What Does Gaslighting Mean – The Ultimate Guide

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which the abuser manipulates information to make the victim doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.

It can be very subtle, and the abuser may gaslight their victim for years before they realize what is happening.

In this post we will discuss what gaslighting is, the signs of this type of psychological abuse, and how to leave an abusive relationship.

what does gaslighting mean

What Does Gaslighting Mean?

If you’ve ever been in a relationship where you felt like you were losing your mind, chances are you were being gaslit.

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that leaves victims feeling confused, anxious, and isolated.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the origin of the word, how it is used when referring to psychological abuse, give examples of gaslighting, how to recognize the signs of this abusive tactic, and what to do if you think you are experiencing it.

The Origin of the Word ‘Gaslighting’

The origin of the word gaslighting comes from the 1940 film Gaslight. In the film, a man named Gregory uses psychological manipulation to make his wife believe she is going insane.

He does this by dimming the gas lights in their home and then telling her she’s imagining things when she brings it up—hence the name.

He also does things like hiding objects and then telling her she misplaced them and making loud noises in the attic while telling her she is hearing things.

By the end of the film, his wife is so convinced she is losing her mind that she attempts to murder him.

what does gaslighting mean

Gaslighting is a form of Psychological Abuse

From subtle everyday interactions to outright psychological warfare, gaslighting is a phenomenon that’s become increasingly common in modern times.

Through the use of lies, false information, and manipulation of facts, the abuser aims to make their victim doubt their own perception and judgment – leaving them feeling vulnerable, confused, and disorientated.

With no one to trust and validate their experiences, victims of gaslighting can suffer serious psychological consequences in the long run.

While gaslighting can happen in any kind of relationship, it’s most commonly found in romantic relationships, where one partner seeks to control and manipulate the other.

In such a situation it can take many forms, from undermining a partner’s opinions or decisions to making them feel guilty for innocuous actions.

Even something as seemingly harmless as trivial lies and false promises can be damaging if used as tactics of control.


However, it is important to note that gaslighting isn’t just limited to romantic relationships.

It’s an all-too-common occurrence in the workplace and in politics as well.

Individuals who are in positions of power may try to manipulate, control, or intimidate their subordinates by sowing seeds of doubt.

By making their victims feel like they’re going crazy and questioning their own sanity, those in authority can keep their targets off balance and prevent them from speaking out against them.

Regardless of the form it takes, the effects of gaslighting are often far-reaching – leading to confusion, depression, anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt in its victims.


Examples of Gaslighting Tactics

Gaslighting usually involves a pattern of denying, minimizing, or dismissing the other person’s thoughts and feelings in order to make them question their own sanity and rely on their abuser for validation.

Examples of gaslighting include:

  • Telling blatant lies and then denying it when confronted.
  • Making the other person feel guilty for normal emotions or behaviours.
  • Undermining one’s opinions, ideas, or accomplishments.
  • Withholding information from the other person or giving them false information.
  • Refusing to admit mistakes or using diversion tactics such as changing the subject when confronted with facts.
  • Telling someone they are overreacting when they are not.
  • Isolating someone from friends or family members
signs you are being gaslighted

Signs That You Are Being Gaslighted

Gaslighting is a type of psychological abuse in which the abuser intentionally tries to make the victim doubt their own sanity.

It’s an insidious form of control that can be hard to spot, but there are some tell-tale signs.

Some signs that you may be being gaslighted include:

You’re starting to second-guess yourself

Do you find yourself doubting your own memory or perception of events?

If so, that’s one of the biggest signs you’re being gaslighted.

The abuser’s goal is to make you question your reality, and if your abuser is successful, they’ll plant enough doubt in your mind that you start to question yourself.

You feel like you’re always walking on eggshells

When you’re being gaslighted, even small disagreements can escalate quickly into huge arguments because you’re never quite sure where you stand with your abuser.

One minute they might love and support you, and the next they might be belittling and berating you.

This inconsistency can be confusing and frustrating, and it’s often one of the first things victims of gaslighting notice.

walking on eggshells

You are constantly apologizing for things that aren’t your fault

A huge part of gaslighting is making victims believe they are responsible for their abuser’s bad behaviour.

If you find yourself constantly apologizing for things that aren’t your fault – like your abuser’s anger or cruelty – that’s a sign you might be being gaslighted.

You feel isolated or alone in the relationship

Gaslighters often try to isolate their victims from their friends and family members, either by discouraging them from spending time with them or by badmouthing them behind their back.

If you feel like you’re being isolated from the people you love, that’s a sign you might be being gaslit.


You become concerned that your reality doesn’t match what others see

One of the most insidious things about gaslighting is that it can make you doubt your own reality.

If you find yourself wondering if other people see what you see, or if they think you’re crazy, that’s a sign you might be being gaslit.

You have trouble sleeping or concentrating

Gaslighting can be extremely stressful, and that stress can manifest in physical symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, or even depression.

If you’ve been having trouble sleeping or concentrating, or if you’ve been feeling more anxious or depressed than usual, that could be a sign you’re being gaslighted.


You have lost interest in things you used to enjoy

When you’re in a healthy relationship, you should feel supported and encouraged to pursue your interests.

But gaslighting can make you lose interest in the things you used to enjoy, and it can make you feel like you have no hobbies or interests outside of the relationship.

free your mind

What To Do If You Think You Are Being Gaslighted

If you think you might be being gaslighted, the first step is to talk to someone who can help- preferably someone outside of the situation who can offer an objective perspective.

This could be a friend or family member, but you may also want to consider seeking professional help from a therapist who can help you process what you’re going through and develop healthy coping mechanisms.


It’s also important to document what’s happening so that you have a record should you decide to take legal action against your abuser – whether that means filing for a restraining order or filing criminal charges.

Keeping a journal detailing incidents of abuse can also help reaffirm your reality when doubt starts creeping in.

Finally, remember that no one deserves to be treated this way – especially by someone who claims to love them.

If you’re concerned for your safety, reach out to a local domestic violence hotline or shelter for help getting out of an abusive situation before it gets worse.

Conclusion – What does Gaslighting Mean

The post has tried to answer the question “what does gaslighting mean.”

This insidious form of abuse creates an atmosphere of fear and confusion for the victim, and it needs to be taken very seriously.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to identify, so it is important to be aware of the signs.

If you think you might be being gaslighted, talk to someone you trust and consider seeking professional help.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions About Narcissistic Gaslighting

What is narcissistic gaslighting?

Narcissistic gaslighting refers to a manipulative tactic used by individuals with narcissistic personality disorder to distort someone’s perception of reality. It involves the constant denial, distortion, and twisting of facts to make the victim doubt their own memories, perceptions, and sanity.

What are the signs of narcissistic gaslighting?

Signs of narcissistic gaslighting can include constant lying, denial of events that actually occurred, belittling and demeaning language, shifting blame onto the victim, and creating confusion by contradicting themselves or altering previous statements.

What are the effects of narcissistic gaslighting on victims?

Victims of narcissistic gaslighting often experience a range of emotional and psychological effects. They may develop feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the ongoing manipulation and invalidation of their experiences.

Can narcissistic gaslighting occur in different types of relationships?

Yes, narcissistic gaslighting can occur in various types of relationships, including romantic partnerships, family dynamics, friendships, and even in professional settings. Narcissists may use gaslighting as a means to gain power and control over others.

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