Gaslighting: The Mind Game Everyone should Know About.

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Unfortunately, there is a good chance that we have all been gaslighted by someone at some point in our lives, even if it was just on a small scale by someone we barely know.

Sadly, many fall victim to it within their intimate relationships, or even in dealings with “friends” or family members.

There is also a high chance that we will have failed to spot someone was playing this insidious mind game with us and until we fully understand it, there is a high chance that it could happen again.

One of the main reasons we may not recognise it is that many of us will fail to believe those we trust and love are capable of manipulating us (it is this denial that keeps the dynamic going.) Also, the gaslighter will most likely be highly skilled at covering their tracks, keeping things subtle and being a skilled master or mistress of deception.

Gaslighting is one of the most extreme, dangerous and effective forms of emotional and psychological abuse and is mostly carried out intentionally. Gaslighting is a game of mind control and intimidation that is often used by narcissists and sociopaths as a way of controlling, confusing and debilitating someone.

The term gaslighting was coined in the 1938 play Gas Light and the film adaptions that were then created helped to enhance its popularity.

In the play the husband used forms of manipulation in an attempt to drive his wife crazy, for example he deliberately dims the gaslights in the house but told his wife that she was imagining it. With the use of various tricks he tried to convince his wife that she was going insane and also that she was losing her memory.

The whole intention of gaslighting is to decrease someone’s self-esteem and self-confidence so they are unable to function in an independent manner. The person being gaslighted will eventually become so insecure that they will fail to trust their own judgment, their intuition and find themselves unable to make decisions.

Eventually the victim will become so unsure of what reality looks like that they become completely dependent on their abuser. The abuser will appear to the victim to be the only one to have a clear grip of their mind and also of what is going on around them.

The abuser will systematically and frequently withhold information and then deliberately alter facts to disorientate their victim.

They may also remove things from certain places and then deny doing so to destabilize and confuse the other person.

The abuser will refrain from mentioning specific details and then convince the other person that they had told them, so the victim thinks they are losing their memory or their mind.

The abuser will say something then ask their victim to repeat what it is they have said. When the victim repeats clearly word for word, the abuser will lie to say they haven’t said a particular word, or that they have spoken it in a different tone of voice to that of which the abuser heard. For example, the abuser may say something angrily or aggressively, but when the victim gets upset, they will completely deny having used this tone, quickly changing their voice to a gentler and calmer tone. The abuser may then accuse their victim of deliberately trying to hear everything they say in a negative way—even though the abuser knows they deliberately wanted to appear as aggressive and negative.

Often, the abuser will want to create levels of distrust within the relationship to make the victim feel they either are cheating, or would cheat at the first opportunity. They may say things to make their victim feel insecure and jealous, for example, deliberately mentioning a certain person in a way that makes it sound as though there is more going on behind the scenes. When the victim questions this, the abuser will accuse the victim of having trust issues and this will falsely further confirm in the victim’s mind that they have serious insecurities and also, that they are extremely paranoid.

The abuser will make up very convincing lies to deliberately upset the other person and then call them names, mock them and put them down for getting upset and for overreacting. The abuser will also make light of anything that the victim feels is important to make the victim’s opinions, life-choices and thoughts seem juvenile or that they are inferior to their own. It is likely that the abuser will laugh at or sneer at their victim, but when questioned, convince their victim that they were imagining it.

Some warning signs that gaslighting is taking place:

Apologizing. A victim of gaslighting will constantly be apologizing for doing things wrong, even if they have done nothing wrong. Feeling sorry for everything means that the accountability and responsibility for all perceived wrong-doings has been claimed by one person—the victim. This ensures the perpetrator remains innocent and the victim is continuously guilty.

Can’t Make decisions. The victim will find decision making increasingly difficult, as they will feel that whatever they choose will be the wrong choice. Everything they do or say is wrong, so they feel that they are no longer capable of making rational decisions about anything, so they will leave it up to their abuser. This just gives the abuser even more power and control and prolongs the toxic dance that is taking place between the two.
Change. Change is not always easy to notice, since most change happens bit by bit, so the process can feel very natural in some ways. However, if the victim thinks back to who they were before the relationship and who they are now, they will probably see significant differences.

Confusion. Victims of gaslighting will often be in a constant state of bewilderment and confusion. They find it very difficult to trust their own mind, and constantly doubt their thought process. Their instinct fails to kick in because whenever it does, it is very quickly told that it is wrong, so it becomes a silent tool that ensures the gaslighter remains on top of their game. The victim will know that there is something seriously wrong, but they will find it extremely difficult to work out what. The person being gaslighted will always be wondering if they are overly sensitive as they always feel triggered to react to the gaslighter’s behaviour.

Withdrawn. The one being gaslighted will become withdrawn and often reclusive as they feel so low and beaten down that they have little confidence to socialise with anyone. The victim will feel safer spending time alone than with other people, as when those around them question what is wrong, or what is happening within their relationship, the victim just will not have the answers to justify what is going on.

