One of the most effective manipulations that addicts use is called gaslighting. Named after a popular film in the 1940s, gas-lighting refers to someone convincing you that your perceptions, thoughts and memories are incorrect. Abusive spouses do this to domestic abuse victims. And, it is a classic defense used by employees when supervisors do not document effectively, yet attempt to confront them about past job performance problems issues conduct or attendance issues.
Children are famous gas-lighting when confronted about behavioral problems by parents. Adults can be no different, so in DOT Supervisor Training, it makes sense to spend a few minutes on this commonly used defense. The idea is to impress supervisors with the need to use documentation in supervising employees. Any drug and alcohol training program you develop internally or purchase (like the one at WorkExcel.com) should have a solid checklist of quantifiable performance indicators.
Back to the 1940's movie where gas-lighting was made popular. In the movie, a woman is convinced that she is mentally ill by constant lies that her experience of the world around her is faulty.
- 1. Obvious lies. Your worker tells you one thing and then tells you the opposite a couple of days later. You begin to wonder if you heard correctly the first time.
- 2. Saying one thing and doing another. Addicts tell you what you want to hear and then do whatever they want. They’ll try to convince you this isn’t true.
They personally attack you when you confront them about
their lies. They’ll call you crazy or accuse you of lying
- 4. Finding others nearby who will be unable to verify the truth, but the active asking a stander's by makes it appear that an alibi obviously exists somewhere.
- Do not place your focus on prior incidents. Right now you have reasonable suspicion. Stick with that, and document it.
Good reasonable suspicion training and DOT supervisor training will address issues around gaslighting. Knowledge is power in this situation. This handout in particular is highly recommended, and it's reproducible.
- Write everything down. If you commit your perceptions to paper, you have
proof, at least for yourself, what you said and did. But this documentation will always be considered as strong evidence that you have no axe to grind and are documenting effectively.
- Recording your interactions also helps you connect with your intuition. Gaslighting, especially over time, teaches you to not trust your instincts. Remember our example of an abused spouse? They also begin to doubt their own sanity, and you will also begin to doubt yourself. A written record will help you regain confidence in your gut feelings.
Gaslighting makes you doubt yourself and may even be frightening. Take these concerns to the people you love and trust and allow them to help you become grounded in the truth again.
Get DOT supervisor training for reasonable suspicion of substance abuse.