Episode 79: What Does “Gaslighting” Really Mean? with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Episode 79: What Does “Gaslighting” Really Mean? with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Over the last several years, the term “gaslighting” has gained significant popularity among adults and adolescents alike. “Gaslighting” is a term that has been around since the 1930’s, but what does it really mean? And are we, as a society, over-using/over-simplifying this term? The fact of the matter is that gaslighting is an insidious type of abuse that causes psychological and sometimes physical wounds that may take years or even decades to heal.
Check out the Light After Trauma website for transcripts, other episodes, Alyssa’s guest appearances, and more at: www.lightaftertrauma.com
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hey, everybody. What’s popping? Welcome back. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. It’s that time, another episode of the Light After Trauma podcast. I am your host, Alyssa Scolari and I am hanging in there. You didn’t ask, nobody asked. Well, technically some of you asked. I have had quite a few of you reach out in my DMs on my Instagram, which if you haven’t given us a follow yet it is lightaftertrauma. Go check us out on Instagram. As many of you know, I have a surgery coming up and my surgery is in two days from when this episode launches. So my surgery is January 27th and I am really looking forward to it. Yeah, I know it’s kind of weird, but I’m actually really looking forward to surgery because I am so excited to not be in pain 24 hours a day. And for those of you who might be new to this episode or this podcast, and really haven’t listened to previous episodes, I’m having endometriosis surgery.
Alyssa Scolari [01:31]:
It has been quite the journey. You can feel free to look back at some of my previous episodes. I do actually have an individual episode where I speak about what my process has been with endometriosis. And yeah, so this surgery just feels like a long time coming and I’m getting really excited. I was so nervous that with the rise of Omicron, that my surgery was going to get canceled because the hospital where I’m getting my surgery actually canceled the first two weeks in January because of how badly the virus was spiking. So I thought for sure that there’s like no way I’m having the surgery, but as of right now, when I’m recording this, which is Sunday the 23rd, as of right now, my surgery is still on. So hopes and prayers and well wishes that it stays that way. And I’m just asking you all for prayers and well wishes and healing vibes for the recovery, because the way the surgery works and I will definitely do a part two postop about my experience with the surgery and the recovery process.
Alyssa Scolari [02:43]:
But so my understanding, I am not necessarily going to wake up and be healed. The recovery is still going to take months. I’m still going to need lots of physical therapy. And there’s a possibility that this disease has spread to my other organs, which I am hoping and praying isn’t the case because I am really looking forward to getting back and living my life. But it is a possibility that this has spread to my bladder, to my bowels, in which case I may need another surgery or even multiple other surgeries. And honestly, it’s a little too much to think about right now because I so desperately want to get back to just living my life, but it is what it is. And I will cross that bridge when I get to it. I’m just trying to take things one step at a time. And as of right now, my surgery is on.
Alyssa Scolari [03:40]:
So thank you so much for everybody who reached out. For anybody who has sent gift cards, we’ve had people that have sent us meals and gift cards for food, because I have been in so much excruciating pain and my husband has been tending to my every need because honestly, sometimes it’s all I can do to just go downstairs and like lay on the couch. It’s exhausting. And so, food has sort of been like very low on the totem pole in terms of priorities. So we are really, really lucky to have lots of amazing friends and family and just fans of the podcast who have reached out and sent cards. And my one friend, Jen, who was on the podcast just a couple weeks ago to talk about healing crystals, she sent a healing crystal package, which again, if you haven’t listened to that episode, it’s called the Hype About Healing Crystals. And it’s really, really good.
Alyssa Scolari [04:39]:
I am somebody who was very skeptic goal about healing crystals, but after meeting Jen, and then a couple of other experiences, which I talk about in that episode, I’ve become hooked on healing crystals. They’re amazing. And Jen sent me this incredible care package. And if you haven’t done so already, also go check out Jen’s website. It’s also in the show notes for that episode. And I think our website is healingartbyjen.com. Her work is absolutely incredible. So I got that package from her, which was really nice and we’ve just really been feeling the love. So thank you so much for the support. And I will stop blabbing about that now. And I’m going to transition into what we’re talking about today, which is a highly requested topic and a topic, which I have been promising for literal months that I was going to talk about. Honestly, probably a year at this point, I have been promising, I was going to put out an episode about this, but… So this has been a long time coming.
