Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome to The Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm Robin Stern, co-founder and associate director of the Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence and author of the bestselling book, The Gaslight Effect. I'm an educator and a psychoanalyst, but first and foremost, I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, aunt, and healer. And just like many of you, I was a victim of gaslighting. Please join me for each episode as I interview fascinating guests and explore the concept of gaslighting. You'll learn what it truly means to be gaslighted, how it feels, how to recognize it, and how to understand it, and ultimately how to get out of it.
Dr. Robin Stern: Before we begin, I want you to know that talking about gaslighting can bring up challenging and painful emotions. Give yourself permission to feel them. Some of you may wanna go more deeply with your emotions. While some of you may hold them more lightly, no matter what you're feeling, know that your emotions are a guide to your inner life. Your emotions are sacred and uniquely you respect and embrace them for they have information to give you. If you want to listen to other episodes of the Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find them at robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for being here with me. Welcome everyone to this episode of the Gaslight Effect podcast. Today, my guest is Hannah Husain, and I'm thrilled Hannah to have you here. Hannah is a 17 year old young woman who is studying gaslighting relationships and teen dynamics from New York City and this semester from Hannah Teis.
Hannah Husain: Hi. Um, I am currently studying abroad in Spain, uh, and just working on researching gaslighting interactions and relationships specifically with teenagers and people, um, in my generation. Um, and that's my area of interest.
Dr. Robin Stern: Hannah, I'm so happy to have you here. Obviously, gaslighting, uh, is not just something that happens between adults. Uh, you have written an article that was published in January in Teen Inc. About gaslighting that happens between teens and also between teens and their parents. So I, today I'd like to talk about both, but I, I think it's so important because our listeners are, some of them may be moms, but all of them have had moms or have had some kind of parental figure and may have experienced some of the, the same gaslighting techniques that you witnessed among your friends, and specifically in one friend that you wrote about for Teen Inc. But importantly, gaslighting has disrupted and hurt and damaged many relationships between teens. And that's what I'd like to talk about today. But first, when did you hear about gaslighting for the first time, and what is your interest in it?
Hannah Husain: Well, as, as a 17 year old, I, I think it's important to even understand what this word means because it's used so frequently and in my generation and with a lot of my friends, and I realized that after hearing this word so much, I, I don't even know. I didn't even know if I knew what it meant. Um, and I, that was when I did some research online, just searching the word up. And honestly, I was interested in the interactions and the, the effects that I read about of, um, within gaslighting and gaslighting interactions. Um, and from there, I, that piqued my, my interest, and I started researching and started writing and started working with Dr. Stern.
Dr. Robin Stern: Well, it's been my honor really to, to work with you and to, to see gaslighting from your perspective and to see, uh, and to share with you the, the sadness that, uh, it is actually so prevalent in teen life. Um, so tell us, tell us when you first witnessed gaslighting.
Hannah Husain: The first interaction I can remember would be from my friend Natalie, who I wrote about in my Teen Inc article that was published. Um, and this was actually a gaslighting interaction I witnessed between Natalie and her mother. And I'm sure that there were many gaslighting interactions that I had witnessed before that, and many that I had been in as well. But this was the first time that I took a step back and said, that didn't seem right to me, or something in that situation felt like it affected Natalie in a negative sense. And once I started reading more about what gaslighting was and what these interactions do to a person, I put that word to the situation. Um, what happened with Natalie and her mom was that Natalie really wanted to go to a concert, but in short words, her mother convinced her that the concert was only for girls our age with bad intentions, who were trying to do something bad, who were druggies, who just wanted to party.
Hannah Husain: Whereas Natalie just really liked the band that was playing mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern: So, how do you think that happened here? Was your friend saying to you and to her mom, um, and probably to a lot of other people, I really wanna go to this concert, and you know her to be what her mom would call a good girl, right?
Hannah Husain: Yes.
