A toxic form of emotional abuse, Gaslighting,

toxic form of emotional abuse, stages. Yet the concept is old; is likely to be familiar to those who have endured unhealthy, damaging relationships. There is a variety of ways that people abuse one another, and most of them have existed for at least, as long as people have been in relationships. Gaslighters are masters at twisting the narrative in order to shift the blame and responsibility from themselves to others.

The Oxford Dictionaries named gaslighting the top word of 2018 after its popularity surged after Donald Trump's inauguration. Manipulating someone to doubt their own reality or state of mind is called psychological manipulation. Placing doubt, one could say just like the devil did with Eve in the garden. Gaslighting is a way to convince someone that what they are thinking or feeling might not be valid or true... At its worst, it is a way to destroy someone's trust in their own feelings and thoughts.

In their book "Gaslight Effect", Robin Stern explains how the Gaslight Effect works, how to distinguish between relationships that are worth keeping and those that are not—along with how you can protect yourself so that you will not be gaslighted again.

Gaslighting - what is it?

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which someone manipulates another person to the extent that they begin to doubt their own perception of reality - and thus their own sanity.

Gaslighting occurs most often in a couple's relationship, but it can also happen in relationships among friends, colleagues, or family members, churches and other organizations. Gaslighting has no discrimination and is invasive.

The term gaslighting gets thrown around with all the other manipulation techniques. There's an expression that we use commonly known as "he gaslighted you", which implies that that's a manipulation tactic in and of itself. It is important to point out that gaslighting is not necessarily a manipulation tactic. It is an effect that results from emotional and psychological manipulation tactics being used on a person.

Whenever someone mentions covert manipulation techniques, keep in mind that they use these types of techniques to make someone act, think, or believe things they otherwise wouldn't, without their knowledge.

By denial, and by doing so invalidating reality, the manipulator is able to bring about the gaslighting phenomenon. Validating the victim's experience of the world is distorting or undermining their perception of it. Ultimately, they may question their own sanity.

The gaslighting effect is almost always caused by manipulation tactics. If you are successfully manipulated in some way, you will experience gaslighting. In order to make someone do something against their self-interest, you have to distort their perception of reality in some way so that they realize they are even being manipulated. Lying significantly contributes to the gaslighting effect, as all manipulation techniques do, so yes, it is a manipulation tactic.

There are, however, some tactics that contribute to the gaslighting effect, because of which these tactics are sometimes incorrectly referred to as the 'gaslighting tactic'. However, they are different strategies in their own right, with a greater tendency to result in gaslighting.

Tactics that cause Gaslighting

In order to increase the clarity of this answer, let's point out some of the manipulation tactics that result in greater degrees of gaslighting. These are often referred to as 'gashing' tactics, and they are often referred to as using the 'gaslighting technique'. This is actually not the correct term to use. Obviously, this is not a complete list, as it has been already stated that all tactics, including lies, can be attributed to the gaslighting phenomenon.

Stonewalling– a situation where the perpetrator acts confused, pretends he doesn't understand what the victim is saying, and withholds any feelings towards the victim.

  • Why do you try to confuse me?

  • There is no sense in what you are saying.

  • What do you want me to say? I have no idea

Countering – Questioning the memory and thoughts of the victim and invoking previous examples of abuses

  • Things never seem to stick in your memory

  • That's something I've never said

  • You have a very vivid imagination

  • You need to get your facts straight

Blocking/Diverting - An abuser refuses to respond or comment, changes the subject, accuses the victim or blames him/her or blames them for their actions

  • This is not something I want to repeat

  • This has already been discussed

  • You pick fights all the time

  • It's always right to be right

Trivializing – The abuser ignores the needs and thoughts of the victim

  • That's not important

  • What kind of stupidity would you allow to come between us?

  • It's just that you're too sensitive

  • You always exaggerate things

  • Let's move on

Denial/Forgetting-- In order to prevent the victim from getting reparation, the abuser denies that anything ever happened or forgets the promises he/she made to the victim.

  • There was no such thing as a lie or a statement from me

  • That didn't happen

  • It is my first time there

  • I didn't know that

  • There is someone else you are confusing me with

  • I have no problem with my memory

There are many ways in which gaslighting can be used as a huge effect, also. To make the target think he or she is losing control is one such example. They might be told things weren't there because they were hidden or misplaced, or their memory failed. This kind of gaslighting is called ambient gaslighting.

Gaslighting tactics that cause the most harm are also unconscionable, which is why we see them most often in pathological manipulators with a void of conscience and empathy - who harm others in the process.

Psychological abuse and personal attacks over time can lead to gaslighting. By manipulating situations repeatedly, the abuser causes the victim's memory and perception to be distorted.

Insidious forms of abuse include gaslighting. Victims are made uncertain of their very instincts, making them question whatever they have relied upon all their lives.

By gaslighting, victims are at increased risk of believing what their abusers say, regardless of what they know about the situation.

A gaslighting victim is likely to remain in abusive situations for longer since gaslighting often precedes other types of abuse.

