Gaslighting: What is it and where to get help from

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is often denoted as psychological and emotional abuse where a person’s beliefs, thoughts, and memories are manipulated or confused into hallucinations. People who are experiencing gaslighting often go through the state of being confused, anxious, or unable to believe themselves. A person who is a victim of gaslighting often questions their own identity.

The word gaslighting emerged from the film Gaslight, where a husband torments his wife into thinking she has a mental illness and making her believe that she is hallucinating.

Examples for gaslighting:

Gaslighting develops gradually, so it is rare for a person to detect it. Due to it person start distrusting themselves and start feeling scared. Some of the techniques a person can use to gaslighting include –

  • Wrong indications: It includes when a person question someone’s memories such as when they say, “you don’t remember things correctly,” or “are you sure? I think you have a bad memory.”
  • Withholding conversation: A person who uses this technique pretends not to understand someone when they want to stick in a conversation. For example, they might say, “I don’t know what you are talking about,” or “you are not doing anything except confusing me.”
  • Playing with emotion: This occurs when a person disregards or doesn’t pay attention to another person’s feelings. They may accuse them of overreacting or being sensitive when they have normal feelings.
  • Denying: It includes when a person pretends to forget events or how they occurred. They may accuse someone or start making things up.
  • Diverting the topic: In this, a person can turn off the discussion by questioning another person’s credibility. For example, they might say, “that is just one of the crazy ideas you got from the people”.

While anyone can experience gaslighting, but it especially occurs in intimate relationships and in social interactions where there is a person who is extremely important to you and has the power to turn your emotions by making you fall in their words.

How to Recognize Gaslighting in a relationship?

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation whether it is intentional or not. It can occur between bosses, friends, and parents. But one of its most devastating forms is when it occurs between a couple in a relationship.

According to Robin Stern, In his book “The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life,” he has described all the signs that the victim of gaslighting will go through :

  • Feeling like you are a different person than you used to be in the past
  • Start to have Less confidence and being more anxious
  • Often wondering if you’re becoming too sensitive or emotional
  • Feeling like everything you do is wrong
  • When things go wrong always start to think it’s only your fault
  • Start apologizing often
  • Feeling hopeless and finding it really hard to make decisions

Gaslighting and Narcissism

People who gaslight other people around them have a psychological disorder called narcissistic personality disorder.

People with this disorder believe they’re extremely important and the world should revolve around them. They are selfish and don’t believe to have time or interest in others without a purpose. They don’t have the ability, or the interest, to understand others’ emotions and true feelings.

Narcissists are demanding and lust for attention and praise. They often use manipulation as the best way to achieve their personal goals.

A person with a narcissistic personality disorder may –

  • Highly praise and exaggerate their achievements
  • Manipulate others for personal gain
  • Can highly criticize others and mostly respond to criticism with anger
  • Become envious and jealous easily

Causes of gaslighting

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, gaslighting takes place when someone wants to gain control over another person. It is a behavior someone learns by watching others. An abusive person feels they are born to control others and their feelings or opinions matter the most.

Some abusers also have personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A narcissist person is often described as a self-centered person. NPD can have long-term symptoms such as:

  • A non-stop need for admiration or attention
  • A belief that they are very special or no one is better than them
  • A lack of sympathy and empathy

How to deal with gaslighting?

Gaslighting has a very negative impact on mental health, so it is important for people who experience gaslighting to make sure they look after themselves.

Gathering information about your day may help remind a person that they are not building up things. These shreds of evidence are also very important later on if a person decides to pursue legal action against the abuser.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers ideas on how to gather proof. Some are –

  •  Writing a diary: This allows the victim to trace down events, including the date, time, and details of the event.
  •  Discussing it with a trusted person:  the victims can talk to their family member, friend, or counselor: This can help them know the outside perspective on the situation and can help them create an additional record.
  • Taking pictures: This can also help someone keep a note of their memories and remind themselves that they are not hallucinating.
  • Keeping voice notes: Using a voice recorder to describe events is a quick way about what just happened in their own words.

It is important for someone to gather proof in private and to erase search history after searching about gaslighting who lives with an abusive person. Some of the tricks a victim should imply are :

  • Store evidence in a hidden location or with an individual whom you can trust
  • Buy another phone or a cheap voice recorder
  • Keep devices locked away
  • Don’t act suspicious. Bee normal in front of the abuser

People or victims should always create a safety plan, which includes how to protect themselves from physical and emotional abuse before, during, and after leaving the situation.

When to seek help for the Situation?

Over time, gaslighting can even turn into physical violence. Anyone who believes they are experiencing abuse should always seek support.

  • The victim can contact domestic abuse organizations for advice and help in creating a safety plan.
  • It would be helpful to talk to a therapist confidently who has experience in helping people going through abusive relationships.
  • If you are in very immediate danger you should call the police.


Ques. Is gaslighting a form of abuse?
Ans. Yes, gaslighting is a form of mental abuse and in many extreme cases, it can turn into physical abuse also.

Ques. How does the behavior of a person is affected who is going through gaslighting?
Ans. The victim can become anxious, confuse, withdrawn, defensive. It becomes extremely hard for the victim to trace what is going wrong with him.

Ques. Synonyms for gaslighting?
Ans. Synonyms for gaslighting are – manipulating, swindling, tricking, defrauding, coaxing, etc.

Ques. What is a gaslighter personality?
Ans. That person can be highly manipulative or obsessive. They can be charming, or mysterious, and hard to read.

Ques. Why is it called gaslighting?
Ans. The term originated from the film Gaslight, where the protagonist’s husband manipulated his wife that she’s going mad.

Ques. What is unconscious gaslighting?
Ans. Unconscious gaslighting is not done with the intention to harm others using gaslighting. Many a time it is also seen that abusers are not even aware that they are doing gaslighting, they completely deny the fact of harming someone.

Ques. How to deal with gaslighting?
Ans. People who are experiencing gaslighting can find safe ways to document evidence about the abuse and create a safety plan to protect themselves from any kind of harm.

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