Gaslighting Makes Me Angry
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a woman, a person of color, a mom & a pediatrician (who cares for children), an empathetic introvert (who respects the feelings of others), or just a decent person—but the act of gaslighting makes me want to go “full cowling!”
Not sure what “full cowling” is? I didn’t know either until my teens (with COVID-19 quarantine time on our hands), introduced me to an Anime show, called My Hero Academia.
The image in the graphic above is Isuku Midoriya, (also known as, Deku), and full cowling means fighting using your full power at maximum intensity.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions. And according to psychologists, it’s always a problem.
Gaslighting can occur in personal relationships (an abusive spouse or significant other), in professional relationships (a manipulative boss or coworker) and by public figures.
A fact sheet for the National Domestic Violence Hot Line details the techniques a gaslighter might use to manipulate someone else:
Withholding (meaning he or she refuses to listen or says they don’t understand)
Countering (when the abuser questions the gaslightee’s memory of an event)
Blocking/diverting (when the abuser changes the subject or questions the victim’s thinking)
Trivializing (making the victim’s needs or feelings seem unimportant)
Forgetting/denial (when the manipulator pretends to have forgotten what actually happened or denies something he or she had previously agreed to)
Identifying Gaslighting is Half the Battle
Recognizing gaslighting and identifying it as a problem is half the battle.
In Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.’s article, 7 Ways to Extinguish Gaslighting, she points out that “gaslighting is not about love or concern. It’s about power and control. A gaslighter is someone who needs to feel superior and who manipulates people to further their own agendas.”
Once you recognize the pattern of undermining behavior involved in gaslighting, you can see it for what is—irritating, infuriating, destructive, and not about you.
Developing a support system to combat the effects of gaslighting can help, by confirming your reality and worth. Removing yourself from a situation, by leaving an unhealthy relationship or job—or turning off the television, can help as well!
Being subjected to this type of manipulation can be traumatic, so speaking with someone you trust or even seeking therapy may be essential to overcoming its harmful effects.
Take care and stay safe!