I’m a therapist and best-selling author, specializing in gaslighting, anxiety, & ADHD. AMA!
Hi Everyone, I'm Stephanie Sarkis PhD, a best-selling author and also a licensed, board-certified therapist for over 20 years. I specialize in gaslighting, anxiety, and ADHD. I also am interested in media's impact on the self. My latest book is Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People - and Break Free.
I was featured on Dan Harris' 10% Happier podcast regarding my practice of mindfulness meditation for helping with my ADHD and anxiety.
My op-ed in USA Today on Donald Trump being a gaslighter led to overwhelming support (and a few threatening emails and messages).
I'm also a Florida Supreme Court certified family and civil circuit mediator. I work with parents where either one or both have ADHD and/or gaslighting behaviors, in order to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of their child(ren). I'm a collaborative divorce facilitator, a way to divorce that cooperative rather than adversarial. I have a private practice in Tampa, Florida, and I also consult with people online.
All my degrees and my training are from the University of Florida. I have three degrees in mental health counseling, and one in telecommunication production.
Ask me anything!
- Is gaslighting a form of abuse? Absolutely. It's particularly a form of emotional abuse - however, emotional, physical, financial, and sexual abuse are closely tied together.
- Do you have personal experience with gaslighting? Yes, however I don't go into details, due to privacy reasons. I am confident in stating that we are all being gaslighted by our current president. See my USA Today op-ed.
- What if you are in a relationship with a gaslighter? Get out. Relationships with gaslighters only get worse, never better - regardless of what a gaslighter promises you when you leave. Go "radio silence" - block phone numbers and emails. See the next question of what you should do if you have kids with the gaslighter. Also, always take your pet with you - do not leave it with the gaslighter.
- My children's other parent is a gaslighter. What can I do to coparent effectively? If you have children with a gaslighter, contact an attorney, and have a detailed parenting plan which even discusses acceptable forms of communication (email, text, family scheduling apps). Some survivors of gaslighting have it written into their parenting plans that they will only communicate with the gaslighter via email or text, so there is a written record. I'm not an attorney, so always seek their advice first before taking any legal steps, like completing a parenting plan. As a mediator and collaborative divorce facilitator, I help parents create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of their children. Coparenting with a Narcissist
- Is gaslighting a diagnosis? It's not currently in our diagnostic manual, but it is an apt description of the manipulative behaviors one (or a group) uses to confuse and gain control of others.
- What are behaviors of gaslighters? Some gaslighting behaviors include: Telling you something you saw or heard didn't happen; hiding your items and then blaming you for being "irresponsible"; telling others that you are crazy; projecting and accusing you of infidelity (when they are chronic cheaters); pitting you against other people; "recruiting" others to send you messages after you have ended the relationship; idealized ("lovebombing') at the beginning of a relationship, and then devaluing you later.
- Is ADHD real? Yes, there is large amount of well-designed research finding that ADHD is, in fact, very real, and highly heritable. In my family, ADHD-like behavior has been documented as far back as the 1600s. Here's some info on my family history: Understood video and article
- Is ADHD overdiagnosed? No, in fact it is underdiagnosed. According to research by Russell Barkley PhD et al., only 10% of people with ADHD seek help in the first year they realize they have symptoms.
- Doesn't everyone have ADHD? No. While everyone can be distracted and lose focus from time to time, you meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD when you meet a certain number of symptoms and those symptoms cause impairment for you, more days than not.
- How do you feel about stimulant medication for ADHD? I am pro-stimulant medication, and have taken it for over 20 years. Your rate of addiction actually decreases when you take stimulant medication.
My replies are not a substitute for mental health treatment, nor should they be taken as such. Also, I am not able to make personal recommendations or diagnoses - I speak in generalities, based on the people I have worked with and my training (and in the case of ADHD and anxiety, my own life experiences). If you are considering hurting or killing yourself, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Don't be a dick. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.