Alyssa Scolari [05:36]:
We are talking about gaslighting today. So this is a term that I feel like is really important for us to discuss. And partially is because everybody’s heard this term before, which on the one hand, I’m like, oh, this is really great. We are becoming more knowledgeable as a society, about mental health and abuse and psychological abuse. But then on the other hand, I’m kind of like, yeah, it’s kind of a problem that every single person is aware of what gaslighting is, because this has become like a very popular term on all social media platforms. And it just has paved the way for so much misinformation to be spread about this. And I work with both adolescents. I work with like younger kids, maybe like 8, 9, 10, and then I also work with adults.
Alyssa Scolari [06:35]:
And across the board, I have heard adults and kids alike misuse the term. And of course, I’ve heard abusers misuse the term, right? Abusers tend to use this term in a way that serves them and fits them. So I’ve just heard so many people misusing it and overusing it, which does a couple things, right? Number one, that definitely almost like dilutes the potency that is gaslighting. So when every single person is like, “I’ve been gaslit. I’ve been gaslit. I’ve been gaslit. You’re gaslighting me. You’re gaslighting me. They’re gaslighting me.” It almost becomes a term that’s sort of like, eh, it’s gaslighting. And then we kind of lose, like I said, the potency, we don’t really understand the horrific effect that gaslighting can have when we are using that term all of the time.
Alyssa Scolari [07:39]:
And then again, it also just allows for so much misinformation to be spread about what it is. So as an example, if you are 14 and your mother says, no, you’re not allowed to go to the movies with your friends. I’ve heard 14 year olds be like, oh, my mom was gaslighting me because she didn’t understand how important it was for me to go to the movies with my friends. So she was gaslighting me the entire night. And it’s like, yeah, that’s not really what gaslighting is. When people set boundaries with us, we are not being gas lit or vice versa. When we set healthy and appropriate boundaries with other people, that’s not gaslighting. And I’ve heard a lot of people mistake other people setting boundaries as gaslighting, and we are going to get more into it. So I really wanted to do this episode justice and I am very familiar with gaslighting, but I am certainly not an expert in everything or really much of anything besides I would consider myself an expert in trauma and eating disorders. But whatever, basically the point is I can always learn always, always, always.
Alyssa Scolari [08:56]:
So I really wanted to do this episode justice and bring in a little bit more information than what I had in my toolkit today. And so I am getting a lot of my information today, supplementing this episode with information from medicalnewstoday.com. And I will include that in the show notes. I will include the exact article that I am using. So you can feel free to go and check it out. But I actually have always been really fascinated with the phrase gaslighting itself, because I’ve always been like, what does that mean? Where does that come from? It just seems like such an odd name. And I never had a clue.
Alyssa Scolari [09:42]:
So basically what I learned and I learned this through this website, Medical News Today is that gaslighting is actually derived. So this term has been around since the 1930s, which is wild because I feel like a few years ago, people had never even heard of the term, but it’s really felt like over the last few years with I think the rise of like social media and TikTok and part of my theory is like I think there’s a ton of therapists on TikTok that talk a lot about gaslighting and a ton of mental health professionals and medical professionals, which again is great.
Alyssa Scolari [10:19]:
Unfortunately, gaslighting has been pulled out of context, but I really think that with the rise of a lot of like mental health professionals and medical professionals on social media, we’ve seen a lot more of this term, but really this term has been around since the 1930s. And it was derived from a play, which I think is fascinating. So there was a play by a man named Patrick Hamilton. It launched in the 1930s and 1938 to be specific. And then it was actually turned into a film in 1944 and the title of the film and the play is called Gaslit. And the plot of that play slash film essentially is where a husband, he manipulates his wife and he tricks his wife into believing that she’s sick with severe mental illness, because he was constantly dimming the lights in their home.
