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Xeogaming Forums - General Chat - Gaslighting: are you guilty? | |
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Elara

Divine Mamkute
Dark Elf Goddess
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Ms. Invisable








Since: 08-15-04
From: Ferelden

Since last post: 18 days
Last activity: 18 days
Posted on 09-14-11 11:29 PM Link | Quote
The following is a re-post of an article I read on Facebook from a blog called The Current Conscience. As I have experienced gaslighting several times in my life, i found it very interesting and thought I would share. Please post your opinions and experiences. Have you been subjected to gaslighting? Are you guilty of gaslighting others, intentionally or not? Will you try to stop?

You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!

Sound familiar?

If you’re a woman, it probably does.

Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?

When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling—that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.

And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.

I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation and we need to use a word not in our normal vocabulary.
I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a term, often used by mental health professionals (I am not one), to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.

The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.

Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, “You’re so stupid” or “No one will ever want you” to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged.

The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-mediated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.

Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction—whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness—in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.

My friend Anna (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight. Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, “You’re so sensitive. I’m just joking.”

My friend Abbie works for a man who finds a way, almost daily, to unnecessarily shoot her down and her work product. Comments like, “Can’t you do something right?” or “Why did I hire you?” are regular occurrences for her. Her boss has no problem firing people (he does it regularly), so you wouldn’t know that based on these comments, Abbie has worked for him for six years. But every time she stands up for herself and says “It doesn’t help me when you say these things,” she gets the same reaction: “Relax; you’re overreacting.”

Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.

But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, “You’re so sensitive,” to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, that person is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.

While dealing with gaslighting isn’t a universal truth for women, we all certainly know plenty of women who encounter it at work, home, or in personal relationships.

And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.

Why?

Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.

It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.

Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: it renders some women emotionally mute.

These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.

When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, “Forget it, it’s okay.”

That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking.

No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.

They say, “I’m sorry” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.

You know how it looks: “You’re late

These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.

Since I have embarked on this feminist self-exploration in my life and in the lives of the women I know, this concept of women as “crazy” has really emerged as a major issue in society at large and an equally major frustration for the women in my life, in general.

From the way women are portrayed on reality shows, to how we condition boys and girls to see women, we have come to accept the idea that women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in times of anger and frustration.

Just the other day, on a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a flight attendant who had come to recognize me from my many trips asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I write mainly about women, she immediately laughed and asked, “Oh, about how crazy we are?”

Her gut reaction to my work made me really depressed. While she made her response in jest, her question nonetheless makes visible a pattern of sexist commentary that travels through all facets of society on how men view women, which also greatly impacts how women may view themselves.

As far as I am concerned, the epidemic of gaslighting is part of the struggle against the obstacles of inequality that women constantly face. Acts of gaslighting steal their most powerful tool: their voice. This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways.

I don’t think this idea that women are “crazy,” is based in some sort of massive conspiracy. Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis. And gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as “crazy”

I recognize that I’ve been guilty of gaslighting my women friends in the past (but never my male friends—surprise, surprise). It’s shameful, but I’m glad I realized that I did it on occasion and put a stop to it.

While I take total responsibility for my actions, I do believe that I, along with many men, am a byproduct of our conditioning. It’s about the general insight our conditioning gives us into admitting fault and exposing any emotion.

When we are discouraged in our youth and early adulthood from expressing emotion, it causes many of us to remain steadfast in our refusal to express regret when we see someone in pain from our actions.

When I was writing this piece, I was reminded of one of my favorite Gloria Steinem quotes, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

So for many of us, it’s first about unlearning how to flicker those gaslights and learning how to acknowledge and understand the feelings, opinions, and positions of the women in our lives.

But isn’t the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?



(Last edited by Elara on 09-14-11 11:29 PM)
Rogue
If you're reading this... You are the Resistance











Since: 08-17-04

Since last post: 8 days
Last activity: 6 days
Posted on 09-15-11 12:11 AM Link | Quote
Hm, without looking at the person's name, my first thought was this was written by a woman, until I got to about the middle.

