Gaslighting might be something you may have heard about as a buzzword floating around the internet, but do you know that it is not just done by toxic narcissists but also by most of us, especially when we're unaware of what we're doing?
Gaslighting, as a term, was first introduced to the world because of the movie 'Gaslight' in 1936. This is a story of a woman slowly driven to insanity by her husband, who is after her wealth. The term became so synonymous with the tactics used by manipulators that it was adapted as an official term in modern psychology.
Gaslighting is used mainly by people on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder spectrum, including Histrionics, Narcissists, and Sociopaths, as a way of deluding the boundaries of their victims and driving them to question their sanity and reality and become entirely dependent on their abuser. Narcissists do this as a way of asserting their control over the victim; the more the control, the better, and all of this is often disguised as love or affection from the abuser.
Implications of gaslighting last far longer than people expect; in fact, it keeps manifesting itself years after as PTSD even if the victim hasn't had any contact with the abuser. It leaves them hollow, trustless, and in an abyss of self-doubt and questioning reality.
But unfortunately, gaslighting is not just limited to personal relationships, and here are the types of gaslighting you might be facing right now. Recognizing it is the first step to calling it out and stopping it in its tracks. So read carefully.
Gaslighting in Relationships
Narcissists do not just do gaslighting in intimate relationships; it can even happen amongst friends or misguided family members. This is very adamant in shame, and fear-based societies like India, where families are very enmeshed and singular freedom is often minimal for people. In a family or relationship like this, you might hear words like 'You don't care about family/friends, do you?' if you contradict even a single thing they disagree with. You might feel pressured to act a certain way in front of people you have no intention of talking to just because they are family. You may feel targeted, attacked, and ridiculed during gatherings, and your emotions and opinions will either be laughed off or met with hostility.
Gaslighting at Work
Imagine working for a charming boss everyone likes, yet they give you the vibes of a devil in disguise. Trust your instincts and always run in the opposite direction when you meet a person like that in power. Because not only do these people have the authority but also the high intolerance and rage that comes to Narcissists and Sociopaths who are also high functioning. Work becomes their perfect playground because, for everyone else, it's a place to learn and earn money, but to them, it is a battleground. They will praise and work with you if you agree with their intelligence and plans, but you'll activate their serpent the second you disagree. And they will strike whenever they get the chance and never let it go. They might turn people against you by spreading rumors and shit talking about you while portraying themselves as the victims. They will often mask cruelty with humor and make you doubt your work even if you've been nothing but perfect.
Gaslighting in Society
Gaslighting is also surging in society due to fake news and extremist movements in media and social media. There is a lot of chaos in our governance and societal systems today, and that is the perfect ground for abusers and malignant personalities to gain by watching the world burn. It's tough to stay moderate at a time like this when even the news you read or the posts and advertisements targeted to you are being used to push you towards one side or the other due to this reason. Science literacy and understanding are at their lowest. At the same time, emotions are used to irk people from different backgrounds to fuel in-fighting between people while the oligarchs on the top deny their crimes against humanity, nature, and our future.
Separating yourself from these situations and people may be extremely hard because all of this has been embedded in you since the start. In fact, these toxic traits have been passed down from generation to generation in the name of tradition. But realize that boundaries are not just important but essential for healthy relationships. However, the only way to stop gaslighting is to walk out of the situation and completely shut down the abuser. This might be especially hard when the abusers are your family, but abusers seldom change their ways, and you can't spend your entire life fighting someone who doesn't want to change their practices. So, walking away or ignoring the gaslighters is the only way to never give them any power in the first place.