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Below is a common definition of gaslighting. One of our readers brought this term to our attention. It seems worthy of a closer look.

Definition: To deliberately drive someone insane by psychologically manipulating their environment and tricking someone into believing that they are insane.

Note that in this definition it says what is being done is deliberate, i.e. intentional. There are many uses of the term gaslighting on the Internet which don't actually seem to involve delibarte actions. Below is a sample of what is currently on the Internet under the term gaslighing.



From Wiki.answers.com

Where did the phrase "You've Been Gaslighted" come from?

Answer - It comes from the 1944 film called Gaslight...

From filmsite.org/gasl.html

"... was about a diabolical, Victorian criminal husband (Charles Boyer playing against type) who systematically and methodically attempts to torment, menace, and drive his bedeviled, fragile wife (Ingrid Bergman) mad. Its title was derived from the frequent dimming and flickering of the gaslights. The phrase "to gaslight" someone (to deliberately drive someone insane by psychologically manipulating their environment and tricking someone into believing that they are insane), was derived from the film.



From Wikipedia:

Gaslighting is a form of intimidation or psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory and perception. The classic example of gaslighting is to change things in a person's environment without their knowledge, and to explain that they "must be imagining things" when they challenge these changes. Popular usage of the term can be traced to at least the late 1970s.

The term derives from the 1938 stage play Gas Light, and the 1944 film adaption, in which a wife's concerns about the dimming of her house's gas lights are dismissed by her husband as the work of her imagination, when he has actually caused the lights to dim. His action is part of a wider pattern of deception in which the husband manipulates small elements of his wife's environment, and insists that she is mistaken or misremembering, hoping to drive her to insanity.


From : Associated Content


Imagine that one day your spouse whom you grown to love and
trust begins telling you things that never really happened. For
instance, he says that last week he told you he was going to go
to the bar with his buddies this Monday night, but you never
remember him telling you that. Or perhaps he gets angry because
you didn't pay the electric bill. Now you've incurred a late
charge. When you remind him that he takes care of the bills, he
snaps that he told you to take care of the electric bill a few
days ago because he was too busy. However, you know he never
asked you to do so.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse or brainwashing
where one individual attempts to get another individual to
believe she is "crazy". This is most often done through the
denial of facts, events, or what one did or did not say. The
gaslighter might also directly or indirectly imply that the
individual is defective, crazy, or suffers from a mental

For instance, a husband who tells his wife that she suffers
from Borderline Personality Disorder when she becomes
frustrated because she is consistently being told that things
that were said or done didn't happen, is gaslighting his wife.
Likewise, when a wife tells her husband that he is paranoid
because he confronts her about spending large sums of money
without telling him where the money is going would be a case in
which a wife is gaslighting her husband.

The term gaslighting was coined in the 1940 and 1944 remake of
the movie Gaslight. In this movie the main character is made to
believe she is crazy and imagining things by her husband so
that he could gain access to her finances. He repeatedly lights
a gas lamp in one part of the house, causing the other lamps in
the house to become dimmer. When the main character in the
movie confronts her husband about this, he repeatedly tells her
that she is imagining things and that the lamps are not, in
fact, dimmer.



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From psychologytoday.com/blog/power-in-relationships/200905/are-you-being-gaslighted

Note: This article was written for adults. Teens are in a different situation because they don't have the same options available to them as adults do. For example, it is usually not possible for them to leave or end the relationship with their parents. This article assumes that the victim of what she calls gaslighting are in a voluntary relationship with a partner - one which they can leave at any time. It wouild be interesting to substitute "parent" in the cases where the author says "partner", view the article from that perspective. S. Hein

Are you being Gaslighted?

Are you in a gaslighting relationship? Here is how to tell.

Dear Readers,

In my first blog about gaslighting, I talked about the "good news" about gaslighting - that is, that once you identify this destructive pattern in your relationship, you can change it.

A reader asked me, if it is possible over time to get so beaten down and so sure you might be at fault, that you can't identify the dynamic? The answer is YES. The Gaslight Effect happens over time - gradually - and, often, by the time you are deep into the Gaslight Tango (the dance you do with your gaslighting partner, where you allow him to define your reality) you are not the same strong - or not so strong - self you used to be. In fact, your ego functioning has been compromised and, no longer being certain of your reality, you are not often able to accurately identify when something is "off" with your partner.

