Those who would try to control us will stop at nothing when it comes to their cruel power grabs. One of their favorite techniques is gaslighting. You may be a victim, so learn and survive.
You’ve never known someone with this kind of sick nerve, so you figure they must be telling the truth.
In the film, Paula Alquist Anton (Ingrid Bergman) and Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) are married. What she doesn’t know is her husband is actually Sergis Bauer, who killed her aunt in a jewelry robbery attempt when she was 14.
Seems hubby left the jewels behind because Paula interrupted the proceedings.
Well, Gregory aims to finish the job, so he forces residence in the old homestead. He insists that auntie’s furnishings be stored in the attic.
The gaslighting begins
Gregory’s mission is to have Paula declared insane so he can have her institutionalized and claim power of attorney. He’ll then be able to freely search for the jewels.
So Gregory’s psychological torture of Paula begins. And his tactics include isolation, accusations of poor judgement and paranoia, and inexplicable footsteps throughout the house.
Gregory is responsible for all of it, but pounds home the point that it’s all in Paula’s imagination.
The term is born
Gaslights throughout the house begin to dim and brighten, which is supposedly all in Paula’s head.
In fact, it’s Gregory turning on the attic lights as he searches for the jewels.
With the aid of a Scotland Yard inspector, Gregory’s power grabbing plot is uncovered. And the best part is, Paula regains confidence in her sanity and slams Gregory with a choice taunt as he’s tied to a chair – before being taken away.
So, then, “gaslighting.”
Dr. Stephanie Sarkis on gaslighting
Dr. Stephanie Sarkis is an expert on gaslighting. In fact, she’s written a book entitled Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free. I’ll slip you a link to get to her at the end.
Here’s Dr. Sarkis’ definition of gaslighting: A tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.
She goes on to say anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it’s a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.
Cruelly, it’s done slowly so the victim has no idea just how much they’ve been brainwashed.
The gaslighter often presents one face to their prey and another to everyone else. It leads victims to assume their tale of manipulation won’t be believed, were they to ask for help.
Let there be no doubt, victims are targeted at their very core – their sense of identity and self-worth. So it’s no wonder that gaslighting can cause one to doubt their memory, perception, and even their sanity.
11 common gaslighting techniques
From her book, Dr. Sarkis shares 11 common gaslighting techniques…
- Telling blatant lies: With a straight face they’re setting up a precedent to keep you unsteady and off-kilter.
- Denying they ever said something, even though you have proof: It’s the beginning of questioning your own reality – and accepting theirs.
- Using what’s near and dear to you as ammunition: Usually the first things attacked are your children and identity – the foundation of your being.
- Wearing you down over time: A lie here, a lie there. Then a snide remark or two. And it all starts to take its toll.
- Actions do not match their words: Look at what they’re doing, rather than what they’re saying. What they’re saying means nothing.
- Throwing in positive reinforcement to confuse you: After cutting you down, they’ll toss in some praise every now and then. It’s calculated to keep you unsteady.
- Knowing confusion weakens people: Knowing stability and normalcy are important, they uproot it to keep you constantly questioning.
- Projecting: They accuse you of all that they are. It’s to make you defend yourself so you’re distracted from their behavior.
- Trying to align people against you: They’re master manipulators, finding people they know will stand by them no matter what. They’ll quote these people saying bad things about you. It’s an effort to isolate you from everyone.
- Telling you or others you’re crazy: One of the most effective tools because it’s dismissive. If they question your sanity, they know others won’t believe you when you present the truth about them.
- Telling you everyone else is a liar: It’s all about having you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with this kind of sick nerve, so you figure they must be telling the truth. It’s manipulation, making you turn to them for “truth.”
Cruel power grabs, all.
Learn, be aware, and survive
I really hope you’re not having to deal with this madness. If you are, perhaps you’re onto it and working on your freedom. This piece, then, can serve as a booster.
But maybe you had no idea what was going on, and now you’re able to connect the dots – and begin the process of breaking free.
Gaslighting: one cruel power grab. Learn, be aware, and survive.
It’ll be well worth your time to check out the work of Dr. Stephanie Sarkis. Start at Psychology Today.
And you know what? Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration articles await. Be sure to hit those titles.