Why women need to understand ‘gaslighting’?

Author: Janani Sampath

Gaslight has become a popular term now. It is the psychological manipulation that one uses to undermine the feelings, experiences, and environment of the other. Gaslight became popular in the mid-20th century, courtesy of a play and film adaptation of the former by the same name, starring the legendary Ingrid Bergman. Anyone can be gaslit, but women can be more prone to it when it is fueled by sexism and the harmful stereotypes associated with them — sensitive, envious, crazy, weak, etc. From being told that they are imagining or exaggerating symptoms relating to their health to romantic relationships and in the workplace, women are gaslit more often than they realize.

Here are some signs that you are being gaslit –

No, it is in your head: How often have you heard this when you voiced your feelings or expressed your discomfort, that: “No, it is all in your mind?”  The dismissal as a figment of the imagination is a form of gaslighting.

Are you sure?: Creating doubts about yourself in your mind is an attempt to make you feel less confident about your actions or thoughts. It is an attempt to make you question your version of the truth.

Blame game: It is never the person’s fault, but it is always you who needs to shoulder it. It is one way of guilt-tripping you that you are always wrong. It forces you to apologize and feel unworthy.

Misinterpretation: You might have meant well, but you suddenly feel you have touched a raw nerve. And you are left wondering if you have made a great deal of damage.

The above are some ways people can be gaslit. And remember those who gaslight may or may be unaware of the intentions. However, being aware of the ways it can manifest for a recipient can help you maneuver around it without damaging your self-esteem, careers, and relationships that need to be relooked at.