Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where one person manipulates another into doubting their own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. The term comes from a 1938 play and later a movie called “Gaslight” in which the protagonist’s husband uses various tactics to make her believe that she is going insane, including dimming the gaslights in the house and then denying that the light has changed.
Gaslighting can take many forms, but it often involves denying the victim’s experiences or feelings, manipulating information to make the victim doubt their own memory or judgment, or using confusion or contradiction to create a sense of chaos or uncertainty. The victim may begin to question their own sanity or feel confused, anxious, or helpless.
Here are some examples of gaslighting:
- Denial of reality: The gaslighter denies or minimizes the victim’s reality or experience. For example, “You’re just imagining things” or “That never happened.”
- Contradiction: The gaslighter contradicts the victim’s statements, even when they are true. For example, “You’re wrong, I never said that” when the victim knows that the gaslighter did say it.
- Blaming the victim: The gaslighter blames the victim for their own behavior or emotions. For example, “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re overreacting.”
- Diverting attention: The gaslighter changes the subject or divert attention away from the victim’s concerns. For example, “Let’s not talk about that, let’s focus on something else.”
- Using confusion: The gaslighter uses confusion or misinformation to create doubt in the victim’s mind. For example, providing conflicting information or denying previous statements.
- Withholding information: The gaslighter withholds information or keeps secrets to make the victim doubt their own perceptions or experiences.
- Manipulating others: The gaslighter manipulates others, such as friends or family, to support their version of reality and discredit the victim.
These are just a few examples of gaslighting. It’s important to remember that gaslighting can be subtle and can occur over a long period of time, making it difficult for the victim to recognize what is happening. It can be a form of emotional abuse that can have serious consequences on a person’s mental health and well-being. If you suspect that you are experiencing gaslighting, it’s important to seek support from a trusted friend or professional counselor.