Have you ever felt like you are struggling in a relationship with someone? Do they make you doubt yourself? Do you feel you are being isolated from a group but can’t quite put your finger on why? Or that someone’s behaviour towards you isn’t quite ‘right’ but you can’t identify what is making you feel that way?
If so, you could be experiencing Gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that’s seen in abusive relationships. It’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. Gaslighting, a tactic used by someone in order to gain more power, makes a person question their reality. It is a common technique of abusers, dictators, cult leaders and narcissists and is a behaviour which is done slowly so the person doesn’t realise how much they have been brainwashed. It can happen to anyone.
The term Gaslighting was taken from a 1938 play entitled ‘Gas light’. The female lead marries the male lead and then mysterious things start to happen to her. Her husband convinces her she is imagining things, when actually it is him all along. In the 1944 movie, Gaslight, a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.
Gaslighting is described as ‘subtle but unhealthy manipulative behaviour.’ Typically, someone experiencing Gaslighting will feel undermined, insecure and vulnerable. They will start to feel a lack of trust towards others and slowly but surely both their confidence and their effectiveness / productivity will suffer.