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#1954172 10/15/07 03:33 AM
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Could someone please explain the term "gaslighting"? I had read a post (I think on the MB forum) mentioning that a husband accusing the wife of being depressed because she was upset over his possible EA was an example of gaslighting. I have searched the forum but can't seem to find it.

My husband continues to tell me I'm depressed and "looking for things" to find fault with him. I would love to find that post to show it to him or at least have someone explain how the term "gaslighting" would apply to this situation so that I can share it with him.

Thanks!

Mary

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The term comes from an old movie.(1944)..Gaslight...in which a husband is driving his wife in to a home for the insane..but bending her reality slowly till she begins to believe she is crazy...

one way he does this is constantly changing the flame heigth on the wall gas lights...
so she will see the flame high...go to say something to him...and it will then be back to size...over and over...till she begins to question her own perception and reality...

it has now come to be applied to situations..where people use their garbage and methodically transfer to others...

drug addicts may do this..
people having affairs that deny deny deny in the face of truth can also be said of doing this...

hope that helps....

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I've heard it compared to passive aggressive behavior...which our MC likens to a "piggy in a blanket"....meat surrounded by fluff.

What one says is a sideways statement (fluffy) skirting what the person really means (meat).

For instance, I used to say to my H, "Man, that garbage stinks", meaning "Would you take it out, please?", but hoping he gets my drift and does it himself based on my sideways comment. (Then I would get upset when he did not read my mind after I 'gaslighted' him.)

There are more intense applications I'm learning about but that is one surface example as I've understood it.

Look for threads on PA behavior....I think Mulan is a poster with The Boomerang article attached to her sig line.

Ace


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"I'm not having an affair, you're crazy."

I boiled it down to seven words. <img src="/ubbt/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Me - BS DDay 1 (Multiple affairs while overseas) - Feb 2003 DDay 2 (AdultFriendFinder Profile) - April 2007 Seeing a counselor. I think we have him stumped.
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From J.E. Brown:

gaslighting
A common form of brainwashing in which an abuser tries to falsely convince the victim that the victim is defective, for any purpose whatsoever, such as making the victim more pliable and easily controlled, or making the victim more emotional and therefore more needy and dependent.

Often done by friends and family members, who claim (and may even believe) that they are trying to be helpful. The gaslighting abuser sees himself or herself as a nurturing parental figure in relation to the victim, and uses gaslighting as a means for keeping the victim in that relationship, perhaps as punishment for the victim's attempt to break out of the dependent role.

Example 1: If an abusive person says hurtful things and makes you cry, and then, instead of apologizing and taking responsibility, starts recommending treatments for what he or she calls "your depression" or "your mood swings," you are in the presence of a gaslighter.


Example 2: If someone insults you or criticizes you, and then pretends it was a joke and asks "Don't you have a sense of humor?", that's gaslighting.

Perception blaming is a common form of gaslighting, and a common technique for evading the consequences of one's actions. Example: "I'm sorry you perceived my words that way; it wasn't my intention." Translation: "You are perceptually defective. Everyone else in the world can read my mind; if you can't, there must be something wrong with you. Or so I'd like you to believe." Unspoken Message: "My intention should change your actions (even though it didn't change mine)." This presupposes the reasoning "Most people are judged for their actions; but *I* want to be judged for my unseen intentions."

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From Sierra Koester:

Imagine that one day your spouse whom you grown to love and trust begins telling you things that never really happened. For instance, he says that last week he told you he was going to go to the bar with his buddies this Monday night, but you never remember him telling you that. Or perhaps he gets angry because you didn't pay the electric bill. Now you've incurred a late charge. When you remind him that he takes care of the bills, he snaps that he told you to take care of the electric bill a few days ago because he was too busy. However, you know he never asked you to do so.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse or brainwashing where one individual attempts to get another individual to believe she is "crazy". This is most often done through the denial of facts, events, or what one did or did not say. The gaslighter might also directly or indirectly imply that the individual is defective, crazy, or suffers from a mental illness.

