Recovery Nation

Personal Development Forum
It is currently Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:26 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Gaslighting questions
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:59 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:59 pm
Posts: 76
Location: East coast
Okay, so I have been here on RN for over a year now, and I've seen the term gaslighting many times. I think I have an idea of what this term refers to. However, I am not 100% certain. How is gaslighting defined or recognized, and does anyone have some examples they are willing to share? Also, what are healthy ways to counter-act instances of gaslighting?

I am fairly certain that I was subjected to this phenomenon again this morning. It seems to be impossible to rationally discuss any issue when this is occurring. When we were still together, I would try to walk away and he continued to follow me around trying to force me to listen to him. I would have to leave the house to get it to stop. Now, at least I hang up on him. Are there any other ways to shut down this behavior?

Thank you and have a nice day
Aphi83


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:48 am 
Offline
Partner's Coach

Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:49 pm
Posts: 675
It's difficult to give an example of a specific gaslighting question because it's the context of the question that determines if it is gaslighting or not. For example, "Are you sure?" can be a perfectly legitimate question for one person to ask another. But if one spouse knows the other spouse is accurate in their statement, but doesn't want them to believe that they are, persistently asking, "Are you sure?" could be gaslighting. Gaslighting is intentionally undermining a person's belief in their own reality to make the person easier to manipulate. It's part of why gaslighting can come up so much in a partner's healing process. As the partner heals and becomes more difficult to manipulate, the addict (for lack of a better term) begins to lose control. In order to regain that control, the addict must find some way to make the partner easier to manipulate. Because healthy people naturally take the perspectives of the people around them into consideration, gaslighting can be very effective in making the partner question if what they believe is actually accurate.
How to shut it down. There isn't a way to control the gaslighting. Our recovering (or not recovering) partners are going to do what they choose to do. The most effective way to cope with it is the not buy it. For me, that meant that if my husband's opinion about something did not immediately resonate as true to me, I discarded it as untrue. There were a few areas of life where I didn't do that - like when it came to decisions regarding our children. Regardless of how he behaved I still felt he had a right to a voice regarding our children. But when it came to his opinion of me, his opinions of my thoughts or beliefs, or his perception of our relationship, I relied entirely on my own judgement. It was very frustrating for him at times, but it was the natural consequence of his attempt to manipulate me in the past.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:26 pm 
Offline
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:20 pm
Posts: 1422
my dears,
Quote:
. Gaslighting is intentionally undermining a person's belief in their own reality to make the person easier to manipulate.

yes, yes, yes! what a great description, mrs. jones.

i would add that sometimes the addict has convinced himself that what he is saying IS reality, but probably it's more often intentional.

an example from my own life is when my partner accused me of only wanting to have sex with him if porn was involved. i had ONCE surprised him with a porn movie. that's actually a 3 in one statement. it was also an example of blameshifting and projection. he wanted to take the attention off himself by blaming me for his porn addiction of 30 or more years. he was projecting his own thoughts/behaviors onto me and trying to get me to question my own actions/realities. because i was new to this world i didn't recognize what was going on and i DID question myself. i finally came to the conclusion that this was bs on his part. he, on the other hand repeated this accusation so often that i think he actually convinced himself that it was reality. An addict's reality is NOT the same as a healthy person's reality.

i think mrs. jones' suggestion of not buying into it is probably the best way to cope. protect your own sanity. odds are we are not going to change an addict's mind when they are still in the gaslighting stage, but we can protect our own mind.

i am holding you in my heart.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:59 pm
Posts: 76
Location: East coast
Mrs Jones and Deservesmore (I love your name!!),

Thank you so much for your replies. I am glad I asked because although I was on the right track, my assumptions of what gaslighting is were a little off kilter..

Quote:
Quote:
. Gaslighting is intentionally undermining a person's belief in their own reality to make the person easier to manipulate.

yes, yes, yes! what a great description, mrs. jones.

i would add that sometimes the addict has convinced himself that what he is saying IS reality, but probably it's more often intentional.


I have to agree that the definition hit a real cord in me...instant recognition! Hmmm... So the incident this morning was not specifically gaslighting, BUT I did recognize the way the conversation was heading along with the change in tone of voice which usually preceded intense occurances of gaslighting in the past so I was able to shut it down and protect myself before he really got going. :g: Three cheers for RN, the network of support here, and all I have learned!

