Gaslighting Definition, Techniques and Being Gaslighted

Gaslighting also known as Ambient Abuse made popular by the 1940’s movie Gaslight depicts an abusive husband using tactics on his wife to change her perception of reality making her question her sanity. 

The below article defines and outlines gaslighting techniques and will help you determine whether or not you’re a victim of Gaslighting.   

Click here https://archive.org/details/Gaslight_1940 to watch the Gaslight movie, it will give you a better understanding of how it works.

Gaslighting Definition, Techniques and Being Gaslighted

The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1938 British play “Gas Light” wherein a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using a variety of tricks causing her to question her own perceptions and sanity. Gas Light was made into a movie both in 1940 and 1944.

Gaslighting Techniques and Examples

There are numerous gaslighting techniques which can make gaslighting more difficult to identify. Gaslighting techniques are used to hide truths that the abuser doesn’t want the victim to realize. Gaslighting abuse can be perpetrated by either women or men.

“Withholding” is one gaslighting technique where the abuser feigns a lack of understanding, refuses to listen and declines sharing his emotions. Gaslighting examples of this would be:1

  • “I’m not listening to that crap again tonight.”
  • “You’re just trying to confuse me.”

Another gaslighting technique is “countering,” where an abuser will vehemently call into question a victim’s memory in spite of the victim having remembered things correctly.

  • “Think about when you didn’t remember things correctly last time.”
  • “You thought that last time and you were wrong.”

These techniques throw the victim off the intended subject matter and make them question their own motivations and perceptions rather than the issue at hand.

It is then that the abuser will start to question the experiences, thoughts and opinions more globally through statements said in anger like:

  • “You see everything in the most negative way.”
  • “Well you obviously never believed in me then.”
  • “You have an overactive imagination.”

“Blocking” and “diverting” are gaslighting techniques whereby the abuser again changes the conversation from the subject matter to questioning the victim’s thoughts and controlling the conversation. Gaslighting examples of this include:

  • “I’m not going through that again.”
  • “Where did you get a crazy idea like that?”
  • “Quit bitching.”
  • “You’re hurting me on purpose.”

“Trivializing” is another way of gaslighting. It involves making the victim believe his or her thoughts or needs aren’t important, such as:

  • “You’re going to let something like that come between us?”

Abusive “forgetting” and “denial” can also be forms of gaslighting. In this technique, the abuser pretends to forget things that have really occurred; the abuser may also deny things like promises that have been made that are important to the victim. An abuser might say,

  • “What are you talking about?”
  • “I don’t have to take this.”
  • “You’re making that up.”

Some gaslighters will then mock the victim for their “wrongdoings” and “misperceptions.”

Gaslighting Psychology

The gaslighting techniques are used in conjunction to try to make the victim doubt their own thoughts, memories and actions. Soon the victim is scared to bring up any topic at all for fear they are “wrong” about it or don’t remember the situation correctly.

The worst gaslighters will even create situations that allow for the usage of gaslighting techniques. An example of this is taking the victim’s keys from the place where they are always left, making the victim think she has misplaced them. Then “helping” the victim with her “bad memory” find the keys.

Are You a Victim of Gaslighting Emotional Abuse?

According to author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, Ph.D., the signs of being a victim of gaslighting emotional abuse include:2

  1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  2. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
  3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
  4. You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
  5. You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  6. You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
  11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
  13. You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  14. You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.
  15. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
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One thought on “Gaslighting Definition, Techniques and Being Gaslighted

  1. What is more important is that the Tis not to get confused with the people who might do those gestures or say words naturally and not to gaslight you. The main intention of the perps is to cause you to DOUBT EVERYONE YOU SEE. Many of the people are NOT gas lighting but acting or speaking naturally. But there are some who are purposely doing it to create that DOUBT in you. So you might go and argue with the wrong person. Do not fall into the trap. All Tis need to think clearly to end this satanic game.

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