Gaslighting Meaning: How It Keeps Victims From Knowing Reality

What Is Gaslighting?

Viable Media, LLC

3 months ago|4 min read


Gaslighting is a common phenomenon in everyday life. The most accepted gaslighting meaning is questioning one’s reality, but the phrase can mean a lot more than that.

Gaslighting occurs when you doubt yourself because of an external antagonist. That antagonist could be a person, computer software, or government policy.

Gaslighting movies and popular culture often depict a situation where one person tries to control another.

Gaslighting Origin

Gaslighting comes from the 1938 stage play “Gaslight,” A husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using various tricks and deceptions.

Psychology professor and author Dr. Robin Stern coined the term “gaslighting” in her book The Gaslight Effect, also inspired by the movie “Gaslight.”

Stern writes that gaslighting often happens with narcissist partners but can exist within other relationships, such as parents and children or even friends.

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If you want to learn to recognize gaslighting ask yourself this about your current relationship dynamic. Am I talking to a narcissist? If you answered yes, chances are you are running into the definition of gaslighting.

If someone constantly tells you how **** or beautiful or intelligent or good-looking they find certain parts of your body, face, etc., they are probably just feeding their fragile self-image.

Gaslighting is compelled to pass feelings onto others to manage.

Gaslighting is further defined by a lack of realizing its self-defeating nature.

Gaslighting Phrases

I feel like you are being very sensitive towards me. I don’t think anything I’ve said was meant to be hurtful.

A Gaslighter

Gaslighters try to make themselves out to be fantastic individuals. Maybe they think it’s the only way to have power over someone else, or perhaps it makes them feel better about themselves to put down other people.

But however the gaslighter thinks about their actions, it’s always wrong.

They know how to make themselves look good, and as such, they believe their lies (or some part of them does anyway).

This means that even if they are caught in a lie, there’s a high probability that they will find a way to twist the truth around to make it your fault.

The gaslighter knows that most people rarely see behind the mask, so it’s easy for him to accuse someone when no one is aware.

They may do things behind your back, call you names, or spread rumors about you.

Another spot on gaslighting phrase is to say they act like they love you one day and hate you the next. Those things make it hard for anyone else to defend you because nobody can see these actions.

Related: Love Bombing Meaning

Gaslight (1944)

Of course, there’s “Gaslight” (1944), a gaslighting movie where a husband tries very hard to convince his wife she is insane.

The Girl On The Train

Another great example would be “The Girl On The Train,” which has so many layers of hidden realities based on unreliable narrators at play.

The Bold Type

There’s a gaslighting show on Freeform called “The Bold Type.”

One of the characters gaslights her best friend, and we see some of its impacts on her, including an episode where she feels like she’s going crazy while trying to remember what happened so she doesn’t fall apart and can keep working at Scarlet Magazine.

Effects Of Gaslighting Someone

The effects of gaslighting are different for everyone.

It could affect anyone, but no single type or group gets targeted more than others. It also affects everyone based on past experiences.

Some people may notice feeling more anxious, depressed, or isolated, and others may not see any changes.

It can take one incident to make the person feel like they are losing their sense of reality, but it’s also possible to go years without realizing you are experiencing a form of gaslighting.

Gaslighting Relationships

There are probably many telltale signs of gaslighting in a relationship, but if you feel like someone is trying to convince you that something didn’t happen or say things so often it has no basis, their actions are a big gaslighting sign.

The trademark of a gaslighting relationship is an imbalance of power (of any kind).

When one person has more power than the other, it allows them to control the relationship dynamic and, therefore, the outcome of said relationship.

If you aren’t aware that your new boyfriend can be two-faced, you will become confused when the fake mask slips and they let their true colors show before your eyes.

Mask slippage is where the problems always start because you are left wondering why they act a particular way.

Gaslighting Behavior

Sometimes it seems like everyone utilizes gaslighting as a form of control–whether through ignorance or malice–but ultimately, anyone who tries very hard to convince others something didn’t happen (or make them question reality) stands to benefit.

Gaslighting may seem like a viable option at first, but ultimately gaslighting is a tool for reactionary types. In other words, there’s no deep thought involved with gaslighting behavior.

Gaslighting quotes are frequently used to show the manipulation and mind games during gaslighting relationships.

He’s gaslighting me, making me think I’m losing my mind. -UnknownWhen someone is gaslighting you, they are systematically and deliberately trying to destabilize you, to undermine your confidence in yourself and in reality itself. -Stephanie SarkisGaslighting is a way to control someone by making them question their own sanity. -Tiffany D. Jackson

Stopping Gaslighting

Some ways to combat gaslighting:

Learn about the different forms of gaslighting and what they look like.

Become aware of your actions and emotions

Practice positive self-talk

Related: Guilt Trips Meaning

Final Word On Gaslighting

The gaslighting meaning can be challenging to understand because it is so nuanced.

The best way to think of gaslighting is as a situation in which your reality is questioned by someone or something else.

It’s important to remember that gaslighting isn’t always intentional; sometimes, people don’t realize they’re doing it.


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