gaslighting (maybe)

silhouette person walking at walkway

Jonathan Fishman


What is ‘Gaslighting’?

Gaslighting is an dishonest, abusive, manipulative technique which leads it’s victims to doubt their own perceptions, judgements, memories, experiences, mental competence or sanity.

Gaslighting, makes a victim question their reality, it makes its victims think that they’re losing their minds.

Gaslighters override your own reality, and may lead you to replace it with someone else’s.

Gaslighting sows seeds of doubt.

The invalidation of authentic, realistic feelings and emotions as “symptoms” of some fictitious “mental illness” constitutes gaslighting.

A naked display of emotion is called, “neurotic”. This is gaslighting.

This gaslighting may even be tactical and intentional.

The invalidation of an astute observation of the truth as a mere “symptom” of some fictitious “mental illness” constitutes gaslighting.

Gaslighting involves dishonestly trying to persuade someone that they’re mad.

Continual self-doubt, and frequently needing to apologize, are signs of being gaslighted.

Feeling the need to defend innocence, and feeling a need to defend and explain basic reality are signs of gaslighting.

A victim of gaslighting may lose confidence and trust in his own judgements, and question his own perceptions/memories etc.

A gaslighting label/diagnosis may be intentionally serving the strategic purposes, and agenda, of its perpetrator. (e.g. raising pride at another’s expense, jealousy revenge, divorce,)

MOTIVES for gaslighting may include;-

denying abuse, avoiding accountability or responsibility, denying charges or testimony, deflection, shifting blame, psychological projection, paranoid projection, manipulation and intention to control an individual, minimising, denying, or dismissing something or devaluing someone, a pretext for a personal attack or the termination of a relationship, selling something, winning an argument, religious or political conversion, avoiding shame, saving face or preserving honour & pride, bullying, microagressions, & discrimination.

Gaslighting may be a feature of narcissistic abuse.

The Labeling/diagnostic process may involve a perpetrator obscuring his activity while gaslighting or scapegoating his victim.

Gaslighting is a dishonest, manipulative, abusive technique which may lead someone to a therapist’s office. Gaslighting may further permeate the diagnosis itself and the therapy as well.

Gaslighting may informally take place in everyday life, through friends, families and coworkers, or as part of a professional process e.g. unethical psychotherapy.


“You imagined it.”

‘You’re oversensitive to that.’

“Your memories are distorted.”

“Your judgement is impaired.”

“You can’t tell fantasy from reality.”

“You’re in denial.”

“You’re being paranoid!”

“Maybe you dreamt it!”

“I’m worried about you”

“You’re tired”

“You need a holiday”

“You’ve been in the sun for too long”

“How many drinks have you had”

“It’s the illness/stress talking”

“You’re being dramatic”

“You’re crazy”

“You’re being delusional”

“You’re insecure”

“You should talk to somebody”

“I never said such a thing”

“It’s all in your mind”

“I did that because I love you”

“If you really loved me you would ….”

“I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal of this”

“It’s your issue not mine”

“That never happened”

“You made me do that”

“Tell me you’re joking!”

“You can’t take a joke”

“I was only joking”

“You don’t really feel that way”

“You’re making something out of nothing”

“You’ve been in Covid-19 Lockdown for too long”

“Don’t take it personally!”

“I’m not saying anything sinister, but …”

“I love you, but …”

“Calm down!”


“You need help”

“Why are you so defensive?”

“You always twist my words”

“Can you hear your self?”

“Ask anyone!”

After doing something once or twice, “You always ….!”

“They didn’t mean it”

“You shouldn’t feel that way!”

Name calling and labelling.

“Something is wrong with you”

“You can’t take a bit of teasing”

“What did your parents do to you?”

“Have you taken your medication today?”

Garcia J Cynthia

Common phrases gaslighters may use:

“I never said that.”

“I did that because I love you.”

“I don’t know why you’re making such a huge deal of this.”

“You’re being overly sensitive.”

“You are being dramatic.”

“You are the issue, not me.”

“If you loved me, you would…”

“You are crazy.”

“You’re being delusional.”

“You are just insecure.”

“You are so selfish if you don’t do this for me.”

“You’re imagining things.”

“You made me do that.”

“You don’t really feel that way.”

“That never happened.

“It’s not that big a deal.”

“You’re just being paranoid.”

Gaslighting is manipulation with “an intent to control an individual.”

11 examples of gaslighting:

1. Shifting blame

One main way people gaslight is by shifting blame to another person in order to avoid accountability, which is also known as deflection. For example, the gaslighting partner could somehow blame the victim when things go wrong.