For instance, a husband who tells his wife that she suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder when she becomes frustrated because she is consistently being told that things that were said or done didn't happen, is gaslighting his wife. Likewise, when a wife tells her husband that he is paranoid because he confronts her about spending large sums of money without telling him where the money is going would be a case in which a wife is gaslighting her husband.

When this technique is used on someone, he or she may initially become frustrated that one is being told his or her memory or perceptions do not match reality. However, after a while, the individual beings to believe the gaslighter. He or she may start to believe that he or she is imagining things, has some kind of mental illness, or has a faulty memory. When one doubts his or her perceptions of reality, the gaslighter is able to control that person; he or she becomes completely dependent on the gaslighter for the "truth".

********************


In an affair situation, a gaslighter might make statements like this:

*How could you believe I would ever have an affair with your best friend?!

*You must be preoccupied with an affair, yourself!

*You're just being suspicious!

*When you accuse me of things that I pride myself with always upholding, it makes me not want to be around you!

*That's what our distance and unhappiness is all about, right there! You are always thinking I'm having an affair!

*Your disbelief in me is what has come between us!

*If you could just believe me, everything would be the way it was before.

*If you keep thinking I'm having an affair, I might as well have one.

*What's the point of remaining faithful, you're never going to believe me anyway.

*Your jealousy is destroying our marriage.

*Aren't I allowed to have FRIENDS?

*Why do you always think the worst of me?

*You're imagining things and I'm really starting to worry about you.

*If you keep making crazy accusations, I'm going to leave.

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Quote
My husband continues to tell me I'm depressed and "looking for things" to find fault with him. I would love to find that post to show it to him or at least have someone explain how the term "gaslighting" would apply to this situation so that I can share it with him.

Are you depressed??

Regardless...you certainly ARE actually "looking for things to find fault with him".

Based upon the limited context of your initial post above, I just don't think finding an article on "gaslighting" and "sharing" it with him is your best move right now.

Instead...read up on it yourself. Learn how to recognize it and protect yourself from it.

Finally...calling him on it when he actually does it...in an appropriate fashion...will do more to educate him about it than sharing any article on the subject with him.

IF he truly has a problem with this...won't he just dismiss the article as another one of your crazy ideas???? Nobody really appreciates being told what their problems are...especially a gaslighter.

IF he truly doesn't have a problem with gaslighting...aren't you then gaslighting him by calling him a gaslighter???

I'm not an expert on this subject. Just discussing it. Blame shifting, passive aggression, gaslighting ...all terms we throw around here on MB a lot to describe behaviors we recognize. IMO, they are behaviors which occur a tremendous amount in recovery. Both sides use them....but they generally aren't the entire problem and too much time is wasted over-analyzing them.

There is a HUGE difference between saying...

"You are gaslighting me" and "You are a gaslighter"

Educate yourself. Fix yourself. Concern yourself more with whether you are gaslighting, blame shifting, using passive aggressive tactics. As you change your own behaviors and reactions to his behavior...then real change can occur. Finally...maybe you are depressed...this affair business takes a lot out of you.

Your thoughts???

Mr. Wondering


FBH(me)-51 FWW-49 (MrsWondering)
DD19 DS 22 Dday-2005-Recovered

"agree to disagree" = Used when one wants to reject the objective reality of the situation and hopefully replace it with their own.
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Here's a couple few gaslighting attempts from my WXH:

A news report said a strip bar was busted for having 14 year old Mexican girls for 'dancers'. I expressed shock and disapproval that the bar owner would exploit young girls that way. WH expressed GREATER SHOCK AND DISAPPROVAL over my 'sick' attitude and said those girls probably made really good money 'working' there!

