|English: This bright gas lamp has three mantles in UK|
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
From Wikipedia: Gas-lighting (or gaslighting) is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.
Scammers LOVE gaslighting, because they need to destroy victim's sense of reality, so they can substitute their own alternate reality, where selling is buying, black is white, and profit is loss.
Scammers deny facts that they don't want to explain (i.e. inconvenient truth). They will insist that the victims remembered it wrong. It wasn't like that. If victim is already weak-willed, victim will question his or her own reality... Did it happened the way I remembered it, or did I just imagined it? Was the way I learned selling really what selling means?
Scam victims who complained are dismissed as "whiners" and shouted down by shills, denigrated as "unbelievers" who "do not share the vision". Often, there are outright threats, from threats to cancel membership (triggering FOMO, fear of missing out), to verbal abuse to threats of physical abuse to legal threats (Cease and Desist orders) to even death threats. The victims were ostracized and put down emotionally, manipulated into believing it was their own fault for failing, that the system worked for everybody else, thus it must be the victim's own fault. Any one who failed is automatically weak, unbelieving, and sometimes, traitors who want to blame their own failings on the organization, and so on.
Pyramid schemes are very good at that. If one wins, the system gets credit as "the system works!" Individuals get no recognition unless some are needed to be shown in award ceremonies, but only to entice people who are on the fence. If one does NOT win one is blamed for the failings, as in "You must have screwed up! It worked for everybody else!"
Scams are also very good in getting the victim to ignore all the negative signs, such as government warnings, logical gaps, and so on.
Often, ignoring warnings signs are done in the name of "positivity" (ignore the "naysayers") by minimizing them. If the victim brought it up, victim are put down with various excuses such as
- "that's just a rumor" (and you should be ashamed for bringing it up)
- "that's a temporary condition" (and your lack of faith saddens me)
- "that's the process of transition" (and it can only get better)
- "they don't know what they are talking about" (trust me, I know, even if I don't tell you)
- "they don't have the facts, trust me on this" (not that I'd tell you everything, of course)
and so on and so forth.
After a few of these, victim will no longer dare to bring up any questions or complaints. Victim has acquired "learned helplessness". It's no use to try.
After weeks or months of this, victim had been gaslighted so much victim believes anything his/her leader says without question. Victim's own reality no longer exists. Victim will no longer doubt his/her leader. Victim had been brainwashed into unquestioned loyalty.
Scammers gaslight for various reasons, but the simplest reason is simply greed. They will make a sale doing anything, including lying, and spin ever more elaborate lies, if you will stay and put more and more money in. They even even get addicting to the lying, as they enjoy being the center of attention and adoration being the "success" that they supposedly are. Remember, MLM is very fond of "fake it till you make it". They say it's a way to "pre-imagine success for motivation. It however, is also a way to encourage lying.
How do you know you are being gaslighted? Here are a couple questions to ask yourself:
- Do you feel that something's not quite right, even though you can't quite say what it was?
- Are you being told to IGNORE such voices nagging at you to be careful? That you need to ignore doubters and be bold, even when the doubts make perfect sense?
- Are you getting contradicting stories from different "sides"? Are the supposedly "facts" from uplines and organization not matching news coming from OUTSIDE such?
- Are you being prohibited or discouraged from asking for third-party opinion, analysis, or confirmation?
- Are you told that you are always wrong and the leader is always right?
- Are you told that your family and friends are wrong and the leader is always right?
- Are you told that "they say" whatever you do is wrong, but "they" were never identified?
- Do you automatically blame yourself for not doing enough, even though you gave it your all?
If you see more than 3 of these signs, you may have been gaslighted. Beware.