Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of mistrust in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Gaslighting is often implemented through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying by an abuser, which can be psychologically damaging.
1. What is Gaslighting?
The term was coined by psychiatrist Edward Herman, who published a book with that title in 1944. The term is most commonly associated with the 1944 MGM film “Gaslight” and the 1944 British stage play “Gaslight”, both of which depict a man attempting to drive his wife mad by manipulating her into questioning her own sanity.
This form of abuse typically includes the abuser telling the victim that they are going crazy and need to seek help. The abuser will also deny any wrongdoing and make the victim question their own thoughts and feelings. Gaslighting is not a one-time incident but is a pattern of behavior that can last for years.
2. What are some examples of Gaslighting?
Some examples of gaslighting include denying that certain events happened or accusing the victim of being overly sensitive or irrational. Gaslighters may also twist the victim’s words or use their insecurities to make them doubt their own perceptions. Another common tactic is to play the victim and blame the victim for causing the gaslighter’s behavior. Gaslighting can occur in a variety of settings, including personal relationships, the workplace, and even in politics. It can be subtle or blatant, but in all cases, it can be damaging to the victim’s self-esteem and mental health.
- Belittling the victim’s emotions and feelings: Gaslighters may dismiss the victim’s feelings by telling them they’re being too sensitive, overreacting, or that their emotions aren’t valid.
- Withholding information: Gaslighters may withhold important information from the victim, which can make the victim doubt their own memory or perception of events.
- Insisting on a different version of events: Gaslighters may tell the victim that things happened differently from how they remember, which can make the victim question their own memory and sense of reality.
- Manipulating the victim’s reality: Gaslighters may use manipulation tactics, such as setting up situations to make the victim doubt their own memory or perception of events.
- Making the victim feel guilty: Gaslighters may use guilt to control the victim, by accusing them of being responsible for the gaslighter’s behavior or emotions.
These are just a few examples of gaslighting tactics. It’s important to recognize that gaslighting can be subtle or overt, and can occur in a variety of contexts.
3. How do people Gaslight?
Here are some ways in which people gaslight others:
- Denying reality: A gaslighter may flat-out deny that something happened or try to convince the victim that they’re imagining things.
- Minimizing the victim’s feelings: A gaslighter may tell the victim that they’re overreacting, that they’re being too sensitive, or that their emotions are not valid.
- Blaming the victim: A gaslighter may turn the tables and blame the victim for the gaslighter’s behavior, making the victim feel responsible for the gaslighting.
- Twisting the victim’s words: A gaslighter may twist the victim’s words and use them against them, causing confusion and making the victim question their own memory.
- Using their own feelings to control the victim: A gaslighter may use their own emotions to manipulate the victim, by playing the victim themselves or telling the victim they’re responsible for the gaslighter’s emotions.
- Isolating the victim: A gaslighter may try to isolate the victim from friends and family or make the victim doubt their support system, making it harder for the victim to get help or perspective.
4. What are some signs of Gaslighting?
Here are some common signs of gaslighting:
- Doubting your own memory: A gaslighter may make you doubt your own memory of events, causing you to question whether something actually happened.
- Second-guessing yourself: A gaslighter may make you question your own judgment or instincts, causing you to doubt your ability to make decisions.
- Feeling confused: Gaslighting can leave you feeling confused and disoriented, unsure of what is real and what is not.
- Feeling isolated: A gaslighter may try to isolate you from your support system, making it harder for you to get perspective on what is happening.
- Feeling like you’re going crazy: Gaslighting can make you feel like you’re losing your mind, as you question your own thoughts and perceptions.
- Apologizing for things you didn’t do: A gaslighter may make you feel like you’re always in the wrong, even when you haven’t done anything wrong.
- Blaming yourself: A gaslighter may make you feel like you’re responsible for their behavior or emotions, even if you’re not.
5. What is the impact on the victim?
The impact of gaslighting on the victim can be significant and long-lasting. Here are some common effects of gaslighting:
- Low self-esteem: Gaslighting can make the victim doubt their own abilities and worth, causing them to have low self-esteem.
- Anxiety and depression: Gaslighting can cause the victim to feel anxious and depressed, as they struggle to understand what is real and what is not.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Gaslighting can cause the victim to develop PTSD, as they struggle to process the emotional abuse they have experienced.
- Difficulty trusting others: Gaslighting can make the victim wary of trusting others, as they struggle to know who to believe or who to confide in.
- Loss of identity: Gaslighting can make the victim doubt their own identity, as they struggle to know who they are or what they believe.
- Self-doubt: Gaslighting can make the victim doubt their own thoughts and perceptions, causing them to feel uncertain about their own beliefs and values.
- Isolation: Gaslighting can cause the victim to feel isolated, as they may feel like they can’t trust anyone or that no one will believe them.
It’s important to recognize that the impact of gaslighting can be serious and long-lasting. If you’re experiencing gaslighting, it’s important to reach out to a trusted friend or mental health