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What is Gaslighting?

Old 08-14-2010, 10:43 AM
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What is Gaslighting?

Hey Guys

What is "gaslighting" in an alcoholic relationship? Whether actively drinking or not?

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Old 08-14-2010, 11:30 AM
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From WikiPedia:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception.

My ex used to do stuff like come up to me and say, "So, are you ready to go do [whatever]?" And I would be saying "What are you talking about?". "Don't you remember that you agreeed to do [whatever]?" " Uh, no". "Well, its just you. You are forgetful/stupid/being obstinate". Or moving my keys and putting them back later. Rearranging stuff, and insisting nothing had changed. Stuff like that.

It is essentially a technique used to make people doubt their own conclusions. The term comes from a movie called "Gaslight"---again from WikiPedia:

The plot concerns a husband who attempts to drive his wife to insanity by manipulating small elements of their environment, and insisting that she is mistaken or misremembering when she points out these changes. The title stems from the husband's subtle dimming of the house's gas lights, which she accurately notices and which the husband insists she's imagining.

In terms of an alcoholic relationship, it is like when you call them on a promise or an agreement that you came to, and they insist that you heard them wrong, or the discussion never happened. Or if you recount an incident of abuse or neglect, they insist it wasn't as bad as you say it was, or the details are different or you are just making crap up to give them a hard time. Stuff like that.
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:35 PM
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In terms of an alcoholic relationship, it is like when you call them on a promise or an agreement that you came to, and they insist that you heard them wrong, or the discussion never happened. Or if you recount an incident of abuse or neglect, they insist it wasn't as bad as you say it was, or the details are different or you are just making crap up to give them a hard time. Stuff like that.
Exactly. Or when they insist that the ONLY thing wrong in the relationship is you. LOL.
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:36 PM
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Thanks for that DM
(Oh and BYW you werre supposed to change your name )

My husband is recovery and doing well, we both are.

But then at times, during an arguement, say about money, he will say things to confuse the situation (me). And my head his spinning.

But sometimes I think he may not even be aware he's doing it, or just trying to end the fight. Or maybe it's just a habit and thinks that's the way it is supposed to be? Or maybe during a time when we are both heated things are just said?

Are these possible reasons?
And if so how to stop it? How do I respond?
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:39 PM
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Being Silent so I can Hear
 
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But sometimes I think he may not even be aware he's doing it, or just trying to end the fight. Or maybe it's just a habit and thinks that's the way it is supposed to be? Or maybe during a time when we are both heated things are just said?
There is truth, and there are lies. Rather than try to figure out WHY my AH lies, it's enough that I know it's a lie. I plan accordingly.
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:44 PM
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Its an Ingrid Bergman classic film. GREAT movie btw
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:50 PM
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I googled it

It seems like one of those movies where you would be yelling at the tv totally frustrated.
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Old 08-14-2010, 01:09 PM
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There is truth, and there are lies. Rather than try to figure out WHY my AH lies, it's enough that I know it's a lie. I plan accordingly.
Is it that black and white?

Sometimes I just think it's stupidity? But since he's an alcoholic, I can't tell the difference, between a stupid comment or trying to screw with me.

Oh my God I'm now PARANOID!
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Old 08-14-2010, 01:41 PM
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I found, in my case, that it was that black and white. And my trying to see the grey kept me in an abusive situation far longer than I should have stayed.

I look at it this way, if the lies are due to stupidity - I need to remove myself from the stupid. If the lies are deliberate - I need to remove myself from the abuse.
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Old 08-14-2010, 01:42 PM
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My ex started to gaslight once he stopped drinking.
My ex before him was an addict and he never gaslighted.
I think it's not exclusive to addicts, I think it's a tactic used by people with a weak spirt and ego who cannot even fathom they are wrong.

