Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Psychological Warfare - Gaslighting Pt 3, Victim Response

We've been looking at how your characters can fight mentally by means of a form of mental manipulation known as gaslighting. We have defined what it is, looked at the personality of a gaslighter as well as the sort of things a gaslighter might say in your MS. In this the final part in the three part series, we are going to look at what your gaslighted character may feel or say in response to the mental manipulation.

How Gaslighted Victims Respond
As important as showing the tactics of the gaslighter is the response they elicit from the target. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, these are ways to show that a character is being gaslighted.

* He constantly second guesses himself.
* She often asks herself if she is just being too sensitive.
* He feels confused or even crazy.
* She constantly apologizes to the gaslighter.
* He can't understand why, with so many apparently good things in his life, he isn't happier.
* She finds herself keeping information from those close to her so that she doesn't have to explain or make excuses for the gaslighter's behavior.
* He knows something in the relationship is very wrong but can't quite express, even to his own self, what it is.
* She lies to avoid put downs.
* He has trouble making simple decisions.
* She feels that she is no longer normal self. She used to be more confident, more fun and laid back.
* He feels hopeless and joyless.
* She feels as though she can't do anything right.
* He wonders if he is a good enough employee, friend, husband, parent, etc.
* She feels physically tired after interaction with the gaslighter.

How does your gaslighted character beat the gaslighter? Well, he won't. Gaslighters are brilliant. They have their victim caught in a game to which only the gaslighter knows the rules. So, you need to focus not on beating the gaslighter but rather besting them.
* First, your character has to have a clue what's happening. In their gut, the will know what is going on. But, the doubt that has been cultivated within them from the gaslighter will strangle their instincts. So, something will need to tip off the victim.
* Have the target write things down, tiny details to compare with the story of the gaslighter.
* Keep communication with the gaslighter simple. Words are lengths of rope for a gaslighter. The more you give them, the more they have with which to hang you.
* The target has to get away from the gaslighter. Period. Now, this is going to offer you more opportunity because getting away from a gaslighter really ticks them off. He or she uses the power gaslighting gives them as fuel to maintain the upper hand in social and interpersonal situations. So, in having the victim leave the gaslighter, you are going to have opportunity for plot twists and added word count! Don't roll your eyes at me about that. You know "word count" is a thing!

Gaslighting is diabolical and offers a wealth of opportunity for writers. Wow. You know you are a writer when you read about something awful and get a little pumped knowing you can use it in your work!

While I learned a great deal researching this and the response to the posts on gaslighting has been great, I gotta tell ya, I'm kinda glad I'm done with them. Every time I read up on gaslighting and wrote about it, I got majorly bummed out. Especially because I live with a gaslighter...
This is Dottie. Dottie is a gaslighter. I told her about a hundred times to get out of this box. She assured me that not only was she not in the box, but maybe I was really the one in a box. Maybe it was my guilt of being in a box that was driving me to accuse her of the same. Maybe if I took a good look at myself, I wouldn't be looking for her to make a mistake! Maybe I should just feed her because according to her, I have never fed her. Ever. She is skin and bones and dying. Maybe I'm trying to kill her and I'm accusing her of being in a box because secretly I want to put her in a pine box! 
I showed her this picture. She said that I need counseling.
And that, dear writers, is gaslighting. Thank you, you've been a great audience. Be sure to tip your waitress.

Until the next round at, get blood on your pages!
(I'm not the one in the box, right?)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Psychological Warfare - Gaslighting Pt 2, What Gaslighters Say

In our last round at, we looked at the manipulation methods of gaslighting and how a gaslighter behaves. Today we will look at how that plays out in our manuscripts. Not only will we examine the sort of things a gaslighter might say but how a manipulated character might respond.

One of the key tools of gaslighting is "illusory truth." Illusory
truth is a lie you come to believe is true simply because you hear it so often. Now, that's not always a bad thing. Some self help courses teach you "believe it until you become it." And, we saw a very sweet example of illusory truth in that book/movie where the lady baked a poop pie.

But, in the hands of a gaslighter, illusory truth is a weapon. And they wield it so well their victim begins to see flowing blood as a normal part of life. If I tell you over and over on a regular basis for an extended period of time that you look like you are getting sick, you will come to believe it, even if you feel fine. What's even worse is that you might actually become sick. Here's a video explaining a bit about illusory truth.
Gaslighters say things that not only reinforce their illusory truth but support their feigned honesty and make their target doubt his/her own ability to know what is true. Even more diabolical, they might use bits of truth to support their lies.  

Here are some examples of what a gaslighter in your manuscript might say. Notice three things about these statements. 1. All put the focus on the target of the manipulation. 2. All take focus off the lie and the manipulator. 3. All demean the target of the gaslighting.  

·                         “You’d know if you paid attention.”
·       “I wish I kept your text to show you that you are wrong.”
·       “You’re over-reacting.”
·       “Stop taking everything so personally.”
·       “This is not that big of a deal. You’re making it a big deal.”
·       “I will repeat myself since you obviously don’t listen.”
·       “Haven’t I given you everything you asked for?”
·       “You’re the only person who has a problem with this.”
·       “I’m only criticizing you because I care about you.”
·       “I’m not arguing with you. You’re the one arguing.”
·       “You always jump to conclusions.”
·       “Are you saying I’m lying? Wow, look who is being hurtful now!”
·       “You think I’m lying because you’re a dishonest person.”
·       “You think that because of you, not me.”
·       “Why would I lie to you? Why would you think so little of me?”
·       “You have trust issues.”
·       “That’s not what happened. You have a bad memory.”
       “That’s what you think of me? What does that say about you?”

Gaslighting a very real form of abuse. Which is great for writers. I know, that's awful. BUT, using reality is what makes our work, well, real. It's what people relate to and what makes them connected to our characters either in love or hate. 

Next time we will look at how gaslighted characters respond. And, I will give a little info on how to handle a gaslighter. 

Until the next round, get blood on your pages!