Dr. Robin Stern: And that's the way you are saying she, or if I'm hearing you correctly, that's the way you are saying that she thought of herself at the time. Yes. That she was this young woman who just wants to go to the concert and not after some dark future. So what did her mom do that convinced her otherwise? Why do you think it was so powerful? Those series of moments over two weeks?
Hannah Husain: I think that it was the fact that no one was telling Natalie otherwise. She was only speaking to her mother about the fact that she wanted to go to this concert, and her mom kept telling her that only children that wanted to do bad things went to the concert. And so, for two straight weeks, that was the only thing that Natalie heard. And because that was the only thing Natalie heard, she slowly started to think, well, maybe I only want to go to this concert because I wanna do something bad. Even though deep down she knew that wasn't true. She wanted to see the band, she wanted to have fun with her friends, but then after those two weeks, she thought, maybe it'd be best if I don't go. And it was just those small, small things that built up small interactions over the course of two weeks that built up to create one big result, which was Natalie's own confidence in what she wanted being undermined.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you for unpacking that. I think you are onto something really important and sharing something really important with all of our listeners, which is that one channel of information she was listening to. And often in gaslighting relationships, uh, it will be the gaslight who isolates the gaslight or the gaslight who chooses to isolate themselves because they don't really wanna talk about what's going on in the, in the relationship to the outside world. In this case, just mom and daughter perhaps having these conversations over a, in afterschool time, uh, in the evening briefly. But it's that one voice coming at you with certainty and the same message over and over again, that will sometimes, or some people like your friend Natalie, cause them to go back and say, maybe they're right.
Hannah Husain: Right. And I specifically think that Natalie is a bit of an overthinker. So small things are mean a lot more to, for example, if somebody who overthinks a lot is being gas lit, then the small words that are being said to them actually have an even bigger impact, um, which really negatively impacted her confidence in what she felt sh would be a really great time for her and her friends.
Dr. Robin Stern: So are you saying then that, because she thinks about things more than, um, perhaps those things are deserving when, well, let me ask you, what do you think is an overthinker? What do you mean by that?
Hannah Husain: Well, for example, my, I I'm a bit of an overthinker, so when someone says something to me, I think it threw a couple times, what could that mean in this case scenario? What could that mean in this context? Um, I feel like I always tend to think of several different meanings. And for example, I have definitely unintentionally gaslit people. Um, one example I can provide is with my, my friend who is amazing tennis player. And I have always thought that they loved tennis, but one day they came back to me and for the course of a week continued to tell me, you know, oh my gosh, I I hate this sport. It's killing me. I mean, they had been playing it forever. It was clearly very draining, um, on their mental health, physically tiring. And I said, oh, no, come on. You love it. You love tennis. I mean, you've been doing it forever. You love it. And that was me telling my friend what they want, what they loved. And, and in a way that was me unintentionally gaslighting my friend. And that was just one scenario where I had said, no, you love it. But if my friend was a overthinker, then that one scenario could actually have as big of an impact as a bunch of many scenarios that change a person's mindset. So one gaslighting interaction could also be the equivalent of several gaslighting interactions over the course of time.
Dr. Robin Stern: A little bit, a little bit like what happens on the internet when, um, so many people like something, right? Yes. As if you're liking it over and over and over in your own mind, you're going over and over in your own mind. When you think about that now, do you think it was your intention to gaslight her to cause her to second guess herself, or you were just that sure of how she was feeling?
Hannah Husain: Well, in this case scenario, I was not trying to gaslight her. And I definitely was not sure that she loved tennis either. But it was the kind of thing where my friend came to me and was upset because something was really bothering her, a sport that she plays all day, every day. And my first instinct was, I need to support her. I need to try and make her feel better. So my mind went straight to, no, but you love the sport. Tennis is so great trying to provide a positive side of this situation. But instead, I could have confused her. And in this sense, gaslit her into thinking, oh, I do love tennis. I've been playing tennis for so long, I'm not gonna quit. Whereas what she could have needed is she, she could have needed to quit. Maybe it was too draining on her. Maybe she needed a break. But my saying that she loves the sport, confused what she actually thought, and then she could continue to keep playing the sport, even though that's not what's good for her.