A friend's daughters missed my daughter's birthday party after RSVP'ing they were coming. When I saw my friend she apologized and said she spent the day trying to help and comfort a close friend of hers, a single mom, whose only child, a 16 year old girl, had run off with some 30-year old perve she had met online. And because the daughter was 16 and the man didn't take her out of state (just all the way to Manhatten, about 6 hours drive away) there was nothing the mother could do about it! The police could not arrest the man or bring the daughter back home! When I todl my WH this he said: "Arrest him for what? He didn't do anything wrong. You're f***ed, there's something wrong with you."! (At the time our oldest daughter was 14 AND he said this to me in front of all three of our daughters, including the 9 year old!)

When I was initially diagnosed withe severe hypertension WH posted a message on his family's website that HE had "noticed" I was "out of sorts" and had suggested I go to the doctor, who then discovered I had hypertension. The truth was we had no health insurance for a period of 5 years, I had never had a mammogram and had not had a physical in 5 years, so when his job started providing him with health benefits I scheduled an appt. I had no symptoms or suspicions of anything specific being wrong with my health. In fact it was sort of hard to believe that I had hypertension because I was only about 10 pounds overweight (actually my doctor said I didn't need to lose ANY weight) and was very athletic: figure skating several times per week, water aerobix once or twice per week, lots of leisurely walks, taught a two-hour-long Irish dance class... And anyway they call hypertension the silent killer because except for maybe some headaches most people are not aware they have it - there are not obvious symptoms. And I have NEVER heard it can cause the person to behave "out of sorts" LOL. I think he was trying to imply to his family that I was having anger problems that caused the hypertension? Actually at the time I was still my normal, casual, (sometimes annoyingly) cheerful self... not knowing what he had planned for our near future... For some reason WH felt it necessary to pretend to his family that I was somehow behaving bizarre enough, or having some sort of symptoms, for him to suggest I go to the doctor?!?!?

BTW this was during the last year he lived at home, when he was secretly already involved with OW or planning to seduce her, crash dieting, distancing himself from me and our daughters, and trying REALLY HARD to start arguments. I wasn't (yet) behaving any differently than normal - refusing to take his bait to fight but wondering what was up with him... Apparently he was already lying to OW and his coworkers and family about how we supposedly "fought all the time". I guess it would have somehow made him feel more 'honest' if he could pick a fight? His plan was to get me to fight and then kick him out so he could pretend that I ended the marriage first, THEN he got together with OW. It wasn't until he escalated HIS bizarre behavior and started to become physically violent that he got what he wanted: a restraining order which he then used as his excuse for sleeping with OW.

THAT is gaslighting: A lunatic trying to make you think that you are the lunatic when he is the one gone bizarro

Last edited by meremortal; 10/15/07 08:44 AM.
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Oh and here's another one:

When he was demanding that I should have to come along with daughters on visitation with him, spend all day Saturday with him and daughters, PLUS allow him to hang around my home eveyr evening after work eating dinner with us and wathcing movies, he told me "The judge is going to tell you to knock it off". Also when the restraining order was in effect he refused visitation with his daughters claiming that my not allowing him to come to my home, having to pick up and drop off his daughters at a neutral site, was a 'hardship' for him meant to try to prevent him from seeing his daughters. He seriously believed he would scare me into spending time with him with such ridiculous claims LOL. I responded that when leave your wife for another woman the judge doesn't grant you visitation rights with your ex-wife!

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mm,

Wow....gaslighter extra-ordinaire!!

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I responded that when leave your wife for another woman the judge doesn't grant you visitation rights with your ex-wife!

hahahaha....priceless.

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The movie "White Noise" came on the other day which reminded me of some affair crap. A week before D-day, ex and I watched that movie together. Later that night, he had to run to my sister's house. He said to her "I better get home before jean starts talking to the TV".

That ws such an odd comment for him to make. He admitted after d-day that he was setting the stage to justify his affair because I was nuts. I wasn't talking to the TV, he really was just making up stuff to justify what he was doing.

Really oddly sick behavior.


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2DD's- 10 and 12
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Separated for 2 years after my A
Reconciled for 1 year before his A
D-day for his A 8/23/05
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Affair ended or month or so later
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<snort> Talking to the TV doesn't mean you're crazy anyways. Had the man never watched a football game or Jeopardy?