Due to either depression or severe anxiety, the victim will find it extremely difficult to function normally within society or even with close friends or family. The abuser at this stage has won the battle for control, as without anyone to confide in the victim will find it very difficult to work out that it is the abuser that is causing the damage. The abuser will not want anyone to figure out their game, so, they will work hard to make sure their victim becomes alienated from anyone who could offer support.

Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.

The gaslighter wants to appear superior to the one being gaslighted. By making their victim feel completely helpless with very low self-esteem, the abuser has complete domination over them, so they are very successful in manipulating their victim to get whatever it is they want. This can range from simply having their ego stroked by feeling like they are significantly better than the person they are with, and at the extreme end to being able to gain financial, sexual or material benefits as their victim feels too emotionally and mentally weak to fight back.

There are many reasons that someone would gaslight someone else, but it is always done for personal gain. The abuser has very little interest in their victim, other than using them for their own twisted benefit. When the victim becomes so low down that they are no longer of any great use to the gaslighter the relationship will die out. The abuser will distance themselves by ignoring their victim and using silent treatment as an intense form of emotional torture.

The victim will have no idea what to do to please or satisfy their abuser, and will often try anything to win over their abuser to regain the affection that was shown in the beginning stages. By now though, it is far too late. Any little amount of respect that the abuser had for their victim will have been completely depleted and it is very unlikely that the dynamic will change again.

The abuser will often walk away from their victim leaving them with a deep sense of frustration, shame, guilt, anger and often riddled with anxiety and depression. The victim is usually left in a vortex that they will struggle to climb out of, however, this will be compounded by a deep sense of relief that this vicious dance is over.

The abuser will walk away with a great feeling of satisfaction having won each and every battle and will move onto their next innocent victim with even more skill and experience, so they can begin this horrendous war once again.

The victim will very likely need counseling and a huge amount of support to build themselves back to a stage where they have confidence and can trust their own mind and intuition. It is imperative that the victim realizes that they have been a pawn in a very nasty game so they can let go of all the blame they have placed upon themselves and become familiar with the warning signs so that they do not fall victim again.

Anyone who has come through this type of experience will feel debilitated at first, however, they will only be temporarily weakened. They will bounce back stronger than before, having learned painful but valuable lessons along the way. The most important lesson—having complete faith in their intuition. As difficult as it is to accept, there are always red flags and warning signs in the initial stages.

When these signals show up, this is when we must trust completely in our instincts and never fail to listen to what our gut feelings are telling us. Our fight or flight reactions are there for a reason—to prevent us from entering into dangerous situations. When we feel an urgency to take flight—fly.

Fly far and don’t look back.


Relephant: The One Buddhist Red Flag to Look out for


Identifying Emotional Abuse before it Happens.


Author: Alex Myles

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Donnie Nunley/Flickr


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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex's bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.


72 Responses to “Gaslighting: The Mind Game Everyone should Know About.”

  1. Alex says:

    This is really well said but representing the extreme. Gaslighting takes effect in several forms and lately I have been experiencing intense feelings of self-doubt, anxiety and feeling like I’m crazy or out of touch with reality. Basically when one party can’t take responsibility for their actions, be open, kind or loving when a relationship is challenged it’s easier to pull away and suggest that the reaction and actions of the other trying to communicate or reach a resolution are crazy. I’ve know about this concept for a while and I can now see that it’s not my fault, I am not out of touch with reality or overreacting. It is easier for someone to treat me as if I am rather than take responsibility for their actions.

    • AlexsMyles says:

      Thank you for your comment and for reading this. We can all find it extremely difficult to take responsibility and the trouble is there, we pass on the blame to others and this can leave them confused and reeling. Finding relationships that are authentic is key, but almost impossible to find until we are fully authentic with ourselves.

    • Shadow says:

      Good day Alex. I'd like to point out that your Gas-Lighting article should be adjusted a bit and maybe presented as how our government and "authority" figures have been using it on a much broader level… even worldwide…

    • Teresa says:

      The author says up top that there can be mild cases with people you don’t really know very well. For many other cases, I disagree that this describes the extreme. My gaslighter, my ex husband, was extremely intelligent and broke down several women this way. We were together for 18 years, and he boiled me degree by degree, and did it with such “concern” for me, I truly did not see it. I wound up attempting suicide and was diagnosed with PTSD. I had been controlling bipolar for many years, but in the end I lost control and had a psychotic breakdown. Three years after leaving him I am on Disability and have barely been able to crawl out. I found out later that more than one woman attempted suicide because of him. Best of all, he is a pastor.

      This is a horrible “technique.” I would have rather been hit because at least the bruises would have shown.

  2. Juan says:

    This is exactly what Barak Obama is doing to America

  3. Becky says:

    I was married to a man for 10 years who was like this. It does happen slowly. You don’t even realize what’s going on. Another name for this is stealth abuse.

    • AlexsMyles says:

      It can happen slowly so that the trust builds with the other person and then they have a far stronger grip as we really do not want to believe someone we love would be capable of this behaviour. You are right, it is difficult to spot.

