You may have seen the term “gaslighting” come up more frequently in psychological practices over the past few years. The more we study into issues of psychological abuse, the more we learn about these difficult issues and how to recognize them and the harm they do. Gaslighting is a dangerous and manipulative practice where a person inflicts psychological and emotional abuse on another. Though it is a form of abuse, it may seem less obvious to those who do not know the signs. Someone who uses gaslighting tactics does so to gain power and control at the victim’s expense.
There are many signs of gaslighting: telling obvious lies, they are defending their wrong actions, they weaken you gradually and suck out your energy and faith in yourself, and they try to convince others that you are a bad person.
Let me give an example of gaslighting language. If your partner has done something that really upset you through their own actions or behavior, and they say, “It’s no big deal” or “You’re being too sensitive”, this discredits you and gives power to them. This takes away the power from your own feelings, giving themselves the upper hand. A person who is a “gaslighter” creates doubts in your mind and makes you question yourself. You start to feel a negative change in yourself that this person has created. You don’t recognize yourself anymore because you are withholding your true self. Your reality changes and you do not understand what is true and not true anymore. It’s a slow and steady brainwash that leaves you feeling worthless and depressed with low self esteem.
There is a lot of debate in fields of psychology about why people gaslight others and the extent of damage it has on the victims. If you do find yourself questioning if you are a victim of gaslighting, you may find it useful to reach out to others with your situation. The gaslighter’s goal is to distort your reality to what they want, so getting another perspective, either from a therapist or trusted loved one, can help you have a better hold on your reality.
Thank you for reading.