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The Gaslight Effect

Old 03-14-2011, 11:34 PM
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The Gaslight Effect

I've been reading "The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Other People Use to Control Your Life" by Robin Stern and its opening my eyes to so much. I've mentioned it on some posts and others can identify with it so I decided to do a thread on it.

CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?

"The Gaslight Effect results from a relationship between two people: a gaslighter, who needs to be right in order to preserve his own sense of self and his sense of having power in the world; and a gaslightee, who allows the gaslighter to define her sense of reality because she idealizes him and seeks his approval. Gaslighters and gaslightees can be of either gender, and gaslighting can happen in any type of relationship.", [Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect]

"For example, Katie’s gaslighting boyfriend insists that the world is a dangerous place and that Katie’s behavior is inappropriate and insensitive. When he feels stressed or threatened, he has to be right about these issues, and he has to get Katie to agree that he is. Katie values the relationship and doesn’t want to lose Brian, so she starts to see things from his point of view. Maybe the people they meet are laughing at her. Maybe she is being flirtatious. Gaslighting has begun.", [Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect]

"Liz’s boss insists that he really cares about her and that any concerns she has are because she’s paranoid. Liz wants her boss to think well of her— after all, her career is at stake— so she starts to doubt her own perceptions and tries to adopt his. But her boss’s view of things really doesn’t make sense to Liz. If he’s not trying to sabotage her, why is she missing all those meetings? Why are her clients failing to return her calls? Why is she feeling so worried and confused? Liz is so trusting that she just can’t believe anyone could be as blatantly manipulative as her boss seems to be; she has to be doing something that warrants his terrible treatment. Wishing desperately for her boss to be right, but knowing deep down that he isn’t, makes Liz feels completely disoriented, no longer sure of what she sees or what she knows.", [Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect]

"Mitchell’s mother insists that she’s entitled to say anything she wants to her son and that he is being rude if he objects. Mitchell would like to see his mother as a good, loving person, not as someone who says mean things to him. So when she hurts his feelings, he blames himself, not her. Both Mitchell and his mother agree: the mother is right, and Mitchell is wrong. Together, they are creating the Gaslight Effect.", [Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect]

"Of course, Katie, Liz, and Mitchell all have other choices. Katie might ignore her boyfriend’s negative remarks, ask him to stop making them, or as a last resort, break up with him. Liz could say to herself, “Wow, this new boss is a piece of work. Well; maybe that smarmy charm has fooled everyone else in this company— but not me!” Mitchell might reply calmly, “Sorry, Mom, but you’re the one who owes me an apology.” All of them could decide that, on some basic level, they are willing to live with their gaslighters’ disapproval. They know they are good, capable, lovable people, and that’s all that matters.", [Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect]

"The problem is, gaslighting is insidious. It plays on our worst fears, our most anxious thoughts, our deepest wishes to be understood, appreciated, and loved. When someone we trust, respect, or love speaks with great certainty— especially if there’s a grain of truth in his words, or if he’s hit on one of our pet anxieties— it can be very difficult not to believe him. And when we idealize the gaslighter— when we want to see him as the love of our life, an admirable boss, or a wonderful parent— then we have even more difficulty sticking to our own sense of reality.", [Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect]


My scenario tends to play out like this:

AH: What's wrong with you this morning? Why do you have an attitude?
ME: You embarrassed me last night, carrying on like that in the street.
AH: What are you talking about?
ME: You started yelling at me in the street, telling me I was being disrespectful and then dragged me down the street to the house. I broke my new sandals and everything.
AH: What are you talking about? You were being overly emotional and out of control so I had to restrain you and bring you home. You know how you overreact. You really need to control yourself when we're out so these things don't happen. You know I love and you and only want to protect you.

Well, As you can imagine the conversation goes back and forth until I'm sitting there questioning myself and what I did like even if I was hysterical I deserved to be dragged down the street, out of my shoes into the house. This is the essence of gaslighting...
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:31 AM
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cool beanss

thanks for the thread...good book suggestion...dont have time to comment now but wanted to say...........


cool beans!
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:52 AM
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The first time someone put their hands on me or drug me down the street would be the last time they were ever close enough to touch me. There is no excuse for that and you do not have to put up with it.
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:35 AM
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You don't have to accept the unacceptable.
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by DestinyM View Post
Well, As you can imagine the conversation goes back and forth until I'm sitting there questioning myself and what I did like even if I was hysterical I deserved to be dragged down the street, out of my shoes into the house. This is the essence of gaslighting...
DestinyM - I'm right there with you! My husband grabbed me by the throat 3 weeks ago. It was the first time he'd ever laid a hand on me in out 10 years together. That was a big no-no for me. I would not tolerate it.

I talked to him the day after and explained how I felt and that I wanted to see action on his part. 2 weeks later he was drunk again. Wow. I tried talking to him again this past weekend and the gaslighting was in full effect..

"It wasn't that bad. You're exagerating what happened. I grabbed you because you made me mad. You got in my face. I felt threatened!" On and on the execuses piled up... except they were all lies. I was sitting on a bed, I wasn't in his face, there was no yelling... I KNEW i didn't owe ANY of that situation. And I told him so. Gig was up. I will not be controlled or manipulated anymore.