Alyssa Scolari [11:23]:
And at that time, the lights in people’s homes were gas fueled. So what her husband was doing is he was playing this like psychological trick. I mean, it’s much more insidious than that, but he was making his wife feel like she was not in reality, not in her right state of mind. He made her feel like she was mentally ill because he kept dimming their gas fueled lights in the house. And then when she would say something about it, he kept telling her that she was hallucinating. So he supported her in this question or belief or crisis about her like mental illness. He was like, yep, Nope. You’re the issue. You’re hallucinating. So that’s where we get this concept of gaslighting from. And basically at the grassroots, gaslighting is psychological abuse and gaslighting can be done by a single person.
Alyssa Scolari [12:20]:
It can be done by a group of people. It can be done by an institution and we will get more into that in a little bit. But basically the goal when somebody is gaslighting you, or when people are gaslighting you, the goal is to make you question your memories, your beliefs, your own perception of reality. And ultimately, gaslighting is meant to make you question your sanity. And over a period of time, gaslighting causes you to feel constantly anxious and confused and scared. And you don’t even trust yourself. You don’t trust your thoughts. You don’t trust your feelings. You don’t trust your emotions. That is the ultimate goal of gaslighting.
Alyssa Scolari [13:18]:
So there are several specific techniques that are used when it comes to gaslighting. And I believe that there are even more than what I’m about to list. Like at the end of the day, when it comes to gaslighting, when somebody’s going to gaslight you, I feel like it’s probably rare that they’re going to sit down and be like, “Hmm, let me look at all of these subcategories of gaslighting and pick which one I think is going to work the best.”
Alyssa Scolari [13:45]:
But I feel like based off of the research that is done, or that has been done to date, these are the techniques that we are aware of and have been able to gather so far. So the first is countering, and this is basically when somebody is causing you or making you feel like you need to question your own memories. So this can happen a lot. And a lot of gaslighting happens in like domestic violence in situations. This also can happen a lot with child abuse where a parent or the abuser might say something like, “Are you sure that happened?” Or it might not even necessarily be a parent or an abuser. Again, as we’re going to talk about later, it could be anybody who says this. So the person might say like, “Are you sure that really happened? Are you positive?”
Alyssa Scolari [14:41]:
Like you don’t always have a track record of having the best memory. So I just want to make sure are you positive? And they ask in this like very condescending way, right? There’s nothing innocent about this question. It might be a question, but this person is asking you this because they already know the answer that they want from you. So then, there’s withholding. And that looks like stonewalling. It’s when somebody absolutely refuses to engage with you or engage in a conversation. Sometimes that person might pretend to like misunderstand you. Like let’s say you catch your partner… I don’t know. Let’s say you caught your partner cheating, right? You suspected partner was cheating and you followed them. They said they were going out with their friends. You followed them. You found that they were in fact cheating on you.
Alyssa Scolari [15:39]:
And then you go to confront your partner. Your partner might be like, “I’m not having this conversation with you. Like, I can’t believe that you wouldn’t trust me. I’m not doing this.” Or, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. And you’re making me feel confused. Like this doesn’t make any sense.” All this, like just completely shut down. Like I’m not having this conversation with you. I don’t know what you’re talking about basically. When you get your head screwed on straight, then come back to me and we can have a conversation. So that’s withholding, looks a lot like stonewalling. And then there’s trivializing, which this one happened to me all the time when I was little.
Alyssa Scolari [16:26]:
So it’s evil. And the upsetting thing about it is that so many parents do this, but not because they’re being inherently mean, or they want to harm their child. So many parents do this type of gaslighting because they don’t know better, because they think that that is the way to handle a child’s emotions. And again, we see trivializing across the board, right? Anybody can be gaslit. When I’m talking about like personal experiences and a lot of experiences that I’ve seen in my private practice. I’ve seen a lot of parents that often will say things like, “You are 14. You have no idea what depression even is.” Or, “Are you seriously crying right now? Get it together. I will give you something to cry about.” Or, “There’s no need to be upset about this. You are being ridiculous.” Or, “You are so dramatic. This is not a situation in which you should be upset. Like this is not a reason to cry.” All of those things are trivializing emotions.