Dr. Robin Stern: So, interesting. You're saying then that even though you were not a gaslight, that your, your statement caused her to perhaps gaslight herself and in second guessing herself because of something you said.
Hannah Husain: Definitely.
Dr. Robin Stern: Pretty powerful. What else have you seen and heard?
Hannah Husain: Well, I think even in with social media today, I know that, um, I am guilty of this. And a lot of my, my friends as well, insecurities are through the roof. And I've seen a situation where a friend of mine said that they, you know, they don't like the way that these pants fit them. And another friend of mine would say, no, no, stop. You look amazing. You look great. You should wear those. Again, my friend was trying to support my other friend. In no way, shape or form did they have any bad intentions with what they were saying. I mean, they told my other friend, no, you look great. But my friend who felt insecure in the pants
Hannah Husain: All of a sudden feels like, okay, maybe I shouldn't feel insecure in these pants, or maybe I should feel confident, or, come on, stop, you're being silly. Like, wear the pants out. Like, come on, let's you look great. You look amazing. And in that scenario, my other friend who was wearing the pants that she did not feel great, and all of a sudden feels like, okay, maybe I look good, maybe I should go out on these. But there's still that insecurity where if she wanted to change, she could, she should have. But it's, it's a sense of stop, you're so beautiful. That makes the girl feel invalidated, even though her friend just wanted to support her. Um, and she now feels as if she shouldn't feel insecure, even though those are natural thoughts and feeling insecure is okay, um, even though her friend had had no bad intention in doing so.
Dr. Robin Stern: Sounds like you're talking again about somebody, um, allowing themselves to be gaslighted by a statement, like taking it on even though the person was not intending to gaslight them. Because when, when I hear about gaslighting, um, from people who come because their hearts are hurting, it's been a long time, and they're going crazy because of, um, an ongoing, uh, undermining of who they are by their partner or their friend. I'm hearing about the person who is the more powerful person in the relationship intentionally, whether consciously or unconsciously that person wants to undermine the way you think, right. Wants undermine who you are. And in the situation that you're describing, um, it's a little bit, the similarity is, is there in that you want to change her mind?
Hannah Husain: Yes.
Dr. Robin Stern: But it's not your goal to undermine her confidence. Right? But it is your goal to change your mind and say, no, what you're thinking is not the way it is.
Hannah Husain: Exactly. So even in situations where people are trying to do good or trying to support gaslighting can happen, which I think shows that I'm lucky enough to have seen situations where it's not bad intention gaslighting. But I think that these also show that gaslighting can be unavoidable, because if your friend says, oh, I look so bad. I mean, your, my, at least my first instinct would be, no, you look amazing, because I'm trying to make them feel good. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern:
Hannah Husain: But instead, that could make them feel more insecure when they go outside and they're like, oh, my friends think that I should stop thinking this way because that's silly. But deep down, I don't feel good.
Dr. Robin Stern: Mm-hmm.
Hannah Husain: Right. And so next time she's wearing a pair of pants or a sweater that she feels insecure, and she might not ask, do I look bad guys? Because she knows those girls will say, you look great. And she doesn't want to have to feel like she's wrong again, or she's not sure if she should feel insecure. She, she doesn't know how to see herself correctly.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. So then an extension of what you're saying, if you will, is do you think that young people are constantly being or feeling gaslit, um, by images of perfection that they see in the media, or even by other people presenting their outsides in such a glittery, glamorous way while they on the inside feel so crummy, for instance? Um, like is there something inherent in that kind of, uh, set up that undermines confidence or thinking,
Hannah Husain: Well, I think that I've seen things on social media such as, you should not eat this, or You should not do this kind of workout, or you should not wear this kind of thing. And in reality, people eat different things. People do different workouts, people wear different things, and it's really just what works best for you. So if a person's being told you don't want to have carbs in the morning, you want to have this food, then a person will be like, oh, I don't want carbs in the morning. I want this kind of food. Whereas in a certain scenario, a person actually might do better with carbs in the morning, depending on their body type or what they actually need to fuel them throughout the day. Um, so I think it especially becomes a problem with food, because if people are telling you what you need and what you want with food, it, I mean, food affects our everyday lives. It's what we need to live. So that could completely change a person's mind, and it could lead to a lot of issues with that person in food.
