Emotional manipulation can occur in personal relationships or with other family, friends or business acquaintances. The phrase gas-lighting refers to an early movie where one character purposefully made changes in daily surroundings in order to make another character feel like they were going crazy. One of the changes was in dimming a gas powered light or making it brighter from day to day. Over time continual little negative statements about things a person does or says or about what they like can leave them feeling emotionally confused, hurt, and worn out, especially when in between the negative statements are positive declarations of how important they are to have around, or how much they are loved and needed. The mixture can be even more confusing and lead to wondering what is going on, who is the crazy one in the room?
A helpful list summarizes some of the common tactics that emotionally manipulative people may use in personal or other types of relationships. Be cautious in what you believe if you start noticing some or all of these gas-lighting behaviors, the goal generally of manipulative people is to try to gain control over you or over a situation:
Frequent lies, obvious ones, not just little white lies to protect someone's feelings.
Denying they ever said something even if you have proof.
What you care a lot about is used against you, or is belittled or destroyed.
The person little by little wears you down over time.
Actions don't match what is said, promises or plans aren't kept.
Occasionally there will be positive reinforcement, to confuse or if something particularly negative had occurred recently.
Confusion is used to weaken your resistance to their control over you or a situation.
The person projects - describes you or others as having the same traits that you see in them.
They may try to get people to take their side against you, or increase their dislike of you in order to build themselves up and/or to isolate you from potential support.
They may tell you or others directly that you are crazy.
They may tell you that everyone else is a liar.
Based on a list by Stephanie Sarkis, PhD., a mental health expert and author of the recently published book "Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People and Break Free," (2018).
For more about how gas-lighters will often project and accuse you of things they tend to do or call you a gas-lighter - and believe it, believe they are victim - see a post Stephanie Sarkis, PhD: "Why Gas-lighters Often Accuse You of Gas-lighting," (stephaniesarkis). The advice: Denying their false accusations is likely only going to go in circles, see the projection for what it is a problem with the gas-lighter not you - and break free of their attempt to control you.
Bullying Management and Psychological Manipulation - a list of types of emotional manipulation and types of people who may be more at risk. Bullies tend to seek out people more susceptible to emotional manipulation tactics. (Mindskills Competence Coaching).
Tips to help identify tendencies of more empathetic people, who can tend to be more at risk for emotional manipulation tactics: Here are 8 things you don't know you're doing because you're an empath, (HackSpirit).
If you do find yourself confused and doubting whether accusations that you are gas-lighting the person could be true, pause and remember that if you are asking the question than the answer is no. Manipulative people tend to be narcissists,or other emotionally detached personality types and the common element is they don't think there is anything wrong with themselves or make attempts to change or seek help. If you are trying to understand and help them or seek help for yourself to improve then - no you are not the gas-lighter.
Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.