Gaslighting: Stages from Bad to Worse

Gaslighting usually takes place in stages. In the beginning, the problem may seem relatively minor-in fact, you may not even notice it at all. Your boyfriend accuses you of deliberately undermining him when you show up late to his office party. In the beginning, you even wonder if you were doing it purposefully—you attribute it to his nerves or assume he didn't mean it. But you let it go.

As you begin to feel overwhelmed by gaslighting, it soon becomes a major part of your life. At last, you find yourself in a deep depression, hopeless and joyless, not even remembering who you were before, with your own perspective and sense of self.

It is possible to skip some or all of these stages. However, gaslighting goes from bad to worse for many.

Stage 1: Disbelief

During Stage 1, disbelief is dominant. There’s something outrageous that your gaslighter says—“He just wanted to get you in your bed!” and you're not quite sure what to think. Your assumption was that you misunderstood, but the gentleman may have understood you, or he may have just been joking. You might let it go since it seems so off the wall. Maybe you try to correct the error without putting much effort into it. Even if you get into long, complicated discussions, you remain quite certain of your position. Despite the desire to get the approval of your gaslighter, you aren't yet desperate for it.

Stage 2: Defense

Stage 2 involves defending yourself. Trying to win your gaslighter's approval, you obsessively look for proof proving them wrong and debate with them verbally. When you frequently feel obsessive, sometimes desperate, then you are in Stage 2. Your gaslighter may not approve of you anymore, but you don't give up.

Stage 3: Depression

Depression is the most difficult stage of gaslighting. In this point, you are actively seeking to prove that your gaslighter is right, as he may finally approve of your ways if you could prove him wrong. Even so, Stage 3 is exhausting for most people, and it is not uncommon for them to be too tired to debate.

Why do we turn into gaslighters?

As a method of controlling the moment, gaslighting helps Dan feel "in charge" by stopping the conflict, easing some anxiety, as well as feeling "in control". Essentially, it's a way of deflecting responsibility and tormenting others, while allowing them to keep hooked on a desperate need to please someone else or to prove their point wrong.

Unlike introverts and extroverts, gaslighters aren't born.

Gaslighters learn social skills from thier environment.

It is seen, felt or stumbled upon, and proven to be one of the most potent tools.

Co-regulation and self-regulation are cognitive processes.

In short, they work.

Gaslighters may not even be aware they are manipulating or strategizing. It may be that he lacks self-awareness and does not realize the impact of what he says, or that he has a tendency to be blunt, saying things "like they are."

The gaslighter might, for instance, accuse their partner of being concerned about punctuality if he/she asks where they have been at midnight, then justify the accusation by asking, "What's wrong with telling people they do something wrong?" To make sense of the issue and to end the conversation, he explains his partner's anger at his lateness.

Gaslighters are also individuals. Many people may have picked up the bad habit of gaslighting from their relationships growing up. You can change how you disagree or interact with a gaslighter when your partner, friend, or parent is willing to do the hard work of changing how you argue and interact with them. However, if they continue to put a barrier between you and your own reality, this can be extremely difficult.

What are some ways to recognize gaslighting?

Check out the list below. There is a possibility that you are in a gaslighting relationship if any part of the list resonates with you.

  • Throughout the day, you ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?”

  • In a relationship, you may feel confused and even crazy at times.

  • Your apologies never end.

  • You don't understand why you aren't happier.

  • Frequently, you give your partner excuses for their behavior.

  • Something is wrong, but you're not sure what.

  • In order to avoid being put down or having your reality twisted, you start lying.

  • Making simple decisions is difficult for you.

  • If you're wondering if you will be able to keep up, it's natural to wonder.

There are a number of symptoms that can be associated with anxiety disorders, depression, or low self-esteem, but the difference with gaslighting is that someone else or a group is asking you to doubt what you already know to be true. Then you might be subject to gaslighting if you don't normally feel this way around other people but do with that person.

According to Dr Robin Stern, the author of The Gaslight Effect, there are some specific signs that should be watched out for. Some of these reactions include feeling insecure and anxious, wondering if you are too sensitive, feeling isolated from family and friends, blaming your partner's actions, and questioning your own judgements and decisions.

You may hear the following phrases from your gaslighter:

  • You are such a sensitive individual!

  • It is simply a result of your insecurity.

  • Stop acting irrational. Have you ever noticed how crazy you sound?

  • You are being paranoid.

  • It seems that you enjoy throwing me off course.

  • I was only kidding!

  • You are imagining that.

  • It is not a major issue.

  • Your imagination is playing tricks on you.

  • You are exaggerating the situation.

  • Your dramatic nature never ceases to amaze me.

  • Be careful not to get worked up.

  • That didn't happen.

  • Remembering things clearly isn't easy for you.

  • Patterns don't exist. That is, what you see is an illusion.

  • That's hysterical.

  • I see you're being so ungrateful again.

  • You have no credibility; why should I?

How do these phrases make sense to you? Topics such as money, sex, your families of origin, or habits you introduced to the relationship are among the triggers that create a stressful environment that can lead to gaslighting.

