Gaslighting in Relationships, Is it Happening to you?

Are you being gaslighted in your relationship?
What is gaslighting?
How do you stop it?

Gaslighting describes a form of manipulation. In gaslighting, the manipulator convinces their victim that the victim’s thinking or thoughts are distorted. They proceed by convincing the victim that their (the manipulators) views are correct. This may lead to the victim questioning their sanity. The victim may start to question their thoughts, memories and experiences.

This term was born as a result of Patrick Hamilton’s stage play Gas Light in 1938. This play became a movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton in 1944. In Gas Light, the husband slowly dims the lights in their home, powered by gas. When his wife asks about the dim lights, the husband insists that the lights haven’t changed, and she is making a mistake in believing so.

Is this a big deal?

Why worry about such a trivial thing?

The truth is gaslighting can have an impact on our emotional, psychological, and even physical health. How can we detect gaslighting and stop it from affecting us in a negative way?

The Signs of Gaslighting

The following are signs that may suggest that you are the victim of gaslighting.  

  • You often wonder if you are too sensitive.
  • You find yourself apologizing often.
  • You feel like something is wrong but can’t identify it.
  • You feel isolated from your friends and family.
  • You have a hard time making your own decisions.
  • You feel hopeless.
  • You are unable to experience pleasure from activities you enjoyed in the past.
  • You make excuses for your partner’s behavior.
  • You always think it is your fault when things go wrong.
  • You are becoming increasingly anxious.
  • You don’t feel like yourself anymore.
  • Your confidence has diminished.
  • You question the responses you give to your partner.

Although many of these signs are also present in depressive and anxiety disorders, the difference is that gaslighting involves another person. If you experience these symptoms with a specific individual, you may be the victim of gaslighting.

How to Fight Gaslighting

The first step to fighting gaslighting is recognizing that it is occurring. If you have any of the symptoms listed above ask yourself if they happen around everyone or just a particular person. As I have pointed out in previous posts, if you believe you are suffering from anxiety or depression and you feel like it is affecting your ability to live a meaningful, happy life, you should seek professional help.

Remember, mental disorders are no different than any other medical issue, they just affect a different organ. Never feel distressed about seeking medical attention for any reason. You deserve to be happy!

It may also be important to seek professional help if you are being gaslighted, especially if it involves someone who is hard to escape from such as a live-in partner. Many times, getting the advice of a third-party who can see the situation objectively is critical.

I also want to point out that many individuals with narcissistic personality disorder use gaslighting to manipulate their victims. You can read my blog post on narcissism by clicking here.

Gaslighting can lead to emotional, psychological, and physical unrest. It may also be one sign of an abusive relationship. Always remember that toxic people should be avoided at all costs.   

This post is meant to be a brief description of gaslighting.  There is much more to learn about this tactic.  If you want a more in-depth view, I suggest reading “The Gaslight Effect:  How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life.” by Dr. Robin Stern. 

My suggestion is to work on your personal development daily. Here are some ideas:

  • Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy.
  • Read at least a few pages in a positive motivational book daily.
  • Start and end your day by being thankful for what you have.
  • Consider starting a gratification journal.
  • Exercise and eat healthy, whole foods.
  • Spend as much time as possible with your happiness elements.

If you make a commitment to spend some time on yourself each day, it will pay off.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.  

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.



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