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 disorder—narcissism 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.