Gaslighting is a type of psychological brainwashing, in which the person uses several manipulation tactics to distract the victim from the truth and reality. Gaslighting can lead to a long time terrible impact on the victim by destroying his/her self esteem and self-worth, which can eventually lead to various mental problems such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Gaslighting is observed in different types of relationships such as between friends, family members and also co-workers, and it is most commonly seen in romantic relationships, wherein one of the partners becomes completely dependent on his/her other partner to view and understand the surrounding situations. Here in this article, we’ll learn about the different types of gaslighting that we observe in our everyday life.
Four Main Techniques of Gaslighting
There are various types of Gaslighting that we see in different areas of our life. Let us first understand the four main techniques used by the gaslighter to influence the victim. These four techniques include, ‘reality manipulation,’ scapegoating,’ straight-up lie,’ and ‘coercion.’
1. The Straight-Up Lie
The straight-up lie is the least harmful way of gaslighting than the other three techniques, yet it could be very damaging for the victim. This type of gaslighting involves blatantly lying to the other person. It is most common in romantic relationships. The partner who is gaslighting lies about almost everything such as where he is, when will he come home, what was he doing, or where he is spending a large amount of his money. This straight away lying every time creates mistrust in the relationship and left the victim partner stunned and depressed at how easily his/her partner can lie. The victim partner feels betrayed and cheated by his/her partner. The even more dangerous thing about this type of gaslighting is that most of the gaslighting victims betray themselves by constantly believing in those lies again and again and repeatedly falling into the same trap.
2. Reality Manipulation
This technique of gaslighting involves making the victim question his/her reality. The victim may feel that he/she is losing his/her grip over reality and is unable to recognize what is right or wrong. The victim experience all these things because the gaslighter directly attacks the abilities of the victim to accurately judge his/her surroundings and perception by manipulating him/her. Let’s understand through an example, a couple went for dinner at a restaurant. The wife realized that her husband was flirting with the waitress. When the wife questions her husband about his behaviour he straightaway denied it. Instead, he started blaming his wife that she is jealous and does not interpret anything correctly. Here, the husband had directly attacked her wife’s sense of perceiving her reality. The wife may feel that she is too emotional and overreacted. While in reality, the husband easily justified his blame by shifting it all onto his wife. Various studies prove that the betrayed partners experience this type of gaslighting and psychological abuse on a regular basis. This type of lie is even more dangerous than the previously discussed technique, i.e., ‘straight-up lie’ because here the gaslighter is not lying about his/her own character or behaviour, instead, he/she is attacking the other person’s perception of reality. This reality manipulation can deeply impact the mental health of the victim leading him/her to question his/her reality. As in the above example, the husband blamed his wife that she creates imaginary stories and maybe she is becoming paranoid, and she should consult a therapist to improve her condition.
The term scapegoating refers to the tendency of the person (gaslighter) to blame the other people for his/her own problem so as to get relief from the guilt of his/her own mistakes. For example, a husband justified his violent behaviour towards his wife by saying that her wife is so annoying and does not understand any situation. This gives relief to the husband that he is not the one who is responsible for his bad behaviour, and his wife is the one who is responsible for his behaviour. According to various researches, this type of gaslighting is mostly used by people who cheat on their partners. When these people are asked why they cheated on their partner, they usually give the arguments that their partner was not empathetic and loyal towards them, hence it is their partner’s fault that lead them to have an affair with another person. The gaslighter basically emphasises the defects in their partner’s character so as to justify their bad behaviour. Every person tends to show certain imperfections or flaws in their relationship, but this does not mean the flaws in the character of the one partner gives the other partner rights to violate basic principles of any relationship. The person can not justify his/her cheating behaviour by reflecting on the flaws in his/her partner. This type of gaslighting takes advantage of the partner who respects the views of his significant other and positively considers the feedback from his/her partner in the relationship. The scapegoating can lead the betrayed partner to question his/her own character and responsibilities in the relationship. Due to scapegoating, the victim partner tends to take the responsibility for the things that he/she have not even committed, and he/she may start believing that their partner cheated him/her because they themselves are responsible for it.
The coercion behaviour includes mainly three phases, i.e., ‘the charm offensive,’ the ‘pressure and manipulation,’ and ‘violent behaviour.’