Me - BS DDay 1 (Multiple affairs while overseas) - Feb 2003 DDay 2 (AdultFriendFinder Profile) - April 2007 Seeing a counselor. I think we have him stumped.
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You've gotten some very good information here. As Ace said, there is more info on passive/aggressive (p/a) behaviour and on gaslighting in my sig line.

If you ever have the chance to see the 1940-something movie *Gaslight* with Ingrid Bergman, it's well worth it. The term comes from this film and the movie will show you exactly what "gaslighting" means.

good luck
Mulan


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Thanks so much for all who took the time to respond to my question. The explanations were very helpful. My husband has been telling me I need to go to the doctor to get something for my nerves and implying that I am imagining things when I catch him in a lie. He even implied to my son that I was going crazy, which really upsets me as he has not, of course, told my son any of the reason that I am so upset.

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If you would like to see more discussions on gaslighting, here is Mulan's thread on the subject.

[b][i] [color:"blue"] Mulan's Thread On Gaslighting [/color] [/i][/b]

Also, here is Larry178's thread on the same subject.

[b][i] [color:"blue"] Larry178's Thread On Gaslighting [/color] [/i][/b]


Finally, Dr. Robin Stern has written a book on the subject entitled The Gaslight Effect which is very, very instructive on the subject. I bought it for research purposes and I'd recommend it to everyone on MB.

LH

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My husband has been telling me I need to go to the doctor to get something for my nerves and implying that I am imagining things when I catch him in a lie. He even implied to my son that I was going crazy, which really upsets me as he has not, of course, told my son any of the reason that I am so upset


Then perhaps you should expose to your son in an age appropriate way. That would put the flicker out in the gaslight.

All blessings,
Jerry

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LH - I am in the process of checking out the links. Will check on the book also. Thanks!

Jerry - My son is an adult (28) but I just don't think it's right to drag him into this mess. I'm not doing it to protect my H but to protect my son. I don't want him to think that it's okay to lie to your spouse. I don't know if that makes sense or not.

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Jerry - My son is an adult (28) but I just don't think it's right to drag him into this mess. I'm not doing it to protect my H but to protect my son. I don't want him to think that it's okay to lie to your spouse. I don't know if that makes sense or not.


Makes perfect sence to me as I felt exactly the same way. So about a year and 1/2 ago, when my W had felt that i had Lb'd her enough, she decided to pack up and leave.

She was probably right btw.
During this process, she called my thirty year old son into the room and explained, finally, why dad and I are not getting along so well. He was devastated at his mother's action, but, told both me and her, he knew all along, that it could be nothing less than infidelity. How astute for someone that we thought we could hide it from.

He knew in his heart all along. What else could seperate us so badly. He knew of the circumstances at work, he worked in the same company. Turns out, as much as he knew, he was trying to hide it from me!

Your son is 28, and is not stupid, he knows much more than you think. Give him credit. You guys need to talk, and stop pretending. This is just another form of "gaslighting."

Trust me, your son knows more than you think.
Honesty is the only solution to infidelty. It involves your entire family, including your son. He will feel betrayed by YOU if you keep him out of the loop.

All Prayers and Blessings,
Jerry

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Jerry,

I believe my husband had an EA and I believe he still has feelings for this woman. I don't believe it was a PA. What has hurt me even more is the lies he has told me.

My son is very close to his dad and I honestly feel that he would not believe anything I told him regarding his dad. So, that's another reason I haven't said anything. It would just make things bad between us also. My husband has always been the "good guy" with our sons and I've always had to do the disciplining and be the "bad guy" so this would just be another example of that.

Thanks for your input.

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Gas Lighting can also be defined as a form of abuse. It is just one of the techniques that an abuser uses to control his victim.The best book on the subject I have read is Verbal Abuse by Patricia Evans. There is also a discussion forum at her website called VerbalAbuse.

IMO an a is the ultimate form of abuse

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