Most have experienced it at different levels of severity, but most are not aware that it is a sickness and a type of mental abuse. Gaslighting is a new term to me, even though the behavior is all too familiar to most of us; Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse, where someone intentionally, maliciously, and continuously tries to make you doubt your own judgment, using lies and deceit. In a way, they are trying to convince you of a lie about yourself.
Another name for gaslighting is Ambient Abuse. Let us use a simple example: if you have a good taste in clothes, and your abuser knows it for a fact. If he says something like “Sami the other day was joking about your outfit. He felt it did not match and out of style. I told him, regardless, you have the right to dress any way you want. But seriously, what makes you pick such styles?” This statement is ambient abuse IF the person saying it is maliciously and intentionally doing this to put you down, AND he knows that there is nothing wrong with your style in clothes. So, if someone is making statements, or doing things for the sole purpose of discrediting you, to gain a real or mental advantage over you: This is gaslighting.
Who are the culprits? Some do it when they feel insecure about someone. However, gaslighting is usually a recurring trend aimed at a specific person or persons. The most professional in doing it are the sickest among us: psychopaths and covert aggressors. They do it to confuse the victims and break their self-confidence, so they get away with their abuse.
Gaslighting has been coming under the light in recent years in cases of domestic abuse. However, it can and does occur everywhere. Unfortunately, many in the society are living with these abusers and not even aware of it. It is sad. Many victims live with their abusers for decades before they understand that they have been living with a sick person. Most victims think that they are the problem and never doubt the perpetrators. Victims might suffer from gaslighting whether they are wives, spouses, children, friends, family members, colleagues at the workplace, subordinates, or neighbors. I worry a lot about children whose parents or close family members are mentally abusing them, under the radar, and getting away with it.
I am not an expert on the subject, even though I am interested in it. A good video I have seen on the subject is by Sam Vankin, who also wrote a book about the subject, titled “Malignant Self Love.” Here is a link to the video and I advise seeing it and showing it to others you care about. This is because this phenomenon seems to be on the rise, and many are not aware of it.
Unfortunately, gaslighting is often disguised under more benign names, like “I am just teasing you,” or “relax, we are just joking around,” but there is a big difference between joking around and abusing someone mentally. Abuse is no joke. Also, predators will try to accuse you of the problem by telling you that “you should not be so sensitive,” or “you are making a big deal out of nothing,” all of that to subdue you into more abuse.
Mental abuse is not a strength, but a sign of weakness and insecurity, disguised by inflicting pain on others, to feel superior. This behavior is of a psychopath. Some argue that psychopaths are not even human, literally, not as a figure of speech.
Some do this for fun and believe it is a joke to inflict harm on others. This is a sickness. A disease. It is not a joke. Those with this sickness cannot be cured, for the most part. Some do this because they were taught by others to do it, not because they themselves have the disease. Some are sick where they cannot stop. The only way to tell is to try to stop. Psychopaths cannot stop. They either ridicule the whole concept of ambient abuse as a silly notion, or they believe they gain power by doing so, and want to keep that power.
Finally, please do not become paranoid, or use the words mental abuse lightly. Some tell you things that you do not like as a matter of honest opinion. Just because someone tells you that you are too sensitive, or that he did not like something you did does not make them mental abusers. It is easy to blame people and label them when they have a point of view different than yours, so be careful. Mental abuse happens when the intent is to put you down, and feed you lies, so they become superior or gain advantage.