Have you ever had one of those fights with your spouse where you just explode while your mate just looks at you calmly, making you feel like you have lost your mind?
He’ll call you crazy and brush off what had made you so upset in the first place. Lets rewind and take a look at what causes this behavior.
Sound familiar? How about this?
It seems that whatever she asks Keith to do, never gets done, and she begins to see a pattern in his “forgetfulness”…he forgets whatever he doesn’t want to do, but never confronts her directly.
After multiple experiences with this passive aggressive behavior, the wife may eventually explode. Then, to her surprise, her mate will remain calm, roll his eyes at her, and make her feel like she is the crazy one. Why is she screaming, when he unfortunately only forgot to do it?
Or is this scenario more familiar to you?
You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!
Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?
A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.
Are you the crazy one? Probably not.
Gaslighting is a term, often used by mental health professionals to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.
The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.
Does this shoe fit?
“He’s coming for counseling,” she continued, “but I don’t believe he really thinks any of the problems are his. He acts nice during the counseling session, but he reverts back to his old self after we get home.”
So before you accept the label–such as “You’re crazy”–that someone else is giving you, back up, take a deep breath and think. Maybe get a professional opinion, if necessary, to bolster your own confidence in your own common sense. Don’t accept junk from someone else that isn’t yours! Figuratively, hand it back to them, saying “No, thank you.”