    • Gayle Rancer says:

      Im a survivor. I regret I didn't know of this deliberate gaslighting. It's been awful, but I finally flew away and it's a relief. I couldn't have snapped back without good NEW friends and a supportive evolved man who chose to come into my life and help rescue me. And… lots of therapy. In the process I had to let go of EVERYTHING. It was a long painful process and now I feel totally free.

  4. Amanda says:

    Thank you. I experienced this with my ex husband. It has been 5 years now but he still tries to control me through our children. It’s been a long battle back but I’m getting there.

    • AlexsMyles says:

      Amanda, very sorry to hear this, often just understanding and having the knowledge of what is happening is key to getting through it and putting these people at an arms length. Also knowing that this kind of thing exists as I was quite naive and didn't see it till it was too late!

  5. Naked Guru says:

    Alex, I'm so sorry for you, it sounds as though you have really attracted some very tricky karma in your life. However, it is there to show you the truth of who you are. To show you YOUR triggers and how you are controlling and manipulating. I almost feel rude trying to bring this to your awareness, but I feel the USA are a bit behind in self realising compared to the UK. We, empaths have come to realise that we are just as f*cked up as the narcissists – and in some ways more, because we attract this kind of behaviour, let it in and allow it to control us. Usually because we are so needy, we NEED to be needed by someone – anyone. The truth is, we have ALL been conditioned by the very rich to belive there isn't enough for everyone and that life is a suffering. We can only love as we have been taught to love and be loved. But we can choose to change, in any moment.

    • AlexsMyles says:

      Hi Naked Guru, Thank you for your comment, much appreciated. I agree, these things are here to show us our triggers and teach us valuable lessons. We also would never involve in such relationships if we had enough trust in who we are ourselves and loved ourselves fully. However, as an empath, we still have the desire to heal wounded souls – although, in doing that we do often become wounded deeper ourselves! It's a catch 22 when really, the empath should be concentrating on healing themselves first! You are right – empaths should never allow this kind of behaviour, and sadly it's not just empaths that get into these kinds of relationships. One thing is for sure that if we are willing to learn, we can rebound from these relationships stronger and eventually with a greater connection with our intuition as often these kinds of situations can be our greatest teachers… Thank you once again, Alex

      • Naked Guru says:

        Great, I'm glad we're on the same page. I know narcissists can be sticky little tricksters, however I have great compassion for all humanity, as it's our difficult experiences which form us into the person we become and that is through no fault of one's own. Empaths can be almost impossible to love coz their control dramas include avoiding allowing themselves to be loved by always give, give, giving. Forcing kindness and compassion down peoples throat, instead of (like you say) looking within and healing deeply. Many loving blessings to you, sister. x

    • Michael E. Mickelson says:

      This statement is very narcissistic in nature and that is the problem with narcissists is that they have no Idea they are narcissistic. To categorize and make generalized statements based on geographical origin is a bit ignorant. I am almost positive that the UK is sociologically very similar to the united states considering our close historical connections and media relations. Not to mention you are rationalizing about another persons perspective which you have knowledge of from an exert. I think you should step back and consider the things you say and the way in which you rationalize your own behavior. key word being own behavior. It is often hard for people to consider there own faults before they begin casting judgment on others. sincerely a HUMAN being not just an American.

    • Jacob Wilson says:

      How dare you ever suggest that a victim's abuse is their own fault? How dare you suggest that someone has earned ("attracted") abuse through any fault of their own? You're sick.

      • Morgana says:

        Jacob, every time you see a great or a messed up relationship, it is important to note: both parties were attracted to the situation. It is not sick to think that. And it doesn't mean attracted, as in seeked abuse, but as in, more likely, patterned behavior or attraction to something familiar, even if it's negative. People do that, it's weird, but it's real. Every time somebody says, "why is she with him?" The answer is: "she was attracted to him." … I also see this behavior expressed when people complain about "men" or "women" … A friend recently stated that all men need therapy, to which I suggested, perhaps only the men she has attracted, and when the problem is that , it's inside and isn't appropriate to cast upon others.

        • Gabbie says:

          Yes Morgana I totally agree with you. 'Both parties were attracted to the situation.' Back in the 70's in the city where I live there was a murder. A 35 year old man molested, raped and murdered a 15 month old girl (baby). And you know what. They blamed him completely. I mean, it takes two to tango right! She was just as culpable in her own murder by attracting him. Maybe it was her baby..ish face? her smile? but whatever it was she was equally to blame for what happened to her…right? …right?

  6. FindingCourage says:

    Thank you for writing ting this article. 12 years and I was only a tiny fragment of the person I was before the relationship. I continue having difficulty understanding how I allowed this to happen. Complex. Complicated. Mind boggling. Torturous. Stuck. Confused. Will it ever end? It wasn't until I visited an old friend and opened up to her that she gave me my answer! She asked me "why are you waiting for him to leave? He never will!" Then she brilliantly said "Move his a** out!" And I thought – I can do that? I'd been so reduced in my mind that I couldn't even grasp that as an independent idea! It's very embarrassing and difficult to admit.That simple statement from a dear friend shook me from the little dark hole I'd allowed him to place me in. I returned home, changed the locks on my house and moved here s a** out. It's been a journey finding myself again. And he has been able to work on destroying some family relationships. I haven't spoke to my dad in three months now. That one hurts the most. And my son. I worry about my son and if he's falling victim. I still make some poor coping decisions. It's a process in healing and rediscovery.

