Preventing emotional abuse of gaslighting explains what gaslighting is and how to stop the manipulation and mental cruelty rooted in gaslighting.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting happens when someone you know, either your spouse, friends, or colleagues, challenges what you know is true. And then makes you question your beliefs and sanity. The goal of ‘gaslighting’ is to deliberately mess up your head. It’s not a mental illness, but a form of manipulation that promotes emotional and mental abuse.
Just like other types of abuse, gaslighting tries to gain control over you, a situation, or even the gaslighter’s discomfort. For example, a gaslighter will often shift the focus of unpleasant discussions away from them and put the blame on you instead. And most times gaslighters don’t often understand they are gaslighting.
And in the case of medical gaslighting, an example is having your symptoms dismissed by your doctor as being in your mind.
Methods Of A Gaslighter
These are some of the signs that a person is gaslighting you. He or she;
- Denies something they said or did
- Pretends to forget what they said or did. Or accuse you of misrepresentation when you question their version of events
- Minimises your feelings when you push or fight back
- Describes you as “too sensitive”, “confused” or “stupid”
- Changes the story to make it seem it’s all your fault
How Gaslighting Affects You
A long term exposure to gaslighting may begin to make you doubt your feelings and memories. Similarly, you begin to think that you may have imagined the events being discussed, or just being too sensitive. In the end, you apologise for things you didn’t do. Equally, blame yourself when things go wrong. Over time, you may even begin to wonder whether you’re losing your mind.
Types of Gaslighting
Emotional and mental abuse from gaslighting between partners is very common. However, there are other sources. For example, your boss might gaslight you by denying that they approved your annual leave or salary increase. Or they may make you look incompetent to company management. The latter happens a lot in many workplaces.
In addition, a new person you just met, like a car mechanic can gaslight you by claiming that you agreed to a more expensive repair option than you can afford. Therefore preventing emotional abuse of gaslighting helps you protect your emotion and mental stability.
Medical gaslighting is when a doctor downplays or dismisses your symptoms. In such cases, the doctor is not listening to you or taking your concerns seriously. This can put your health at risk by slowing down diagnosis and treatment. And women are more likely to have their symptoms ignored or dismissed than men.
This said medical gaslighting may be an inaccurate label since there are good-intentioned doctors who are not purposefully trying to gaslight their patients.
Signs of medical gaslighting
Untreated pain, downplaying, or denial of any symptoms you’re describing. Read below phrases that can be “red flags” of gaslighting:
- “It’s all in your head.”
- “Your pain is manageable.”
- “You’re just tense.”
- “You’re too young to be feeling this way”
- “You’ve got to expect this as you age.”
- “All you need to do is lose some weight.”
- “It’s just your depression.”
Ways To Protect Yourself From Medical Gaslighting
- Go with a trusted friend or family member to medical appointments, particularly someone who has been with you when you had your symptoms. At least your friend can support you.
- Write down all your symptoms and questions in advance before your medical visit. Keeping a written list of questions helps you remember and make it harder for your doctor to brush you off. And you can always return to questions you feel were not taken seriously enough.
- Seek another opinion if you continue to feel uncomfortable. Sometimes the healthcare system can be intimidating. But it’s important not to allow your doctor’s dismissive attitude to stop you from getting answers to your health problems.
- Join support groups that can provide validation, support, resources, and practical information. Also, support groups can help you find a doctor who is an expert in your particular condition.
Healthy relationships and interactions shouldn’t have gaslighting conduct. Hence preventing emotional abuse of gaslighting means reminding yourself the gaslighter is the problem, not you. So, when you discover signs of gaslighting in your relationships, talk with the person. Meantime try to protect your mental health with exercise, meditation, and other relaxation techniques.
And if you think you are being gaslit, explain your needs and set definite boundaries. Furthermore, jot down notes in case the gaslighter tries to change the narrative.
Stay close to a support network of family, good friends, and people who care about you. Although sometimes this support isn’t enough to help you manage a toxic situation.
Consider talking to a mental health professional like a psychologist, therapist, or counsellor, if the situation looks unsafe or dangerous.
Finally, and if all else fails, end the relationship.
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