Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique and form of emotional abuse. The abusers make the victim question their memory, perception and sanity. It is a technique often used by sociopaths and narcissists. The abuser’s ultimate goal is to make their victim second guess their every choice and question their sanity, making them more dependent on the abuser. A tactic which further degrades a target’s self-esteem is for the abuser to ignore, then attend to, then ignore the victim again, so that the victim lowers their personal bar for what constitutes affection and perceives themselves as less worthy of affection.

Signs of gaslighting include:

  1. Withholding information from victim;
  2. Countering information to fit the abuser’s perspective;
  3. Discounting information;
  4. Verbal abuse, usually in the form of jokes;
  5. Blocking and diverting the victim’s attention from outside sources;
  6. Trivializing the victim’s worth; and,
  7. Undermining victim by gradually weakening them and their thought process

Some examples of gaslighting are:

  • Hiding: The abuser may hide things from the victim and cover up what they have done. Instead of feeling ashamed, the abuser may convince the victim to doubt their own beliefs about the situation and turn the blame on themselves.
  • Changing: The abuser feels the need to change something about the victim. Whether it be the way the victim dresses or acts, they want the victim to mold into their fantasy. If the victim does not comply, the abuser may convince the victim that he or she is in fact not good enough.
  • Control: The abuser may want to fully control and have power over the victim. In doing so, the abuser will try to seclude them from other friends and family where only they can influence the victim’s thoughts and actions. The abuser gets pleasure from knowing the victim is being fully controlled by them.

According to Robin Stern, PhD, author of the book “The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life,” signs that you are a victim of gaslighting include:

  • no longer feeling like the person you used to be
  • being more anxious and less confident than you used to be
  • often wondering if you’re being too sensitive
  • feeling like everything you do is wrong
  • always thinking it’s your fault when things go wrong
  • apologizing often
  • having a sense that something’s wrong, but being unable to identify what it is
  • often questioning whether your response to your partner is appropriate (e.g., wondering if you were too unreasonable or not loving enough)
  • making excuses for your partner’s behavior
  • avoiding giving information to friends or family members to avoid confrontation about your partner
  • feeling isolated from friends and family
  • finding it increasingly hard to make decisions
  • feeling hopeless and taking little or no pleasure in activities you used to enjoy

23 thoughts on “What is Gaslighting?

  1. Thank you. And many of us don’t realize that we also use some of these tactics. (Like telling a child that is scared that there is nothing to be afraid of.). How many of us have actually gaslighted before. Think about it.

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  2. It is a very damaging experience, luckily I got away from the narcissist with a preference for this technique, but 6 years of being subjected to that treatment leaves scars. Thank you.


  3. I never really knew what gaslighting was until I read this. Now I know and unfortunately it seems as though I am a victim myself. But sadly enough I can’t really stay away from my abuser and I have tried to reason with her and tell her that what she does is wrong but she won’t listen. But thank you for posting this and helping me and others become aware of what gaslighting is and how it affects other people

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a great post. It’s so important for people to know that this kind of behavior exists so that they can better defend themselves. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think that there should be some information on how gaslighting affects the long term mental functions of the abused person. I know that in some cases the victim will start to take on the traits and behaviors of the abuser, either out of self preservation or because it has become so habitual that they see it as normal behavior. Also I believe they need to differentiate between what abused people mentally go through when in the heat of the moment and what their minds are like when not under duress. I understand that some will exhibit certain traits that themselves are defined as abusive out of self defense, such as stone walling because they literally can’t argue, lying to avoid a fight, detaching from the abuser which leaves an emotional gap etc.

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  6. I have a strange tendency to get into relationships with narcissists, so I have been the victim of gaslighting far too many times. I have found that I have to cut my ties to these people if possible or keep a safe distance. I am recovering from codependency and have suffered from Major Depression, GAD, and childhood trauma. Conflict is poison to me, and narcissists thrive on conflict and drama. I have begun avoiding people because of the fears these people have perpetuated in me. I’m limiting my growth with isolation. Gotta change that!

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  7. I am and have been trying to raise awareness on gaslighting for so long; I published what I believe is the first memoir on narcissistic Abuse back in 2015, although it has been revised, and it has not been easy, since my story is far from over. It is draining, and basically had to redo my whole blog again since my “narcissistic psychopath,” is prone to cyber stalking and sabotaging anything that threaten to reveals what lies beneath the mask. But, it’s nice to know I am not the only one, and that there are others brave enough to share their story. There need to be more of us!

    Liked by 1 person

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