Dr. Robin Stern: So is it, is it about the food or is it about the, your decision making and your thinking about the food?
Hannah Husain: Definitely the decision making. The food was more so an example of what that can change, because if social media can change what kind of food you're eating, then social media can, can change your whole mind. And media can change your whole day. It could change what you think is right to eat. Social media is telling you, no, you should eat this. And so you are undermining your own confidence. I mean, you're saying, oh, I, I had no idea. I mean, I'm 25 years old, I didn't know that eating yogurt in the morning was bad, even though eating yogurt in the morning is completely great, it's completely normal. But then you're thinking, okay, for the past 25 years I've been eating something wrong. And your confidence completely undermined in, in what you think is right because you think that, you know, for the past, your entire life, you've been doing something wrong.
Dr. Robin Stern: Keep going. What you're saying is super interesting. What else? What are the other messages that you're hearing or that your friends are hearing that, for example, teen girls are hearing in your opinion, that, uh, are cause for them to gaslight themselves or second guess themselves?
Hannah Husain: Well, I also think on the same category as food, exercise, um, food and exercise, I've seen so many posts about it. There's so many body image things online that are saying, um, you know, don't, don't be, don't eat meat. You should be a vegetarian. You want to be a vegetarian. Um, these things will help you. Being a vegetarian is a healthier life. Whereas, um, I personally, I am a vegetarian, that's why I'm using this example. But I know that vegetarianism would not work for many of different people, whereas eating meat did not work for me. And just because one person online thinks that vegetarianism is the best way of life and really works for them, doesn't mean it works for another person. So hearing those things online and hearing, oh, well, this person says it's the best way of life, it must be because this video is so compelling. And I've seen videos that are very compelling for me to do things like run a 10 k, whereas I know I could not run a 10 k tomorrow. So these videos and these photos and, and just visual things online are so compelling, I think, to me and to my age group. And to hear that something is really working out for someone in their life, it's compelling to think, well, maybe that could work out for me and to think, well then something I'm doing isn't right in my life because it doesn't look like that.
Dr. Robin Stern: But so then how, how do you, uh, and your friends decide what is real? What is reality? If you're watching a very compelling video about how important it is to eat meat and the animal proteins, on the one hand that people don't get enough protein and, and you need it for your strength and your stamina, whatever else, people who advocate for eating a balanced diet, including meats and fish would advocate. And then on the other hand, there's the re there is real talk reality talk about how plant-based diets are more helpful. So how do you know which one to believe or whether you should believe the way you thought think because your family has their own opinion.
Hannah Husain: I think that personally it's the presence outside of social media that will help you differentiate between reality and not reality. For example, when I see, I see so many things on social media every day that I will think about, I'll even write down sometimes, and I'm like, wow, I I was doing this wrong my whole life. I mean, I need to be running 10 k a day. Like that looks like a mi this girl is doing awesome things. And you know, I need to be doing that because,
Hannah Husain: Um, the, the workout I'm doing isn't good enough, or, oh, that's not working for me, and it's completely changing my mind. Um, but then my outside, for example, my mother when I talked to her about it at the dinner table, like, Hannah, sweetie, you don't need to be doing 10 k a day because that would be exhausting. And you are in school that, that is a 30 year old woman. She's not in school. She has more time sometimes during the day. And number one, everybody's life is different, and that shouldn't have changed the way that your mind thought. And it's, it's sad because a lot of people don't have outside of social media relations that are strong enough to tell them that. And I'm, I'm grateful that I do. But if you're constantly being told things by social media, by posts, by videos, things that you need to do, things you need to start doing, things that you're doing wrong, then your mind will be all over the place and constantly confused and constantly changed. And you'll have no person on the outside to tell you, well, hold on. You're actually, you're, you're completely fine. You're on the right track. You don't need to answer anything.