  7. Capt.A says:

    I experienced this with a boss ( who also was a friend's husband) and luckily followed my gut and got out of the situation after 8 months of self doubt, confusion and misplaced anger. As I read this article it was as if I was reading the course of those 8 months in written form. It still affects me, but luckily I was able to find a position at a company that treats people with respect and it is helping to rebuild my sense of self and self confidence. This was the first time in my career that I quit a job and it was the best decision I could of made. You're right, it really is imperative to get away from that person as soon as possible because the damage can be ongoing if you stay too long. I'm just thankful that I saw it and was able to leave and find a peace of mind. These people are out there. Its just a matter of seeing

    • Meme says:

      THIS SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME!! My best friends husband was a CEO and hired me to be his assistant. He then proceeded to slowly try to drive me mad. I quite after 10 months when my daughter told me I had changed. I took 5 days off and it was like a cloud was lifted. The day I quite, he snickered and asked me how I would take care of my kid. Ahhh! I left, and I realized that he had worked on my self esteem so much during that time that I needed Real help. People like this just sneak in to our lives.

  8. Teryldactll says:

    I think there are levels to this. I had this happen by someone who truly was not doing it on purpose. He was just that insecure with himself and my strength both attracted and frightened him. While I would NEVER tell someone to stay with such a person, I fought back and EVENTUALLY got him to see what he had subconsciously been doing. My point being is it comes in degrees, some more pervasive than others. Other women he dated got really screwed up, they were less stubborn than I was. End of story, he is working on himself and I got out.

  9. Collette says:

    Alex, you have no idea how helpful this article is and how timely! I was listening to the article and got inspired to call this bully & thankfully the universe heard my plea and now I got what I’m owed. Keep writing you are an inspiration!

  10. Alina says:

    Wow that explains alot about things i have experienced in my life. One thing that I'm not really thinking was mentioned is often when the abuser is no longer allowed to abuse a certain person, the abuse is then transferred to the younger or more vulnerable ones; those that can't yet understand the footprints of abuse.

  11. Stacy says:

    I too was married to a man for ten years who is a professional Gaslighter. I cannot believe how on point this description is to a man I once loved. Everything that is written he did to me, except The only part that doesn’t fit is I recognized it before he completely wore me down and then I ended the marriage. Hard to believe how one human can share their life with another and treat them in such a hurtful way.

  12. Arlene says:

    I was in a long term relationship with someone like this …. she was good but I woke up and got out! Thank the universe! Sad to say she has convinced quite a few peopl that the brake up was my fault… smh I know better tho

  13. Shirley says:

    As blatant as Jekyll and Hyde… He could be positively saintly to others and show me exactly how talented and “good” he could be any time he chose, then do a complete about face and show me his demon-self (literally) in the blink of an eye. A favourite complaint was that my “look” called him a “bad boy”. He was jealous to the point of paranoia, though I gave no reason for it what so ever. For nearly 13 years we danced. I was completely and utterly exhausted with trying to please him in any way. But the strangest sensation was the over-whelming sense of relief when it was all over. He finally left me once he had made sufficient “amends” with his first wife and child-hood sweetheart. They had been apart for about 25 years and she had done extremely well for herself. I actually pity her when she will eventually realise that he still is who he was, just with a great deal more experience.
    Thank you for writing this interesting piece. It is comforting to know we are not alone and not as crazy as we feel or have felt.

  14. Susan Massey says:

    It's important to realize that until a few short decades ago, women had no legal or social right to self-determination. They had to get married and make the best of it. This has been rampant throughout history. I see my mother going through it. She is married to a toxic man (my father) who has kept her hypnotized and isolated her whole adult. I had been waiting for decades for her to wake up, reclaim her personhood, and (I'd hoped) build a meaningful, authentic relationship with me. She's going to take their dynamic to the grave, though. Every day I grapple with the question of whether I should have walked away from both of them a long time ago. Just wanted to make the point that others one step removed are greatly affected by this abuse perhaps equally even if we long ago recognized the abuse for what it was.

  15. Monique Fines says:

    To the writer – you just described so many lives. How unfortunate indeed. You wrote it so well I hope many people read it and understand it for what it is.

    Victims – look into you heart and soul, listen to what it tells you and don't discard your inner voice. Trust in yourself.

    Abusers – look into your heart and soul and don't be so cruel.