Have a nice evening!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:19 pm 
Offline
Partner's Coach

Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:49 pm
Posts: 675
I realized that I just read a segment of my healing thread, where I talk about my struggle with my husband's crazy-making, gaslighting, and just generally poor communication during conflict. I remember being in the middle of these arguments and feeling like I was constantly being spun around, that I would start to feel like I was starting to make sense of everything that was happening and all of a sudden he would change everything again. I remember at one point sitting down to try to explain what our argument had been about in a thread, and I realized I couldn't even describe what his arguments were. None of them made any sense. It felt like I had been talking to a schizophrenic... where all of the words individually have meaning but the way they put them together made no sense at all. Anyway, at the very end I talk about what my plan was going forward to cope with his behavior. I did exactly what I list there, and it really did help me regain my balance.



Quote:
I feel like my husband is constantly trying to manage my perceptions and emotions. One of the biggest ways that I feel that I am not respected at this point, is that he constantly changes the game. If we're talking about one thing, and he doesn't like how that's going, he'll change directions and not tell me he's talking about something different. If I ask for clarification he gives vague answers. He redefines things and leaves me spinning. He attempts to take away the tools that I have to gague his progress and insists that I rely on his explination of things when he has not been reliable. We will have one conversation where he will admit that he is not trustworthy, but in our next conversation he will want me to prove that I am reasonable for not trusting him. He will accuse me of not being fair to him and uses the fact that he feels that things are unfair as proof that they are, in fact, unfair.
I am constantly second guessing myself and forced to defend the decisions that I have made for myself. When I try to make decisions for myself, he acts as though I have no right to make those decisions. Even when making this list it is hard for me to see how disrespectful he is because he is constantly shifting the blame back to me. When making accusations he uses vague images of things that have happened in the past, and so I am constantly thinking back, trying to figure out if I have something that i need to fix/appologize for. He accuses me of never apologizing but can't tell me what I should apologize for! He's just tired of being sorry so now he wants me to take a turn. He will do something and then accuse me of doing the exact thing that he is doing. (Raises the intensity of an argument and then says that I'm yelling at him.) He will ask me for an example of something he did, but when I tell him, he will accuse me of bringing up old fights. I will tell him that I have a concern about a pattern, he will bring up the one time he did things differently as proof that there is no pattern.
I know that this is a bit of a rant, but it is so hard for me to see these things as a threat to my values at the time, that I felt like I needed to list the specific actions he takes. He so consistantly attempts to change reality that I have considered documenting every argument we have so that I have a record to show that I'm NOT CRAZY! But the idea of a paper trail of our arguments didn't sound very healthy to me.
I think the first step to becoming healthy here is to begin to remove myself from these arguments and to just refuse to participate in them. I can have discussions and I'm willing to listen to how he feels about things, but I'm not going to talk in circles and constantly defend my reality. I will not accept accusations that are disguised as "I feel" statements. Instead of participating in these arguments I will journal. If I'm feeling overwhelmed and like I need to question my own reality, I will post on the boards for support.


I think what I did right here, and why this worked for me was that I wrote out everything that he was doing that was destructive to me in these situations. Then I made a plan of how to remove the power from what he was doing and figured out how to redirect my energy into something else. So if you continue to have trouble, I think that would be my advice. Write out a description of what he is doing and be as specific as you can. That will give you a better view of what he's doing and how it's impacting you. Then you can specifically address what you're going to do in these situations. Regardless, know that you're not the only one who has dealt with this stuff. It's definitely frustrating while you're in it!
Be Well
Mrs. Jones


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:45 am 
Offline
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:49 pm
Posts: 3834
My H nearly drove me crazy with his gas-lighting tactics. He was so very gifted at "engineering" a sense of doubt in myself, and he knew it. I think it was a survival tactic he had honed since childhood as he became more and more passive aggressive. He got me to believe his version of what was happening. I ignored by own gut feelings and indulged his abuse to a point - then there were those occasions when my anger got the best of me which played right into his making me the bad guy. He did it to weasel out of things or to push me around using subtle word games....he was a master. I ignored my inner gut telling me that he was being hostile toward me and I would question myself instead of confronting him. As he got more deeply into his SA activities, his passive aggressive word games became worse although at the time I didn't really understand the nature of passive aggressive behavior. In fact, an acquaintance of mine told me to check it out so I called an old friend/counselor of mine, and she directed me to another counselor. Our marriage was such a cold, non-intimate mess that I knew I had to do something, and I told him that we needed counseling. Reluctantly, he went with me but played the victim through out our sessions. I didn't realize it at the time, but the counselor had him pegged and even thought he had some serious anger issues regarding women in general. A year later D Day sent me into a tail spin and once again, I dragged him to this counselor. During one of our sessions, I asked if my H was passive aggressive, and her response was "oh yes, big time." He was in shock, denial, but at that point he was a wreck so it didn't really sink in to the point that he was willing to learn how to manage his PA patterns.

