'Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilise the target and delegitimise the target's belief.'
As Aspies, I'm sure we're particularly prone to this. I know I am. My experience, too - with a sister-in-law who's a consummate narcissist - has caused me much grief and upset over the last 30 years. These were years when I not only didn't know that I was autistic, but I also didn't really know what her motivations were. I've found out so much more about it all since my diagnosis, and through having someone else who knows her tell me that she isn't just like it with me. For most of those years, I simply thought there was something wrong with me - and she was the one who, more than most, was at pains to keep reminding me. The damage this woman has done - not just to me, but to other members of my close family - is profound. Much of it is irreparable. But at least now I no longer have any reason to have any contact with her - notwithstanding the fact that she's married to my brother. I'm well rid of her. She's controlled and manipulated our family for far too long. My brother is her puppet. And so competent a puppeteer is she that he doesn't even realise he has strings! He's well and truly Stockholmed!
For years, I've been told I'm gullible, susceptible, credulous, naive, etc. I've had my leg pulled time after time, and been the butt-end of jokes. I've been taken for a ride, scammed, made to look ridiculous. But I take people at face value. If they tell me something, I tend to believe them. Why wouldn't I? Why would they lie to me? But people have, and do. It's why I detest gossip and won't have any part of it, because all it really is is manipulation and destabilisation, perpetuated by a group. Victimising the vulnerable. And it gives people a sense of 'belonging' to be onside in the gossip. If you're not happy with the way someone's behaving or performing - tell them! But no. Gossip is easier... and it's more fun. Huh!
Anyone else got any 'gaslight' tales to share?
Yes I have experienced this a lot in my life Tom.
I recall the first time I was conned at work when I was only maybe 20 years old. Someone I considered a friend persuaded a female working in the same organisation to pretend to be interested in meeting me for lunch in a local pub. It was a joke and of course I sat in the pub for half an hour and nobody showed up. When I returned to work he was all smiles and eventually confessed to the con. I have never forgotten the humiliation I felt and it affected my confidence significantly for many years.
I have experienced people approach me and tell me lies (gossip) to see if I would fall for the con and then be humiliated when the subject of the gossip was told I had believed the lie and came face to face with me to make it clear they knew what I had falsely believed.
Another incident occurred after I ended a relationship with a woman who persuaded me to go over for dinner and stay the night "for one last time" I declined but she was so persistent I eventually gave in. A few weeks later she called to tell me she was pregnant.
I believed her at the time but now realise it was in fact a lie to hurt me for ending our relationship.
One of the reasons I shy away from trying to socialise to this day.
Take care, Laddie.
I did an internet search on gaslighting and the answer is yes. I have had long term dealings with a gaslighter , who also happens to be a narcissist. And finally finishing with her was a great relief. ( She found a job abroad).
I haven't got time to go into details at this moment. But the experience could fill a book. Avoid getting involved with one.
Me too. Even at work, with people I feel reasonably confident around, I'm still wary. One woman in particular, who seems to like me and accept me for who I am, is quite a vindictive gossip. If she's got the knives out for someone, they go in. She took an instant dislike to another chap who started at the same time as I did. Yes, he was arrogant and a bit bullying in his manner - but I could get along with him. I thought he needed to grow up, and maybe ought to have the chance to. She whipped up all sorts of stuff against him, though. Eventually, last week, he was sacked. I'll admit I don't miss him - but I'm now much more wary around her.
Last week, our new manager got us together in a group and told us all - making it quite clear that 'this doesn't apply to most of you' - that we shouldn't be using mobile phones whilst working with clients. Fair enough - and I'm glad she said it and got it out in the open. It's been a bone of contention with me ever since I started there. And I certainly didn't feel it was directed at me, because I never use my phone at work.
Afterwards, I spoke to this colleague about it - and she was indignant. 'I don't think she should have generalised like that.' I pointed out that she actually hadn't generalised. She'd told all of us so that everyone knew, and she'd done it in a way that wasn't pointing a finger. 'No," she insisted. 'She did it wrong. She should just call people in the office individually and tell them - not generalise it and accuse everyone.'
