“Gaslighting as a Manipulation Tactic: What It Is, Who Does It, And Why” Comments, Page 1

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72 Comments (16 Discussion Threads) on “Gaslighting as a Manipulation Tactic: What It Is, Who Does It, And Why”

  1. A fairly large proportion of my clients seek counselling because of abuse in childhood, in an adult partnership, at work, or from a group they have joined. It never fails to amaze me at the strategies that are used to confound and manipulate people. I am glad you write about these topics because when people read about them as you present them, they can see that they are not crazy but being victimized. I often recommend the movie Gaslight to clients too.

    1. Thanks, Sacha. The other very unfortunate thing is that many of the central tenets of traditional psychology paradigms that have long enjoyed widespread awareness and acceptance actually cause people to doubt their gut instincts about the motivations and actions of their abusers, thus inhibiting them from taking the proper corrective action. Our newer paradigms are just beginning to provide a more accurate understanding of the most irresponsible characters among us.

    2. I have been (years) victimized by manipulators and the mental health doctors are totally unaware in NJ of gaslighting any suggestions….FYI Smartphone cameras have made it worse…Epidemic
      Phones hacked, home invaded..and much much more…Any suggestions?

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I was just divorced from a narcassist last month. I am very familiar with gaslighting. Like you said, I ignored my own gut. Was so confused all the time, couldnt trust my own judgement..still cant. It will take a long time to recover from what that man did to me.

    1. You’re welcome. And although no one relishes in your ordeal, your courage to share it might prove quite helpful to others. So, thanks for the comments and all the best in your efforts to heal.

    2. Maureen, learn all you can about Gaslighting, Psychopathy and Narcissism and remember to never blame yourself….THEY are ANTI SOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDERED *** and there is no cure for their personality disorder..maybe only improvement if they didn’t substance abuse…when you recognise all the traits of a narcissistic psychopath and relate it to your own experience, you will realise it is them that is the crazy one, yet they will do all they can to make you look like you are the crazy one…everything they do is anti social, they are liars and manipulators and the fraud and fool you…once your educated and see it in your partner, you will feel empowered….it may not change your circumstances but education will make you stronger and less blaming as a person….I say when you can get your power of strength and character back, that the Narcissist depleted and stole from you….EXPOSE THE *** and the disorder for what they are….so much of society, especially the law have got NO IDEA that a psycopath is 1 in 100 and that they live amongst us as a wolf in sheeps clothing….

    3. I have been divorced from a gas lighter for four years and it never stops! We have grown children together and he constantly twists the truth around to be to his benefit. “Don’t you remember I told you …”;”I was only doing it to…”

      One of the worst things he did to me was during the separation. I was living in the house. It was the coldest day of December. Utility personnel kept knocking on my door to tell me that the account holder was having all the utilities turned off.I was paying all but the electricity .Everything was up-to-date. The electricity person was very Kind and said, “I may get in trouble for this but I just can’t do this to you” When I called my husband to ask why he was getting in my business he replied that he was getting himself out of my business. In truth, he was collecting all the deposit money, I had to go put more money in so I could keep services going .Our daughter has learned the same technique. She’s getting married in a few months and I have to deal with two gaslighters. Should I get every conversation in writing.,.keep emails, texts, etc? After the incident with the utility companies and several other mind tricks he pulled, I had a nervous breakdown and spent the Christmas holidays in a mental hospital . I can imagine he was telling everyone, “See? I told you she was crazy!” These bad guys win- every time!

    4. It has taken me a year and a half to recover myself, a narcissistic husband did all the gaslighting techniques on me for five years, you will recover but it does take time…my advice is to go outside yourself and arrange possibilities for success. The confidence will return but it takes time. Good luck and respond to me if you need help…

  3. No one understands the experience unless they have been in a relationship with one…Mine lived with me for 23 years, used me, hid within our family, let us work and support his career, then he went off with all the SUPERANNUATION retirement money and chased and random women, asking some to marry him…he has abandoned our two children and abandoned his first child..they are substance abusers and drug addicts….they pretend all the while that they love you, that they love their children, then when they get what they want (the money) they will hate you, slander you, defame you, lie about you and punish you for their sins by refusing to speak or communicate…you will be barraged by verbal profanities and name called…they are the real deal Jeckle and Hyde…Screw them, they are truly evil and destroy the lives of their own flesh and blood and leave their families absolutely traumatised.

    1. omg, this is so true. I grew up with two psychopathic parents, went on to attract psychopaths and now have three psychopathic grown children whom I gave my heart, soul and money to help them better their lives only to almost died three times while caught up in my grown children ages 25, 31, and 35 games of “gaslighting”. My health has deteriorated to the point where I can hardly get back up one more time. I hope to write a book as I have a photographic memory, in a way to maybe help someone else out their who is being tortured by these most horrible, blood relatives. It is truly incomprehensible to a `normal` person.