For me, it's time to walk away. I'm working on my exit plan. Meeting with a divorce attorney Thursday morning. I'm done talking to AH about this. His actions tell me all I need to know.

You, like me, deserve so much better... I hope you believe that!!
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:04 AM
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DestinyM,
Thanks for posting a good read. Let me see if I understand "gaslighting":

Me: I bought a house today
RAH: What? I have a perfectly good house for you right here.
Me: I already told you this house is A.) too small for all of us, and I have no space for me and B.) is YOURS, not ours
RAH: We talked about buying a house together this coming summer. You agreed to that timeline.
Me: Yes, until alcoholism and recovery came into the picture. And because I didn't feel I had a choice not to agree last summer.
RAH: Well its a good thing you bought your own house because I don't see how we can live together anyway, given I don't trust you anymore because you left me.

Me (before Al-Anon + SR), feeling guilty and wrong somehow, doubting my actions and decisions
Me (now): I am sorry you feel that way (outloud) F*** Off (in my head)

So, gaslighting is similar to what we refer to here as quacking?

Last edited by Tuffgirl; 03-15-2011 at 09:05 AM. Reason: minor deletion of wayward text
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:11 AM
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Not exactly. That is mostly denial and refusing to accept any responsibility for the way things are turning out. Gaslighting is more trying to convince you that what you believe is crazy, that things did not happen the way you KNOW they did, minimizing their bad actions as something you caused to happen and they weren't as bad as you are making them out to be.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:35 AM
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Gaslighting for me:

Convincing me that I don't remember specific events and arguments correctly, by lying or manipulating or even threatening
or
Constantly telling me I was crazy
or
Trying to convince me that I was lying or had hidden secrets even I had forgotten

It eventually lead me to seriously doubt my own memories, and thus my sense of self-esteem...which in turn seriously undermined any desire or effort to leave the relationship. I thought I was worthless, broken and that I *needed* him to fix me, to tolerate me and to love me.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:39 AM
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AH: It could be another way we could just split all the bills right down the middle?
ME: Ok, how would I do that when you and I, I thought agreed, child should not be in daycare for the first few years. I already work from when child is in bed until midnight, wake up 6 hours later take care of the child until they go to bed, work, and rinse wash repeat. So, if you want me to pay half the only way to do that would be child in daycare during the day. Do you want that
AH: It would have been fine, many people do it.
ME: Why for years did you say the exact opposite
AH: I didn’t
<Next day> ME: I had no idea you thought you wanted child in daycare and us to split things half each.
AH: I don’t.
ME: You said you did yesterday
AH: I meant when they got older it would be ok for them to be in daycare. Not now.
ME: Then how can you bring up I should pay for half of things, when there is not enough hours in the day to get that money and take care of kids.
AH: I was just pointing out how things could be.
ME: But, the point is how do you want things to be
AH: I want them the way they are
ME: then why do you say “what about this or that” way of doing something or being
AH: it isn’t that I want them to be a certain way, I am just saying there are other ways to look at something.
ME: But if you want something one way, something else has to give. You can’t have both. So what is it that you want
AH: I want things the way they are.
-So, for years he said one thing, then said something so opposite as if I was crazy for not realizing he felt this way, then he back tracked and said he wanted it the way it is. But hey lets lay a guilt trip on so you can appreciate me some more for all I do for you.
Sorry, that is kind of a convoluted story, but I am trying to really think out all the ways and times I have experienced gaslighting with AH.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:43 AM
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(After engaged friend came over complaining the woman slapped him)
AH: You know everyone goes through that.
ME: No they do not. Hitting is not ok
AH: Well, if he did it, it wouldn't be ok. But she did it, and it was just a way to vent her prewedding jitters
ME: It is not ok.
AH: Sure, it is the same as other friends jitters the girl threw something at fiance.
ME: That is not ok.
AH: Before we got married, remeber you took off your engagement ring and said you were not sure that this was going to work
ME: Yes
AH: Well, its the same thing.
ME: No it is not.
AH: Well, it would have been better if you just slapped me. Taking off the ring is more like abandoning me.
ME: You are saying I am like someone who uses physical violence, and you are saying what I did was worse
AH: You don't know me at all

*I should have listening to myself when I first took that ring off*
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:54 AM
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OH my goodness Cat123- I have bad news, I think we are married to the same exact man!!!!!!!

I used to go in-freakin-sane trying to keep up in a conversation with my husband. He is a master of fact-manipulation. I would go around and around - chasing what I thought was the truth, only to have him swipe it away and replace it with what he wanted me to believe. And EVERY time, I ended up being the one owing an apology!!

My self-esteem was bludgeoned to death. And I truly started to believe him and think, "Maybe I AM crazy!!"

