Gas Lighter Tactics

Gas Lighter Tactics:

Control, Confuse, Criticize, Counter, & Convince

Gaslighting brings back memories of Gram’s old kitchen oven. Learning to bake and cook beside an expert included strict safety measures. Gram set boundaries and I respected and kept them. She never allowed me to light the oven. I admit the process seemed dangerous. Gram would instruct us to “get back” when she opened the oven door, turned the oven knob to the “on” position to allow a stream of gas to flow free. Holding the lit match directly into the gas path the fire flame set the oven ablaze—a carefully controlled process of purposeful gaslighting.

Looking back, Gram knew gaslighting could be harmful. The underlying intent of boundaries and control guaranteed my health and safety. Out of trust and respect for Gram, I never wanted to light the oven. I had no desire to blow up our relationship or the kitchen. Today, the meaning of gaslighting is so different.

Gas lighting is a manipulative controlling tactic used by narcissistic people to create internal chaos which can blow-up close relationships and damage internal personal peace. The roots of this behavior sprouted from a play from the 1930’s titled Gas Light which told the story of a woman whose husband manipulated the flames of their gas lamps and devised other schemes to destroy her mental stability. Consistent discrediting of her accurate assessments, perceptions, and thoughts, the husband stole her sanity and inheritance.

Overview of Gaslighter tactics

Utilization of a manipulation pattern is often repeated to make a person question their reality. The motivation blueprint is to reduce a person’s true memories and life experiences into a confused blur of uncertainty. The subtle creation of self-doubt and distrust of personal perceptions and events develops when a Gaslighter lies to control and implant their reality into the mind of the victim. This process yields an unhealthy dependence upon the abuser.

Control, Confuse, Criticize, Counter, & Convince

The abuser will often use verbal manipulation and bizarre lies and empty threats to fuel the abuser’s need to control the victim. Example: “You will come home from college and take your step-sister to her dance recital or I will write you out of my will.”

Confusion results when the abuser feeds a steady diet of false information deliberately and systematically creating doubt and diminishing the victims sound judgement. The abuser pretends to forget real events and denies promises made to the victim. Example: A mother promises to purchase a college ring for her daughter at graduation. When the daughter requests the money to order the ring, the mother says, “Are you crazy? I never said I would buy you that ring. I don’t know what you are even talking about.”

Criticism is directed to the victim for being the unique person they are. Any idea, feeling, or creativity is open range for ridicule. Example: “So, you knit your sweater and sewed your skirt? Do you make your own underwear too? You think you are so smart.”

Countering occurs when the abusive person questions the victim’s accurate memories of events. When the victim is certain of specific memories, the abuser will consistently repeat, “That’s a lie. That never happened.” Example: A gaslighting mother says, “You never had puppies at that house. You and your sister made that up. I know every dog we ever owned. Your sister is a liar and you’re a fool for believing her.”

NOTE: The major goal of the Gas lighter is not only to control, confuse, criticize and counter, but to convince the victim to agree with the abuser’s assessment and perceptions. This tactic is terribly hurtful.

Convincing strategy can be tragic as the abuser uses others as a comparison to shower feelings of inadequacy while stressing their own superiority. The power to convince can not only persuade a victim to totally believe an unbelievable lie, but can lead to collateral damage to other innocent people. Example: A woman’s lover sexually abuses her daughter. He convinces the woman, it never happened. Convinced this mother believes her lover, dismisses her young daughter’s story, and admits her to a home for troubled teens.

Sadly, people in our lives may strike a match with an unhealthy intent, knowingly or unknowingly. Family, friends, spouses, co-workers, managers, or strangers, may exhibit manipulative and controlling behaviors creating a severe sense of self-doubt. Is there anyone in your life that makes you question your perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and actions? After interactions with certain people do you find yourself wondering, if you are crazy?

Please realize how valuable it is to know the warning signs of Gaslighter tactics, create healthy boundaries, and maintain respectful trustworthy friends. Gram kept me safe from potential physical harm by expertly lighting the old gas oven, herself. If you seem to be the victim of a Gaslighter, find an expert counselor to help you stay safe. You will never regret that decision. I never have. If you wonder what I mean by that please check out the wisdom of my dear Counselor in chapter 19 titled "Clandestine Counseling" in my new book, A Life Just Like Mine.

God Bless till next time,
Dr. Donna K