Gaslighting and the knot theory of mind

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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30838.86082
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Abstract
Aim is to discuss gaslighting and to provide advices how to recognize the abuser and how to defend oneself from the gaslighting.
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Gaslighting and the knot theory of mind
Domina Petric, MD
ABSTRACT
Aim is to discuss gaslighting and to
provide advices how to recognize the
abuser and how to defend oneself from the
gaslighting.
INTRODUCTION TO GASLIGHTING
Gaslighting is a form of psychological
manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of
doubt in a targeted individual or in
members of a targeted group, making them
question their own memory, perception
and sanity. Using persistent denial,
misdirection, contradiction and lying, it
attempts to destabilize the victim and
delegitimize the victim´s belief (1, 2).
Sociopaths and narcissists use gaslighting
tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress
social mores, break laws and exploit
others, but typically also are convincing
liars, sometimes charming ones, who
consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some
who have been victimized by sociopaths
may doubt their own perception (3).
The abuser wants full control of feelings,
thoughts or actions of the victim. The
abuser discreetly emotionally abuses the
victim in hostile, abusive or coercive ways
(4). Signs of gaslighting are witholding
information from the victim, countering
information to fit the abuser´s perspective,
discounting information, verbal abuse
(usually in the form of offensive jokes),
blocking and diverting the victim´s
attention from outside sources, trivializing
the victim´s worth and undermining victim
by gradually weakening them and their
thought process (5).
Three most common methods of
gaslighting are hiding, changing and
control. The abuser wants to hide things
and informations from the victim, change
something about the victim so that the
victim molds into abuser´s fantasy and
fully control the victim (6).
Gaslighting can occur in private
relationships, in school as a form of
bullying, on the work as a form of
mobbing, or can be institutional and
systematic.
Gaslighting in the workplace can occur
when individuals perform actions that
cause colleagues to question themselves
and their actions in a way that is
detrimental to their careers (7). The victim
may be deliberately excluded, made the
subject of gossip, or persistently
discredited or questioned in an attempt to
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destroy the victim´s confidence. The
perpetrator may reroute conversations to
perceived faults or wrongs (8). Gaslighting
can be committed by any colleague and
can be especially detrimental when the
perpetrator is someone in a position of
power (9).
Systematic and institutional gaslighting
occurs in totalitarian and corrupted regimes
(communism, nazism, fascism, organized
crime) when the group of abusers that
serve the totalitarian regime and organized
crime abuse a targeted group of honest
individuals that oppose to totalitarianism
and crime.
GASLIGHTING AND THE KNOT
THEORY OF MIND
Gaslighting is a powerful weapon of the
abuser and can be very detrimental for the
victim. Gaslighting, especially when it is
long lasting, can cause anxiety, depression
and even psychosis. Mental and emotional
abuse causes the formation of many knots
of negative thoughts and emotions with
cognitive and emotional damage. This type
of abusers (the gaslighters) like to break
the victim´s introspective mirror so that the
victim starts to doubt in oneself. Very
powerful weapon of the gaslighters is
gossip. Abusers often slander their victims
and are often very persistent in lying.
Gaslighters like to question the victim´s
sanity so that the victim loses credibility.
Gaslighters often have double standards so
that the targeted individual feels isolated
and marginalized. Very popular tactic is
the warm-cold behavior. The perpetrator
is sometimes throwing the victim in the
positive reinforcement to confuse the
victim (10) and the rest of the time is being
very abusive and cold. Gaslighters also like
to project their flaws on the victim and
steal creative ideas and merits from the
victim. For example, incompetent abusive
boss will try to present the victim as
incompetent and steal the victim´s merits.
HOW TO DEFEND ONESELF FROM
THE GASLIGHTING
Gaslighters use toxic emotions
(pathological negative emotions) such as
hatred and envy to damage the victim´s
emotional and cognitive health. The victim
should never internalize the abuser´s
negative emotions and thoughts about
oneself. It is very important to use only
healthy negative emotions (for example,
healthy anger) when defending and to
avoid developing pathological negative
emotions (hatred, rage, depression,
pathological shame, pathological anxiety).
It is very important not to feel hatred
towards the abuser because hatred is
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always toxic for emotional health. The
victim should always look for the positive
stimuli so that the balance between
positive and negative emotions and
thoughts is maintained. After the conflict
with the abuser is finished, it is very
important to restore the homeostasis of the
mind and to feel positive emotions (love,
joy, gratitude) and think positive about
oneself.
