Article by Asanti Alexandra David

Photography by Asanti Alexandra David

Manipulation takes many forms, but gaslighting is one of its most subtle appearances. When wielded properly, it is a formidable psychological tool. Usually, the manipulator is sophisticated in his approach, slowly creeping under the victim's skin. A victim of gaslighting is always left doubting his reality, cognition, and emotions. While gaslighting is often wielded in relationships, it also exists in politics and other human gatherings. Gaslighting results in anxiety, depression, and at its highest point, suicide. In this article, we examine the subtle forms of gaslighting, how to detect it and how to recognize If you are being gaslighted.

The Forms of Gaslighting

1. Lying: Gaslighting involves a lot of lying. Gaslighters are known to lie blatantly to your face, incessantly change the narratives, and stick to their guns even when confronted with overwhelming evidence. Even when you recall a statement and engage them, they provide ready-made answers to refute your claim, leaving you doubting your sanity.

2. Passing Blame: A manipulator is so adept at passing the blame on others. Even at obvious fault, the gaslighter conveniently finds subtle ways to change the subject on the ground, or deliberately downplay the severity of the situation, casting you in the light of someone who takes things too seriously. In the end, you are left assessing yourself and questioning your sanity without knowing you have been gaslighted.

3. Playing the Victim Card: Gaslighters are usually very smooth at playing the victim card. They have different words that make unaware victims lower their guard. In most instances, gaslighting involves soft and loving words deliberately aimed at victims' weak spots. They say what the victim wants to hear, only their intentions are not genuine, but a mere ploy to crawl under the victims' skin.

4. Twisted Wordplay: Another potent weapon in a serial gaslighters arsenal is their ingenuity at twisting conversation, or reframing words. They adopt this strategy when referring to a previous occurrence. The gaslighter is also adept at reframing memories and stories to suit his perspective, that you start doubting your role in that event in question.

5. Discredit You: Here is another ploy in the gaslighters playbook. He attempts to discredit you by engaging in conversations with others, with the sole aim of making them feel you are crazy. This way, the manipulator effectively brings the others to share their opinion and unknowingly plays a part in discrediting you.

How to Know if You Are Being Gaslighted

  • Feelings of Doubt: The first sign of being gaslighted is when you begin to doubt yourself and your judgment. At this point, you try to rationalize the feelings you receive as usual and attempt to keep things to yourself in fear of eliciting others' reactions.
  • Your Judgment is in Doubt: At this point, you start feeling like your thoughts, decisions, and reviews are faulty. The gaslighter has taught you to think that your opinion doesn't make sense, leaving you silenced.
  • Insecurity: Gaslighters usually make their victims feel worthless, subdued, and alone. This way, victims lost every sense of their self-esteem and didn't bother to air their opinions as they will always be refuted.
  • Loneliness: Gaslighters always ensure that they get to everyone around you, convincing them that you have lost your marbles. This way, they keep you isolated, making you an ideal victim for further manipulation.  

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