I suspect that many SAs have passive aggressive traits - that need for control. So what do you do to protect yourself...? Well, keep in mind that without you on the receiving end, his gas lighting goes nowhere. There is a dynamic between the two of you. It's up to you to learn to recognize the patterns, the signals of where the conversation is headed and emotionally distance yourself and confront him or not - just don't play his game. Otherwise, he will use your emotions against you.

Just my take on it - take what you can use. :w:

Nellie James


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:00 am 
Offline
Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
Quote:
I would add that sometimes the addict has convinced himself that what he is saying IS reality, but probably it's more often intentional.
Yes, and to this I would add, sometimes it is the automatic response. For a PWA (person with addiction) who is actively pursuing an intentional and sincere recovery (i.e. not one that is intended as more gas lighting) the automatic behaviour is just one that isn't brought into awareness yet. In this case, and to use Mrs. Jones’ example, I would say that giving the question back to him could be effective, if he recognized it as a signal to check in with himself. But, depending on individual personalities, it could also be taken as a retort. Again, a person who is sincere should at least be willing to consider that you are not merely retorting; at some point, they should take ownership of their behaviour.

Gas-lighting is a form of manipulation meant to control their environment (ultimately, wether this is by “being right” or by convincing you that you are in some way wrong, or in the very least casting a shadow of a doubt such that the outcome is to maintain their environment/the status quo. In large part, many of these manipulations are also forms of self-deception. They believe (either consciously or unconsciously) that if they can convince you, then it is true. And, yes, in the process they will often convince themselves that it is true. It’s their story and they will stick to it. This is probably why there are issues with memory and full disclosure (again, this is in reference to the person is sincere, and when they are really at that place where they are ready to let go and walk away from the addiction, not the person who says they can't remember because they don't want to be honest). They have created a story and had to stand by it (for survival) for so long, that the lines between reality and lies are blurred. This is a problem of the human memory system (only because they lied for so long).

Quote:
I wrote out everything that he was doing that was destructive to me in these situations. Then I made a plan of how to remove the power from what he was doing and figured out how to redirect my energy into something else…Write out a description of what he is doing and be as specific as you can. That will give you a better view of what he's doing and how it's impacting you.
This is a very good way to teach ourselves how to discern the lies from reality, and to help us remember why we should trust ourselves first and foremost. I would extend this by adding that once you have a better view of how it’s impacting you (i.e. identifying how it is violating your values) then you will see where boundaries are needed. :g:

Quote:
So what do you do to protect yourself...? Well, keep in mind that without you on the receiving end, his gas lighting goes nowhere.
Yes, exactly. And, be mindful of how you remove yourself, such that what you do is in alignment with your values. Using the example from earlier, responding “Are you sure?” to him when he is trying to get you to buy in may be a signal for him to check in with himself, but it could also be a passive aggressive or sarcastic remark said as a dig at him. With that, I would create a clearly defined boundary for when he is trying to gas light (or use other forms of manipulation). If you want to give him the opportunity to check in with himself, I’d start with a statement of “I feel like you are trying to manipulate me”. (Actually, I’d start with communicating your boundary, once created). When you do _____, I feel like you are manipulating me. Being manipulated by my partner violates values of ______, ________, and ________ (however many values it violates). I am willing to give you an opportunity to practice being honest/transparent/the new skills you are developing (examples) so when I become aware of any such manipulations I will first call you on in. If you persist, then I will leave the room (or whatever consequence is appropriate for you, that you will enforce). I know it sounds rote, and probably doesn’t feel natural at first (it didn’t for me) but with practice, it will become another skill that you can generalize to so many areas of life. It’s worth fumbling through the awkward initial learning. I would not add any loaded words (I almost wrote "if you insist on pandering your lies" :s: :no: :w: ...I have to be very intentional myself, lately, because my old ways of being are very close to the surface...) because they are usually not in alignment with one's values, and they often include room for interpretations that may contribute to the problem, rather than contribute to the solution. So, remember to "be the change" you wish to see. Role model healthy behaviours. But, if you make a mistake, you can own it (which is being responsible, and restores integrity) without giving concessions or accepting his manipulations. I used to think "I'm not perfect, how can I expect him to be" which meant that I would let things go that I shouldn't have (that my values would not have allowed me to let go, if I was sure of myself). Now, I know I am not perfect, but I do the best I can to maintain integrity with myself and clean it up when I don't. Part of my integrity involves not accepting behaviours from others that violate my values (because allowing violations is not in integrity with myself--it's laziness, or fear, or both).

