Updated: Jul 15, 2020

In A Black-And-White Photograph, Adult Person Crawls On Hands And Knees On Forest Ground, Symbolizing Infancy And Infantilization Despite The Ability To Walk Upright

“It’s as if [you] don’t own your own bodies, but instead rent them from parental landlords who expect ‘their property’ to be maintained to their specification. Because of their delusion of ownership, they misinterpret [your] exercise of bodily autonomy as acts of personal rebellion against them.”

--TheraminTrees (sounds an awful lot like Paul’s Biblical mandate that when you get married, suddenly your bodies belong to the other person. Yikes).

The more you learn about the psychology and methods of abuse, the more you start to realize how prevalent and masked it is, everywhere.

It amazes me that “venerable” institutions like religions, are just macrocosms of the microcosms of the family unit. I have yet to find “you will follow the religion that most closely matches your personality” to be false. And since your upbringing contributes to your personality…

This is how users and abusers get you to keep yourself in an imaginary, self-contributed-to, perma-submission cage.

Hence, I am a panentheist. But this isn’t about that.

“If you are being made to feel crazy for [or too incompetent to understand] what your eyes, ears, and instinct are experiencing in real time, that isn’t true love.”

--Natasha Adamo

“Gaslighters do anything they can to get you to question your thought patterns so much, you start to question your reality. You then have to over-rely on them to think for you, make decisions for you, tell you how you are feeling, and diagnose you. They will act like they know what/who is best for you.”

--Natasha Adamo

Gaslighting is one of those relationship buzzwords that is going around these days (like “narcissism”), a sort of catch-all for any relationship abuse or even disagreement involving lying or manipulation.

The real definition of gaslighting is a pattern of brainwashing that slowly attempts to trick the target into doubting themselves, and re-writing history that they witnessed, by: tiny, incremental degrees of consistent conveyance of outright false-hoods, in addition to negation of and omission of facts.

“Gaslighting can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate against age, race, wisdom, orientation, or gender. It is obvious cults, some religions, and dictatorships but it occurs in relationships every day… and can be very hard to detect.

ly more prevalent and easier to detect in

And because it’s so gradual, the person being gaslighted not only can’t access the bigger picture of what’s really going on (because they are always in the thick of it), but they also can’t realize that they’ve been brainwashed.”

--Natasha Adamo

There is a very special form of gaslighting, almost a component of gaslighting in many cases, that is so gradual, it literally takes a lifetime to complete. It’s called Infantilization. Infantilization is what you get when you have advanced beyond infancy or certain childhood developmental stages and milestones...but you are not only treated like you haven’ are consistently trained to believe that your mental and physical capacity isn’t what it really is.

This “dumbing down” is a favorite method of users and abusers to turn you into a pawn for whatever they “need”. The needs are many and fluid, and you become a self-doubting, self-limiting puppet reliant on your puppet-master to approve you to make your next move--whatever that move, determined by *them*, is. The worst part is that since you are convinced of your own incompetence… do all the hard, dirty work of regulating yourself to stay in the lines marked out for you. You become the game warden that keeps you from “poaching” YOU away from your user/abuser, so that you are always available as prey for others.

The problem with realizing that you’ve been or are actively being infantilized is that, since it has taken place for the entirety of your life, you don’t know any different. It’s literally all you know. However, there are tell-tale signs:

*You feel unable to cope. Everything feels like too much; depression and feeling defeated and lost is a way of life. Even when you get up the courage to *want* to do something, you feel like all the air has been sucked out of the room, like all the energy has left your body. This can physically manifest in your body to the point that you start to question if you have chronic fatigue syndrome (when you aren’t being berated or berating yourself for being sinfully “lazy”, “slothful”, “indolent”, “ungenerous”, or “spiteful”).

*You are extremely risk averse. Even when amazing opportunities present themselves, you are so afraid and uncomfortable you literally can’t go for them. This can be something as simple as feeling a vague but very real terror about something as commonplace and “normal” (for other people) as of staying in a hotel room with classmates for a class competition or trip; going somewhere by yourself; etc. Which brings us to…

*You feel like everyone else had a Fairy Godmother that gave them the gift of being “normal” at birth--able to make close friends and hang out with them; do extra-curriculars; not be bound to fanatically practicing a dark-feeling religion by overzealous care-takers; have practical, worldly wisdom (as opposed to status-y but worthless talents that you are coerced into pursuing, such as getting good grades in the worthless curriculum offered by school--if you are even allowed to go to school)...But because you may be verbally encouraged to “make friends and get involved”, you feel like you have only yourself to blame for these shortcomings, although there seems to be a tangible force-field you can’t find a way around, further convincing you that you are pathetic, freakish, and defective. But perhaps, just perhaps, the reason you are reluctant and resistant is because “making friends and getting involved” is always 100% on someone else’s terms: the friends, organizations, and activities are always chosen for you, and always supervised, of course. You always end up feeling humiliated and sabotaged somehow as well.