Alyssa Scolari [17:48]:
Or if you’re looking at like intimate partner relationships, right? Let’s say your partner does something that triggers you. Like the other night, David and I, we were having a conversation and he had said something about how he kind of feels like my voice is really loud in the house and that my voice carries and it does. All of these things are true, but he did not realize that for me, being told that I’m too loud is a huge trigger. And so, he said it and he said it in like a very laughing and joking matter, there was nothing wrong with the way he said it, but I was flooded with shame and I actually started to cry. And he could have said, “You’re being ridiculous. You’re being so ridiculous. This is not a reason to cry,” but he didn’t. Because I was very upset. My whole life have always been told that I am too loud, that I am too obnoxious and I’m Italian.
Alyssa Scolari [18:50]:
I get very passionate about things. And that’s also just who I am as a person, my voice gets loud. My voice carries. And I personally have never been ashamed of my voice, but I have felt shame a lot when I… I just have very distinct memories of my friends and previous partners. And even my family that have always been like, “Shut up. You’re being so loud.” And I just am talking at like my normal pace, my normal volume, honestly. So I have lots of shame around that. It was very upsetting to me when he said it. He didn’t mean anything by it, but he could have easily, again, just been like, “What are you talking about? You’re being ridiculous.” But instead he sat down, he listened to me. He acknowledged why I feel shame. He let me tell him why I feel so much shame around being told that my voice is really loud.
Alyssa Scolari [19:50]:
And as a result, I felt so much better after. I was able to move through the shame. So situations like that also can be trivializing. Then there’s denial and denial is pretty much self-explanatory. This person is pretending to forget or is saying that you’re making things up. This happens so much with abuse, sexual abuse more specifically, right? It’s bad enough that survivors are sexually abused, but then the psychological abuse that comes after the women make these things up. And I’m not just talking about women. Men and gender nonconforming people, non-binary, people are also sexually abused, but we are told that we are making it up. That that’s not how it happened or that we wanted it or we consented. Anything, right? That’s not what really happened is what we are told all of the time.
Alyssa Scolari [21:04]:
Again, that is a form of gaslighting. That makes us question our reality because the majority of people walk into my office thinking they may possibly have been sexually abused, but the amount of denial based gaslighting that they’ve experienced in their lives have them questioning whether or not they were actually abused, which is why when people often come into my office, they don’t just have trauma. They have eating disorders, addictions, OCD, several other things that they had to develop as a way to cope with their abuse because so many people have told them that abuse didn’t even happen. So they weren’t given a chance to truly deal with it. I hope that makes sense so far. And please, I know I’m throwing a lot of information at you, but please feel free to reach out if any of you have any follow up questions about this.I would be more than happy to talk more about whatever questions you might have.
Alyssa Scolari [22:07]:
So then there is diverting, and this is when somebody changes the focus of a discussion and then questions the other person’s credibility instead. So what do I mean by this? Well, I have a really good example. So this is an example of a situation that happened between two friends. So the one friend, basically these two people have been best friends for years. And the one friend has always been the helper/supporter/pseudo therapist for the other friend, always listening to this person’s issues. And always trying to help this person, would pick up the phone at 1:00 AM, 2:00 AM, 3:00 AM. Anytime this person needed them, the friend was there. And yes, the boundaries in this relationship were very inappropriate in this friendship.
Alyssa Scolari [23:06]:
And things only continued to get worse. So at one point, this friend who was struggling with mental health started to rely on the pseudo therapist friend entirely too much. And when this person was feeling suicidal, they would call almost every night, wake this person up in the middle of the night. It just became too much. Now when the pseudo therapist friend tried to set a boundary and tried to talk to this other friend about how they were feeling, this friend said, “Look, I feel really bad. I know you’re really struggling, but I am not the person to help you. And in fact, you are struggling so much that it’s now affecting me and my mental health. So I really need you to try to get a therapist because I’m just not the one to help you.”
Alyssa Scolari [23:58]:
The friend who is struggling with her mental health totally changed the topic of the conversation and threw it back on the pseudo therapist friend by saying, “Wow, I guess I’m just too much for you. Well, have you ever thought that maybe you’re a bad friend? Have you ever thought that maybe you should care about somebody other than yourself for once?” And then what happened is the pseudo therapist friend ended up feeling guilty and ashamed and like a terrible friend, and then just stayed silent and continued to suffer and continued to get up at 1:00 AM, 2:00 AM, 3:00 AM night after night after night to help this person, because they were gaslit into believing that they were a bad friend.