My ex would yell at me, then I would ask why he's yelling and he would say he wasn't and that I was yelling.
We once apologized after a bad fight and he says I never did
He would tell me I was mistrusting because of my past and not because of what he did to me.
He said I need to stop my snooping (which I only started to do 2 yrs ago)and then I would asked why he snooped (he did it from year one) he said he never did. But yet he would check my pc often, came in my home when I wasn't hear and read my journal.
Did a few drive by's etc. And denied it, then admitted it, then denied it

Trying to have a disagreement with him was like running is a circle and when he knew he was wrong, he would say "You just hate when I disagree with you"
It's NEVER EVER their fault!

Are they evil, forgetful, intentially trying to make us crazy? I think none of the above, I think liars just have a deep DEEEPPPPPPPPPP seated fear of being found out so ego acts out at all costs.
It's nothing personal, they do it to everyone ;-)
It's a mental illness I would guess
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Old 08-14-2010, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Still Waters View Post
I need to remove myself from the stupid.
I don't know why, but that just struck me as funny.


Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote
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Old 08-14-2010, 02:23 PM
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OK, now you guys got me really scared...people honestly do this?...god, I am so naive...!!! (wake up! wake up Maggie....)
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:14 PM
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Well, sometimes it's stupidity, and sometimes it's lies,

But SOMETIMES it's an inability to see clearly, an unwillingness to face uncomfortable truths. Don't we do that, ourselves, at times? Maybe not in the exact same context, but don't we make excuses and delude ourselves about the truth because it's uncomfortable to face?

I guess you have to ask yourself how important it is for him to acknowledge that you're right.
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:26 PM
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I wasn't familiar with the term "gaslighting" - but I certainly am familiar with the tactic.
My XAH was an expert at it!!!!
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:27 PM
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Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. It's a classic!
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Old 08-14-2010, 05:13 PM
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My mother pulls that type of head game all the time; just another little family game she liked to play to keep us on our toes.

It makes you feel completely crazy & frustrated & helpless. It's taken me years to not let it sideswipe me & knock me off my feet. She pulled it on me most recently in June, when I had almost 90 days sober. After begging me to get my brother's things out of his upstairs apartment (he was forced to move) & giving me a frantically detailed mental list of what she wanted out immediately & taken to him in the hospital & what could be taken to my house & stored for him, she then turned around less than 24 hours & accused me of stealing his things, demanded to know what I was doing in my brother's apartment when he was not there going through his things & taking them. Trying to make me feel like I was crazy, like I had imagined her telling me to move him out. That's gaslighting.

Before I was in recovery she wouldn't have succeeded in making me believe she hadn't told me to do all that~~ but she would have succeeded in making me feel helpless, enraged, frustrated, & tired of her manipulations. It'd have been worth an epic, epic drunk. A call in sick 3 days drunk. Even with almost 3 months under my belt it got to me~~ I had an internal argument on the beer aisle with myself before I removed myself from the store.

It's a despicable method of passive aggressive psychological manipulation & borders on sadistic, IMHO.

By the way, 4 months sober now. And she tried it again just last week. It's getting where I can just laugh & feel sorry for her.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:02 PM
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WOW! Truly Wow! I didn't know this was a real thing. I thought it was just my ex that did it and I could never figure out what the heck was wrong with her! ....and after a while, I was seriously trying to figure out what was wrong with me!

The fact that there's even a name for it... All I can say is wow... This changes a lot for me.

I am SO happy you brought this up!

-Goat
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:44 PM
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Get the movie! It's fantastic!~
It's extremely well acted by Ingrid Bergman.
Yep.
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:03 PM
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Great to know there's a name for it.

My XABF would do this, not often, but sometimes it was SO obvious that he was twisting things. Other times, I thought maybe it was short-term memory loss due to the pot smoking.
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Old 08-14-2010, 11:20 PM
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To TenNinetySix: Your mother sounds like a malignant narcissist to me. Mine is. Didn't drive me to drink, but surely drove me to other self-destructive behaviors. No contact is my way of dealing. You have my deepest sympathy.
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