You’ve probably heard the term “gaslighting” at some point, whether through social media, talking about relationships with your friends, etc. For example, in the past year, the phrases “gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss” were recently a TikTok trend, focusing on the three big G’s. Yet, despite its trendiness, the behavior described by the word “gaslighting” is actually incredibly toxic and harmful. So, here’s everything you need to know about gaslighting.
Popularized and originated from the 1944 film, Gaslight, the main character’s husband intentionally tries to make her insane by making her no longer trust her own perception of reality. For example, he accomplishes this pursued-led insanity by turning down the lights powered by gas in their home, causing them to flicker. When the wife asks him why the lights are flickering, he denies the flickering and tells her it’s probably her imagination.
Today, we vividly use the word “gaslighting” to describe a type of manipulation within relationships that makes the person being gaslit question their sanity. But it’s so much more than this simple definition. Gaslighting is a serious form of emotional abuse and typically comes up in romantic relationships, friendships, family dynamics, etc.
Gaslighting has been used on people for years as a dynamic in some relationships. As stated previously, gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the abuser in the relationship tries to plant self-doubt and confusion in the victim’s mind. But it should be noted that gaslighters do this to gain power and control over the other person in the relationship. It can range from “you know I only do it because I love you” or “I was only kidding, stop being so dramatic” when they are called out for something the other person perceives as abusive and controlling. As time passes and the gaslighting continues, the victim’s self-esteem breaks down, and they doubt their ability to trust their own perspective. This causes them to become more dependent on the gaslighter and defer to them, giving the abuser all the control and power in the relationship, which was the goal.
It’s hard to recognize the signs of gaslighting, especially when gaslighters believe their own lies. But you are not alone. Hopefully, after reading this article, you better understand what gaslighting is and what it can look like!