    2. This is to Lynn actually… if both your parents were “psychopathic” and your 3 children are as well, is there a possibility you might have an issue? Reading what you wrote including the comment about “photographic memory” I wondered if you might be on the Autism spectrum. Experiencing others actions as gaslighting would be accurate for someone with ASD trying to understand others.

    3. This post is one of my first ways of acknowledging the abuse that I have suffered for the past 2 years. I moved in with my fiance (who hid the extent of her drinking from me) only to find out that she was an everyday drinker. Denial of the drinking, and the behavior associated with intoxicated people, became extreme. I have been divorced twice and wanted to avoid the failure of this relationship – nearly at all cost. I finally left when she began openly attacking my children. I am embarrassed that I miss the relationship and fear I won’t have the strength to stay away.

      She has two very involved parents who enable her drinking and also participate in the gas lighting, “Our daughter would never do that . . . ” “Our daughter would never say that . . . .” Ironically, although she consumes a bottle of wine every night and takes Zanax, she and her family focus on my past substance abuse (I have been clean 8 years).

      Finding some of this information online and this blog has allowed me to consider her behavior in terms of mental illness instead of just the alcoholism. I am desperate to understand what about me made me stay for so long. On the other hand, I am proud that I am a man who worked hard to keep the relationship together and loved my children and her daughter during this craziness.

      I appreciate the comments found here. Maybe my post will allow some man/woman to identify with the shame that I have felt surrounding this abuse.

  4. gaslighting not only occurs from ur partner but also from ur friends that have their conections with ur partner, when u have been gaslighted by more than 1 person u loose all sense of reality, ur instincts get twisted up, ur intuition has no value anymore. now i know that my instincts were correct + my ex’s drug taking was nothing but his smoke screen to the truth, i can walk away knowing the truth of what really happened, learning to trust my intuition and gut instincts again cus they were right all along!

    1. This is so true. When the person’s “impression management” is so thorough and defended, and they are especially sophisticated, most others are taken in, and you standing up and saying anything becomes just another source of invalidation.

  5. Wow…this has been very helpful. I am currently in a gas lighting relationship to the extreme. We are now at the point where he is 24/7 making me feel like I am dirt on his shoe with every word I speak. I feel so hurt :( I am a sexual abuse survivor and I knew by my reaction of extreme defensive behavior that it was a form of abuse. I just did not know how or what and with time I was blamed so much for everything that I questioned it all and still do. I broke up with him today but I have bi weekly since meeting him 10 months ago. He lures me back Everytime and shows affection and it feels so wonderful, I buy in. Why am I doing this? It’s terrible to see that I don’t have enough self esteem to notice it in its raw state. I have just loved ad supported him and now I feel so hurt and shamed and stupid. How can he have this much power over me? Ugh….I have many things going on in my life and don’t want to face this right now. I have blocked him from work and personal phone. He does have my mothers number though…ugh. The sick part of all of this….I feel that there is something wrong with me and I miss him already and I don’t know how I could.

    1. I’m in a relationship with a gaslighter, who has cutody of his two daughters & I believe he is sexual abusing both, one is 14 & the other is 9, l have reported to the abuse center. I lived with him for 6 months and just threw him out. I felt like l was crazy and doubed what l saw, seeing this article on gas lighting let me know I’m right. He has made me feel like l had totally lost my mine, l’m in counseling, but still have feeling of love for him, l really need help to move on.

    2. Having had extensive experience in gaslighting relationships I took time out and decided to self hack. You can’t change him you can only restructure yourself for the better. This might sound rather punitive but it isn’t. It is deconstructing your personality and finding out what early childhood maladaptive schemas that are operative within you.

      It takes a great deal of self honesty as we have to fully open up to and embrace/own our shadow – which is our dark side. I am not saying there is anything wrong with you. This is the normal condition of humanity sadly. What is not normal is for us to remain in this condition. Can you short cut this process – well yes you can actually. My suggestion to you is this – go out and buy 3 books you can probably pick them all up on Amazon second hand if you are pressed for cash. They are Emotional Alchemy (Tara Bennet-Goldman) Emotional Intelligence (Dan Goldman) and The Power of Now (Eckart Toll) read them in that sequence. The last book gives instructions of how to stalk yourself by watching your thoughts and the emotions they raise within you.

      Gaslighters are all fully pathological no matter which personality disorder they have and they are disordered. Psychologically healthy people do not engage in this type of behavior. The resources given above assists you to become psychologically healthy as a defense to maladaptive people and you will understand how to recognise them by the behaviors they exhibit. By knowing your true self will further help you to bring out and recognise the false self you have constructed over the years and have come to recognise as you.

      Once you understand that these people who gaslight are truly sick people and you know your core self (this takes in reality many years as more hidden false beliefs come to the surface during self observation or self hacking as I call it) then you will cease to take their behavior personally. This stops you from going into victim mode and you accept that while they are extremely disordered and very sick people you do not have to have them in your life and it will be easier for you to sever ties and just walk away without guilt, shame or remorse. This is not the same thing as a psychopaths lack of guilt, shame or remorse.

