What Is Gaslighting?


Gaslighting is a kind of psychological manipulation in which a person, sometimes acting with others, sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, causing that person to question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them changes such as low self-esteem.

People who gaslight often do so by learned instinct.

Though a gaslighter might seem impatient by the way she or he interacts with the one she is manipulating, the gaslighter is often a master of patience.

The gaslighter will repeat a lie over and over in drumbeat fashion, setting up self doubt and confusion in their victim to the point that the manipulated person often reaches a point where they lose confidence in their ability to remember details and, instead, learn to rely on the gaslighter to tell them what actually happened.

The gaslighter, in extreme cases, becomes the master of reality to their victim, having so thoroughly rattled the ground of reality of the other person that the gaslighter routinely rewrites history to direct the thoughts and actions of the other.

They wear their partner down over time by repeating their lie or narrative, effectively programming the other person.

The gaslighter is often an expert at gaging the feelings of their partner, knowing when to sprinkle in praise for compliance.

This is done strategically to set up the perception that the gaslighter is balanced and reasonable whereas the victim is said to be “always negative,” or always assuming the worst.

This manipulator will also attempt to have the numbers on her side, often telling you that your friends or family are “shocked” by your behavior or that they feel sorry for her having to deal with your constant accusations or lack of support.

Almost never will the gaslighter quote anyone, because that is too easily verified and her MO is perpetuating your own doubt in your ability to read others and to make you believe that those around you side with her against you, resulting in you losing the ability to feel that you are socially in touch and that what you think is so ridiculous or crazy that you are the only one who thinks it.

A gaslighter is also usually highly skilled at appearing emotionally devastated by their victim’s recollection of an event. She might turn on the tears and play the victim herself, seemingly broken-hearted that you remember her doing one thing when she insists she did the opposite.

“Do you just hate me and want to hurt me? I feel like I can’t even talk to you because you change my words!”

The gaslighter is relying on you being a reasonable person who would feel sorry for her and be willing to think that you might be in the wrong.

Her faux pain, intended to manipulate you, can make you feel like a cruel monster and cause you to further doubt your ability to recall even simple events of the past.

Over time, a skillful gaslighter, male or female, will turn you into an enabler of her addiction, cheating, stealing from you, and/or always getting her way with you funding her life.

Becoming aware of a gaslighter’s techniques can help you reclaim reality and escape the situation.

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Coach Lee

Coach Lee helps people get their ex back after a breakup. No matter the situation, there is hope with the appropriate response. Rely on Lee's 22 years of experience in working with couples in troubled relationships.

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