What is Relational Gaslighting? (2017) — Bob and Sue had been in a relationship for many months. He was crazy about Sue, and quietly thinking of popping the big question to Sue. Sue was more aloof in how she felt about any relationship in general. Her career was her number one priority, and everything else, from pets to extended family and friends, even Bob, received a lesser emphasis. To keep herself focused, Sue had learned quite successfully how to get other people to put their lives on hold so they could do her bidding. Sue had become a manager of her over all life through others instead of taking responsibility for her own required stuff.
Bob had his own small business, which drew his attention a good many hour of the day, but when it came to Sue, she was a high priority in his life, and he made room in his life to make sure she had what she needed to succeed.
Bob was relationship focused investing time and energy into being there for Sue, while Sue was self-focused manipulating everyone else in her life placing little value in those people, leaving them subconsciously stranded in her mindset as being far less important than her own self and own needs.
When Bob was genuinely too busy to help Sue, he would notice how she would begin to guilt-trip him, diminish the value of what he was doing in comparison to what she needed done, even suggesting they could have sex after he helped her with what she needed.
As time went by, Bob noticed how Sue’s behaviour was taking on a form of manipulation which was beginning to sow seeds of doubt as to the real priority of things necessary to his life and business, to the point of questioning his own memory, perception of events, and sanity.
Sue was gaslighting Bob!
“Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.
Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to and including the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.” (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting)
Gaslighting Is Abusive Emotional/Psychological Behaviour
People who gaslight usually have some form of a personality (mental) disorder. These people can be highly successful in life, even very high functioning, but in their private world, they can be a mess of dark conniving decisions based on lies and self-centeredness. Sociopaths and narcissists are the most commonly known personality disorders to use gaslighting as a means to an end. The ultimate goal of the sociopath and narcissist is to obtain power or control over their victim.
Sociopaths consistently violate social morals, and are perfectly willing to break minor or serious laws without concern for consequence while exploiting others. They are incredibly convincing liars, and sometimes very charming ones, even thought of as charismatic in their ways, consistently denying any form of wrongdoing.
Some abusive partners may gaslight their partners by denying any form of abuse ever took place, suggesting it was all in the victim’s head.
Gaslighting can occur in an employer/employee working relationship, marriage, domestic partnership, dating relationship, friendship, or in a parent/child relationship where lying on the part of the abuser attempts to undermine the victim’s perceptions of reality.
Schoolyard bullying is a common form of gaslighting.
The abuser’s ultimate goal is to wear down the natural defenses of the victim to where the victim begins to become more accepting of the abuser’s actions to the point of developing a dysfunctional dependency on the abuser. In time, losing all sense of self-trust in their thinking processes, the victim’s self-esteem begins to collapse leading to depression, and often some form of anti-social behaviour.
In extreme degrees of exposure to gaslighting, some people, especially spouses or relational partners will experience some form of “nervous-breakdown”, and after lengthy exposure to gaslighting consider suicide.
There is nothing light-hearted about gaslighting. If you are involved with someone romantically, in your family, social circle or work life who is continually causing you to doubt the validity of your thinking processes, then you need to step back and determine if you are being gaslit by a narcissist or sociopath.