What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a mind control or brainwashing technique in which the speaker strives to mislead.
Word search rituals can help Narcissistic abuse victims transition more easily from a state of learned helplessness and conditioned PTSD to a position of mental, spiritual, and emotional health. By reminding themselves daily setting healthy boundaries is necessary, victims can learn how to depersonalize abusive people’s verbal assaults and learn how to overcome deep emotional wounds related to things like Narcissistic Abuse, ridicule, toxic shame, bullying, and/or betrayal.
The stipulative definition of the term “Gaslighting” as it relates to Narcissistic Abuse, Self-Help, and Psychology is as follows. According to most pop culture dictionary sources, gaslighting is both noun and verb.
If you manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity or make them come to believe a false premise, you are guilty of gaslighting them. Whether you lie to tell someone you are fine when you are not or you intentionally make up stories to deceive, both practices are technically speaking gaslighting — although one is of a far more sinister type than the other when it comes to actual morality.
People who gaslight typically lie or obfuscate at least partial truths in order to manipulate other people psychologically and emotionally. It can be as simply done as presenting a brave face to the world when your heart is breaking (a mild deception for self-gain) or truly doing something as morally abhorrent as faking victimization (the way Cluster B predators do with alarming regularity).
“Gaslight” was the name of a fictional movie that showcased the strange yet oddly common brainwashing technique. The goal of the speaker is to frustrate and annoy a target to the point the victimized person begins to doubt their very sanity when and if the Narcissistic Abuse is perpetrated by a person with malicious intent — including those who torment people psychologically for sadistic fun then claim passive-aggressive abuse was dished out while they were “kidding”.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline describes the practice of gaslighting, explaining, “This term comes from the 1938 stage play Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights (which were powered by gas) in their home, and then he denies that the light changed when his wife points it out. It is an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power (and we know that abuse is about power and control). Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.”
Key phrases victims tend to report their Abusers and abuse Enablers tell them after abusing them overtly tend to sound like variations of the following invalidating remarks:
“You’re crazy – that never happened.”
“You’re just being dramatic.”
“Are you sure? You tend to have a bad memory.”
“I never said/did that.” [claimed knowing full well they did]
“It’s all in your head.”
“You make things up.”
“You always say everyone is yelling at you/hurting you/being mean to you in this family/out to get you.”
“I don’t know where you come up with this stuff.”
“There’s always two sides to every story.” [exclaimed primarily while fabricating a second account with no validity entirely while demanding their feelings about the made-up issues be honored]
“You’re the one being selfish, not me.”
“You’re the one being controlling, not me.”
“You’re the one acting jealous… crazy… whatever… NOT ME!”
Not Me is the name of the most famous gaslighter on the planet apparently, followed by “I have no idea what you are talking about!” and “Prove it.”
“It’s all in your head!” is the name of the man or woman who claims an innocent spouse acts irrationally for getting upset about a person who leaves rampant signs and clues everywhere that they are a serial cheater. “You’re just jealous…” is related by Abuse logic — meaning, only in the mind of an abusive antagonist does a protagonist get provoked then punished for responding on an intellectually and emotionally level in a way properly accordant to situational ethics.
“She’s always been a problem child” and “He’s always crying wolf about being abused” are two of the favorite phrases used by abusive parents against their own children. The more severe the abuse, the more likely the abusive parent is to tell their friends, family, and anyone who will listen to them about how concerned they are for their psychologically unbalanced, misbehaving and wayward children.
Truly, such denials of abuse and poisoning of the well while smear campaigning a child is the most socially and emotionally devastating thing any parent or trusted guardian could do to a child. The same intense betrayal of all human morality and biological bonds that breaks a child later destroys devoted and dedicated Adult Children of Toxic Parents when and if they meet and subsequently romantically attach themselves by accidental habit to another abusive or covertly sadistic and emotionally destructive romantic or life partner.