I decided not to pursue it. If I'd been the manager, I'd have done the same. My colleague's now got a 'thing' about the manager - who really is a decent person and good at her job - so I wonder how long it will be before negativity will be building up against her. And how long before I start getting regarded as some sort of toady.
My experiences have filled a book! Yes... avoid at all costs. The only way to deal with a toxic person is to walk away and stop feeding them.
I see there is an article in the Guardian today about the equal pay row at the BBC where gaslighting is mentioned.
As has been pointed out to me previously when I joined this forum I suffered emotional deprivation as a child. I think this has made me a very needy person and so I sought a cure for this deprivation from other women as it was not available from my mother. I think this could have relevance to my naivity and gullability in later life. Constantly seeking love and affection missing from my childhood.
That would also explain why some people think I have behaved in a mysogenistic way towards women. My neediness making me too demanding in relationships with women. I may be wrong but it does seem to explain a lot. Is this gaslighting on my part?
Take care, Laddie
I'm not sure, Laddie. I mean, would you say your behaviour was deliberately manipulative and deceitful?
I've been accused of being abusive in a relationship - emotional and verbal abuse - but (without wishing to let myself off the hook over it - it isn't something I'm proud of) largely it's been in reaction to the behaviour of the other. My last partner definitely had narcissistic tendencies. She controlled most situations to her own advantage. And, at the end, she refused to accept that my outrages were in any way connected to her behaviour. Definitely a narcissistic trait.
I think, actually, there are crossovers with narcissistic behaviour and autistic behaviour. Obviously, though, the motivations are different.
No I would not say my behaviour was deliberately manipulative but I am also not sure if it wasn't deceitful at times. I was easily led astray and cheated once or twice when I should not have. I guess that's back to being too needy in relationships and hoping the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and not resisting the temptation to find out. But I have always confused sex with love anyway.
I have never been physically abusive with women but may have been derogatory with some of my comments.
I definitely have narcissistic traits. I seldom put others before myself but I never realised it at the time.
My ex wife did lose her temper with me once and physically attacked me. I think she was frustrated by my lack of empathy and that boiled over into violence. I think she knew from very early on I was autistic (she was a trained special needs teacher) and felt her efforts to "cure" me were not being appreciated.
So no I am fairly sure nothing in my behaviour has been deliberate.
Take care , Laddie
laddie49 said:But I have always confused sex with love anyway.
laddie49 said:I seldom put others before myself but I never realised it at the time.
Ah... I think this is the difference. A narcissist would realise it. They know precisely what they're doing.
Oh yes. As you know, I was in a 7 year relationship with a narcissist, so I have plenty of stories of gaslighting that I could tell.
But my recovery from that relationship, made me realise that the whole of society is gaslighting us and the manifestation of the relationship was simply a culmination of the whole of my life. I think this is why we’re more susceptible to it, in its extreme form. Because we have been subjected to a less visibly extreme form of it all our lives, so we have built up a tolerance to it, were more accepting of it, it’s seems more normal to us, because it is more normal to us.
When I did the recovery program, it was the beginning of me finding out who I was. I started the program just before Christmas in 2012, and it lead me on a remarkable journey of discovery, of who I was.
The first step was to take 100% responsibility for the relationship I was in, regardless of what part he played. When I was able to do that, I was able to take responsibility for the rest of my life. Which lead me to the discovery of autism, the discovery of who I was. I then found the freedom I had been searching for all my life, only to find that that doesn’t exist either. Not in its purest sense. But by taking full responsibility, we are rewarded with as much freedom as we are ever going to have.
Meaning, we are all connected, we are all individual aspects of the one whole, so what I do to you, I do to me and visa versa. Whatever we do or don’t do we have an effect on other people so our freedom comes in knowing who we are, that we are the creators of our lives and we use what we have and who we are, for the benefit of all. Which sounds like a tall order but it’s easy when you know how.
And no, I don’t gossip either. When I worked at a hotel bar when I lived in the Lake District. I noticed that the staff didn’t come and talk to me like they did each other. Then I found out it was because they were gossiping, and knew I wouldn’t join in.