A mental health expert sheds light on "gaslighting"--the manipulative technique used by sociopaths, narcissists, and others--offering practical strategies to cope and break free.
He's the charmer -- the witty, confident, but overly controlling date. She's the woman on your team who always manages to take credit for your good work. He's the neighbor who swears you've been putting your garbage into his trash cans, the politician who can never admit to a mistake. Gaslighters are master controllers and manipulators, often challenging your very sense of reality. Whether it's a spouse, parent, coworker, or friend, gaslighters distort the truth -- by lying, withholding, triangulation, and more -- making their victims question their own reality and sanity. Dr. Stephanie Sarkis delves into this hidden manipulation technique, covering gaslighting in every life scenario, sharing:
Why gaslighters seem so "normal" at firstWarning signs and examplesGaslighter "red flags" on a first datePractical strategies for copingHow to coparent with a gaslighterHow to protect yourself from a gaslighter at workHow to walk away and rebuild your lifeWith clear-eyed wisdom and empathy, Dr. Sarkis not only helps you determine if you are being victimized by a gaslighter -- she gives you the tools to break free and heal.
Psychologist and mediator Sarkis, who blogs for Psychology Today, provides an extensive typology of the "gaslighter," who manipulates others into doubting their grip on reality. Gaslighters, according to Sarkis, are prone to, among other things, initially "love-bombing" others and then dodging commitment, eschewing personal responsibility, and harassment. She provides a great deal of practical information on how to deal with one in a variety of relationships (a spouse, a boss, a friend). She even has a chapter on what to do when one suspects oneself to be a gaslighter, though given this group's un-self-reflective nature, they would seem an unlikely audience for this book. If Sarkis has a weakness, it is for extreme cases; she sometimes seems to conflate the gaslighter with the psychopath, as when stating that the former might be prone to swindling or otherwise conning others and that they "will focus on stealing your spouse." She can also be self-congratulatory on her book's practical benefit for readers ("You'll learn much from this chapter that can help you put your own behavior into context"). Aside from those flaws, this is a succinct, useful self-help guide to responding to an all-too-common but underdiscussed personality type.