The term “gas jetting” has become widely used since 1944, after the release of the film “Gaslight” (Gaslight). The picture became famous for a terrible plot: the husband actively tries to convince his wife that she is insane, forcing her to doubt the adequate perception of reality.
Since then, in psychology, gaslighting is called manipulative behavior, the main purpose of which is to sow in a person a total doubt about the correctness of his actions, feelings, and evaluations. “The essence of the various actions of the gas-lighter in relation to his victim can be reduced to one phrase:“ This was not the case! ”, - comments clinical psychologist Alice Galati.
As the specialist emphasizes, gaslighting is one of the most destructive forms of psychological violence. And it is dangerous, first of all, because it is difficult to recognize it. “If a partner just behaves rudely - assaults, insults, then you at least clearly realize:“ they offend me, ”“ they do wrong things to me. ” But if you are a victim of a gas-lighter, then you are in a completely different position: “I am not right, and therefore he offends me,” “probably, I really misunderstood something and deserved such a reaction,” explains the psychologist.
What does the gas lighter achieve?
According to the expert, this form of manipulation, as a rule, appears in unhealthy, code-dependent relationships. “In such pairs, one partner is usually the lead, and the other is the follower. The first one is emotionally cold, detached and, as it were, “independent”, and the second one, on the contrary, constantly needs approval, support from another, and is used to adjust to his mood. ”
As Alisa Galati notes, the main task of the gas-lighter is to gain emotional power over her victim, forcing her to give up her “wrong” feelings, thoughts or actions. “Gazleiter is not able to withstand dissatisfaction with a partner, is not able to constructively solve problems arising in a pair. No, he seeks to "push through" his victim and accept the reality of what is beneficial to him, ”explains the psychologist.
“But do not think that the manipulator pursues this goal consciously. Often the aggressor is not aware of it. It's just that his deeply injured and inferior "I" needs to "absorb" an alien person in order to feel a little more confident. Gazliting is, in fact, a powerful destructive psychological defense. And the more often a person uses it in his life, the less adapted person he is, ”the expert adds.
Let us examine in more detail how to identify such emotional violence in a couple.
How to recognize gaslighting in a relationship?
The partner indulges in offensive and degrading statements about you. Your loved one shows any form of aggression towards you - insults, rude, refuses to talk for a long time, takes revenge, plays pranks, etc.
The partner never takes responsibility for their behavior. “Gazleiter will never admit that he did wrong or that he was guilty. In words, he can, of course, recognize this, but does not feel internally responsible for his actions. Instead, he will definitely blame someone else for his behavior, and most likely it will be you, ”the expert comments. A typical example of a gas lighter reaction: “I didn’t want to do anything wrong. You just freaked me out with your foolish attacks, ”“ I didn’t offend you, it’s not my fault that you don’t understand the jokes. ”
The partner does not tolerate your negative feelings. “Gazleiter does not recognize for you the right to independent opinion and assessment. In the depths of your soul, your negative feelings frighten him, make you think “they don't love me”. Therefore, instead of taking out their “yes, I understand, you are offended” and reworked, he reacts with anxiety and aggression like “you are a fool”, the expert explains.
You are trying to prove something to your partner all the time. “When a close person constantly tells us that we didn’t perceive something wrongly, we didn’t feel that way, then our first reaction is to be indignant, to prove. “No, it was, you said that way!” But, no matter how much we try to prove our case, the gas lighter simply cannot hear us, ”explains Alisa Galati.
You feel guilty about your abuse. “Paradoxically, instead of being afraid of the gas lighter’s aggression, his victim usually tries to justify it, feeling guilty and analyzing what she did or felt“ wrong ”, the expert comments.
You are contacting your partner for support and approval. As we have said, gaslighting most often flourishes in co-dependencies. “In such unions, one of the partners often acts as an aggressor, and support for the other. In addition, the more often a gas-losing victim doubts herself and her adequacy, the more often she seeks support in the manipulator, ”the psychologist explains.
You feel lonely. “Gazliding undermines trust and intimacy in a couple, and therefore its victims often feel lonely and helpless - they have no one to tell about psychological discomfort in a couple, and they don’t particularly want to do this because of a sharp sense of shame,” the expert notes.
How to protect yourself from a gaz-liter partner?
Think about breaking up. “It all depends on how often a partner uses gas-jetting, and how you feel in a relationship with him. If you regularly fall victim to psychological violence, then the best way is to part with the aggressor, ”recommends Alisa Galati.
Strengthen the boundaries of your "I". “Even if you decide to break with the gas lighter, there is a great risk of running into the same type of partner in a new relationship - after all, most likely, you are prone to be a victim. Therefore, your task is to strengthen your “I” and its borders: listen carefully to your feelings and trust them, emphasize your achievements, better understand your needs. Then gazlaiter will not get you, ”the expert says.
Expand the circle of contacts. According to the psychologist, a gas-losing victim, as a rule, does not have sufficiently strong social positions outside the relationship - this may concern friends, work, personal hobbies, etc. “The stronger our social connections, the more support we have and the less need to cling to destructive love relationships. Therefore, try to expand your interests outside the family: find an interesting hobby, change jobs, etc. The richer your life, the better, ”the expert comments.