Gaslighting is a serious form of emotional abuse that occurs in a variety of relationships. Learn more about what gaslighting is and how to spot signs of manipulative behavior
Image: Jennifer Jacquemart / Rex Features)
Just a few years ago, the word “gaslight” seemed to have no meaning, but after Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2016, the term quickly gained traction.
Since then, the term gaslighting has grown in popularity, with the Oxford Dictionary even listing it as one of the most used words of 2018.
More recently, gaslighting has been a major issue in connection with the Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp libel trial, which has continued to focus on domestic violence and the types of abuse that exist.
Although the term is widely used today, many are still confused as to exactly what gaslighting is and when is the correct context for using the term.
We’ve created a guide to gaslighting, including a definition of the term, how to recognize the signs and how to protect yourself from this manipulative form of abuse.
What is gas lighting?
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that causes someone to question their thoughts, feelings, sanity, memories, or perception of reality.
The term was coined after the 1938 play Gas Light, in which a husband causes his wife to lose her sense of reality.
Gaslighting is a dangerous type of manipulation, it usually happens in romantic relationships but it can happen in other types of personal relationships as well as professional relationships. It’s also something public figures often do, which is why the term first became popular during Trump’s presidency.
Over time, gaslighting can wear down a person’s self-esteem and make them feel dependent on the person gaslighting them.
In a feature on gaslighting for Psychology Today, author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, PhD, explained what happens when someone is treated with gaslighting.
She said: “The gaslight effect occurs gradually over time. When you delve deep into gaslight tango (the dance you do with your gaslighting partner where you allow them to define your reality), you’re often not the same strong self that you used to be.
“In fact, your ego function has been compromised and because you are no longer sure of your reality, you are often unable to pinpoint when something is wrong with your partner.”
Gaslighting is classified as domestic abuse, which is a criminal offense in the UK. If you experience forced controls in the form of gaslighting, you can report it to the police.
What are gaslighting behaviors?
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Gaslighting occurs because someone wants to exercise control over another person, but there are many different types of behavior a gaslighter can engage in to do so.
Some types of gaslighting behavior are:
- Deny your memory of events
- Insisting that you did or said something you know you didn’t do
- Minimize your thoughts and feelings by calling yourself things like sensitive or crazy
- Deny wrongdoing or responsibility
- Retelling events to shift blame
- Insist they are right
- Refusing to consider facts
- Express doubts about your mental state to other people
- Change the subject or distract you
How can you tell if someone is gaslighting?
Although there are many different behaviors to look out for when it comes to identifying gaslighting, the nature of the abuse means it can still be difficult to tell when someone is gaslighting you.
Another way to tell if someone is gaslighting is to examine your own feelings. Common signs that might indicate you have experienced gaslighting include:
- Doubting your feelings and your reality
- feeling powerless
- feeling vulnerable
- question your judgement
- get confused
- A sense of impending doom
- Difficulty making decisions because you don’t trust yourself
- Constantly have the urge to apologize
- Frequent feelings of anxiety or nervousness
- Constant worry that you are too sensitive
- Feeling like you’ve lost your identity
https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/what-gaslighting--what-signs-26849750 What is gaslighting - and what are the signs to look out for?