American psychological thriller film, Gaslight? If you ever watch the movie, you will see how a husband tries to make his wife lose her sanity. It’s not that the husband was a psycho but he wanted to keep his wife oblivious to his criminal activities. For this, he manipulated her wife so much so that she started doubting her sanity. He even made her believe she was a kleptomaniac, though she wasn’t. In simpler terms, he was basically gaslighting her.
Now you may wonder what is this new term and why is it called so? So, I am going to tell you about it. But first, let me tell you why is it called so. In the movie, the wife often saw a gaslight burning in the attic. When she confronted her husband, he manipulated her by denying having any gaslight in the attic. He often said that she is making things in her mind. Perhaps, that’s why the movie was named Gaslight and so does this emotional abuse.
What Is Gaslighting?
Now when I say gaslighting, it doesn’t mean lighting the traditional lights some of us had in our homes. It is a kind of emotional abuse in which a person manipulates the thoughts of his/her partner. Due to this, the victim starts questioning his/her thoughts, memories and doubting things happening around him/her. You may get gaslighted by people around you but when someone close to you does so, it could harm you to a greater extent.
For example, a wife complains of losing her watch while she clearly remembers to have kept it safely in her bag. When she confronts her husband, he deliberately makes her believe that she sold it a few days back. Now the wife claims that she did not do so but her husband tries his best to make her believe otherwise. So, this could be an initial stage of gaslighting. Further, he may hide her bag and tell her, “Seriously, you can’t find your bag, again? Oh God, that’s alarming.” Or, he may say, “The entire neighborhood is talking about your sanity. Even the family members think, “You are losing it.”
Gaslighting isn’t a thing that happens in a day. The abuser gaslights the victim for days, weeks, and even months! He/she does so to feed on the confidence and self-esteem of the victim. The gaslighting goes on till the person reaches a point, where he/she no longer believes anyone, including himself/herself. The victim then places his/her entire belief in the abuser. You will be shocked to see that the victim will trust each and every word of the abuser, even if the latter is wrong.
It usually happens in an abusive relationship. But it can also take place between a boss or employee, friends, parents and relatives. Whether or not the abuser intends to, gaslighting is one of the nastiest forms of manipulation. The gaslighter is an expert in triggering your vulnerabilities and misusing them for his/her evil motives.
The victim is pushed so far that he/she begins to lose sanity and cuts all ties from the external world. He/she may choose to stay isolated and do things that can’t be done in a healthy state of mind. Not only this, but the victim may also consider himself/herself responsible for everything that goes wrong. No matter how hard you try to persuade the victim, he/she will never be the same person.
Many of us would have been gaslighted in our lives, would have learned ways to shut it down and move away from the abuser. But when gaslighting goes undetected, the results can be scary and devastating. A healthy and loving person can turn into a mentally unstable person.
So, it becomes highly essential to identify some tell-tale signs of gaslighting and save yourself or an innocent from it. If you are wondering what could be the signs that you need to identify, then here are some of them:
Signs Of Gaslighting
- You no longer feel like being the person you used to be.
- The abuser always makes you believe what he/she is saying is the only truth.
- Even though you know you didn’t do anything wrong, he/she makes you believe you are at fault.
- Your instinct always reminds you that something is wrong. But you aren’t able to identify what’s wrong.
- Your confidence level starts reducing and you always doubt yourself even at the things you were once good at.
- It is you who always apologizes, no matter whose fault it is.
- Slowly and gradually, you feel isolated from your friends and family members.
- You feel hopeless and dull in doing things that you used to enjoy doing.
- The abuser asks you to avoid sharing feelings and thoughts with your close friends and family members.
Though there are many signs of gaslighting, these were some of the most prominent ones. In today’s time, when dating scenes have gone casual, it is very important to identify these and save yourself. Something which feeds on your peace of mind, contentment, and self-esteem needs to be chucked out of your life, once and for all. Moreover, a good relationship is one that makes you feel happy and lively. So, if your relationship is something that has distanced you from your loved ones, happiness, and mental peace, then something is wrong.
Also read: I Thought Of Being A Good Wife
Prerna loves to write and shower love on animals. She enjoys reading and exploring places. Though sweet in her pictures, at times, she is difficult to understand. Being a strong believer in hard work and karma, she loves solitude and peace. Apart from this, she loves petrichor and harmony and wishes to achieve her one and only ataraxia for a lifetime.