What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and control, which derives its name from a 1938 play, Gas Light, and a film adaptation starring Ingrid Bergman. The victims of gaslighting are bombarded with false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, even about themselves. Victims end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity. Over time, the gaslighter’s manipulations grow more complex and potent, making it increasingly difficult for the victim to see the truth.

Gaslighting can occur in personal or professional relationships, and the victims are targeted where it hurts: their sense of identity and self-worth. Often charming at first in order to lure their victims, gaslighters may have a personality disordernarcissism is particularly common among them. They also have a tendency to present one face to their prey and another to the rest of the world, leading victims to assume that if they ask for help, no one will believe their story of being manipulated.  


How to Spot Gaslighting

In the beginning, individuals may start to notice that they are experiencing increased confusion and self-doubt around a gaslighter. The gaslighter will try to convince the target that what he or she remembers, thinks, and feels is wrong. Typically, if their victim doesn’t instantly agree with them, manipulators will react poorly and twist the truth to make it seem as if they themselves are the victims. Deep into the process, those being gaslighted will doubt even the evidence of their own senses and find it difficult to discern the truth from the gaslighter’s lies and manipulations. 

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