1 Nov 2022

What is Gaslighting? Why do People Gaslight? What are the effects of Gaslighting on the Victim?

If you distrust yourself and doubt your memory and your ability to perceive reality correctly, every time you have a conversation with a particular person, you might be getting gaslighted by this person. Please read this blog till the end to understand what’s going on here.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse when a person or group of individuals makes another question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality.

The term gaslighting comes from a 1938 play, “Gas Light”, and its subsequent film adaptation, in which the husband secretly makes changes around his wife and then blames her for either noticing the changes or making them.  

Narcissistic people gaslight their victims to label them as crazy, insane, and unstable, to keep them under perfect control, and isolate them from the rest of society to facilitate abuse and to protect themselves.

Common phrases of white lies used during gaslighting are “I didn't do that”,” it never happened”,” you did it”,” I was joking”,” you are making an issue out of nothing”,” you are overreacting”,” you are too sensitive”,” you have problems with everyone”,” you made me hurt you”,” you should seek help” and so on.

Gaslighting involves the following components:-

  1. Denying(of what they have done)

  2. Diverting(changing the topic to shift focus on the victim like blaming the victim’s mental illness for their own behavior or calling them too sensitive, too observant, unstable, crazy, and so on). It makes the victim feel weak and stupid in a conversation. So the victim starts to put efforts into proving themselves innocent and sane instead of talking about the original issue which was about the abuser.

  3. Selective Amnesia(forgetting selective things that they have done to others while clearly remembering things done by others and sometimes making up things that were actually never done or said by anyone.

  4. Acting Stupid/Dumb(like pretending to not understand what is hurtful about their behavior)

Sometimes flying monkeys recruited by a narcissistic abuser also gaslight knowingly or unknowingly.

Gaslighting can take place in Parent-child relationships, and intimate relationships, there is medical gaslighting, racial gaslighting, political gaslighting, spiritual gaslighting, and institutional gaslighting.

Why do people Gaslight?

Gaslighting is a very complex and insidious strategy used by narcissistic people to sow the seeds of doubt in the mind of the victim. A gaslighter deceives a group or individual by persuading them with a false narrative, which leads them to doubt their perceptions and become confused, disoriented, or disturbed.

Gaslighting isn’t always intentional. We have all probably gaslighted someone unintentionally at some point due to our ignorance or lack of understanding of a certain subject.

However, people with narcissistic tendencies or personality disorders like NPD, ASPD, or BPD intentionally gaslight others for power gain or as a survival mechanism socially learned from their own gaslighter parents or caregivers by suffering or witnessing while growing up.

The purpose of intentional gaslighting is to undermine resistance, destroy optimism, project an air of innocence, and create chaos and confusion in the mind of the "gaslight-tee." 

Narcissistic people gaslight to keep the people around them aligned with their false sense of reality, save their fragile egos, and cope with the anxiety of facing their own ugliness.

What are the effects of Gaslighting on the victim?

The term “Gaslighting” was previously described as  “to manipulate someone so extremely as to create mental disease or to justify the commitment of the gaslighted person to a psychiatric facility” but is now used more generically. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, gaslighting is currently defined as the psychological manipulation when a person's "perception of reality" is called into question, creating "dependence on the offender."

Effects of gaslighting are only viable when the audience is weak, such as in situations of uneven power or afraid of the losses involved in confronting the false narrative.

The gaslighted person becomes anxious, confused, and doubtful of themselves.

Persistent gaslighting that is done on purpose can severely damage the self-esteem and mental well-being of the gaslighted victim.

Gaslighting causes chronic stress and severe mental distress. Victims’ sense of identity, personality, and self-confidence gradually erode due to the relentless bombardment of verbal (and occasionally physical) assaults, which also slowly chip away at their sanity.

It is easy to gaslight those who have a mental health condition that lowers their defenses, such as a history of abuse or trauma, low self-esteem, or despair. This is why gaslighting in an abusive relationship is dangerous.

If you or someone you know is facing gaslighting, please seek professional help and create boundaries with the gaslighter. Avoid people, places, situations, and mental processes that make you feel gaslighted.

Have a great day!


  1. 403 Forbidden. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/gaslighting

  2. DoctorRamani. (2019, April 22). What’s Gaslighting? (Individual, tribe, and societal gaslighting) - Dr. Ramani Durvasula [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTS5XsZe9Jg

  3. DoctorRamani. (2020, April 3). What is “gaslighting”? (Glossary of Narcissistic Relationships) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVBdWSPXyRw

  4. DoctorRamani. (2021, May 16). This is something you probably didn’t know was gaslighting. . . [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLsH2NJD1Vo

  5. MedCircle. (2020, June 16). How to Spot the Hidden Signs Someone Is Gaslighting [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FISZshe9L3s

  6. psycom.net. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://www.psycom.net/gaslighting-what-is-it

  7. Rivera, D. (2020, October 28). The Psychology of Gaslighting: Here’s What You Need to Know. Archive. https://blog.darlingmagazine.org/the-psychology-of-gaslighting-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

  8. Walker, P. (2013). Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma (1st ed). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

  9. What Is Gaslighting and Why Is It so Dangerous? (2017, October 16). HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-is-gaslighting-and-why-is-it-so-dangerous_b_59e43a1ae4b02e99c58357f0

  10. Wikipedia contributors. (2022, October 31). Gaslighting. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

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