‘Gaslighting’ told by psychologist Rea Celine Villa

If there’s one thing about the Internet that I’m grateful for, it’s the accessibility to the information it provides. Of course, this can be a double-edged sword as information can easily be falsified (as we’ve learned), diluted, or manipulated. Once something is published on the World Wide Web (do kids always call it that?), it’s also true even if there are pieces of information that are missing or not absolutely correct. That’s what came to mind when I approached an old acquaintance, Mind You Philippines Senior Psychologist, Rea Celine Villa MAP, LPT, RPsy to ask her about the subject of lighting on gas.

As noted on her LinkedIn page, Rea is Mind You’s lead psychologist. She is responsible for designing and creating mental health programs, internal processes and policies for the company and its customers. She is also responsible for managing overall operational strategies and processes to achieve the company’s mission statement. Rea also manages and advises Mind You’s pool of psychologists. She is a co-author of the first-ever Filipino Youth Depression Scale which serves as an initial self-report tool that measures individual tendencies towards depression. Rea is also the chief psychologist at Pasig City General Hospital, where she treats the most sensitive cases related to trauma, abuse, anxiety and depression.

With such an impressive background, I thought Rea would be the perfect resource to help me dive deeper into gaslighting beyond what I see on the internet.

When asked about gaslighting, Rea first ponders her more technical explanation: “Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and manipulation. It happens when an abuser or the abuser brings someone ‘one to question their own beliefs, memories and perception of reality.”

She goes on to explain further, “People would know they are under pressure when they begin to experience several of the following potential signs: feeling anxious, confused and uncertain about their perceptions, frequently wondering if they are remembering things correctly , feeling disconnected from your sense of self, as if losing your identity, thinking they are overly sensitive, irrational or “crazy”, feeling incompetent, hopeless or worthless, not feeling confident and insecure; having low self-esteem, feeling the need to constantly apologize to the violent person, defending the violent person’s behavior to others, and withdrawing or isolating themselves from others.”

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Rea, who is also able to relate technical terms to pop culture, also references a popular movie.

“As far as the background of the concept is concerned, the term ‘gas lighting’ originated in Partrick Hamilton’s 1938 play entitled ‘Angel Street’ which was later developed into an Alfred Hitchcock film, entitled ‘ as Light “. In the film, the manipulative husband tries to make his wife believe that she is losing her mind by subtly modifying her environment: he slightly moves the objects of their house, hides certain objects, in particular by attenuating the flame of their gas lamp slowly and steadily. When questioned by his wife, he replies that either she lost them or they moved them around her. The film has become an accurate portrayal of the controlling and toxic actions that the manipulative people use it, so much so that they started referring to the abusive behavior as gaslighting.”

I then asked what could be the reasons why people light others, to which she replies: “According to experts, there are two main reasons why people light others. The first is that they want to gain control and power over another person, and two, they have learned these controlling and manipulative behaviors from caregivers or parents, and are now using these behaviors as coping mechanisms.”

“Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse that thrives on uncertainty. They make their victim doubt themselves and then worry about it until the victim becomes suspicious of everything “she hears, thinks and feels. This distrust and insecurity therefore makes the victim more dependent on the gaslighter. One of the root causes of gaslighting behavior is due to a mental health condition such as the disorders personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, and associated manipulative behaviors can lead to unstable and unhealthy relationships.

“However, mental illness is not necessarily the cause of gaslighting, and you don’t have to have a personality disorder to be able to gaslight someone else. Anyone can have the ability to ‘act that way. Sometimes people in a position of authority and power use it to undermine the credibility of a person or a group, in order to reduce their influence.’

She was quick to share lessons with anyone who has experienced gaslighting or is still experiencing it today.

“When gaslighting occurs, there is almost always a power struggle at the heart of it, with the aggressor having the upper hand. The manipulator has enough control that the gaslighting victim has fear of ending the relationship or leaving the gaslighting dynamic because the possibility of doing so poses a serious threat, physical or psychological.In this case, it is important that a victim be able to establish a strong sense of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-confidence.

“The ability to establish them helps the victim take charge of the power dynamics, because being truly aware of who you really are as a person can help you regain control, regardless of what the manipulator is really saying. If you think you are under the influence of the gas, you must remember that you are not responsible for what you are going through. The toxic person is the only person responsible for their actions. Always choose yourself when you are in This situation. Ending a relationship can be difficult because of the feeling that you have invested in it, but no feeling is worth giving up your sense of yourself, your identity and your power.”

She then concludes the conversation by sharing ways to overcome relationships and experiences rooted in gaslighting.

According to therapists, there are several ways to protect yourself and regain control from this form of abuse.

Gather and preserve evidence. Focus on keeping a log of your encounters, as gaslighting may cause you to doubt your own judgment. Keep a journal, save text messages, or save emails so you can review them later and remind yourself not to question yourself and prove that you aren’t imagining or forgetting things.

Set clear boundaries. In a relationship, boundaries indicate what you are willing to accept from others. Make it clear that you won’t allow the other person to act in a way that trivializes or denies what you have to say.

Talk to someone you trust. Trustworthy friends and family members who aren’t directly involved in the relationship can give you perspective, help you gain clarity, and offer emotional support.

Focus on self-care. Good self-care can make a difference in improving your state of mind. A gas lighter may try to make you feel unworthy of taking care of yourself, or it may characterize your actions as indulgent or slow. Nevertheless, it is crucial to continue with your self-care routines. Dedicating time to hobbies and wellness activities (positive conversation, meditation, daily affirmations, etc.) can help you feel stronger and better prepared to handle the obstacles in your daily life.

Seek help. Over time, gaslighting can impact your self-esteem and make you less judgmental and can contribute to the experience of loneliness, sadness and anxiety. You may notice the gaslighting and begin to resolve it with the help of a mental health professional.

To learn more about Rea and access more resources, you can visit mindyou.com.ph.

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