Dr. Robin Stern: So this is really such an important point that you're bringing up that there is so much on the, in, on the internet, there's so much information overload. How can you tell which one is the match for you? Right? And is, is everything that you see on the internet then potential occasion for you to second guess yourself?
Hannah Husain: I think I personally believe in that, don't trust anything you see on the internet. Because even if you think, well, this looks so real, most of it does, I I, a lot of the videos and a lot of the photos look so, so real. Whereas the woman who posted herself running a 10 k, that was a five second clip, and you really don't know if that was even a 10 K at all. And it's hard to differentiate between the reality and social media, but I think that you find what works for you by not relying on social media. If you put your phone on for a day and just let yourself go out through the day, then what would you be doing and what would work best for you? But if you're relying on the suggestions and the advertisements on social media, then you'll think, oh wow, okay, I need to be doing this.
Hannah Husain: I actually specifically think advertisements on social media, such as a certain hair product that's bashing another hair product, um, you know, this one's terrible. It ruins your, it ruins the ends of your hair and you need to be using this one. And you use, you use the X product that ruins the ends of your hair, and all of a sudden you're freaking out scrambling, trying to buy the new one. Um, but there was no proof that it ruins the ends of your hair. It was just a five second video you saw on social media, but all of a sudden you believe it and your ways are changed.
Dr. Robin Stern: And what happens if then on Tuesday, that was Monday, what happens if on Tuesday you see something that contradicts that? And then on Wednesday you see something that contradicts that. And then you have your friends weighing in telling you about all the things that they saw that contradict what you said. So there's so much opportunity for being confused that absent the, taking the time to step back, as you were saying and think about, well, wait a minute, what do I believe? What do I think? Like, what's been my experience with that hair product? And having that, having your time to think and the fact that you can think validated by somebody close to you, like in your case, how wonderful that your mom can do that for you.
Hannah Husain: It's great that she can step in as a third voice and say, well, no, that was actually trying to, that that thing that you saw on social media, your mind shouldn't be changed by that. For example, going all the way back to Natalie, if I had told her, Natalie, I, I mean, I don't think you're a bad kid if you go to the concert, that would've been me stepping in as a third voice to tell her, you're undermining your own confidence and you're not a bad kid if you go because she was being fed by one source, her mother. And we're all constantly being fed by many sources, which is social media.
Dr. Robin Stern: And so what would you say to people who are listening right now to you about how to avoid, um, one relationships where you feel like, uh, the person is actively trying to undermine your confidence or your reality? Um, or, uh, two, how do you avoid gaslighting yourself when you're faced with all these different choices, all these different realities telling you what to do, who you should be, what's going on for teenagers when you may be having a different experience?
Hannah Husain: Well, I think the number one thing that's very important is to be able to take a step back in any situation and think, well, what am I thinking right now? And what is happening that can change the way I'm thinking? So before you go buy the hair product, or before you think, oh, I'm a bad kid for wanting to go to a concert, you have to think, what did I think before and what happened that would've made my mind change? And is it valid? So I want this new shampoo, why do I want it? An advertisement told me that, is that valid? I'm not entirely sure,
Dr. Robin Stern: But what's wrong with that? What's wrong with seeing a great hair product, um, that somebody tells you is going to change the texture of your hair? And you may not like the texture of your hair and you go by it? Is that not, is that not okay?
