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Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych

We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.

What is Gaslighting and How to Manage the Manipulation

You’re frustrated with a friend so you decide to confront him/her/them. It’s a hard conversation, so you do all the right things like sticking to the facts and owning your feelings, while keeping your voice even without whining or yelling. You hope to resolve the issue, but you are met with responses like:


  • Your hormones/alcohol/drugs are the ones doing the talking

  • You don’t mean that

  • That’s not true

  • You don’t know what you are talking about

  • You are crazy

  • That doesn’t happen

  • It’s your problem, not mine 

  • It’s in your head

  • You’re lying

  • You think that because of another reason

Sound familiar?  These are typical responses of gaslighting. The term has become popular in the last few years, but it’s one of the oldest manipulation tricks in the book. The term came from the classic movie, Gaslight, which was a psychological thriller about a woman who was told that what she was seeing and feeling was false.


Managing the Manipulation


When you confront them with how you feel (“I feel angry that my feelings are ignored”) or confront a fact (“my credit card number was used for your purchase without my permission”) and they try to manipulate the situation to their benefit. 


Check in with yourself to manage the manipulation.


Gaslighters will rarely take responsibility and will do everything they can to make you think they are right.  Take some space to confirm what you are thinking and feeling without any outside noise. Feelings are never right or wrong, they are what they are and we need to own them.


Surround yourself with people you trust to manage the manipulation.


Validate your inner voice with someone who knows you well.  They might have noticed something they didn’t share with you. You need the support.


Work with a therapist to manage the manipulation.


People who gaslight are very tough and are all about winning. It’s okay to need extra support. A therapist can help you navigate through it so you can experience inner peace.


Time to Self-Reflect


How have you experienced or witnessed gaslighting?

Hi, Beautiful Readers! Thank you for reading this! I'm Dr. Joanne Broder, Media Psychologist, Author, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Please consider me to help you write your memoir, blogs, speeches, e-books, as well as coach you on your dissertation or thesis.  Click here so we can connect!

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