Alyssa Scolari [24:53]:
So what that person did is they heard that a boundary was being set. They didn’t like said boundary. So they completely changed the focus and put the focus back on the pseudo therapist. And saying, nope, the issue isn’t me. The issue is you. That is the purest form of gaslighting and diverting, right? And then we have stereotyping, and this is again, pretty much self explanatory. Right? We see this so much with really anyone, whether it’s race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, age, we see this so much with age.
Alyssa Scolari [25:42]:
And it’s as simple as honestly like, oh, you’re a woman. You can’t drive. You don’t know what to do. You’re a woman and you can’t do math. Or you’re old, and therefore like are you sure you are remembering that… Like, are you sure you actually know what you saw because you’re old and your memory’s not as good as it used to be. It’s basically just taking stereotypes that we have about people and minority groups and using them against them. I’m not going to go into further detail on this because using the stereotyping piece, because honestly stereotypes are really, really hurtful and I hate them and they trigger me. So I’m sure that they would trigger other people. So you understand what I mean.
Alyssa Scolari [26:35]:
So these are the like subcategories of gaslighting that we know about so far. Again, I think there are probably others out there, but this is what we know about so far. And as I mentioned, gaslighting happens across a million gazillion platforms. It’s not just from between friends. It’s so much between intimate partner relationships. And this is part of the reason why people have such a hard time leaving when they’re in a domestic violence relationship is because of the gaslighting. This happens a lot in child parent relationships. Happens a ton in the medical field so much. And you all know that I am no stranger to the medical gaslighting. I mean, just in my battle with endometriosis alone, I cannot tell you how many doctors have told me that my pain. Or have not directly told me, but have tried to indirectly tell me that my pain is in my head or that it’s my fault that I’m in pain.
Alyssa Scolari [27:56]:
“Well, if you lost weight, you’d feel better.” Or, “Well, if you took Advil, you’d feel better. Well, that’s just the way period cramps are. You’re just supposed to be in agony, throwing up.” Medical gaslighting constantly. And this is so dangerous because this leads to physical problems happening as well, right? Over a period of time, I started to gaslight myself with my own pain and still do. What if it’s not that bad? I’m terrified to go on surgery on Thursday because I’m afraid they’re not going to find anything. And I often say to my husband, like what if they don’t find anything? What if this is just all in my head? And so much of that is due to all of the medical gaslighting I have experienced where people have made me feel as though my pain is not valid. And it’s just a result of me being weak.
Alyssa Scolari [29:01]:
So on medicalnewstoday.com they actually say here, what I think is really interesting, that in 2009, there was a study done that found that doctors were twice as likely to attribute coronary heart disease symptoms in middle aged women to mental health conditions versus middle aged men. So if you have coronary heart disease as a woman, you are twice as likely to be told that your symptoms are a result of your mental health, as opposed to men, which is absolutely staggering. And honestly should be shocking, but it’s really not with everything that I’ve learned about medical gaslighting. So yeah, it happens a lot. I am certainly no stranger to it. In fact, I had an appointment with a doctor just a few weeks ago and was talking about my symptoms, my endometriosis symptoms, which again, as many of you know is throwing up, chronic fatigue, passing out from the pain.
Alyssa Scolari [30:05]:
I am in pain all of the time. I have severe GI issues. There’s not a whole lot of food I can keep down. My quality of life is just in the toilet. And a doctor literally told me to stop catastrophizing. Stop catastrophizing. I’m just going to let you sit with that for a second. The rage that I felt, ugh, I digress. But so anyway, in addition to the medical gas lighting and the child parent relationships and the intimate partner relationships, we also have racial gaslighting. This is so prevalent. This is when people are applying those gas lighting techniques to a group of people based on race or identity, tons of the stereotype gaslighting. Also, it fits right in here. And I’m not going to go to too many examples, but basically you may deny. A lot of this happens when like white people say or make fun of this concept, that white people can’t be discriminated against based off of the color of their skin, because they can’t be.