  16. Hunter says:

    Thank you Alex for this article. This article has given me great incentive to move on from a toxic relationship. It wasn't until recently I figured out she's a narcissist and understand the way the relationship was going and that I was becoming someone I don't know. I had been severely depressed and couldn't function around family or friends for months and have had difficulty being social. I started coming around recently and building myself back up. I have been in no-contact for a month. She contacts me but I don't respond. I made the mistake of meeting her for lunch. Because she "was really hoping to see me". She claimed she has been doing some self-improvement and talked about how she knows she created some of our problems. Also made some statements about getting back together all of which were mixed signals. She gaslighted me with one of those statements telling me she never mentioned it. I know for sure now she really didn't care to see me. She just wanted to use me to feed her ego. Now I'm back to where I started in terms of building my self esteem back up. But, at least I know I won't be dealing with her anymore.

  17. Heath says:

    Wow. Alex, this really hit home. Nobody has stated this pattern of behavior clearer than you. I think it may be one of the most common forms of abuse. Experienced and observed. So true that empaths often find attraction to the broken soul, wanting to "love them into being" but this is just a recipe for disaster. Thank you for sharing. This is really worth educating people about, I could see a whole book on this topic.

  18. Cadence says:

    How timely, that I found your writings, Miss Alex. I am 50 yrs old and the scapegoated child of an extreme narcissist/physcpoath. I have recently uncovered written confessions of my Mothers extreme abuse of myself as a preverbal child. She wrote a note, detailing why she hated me, and how she used to tape my mouth shut and tape my hands behind my back, than locking me in a closet or box. I have 4 siblings, and though she was cruel to my older sisters, I was the only one who suffered extreme abuse. She also neglected me to death, I died in hospital at age 2, and only was brought back by electro shock, and caring Drs who kept working to bring my small self back. All my family participated in her sick abuse, I was called names, and humiliated every day. My Mother also used to let my 4 & 5 yrs older sisters physically assault me. I don't know how I survived, and am working on healing. My siblings even with written proof, still embrace the Monster, and shame and blame me. I am nothing like any of them, as a matter of fact, animals and children adore me, and my life is filled with love. I have a bright light that others are drawn to, I was forced to enhance my intuition to try to stay safe, and I often read peoples thoughts, and can easily predict their words, and behaviors. I have also seen karma strike those who have hurt me very hard, death, loss, and delibating disease has come to all my abusers. I seek only peace and not revenge, I know she was/is wounded and I am sorry that her self never healed. I am hurt immensely that my younger sister does not support me, she claims because she wasnt beaten or tortured, that our Mom was a good Mom to her. I have and will not prosecute my parent, as she has Alzheimer's and I would not want to see her jailed or suffering for crimes from long ago. Thank you for shedding light, on what has been my dark journey. Bless You.

  19. veronica says:

    Not all men just leave. Many are covert malignant narcissists and they first destroy the person through smear campaigns that can be impossible to recover from. They will take custody of the children by building false cases against you. They will take all the money and leave you homeless. They will continue to abuse the children mentally and verbally all to create such anxiety in you that you fall a part. You cannot stop them because the court is geared toward helping them really. It is geared toward listening to the lies and believing the father who begs and fights for custody of his children.
    They are believed because the courts always fail to look at what existed before the divorce. To claim that you love your kids is all they look for. Mine stole everything–money, house, kids, and left me with so much debt that I can never recover. The yare shrewd and cunning and never underestimate the damage they will do to you. My credibility is completely gone in every sphere that matters–court, schools, court counselors. All were gaslighted by the narc and all fell for every last bit of it–literally. None of the truth was told in my case and he bullied everyone involved when necessary and sweet talked them as needed.

    He found the key players before the ‘game’ even started. He went after each and every one of them with his sob story and his fears of me and my violence (Ha–I’ve never been violent) and my erratic behaviors—al things designed to evoke a feeling and opinion of me. Then he went back and said he feared for him life and that I was dangerous.

    He knew exactly what he was doing each and every step of the way. I was living in a fog of confusion about what was happening to me, dealing with my medical issues and living in terror over losing my children.
    He created the circus then capitalized on the confusion and terror. Nobody would look at why things were like this–only that they were. They create all kinds of hell and you get the blame.

    They destroy your name, your credit, your future, your self esteem, your trust in the world and the system. They take your children and they continue to inflict pain on to you indirectly through the courts, through bullying and mostly through damaging your children within full view of you knowing you cannot stop it.

    You die a bit everyday and for some of us, there is no light at the end of this long and painful tunnel. Some like me have chronic illness so we spend the remainder of our lives fighting just to survive. No quality of life. No way out. And never, never any justice to be had.

    • Marylyn Dunn says:

      Veronica … your last paragraph stuck home. I suffer from Chronic Pain Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression. It's a fight to put all that aside and have some form of life.

