Gaslighting is a type of psychological manipulation and emotional abuse in which a person or group seeks to make someone doubt their own perceptions, and memories. The term “gaslighting” originated from the 1938 play “Gas Light” by Patrick Hamilton, which was later adapted into two films, both titled “Gaslight” (1940 and 1944). (A recommended read)
The story is about a husband who tries to drive his wife crazy by manipulating the gaslights in their home, making them flicker, and then insisting that she is imagining it when she questions the changes. This is to make her doubt her sanity, perceptions, and memories, so she becomes increasingly dependent on him and easier to control.
In modern terms, gaslighting goes beyond the literal context of manipulating physical lighting. It can involve various tactics like:
1. A gaslighter rejects something they know to be true, even when confronted with proof.
2. Withholding information: The gaslighter withholds information to confuse or make the other person doubt their own interpretation of events.
3. Undermining the person’s memory or perception: A gaslighter may call the person’s memory into doubt or get them to believe that their perceptions are mistaken.
4: Passing the buck back to the other person thus making the other person feel guilty or accountable for the abusive actions.
5. Downplaying feelings: Gaslighters frequently criticise the person’s emotions as too sensitive.
6. Isolating the individual: To improve their power over the person, gaslighters may isolate them from friends, family, or other sources of assistance.
Gaslighting may be immensely harmful to a person’s mental and emotional well-being, causing emotions of bewilderment, self-doubt, and anxiety. It can occur in personal relationships, professional situations, and all broader societal contexts. If you feel you are being gaslighted, seeking help from friends, family, or a therapist may be extremely helpful.