Alyssa Scolari [31:26]:
And many of us know that, but white people love to say, they love to deny people of minority their experiences of oppression, of discrimination, things like that. White people… Not all white people. But many way people love to say that they understand what it’s like to be an African American person, an Asian American person. They know what it’s like to be discriminated against. No, we absolutely don’t. Absolutely don’t. And to pretend like we do is gaslighting. I see this so much with the body positivity movement. There are thin people, people who have thin privilege everywhere that are taking to social media and showing pictures of their bodies after they eat meals and their bodies are like bloated and they are hashtag fat positivity. Honey, no.
Alyssa Scolari [32:24]:
And to do that, to say that is denying the experiences of actual fat people who exist and who are constantly invalidated in this society. Having thin privilege, you can be an ally and you can absolutely support the fat positivity movement, but not everybody. And I literally mean that not everybody can be a fat person and not everybody will understand what it is like to have the experiences of a fat person in this world. Thin privilege is very, very real. And whatever, that’s a topic for another episode, but you understand what I mean, racial gaslighting. It’s really based on ethnicity, but you can be gas lit based on again, body shape, whether you have a disability, if you are in a wheelchair your entire life. You are essentially a target for gaslighting, unfortunately.
Alyssa Scolari [33:30]:
There’s also political gaslighting, which is really about political parties hiding things or things, or withholding information that might change their followers’ opinions, or beliefs or views on a subject. It’s when politicians are withholding information or denying things for their own personal gain.
Alyssa Scolari [33:58]:
And then there’s institutional gaslighting. And really this can occur at any company or organization. And this happens so often where employees are gaslit by their bosses. So for example, I worked at a restaurant many moons ago and I had a boss who was hitting on me. Well, I’m not going to even say hitting on me. He was sexually harassing me and I let it go. I let it go. I let it go. But then something happened that was extremely inappropriate and made me extremely uncomfortable. And I decided that I could not continue to go into work and work under him because I was terrified. I was so afraid of him. So I reported him and I ended up being pushed out of the job. I was told by my peers when it had gotten out that I reported him, that I ruined his life, that I should feel so sorry for him, because he is not going to be able to pay his bills. That I’m mentally ill and I need to stop making things up.
Alyssa Scolari [35:23]:
And eventually, they stopped putting me on the schedule to come into work. I essentially lost my job because I was trying to stand up for my right to not be sexually harassed in the workplace and to not be raped because that’s where it was going. And I lost my job. And this happens so often, especially when it comes to sexual harassment. But when it comes to standing up for anything, asking for a raise, asking for just getting your basic needs met in the workplace, right? Whether you need a break, whether you need time to be able to eat lunch, whether you need a raise because you haven’t had a raise in years, you will be made to seem like you are the issue. It always the case that you’re going to get a raise.
Alyssa Scolari [36:21]:
And all a sudden your boss is like, well, your performance hasn’t been the best over the last couple of months. And there are some things you can improve upon. And once you make those improvements, oh, we will totally talk about a raise. That’s bull. That is absolute bull. That is gaslighting because you are then left questioning your own reality where you were strolling along thinking you were a fantastic worker, but all of a sudden you’re like, well, wait a minute. Am I really that good of a worker? Like, do I need to improve? I didn’t realize I was a bad worker. So gaslighting, gaslighting, gaslighting. That is what that is.
Alyssa Scolari [37:10]:
Now, it is this pervasive, pervasive problem in the world. And yes, it is overused and sometimes oversimplified. And I wish that it wouldn’t be because this type of psychological abuse has a profound impact on your mental and physical health for years or decades to come. This type of psychological abuse leaves us feeling confused. We are constantly second guessing ourselves. We are constantly feeling indecisive. I struggle sometimes even to pick out what I want for dinner. If we are at a restaurant, I will look at the menu forever because I don’t trust myself enough to pick what I want. I’m second guessing myself. I am double checking. I need to make like a whole God chart before I pick out a meal at a restaurant because I’m that unsure of myself. We can’t make even the simplest of decisions.