  20. Thaddeus says:

    I feel so badly for all on this site. My husband and I have been married 30 years. His first wife he was married 13 yrs and I met him 3 years after his divorice. She had left him for someone else and he was heartbroken and tried to get her to go to council in but she would not and she proceeded to try and get half of what he would make for his retirement in the future. I thought all this behavior was cruel but I had no idea of what would follow. The boy and girl from this marriage they have would say very hurtful things to my daughter and myself. I believe the mother told them what to say as they were adult issues. The years went by and many things happened that made me wander about all three of them then three years ago his exes husband died and she moved back as she had been living in different state since they were in college, the grandkids and I were very close, I was their nana. My stepson taught his kids to call me your my first name not nana and told my husband to not bring me around as I was not immediately n their family. I asked what I had done and they could not say. We could not figure out but looks like mother does not want to be around me or kids are wanting parents to get back. They have started lying about me and trying to cause a divorice. I miss those grandkids but I cannot be around them. I have a mood disorder and they have done similar things to me 10 yrs ago and I had a major breakdown and got diagnosed. It took 2 yrs to be able to function. My therapist recognized their gas lighting and explained to us and my husband finally stood up to them and asked son to get therapy for his cruelty and narcissism. We have begged and begged to be back with grandkids but they won’t. Very difficult. This has almost caused another breakdown.

  21. Liz says:

    Omg, my husband did this to me, and when I tried to leave him, he went full force on me, he said me, my mother, my grandmother, his mother and sisters all have narcissistic personality disorder. He said I needed psychiatric help. It took all my strength to leave him, he turned our son against me telling him that I was sick and an abuser. I’m so glad that I’m not crazy and I can see it fir what it was, thank you, thank you, thank you

  22. Sherril says:

  23. Pneuma says:

    It’s not just intimate relationships. My mother did this to me my whole life. Growing up with not fun, to say the least. It’s not always as blatant as described here, subtly is a strength with gaslighters. Also, it’s not necessarily all the time. It’s the sporadic nature, not knowing when it is happening and when it’s not that really causes the most damage. You can get over this, but it will take therapy and time, a lot of time.

  24. Treble says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this! I never even knew there was a name for this.

    I was in a relationship at 16 that was EXACTLY THIS and, even though it ended over 10 years ago now, the effects are still there and reading this brought back visceral memories.

    Almost everything you mentioned happened to me, and more. And some more subtle and some even more obvious and brutal.

    I couldn’t trust my mind or my memories and felt alienated from everyone. Then the silent treatment happened, we were “on a break” except they were but I wasn’t. They could do what they liked but I was still “theirs”.

    Until someone said to me “Why do you put up with it?”. That simple sentence changed my life. No one had ever said it to me before.

    It’s taken a long time to trust myself and I still don’t trust many others. However, for some reason, I have trusted my boyfriend 100% from day one. Sometimes those horrible doubts creep into my brain but I can push them out now.

    As horrible as it was I am stronger now, I am more aware and can see the warning signs.

    Thank you again, it’s great to know that you didn’t imagine or exaggerate what happened. It wasn’t your fault, it was theirs.

  25. treblemaker909 says:

    And i'd like to add my abuser was a woman.

  26. Crystal says:

    I have been married for 10 years and he is the king of Gas Lighting. He also has BPD & is Bipolar. The beginning of our relationship was amazing and he made me feel like the most beautiful, intelligent, interesting woman ever. Very slowly the Verbal & Mental abuse & gas lighting started and I didn’t even realize it I never even heard of the term before. He alienated me from all my family & friends. Told horrible lies about me to everyone. I went from being a social, outgoing butterfly who loved life and loved to laugh to completely losing myself. I had no idea how bad it was until I started counseling a couple months ago. I know and want to leave but every time I try to I chicken put or he does something to lure me back in. My biggest fear is my boys. They are my world. I am so scared if I leave thay he Wil turn them against me and ruin my relationship with them and I couldn’t handle that. He has a ready told them untrue stuff about me but at least I was able to defend myself right away. And after reading the comment about how the kids were taken away because of his manipulation I am.even more terrified. I feel like I’m damned.if I do and damned if I dont. I want to leave so bad bit am so scared of the unknown. Will I lose my boys or will he hurt me or worse?!?! Any advice I’d greatly appreciate

  27. Ms C says:

    My ex husband did this to me and my daughter, to the point where my daughter stopped speaking at age 6 (he was her stepfather). Ironically he was a care assistant in a unit with teens with mental health issues, so he knew exactly what 'symptoms' to apply to my daughter (and myself).
    It even got to the point where we were having family therapy sessions with a child psychologist to 'help' my daughter speak. Of course, the ex husband took total control of every session, almost bullying the psychologist into submission!
    He managed to turn everything around to being my fault, and convinced everyone that my daughter would never lead a normal life.
    She is now eighteen, at university, talks to everyone! BUT only because we got out of the situation over 5 years ago. I finally got the divorce through last year after much wrangling and being threatened with all sorts! I was accused of affairs, and just about anything he could think of to deflect any responsibility from himself for the marriage ending.
    These people are very sick, and simply cannot see how much damage they do. They cannot be reasoned with, they are always right.

  28. Ms C says:

    My ex husband did this to me and my daughter,to the point where my daughter stopped speaking at age 6 (he was her stepfather). Ironically he was a care assistant in a unit with teens with mental health issues,so he knew exactly what 'symptoms' to apply to my daughter (and myself).

