Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gaslighting....


It is in every psychological thriller. Take someone sane. And then. Through a series of related and unrelated events. Make them believe that they are crazy. Make them believe that they are so crazy that the only person who can help shed any light on what is happening is the one person that made them "crazy" in the first place.

This, in fact, has a term. It is called gaslighting. I'd never heard of it before now. I never needed to know it's definition. But as I sift through what I saw my former boss (who we will just call BossLady) do to all of the women who came to her for help, I am now aware that this is what was happening.

The official definition:

Gaslighting is an extreme form of emotional, psychological, abuse, and as such, gradually erodes the victim’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem (or, in the case of BossLady--prays upon those with already destroyed self-esteems), with the outcome being; self-confidence destroyed. Alas, the victim adopts a confused, disorientated stance and thus renders herself exposed, moreso, to criticism and judgment. Henceforth, the roles are quite clear: the victim is considered “crazy” (mentally deranged) whilst the abuser is the “suffering soul.”

Then, if you're BossLady. Make claims that you are the only one who can heal them. And take their money. And then send them home unhealed and worse than before.


The NUMBER 1 tool of an emotional manipulator is to get others to trust YOU and not their "gut" (or intuition, or feelings, or reactions).

You have instincts. They are real. If your gut tells you that there is something off with one person in your life, but they allow you to feel normal and safe with the rest of your world. Think about it. Victims shouldn't exist. And they won't if we don't allow it.

4 comments:

Holly said...

The NUMBER 1 tool of an emotional manipulator is to get others to trust YOU and not their "gut" (or intuition, or feelings, or reactions).

YES. A man and a church both did this to me. That's why I don't ever want to see the first again, and why I feel that the latter is not good or even benign, despite all the defenses of it that others engage in.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I never actually knew there was a word for this before. I once had a therapist that I had some misgivings about. We talked about the issue, and I said, "I feel like you want me to trust you more than I trust myself." She said, "Well, yes, you'd have to in order to make any progress." I'm embarrassed to say it was still some time before I could convince myself that this was bs, but I did leave the therapy. Fortunately, she didn't tear me down emotionally. But she did have me thinking for some time that perhaps she was right and I really shouldn't trust myself. That's not a mistake I'll make again. Thank you for posting this.

Newt said...

Wow... this is so intense. I'm sorry you had to go through something like that. I may have been in similar situations (though probably not as intense), and I'm learning to just say to myself 'I want _____' or '_____ doesn't feel right to me'.

You have instincts. They are real. If your gut tells you that there is something off with one person in your life, but they allow you to feel normal and safe with the rest of your world. Think about it.

Great great, GREAT advice. I love your posts. :)

JMH said...

I go through my life pretty much believing that people are decent and kind, and those who are not are not because of some kind of suffering or neglect.

The challenge, I suppose, and one not to be resolved in a blog comment, is to reconcile cruel exploitative behavior in the seeming absence of need, although were I to guess, your BossLady has some sort of deep psychological wound. And with power and money and unwillingness to treat it, that's dangerous.