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  • Writer's pictureVicki Viall

Gaslighting: Ever Been There?

Gaslighting is something that, once experienced, one will avoid it at all costs! It's just that frightening and scary.

For those not familiar with it: gaslighting is the attempt to make (someone) believe that he or she is going insane (as by subjecting that person to a series of experiences that have no rational explanation). (Note 1)

If you grew up watching movies with Grandma, you may have learned about gaslighting as I did when watching the classic movie "Gaslight." Scared the crap out of me!

That movie was from George Cukor - and though you may never have heard his name, his influence on movies lasted long after his death! Look for it on AMC or TCM. But, don't watch it alone.

Just how good was that movie? "Gaslight was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, winning two for Best Actress for Ingrid Bergman and Best Production Design." (Note 2)

The person doing the gaslighting will try to make the victim question themselves. Every thing about themselves. Including their sanity. And, keep in mind, they are VERY good at what they do!

Having grown up in a house with two world class narcissists, I can vouch for many of the tactics they use.

One of the weaker examples I have from personal experience - and yes, it's that stupid sometimes - was when showing a "friend" a picture of a stand-up board surfer.

The response, which was immediate, was "Vicki, that isn't right. There's no such thing. Stop making it up!"

Showing the photo again, the response again was immediate with, "I don't know how you faked that, but it's not true."

Okay, being a narcissist doesn't mean one possesses a genius IQ. Though, without exception, they all believe they do. See above...

"Using denial, misdirection, contradiction and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's beliefs." (Note 1)

The best advice that anyone can give you if you feel you have gotten mixed up with a gaslighter? Run. Run fast. Don't stop. And, don't turn around. Keep going. I guarantee they aren't going to change their behavior. I don't believe they can.

"Sociopaths and narcissists frequently use gaslighting tactics to abuse and undermine their victims. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws and exploit others, but typically also are convincing liars, sometimes charming ones, who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their own perceptions." (Note 1)

What brought all this up? A post in Facebook, of course. Even though I hate to admit it, Facebook, at least on occasion does have its moments.

Bring up this topic to someone, anyone who has never experienced this, and they won't believe it either. Here's another example from personal experience:

While any of the personalities lifted above can come across as truly caring, aboveboard, intelligent, pretty much seem normal, they are not.

They are dangerous. Perhaps even deadly.

Take someone who "volunteered" regularly. Let me define volunteer for you. It won't be what you think it means.

To that particular narcissist, it meant make sure your face and name are up front, but make sure you are always far from actually doing anything.

Unless, it involves adopting animals. And then, it needs to be a special needs dog so you actually get paid (to a point) for taking care of said dog.

Let's say this doggie has "special issues" and should never have been adopted, especially by a nutcase.

When the agency tried to get the doggie back or relocated, the gaslighting began.

The person in charge was trashed. The organization was lied about. And, finally, that individual tried everything to drag my butt into the middle of it and validate all their efforts.


No way.

Forget it.

Did a log of damage to a wonderful organization. All lies. All fabricated stories. All blame shifted from the nutcase to the organization.

That same person then got it in her head to enlist me in helping to gaslight her mother over her husband. Not, the nutcase's father, by the way.

That thread was already frayed, but at that point, I cut it and got away. Fast. Far. and Forever.

I am going to share the signs listed in Wikipedia. Make note of them and keep them:

"As described by Patricia Evans, seven "warning signs" of gaslighting are the observed abuser's:

  1. Withholding information from the victim;

  2. Countering information to fit the abuser's perspective;

  3. Discounting information;

  4. Using verbal abuse, usually in the form of jokes;

  5. Blocking and diverting the victim's attention from outside sources;

  6. Trivializing ("minimising") the victim's worth; and,

  7. Undermining the victim by gradually weakening them and their thought processes." (Note 1)

It is real. It is far more dangerous than you can even imagine. It is the time in your life you need to walk far and fast and never turn back.

Here are some resources. Again, mark them, keep them and do not ever hesitate to use them!

Again, and please take this seriously, they are not and will not change. They are mentally ill, but will do their best (and they are very good at this) to convince the world that you are crazy.

Don't engage in a "they said, I said" thing. Those who care about you will let time take care of things.

If others turn their backs and walk away, let them.

Distance and time may bring you back together.

Do NOT for a moment ever give a narcissistic gaslighter another chance.

Let me say that again and PLEASE hear me: Do. Not. Give. A. Narcissitic Gaslighter. A. Second. Chance. EVER!!

You are worth much and far too precious to let someone who is mentally ill treat you that way. You deserve far better. And, only YOU can make sure that happens.

This is one area I will always be available if anyone needs to talk, needs help, needs guidance, or just needs some place to run to, or a place to hide.

Believe me, a hiding place is not a joke. When, if, it comes to that point, you need to have some place to go.

I care. I will be here. Don't hesitate to reach out. If I can't help, we WILL find someone who can and who will.

That I guarantee!

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