It is very important to raise awareness in
the society about gaslighting and to use
social measures to prevent gaslighting in
the school, at workplace, in the institutions
and private relationships. High quality
legislative measures that protect victims
from gaslighting (bullying, mobbing,
institutional gaslighting, discrimination,
private gaslighting) are mandatory.
CONCLUSION
Gaslighting is very dangerous form of
psychological manipulation and abuse that
can occur in private relationships, in the
school, at workplace and systematically.
The consequences of the gaslighting can be
devastating. It is very important to raise
awareness in the society about gaslighting
and to provide high quality legislative
measures that will protect all the victims of
the gaslighting. The knot psychotherapy
(disentanglement of the knots) might be
helpful for the victims of gaslighting.
REFERENCES:
1. Oxford Dictionaries (April 20, 2016).
Retrieved from
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definitio
n/gaslight
2. Dorpat TL. On the double whammy and
gaslighting. Psychoanalysis &
Psychotherapy, 1994;11(1):91-96.
3. Stout M. The Sociopath Next Door.
Random House Digital, 2014:94-95.
4. Dorpat TL. Crimes of Punishment:
America´s Culture of Violence. Algora
Publishing, 2007:118-130.
5. Evans P. The Verbally Abusive
Relationship: How to Recognize it and
How to Respond. Holbrook, Mass: Adams
Media Corporation, 1996.
6. Greenberg E. Are You Being Gaslighted
By the Narcissist in Your Life?
Psychology Today. Sussex Publisher
(September 17, 2017). Retrieved from
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog
/understanding-narcissism/201709/are-
you-being-gaslighted-the-narcissist-in-
your-life
4
7. Portnow KE. Dialogues of doubt: The
psychology of self-doubt and emotional
gaslighting in adult women and men
(1997). Retrieved from
https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=5572602
8. Young S. Gaslighting at work-when you
think you are going crazy (July 22, 2016).
Retrieved from
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gaslightin
g-work-when-you-think-going-crazy-
samantha-young/
9. Simon G. Gaslighting as a Manipulation
Tactic: What It Is. Who Does It, And Why
(November 8, 2011).
https://counsellingresource.com/features/2
011/11/08/gaslighting/
10. Sarkis SA. 11 Warning Signs of
Gaslighting (January 22, 2017). Retrieved
from
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog
/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-
warning-signs-gaslighting
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
  • The Sociopath Next Door
    • M Stout
    Stout M. The Sociopath Next Door. Random House Digital, 2014:94-95.
  • Crimes of Punishment: America´s Culture of Violence
    • T L Dorpat
    Dorpat TL. Crimes of Punishment: America´s Culture of Violence. Algora Publishing, 2007:118-130.
  • The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond
    • P Evans
    Evans P. The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond. Holbrook, Mass: Adams Media Corporation, 1996.
  • Are You Being Gaslighted By the Narcissist in Your Life? Psychology Today
    • E Greenberg
    Greenberg E. Are You Being Gaslighted By the Narcissist in Your Life? Psychology Today. Sussex Publisher (September 17, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog /understanding-narcissism/201709/areyou-being-gaslighted-the-narcissist-in-
  • Dialogues of doubt: The psychology of self-doubt and emotional gaslighting in adult women and men
    • K E Portnow
    Portnow KE. Dialogues of doubt: The psychology of self-doubt and emotional gaslighting in adult women and men (1997). Retrieved from https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=5572602
  • Gaslighting at work-when you think you are going crazy
    • S Young
    Young S. Gaslighting at work-when you think you are going crazy (July 22, 2016).
  • Gaslighting as a Manipulation Tactic: What It Is. Who Does It, And Why
    • G Simon
    Simon G. Gaslighting as a Manipulation Tactic: What It Is. Who Does It, And Why (November 8, 2011).
  • Article
    Uses illustrations taken from everyday life and the psychotherapy situation to describe the double whammy (DW), a type of gaslighting. In gaslighting, 1 individual by projective identification attempts to cause another individual to doubt his/her own judgments and perceptions. The basic pattern of the DW includes a verbal attack on the victim; the victim's response; and a gaslighting intervention in which the victimizer attacks the victim's judgments, perception, or reality-testing. A major and probably universal motive for the DW is the victimizer's need to regulate his/her feeling states by controlling interactions with other individuals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)