Read more about gaslighting as often as you can in order to learn to spot the red flags and warning signs someone you know is being less than honest in their verbal dealings. Signs you are being persistently or pervasively targeted for gaslighting attacks include but are not limited to the following warning signs of emergent C-PTSD:
In order to overcome this type of abuse, it’s important to start recognizing the signs and eventually learn to trust yourself again. According to author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, Ph.D., the signs of being a victim of gaslighting include:
- You constantly second-guess yourself.
- You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
- You often feel confused and even crazy.
- You’re always apologizing to your partner.
- You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
- You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
- You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
- You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
- You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
- You have trouble making simple decisions.
- You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
- You feel hopeless and joyless.
- You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
- You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner, knowing full well that you are the better half (morally, ethically, spiritually, and practically speaking)
Gaslighters are dangerous predators, those who set out to scam, con, lie, and socially or morally demean. If you suspect you have been targeted, seek help from your local Domestic Violence Shelter.
It’s no joke — a person or narcissistic peer group like a toxic family who works to convince a target that they are going out of their mind can actually make it happen.
Trust no one who lies pathologically or makes pleading and convincing emotionally persuasive arguments based on logical fallacies.
Reclaim inner peace by learning how to trust your instincts. If you suspect someone is lying to you or trying to manipulate you psychologically, staying as far as humanly possible away from the person is crucial in order to regain your sense of composure and perspective authority.
The easiest way to spot a person gaslighting is to listen to how they speak in front of people they want to impress compared to how they act in private. If a person acts one way in public but totally different in private, understand it’s a huge red flag warning sign they act with a pervasive sense of entitlement — something that is a common poker tell of sorts that reveals people’s true nature.
If a person behaves in ways that are pervasively self-promoting at the expense of others, relieves idle boredom by taunting, manipulating, ridiculing, or shaming others, and/or lies to get their own way or make themselves look better, understanding you are in the presence of a professional gaslighting con-artist is key to reclaiming your life and mind if you accidentally fell victim to their treachery.
Reading and re-reading Narcissistic Abuse recovery articles every day that remind you what gaslighting is (and isn’t) can help a terrorized victim take back their power. If you have been the victim of an aggressive gaslighting predator, keep the faith and educate.
The more you learn about gaslighting, the less likely you are to fall prey when and if you encounter a toxic and conniving social predator. Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy series, would say a gaslighter belongs frozen in the 9th layer of Hell (morally speaking the lowest point), noting that people who betray the hospitality and kind trust of others are the scourge of the earth.
Historical figures he placed in the category of hospitality betrayer included but was not limited to Lucifer (as a fallen angel) and Judas Iscariot (the man said to have betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver according to biblical literature). Check out Dante’s Inferno to do a pleasure read of the classic piece of psychological and philosophical ethics-based literature.
As Dante describes various types of human sin, he exposes those who betray the good will and hospitality of others. In the case of Judas, his sin was pretending to be trustworthy — then betraying Jesus’ hospitality — providing man with the best literary example of gaslighting in motion quite possibly ever.
The only thing that could have made Judas’ betrayal of Jesus more effective as a damaging mind control technique would be if a) he denied doing it or b) he was able to convince Jesus and the rest of his friends and family that Jesus himself was psychologically unstable, actually making the whole story up, or convincing him in some way that he brought the abuse and betrayal on himself.
Then and only then would a gaslighting con or scheme make itself made manifest to full fruition, something that damages all for the idle sport and amusement of the Narcissist or predator working to spin true while writing revisionist history in favor of the Narcissist or Cluster B person.
As the fine folks over at Good Men Project say in their article titled 7 signs you are a victim of gaslighting, “Gaslighting is an extremely dangerous form of emotional abuse, as it causes the narcissist’s victim to question [his or her own judgment], on even the smallest issues, thereby making her dependent of him. If, for example, she is repeatedly told that she is bad with money, she will begin to believe it, and think that without her narcissist by her side, she will be financially ruined.”