As I detach from it, I realized I am not crazy. I have been manipulated and lied to.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by nodaybut2day View Post
Gaslighting for me:

Convincing me that I don't remember specific events and arguments correctly, by lying or manipulating or even threatening
or
Constantly telling me I was crazy
or
Trying to convince me that I was lying or had hidden secrets even I had forgotten

It eventually lead me to seriously doubt my own memories, and thus my sense of self-esteem...which in turn seriously undermined any desire or effort to leave the relationship. I thought I was worthless, broken and that I *needed* him to fix me, to tolerate me and to love me.
This is a pretty good description of the movie that gives the term its name.
"Gaslight"
A classic with Ingrid Bergman. I cant remember the male leads right now.
Excellent movie.
Ingrids spouse is an evil man, looking for treasure of jewelry Ingrids aunt left in her old house they are now living in. He needs to work in the attic of the house, and he starts doing little things to make her think she is just forgetful. By the end of the movie, she was really crazy.


Beth

Oh, she realizes with the help of this guy who knows what the evil spouse is doing.
The look on her face when she knows about the evil spouse is indescribable!

Last edited by wicked; 03-15-2011 at 09:57 AM. Reason: add the end of movie
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:55 AM
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Wow - for the record I'm now separated from my AH. I took a stand last Aug, got a restraining order and a new apt across town. I did for lack of knowledge about A let him move in after he went to detox but as soon as things got crazy again I had the police remove him. That night is when I read some of his Big Book he got in detox and found Al-Anon. God lets everything happen for a reason. It changed my life, learning about A and realizing my own powerlessness and denial. I'm now a really grateful member. So yes, today I truly realize I don't deserve abuse in any form. I always knew I didn't deserve it but for years was convinced that somehow I was causing it to happen.

Tuffgirl -

Not sure what quacking is but sounds like gaslighting to me if you're doubting the validity of your thoughts and memories.

Cat123 -

If you're like me it took me a minute to try to think up which example to post because there were so many times he twisted things around to make me feel guilty and crazy. When I saw the first few posts I kinda got worried I picked the wrong one as it seemed the nature of gaslighting was getting lost in the abuse issue but I'm glad it made its way thru.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:58 AM
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Charles Boyer was the male lead in Gaslight.
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by nodaybut2day View Post
Trying to convince me that I was lying or had hidden secrets even I had forgotten
That's one I didn't think of to post. That has got to be my AH favorite technique to break me. He has a great memory, names, dates, places - me I have had the world on my shoulders so long (since childhood) that minute details are like in one ear and out the other, so when we're talking/arguing and he's like, give me an exact example of when I did this or that - I'm stuck. I just know the point I'm trying to make and how I'm feeling. Of course, since I can't instantly produce an example I'm labeled as lying, conniving or hiding something. Either way I'm frustrated, aggravated and knowing that I'm not crazy but feeling that way anyway.
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:03 AM
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The movie is the basis for the term "Gaslighting"
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by DestinyM View Post
He has a great memory, names, dates, places - me I have had the world on my shoulders so long (since childhood) that minute details are like in one ear and out the other, so when we're talking/arguing and he's like, give me an exact example of when I did this or that - I'm stuck. I just know the point I'm trying to make and how I'm feeling. Of course, since I can't instantly produce an example I'm labeled as lying, conniving or hiding something. Either way I'm frustrated, aggravated and knowing that I'm not crazy but feeling that way anyway.
That is exactly my situation. I don't have a detailed list of examples, so my AH concludes I'm wrong. I've gotten to the point where I don't even try to discuss things unless I have a cheat sheet in front of me.
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:25 AM
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Cat123 & GettingBy - wow, I got kinda sick to my stomach when I read your posts, because I can totally relate It took me a long time to realize what was happening. My AH twists EVERY conversation, no matter what it is about. I doubted myself for such a long time, but am getting better at blocking him out. I still wonder sometimes if he does this because of the drinking, like his brain has been affected in such a way that he just can't keep details straight. But there are times that I KNOW he is doing it on purpose.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:54 PM
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XABF tried to convince me that I was sexually abused as a child because I did not enjoy his porn DVDs, and did not talk dirty like the women in the films, and did not make it my entire goal in life to make him 100% happy without caring about myself.

He didn't use "gaslighting" as often as my mother, though... I thought I could finally have a relationship this weekend with her, until I tried to talk through a few things...

ME: Well, like the time I brought home my vocabulary test, I had a 98%, and you complained that I got one of the questions wrong, and it looked easy, I should have gotten that one right.
MOM: I did no such thing! You always pushed yourself very hard as a child, I was always telling you that you didn't have to work so hard. (Giant pause.) Well, what else?
ME: Um... I just always felt uncomfortable having feelings at home. I was afraid to tell you things, because you never really seemed to listen to understand what I was saying, and instead ran around telling everyone I said the opposite, or you'd make fun of me for how I felt...
MOM: That never happened. You always knew you could talk to me about things, you just preferred to spend all your time in your room reading. But you would have talked to me, if you wanted to talk! (Giant pause.) Anything else?
ME: No.


So. Now I know what not to talk about when I'm around her.

Gaslighting and quacking are similar, but different. I would say that gaslighting is a more serious form of quacking, while not all quacking is gaslighting. They are very close cousins, certainly.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:01 PM
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I'm glad for this thread.
I've wondered what it was since hearing it in 'Darjeeling Ltd"
a few years ago

and have been hearing it more and more often since.

oky.
got it now.
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