Hannah Husain: No, I'm, it's, it's perfectly fine. But the, the gaslighting part of that situation is the fact that your mind has changed and you changed something about your life because of it. So there's an impact in your life, even if it's as small as a shampoo, um, because of something that somebody told you.
Dr. Robin Stern: So what's the difference then between infl trying to influence someone and tra and change their mind and actually gaslighting? So in the, in the situations we've been talking about, you're kind of gaslighting yourself with this, all this information in a direct gaslighting like the ex the example that comes to my mind was the example you wrote about in your article, um, with your friend denying the sneakers.
Hannah Husain: Right?
Dr. Robin Stern: Can you share that cuz that's kind of classic gaslighting moment.
Hannah Husain: Well, that was a very clear gaslighting moment for me. My friend was showing me a pair of sneakers that she really liked and she really wanted to get them. In fact, she told me, you know, later today I think I'm gonna buy them. And I said, that sounds great. I mean, those are awesome. They look great. And I really liked the sneakers. Later at lunch we were sitting with a group of other people and the other girl said, oh my gosh, these shoes are so ugly. I don't like these shoes at all. And, and my friend was like, my friend was sitting at the table with all of us and I said, I actually really like those shoes because I knew she was sitting there. And although this moment was very silly, um, it was so clear to me that it was gaslighting because my friend stepped in and said, no, no, those shoes are, those shoes are ugly.
Hannah Husain: I don't like them at all. And I was confused because I said, well, earlier today you told me you were gonna buy them. And all of a sudden my friend said, no, that never happened. And it was those words, no, that never happened. That made it very clear she's gaslighting me right now because what I know to be true, which was her telling me she wanted to buy the shoes was just changed with her words and her perception of reality, which is that we never had that conversation. And yes, the situation was very silly, but it was a very clear example of a change in perception or a manipulation of someone's reality.
Dr. Robin Stern: I think what's really interesting about that situation is that you recognize the minute you took a step back, wait a minute, what do I, what do I really think? Because I remember you telling me the story, um, as we were unpacking it, as you were unpacking it to write about it, that, um, you did have a moment and say, was she right? I don't know. I I don't wanna even be involved in this conversation. I'm gonna take a step back. And then when you took a step back, you were able to be that person who validated your own thinking.
Hannah Husain: Yes, it was, it would've been a hard step for me to just completely say, oh, she's gaslighting me. So at first when she said, no, that never happened. I did take a second and say, did that happen? Did I make that up? And that was when I realized, hold on. I did not make that up. That did happen. And my perception of reality is being manipulated right now. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about the need to be in relationships where you feel trust back and forth so that when you're looking for some validation about what you're thinking, you can turn to or trust someone who is that person in your life, like you with your mom, right? Or with a friend who you can, uh, say, well, you know, she said this to me, what do you think? And your friend who you trust is likely to say, no, no, no, that that's not right. If you thought something else, believe yourself, Hannah. Or in the movie when a third voice, a third party came in and stepped in and told the protagonist this, the woman Paula, um, whose name woman whose character's name was Paula, but you know, who's doing this to you, don't you?
Hannah Husain: Right.
Dr. Robin Stern: And validating a feeling deep down inside of herself as opposed to the validation or the um, uh, enur the validation or the attempt to influence you by all these people online who are total strangers.
Hannah Husain: Right. I think it's precisely that what you were saying about believe yourself, Hannah. I think that when you find friendships that you have affirming conversations in, that's when you know that those are people that can step in as a third person in your gaslighting interactions. For example, if I, for example, my mother, if I were to go to her and say, mom, the weirdest thing happened today and tell her about my friend and the shoes she really wanted to buy, my mom could say, trust yourself. That situation happened in your mind and it did happen. And her affirming words, yes, it is great to have yourself to help you think back to the situation. And in that situation, I thought, Hannah, that happened. Hannah, that happened. You're fine. That is the situation that happened. And I reassured myself of that. But it's great to have a third person again that can reassure that and say, if you believe it happened, then it happened.
