Gaslighting is an emotional abuse where someone leaves you to question your own memory or perceptions. It is a psychological brainwashing. It can happen in any type of close relationship, including romantic relationships but also between family members, friends, and coworkers. Robin Stern, PhD, a licensed psychoanalyst says
“When a loved one undermines your sense of reality, you become trapped in a never-never land, where you feel bad, inadequate, and crazy all the time,”
The term originates from the Patrick Hamilton stage play (1939)- Gaslight. Where a husband psychologically manipulates his wife. In the story the husband attempts to convince his wife that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things correctly when she points out the changes he makes.
Here are 5 common phrases what gaslighting can sound like!
DISCLAIMER- Not everyone who says these phrases is is a gaslighter. Gaslighting is intentional and the gaslighter knows exactly what they are saying and what they are doing.
The gaslighter’s ultimate goal is to make you doubt yourself so much that you will become totally dependent on them and only them, allowing them to control you- R. Stern
1) YOU ARE SO SENSITIVE
Calmly disengage from conversation and understand you are not so sensitive! Abusive person uses this line to not hold themselves accountable for their actions .
Abuser minimizes your feelings by making you think you're feelings are inappropriate or making you feel guilty.
2) I WAS JUST JOKING
Classic backpeddling remark!
Especially said when someone says something cruel.
This removes accountability for their actions, serves to downplay your emotions to make you feel bad about calling out their behavior
3) IT IS NO BIG DEAL
Another tactic manipulator uses.
Manipulator tries to normalise cruelty and verbal violence by trivialising their abuse and minimising your pain .
It is a phrase that comes directly from the film.me it onto you making you feel wrong for misunderstanding them..
4) YOU ARE IMAGINING THINGS
It is a phrase that comes directly from the film
Purpose is to discredit you and make you doubt your sanity.
This makes others side with your abuser and reinforces the statement.
What makes it nefarious ? It is sugarcoated with concern, worry. Abuser will express concern while also dismissing your emotions.
"I am only telling you this because i am concerned about you"
When this is expressed as concern, it makes it harder for you to see it as manipulation.
5) I AM SORRY THAT YOU THINK I HURT YOU
Abuser uses this tactic to shift the blame.
Notice here how the phrasing is clever because it makes you think that abuser is apologising, in reality they are placing the blame on you.
You misinterpreted them or judged them unfairly and that you are the cause of the behaviour of the bad relationship .
As a result, your self esteem suffers, making you more dependent on them.
Gaslighters are often narcissists and need a constant supply of attention. However, even if you devote 100% of yourself to loving and taking care of them, it will never be enough. They will make you feel like you will never be good enough for them,
Abuse- verbal or otherwise should never have a place in your relationship
If yo use it or experience it, call it out
R. Stern says- "Feel during a conversation rather than what is ‘right'. It’s OK to say, ‘I don’t care who is right or wrong, but the way you are talking to me is aggressive and abusive, and I won’t continue this conversation’.”
If you feel trapped in your relationship (or the gaslighting hasn’t stopped even after you have left), you may benefit from seeking professional support.