weekly blog--one for the ages
The operative word this week is “gaslighting,” a psychological tactic that sows seeds of doubt in the targeted victim in order to gain more power over them. It is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn't realize how much they have been brainwashed.
Within the realm of aging, consider the elderly mother whose son or daughter convinces her that she needs to be admitted to a nursing home. She still takes care of herself and still remembers to do what she needs to do, but her son or daughter has convinced her that she can no longer trust her mind.
To start, the son or daughter might move things around in her home and tell her he doesn't know where they are. Or, the son or daughter might tell her she remembers something incorrectly. At issue: some children want their parents in nursing homes so they can stop worrying about them, even if the parent is still capable of making their own decisions. Other children want the parent's home, car, possessions, or control of their money.
The best way to defend yourself against gaslighting is to know that it’s being done to you. Here are some techniques gaslighters use to put you under their spell:
1. Blatantly lie.
2. Deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
3. Attack the foundation of your being, like your love for your children, and telling you that you could be a worthy person if only you didn't have a long list of negative traits.
4. Wear you down over time with a series of lies or snide comments.
5. When their actions do not match their words--what they are saying means nothing; it is just talk; what they are doing is the issue.
6. Offer positive reinforcement to confuse you, and/or to purposely confuse you with conflicting information.
7. Accuse you of something so often that you start trying to defend yourself, which distracts from the gaslighter’s own behavior.
8. Align people against you, making you feel isolated and not knowing who to trust.
10. Tell you or others that you are crazy to the extent that people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control.
11. Tell you everyone else is a liar, making you question their believability and your reality.