      Also bear in mind when a disordered person is making accusations against you of behavior you are simply incapable of engaging in then they are showing you who they are. That is their own projection, it is their way of avoiding ownership of their own shameful behavior by projecting it onto you. It is truly pathetic and it allows them to have subtle power of you. These people in all reality should be rounded up and placed under intense psychiatric evaluation as they are very dangerous people maybe all not capable of physical violence but they are all capable and experts at emotional violence. The only thing you can do is protect yourself by knowing yourself.

  6. there are governments in which financial institutions internal culture practice exactly this type of emotional abuse [gaslighting] on their employees, who in turn use it on the clients, who all in turn, bring it home to their families, so that by default it formulates outwards into society as society builds dependency on the structure of these institutions…all in all, its built on the subjugation of care ethic [burning of care at bohemian grove?!] and the demoralization of women and their rights to self-determination because warrior culture has prevailed through violence and inflicting fear, so their legacy is the abuse we have all been living with ever since..

  7. My husband sent me crazy using gaslighting technique. I lost everything, and as I sit here 10 years later, a broken shell of a person, I finally realise there is a name to what he used to do to me. I’m not sure I’ll every be the confident, carefree, strong woman I used to be. One outcome, I know I can’t trust myself in relationships – I don’t ever want to give my power away again.

    1. The emotional “beating” manipulators can give us sometimes pales in comparison to the beating up we do on ourselves. Sometimes we blame ourselves for being so blind, for investing so much, for losing so much, etc. The surest way to stay empowered is to counter the temptation to heap blame with ardent self-reinforcement for every single step taken learning to better care for oneself. Simple, but not easy, and ever so crucial to a more vital, empowered life.

  8. My ex escalated to physical violence. He apologized, took responsibility and committed to counseling. Too late I learned he called people conning them I assaulted him. Too late I learned he bought books on mental
    illnesses then made up stories to con people setting them up they appear to be guilty of making things up by their promise to not tell he called them.

    My gut informed me that when I asserted fact, when he suddenly try to convince me of things that had not happened he became enraged because it is easy to deceive people long distance.

    I won’t ever forget the day earlier on when I doubted my memories due to what he insisted. I sought a reality check from former neighbors

    1. Thanks for sharing this. And while it may indeed have been “later” than you might have wished that you came to the level awareness you did about your ex’s character pathology, hopefully, your current level of awareness will enable you to remain more empowered and informed in future relationships.

  9. I live in a Hud owned Co-op where the residents are in positions to use gaslighting techniques. A few of the elderly women are eperiencing someone entering their apartments day and night. One says her abuser is opening up her door in the middle of the night and turning her light on. Another is saying smalls things are taken just to let her know someone was in her apartment. Another went into her apartment and the lampshade was on the floor. Time after time they are dismissed and laughted at even by the company who is responsible for this building. I am trying to read up on this subject so that I can try and give these women their dignity back and to let them no they are not insane as some would have them believe. AFter all I am one of these women. Thank you for taking the time to educated us on this subject.

    1. There is a form of dementia called Lewy Bodies where people become paranoid and forget where they put things and think things are being stolen. They also have very fixed beliefs about seeing malicious people, maybe at their door for example, who aren’t there. Sorry but what you describe sounds like a form of dementia.

    2. Hi Susan, technology is a great way to catch any physical gaslighting situations. You can buy motion activated mini cameras fairly cheaply. Most have night time filming capabilities so if anyone is playing games at night the camera will capture it.

  10. I had to leave a job my family desperately needed me to have because my employers were gaslighting me – among other things, one manager “didn’t remember” conversations in which he told me others had also complained about another manager’s condescending and rude behavior (2 workers who preceded me there left for the same “mental anguish” reasons), they said I was the problem when I complained about that rudeness and told them I needed it to stop, they said I’d made things very difficult for them, they told me I was just too sensitive… Now I’m consumed with obsessive negative thinking and terrible doubts about my ability to remain strong in the face of manipulative behavior, should it ever occur again. Are there specific things I can chant to myself to try to overcome this anxiety? I wake up with panic attacks in the middle of the night, and have questioned my actions (and theirs, who would be so awful and manipulative, and why…???), so deeply that I fear I may be losing my sanity. I’ve become paranoid and so self doubting that I can’t conceive of a future employment where this doesn’t happen, so am unable to put all my energy into a new job search. Help! Thank you.

    1. Patricia,
      While I can’t fairly assess or adequately advise with respect to anyone’s particular circumstances from such a distance, I can offer perhaps a comforting thought by pointing to a general principle: At any moment in time you have the absolute power to change a thought from negative in character to positive. That doesn’t mean that negative thoughts will simply disappear and never come back, but you always have the power to change them and to affirm yourself for so doing. That principle governs effective cognitive-behavioral therapy. And while you can do this on your own, should you seek someone’s assistance who operates within the CBT model, they guide and support you in doing that very thing.

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