Complicated Connections: Mind Games and Broken Bonds with Deborah Vinall and Kristina Scharp

Original Air Date Wednesday, January 19, 2022 

The widely-used adage ‘you can’t pick your family’ generally translates in to making the best of what you have when you have no choice in the matter.

People rarely have the option to choose who provides their mental and physical nourishment, especially children. How we handle relationships with relatives once we reach adulthood is up to us. But, if we have been subject to years of gaslighting or mental manipulation, it can be difficult to discern between what we believe is good for us and what we truly need to thrive. To dissect the cycle of both gaslighting and estrangement, Positive Psychology Podcast Host Lisa Cypers Kamen speaks with a therapist and a researcher about the complex relationships we engage in and disconnect from.

Doctor of Psychology, Deborah Vinall offers an in-depth look at gaslighting, describes the key takeaways from her book, Gaslighting: A Step-by-Step Recovery Guide to Heal from Emotional Abuse and Build Healthy Relationships, and shares the steps people can take to set self-honoring boundaries when confronting a gaslighter. Kristina Sharp, Director of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab, at the University of Washington and Michigan State, describes her role as a researcher who studies estrangement from first-hand accounts of those who have severed ties with families and the misguided perception of what a family is as portrayed by American media.

Deborah Vinall PsyD — Mind games & Gaslighting:

  • Deborah defines gaslighting and describes who the perpetrators of these mind games generally are. [1:57]
  • An example of gaslighting that many have experienced and how it undermines the sense of self. [4:52]
  • In her book, Gaslighting: A Step-by-Step Recovery Guide to Heal from Emotional Abuse and Build Healthy Relationships, Deborah reveals the gaslighter’s playbook. [8:45]
  • How to set boundaries and what to do if you find yourself involved with a gaslighter. [18:16]
  • In the book, Gaslighting, there are healing steps including guided meditations and a decision tree. [26:40]

Woman with white top and light hair with a brickwall bacckground, guest of new podcast episode about mind games and gaslighting with Deborah Vinall and Kristina ScharpDeborah Vinall is a Doctor of Psychology, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a certified EMDR and Brainspotting practitioner. She specializes in helping individuals heal from traumatic life experiences and painful relationship dynamics, and was awarded the Sandra Wilson Memorial Grant from the EMDR Research Foundation for her research on the impacts and treatment response of survivors of mass shootings across the USA. 

Book: Gaslighting: A Step-by-Step Recovery Guide to Heal from Emotional Abuse and Build Healthy Relationships


Tamar Counseling

Tamar Counseling Service on Facebook

@dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on Instagram

Kristina Sharp — Broken Bonds & Complicated Connections:

  • Researching the family unit, estranged family members, and family diversity. [33:15]
  • Intentional family estrangement is complex and it affects all family members. [38:04]
  • The different ways people attempt to dissolve a relationship are categorized as the 8 Characteristics of Estrangement. [47:28]
  • When disconnects in families happen, parents and children often perceive different reasons for the estrangement. [54:26]

Woman with black top, white collar and dark hair, guest of new podcast episode about mind games and gaslighting with Deborah Vinall and Kristina ScharpKristina M. Scharp is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. She received her Phd in Family, Interpersonal, and Health Communication from The University of Iowa in 2014. Kristina researches difficult relationship transitions and the ways people cope with the disruptions to their lives. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, NPR, and The Washington Post. Dr. Scharp is a Director of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab that is housed both at the University of Washington and Michigan State University.

Family Communication Lab

@FamilyCommLab on Twitter

Family Comm Lab on Facebook

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“The perpetrators of gaslighting are the everyday people in our lives. They may not possess a complex psychological diagnosis, they just may be manipulative.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“When we are being gaslighted by another person it undermines our trust in them, in ourselves and it is being done to gain the upper hand.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“The person on the receiving end of gaslighting might not have the insight enough to understand what is going on.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“If you were to turn the table on a gaslighter while using their own techniques against them, they couldn't tolerate it.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“As humans, we are averse to allowing ourselves to experience grief.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Gaslighting exists on a spectrum. It can happen in everyday relationships.” @dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Most of us have a lingering sense of trust in the goodness of others and when people go against that we think it must be us.” @dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“A lot of trauma is rooted in relationships. Not all of it but a lot of it.” @dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“If you can't claim your life experience, then you can't heal from it.” @dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“It is helpful to have people who truly know you and love and care about you who are willing to speak truth into your life. A pernicious gaslighter is going to isolate you.” @dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“We live our lives in denial that death is awaiting us.” @dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“A boundary is no good if it's not backed up with action.” @dr.deborah.vinall.psyd on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Research suggests 27% of adults experience estrangement — that means over 67 million people in the US reported being estranged from a family member.” @FamilyCommLab on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Stigma comes from perceived difference and feeling you are in an out-group.” @FamilyCommLab on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Family are systems so they are all interdependent and what happens with one family member impacts everybody else.” @FamilyCommLab on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Depending on the reason, getting some estrangement might be healthy for you.” @FamilyCommLab on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“There is often a real disconnect between parents and children's perceptions about what happens between them.” @FamilyCommLab on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet



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