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whitebutterfly11

Excellent Article on Gaslighting/Psychological Abuse

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whitebutterfly11

You know what I'm realizing more and more as a victim of gaslighting?

The main tactic of gaslighting is LYING.

And though gaslighters will lie to us, the person they lie to the most is THEMSELVES.

In real-life situations I have encountered, and with the friends I have spoken to who are dealing with gaslighters, the perpetrator on some level knows he is gaslighting, but primarily he has convinced himself that his lies are true. And that is where gaslighting can be confusing, because what we read/hear about it paints a picture of a person who is deliberately lying through his teeth to manipulate and psychologically control another person. BUT. What needs more attention in articles is the fact that they are SO CONVINCING THAT THEY CONVINCE THEMSELVES. They believe their lies as TRUTH. They don't want to accept the horrible things they are doing because they conflict with the image they want to uphold of themsleves OR they so easily detach from the reality of the truth that they tell themselves they never did it--as if they are manually going in and erasing the memories or downplaying them all because they can't handle the truth.  So actually, when you confront a gaslighter about a lie, they have already rewritten the story in their head so many times, telling themselves they didn't do something that they actually believe they never did this. I saw this over and over with Mr. BS where he would do something horrible, then not be able to recall it because he had repressed it out of his mind. It almost played out like trauma for him where he couldn't remember (dissociated) from his deceit/abuse because it clashed with the good person he felt he was, so accepting that he abused would be accepting that he wasn't a good person.

I don't know of an abuser who has ever been able to see themselves as accountable. Most abusers I have dealt with in my life believe they are really good people and are in COMPLETE DENIAL about their abuse. They cannot see it. In the moment, they might be aware that they did something off, but they are very quick to ignore this. Then every incident of abuse/gaslighting is weaved into this tapestry that fits their sense of self (which is usually a golden, can-do-no-wrong narrative). 

Not that this in any way justifies the behavior---which is blatantly psychopathological--but it at very least helps me understand that when abusers/gaslighters DENY their abuse, they actually have compartmentalized it into a part of their brain they do not want to access, which gives them dissociation (or a bit of memory loss or fog) about their behavior. This enables them to more easily believe the LIES they tell us, and themselves, that they are a good person who would never do anything abusive. 

I'm sure there are more psychopathological abusers who lie FULLY AWARE they are lying and manipulating victims, but my guess is that most abusers LIE TO THEMSELVES FIRST to convince themselves they would never perform the abusive acts they did, or to diminish those acts as normal in order to justify them BEFORE they lie to us. By the time they lie to us, they have lied so much to themselves they actually BELIEVE they are telling us the truth. If that makes any sense. I feel like I am reiterating this point to death so I am going to end here, lol. 

None of this justifies abusers AT ALL. What they do is unacceptable, detrimental, and cannot be justified in any way. But sometimes it helps me to break it all down and look at what happens in their brains to cause them to act they way they do. 

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Quaddie

I think you're right. And I think this addresses one of the roadblocks that targets frequently come upon, when they are realizing their partner is abusive... the resistance and disbelief because they can't think of their abusive partner as "doing this on purpose." 

But the "on purpose" part - it's not like the abuser sits and twiddles their long mustache and snarls and plots evilly in-advance of what-all they're going to do to manipulate and control their target. It's not even that they're knowingly doing it. It's that they choose certain behaviors based on their own internal mindscape. 

Like you describe, they will choose to lie - and to rewrite reality in their own heads - to suit their own purpose. Whether it's a conscious or sub/unconscious process doesn't matter. Whether they even KNOW they're doing it, doesn't matter. It's all an underwater process, so to speak. And retroactively lie inside themselves to justify whatever nonsense they spout in order to manipulate others. It becomes the truth in their own minds. Or, the truth as it's convenient for them. 

Yeah, and that way they don't even need to keep track of what's the truth or what lies they've told, because whatever they create in the moment becomes the truth.

It's a very convenient - yes, I suppose it's a defense mechanism for them.

So it's a smooth, fluid process within them, that they're not even aware of. It's just how the tides and currents of their brainflow work. It's just their normal. 

And man, have I seen some crazy cr4p come from that, too - lol. Really super-illogical nonsense, just to have an upper hand in a discussion. It can really make your head spin.

 

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whitebutterfly11

YES.

I wish I could sit down and talk to every single victim of covert abuse and tell them that IT DOESN'T MATTER if the abuser can't see the abuse in themselves. That doesn't mean they are innocent!! It only means they are LYING to themselves. When we can see it as them DECEIVING THEMSELVES and LYING TO THEMSELVES rather than the victim being "too sensitive" or "unforgiving" of the abuser who doesn't realize he abuses, that takes all of that obligation off of a victim and tells her that nothing is wrong with HER--it's the sick, pathological mindset of an abuser who is so convinced he is a good person that he believes his own lies. 

 

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Fluffyflea

Nothing wrong with the victim of abuse to start with except we are putting up with sick f$&ks.

 

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Melinoe

That's a good article and really spoke to my experience in some ways. But, I didn't like how at times it phrased it in a "it takes two to tango" sort of way. As though the victim is the root of the issue,  like they have something wrong with them and they "allow" the gaslighter to abuse them, and if you just stand up to the bully they'll respect you kind of a thing. I don't think it's quite that simple. 

In all the examples I've seen of what gaslighting looks like (and in my own experience of it), the victim, to me, is the one behaving sensibly and normally. They are trying to use critical thinking to understand the reality of the situation as they understand it, and they have enough humility and wisdom to question themselves and what they think they know - that's like, top-shelf scientific inquiry, not a sign of a weak personality dependent on another's approval. They exhibit compassion and forgiveness and trust towards those they love: all healthy, normal behaviors. It is the abuser who takes advantage of this and turns their strength into a weakness. If the victim was dealing with a healthy, non-abusive human being, there would not be a problem. Therefore, the victim does not set up or allow the abuse because of some fatal flaw within themselves. That's my opinion, at any rate. 

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whitebutterfly11

I think that's a good point, Melinoe! I

 

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