Brainwashing is when someone is forced to believe something against their will, usually through manipulation or coercion. Gaslighting is when someone is made to doubt their own memories, perceptions, or sanity.

What is brainwashing?

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picture of person trying to brainwash someone

At its core, brainwashing is a process of indoctrination that aims to change an individual’s beliefs, values, and behaviours or is used to force someone to adopt a certain belief or ideology. This can be done through various methods, including isolation, repetition of certain ideas or phrases, sleep deprivation, and repetitive indoctrination and coercion. While brainwashing can be used for good (think: rehabilitation programs), it can also be used for nefarious purposes (think: cults).

What is gaslighting?

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picture of an upset person

Have you ever been in a relationship where you felt like you were constantly walking on eggshells, never quite sure what would set your partner off? If so, you may have been a victim of gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow doubt and confusion in the victim, making them question their own reality

Gaslighting, is a form of psychological manipulation that aims to make someone question their own reality. This is often done through things like lying, denying, or distorting truths. Gaslighting can be incredibly harmful because it not only erodes someone’s sense of self and reality, but can also lead to anxiety, depression, and even PTSD.

One common gaslighting tactic is to deny that certain events took place, even when there is clear evidence to the contrary. For example, a gaslighter might claim that they never said something derogatory about their victim, even when there is video footage or audio recordings of them doing so. Another common tactic is to lie or distort the facts in order to make their victim question their own memory and perception. For instance, a gaslighter might claim that their victim was never invited to a certain event, even though this is not true.

Gaslighting can be extremely harmful and destructive, particularly over extended periods of time. It can cause victims to doubt their own sanity and judgment, leading them to question their memories, perceptions, and reality itself. If you believe you are being gaslit, it is important to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can assist you in regaining a sense of reality and clarity.

Brainwashing Vs. Gaslighting – Key Differences

Objective: Brainwashing aims to completely change an individual’s beliefs, values, and behaviors, often through intense psychological manipulation and control. Gaslighting, on the other hand, seeks to undermine a person’s perception of reality and make them doubt their own thoughts and feelings.

Scope: Brainwashing typically occurs within a specific ideological or group context, such as cults or totalitarian regimes, where individuals are subjected to a relentless and immersive indoctrination process. Gaslighting can occur in various relationships or settings, including personal relationships, workplaces, or social interactions.

Focus: Brainwashing primarily targets altering an individual’s beliefs and behaviors by using various persuasive techniques, including isolation, repetition, and reward/punishment mechanisms. Gaslighting focuses more on manipulating someone’s perception of reality, often through denying or distorting facts, questioning their memory, and making them doubt their sanity.

Duration: Brainwashing often involves a long-term and comprehensive process that aims to reshape an individual’s entire worldview. Gaslighting can occur sporadically, but it is often characterized by a repetitive pattern of manipulation and gaslighting tactics over time.

Intent: Brainwashing is typically carried out with a specific agenda or purpose in mind, such as gaining control, loyalty, or conformity to a particular ideology or authority. Gaslighting can be driven by various motives, including power dynamics, control, manipulation, or emotional abuse.

Impact: Brainwashing can have profound and long-lasting effects on an individual’s identity, beliefs, and behavior, leading to a complete transformation of their worldview. Gaslighting can significantly undermine a person’s self-confidence, self-trust, and emotional well-being, causing confusion, anxiety, and a distorted sense of reality.

It’s important to note that while brainwashing and gaslighting have distinct differences, they can sometimes overlap or coexist in certain situations.

What are the 3 types of brainwashing?

The three types of brainwashing are:

Re-education Brainwashing: This type involves forcibly changing an individual’s beliefs, values, and behaviors by subjecting them to intense ideological indoctrination. It aims to break down their existing thought patterns and replace them with new ideologies or dogmas.

“Love Bombing” Brainwashing: This method involves showering an individual with excessive affection, attention, and validation to create a sense of dependency and manipulate their emotions. The goal is to establish control and foster unquestioning loyalty.

“Groupthink” Brainwashing: Groupthink brainwashing occurs within a collective setting, where individuals are pressured to conform to a particular group’s beliefs and behaviors. The emphasis is on social influence, peer pressure, and the fear of isolation or rejection for dissenting opinions.

These types of brainwashing techniques are often employed in contexts such as cults, extremist groups, or situations where individuals are subjected to intense psychological manipulation and control.

What are the 4 types of gaslighting?

The four types of gaslighting are:

Denial Gaslighting: This form involves outright denying someone’s experiences, perceptions, or emotions. It can include statements like, “That never happened,” or “You’re making things up.”

Minimization Gaslighting: Here, the gaslighter downplays or trivializes the other person’s feelings, experiences, or concerns. They might say things like, “You’re overreacting,” or “It’s not a big deal.”

Projection Gaslighting: Gaslighters may project their own thoughts, feelings, or behaviors onto the other person, making them question their own reality. For example, they might say, “You’re the one who’s always lying,” when they are the ones being dishonest.

Manipulation Gaslighting: This type involves manipulating the other person’s perception of reality through deliberate actions or distortions. Gaslighters may rearrange or hide objects, fabricate events, or use other tactics to make the individual doubt their memory or sanity.

These forms of gaslighting can occur in various relationships and settings, such as personal relationships, workplaces, or even broader societal interactions. They are intended to erode the target’s self-confidence, create dependence, and maintain control over them.

What are true examples of gaslighting?

Example 1: A partner repeatedly tells their significant other that they never said something hurtful, despite the victim clearly remembering the hurtful remark. The gaslighter insists that the victim is just imagining things and makes them doubt their memory.

Example 2: In a workplace scenario, a colleague consistently takes credit for another person’s ideas and achievements, denying their involvement and dismissing their contributions. The gaslighter manipulates the situation to make the victim question their own competence and worth.

Example 3: A parent constantly tells their child that they are oversensitive or overly emotional whenever the child expresses their feelings or concerns. The gaslighting parent invalidates the child’s emotions, making them doubt their own emotional responses.

Example 4: In a friendship, one person regularly accuses the other of being too needy or clingy whenever they seek support or attention. The gaslighter creates a sense of guilt and manipulates the friendship dynamics to make the other person doubt their own needs and worthiness.

These examples illustrate how gaslighting involves the manipulation of someone’s perception of reality, emotions, or experiences, leading them to question their own sanity, memory, or validity. Gaslighting can occur in various contexts, and it is important to recognize such behavior in order to address and protect oneself from its detrimental effects.

Featured Image By Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

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