Dr. Robin Stern: And in situations where things are being advertised to you or suddenly appearing on your feed and uh, where people are asking you to do things or you're in a chat where you're being encouraged to believe one thing over another, looking for validation from people who you can trust is so important as opposed to looking for validation from total strangers, those real people in your life who in my book I call your flight attendants who can validate your reality because they're people who you could look to to say, is there danger here? And they're gonna say yes or no, or you are right. Trust yourself. So what else would you say to young people listening to this? I know there are gonna be so many people who are gonna find meaning and, um, resonance in listening to what you're saying today.
Hannah Husain: Well, first I wanna say that there is a distinction between influence and gaslighting. And the distinction is giving someone space to disagree makes it an influence interaction, not a gaslighting interaction. If someone says, that did not happen, there's no space for you to disagree with that because they're stating a fact. But if they were to say, no, I don't think that happened, then there's space to be like, no, it did. Um, and I think it's an important distinction to make because the word gas lit, gaslighting, gaslight, those are all three words that are being used so much. And I hear them frequently and I just think it's important to know what they are and what those situations are as well.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. So a gas lighter is someone who is intentionally wanting to either deflect responsibility, deny something that's actually happened, blame you for something they did, turn the tables of the conversation so that you are second guessing yourself, telling you there's something wrong with you for wanting the thing you want or doing the thing you did or liking the shoes you like and influences. I want you to like these and giving you space to like or not like them.
Hannah Husain: Yes.
Dr. Robin Stern: What else would you say? Advice for your peers?
Hannah Husain: I would say that it's important, um, to have a third person for these gaslighting situations that are inevitable. Um, my third person is my mom. A third person could be your teacher, your friend, your your dad as well, your siblings. It could actually be anybody. It could be the barista that you see every morning. It could be anybody. But as long as you have the words of a third person that could come in and reassure you that what your thinking and your perception of reality can be true and is true, then I think that that's really important to have.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you for that. Um, I wanna go back to your friend Natalie, cuz one of the things that you said, um, in the, uh, and to her mom specifically, one of the things you talked about in the article was that you thought that Natalie's mom was not trying to undermine her confidence, but rather to keep her safe. And so for sure, there are parents who were inadvertently gaslighting their children from time to time, and maybe more than that because they want to strongly influence them to do something or not do something. And one of the tactics that they've chosen to use is to undermine the way they think about the situation, but their motives are clear. They just wanna keep their child safe and want their child to then think about things the way they do. Is that okay then? Is that kind of gaslighting? Okay.
Hannah Husain: I think that it can be approached in different ways. So I don't think that any kind of gaslighting is considered okay, but I think that they can be changed. So for example, with Natalie and her mother, she was not trying to gaslight her daughter because Natalie and her mother had a great relationship. I think that she was not trying to do it out of bad intention, but she had a sort of anxiety about her daughter going to this concert. She was worried, uh, that something could happen to her daughter at the concert. And with that, instead of sitting her daughter down and saying, you know, Natalie, I'm, I'm worried about this concert. I I'm worried that there's gonna be a lot of people there. Um, I'm worried that you might get lost. I mean, it's a really big concert. And I would just personally, I would prefer if you didn't go, that leaves so much space and so much respect and so much area for Natalie to say, okay, mom, thank you for telling me that I st sh Natalie May still want to go after that conversation, but she knows that her mom's uncomfortable with it instead of thinking I'm a bad kid, which was the actual result of Natalie's situation.
Hannah Husain: So it's actually, it's a better result because Natalie still thinks she's a good kid, but she knows her mom's uncomfortable with the concert situation. Whereas the other result would be Natalie thinks she's a bad kid. Um, but it's a super, super important gaslighting interaction because it shows, I mean, it happens so much with so many different parents and so many with so many of their kids because they are doing so much with good intentions to keep their kids safe, but instead their kids are second guessing themselves saying, oh, I shouldn't go to this concert. I shouldn't do this thing. I shouldn't hang out with this person because it will make me blank because my parents said so instead of a conversation.