2. Denying the truth

Denial of the truth is textbook gaslighting. By denying obvious truths, the victim begins to lose sight of what is right and wrong, and they begin to question their own reality.

3. Minimizing or dismissing someone’s needs. “This is where the gaslighter makes the victim’s needs feel unimportant.” For example, they may say things like, “Why do you keep asking me for things?” or “You are so needy,” which are intended to make the other person question and doubt themselves.

4. Disapproval

Constant disapproval can be a subtle way gaslighters control their victims. A spouse constantly disapproving of their partners decisions and questioning their judgment will eventually be internalized by the person to the point that they, too, question their own judgment.

5. Alienation or isolation

It’s not uncommon for gaslighters to isolate their victims from their family and friends in order to gain more control. A gaslighting person may say phrases like, “I don’t think your family has your best interests at heart,” for example. “By making verbal abuse look like support, they are isolating the victim from their own discernment.”

6. Using love as an excuse

Some gaslighters will use “love” as a justification for their behavior, saying things like, “I only did that because I love you,” Not only is this an attempt to alter the way the victim perceives the situation, but in the future, it can discourage them from voicing their concerns.

7. “Forgetting”

“This is an example of gaslighting where the gaslighter pretends to have forgotten what took place or denies it ever happened.” This one can be particularly tricky because there’s no way to really prove whether someone actually forgot something—but nevertheless, if you didn’t forget, you’ll know it.

8. Invalidating emotions

On a basic level, simply invalidating someone else’s emotions is gaslighting. They may say something like, “You don’t really feel that way,” or “It’s not that big of a deal.” These phrases are an attempt to make you question your own truth.

9. Withholding information

A spouse may intentionally keep information withheld, and as a result, the partner is set up to fail.” The victim fears asking for clarification so not to appear incompetent. If they do question their partner, they are dismissed, blamed, or met with defensiveness.”

10. Paranoia accusations

Accusations that the victim is paranoid is another common example of gaslighting. This can sound like “You’re crazy,” or “You’re just being paranoid,” which comes back to the gaslighter seeking to control the victims’ perceptions.

11. Constant criticism

This example ties back to the use of disapproval as a way to control someone’s behavior, but this is a bit more extreme. When someone is constantly disapproving or outright criticizing someone, the victim can internalize these criticisms, feel invalidated, and potentially begin to neglect their own wants and needs, denying their own reality.

Gaslighting is a form of abuse in which someone denies your reality, which makes you question your own experiences or beliefs.

“It’s important to remember that if you are constantly experiencing confusion, guilt, shame, uncertainty, and self-doubt, you may be experiencing gaslighting in your life.”

“It’s a manipulation where someone (the gaslighter) dismisses your perception of reality or causes you to question your judgment or perception of reality.”

How to respond to gaslighting.

Hopefully, if you have been gaslighted, the aforementioned examples will help you get clarity on what’s happening.

A few helpful phrases you can keep in mind for handling gaslighting in the moment.

What to say when someone is gaslighting you:

“My feelings and reality are valid. I don’t appreciate you telling me that I am being too sensitive.”

“Don’t tell me how to feel. This is how I feel.”

“I am allowed to explore these topics and conversations with you. Do not tell me I am being dramatic.”

“I know what I saw.”

“I will not continue this conversation if you continue to minimize what I am feeling.” (Then, implement the boundary.)

If your attempts to enforce healthy boundaries with the gaslighter are not honored, from there, it’s up to you to decide whether the relationship is worth continuing, whether it be a romantic relationship or within your family or workplace.

Once you’ve identified it, show yourself self-compassion first and foremost, and reminding yourself that you are not at fault. Seeking the insight of a mental health professional can also help you identify if you are a victim of gaslighting, as well as better understand and implement coping mechanisms and ensure that you receive an objective view of your situation.

“When we have experienced gaslighting, we lose a sense of our own emotional barometer,”Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.”

Take one step at a time in the process to disengage and set boundaries with the gaslighter, and surround yourself with people you trust who can validate your experience.

“When we reach out to our support system to share with them our reality; what is happening; what we know; and what we’ve seen, witnessed, and experienced; we are further integrating our truth into our minds.”

The takeaway.

The bottom line is, gaslighting is a huge red flag that a relationship is not in a healthy place. This behavior always comes from a controlling place on the part of the gaslighter. It is, at the end of the day, a form of manipulation and abuse, and it doesn’t have a place in a supportive and loving relationship.

When we can identify when it’s happening, however, we’re better able to handle it, honor our own needs, and protect our boundaries.

Copied from Becky Murphy

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