Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Psychological Warfare - Gaslighting Pt 2, What Gaslighters Say

In our last round at FightWrite.net, 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!

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