by Aurora Starr
I spend way too much time observing others. It’s both a curse and a gift. I’m certain this activity could be pathologized in some way, given the right psychiatrist on the wrong day. “A maladaptive attempt to give her boredom an outlet…Does not play well with others or reality.” Not that I could actually do anything productive with my annotations other than voice them on occasion with the readers of this blog. However, I do think there is value in being able to read others well, even for the sake of feeding my maladaptive daydreaming disorder (I’m not certain that’s even a thing, but I’m sure it will be).
So color me mystified that in spite of my best observations and guardedness a full-time gaslighter recently managed to seep into my personal life. I’m certain you know at least one of these toxic jackasses, who is probably within throwing distance now as you read this (not that I’m advocating violence), but just in case here are a few general things to be aware of when dealing with someone who gaslights for a living:
- The only time they are not lying is when their mouths are shut or they are not typing a text.
- They lie to others on your behalf. Then they make you think that the lie originated with you.
- Their mistakes, poor choices or problems are now yours.
- They manipulate your feelings and thoughts.
- They shut you out, cast doubt on you, and minimize your feelings when they are approached.
- Their recall of events is dramatically different than yours and your recall is then questioned.
- You grow increasingly anxious and depressed when thinking about this person.
- They will not own any of these traits, characteristics or behaviors. It’s someone else’s fault.
To anyone who has experienced this type of person or persons, I’m sorry.
You deserve better. If you have someone in your life who gaslights, lose this person as quickly as possible before you lose yourself. Now let’s talk about the term itself. I’m not a mental health professional because, well, I’m not. It’s not my calling. However, when you think about it, someone who “gaslights” would have been called a manipulative, lying asshole some years ago before everything needed a diagnostic code or reframed in a way that was appealing and lucrative to a mass of pharmaceutical companies and researchers. My point is this, gaslighting or any of the so-called Personality Disorders are pure hokum and just shitty science. I’ m not going to substantiate that claim here. I don’t have to. Go research it yourself.
Hold your letters and pitchforks, please.
I’m not suggesting that all mental health issues are hogwash, but I know enough to tell you that the American Psychiatric Association has created a self-perpetuating, self-serving category of “disorders” for personality types. A few of these include Nacassitic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Obsessive Personality Disorder. It would seem that these traits and characteristics are rolled together in a gray area where psychiatry and psychology lose all their credibility. Medications and most behavior modification for a personality disorder are useless and again continue the belief that everything must be explained away by science, even being a manipulative jerk. There are people out there hurting. They have real problems. Focusing on personality disorders or researching “gaslighters” takes time and funding away from the work that needs to be done in the areas of depression, schizophrenia, trauma and anxiety, just to name a few. You know, real stuff? Not a disorder to allow a selfish (insert your own colorful metaphor here) off the hook. Can we please all agree that not every person needs to be defined by some sort of pathology?
Regarding my recent encounter with someone who gaslights? She knows who she is, and I hope that someday she will want to change. I doubt it though. I cut her from my life completely. Insight comes through self-exploration and an ability to take responsibility for my actions. Awareness doesn’t grow on trees or come in pill form, but it does help if my life has meaning beyond hurting others as way to validate my existence. If my being is dependent on how well I spin my narrative then it’s time to rethink who I am.