The Charm Offensive: It is often seen that the partner who is cheating in the relationship acts charming. He/she might show extra love, care or involvement in the relationships to make their significant other believe that he/she is very loving and caring and can never get involved with anyone else. According to some of the betrayed partners, charm offensive tactics include randomly gifting flowers, jewellery, or other presents as a way of lowering their guilt of being unfaithful to their partner. The charm offensive tactic keeps the victim away from the thoughts that there is anything wrong in his/her relationship.
Pressure and Manipulation: In this type of gaslighting, the gaslighter pressurises the other individual through emotional or/and verbal manipulation.
Bullying or Violent Behaviour: This type of gaslighting involves yelling at the victim and threatening him/her with financial control, physical harm, or sexual abuse. This type of behaviour deeply impacts relationships. The victim stops raising their concerns about the bad behaviour of the gaslighter due to the fear of mental or physical abuse.
Different Types of Gaslighting
1. Gaslighting in Romantic Relationship
Gaslighting in relationships is the most common type of gaslighting. The abusive partner makes his/her partner feel underconfident, insane and crazy. The victim partner starts viewing everything around him/her from the perspective of his/her abusive partner, and tend to blame him/her even for the mistakes of his/her significant other. Lying blatantly, tearing you down, trying to separate you from the people who care about you are some of the important traits of the gaslighter.
2. Child-Parent Gaslighting
Gaslighting can strongly impact the child-parent relationship. Child-parent gaslighting happens when the parents try to control the independent ideas or beliefs of their child. The children facing the gaslighting are physically or mentally assaulted by their parents, and they are made to believe that they received the punishment because they deserved it. It is generally seen that the parents manipulate their child’s reality as a way to make them obey their rules, but this could be extremely harmful. For example, the common phrases of the child-parent gaslighting include when the mother says that “you’re not hungry, you are just tired” when the child asks for snacks at the grocery stores. Here, the mother attacked the reality of the child that he/she is not feeling hungry, this can make the child feels that he is not aware of that what’s the difference between hunger and tiredness. Instead of using this phrase, the mother could have explained to the child that the snack is not healthy for him/her, and she’ll get him/her something else to eat.
3. Medical Gaslighting
When the medical professional uses any tactics to manipulate the patients it is considered as medical gaslighting. For example, if a patient says that he/she has experienced certain symptoms after the operation, but the doctor straight away denies that it is all in his/her head and nothing has had happened in reality it is called medical gaslighting. Here, the doctor is making the patient think that the pain he/she felt after the operation is imaginary, which can make the patient doubt himself/herself that he/she is too sensitive.
4. Racial Gaslighting
When someone tries to use gaslighting tactics on people based on their ethnicity or race it is called racial gaslighting. For example, the gaslighters may straightaway deny that the particular group of people is facing any discrimination in society. They may say that this group of people is overreacting and too sensitive and emotional. Examples of racial gaslighting can be seen in history, whether they are black people or Jewish. Gaslighting tactics tends to suppress the movements against discrimination by shifting all the blame to the one’s who protest. The most commonly used racial gaslighting phrases involve, “Racism does not exist anymore,” “Calm down, it was just a joke, “It is normal, you are overreacting.”
5. Political Gaslighting
The false speeches, fake promises, and controlling the mindset of the people are some of the tactics of political gaslighting used by the politicians. The politicians manipulate the people during the elections by emphasising even the smallest of their achievements and hiding the failures of their administration.
6. Narcissistic Gaslighting
Ego, lack of empathy, violent behaviour, self-obsession are some of the traits of Narcissists. As the name suggests the gaslighting that is done by the narcissists is called narcissistic gaslighting. However, one should keep in mind that if a person is a narcissist it does not mean that he/she is the only one who is responsible for the gaslighting.
8. OCD Gaslighting
When the abusive person blames the OCD conditions of the other person to make him/her feel inferior, it is known as OCD gaslighting. No matter what the situation is, the gaslighter will always blame the OCD of the person to justify his/her bad behaviour.
9. Digital Gaslighting
The type of gaslighting that occurs through various digital platforms such as social media, email, calls etc., is called digital gaslighting. This type of gaslighting works virtually and destroys the self-esteem or confidence of the victim. For example, the bad comments by some people on your social media profiles may make you doubt yourself or your perspective.
10. Tech Gaslighting
In this gaslighting, the gaslighter manipulates the victim through the means of various technologies such as smartphones, robots or other digital devices. According to a study it was found that some of the gaslighting victims reported that they have been tracked through the GPS by the abuser.
