Is Someone Gaslighting You?

Posted on February 8th, 2012 by Maggie Castrey

Is Someone Gaslighting You?Have you ever come away from a personal encounter feeling, “What just happened? Am I so out of touch? Maybe I AM losing it!”

If someone is trying to get you to doubt the validity of your own experience — the information you receive from your own senses — then chances are you’re being gaslighted. A recent blog post notes the term describes a kind of emotional manipulation showcase in a 1944 movie. In “Gaslight” Charles Boyer caused Ingrid Bergman to doubt her sanity by adjusting the gaslights  so they flickered. When she would comment on the flickering, he would deny seeing it and instead express concern for her mental health.

Poor Ingrid! It’s actually a favorite way in which men make women crazy. No matter what you say or do, he dismisses who you are and what you say in favor of his own ideas, needs and control. He’ll say, “You know you’re wrong. You’re unhappy and not thinking straight. I know what’s best for you, it’s …A, ….B, …..C.”

No matter what you say or do, he acts like you’re crazy. The subtle or not-so-subtle message ends up being, “Keep your mouth shut. Don’t be seen. Don’t be heard.”

Symptoms of Being Gaslighted:

  • Distrusting their gut instincts
  • Ignoring their feelings
  • Doubting their view of the world
  • Asking, “What’s wrong with me?”
  • Doubting their intelligence
  • Dismissing their value as human beings
  • Afraid to think for themselves
  • Feeling like emotional wrecks
  • Questioning their judgment

From the beginning of time women have been told to be quiet. When they dare speak up, they’re told they’re wrong and crazy. If someone makes you feel you can’t solve your own problems, that you’re not capable of being on your own, and that you instead need continual feedback and direction from HIM, you’re being gaslighted.

How Do You Stop Gaslighting?

 Don’t put up with it! Women need to empower themselves to be seen, to be heard.Push back, don’t accept this manipulation. Instead, spend time with people who see you as creative, resourceful and whole. THAT’s the kind of people and behaviors you want to associate with

I have a good conversation coming up with Lois Phillips, who has written the book, Women Seen and Heard: Lessons Learned from Successful Speakers.

Read the entire blog post to see how pervasive this behavior is in our culture to learn why it’s often unintentional. You will recognize yourself and your friends in the examples!

 ~ Dr. Nancy

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