What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a concept used to define a situation when one of the persons in a relationship is manipulated and misguided by the other person and results in questioning of the reality of oneself. When a person faces with gashlighting, s/he begins to question the truth of oneself and thay may result in mental health problems. Loss of self-esteem and trust problems in personal relations are other negative sides of gaslighting.

Gaslighting not only occurs in romantic relationships but also in in friendship and family relations. It is widely argued that the gashlighter is mentally ill. However, sometimes the person is aware of this situation and accepts the way of manipulating others as a means of power.

What are the examples of gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a manipulation method that progresses slowly initially, but increases in effect and dose over time. The main examples of gaslighting can be listed under the following headings;

  • Distracting with compassion,
  • Underestimating the emotions,
  • Teasing
  • Underestimating or ignoring achievements
  • Denial of abuse
  • Labelling the child’s feelings
  • Denying the truth
  • Engaging in questioning behaviours towards the child’s memory
  • Changing the crime
  • Ignoring the child’s needs
  • Turning friends against each other
  • Trying to be friends with romantic partners
  • Unreal concerns
  • Frequent gossip
  • Invalid emotions
  • Extreme defensive behaviours
  • Silent sabotage
  • Unreal helpfulness
  • Skipping the basics
  • Hypocritical behaviour

Gaslighting in a relationship

Some examples of gaslighting are as follows;

  • Distracting with compassion

“You are the only person in my life, how do you think I can love her/him?”

  • Praising one’s achievements but questioning them out of jealousy

“Your new job is great, but it’s sad that you’re going to get this salary”

  • Making fun of and belittling emotions

“You’re not going to cry over this, I suppose?”

  • Mind game

“You forgot to take the keys I gave you again, didn’t you?”

  • Denying abuse

“I didn’t do anything to you, you spoilt your mood on your own.”

Gaslighting at work

Gaslighting at work is a frustrating situation. Toxic managers, managers who bully their employees, and narcissistic co-workers are good examples of gaslighting. These types of individuals who make people question their own knowledge and experience are inevitable in an unhappy work place. Gaslighting, which also causes the person to feel excluded, also creates a tense atmosphere in the work environment.

A gaslighter can endanger the other person’s work life. S/he may not convey an important information to the other person or act as if s/he has forgotten it. Acts by exhibiting unrealistic benevolence behaviours. S/He does not take personal responsibility, s/he is in a state of denial of mistakes.


Why do some people gaslighting others?

There are many reasons why a person may gaslight. Gaining power and controlling the other may be desired or the person who is gaslighted may resort to the method of gaslighting in order to survive without being aware of the situation. The goal is usually to create confusion in the other person’s mind by acting innocent. In this respect, it can be seen as a persistent and insidious pattern of behaviour. Individuals with mental health disorders such as antisocial personality and narcissistic personality are more prone to gaslighting.

The condition known as persistent gaslighting is described as a mental health disorder as it poses a risk of abuse. As a result of this situation, the individual has difficulty in deciding.

It is possible to say that every individual who feels the need to dominate others has an unhealthy mood. Another reason that lays behind gaslighting is that the person never wants to be inclined to accept their situation.

The impact of gaslighting on mental health

Gaslighting can have devastating effects on mental health. It can cause the person to question their own beliefs and realities. The person feels powerless and alone in this situation. S/he begins to doubt her/himself. This may result in loss of mental health. They may incline to have addicted relationships or have difficulty making real connections.

What to do when faced with gaslighting?

The individual who encounters gaslighting should first clarify whether this is a gaslighting or not. If there is a situation that reduces the person’s self-esteem or creates confusion, it is possible to break this cycle with the following methods;

  • Take a firm stand on the truth you are defending.
  • Write down the events or the situation you encountered so that you can defend the truth you believe in.
  • If you have witnessed the other person exhibit this behaviour before, remind yourself of this situation.
  • Be willing to end the conversation.
  • Keep your conversations in the gaslighting environment simple.
  • Be sure of your own feelings about behaviours that may cause your perception to deteriorate.

When to seek help?

Gaslighting may cause problems such as the following over time;

  • Deterioration occurs in the sense of self-worth.
  • You start to question your decisions.
  • You may encounter situations such as loneliness, anxiety and depression

If you feel lonely in your social life due to these and similar feelings, face a feeling of fear, and have difficulty in establishing relationships due to anxiety disorder, you should seek help.

The help you will receive from a therapist will support you on the following issues;

  • Coping with unwanted emotions,
  • Ability to manage your fears and doubts about your own self-worth,
  • Being able to determine your limits in relationships,
  • Understanding that Gaslighting is not something you deserve,
  • Being able to trust people again and establish healthy relationships,
  • Terminating manipulation attempts,
  • Stress management,
  • Being able to control the situations that you have emotional difficulties

Is there a medical method to avoid the effects of gaslighting?

The support of the family and friends may be insufficient for the individuals who are aware of their experience of gaslighting. In such a case, requesting sessions from experts in this field, from a therapist, a counsellor or a psychologist is recommended.


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