A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about Gaslighting. You can read it here. It referred to being caught in a relationship and being able to identify the abusive language, behavior, and patterns.
I received many notes of thanks for that article as readers identified with the abuse and situations.
A couple of questions were asked by readers and I’ve done my best to answer.
1…Q: Is it only guys who gaslight someone one?
Absolutely not! Anyone can be a gas-lighter. Basically if a person can talk they can use the manipulation tactics of gaslighting. It’s not a guy thing…
2…Q: What does a person do if they realize they are gaslighting someone?
So let’s look at that now.
So the definition of gaslighting as per Wikipedia is:
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes, including low self-esteem”Wikipedia
Does this sound like you? Anyone, you know? Does it sound like you? Be honest with yourself as you ask that question.
The question comes down to whether or not an individual can identify themselves by this definition and then actually want to do something about it.
If someone realizes what they’re doing and is willing to acknowledge the problem and make the changes then that’s a very positive thing. Perhaps the behavior of gaslighting was learned as a coping mechanism but you also need to keep in mind that it can also be a symptom of a larger problem.
When I read the definition of gaslighting it makes me think of politicians, door-to-door salesmen, and leaders of Ponzi schemes. All, to me, can be a bit slimy, manipulative, selfish, and protective of only their best interests.
The behavior of gaslighting shows an insecure narcissistic type of personality in a person who generally cares only about themselves. To change or alter their behavior, they’re going to have to want to change and that’s the most difficult thing to ascertain.
According to Healthline.com
…it can be very difficult for someone with such a personality type to change but it’s not impossible.
Someone would have to recognize that primarily seeing others as resources, rather than people with their own interests, is causing them to suffer, and be interested enough in their thoughts and feelings to find out how and why they approach others in that way,” says Jason Wheeler, PhD, a New York psychologist.source healthine.com
If your partner has been gaslighting or abusive during a relationship then separateness in space for safety reasons is required, but that doesn’t mean giving up on someone completely.
Just because someone does bad things doesn’t mean we give up our compassion. It means we must protect ourselves and step back to be safe, regroup, and see things clearly.
As is pointed out a person needs to be able to do four things.
- acknowledge his/her behavior. You can’t change something you don’t acknowledge.
- be interested in changing. If there’s no desire to change, it won’t happen.
- be able to reflect on their own behavior and the impact it made.
- acknowledge or divulge any other mental issues or addictions. Sometimes mental disorders piggyback each other.
This is like heavy-duty stuff. Phew!
Research over the years has illustrated that individuals who abuse their partner in a relationship have often been vulnerable and abused themselves.
There are so many things that go along with the behavior that neither you nor I could figure out. That’s why we leave that to the professionals, right? Know right now that the person to do the fixing is not you. When you’re dealing with this type of personality you don’t stand a chance. You need to be on the sidelines as a supporter or a spectator–you’re not the doctor.
Abusers, including gaslighters, need therapy. If they can truly embrace the four points above and commit to change then there may be a chance. Nothing is written in stone.
No matter what, you must remember that people don’t change overnight and you’re not the one in control. Step back and away and let the process unfold.
Here is a link to an article in Psychology Today. The title is 10 Stages in the Treatment of Narcissistic Disorders. Take a look and learn what is required for treatment.
If you chose to stand by your partner’s side during therapy that’s up to you, but remember to always listen to your gut, and don’t be afraid to ask for help even if your partner says nothing is wrong.
Gaslighting is just one behavior of a narcissist but they seem to often go hand in hand. Other things that you have no clue about could be happening in the background. Don’t put yourself, your children, family, or friends in jeopardy. Remember, cheerleaders on the side of the field for a reason.
So, I hope that answered the question for the reader. If you have any questions that you want Auntie to answer just go to the contact page and shot me off an email. I’d love to hear from you.