Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gaslighting and OCD

Not a gaslight.
So I was recently reading about the fascinating psychological phenomenon of gaslighting.  For those who aren't familiar, it's a horrifying form of abuse. defines gaslighting as: "to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation." As Louis de Canonville further explains, it "is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment."

Now, gaslighting anyone would be reprehensible. But I started thinking about the tragedy of how easily a person with OCD could be manipulated.  

As I've talked about before, OCD means facing self-doubt regularly.  We can have trouble trusting our memory, especially surrounding our worst fears and obsessions.  This causes some of us to seek reassurance from others (even if this is ultimately an unhealthy compulsion). What would happen if our partner, family member, or friend was reinforcing those doubts?
The result would be terrifying.  When you actually have a condition that causes you to question your sanity, the last thing you need is someone playing this up. 
I've been lucky enough never to face this.  I imagine that as someone with OCD, you would immediately spiral downward.  Especially if you were unaware that this potential form of abuse existed, if would be so easy to fall into it... to become completely reliant on this other person to define what was really going on. The person could totally manipulate you however he or she pleased.

David Wolfe recommends, "If you feel like you’re being gaslighted in a relationship, it’s important to seek help."  I agree 100%.  
If you even have the slightest concern that this could be happening, talk to someone about it. Don't face this alone.

References/Interesting Articles:

"Are You Being Gaslighted?" by Robin Stern, PhD.
- "10 Things I've Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic" by Shea Emma Fett
-"10 Signs You Are a Victim of Gaslighting" by David Wolfe
- "The Effects of Gaslighting in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome" by Christine Louis de Canonville

(Also... for anyone who was hoping this was really about physical gaslights, check out my uncle's site:

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