Yeah, I could see saying such things being a mental manipulation and that it happens, but I've never known these sorts of things to be intentional.

Trying to think of instances of gaslighting in my life, I come up void. I've never been told I'm crazy, though I have been told to calm down and that I'm over-reacting. Usually I am. Heh, maybe I've been on the receiving end of it so much I can't really identify it. I do find myself apologizing for things I say sometimes and overly using emoticons.

I hate to say it, but many women I know ARE crazy. I've never said any of those things to them (I tend to be extremely empathic and identify with feelings), and I've never attempted to set them off so I could say those things. It's just... well, if I've ever said, "Calm down," it's because one needs to be calm to address a situation. Suddenly stopping your car and hugging the steering wheel as you cry because you missed a turn is NOT normal behavior. Nor is switching between crying and laughing and crying and laughing and then threatening to kill yourself. Maybe I'm gaslighting now.

Truth is, I don't see women as crazy as this person is disappointed that the world has come to take for truth, but rather we ARE just that open with our feelings and if we're pissed the whole goddamn world's gonna hear about it.

I have no idea what I just wrote.



(Last edited by Rogue on 09-15-11 02:28 AM)
Xeoman

Wallmaster
Administrator








Since: 08-14-04
From: 255

Since last post: 5 days
Last activity: 1 day
Posted on 09-15-11 12:42 AM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Rogue
I have no idea what I just wrote.

Haha.

Interesting stuff here... like Rogue though, I kind of draw a blank when I try to think of instances this may have happened with me personally. I'm more of a passive aggressive person myself so it's not like I really confront others either... don't think I've ever like yelled at anyone or manipulated them, at least not intentionally? Maybe my dad does this all the time though since he's so argumentative and always has to be right, haha. Who knows.
Elara

Divine Mamkute
Dark Elf Goddess
Chaos Imp
Penguins Fan

Ms. Invisable








Since: 08-15-04
From: Ferelden

Since last post: 18 days
Last activity: 18 days
Posted on 09-15-11 02:20 AM Link | Quote
Yeah, I am the first person to admit that some women really ARE just crazy... but at the same time, this does happen a lot.

Jayarre (venomouslobster) did it to me all the time, to the point that I didn't stand up for myself at all anymore. I'm pretty sure that half the time he knew damn well that he was doing it. Ben does it on occasion, though it is not on purpose, but it still hurts.
Belial

Bazu








Since: 01-29-05
From: New Zealand

Since last post: 1988 days
Last activity: 1602 days
Posted on 09-15-11 11:43 AM Link | Quote
This is one of the reasons I left my husband. Except it was every time I attempted to challenge his opinion. For awhile I couldn't stand up for myself. Sad part? He had no idea what he was doing to me. It was terrible, terrible abuse. I'm glad I finally (metaphorically) grew some balls and left him. It's been the best for both of us.
Xeoman

Wallmaster
Administrator








Since: 08-14-04
From: 255

Since last post: 5 days
Last activity: 1 day
Posted on 09-15-11 12:47 PM Link | Quote
I wonder if this kind of sums up modern day news stations. My friend made a rant recently about how arguing should never be something viewed as "bad" which really is kind of true, yet with Fox news and stuff arguing basically equates to who can yell loudest without hearing out the other side. People aren't out to prove a point or anything, just shove their one dimensional views down others throats.
Rogue
If you're reading this... You are the Resistance











Since: 08-17-04

Since last post: 8 days
Last activity: 6 days
Posted on 09-15-11 02:25 PM Link | Quote
I've been in mentally abusive relationships with people I've been dating. Not sure if it was gaslighting, though, that was the problem.

No with Steve it was that he was jealous all the time and didn't like if I even looked in the general direction a possessor of a Y-chromosome might be in.

As for... heh, another guy I was in a semi-relationship with who shall remain nameless... he kept leading me on, making me believe we had something, and I kept following him around, paying for everything, doing anything I could to show I was worthy of him (which is such bullshit as I look on it these days). I compromised myself A LOT. I guess this would be one of the occurrences of gaslighting in my life. If I felt jealous or anything around him, he'd play it off like it was nothing.

