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Understanding Gaslighting: Its Effects and How to Recognize It

The psychological manipulation of gaslighting is a prevalent issue, yet many are unaware of its existence or its impact.

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique used to make an individual question their own sanity, perception of reality, or memories. This method of emotional abuse is designed to destabilize the victim and undermine their mental stability, often resulting in feelings of confusion, anxiety, and self-doubt.

The term 'Gaslighting' was derived from a 1944 movie titled 'Gaslight'. In this film, a man systematically manipulates his wife to make her believe that she is slowly losing her sanity.

In the film, the husband employs various tactics, such as dimming the gas lights in their home and then denying that the light has changed when his wife points it out. Through these manipulations, the wife begins to question her perception of reality, as she is led to believe that what she perceives to be true is in fact a figment of her imagination or a sign of her deteriorating mental health.

The effects of gaslighting can be severe and long-lasting. The victims may end up doubting their own memory, judgment, and even their sanity. This can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and in some extreme cases, even result in depression or anxiety disorders.

Gaslighting is more than just lying or deceit; it's a strategy employed to gain more power and make the other person dependent on the gaslighter. It's used in personal relationships, at workplaces, and even in political contexts.

The Effects of Gaslighting on the Victim

Short Term Effects

In the short term, victims may feel confused, anxious, or isolated. They might doubt their own thoughts and feelings and constantly second-guess themselves.

Long Term Effects

Over time, prolonged gaslighting can lead to depression, anxiety disorders, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The victim's self-esteem erodes, and they may withdraw from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed.

The emotional, psychological, and behavioral changes induced by gaslighting can be devastating. Victims often feel helpless and struggle with feelings of worthlessness.

The Subtle Onset of Gaslighting

Gaslighting often begins in a very subtle manner, almost imperceptible to the victim. A person experiencing gaslighting might initially find their feelings or thoughts dismissed as 'silly' or 'unimportant'. For instance, if you express your concern about how a friend treated you, the gaslighter might respond with something like, "You're just being overly sensitive," or "You're overthinking things."

Denial and Contradiction

As the gaslighting progresses, the gaslighter might start to contradict factual information or deny that certain events ever occurred. Imagine you distinctly remember your partner insulting you during an argument, but when you bring it up, they flatly deny it ever happened, insisting, "I never said that, you must be imagining things."

This sort of denial can make you start questioning your own memory and perception of events.

In my situation, if I would bring up something that felt off about his behavior with me or other women, He would suddenly ask me, "Where did you go? Do you know who I am?" This would continue until I had trouble discerning if my reality was clear.

Love Bombing

A common tactic intertwined with gaslighting is 'love bombing'. This is a manipulative technique where the gaslighter showers the victim with affection and praise, only to control them. For example, after a period of intense criticism or blatant denial, the gaslighter might suddenly become extremely affectionate, showering you with compliments, gifts or acts of kindness. This sudden shift from abuse to affection is designed to keep you off-balance and to make you believe that the demeaning behavior was an anomaly.

The Confusion and Emotional Drain

The alternating cycle of abuse and affection is highly confusing and emotionally draining for the victim. One moment, you might feel loved and appreciated, and the next, you're made to feel worthless and constantly doubting your own perceptions. This rollercoaster of emotions can keep you perpetually off-balance, making you more susceptible to further manipulation and control.

Gaslighting and Reality Distortion

Gaslighting manipulates the victim's perception of reality. They might begin to question their memory, judgement, and even sanity, making them reliant on the gaslighter for their version of reality.

This distortion benefits the manipulator by making them appear superior or more knowledgeable. It allows them to control the narrative and evade accountability for their actions. It assists in creating a learned helplessness and contributes to Stockholm Syndrome, where a victim "falls in Love" with a kidnapper. In this case the kidnapper is the 'mental kidnapping' of mind control.

Symptoms of Gaslighting

If you often feel confused or crazy, if you're always apologizing, or if you find it hard to make simple decisions without consulting others, you might be a victim of gaslighting.

Other symptoms include feeling unsure of your own memory or perception, constantly second-guessing yourself, or feeling isolated from friends and family. If you notice these signs, it's essential to get help.

Questions to Ask Yourself

If you suspect you're being gaslighted, ask yourself:

  • Do I often question my memory or reality?

  • Do I feel confused or crazy around a particular person?

  • Do I feel like I'm always apologizing or having to justify myself?

If you answered yes to these questions, it's possible you're experiencing gaslighting.


Understanding and recognizing gaslighting is the first step towards breaking free from its damaging effects. If you or someone you know is in this situation, remember that help is available.


For further reading on gaslighting, consider "The Gaslight Effect" by Dr. Robin Stern or "Healing from Hidden Abuse" by Shannon Thomas. Online support groups can also provide a safe space to share experiences and advice.

Remember, if you need professional help, reach out to your local mental health services or a trusted healthcare provider. You're not alone – there's help and hope available.null

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"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Imagination is Everything. It is the preview of Life's coming attractions."
                                                                                                                                                -Albert Einstein 

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