Integrative / Intuitive Health and Empowerment Coaching
'Mamaita's Journey uses the gifts of a clinical academic and intuitive to empower seekers to discover that 'missing something' they need to make their life MORE!
Catch your thoughts....
April 19, 2014
My Reason for being...
May 1, 2013
'Guilty of Libel...?'
June 3, 2014
January 20, 2014
Gaslighting is a strange-sounding term which refers to the way in which abusers such as Narcissistic Mothers lie, by word or deed, intentionally or not intentionally, to convince the victim that their version of reality is not right. The phrase comes from the 1940's filmGaslight, in which an abusive husband deliberately sets out to convince his wife that she is in sane. One night he dims the gaslights in the house, but when his wife comments on it he tells her she's imagining it, that the lights never dimmed at all.
Gaslighting is one of the most insidious, vicious, nasty and effective forms of emotional and psychological abuse. It can make the victim feel as if she's going crazy. If your perceptions of reality are constantly denied, and above all, denied by a mother, the person you look up to and who you think knows everything, it is very, very head-wrecking and crazy-making. This gaslighting can be done deliberately, as in the example from the film above, in order to make you go crazy. Or the crazy-making can just be a side-effect and the gaslighting is done in order to preserve the Narcissistic Mother's vision of herself as perfect, without her actually having to do any of the hard stuff that would make her perfect.
Gaslighting can be hard to spot, especially when it has been happening for a while. When you have been taught to doubt your perceptions, it is difficult to assert that doubt is caused by something outside you. Suspect gaslighting when you notice:
Confusion. You feel confused and off-balance when you interact with someone. You receive puzzling responses to ordinary actions, and your reactions are labeled wrong or unreasonable.
Fears about mental stability. You worry that you are going crazy. Someone repeatedly expresses concern that you'll have a nervous breakdown.
Conflict about memory. You hear, "I never said that," when you clearly remember hearing it. You frequently hear, "You're imagining things," or "You remember that wrong." Memory differences can be expressed respectfully by saying, "I don't remember saying that," or "I don't remember it that way.”
Emotional vertigo. You have a sense of dizziness, or no place to stand, when you try to make sense of a situation. The facts do not add up, but you see that as a flaw in yourself rather than in the situation. This can lead to obsessive thoughts as you try to figure it out.
Distrust of your perceptions. You ask others to confirm what you notice. When someone disagrees with you, you immediately assume you were wrong. Do you remember a time when you did trust your perceptions? When did that change?
As a child I remember continually being told that I was lying, stretching the truth, twisting what has been said to cause trouble. I remember time after time I would be sent to my room to ‘calm down’ after an argument where I had been shouting and protesting MY side of things. Telling her MY perception of a situation, that I hadn’t done something she was accusing me of. That I was telling the truth. That I wasn’t lying. Even now, I can remember that angry and frustrated feeling when my voice would get stuck in my throat… It still comes back to me as I write this… But as I would calm down, usually in front of the mirror looking at my tear stained, ugly face, I would start to doubt myself. Maybe I was imagining it all. Maybe I did do it, but I don’t remember… Maybe I am mad then…
As an adult, I remember similar situations. One of my EMDR sessions recalled a telephone conversation when I had called them because I was concerned about her health. She was living with me at that time and they lived abroad. I had heard her vomiting after meals and had 'snooped' in her bedroom and found box's full of candies and chocolate under her bed and laxatives... I had also read her personal diary which contained very dark and disturbing material ... At this time I was a qualified nurse and knew this to be cause for concern. She was exhibiting all the signs of being bulimic. I called them and was told in no uncertain terms that I was causing trouble again and that they couldn't understand why I was so determined to cause distress to my family... I came off the phone and said to my husband that maybe they were right. Maybe I was 'making a mountain out of a molehill'... Maybe I had imagined it all and was causing concern where they wasn't any cause... Of course he had witnessed it all too. He took time to reassure me that I was right. That I had not imagined it all. That my reasoning was to help, not cause trouble. It was merely their denying that their family could be less than perfect...
A little while later, she was diagnosed bulimic and commenced anti-depressants. To my knowledge, she remained on antidepressants for all the years I was in contact with her. They never discussed the matter and continued to deny the diagnosis. She went along with their disbelief and her 'issues' became a taboo subject...