Alyssa Scolari [38:20]:
We are told that we are too sensitive. We then become withdrawn and unsociable. We are constantly apologizing for our behaviors. I am so guilty of this. I am constantly sorry. And it’s a work in progress, but I’m still constantly apologizing to people, right? Oh, I’m so sorry. Oh, I’m so sorry. Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ve really had to make an intentional effort, but this is a result of all of the gaslighting that I’ve experienced in my life. We tend to defend our abuser when we’ve been gaslit, right? Again, this is often why, and not all of the reason why, but this is often why people do not leave right away when they’re being abused. Because with the perhaps physical and sexual abuse comes the psychological abuse, which is the gaslighting, which is all of the things I just mentioned. So people don’t actually know they’re being abused because they get abused, but then they get gas lit about it.
Alyssa Scolari [39:26]:
And then they are made to feel like the abuse is their fault. So they don’t leave. If anything, they feel even more and more worthless, therefore are feeling more and more grateful that their abuser still loves them. So they’re more likely to stay. Gaslighting causes us to constantly make excuses for other people. And ultimately, it just robs us of hope and joy. And it robs us of confidence and our ability to feel competent in any area of our lives. And if you’ve experienced medical gaslighting, that can lead to physical issues. If you’re constantly told that your pain is in your head and you start to believe it to, and then you completely ignore your symptoms, you could be sicker and sicker and sicker. So the impact of gaslighting is profound and it is a type of psychological trauma that I wish on absolutely nobody, but the sad truth of the matter is that millions and millions of us have experienced this.
Alyssa Scolari [40:38]:
Now, obviously this is something that’s really important to work through in therapy. And this is part of why in addition to talk therapy, I also recommend a lot of like body work because part of reversing the harm that was done is learning how to trust your body again. And once you learn how to trust your body again, and once you learn how to have more faith in yourself, you are less likely to be gaslit in the future. I know for myself, the more confidence that I’ve gained and I’ve gained a lot of confidence over the last several years, I really don’t take a whole lot of shit from people. I can absolutely call out when I’m being gaslit. It’s a little bit harder for me when it comes to the medical gas lighting.
Alyssa Scolari [41:24]:
And I think that just goes along with because I live in a fat body, I’m constantly stigmatized and I’m constantly made to feel like all of my issues are my fault and are a result of my weight, which is not true, but it’s a little bit harder for me in terms of medical gaslighting. But in other parts, I am really able to like identify the second I’m being gaslit. I call it what it is and in doing so I don’t necessarily absorb that abuse. I more or less let it bounce off of me. And therefore I’m not harmed by it. I might be hurt, but I’m not going to have psychological harm that’s going to last for years or decades to come.
Alyssa Scolari [42:11]:
So therapy is so important. Body work is so important. I hope that this episode was helpful and enlightening. Again, I will put the website that I used for today’s episode in the show notes. So feel free to check it out and to read a little bit more about it. But I really think it’s useful for people to know exactly what gaslighting is, so that A, we are not overusing it or oversimplifying it or using it inappropriately, but B and even more importantly, that we are able to see when it’s happening for ourselves, because when we can identify it, like I said, we are less likely to absorb it and therefore less likely to be harmed by it.
Alyssa Scolari [42:55]:
So thank you for listening. If you like what you hear today, and you like the podcast, it would mean the world if you could please go and leave a review or a rating. Reviews really help us grow. And the more we grow, the more people see the podcast and listen to the podcast, and the more people can receive free mental health, trauma focused education, which is always the goal. If you are able to support the podcast financially, that would be amazing too. We do have a Patreon. Please go to the show notes and you can see the Patreon there where you can contribute brilliant. And any amount that you would like, you can either do it on a monthly basis, or you can do a one off contribution. Whatever you choose to do would be absolutely amazing. Or you can just head on over to the website at lightaftertrauma.com and the Patreon will be there as well, along with all of the episodes and the transcripts for the episodes.
Alyssa Scolari [43:57]:
So with that, this is the last episode before I head into my surgery. I do not know what to expect, but I will see you on the other side and please know that I love you all and I am holding you in the light.
Alyssa Scolari [44:14]:
Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are @lightaftertrauma. And on Twitter, it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show. We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over again. That’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you. And we appreciate your support.