Furthermore, in my experience, gaslighters are typically men and gaslightees are typically women. Women are often socialized to be doubtful of themselves and constantly apologizing if they disagree with their partners or upset them. Men are not socialized that way. I believe Ive seen a huge increase in women being the gaslighter and men the gaslightee.

Gaslighting: How to stop it in its tracks?

Learning to develop an inner knowing will prevent you from being controlled. You will never have your gaslighters accept your reality unless you build up your reality, resist them, and own them. When someone distorts logic and facts, it is pointless to use them.

Become detached from relationships in a healthy way. Let go of what you want. Instead of fighting, let go if a relationship is creating too much stress and chaos. It is often compassionate to let go when a relationship is creating too much stress and chaos.

In reality, relationships do cause people to be hurt, but you can protect yourself by learning not to expect others to act in a way that makes you feel good, or that fulfills your needs.

You should start writing things down if you suspect that you might be the victim of gaslighting so that you can verify the facts. Gaslighting might seem ridiculous, and to some extent it may be. In order to build trust, you must feel safe, secure, and heard. When not reconciled with the realities of your situation, stability is undermined. As soon as you realize the truth, you need to know that this is emotional abuse, and you need to get help immediately with a safe person, growth partner or even the police.

How can you recover from gaslighting?

Acknowledge that you were hurt and that it will take time for you to heal. You did not cause this to happen to yourself, nor are you to blame. Talk to trusted family and friends about your feelings.

Working with a professional therapist to construct a safety plan may be wise if you believe you are still at risk. You may have felt confused and helpless because of gaslighting and mental health matters. Attempt to rebuild your self-esteem and sense of worth.

Start redirecting yourself if you find yourself slipping into self-doubt. Take steps to affirm your self-worth. You should never treat anyone this way, or be treated this way - and by taking time to reflect and heal, you can ensure that it never happens again.

You can recover from gaslighting by following these steps.

  • The first step is to identify the problem. After you identify the problem, you can begin fixing it. What are you doing with your spouse, friend, family member, colleague, or your boss? Write it down.

  • It is important to distinguish between what is true and what is distorted. Keep a journal in which you can record your conversation so you can look at it objectively in the future. In what part of the conversation does the conversation diverge from reality into the other person's perspective? In what way was the conversation different from reality? Write it down after you've listened to the dialogue. Try to identify signs of repeated denial of what you experienced.

  • Try to figure out if you're in a power struggle with your partner. You might be getting gaslighted if you keep having the same conversation with the same person over and over.

  • Visualize yourself without the relationship, or continuing it from a much greater distance. This mental exercise will encourage a mindset shift. Focus on the positive, even if you feel anxious about the vision. Despite these obstacles, you will eventually realize your own reality, have social support, and be able to handle your own integrity.

  • Permit yourself to feel everything you feel. Be aware that your feelings are okay. Feelings should be tracked.

  • Don't be afraid to let go of something. Part of the difficulty of leaving a gaslight relationship has to do with the fact that the gaslighter may be someone you've committed yourself to, such as your best friend, your other, your sister, or your brother. Irrespective of the source of toxicity, it is okay to walk away.

  • Consult with your closest friends. Ask them whether you seem like yourself and observe your spouse's behavior for a reality check. Try to get an honest assessment from them.

  • Feelings are more important than right or wrong. The temptation to want to be right and spend countless hours discussing who is right is powerful. Regardless of whether you think you're right or wrong, you need to pay attention to how your conversation makes you feel. If you feel bad or second-guess yourself, you need to pay attention to that. In a relationship, it is more important to feel like you are at peace with each other than to argue about who is right or wrong.

  • Even if you are right, you cannot control other people's opinions. Despite your best efforts, it might be impossible to convince your friend, your boss or your partner that you are not too controlling or too sensitive. It's not worth trying, as frustrating as it may be. It's your opinion that counts.

  • Compassionately treat yourself. Even in a non-compromising situation, this is difficult. Even harder is it to give yourself kindness, love, and the benefit of the doubt when you are not confident and strong. As a result, your decisions will be influenced in a positive way. Now is the time to focus on yourself.


Some of those things we say to each other may be true at times. It’s important to reflect on what is being said and how it makes you feel. Some gaslighting isn't always indication of manipulation. The purpose of deceiving another person may not be to avoid accountability or to confuse them by distorting their reality. Some might be genuinely clueless or confused.

In addition to emotional immaturity, manipulation is often a result of power imbalances. Children are particularly vulnerable to manipulation. As well as being emotionally immature, personality disordered pathological manipulators also exhibit emotional immatureness. When someone is disordered, there is a complete imbalance in power, and the victim is completely powerless.

Self-defense can sometimes be achieved through manipulation on the part of the victim. The intention matters too. A person's culpability for bad behavior will always be determined by context and intentions in addition to bad behavior itself. The victim of this case has been exploited, a power struggle has been going on in their relationship, and they have resorted to manipulation as a means of defending themselves. Take care. God Bless.

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