  29. MINAL JHAVERI says:

    This has happened to me since 1989 from jealous ugly relatives. THey killed my mother and are have ruined my career. How can I establish my credibility?

  30. Josh says:

    Thankyou. I never knew this could be done or who would do such a thing. I know now that for sure this is one of the things being doneto me. What do you do when it is being doneby more than one person to you? Some how they got in my thoughts to make me think or others think thatim bad or disgusting, when in fact it is themwho are dispicable. Thankyou again for this informative article. Id call it evil.

  31. Marc says:

    People are doing this to me in my college, and it is so small that I cannot just remove the people doing this to me out of my life.

  32. Teri L. says:

    I have spent almost2 years in this not knowing what it was called , but knowing something was wrong but doubting myself all along, being blamed & everything turned around, my memory was blamed, he rewrote history , he out right lied and denied, even where there was proof he still managed to make me doubt myself. An alcoholic I knew & so much of that was what I believed to be the culprit, but now knowing this term & seeing the well orchestrated ways , I now know why he has been married 5 times !
    I just know there are so many flaws in me to allow this to happen& continue – self punishment perhaps? Denial indeed. Believing in someone & being forced to face the truth & reality of this abuse was not only mind boggling , it is embarrassing. I will try & work on me now & put the broken pieces back together. When friends see you changing , withdrawing , loosing your luster & joy trust them.

  33. Rose Dawson says:

    I enjoyed reading your article however I disagree on your theory that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Gas lighting can kill and it does not make you stronger, it leaves you permanently damaged.

  34. Maria e hall says:

    IV been abused by my husband in every way possible and I never heard of gashlighting before. I actually cried .knowing I wasn’t going mad .I really thought I was. Maybe I am now. This I’m not sure about but then I’m still haven’t broken away from my abusive husband of 30 years. I no longer trust myself to make decisions .he controlled everything about my life when we eat sleep. Only he can put the heating on ect even this I pay half of everything. You may ask why. Simple I can’t keep fighting .he knows me so well he can make me do things that I thought i was being difiant to him. When that was his intent all along. I need to find a therapists who can help me escape I really worry I’m going mad. When he’s home I’m in a state of constant alert, walking on eggshells trying not to annoy him, he stands behind me saying nothing till I’m so nervous I drop things and stutter. And I get so annoyed with myself. And when he’s out I’m constantly looking for him coming home, worry what I have done or haven’t done. And who’s he with. It’s. Like I’m addicted to him, and hate myself for being addicted.he’s also ex army and tends to interrogate me and always finds me lacking. He has totally no love or respect for me.he no longer will even sleep with me. Even theo he knows I’ll do anything to please him but. He prefers to use sex as another weapon against me.he no longer wants me but won’t leave because he doesn’t want anyone else to have me. He know s I get asked out all the time and his friends and work mates always comment on my being attractive. His answer to that being yes she looks good but you wouldn’t want to live with her. She’s a bit dumb or crazy or whatever.anyway as you can tell I have a long long road to be be free and be me again. I only really wanted to say it so helps me to know people have come through this and I’m not the only one..I know I will be free or dead soon I don’t much care which xx

    • Jolie says:

      If you are on Facebook there are so many support groups where you will meet many others going through the same things you are experiencing. I believe these groups have and continue to help so many people. My email address is on this link if you want the name of some really great groups, I’m happy to share them with you. Know this, you are NOT ALONR.. You are just beginning your healing journey.. I highly recommend Melanie Tonia Evans, she is based in Australia, has many free radio shows, webinars, monthly newsletters and is hands down one of my favorite voices on healing and understanding Narcissistic Abuse. She is not only a survivor, but is thriving after her horribly abusive relationship in which she was completely addicted to him, and nearly lost her life. I wish you peace during this healing time.. Sending love and light

  35. william says:

    I am a man. 31 years old. I have been married twice now. I crawl with anxiety she I think of my current wife. I have been terrified to speak of her to friends and family for few of her anger and shame. Many times she has pointed to past instances when I supposedly said and did something atrocious and I question my own recollections and judgement. Any help would be greatly appreciated. We have a 4 month old child together and my wife is an immigrant. She is rather helpless here without many family and friends. I think often of us separating but whenever the idea arises she suggests that i will never know my daughter and my daughter will know the " truth" about her father, that he didn't care for her. What do I do?

  36. Julie says:

    I waited till I was 28 to get married when I met him he was 18 knocking at my door within a year my life was completely changed two years I didn't know who I was three years I didn't know who anyone ones…I started a new job new life but had the same old boss took me under her wing n taught my about gaslighting…I had answer! Like the light came on! I am not as I had become..nor could I ever be again…I'm stronger i I am smarter…I am free…thank you for this share!