Dr. Robin Stern: Really important, um, for parents who are listening to this as well. And I I love that you added the piece of how, um, how it would impact them if, or impact Natalie so differently if her mom would just be open about what was going on. And of course then the added bonus is that Natalie gets to know her mother even more so, right. And they can be closer because each one of them is having an authentic exchange. And Natalie is freed from that grip of wondering whether or not her mom is right about have her having bad intentions and maybe not even knowing it. Was there a particular moment that you can share with us, Hannah, when you put together the word gaslighting that you were hearing about with those uncomfortable moments or those uncomfortable scenes where you thought something's just not right about this?
Hannah Husain: It was the moment with my friends at the lunch table where my friend had said, no, that never happened. I did take a step back and talked to myself a lot that day, um, about what was happening and did that happen. Um, second guess to myself, I wasn't really sure why that scenario had happened, but later in the day, I was thinking about the scenario, thinking about what my friend had said, and later in that week actually had overheard the word gaslighting again. At lunch, a girl at my table said to another girl, stop gaslighting me in a joking sense. And then I thought that's what happened with my friend and I at the lunch table last week. And it was an aha moment because I was thinking, well, what does that word mean? And I went and looked it up and there were many different articles, which said many different things. I mean, for the most part it was just that gaslighting is a form of interaction that confuses a person's confidence and makes them second guess themselves. But there were articles that definitely said, Gaslight are liars and gaslight are this or that. And I couldn't really put my finger on what it was until I went into a deep research, found articles with examples and realized this is what happened with me and my friend.
Dr. Robin Stern: And so Hannah, was that at the, was it at that point that, uh, you decided to work with me over the last semester? Uh, because I was one of those articles of course, that you read and you were definitely looking for something that was, uh, of immediate interest for you in your life to make it worthwhile for you to explore for the semester?
Hannah Husain: Yes. Actually, the article that I stumbled upon of about second guessing oneself was yours. And I honestly wanted to just know more. I mean, it was a very compelling article. Clearly these situations happen in everyday life, even if they're as silly as shoes or shampoo, but they're definitely very important interactions in a person's life. And I felt that I wanted to know more. I wanted to research more, and I actually, I wanted to write more about it and help other people my age, um, even my friends know what this word and what these interactions are.
Dr. Robin Stern: Hannah, we look forward to hearing more from you and reading more of your writing. I know you're continuing this semester and I look forward to working with you on more gaslighting uh, episodes, but certainly whatever comes up for you as you look around your life and say, this is important, I wanna know more. So thank you so much. And, um, I just wanna close by again thanking you, telling you that it has been complete pleasure to work with you while you were writing this article and exploring gaslighting and, and I'm so happy that you said yes to coming on this podcast, um, and had the courage to share your stories and, and the boldness to speak out with authenticity. Really, you're very impressive and amazing young woman.
Hannah Husain: This isn't such an honor.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you everyone for joining us for this episode of The Gaslight Effect. Um, if you liked it, tell us and come on and be with us during our next episode of The Gaslight Effect podcast, saying goodbye today with Hannah Husain, who generously shared her teen perspective of the Gaslight Effect.
Hannah Husain: Thank you so much.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thanks for joining me for today's episode. I hope you found it helpful and meaningful. If you want to listen to other episodes of The Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find them at robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please leave a rating and a review. I also invite you to follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. This podcast is produced by Mel Yellen, Ryan Changcoco, Mike Lens, and me. The podcast is supported by Gabby Caoagas and Salar Kangi, all of my work and my upcoming book is supported by Susan Pettit Marcus Estevez and Omaginarium also by Sally McCarton and Jackie Daniels. I'm so grateful to have many people supporting me and especially grateful for all of you, my listeners.