What is gas light from a narcissist

Gaslighting: manipulation to the point of madness

Gaslighters manipulate the perception of their victims in such a way that they believe they are losing their minds. In order to recognize the perfidious abuse, they need outside help.

© dpa

The gaslighter can drive its partner crazy with targeted manipulation.

The picture is gone. It doesn't hang in its place on the wall. "Bella, where is the picture?" Asks Paul. Bella is close to tears. "I swear I didn't take it, I swear," she protests. Paul knows that. Instead of reassuring her, he says, "You're going out of your mind."

Where does the term gaslighting come from?

Bella and Paul don't really exist. Well, that's not entirely true. Bella and Paul are the protagonists of an old British film from 1940. "Gaslight" is his name. And what Paul does - driving his wife Bella insane - is called «gaslighting», named after the film.

What exactly is gas lighting?

Gaslighting - that is when someone manipulates reality in such a way that one loses reference to it, as the author Christine M. Merzeder explains. She wrote a book about narcissistic abuse. Gaslighters are masters of manipulation. They say things like: "It wasn't like that, you must have imagined it." Or: "How can you have forgotten that, I told you."

What happens to the victims?

The victims of gaslighting often do not take this seriously at first - they think: That's not true. "Then there is an erosion of belief in oneself," says Merzeder. Eventually they lose touch with reality, the gaslighter has reached its destination. He is in complete control of his victim.
Gaslighting - only a few people have heard this word before. "It is an orchid term for a very common phenomenon," says Christa Roth-Sackenheim, chairwoman of the professional association of German psychiatrists. “It is a completely normal human need to compare one's own perception with that of caregivers,” explains Roth-Sackenheim. If this perception no longer corresponds to your own, your own perception as well as your personal coordinate and value system change completely.

Women or men: who is more likely to be affected?

The specialist in neurology, psychiatry and psychotherapy observes that women are often victims of gaslighting. “That is an assessment from my work in my practice,” she explains. But it could also be that women seek help more often - there are no reliable numbers.

Why are women more likely to be victims of manipulation?

The Munich psychotherapist and psychologist Bärbel Wardetzki also observes that it often affects women. "Women are easier to make docile," she says. This is by no means meant as a devaluation of women. Rather, this is due to the fact that these are power processes that still exist in our society - and can be reproduced again and again through education, for example. "But I am sure that there are women who are gas lighters."

What distinguishes the perpetrators?

But who are these gaslighters anyway - and why do they do it? “They are people who are actually very insecure,” says Wardetzki. Outwardly, you often appear very self-confident and independent. The perpetrators want control over their victim, isolate them. This is how they keep their environment stable.

How can you recognize psychological abuse?

It is difficult for the victims to recognize this psychological abuse. "As a rule, you need outside help, from good friends," says Wardetzki. This is often problematic because gas lighters deliberately isolate their victims.
Bella doesn't get out of her misery without help either. An attentive inspector who is on the trail of her murderous husband explains why the gas light is flickering. That flickering gas light - namesake of the film - also caused Paul and persuaded his wife: It only happens in your head. For Bella it ends well - she beats Paul with his own weapons: When Paul is trapped and needs her help, all she says is: "Now you're helpless - and I'm crazy." She cannot or does not want to help him.

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Source: dpa

| Updated: Monday October 1, 2018 12:07 pm

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