  37. Bracetty says:

    I am gaslighting someone right now. Idk how to stop. I’ve treated people like this my whole life. It’s only been 4 months with this current person and I already feel like I own him. Reading this really scares me because I do all of this and I do it on purpose then I look back at it mentally and think “wow I have so much control, I can do what I want he’s so weak” ect and even laugh about it to my self. The scary thing is idk if I can stop

    how do I get help

  38. Nicole says:

    Bless you for saving my life and mental sanity! 🙂

  39. Anonymous says:

    Where can someone find help when this could be happening to them?

  40. TomC says:

    Can the gaslighter ever realize what they are doing is wrong, get help and outgrow this childish behavior. If so, what kind of help is best?

  41. Stephanie Holz says:

    Yeah, it’s really insane to be on the recieving end of this… This guy was very adamant that I WAS the abusive one, that I was the one making him angry and causing this reaction from him. And when I realised it was a serious pattern that wasn’t going to just end overnight, I tried to leave him… Yeah that didn’t go over well either. He’d throw himself on the ground screaming and crying and threatening suicide, or anohter time I tried to leave him he screamed at me, cornering me on his porch, and wouldn’t let me leave his house… …. Yeah, people are sometimes completely out of their minds…

  42. Johnny says:

    Is it possible to be subconsciously self-gaslighting? If the constant confusion, trouble with decision-making, apologizing, and withdrawnness is present, but no abuser can be identified or even imagined, what is the problem? Just general anxiety or general depression?

    Any help is appreciated.

  43. happy again says:

    I felt sick reading this is all to real and true to how my now ex husband treated me. So glad I found a bit of strength to be able to move on such a hard situation to get out of when your made to feel so useless and manipulated. Onwards and up ward's it's been since and enjoying life again.

  44. Samantha says:

    My stepfather did this to me from the age 8 to 19 when I left home. My mother never said or did anything to stop him and later proclaimed to me that those particular years where the best of her life! When I left home she become his target. They are still together happy in their misery, ah isn’t karma beautiful hehe, myself I am stronger and better than ever!!!

  45. Samantha says:

    Can anyone give advice on how to best help a friend leave this sort of relationship? She knows it’s happening but keeps coming up with reasons to stay or reasons why she can’t leave yet. I think she feels he may change but it’s obviously getting worse. It’s really hard to watch.

  46. Dan says:

    I fell deeply in love with a woman, more deeply than anyone ever before, then she did this to me. This was 5 years ago. She strung me along even after I tried breaking it off within the last two years, knowing I still loved her deeply. I finally told her to never contact me again, that was almost one year ago. I am still broken and deeply affected from her actions. I hate that I miss her and feel love for her. I wish I could scrape her from my mind. I was very successful and confident and never saw it coming. This can happen to even the strongest of people like me, I just fell hard for the wrong person.

  47. krysi says:

    "For example, the abuser may say something angrily or aggressively, but when the victim gets upset, they will completely deny having used this tone, quickly changing their voice to a gentler and calmer tone. The abuser may then accuse their victim of deliberately trying to hear everything they say in a negative way—even though the abuser knows they deliberately wanted to appear as aggressive and negative."

    Psychologically speaking, most who use that particular tactic (and others mentioned) do not deny or change bc they want the other party to think they are crazy. They do it bc it is funny, or they legit dont think they spoke in that tone. I moved this, but when you ask i will deny it. Not to make you question your sanity, but bc i do not wish to be blamed or held at fault (often resulting from childhood trauma or abuse, tho not always).

    While the behaviours in the article are pretty spot on for abusive relationships, the rational behind the behaviours is not quite as malicious as the article would have you believe. Such as never being accountable, specifically because the abuse believes they had zero role and it is really everyone elses fault, not bc they want others to believe it. ANother example:

    "They may say things to make their victim feel insecure and jealous, for example, deliberately mentioning a certain person in a way that makes it sound as though there is more going on behind the scenes. When the victim questions this, the abuser will accuse the victim of having trust issues and this will falsely further confirm in the victim’s mind that they have serious insecurities and also, that they are extremely paranoid."
    No. they say they will cheat, so they can maintain their personal belief that it is not their fault. "I TOLD you i would cheat. you cant be mad." and so on.

    Interesting read nonetheless.

  48. Lesley says:

    I have been reading up on Gaslighting because of the behaviour of 2 friends, mother and daughter towards me. Looking back their approach to life was always verging on creating a dramatic situation they could be the centre of but since I achieved my dream ambition (which was also theirs but they can never achieve) they appear to be resorting to Gaslighting to undermine my new happiness by misrepresenting things that happened in the past. Even when there are witnesses and documentary proof of what happened they still cling to their own versions. It makes me think that Gaslighting is far more dangerous than just trying to get power over someone. It suggests a psychopathic personality.

  49. GlassUkelele says:

    The bit about the victim hearing the abuser say something aggressive and the abuser denying the tone can be used the other way. I have had partners who would mishear words and tone in almost everything I said. Once to the point of where I was only allowed to talk to them in a hushed tone with my "eyes soft". It was part of the overall Change I went through during this abusive period. This article really opened my eyes about how it got so bad, and some things I had only suspected previously, thank you.

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