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PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL TORTURE: WHAT IS GASLIGHTING? HOW IS IT UNDERSTOOD?

Psychological violence is a concept that we have heard frequently in recent years. The condescending and cynical behaviors we take for granted in daily life can be counted as psychological violence. It may not always be possible to name emotional abuse and oppose violence from time to time. Although it is named after a theater play, gaslighting is a systematic form of emotional torture. It is the most secret and dangerous weapon of psychological violence. If you wish, let's learn this concept together, which has no Turkish equivalent yet.

The 1938 play Gas Light, written by Patrick Hamilton, is considered the predecessor of the term gaslighting. The play is about a husband who wants to make his wife lose her sense of reality. The husband, who wants to convince his wife that he is hallucinating, uses various manipulation techniques throughout the game. One of the husband's acts of emotional violence is to dim the kerosene lamp a little more each day. However, the woman claims that the man objects the house is getting a little dim day by day. Eventually, the woman's perception of reality is distorted, and she admits that she has a mental illness. Later, the play's movie adaptation of the same name becomes a depiction of toxic and manipulative behaviors. In 1970 the psychoanalytic literature began to use the term gaslighting to describe this type of behavior.

 

What is Gaslighting?

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Gaslighting refers to a type of emotional violence that causes one to doubt their perception and memory. Manipulations with gaslighting cause the person to downplay their feelings and question their reactions. Thus, the abuser reconstructs the story as he wishes, making the victim feel guilty and showing them wrong. This type of abuse, which is very difficult to detect, can be encountered in family relationships, business life, and romantic relationships. This abuse, which is done to gain power in relationships, can also be reflected in society. For example, in communities that are backward in terms of the place and identity of women, women can be oppressed by gaslighting.

 

How is Gaslighting Diagnosed?

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Relationships where there is no sincerity and power balance, prepare the environment for psychological violence. Gaslighting, which expresses emotional torture aimed at disrupting one's mental health by playing with one's perception of reality, should not be confused with manipulation. Manipulation, which is a type of psychological violence, aims to control behavior by guiding it. However, gaslighting creates question marks in the mind of the victim, feeding suspicion and reducing self-confidence. As a result of manipulations supported by imposing arguments, the person constantly questions his thoughts and memories. If gaslighting is the source of the emotional violence you experience, it is not easy to realize this. But some indications and signs can help you spot the problem.

● If you feel more anxious and insecure than before,

● If you feel that something is wrong but cannot put a name to it,

● If you are solely responsible for every mistake,

● If you apologize often,

● If you are constantly making excuses for the behavior of the other person,

● If you feel isolated from your friends, family, and social life,

● If you feel hopeless,

● If you no longer enjoy what you used to enjoy, or if you can't even want anything,

● If there are gaps in your memories,

● If making a decision is getting more complex day by day, you may be a victim of gaslighting.

 

How Is Gaslighting Detected?

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It is challenging to perceive emotional violence just by looking at your feelings. Because the psychological violence you are exposed to increases your emotional vulnerability. Remember, people who perpetrate this psychological violence are well aware of your sensitivities and emotional weaknesses. Therefore, monitoring the behavior of the other person can help you. Here are some specific behaviors that might hint...

● You are often accused of exaggerating and being overly sensitive.

● You receive suggestions that everyone around you is lying to you. It can be said that gossip is made about you and laughed at behind your back. Thus, you are left alone.

● It becomes difficult to understand what is true and what is false, especially in bilateral relations. Your balance is shaken, your confidence dwindles.

● Lies continue even if you have proof. Your effort to prove is met with resistance that you misunderstand.

● When you want to talk about your feelings, the subject is closed, and your emotions are trivialized.

● Doubt is fueled to increase your confusion. For example, it repeats that when you can't find an item, it's worrying.

● Promises made are denied as they are not kept.

● Your memories are changed; There are hints that you made it up or even crazy.

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