*You feel neurotic, depressed, obsessive, anxious, and terrified of exploding with tears or rage that, once released, you fear you will never get under control again.

*You compulsively overshare. The world is your confessional. Because you feel inherently bad, wrong, one sneeze away from a smiting, terrified, and unable to trust your own “always-flawed” conclusions, you constantly appeal to some or any authority (even superstitious signs and omens) to validate you, especially when it comes to conflict. You constantly look for an ally or a judge that will side with you and protect you, dragging people who have no business knowing your business into your own self-published personal cheap-rag tabloid expose….against yourself and those closest to you.

*You feel exposed, dirty, broken, and small for “no reason”.

*You feel like you have no future, no hope, like life is pointless, and that your purpose is to suffer. Life is one big chore. You wish you could find a different purpose, but no matter how many times you read, “What Color Is My Parachute?” you come up blank. You’re free-falling and the ripcord won’t work.

You feel like you don’t really exist, or that you are already dead. Or you want to die ALOT.

*You feel a constant, nagging sense of injustice and something being “off”--that you try to silence to the point of exhaustion.

You feel trapped even though it seems as if every opportunity is provided for you.

*You feel drawn to things that you know you don’t want, as if they are your destiny, despite being your worst nightmare. You feel like you see signs that you are meant to do things that repulse you in every way. For example, at one point, even though all I wanted was a life of freedom and adventure, I felt convinced "God" was telling me to become a Poor Clare nun (the ones who leave the most severe, deprived lives). I even looked to the Bible for answers and (this is true) flipped randomly to the page talking about the man named "Nun" (remember "appealing to any authority, even superstitious signs and omens" to make sense of powerlessness in chaos?). It felt dark, wrong, and misery-making, but I was somehow absolutely convinced this was what I had to do despite every gut instinct pulling me away (after all, all these mystical signs were there!). Not long after this, someone spent a year carefully showing me how Catholicism contradicts the Bible, proving once again that intuition and the fact that you feel miserable is always spot on guidance, and compulsive force into things unwanted is always wrong, even if you can't see the "how".

*You don’t question contradictions, or much of anything that is told to you by your caretaker or partner. You shut off your critical thinking and reasoning, and therefore initiative, out of fear. Even William Shakespeare in the 1600s got it:

"Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something [else],

The undiscovered country...puzzles the will

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action." --Hamlet

*Daydreaming about your future is always hijacked by an authority figure with their own plans for you, from the career you will choose, the place you will live, and who you will live with (for example, it is made explicitly clear that you WILL take care of your caretaker). When you are the subject of their daydreams, you are always vulnerable and often in some doomed scenario.

You always feel inferior and subordinate, like everyone is in on something, and knows something about you, that you can't and won't ever be swift enough to figure out.

*You can’t bring yourself to look forward to things, and you feel the need to hide that which you hold closest to your heart. You’re always waiting for “the other shoe to drop”; you are so used to losing on *everything*, and you find that if people know something is really important to you, it becomes a weapon of blackmail, the subject of jealousy (for your favor and attention), or otherwise inexplicably sabotaged and supplanted by what other people want. You feel jinxed as far as manifesting goes--your theme song is “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

*You also are afraid to say anything because they might “try to be helpful”...which rarely leads to anything good, and instead causes a mess, or convinces you out of acting on whatever you had planned before it can even start,

*You don’t really realize that histrionics are not a valid, convincing, legitimate argument.

*You don’t feel like you are allowed to try or explore.

Failure is ridiculed and punished.

*Success (in unapproved activities) is dismissed, vilified, and punished.

*You are a near-complete push-over because you never win anyway, so why bother to stand up for yourself? You’ll only regret it later when your “rebelliousness and impudence” is brought back up and punished retroactively if not immediately.

*You feel like a burden on your caretaker or partner, who is a saintly martyr.