Mental health expert Dr Stephanie Sarkis sheds light on ‘gaslighting’ – the manipulative technique used by sociopaths, narcissists, and others, offering practical strategies to cope and break free.
Gaslighting. What it is, how you can spot it – and how you can 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 neighbour who swears you’ve been putting your rubbish into his bins, or 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, co-worker, 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 first
Warning signs and examples
Gaslighter ‘red flags’ on a first date
Practical strategies for coping
How to co-parent with a gaslighter
How to protect yourself from a gaslighter at work
How to walk away and rebuild your life
With 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.
Gaslighting is mental manipulation that causes a person to doubt themselves and their actions — it can occur within many different types of relationships. Sometimes it’s within a romantic relationship, sometimes it’s between siblings, or parents and children, and sometimes it’s between colleagues.
Mental health expert Dr Stephanie Sarkis has worked with countless victims of gaslighting over her long career — she’s witnessed the effect that gas lighting can have on victims, and how difficult it can be for someone to escape or extricate themselves from their situation.
“Before you even get involved with a gaslighter, there are usually a number of signs you can learn to spot. In fact, signs present in the early stages of dating gaslights will often tell you everything you need to know about how sticking with the will be detrimental to your well-being.”
This is an incredibly detailed, exhaustive guide to the various types of gaslighters and how you can avoid them. I was surprised to learn that one of the most common forms of gas lighting is parent to child, and often that child grows up to be a gaslighter themselves because they’ve learnt (either knowingly or unknowingly) the art of gaslighting from their parent.
Stephanie Sarkis lists a lot of warning signs about gaslighters, but also helps us understand why gaslighters act the way they do — what it is they want and what they hope to get out of a situation. As a result, it’s a lot easier to understand how to remove yourself from their grasp.
Gaslighters distort the truth, and they’re often very good at it.
One of my favourite parts of the book was reading the testimonies on the sides of each page, the confessions from real-life victims who talk about how they were gaslighted. It’s fascinating.
“When I was a teenager, my mom would tell me that I was ‘getting pudgy.’ Then she’d make brownies or cake, and leave it out on the kitchen counter.”
Each chapter of the book is broken down into a different type of gaslighter, from relationships, to politics, cults, parents, siblings, and friends. There’s also a very long and helpful list of resources at the back of the book for anyone who wants further guidance and help after reading the book.
“In case you didn’t already have enough to worry about, the risks of violence with gaslighters is very real. They are more prone to getting violent because their frustration threshold is so low and they generally don’t have good coping skills. You should be prepared to protect yourself.”
I felt there was a slight oversight in the packaging of the book. Some victims of gaslighting are with potentially violent partners, or have been lured into a community or cult where their every move is watched. And it’s super obvious what this book is about. How are those people meant to read this book and not get caught?
Most of this book talks about the extremes of gaslighting, but it’s very informative. I was interested in reading this to expand my knowledge of what gaslighting is. For victims of gaslighting, I imagine this would be a very valuable tool.
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Gaslighting: How to Recognise Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People…and break free
Dr Stephanie Sarkis
Hachette Book Publishers