What's the difference between manipulation and gaslighting?
Whereas manipulation targets the conscience, gaslighting targets consciousness. The term comes from the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Gaslight” (1944) about a husband with a secret who slowly drives his wife insane. Gaslighters claim to know a person better than they know themselves.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim's mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.
In relationships, an abusive person may use gaslighting to isolate their partner, undermine their confidence, and make them easier to control. For example, they might tell someone they are irrational until the person starts to think it must be true.
A manipulator will actively lie to you, make excuses, blame you, or strategically share facts about them and withhold other truths. In doing this, they feel they are gaining power over you and gaining intellectual superiority. Manipulators are experts in exaggeration and generalization.
If you feel like you are walking on eggshells around your partner, fearful that you will 'overreact' to something and set them off, or fearful that you will get into a fight and they will project on to you, then this is a sign that you are being gaslighted.
Gaslighting is the use of a patterned, repetitive set of manipulation tactics that makes someone question reality. It's often used by people with narcissistic personality disorder, abusive individuals, cult leaders, criminals, and dictators. It's important to point out that gaslighting is a “patterned” behavior.
People manipulate others to get what they want. This type of behavior may have a number of causes including interpersonal dynamics, personality characteristics, a dysfunctional upbringing, attachment issues, or certain mental health conditions.
"Unintentional manipulation can show up in exaggerating the facts," Silvershein says. "If someone had an early-morning flight that takes off at 8 a.m., they may say their flight is at 6 a.m. since they technically have to leave for the airport at 6 a.m. They know that this story is better and will gain more empathy."
What mental illness is associated with manipulation?
Manipulation is generally considered a dishonest form of social influence as it is used at the expense of others. Manipulative tendencies may derive from personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder.
As opposed to gaslighting, which tries to make you think you've made a mistake even when you haven't, psychological safety encourages a culture of trying new things, speaking openly, and creativity, among other benefits.
Do gaslighters know they're gaslighting? Gaslighting lies on a spectrum. Some gaslighters don't know they're gaslighting and are largely unaware of how their behavior is affecting the other person. But some gaslighters are very well aware of what they are doing, and it is done with intention and without remorse.