The process of gaslighting happens in stages - although the stages are not always linear and do overlap at times, they reflect very different emotional and psychological states of mind.

The first stage is disbelief: when the first sign of gaslighting occurs. You think of the gaslighting interaction as a strange behavior or an anomalous moment. During this first stage, things happen between you and your partner - or your boss, friend, family member - that seem odd to you. A young woman I know - let's call her Rhonda, just told me about her second date with Dean. She was shocked when, after a terrific dinner, he left her at the bus stop - he told her she was nuts to wait for a bus, and, if she wanted to travel that way, he was not going to wait with her and would just see her another time. But, the piece de resistance, was that he called her later that night - (note that she picked up the call) and, he was insistent that there was nothing wrong with his jumping on the subway, while she took the bus - further, he told her that he was certain there was something wrong with the way she made choices about traveling. She argued, but, ultimately wrote off his behavior as " really weird". In recounting the story, she says it is "weird", and, that he must have a "thing" about buses -- but, she does really want to see him again --- they have so much in common and he is really romantic.

Unlikely that this is going to be an isolated incident. Dean sounds like he has to get his own way - and, he has to be right. Rhonda is very attracted to him and wants things to work out, so, she is likely to explain away his behavior -- at least for awhile.

The next stage is defense: where you are defending yourself against the gaslighter's manipulation. Think about it - you tell your boss, for example, you are unhappy with the assignments you have been getting; you feel you are being wrongly passed over for the best assignments --- you ask him why this is happening. Instead of addressing the issue, he tells you that you are way too sensitive and way too stressed..... well, maybe you are sensitive and stressed, but, that doesn't answer the question of why you are being passed over for these better assignments. But, rather than leave it at that - or redirect the conversation - you start defending yourself - telling your boss you are not that sensitive or stressed -- or, that the stress doesn't interfere with your ability to work. But, during this stage, you are driven crazy by the conversation.... going over and over, like an endless tape, in your mind.

What's worse, is that these kind of conversations characterize your relationship more and more. You can't stand that your boss sees the situation like that and you work even harder on the assignments you find boring, even demeaning, just to prove that you are not overly sensitive and stressed out.

The next stage is depression: By the time you get to this stage you are experiencing a noticeable lack of joy - and, you hardly recognize yourself anymore. Some of your behavior feels truly alien. You feel more cut off from friends - in fact, you don't talk to people about your relationship very much - none of them like your guy. People may express concern about how you are and you are feeling -- they treat you like you really do have a problem. One of the examples I wrote about in my book The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulations Other People Use to Control Your Life, concerns a lovely woman, Melanie. In the story told, Melanie was frantic because she couldn't find the "right" kind of salmon (her husband likes wild salmon and the grocery only had farm raised) to serve at the dinner party for her husband's company. She knew her husband would accuse her of not caring enough about him to go to the store earlier in the day. Incidents like this were happening so much at home, Melanie began to believe he was right - after all, what was more important than her husband. Why wasn't she a more considerate wife? She was unhappy almost all the time - and, she really believed that she could be a better, more considerate wife. She began to look for evidence of her poor behavior. Melanie had lost the ability, over time, to see anything else wrong with the relationship, besides that she was a less than adequate wife. It took a long time, and a lot of reflection and analysis, reality testing and self-management, for Melanie's view to shift and for her to reclaim her reality and her life.


How do you know if you are being gaslighted? If any of the following warning signs ring true, you may be dancing the Gaslight Tango. Take care of yourself by taking another look at your relationship, talking to a trusted friend; and, begin to think about changing the dynamic of your relationship . Here are the signs:

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.

Remember, there is good news about identifying the Gaslight Effect. The good news is that knowledge is power. Once you can name this all too insidious dynamic, you can work towards changing things, or getting out (Note) -- take back your reality, and, get more enjoyment from your life and your relationship.


Note from EQI.org - Getting out is rarely an option for anyone under 18 year of age