Gaslighting: A Weapon of Control and Destruction

by Ron Poblete

MIRIAM Dictionary’s word of the year is Gaslighting. And yet you may have been gaslit without you knowing it. 

IT IS SUCH  an insidious mind manipulation device by borderline sociopaths in your life that only in a moment of deep reflection you realize what has been done to you after the damage is done. 

This has come to light famously in the case of Johnny Depp VS Amber Heard where hours of audio recording were analyzed by expert witnesses to prove in court the various ways Miss Heard manipulated conversations and sow doubt so she can control the relationship.

Gaslighting by definition is manipulating someone by making them question her sanity or reality. A husband or wife that uses their personal misfortune to convey the partner’s inadequacy when in truth they are the one causing problems in the relationship is one example which clearly was established in the high profile Depp VS Heard case. 

Johnny Depp sued ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation early this year and won for an op-ed  article on the Washington post claiming spousal abuse.

“Ako na lang ang parating mali.”, “Alam mo naman ang pinagdaanan ko.”,  “Ang hirap ng walang nagmamahal sa akin.”, are just some of the lines you might have encountered in arguments conjuring unnecessary guilt. 

Something very common in a couple’s argument where one is cheating on the relationship are the words, “Nasisiraan ka na ba ng bait?”, “Paranoid ka lang.”, “Kasama ko lang sa trabaho yun.”, “ Ikaw lang gumagawa ng problema.”. 

It is a sad reality faced by wives or even some husbands who end up doubting their strong suspicions only to stay in the relationship even though they have been treated poorly and abusively. 

This also could be in the form of a boss who constantly reminds you that you owe them your position or uses a detail in a conversation you had where you shared something private that incriminates your person and twists it to make you do something inappropriate or beyond your scope of duty. Sometimes leaving you feeling violated, helpless and bitter. 

It can also be in the form of a joke half meant. “Uy ang lusog mo tingnan sa photo mo no?” And once you get offended, they hark back with “Grabe hindi ka mabiro.” Or sometimes cleverly disguised in sarcasm,  “Sure ka sa sinasabi mo?”, “Sana all.”. 

The term was coined from a 1944 Ingrid Bergman movie called Gas Light. The protagonist’s husband secretly dims and brightens a gas powered indoor light and insists she is just imagining it.  This term caught on a few years ago during the #METOO movement when women gave their accounts of feeling inadequate and uncertain of their plight during their experiences of abuse under men of authority. 

It is very important that psychological ploys employed by people to manipulate and control are exposed. 

Calling out someone’s action calmly and assertively is a very important step in preventing someone from taking over a conversation or worse a relationship,  according to a healthline.com article, medically reviewed by Dr. Kendra Kubala PsyD. 

Gaslighting is a red flag. Violence, according to experts, is almost guaranteed to succeed manipulative actions involving this. 

Listen to your instincts. If the person continues to make you feel insecure, doubtful and resentful in your relationship, don’t be afraid to walk away.

Words only become a weapon if you let them hurt you. Control is always a two-way street. The only way to get out of your predicament is if you “turn the light off” on that relationship decisively.

Photo courtesy AP



We have the stories you’ll want to read.

RepublicAsia Newsletter