Coming out of the relationship with him, I actually felt stronger. Well, if you can call it that. I was suddenly more of the mind that I could leave emotions out of sexual experiences and was more able to guard my heart by putting an emotionless wall around myself. Perhaps I'm stronger now that I feel the scars from him have finally faded and I'm in a better place than I was then.
Cteno

Super Shotgun
Moderator








Since: 01-11-05

Since last post: 46 days
Last activity: 43 days
Posted on 09-15-11 06:05 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Rogue
I was suddenly more of the mind that I could leave emotions out of sexual experiences and was more able to guard my heart by putting an emotionless wall around myself.

I still can't do this. I've also been gaslighted after having sex with a woman and showing her emotion. That was a big mistake.
Rogue
If you're reading this... You are the Resistance











Since: 08-17-04

Since last post: 8 days
Last activity: 6 days
Posted on 09-15-11 09:03 PM Link | Quote
It's not exactly something I was proud of. I mean, I wasn't suddenly a slut (I'm 26 and have only slept with 3 guys), but this guy kept telling me how sex and all the things leading up to it don't always mean anything, so I pretty much came to act as though just because I touch someone or let them touch me it doesn't mean anything.

It's how I ended up with a couple stalkers for the longest time. One kept calling my house in the middle of the night, and if I wasn't home he would literally tell my parents, "Well she better be home the next time I call or else."

Now, being in a committed relationship where sex involves love, I don't think I could ever really divorce the emotional from the physical any more. Anything else would seem empty.

EDIT: In other words, Nelrith, be damn proud of yourself as a man with emotions. It's BETTER that way.


(Last edited by Rogue on 09-15-11 09:12 PM)
Elara

Divine Mamkute
Dark Elf Goddess
Chaos Imp
Penguins Fan

Ms. Invisable








Since: 08-15-04
From: Ferelden

Since last post: 18 days
Last activity: 18 days
Posted on 09-15-11 10:40 PM Link | Quote
I am with Rogue on this one, be proud, Nelrith!
Cteno

Super Shotgun
Moderator








Since: 01-11-05

Since last post: 46 days
Last activity: 43 days
Posted on 09-16-11 02:33 AM Link | Quote
It's still just very awkward for me. I won't go into any detail, but being celibate for as long as I have drives me up the wall. I'm also the type who would prefer a long-term committed relationship before any sort of sex happens, and believe it or not, it tends to deter a lot of women -- making the wait for sexual release even longer.

But that's enough about my sex life. How's the weather?
Elara

Divine Mamkute
Dark Elf Goddess
Chaos Imp
Penguins Fan

Ms. Invisable








Since: 08-15-04
From: Ferelden

Since last post: 18 days
Last activity: 18 days
Posted on 09-16-11 09:34 AM Link | Quote
Blessedly cold. It got down to 37 degrees last night. Now is the time that I do not mind the cats sleeping on me.

I can believe the deterring thing... a lot of women are no better than men on that part. Or they want sex first, committed relationship later, if they like the sex.
Rogue
If you're reading this... You are the Resistance











Since: 08-17-04

Since last post: 8 days
Last activity: 6 days
Posted on 09-16-11 01:31 PM Link | Quote
Originally posted by Elara
I can believe the deterring thing... a lot of women are no better than men on that part. Or they want sex first, committed relationship later, if they like the sex.

That's it. I've found the gaslighting in women's lives this guy failed to touch on--that we've become conditioned to NOT want sensitive guys, feelings attached to physical intimacy, and the "icky" love stuff that we wanted watching Disney movies as little girls.

I had pretty much reached the point that if I did something with a guy, I not only didn't expect him to call the next day, it seemed weird if he did.
Elara

Divine Mamkute
Dark Elf Goddess
Chaos Imp
Penguins Fan

Ms. Invisable








Since: 08-15-04
From: Ferelden

Since last post: 18 days
Last activity: 18 days
Posted on 09-19-11 12:46 AM Link | Quote
Yeah, it is interesting that he doesn't touch on that point.
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