Thread: Gaslighting
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MrFarFromRight View Post
I started reading the linked article. (Didn't finish because it's now 4am and my alarm clock's set for 8am.) The author also uses the term "creeping concessions", a sort of "give him an inch and he'll take an ell" but in small increments that you have trouble noticing until it's too late.

I think that the example given (being asked to give a friend a lift -> ending up taxying more than one person wherever they want to go) might fit that, but I don't see the case for tying in gaslighting (the title of the article). I don't know the official definition of the term, I'm going by the film of the same title. But I'd say that gaslighting is a calculated and insidious manoeuvre to control somebody else by constantly putting them in the wrong, making them doubt their own judgement or memory, and making them depend on you, making them SOOO grateful that you're there to set them back on the right track whenever they blunder. Calculatedly creating a dysfunctional relationship based on co-dependence and inferiority complex.

In the film (and the original play), the villain's aim is actually to drive his wife completely crazy. The subject has come up on this board (in at least one case) where a wife took some time to realise that her oh-so-perfect husband ("I'm so lucky to have him!") was actually getting his own way in a selfish, spoiled-brat way by making her feel flawed, and lying to her. The realisation and its consequences have been very painful for her. Hence my interest in reading the article.

I can't see the example in the linked article as a case of gaslighting. If it is, it's in a very watered-down variety. No-one's going crazy, no-one's doubting their own memory (just somebody insisting that she said something when she didn't: her listener [supposed victim] knows that the speaker got it wrong). There no insidiousness about it all, no WISH to manipulate.

The article's about a group of people overstepping in asking for ever-increasing favours, and about somebody else who doesn't put their foot down and tell them so (allowing themselves to be taken advantage of). Gaslighting [as I understand it] is a LOT nastier than that. It's messing about with somebody else' sense of self-worth.
I think what the author was trying to point out is by his example is how gaslighting can begin as something as simple as that. Generally speaking, manipulator/ gaslighter isn't going to jump right to the hard stuff. They will start off by telling you that you agreed to something you don't remember and do so repeatedly over time until you begin to doubt your own memory. As the man in the example did. So at first you believe it was a simple misunderstanding and don't think it was intentional and by the time that you're thinking your going crazy it is too late.
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