Be well.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:57 am 
Offline
Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
I thought I'd add a personal anecdote. This is more for my own processing, but if anyone takes something useful from it, that is good too.

My h is very generous. It could be that his generosity was developed as a way to compensate for the guilt and shame he had over his acting out. It could have developed to compensate for feelings of inadequacy, or to make people like him. But it doesn't matter why they developed. Were he to transition to health, I am sure this would be a quality he would retain as part of his values based vision for himself. Yet, the generosity nonetheless serves him as a way to distract people from seeing him the way that I see him. They lack this intimate, experiential knowledge of him. They get the generous guy. I got the generous guy who also lies, manipulates, deceives, blame-shifts, gaslights, argues, defends, is passive-aggressive, betrays....

This still bothers me, even though I am trying so hard to work past it. There is a huge dissonance between who my h is to others, and who he is to me. When it comes to people I care about, my friends and family, it is hard to swallow the urge to tell all of these people just exactly what is going on. I know what they don't know; what they don't want to know. The impact is, to some of these people, I am uncompassionate, hard, uncompromising, prude, rigid, cold, extreme, and they probably even see me as manipulative (because I set boundaries, which are most likely construed as means for control rather than means to protect my values). Others probably see me as fragile because they see the impact on me, but they don't fully understand it--in part because they see him as they see him, as he wants to be seen. In part because they don't want to upset the status quo, either. When I distance myself from the injury to my ego, I am actually ok with it. They say "you are your community" and so people who gravitate to my h, who want all the good and generous and won't acknowledge the rest--or perhaps don't acknowledge the impact on me, specifically--these are not the kinds of relationships I want in my life. But when my focus is not set where it should be, it hurts to see that he caused all the damage he did, and he gets to maintain his status quo, and he gets to be known by "the world" as the person he wants them all to see. And in conversations about separation, child support, and divorce, I am "going for blood", apparently. And, they will believe it because "he's so generous". So, what do I do in this situation? Do I try to manage what others think of me? It is tempting. It is painful to know that people might be saying things about you that you are not. I think the work here is no different than the work of coming to the knowing your values around SA, and standing your ground. I know my values around things like partnership, friendship, and making sure I take care of myself and not allow myself to be a doormat, or to be bullied into a corner because I am worried about what others might think of me. I value integrity. I value fairness. I value honesty. I am not responsible for the values of others who may not value those things the same way I do. What there is for me to do is continue to let go of what I can't control, and focus on what I can. (I say "continue" because it is an ongoing practice. I might have let go, but then something happens and I find myself hanging on again; attached. When I notice this, all there is to do is let go again. Of course, this is in accordance with my values and isn't for everyone).

Thanks for letting me share.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 12:07 am 
Offline
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
Bumping this post for some of our newer members and to thank coachmel directly.

Coachmel, when I came to RN almost 2 years ago now, your level of living a values-based life was a huge, insurmountable ideal to me at that time.

Now, what you write is one of my north stars. I see now the capacity, and, frankly, necessity, of living my life in a similar fashion. Thank you for being a benchmark, a role model. We are fortunate to have your wisdom and experience here.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:31 am 
Offline
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 661
meepmeep, I'm so glad you bumped this string.

Good points about not participating in the gaslighting/blameshifting/inane argument, blah, blah, blah. And, Coach Mel, good point about how to exit from these destructive dances in a construtive way that is aligned with out values.

I am much, much better at recognizing these patterns and not getting hooked in. Still have a way to go. Lately, my husband gives me a hard time about when I am "triggered." This annoys me to no end, and all the old manipulation games happen. So, he tells me that his therapist tells him to tell me to tell my therapist (hard to keep up with all the people involved in this...) that I need "help" when I am triggered. His therapist gave him an image that we are both in separate cars on the same highway doing our respective indivdiual recovery and healing work. He can see my car, but I'm not in his car. So, my therapist gave me great advice. She said, first, "Do you recognize when you are being triggered?" The answer is yes, nearly all the time. She said when I am triggered my emotions "hijack" me and I need to get away to feel safe, to come back to the present, to feel strong as myself. My husband needs to get away to some place safe as well. So, all I need to say is "I need to go in my car" and remove myself to be alone in a safe place. I explained all of this to my husband, and it is helping me. In these moments, I just don't have the emotional equilibrium to do anything but fight or flee. Better to flee!

dnell


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group