Mental health practitioners and psychologists have used the term ‘gaslighting’ to describe a form of emotional abuse we go through. If you’re not already familiar with what this term is, Healthline says gaslighting is the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them.
Medical News Today notes that it derives from the 1938 play and 1944 film Gaslight, in which a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she has a mental illness by dimming their gas-fueled lights and telling her she is hallucinating.
Signs of gaslighting to look out for
Many people on the receiving end of such treatment are often not aware of the abuse and manipulation. This can especially occur if they’re codependent and reliant on their abusive partner. To prevent or discontinue gaslighting in your close relationships be aware of these signs.
WebMD suggests some of the following common signs to be aware of:
The gaslighter may often use the withholding technique. They’ll refuse to listen to what you have to say and may accuse you of trying to confuse the situation.
They’ll use the trivialising technique to invalidate your feelings. The gaslighter will make you feel like you’re overreacting and that your feelings do not matter.
The gaslighter will tell outright lies. Even though they’re lying they’ll make you feel like you should question yourself.
Another sign is denial. They’ll deny anything they’ve ever said or done and pretend as if you’ve made it up.
You’ll also constantly apologise. The abuser could be in the wrong but you end up apologising for pointing out their faults.
Beginner tips on dealing with gaslighting
If you’ve recognised that you’re being gaslit these tips might help as you work at shutting it down for good.
- mindbodygreen suggests standing firm in your truth. The gaslighter wants you to doubt your perception but believe in yourself and remain confident in your understanding of a particular event.
- As soon as you see a conversation with a gaslighter turning unfair, leave it. To avoid your feelings further being minimised and invalidated end the conversation.
- Get support. Seek out professional help from a therapist as they help you choose healthy ways of moving forward. Be open to the support of your friends too as they help you through it.