11. Body Image and Sexual Gaslighting
When the gaslighter constantly body shame the victim, which leads the victim to doubt his/her body weight, shape or size, even though there is nothing to worry about, it refers to the body image gaslighting. Sexual gaslighting occurs when the gaslighter makes the victim question his/her sexuality, sexual orientation or sexual drives.
12. Domestic Violence Gaslighting
Any gaslighting that happens in the household between the partners is termed as domestic violence gaslighting. Domestic gaslighting can make the victim believe that he/she is the one who is responsible for the abusive behaviour of the gaslighter.
13. Accidental Gaslighting
When the person insults or manipulates someone unintendedly, which makes the victim feel inferior or discourages, this is known as Accidental gaslighting. This type of gaslighting is also known as ‘unconscious gaslighting.’ Here’s the example of the unconscious gaslighting from the incident of a movie named ‘Flightplan.’
Kyle’s husband fell from the roof of their home and died, Kylie decided to perform her husband’s cremation in their hometown. While travelling to the hometown Kylie woke up from the nap and realized that her six years old daughter Julia is missing from the flight. She panicked and asked the co-passengers and flight attendant about her daughter, but all denied having seen her. When one of the flight- attendees called the department, it was found that there is no record that anyone named Julia boarded the flight. Kylie was unable to find Juila’s backpack and her boarding pass. Kyle forced the captain to find Julia as she suspected the Arab passengers has kidnapped Julia, but all went in vain. One of the flight attendants named Stephanie, who was very unsympathetic towards Kylie starts guessing that Kylie is just imagining that she bought Julia with herself as she is in trauma because of her husband’s death. The Captain believes in Stephanie’s suspect and arrests Kylie for her irrational behaviour. The captain tries to inform Kylie that her daughter also died with her husband as she was along with her husband when he fell from the roof. This shocked Kylie, she started questioning her own sanity. The whole crew starts believing that Kylie is insane. Later, it was found that there was some airline employer involved in the kidnapping of Julia. Gaslighting Kylie and making her doubt her own sanity was not the main agenda of the kidnappers, instead, there was another big agenda, but this unconsciously lead them to gaslight Kylie.”
14. Professional Gaslighting
When any person tries to suppress the views or the opinions of the other by using his/her professional power, it is referred to as professional gaslighting. It is commonly seen in everyday life that the person at the upper position at any organization claims himself/herself always right even though the opinions of the person at the junior level seems more effective.
16. Religious Gaslighting
Religious gaslighting targets your beliefs or values towards any specific religion. In this type of gaslighting, the religious leaders attack your sense of reality and make you believe in something by ignoring your personal beliefs.
17. Government Gaslighting
When the government of any nation use gaslighting tactics to manipulate the people into believing something, it is referred to as government gaslighting. For example, the government may implement any new bill and say that it is very important and beneficial for the people. While in reality, the implication of the bill could ruin the lives of many middle-class or poor people. But, the government by using the gaslighting techniques tends to emphasise the false benefits that the bill could bring to the people.
18. Group Gaslighting
Group gaslighting happens when the victim is manipulated by a group of people say, friends, co-workers, or family members. It can also be termed as gangstalking, Mobbing, or Social Gaslighting.
19. Institutional Gaslighting
It refers to any type of gaslighting by big organizations or companies. These organizations or companies may hide or lie about certain information to their employees, which can make the employees question their rights. Whistle-blowers are often targeted by the organization using gaslighting tactics.
20. Workplace Gaslighting
The type of gaslighting that occurs between the employee and the employer/manager is known as workplace gaslighting. For example, suppose you have submitted the task that was assigned to you. But, your manager straightaway denies this and tells you to submit it soon. This may leave you stunned and even question yourself that maybe you don’t remember anything. The bad reviews and zero appreciation for your achievements at the workplace can lead you to believe you are worthless. Workplace gaslighting may seem similar to institutional gaslighting, but it is different because it is generally focused on one of the few people in the office rather than the bunch of people.
21. Media Gaslighting
Media gaslighting is a popular type of gaslighting that can manipulate a large number of people. Media tends to easily divert people’s attention from reality to something irrelevant concept or idea.
22. Lethal Gaslighting
All the types of gaslighting are bad and damaging to the victim. But, if the abusive person deeply impacts the mental health and completely destroys the sanity of the victim it can be termed as lethal gaslighting. Lethal gaslighting is the extreme type of gaslighting, and it is also known as ‘suicide gaslighting’ and ‘assassination gaslighting.’