Gaslighting: What is it and what you should look out for

The effects of gaslighting are often so obvious to the victim that it becomes a painful situation for the victim to attempt to identify, analyze, or combat the effects of gaslighting. Ultimately, victims are often left with invaluable resources and techniques to break free from this abusive relationship of gaslighting and expose the perpetrator’s tactics. 

Gaslighting is psychological manipulation, which leaves its victims deeply confused and distressed as they doubt their sanity. This article will help educate victims about the effects of gaslighting so that they can take appropriate action.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is defined by Medical News Today is “ a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves.” 

According to psychologists, gaslighting is a serious problem and it works. This tactic is often used by abusers, dictator, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done in a slow manner, so slow that even the victim doesn’t perceive that they are being brainwashed. 

The term “gaslighting” originated from the 1944 film Gaslight, in which the husband manipulates his wife into thinking she has a mental illness. He’s done this by dimming their gas-fueled lights and telling her that she is hallucinating. 

3 Warning Signs of Gaslighting

They deny to death – even if you have proof

You are aware of what they would do, and you know you heard it. But, they would deny such a thing to death. They would never acknowledge it, so much that it makes you start questioning yourself and your reality. Maybe they never really planned to do it? Maybe they never really said such a thing. And the more they do this, the more they deny, the more you will question your reality. Once you succumb to their gaslighting, you’d start accepting their reality instead of yours. 

They openly lie

You know it’s a lie, yet you wonder, why are they telling it with such a nonchalant and straight face? The truth is, they are setting up a pattern. Now, once they tell a big lie, you’d be torn apart, not entirely sure if they are lying or not. Their goal is to throw you off-balance. 

They do it slowly 

One of the scariest things about gaslighting is that it is done slowly and over time. If you’ve heard of the “frog in the frying pan” analogy, that’s literally what gaslighting does. A small lie one day, another lie the next, a snide comment one day, another the next, and then it starts to pile and ramp-up. Even if the victim is aware, gaslighting can still get into the mind. That is how effective it is. 

What are the effects of gaslighting?

The first thing that you must know about the effects of gaslighting is that it is not just an emotional reaction or behavioral pattern. Gaslighting cannot be explained or understood in simple terms. In fact, it is an intentional act that is done consistently over time. 

This type of psychological attack has many victims feeling dizzy, nauseous, and confused. It is similar to a trance state that leaves the victim in a confused state of mind where they may not remember anything that occurred during this time.

Victims of gaslighting often become suspicious and depressed because of the feeling that something was not right. 

Another common effect of gaslighting includes victim behaviors or personality changes that occur after the trauma of gaslighting. Victims who have suffered this type of psychological assault may exhibit angry or hostile behavior towards their spouses or co-workers. 

They often leave their jobs feeling exhausted and angry because of the effects of gaslighting on their personal and professional lives. In many cases, these victims behaviors or personality changes are exhibited in their workplaces also.

The third sign to recognize the effects of gaslighting in your workplace is to recognize the emotional abuse that occurs through the gaslighting. As previously stated, victims of gaslighting often exhibit signs of confusion or feelings of depression due to the trauma of gaslighting.

However, they can also exhibit signs of emotional abuse because of the way the narcissist manipulates the situation. This can be in the form of physical abuse such as forcing one to feel guilty for imagined faults, or emotional abuse such as constant humiliation or criticism. If the narcissist continually uses emotional abuse to control a person or coworker, this is a sign of gaslighting and may also be a sign of emotional abuse and a willingness to allow the narcissist to control or manipulate them.

Gaslighting can also be in the form of a subtle change in personal behaviors and routine. For example, if the narcissist suddenly becomes more attentive when working with you, this can be a sign of a possible gaslighting pattern. 

It can also be a sign of a new form of addiction – an addiction that can be very insidious. Narcissists can start to use guilt as a means of controlling their victims – an action that sets up a vicious cycle that makes it very difficult to recover from. A victim can unwittingly give their abuser every reason to continue to abuse them and can make the narcissist’s actions even more insidious because the victim no longer knows or has any confidence in themselves.

Examples of Gaslighting 

There are five common examples of Gaslighting, these are; 

  • Countering – involves the abuser openly questioning the victim’s memories, in an attempt to make the victim think that they remembered the event incorrectly. 
  • Withholding – is simply a tactic where the abuser refuses to or pretends to understand the victim’s stance
  • Forgetting – is where the abuser pretends to forget something, or openly denies something happening.
  • Trivializing – is where the abuser trivializes, or belittles the victim’s feelings or concerns
  • Diverting – sometimes called “Blocking”, is where the abuser changes the subject, or focuses on the credibility of what the victim is talking about rather than what they mean. 
Be aware of you and your partner

Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to gaslighting. If you are concerned that your partner may be gaslighting you, take some time and make an effort to evaluate how you feel about him/her. 

Do you feel angry and hurt on a regular basis? Do you find yourself trying to avoid being around them as much as possible? If so, then chances are you have been mistreated. If not, then there may be some gaslighting tactics going on.

This is the most important year for survivors of abusive gaslighting to get away from the relationship. This year marks the first year that the narcissistic partner of a victim has been granted “genuine freedom” – freedom that the victim never had when they were in the relationship.

Now is the time for survivors to learn self-compassion and let go of those feelings of anger and powerlessness. Let go of the victim role and learn to become a supportive friend to the addict instead.