Hello Psych2Goers and welcome to another article! Hope you enjoy reading this article and that you find it useful.
Gaslighting appears to be a word used a lot in the media these days, but what does Gaslighting actually mean?
The term originates in the psychological manipulation by a husband towards his wife in Patrick Hamilton’s 1939 stage play Gas Light and the film adaptations released in 1940 and 1944 (Wikipedia Contributors, 2019). In the story, the husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things incorrectly, or delusional when she points out these changes. The play’s title alludes to how the abusive husband slowly dims the gas lights in their home, while pretending nothing has changed, in an effort to make his wife doubt her own perceptions.
This article is purely for educational purposes and is not designed to imply that what is discussed in the article means that somebody is gaslighting you or that you are gaslighting somebody else. If you suspect that gaslighting may be occurring in your relationships, then seek support from a professional.
Here are 10 examples of how Gaslighting sounds:
“What did I do to you?” Somebody who responds saying this may genuinely not know what they have done, but people who are gaslighting, are aware that they are doing something to hurt you and are pretending that they don’t know. If this a regular response, they are denying the impact they are having on you and making you question it, then it could be as sign of gaslighting.
“Everyone around you is a problem, the problem is you.” This is sometimes used as way to shut down the conversation or dialogue for whatever is happening. This type of language is often referred to as ‘victim blaming’ where the person gaslighting will make statements which cause the other person to feel like they are the problem, even when they have fallen victim to something such as bullying or abuse.
“I’m sorry you feel that way.” After a person has hurt you, if they say something like this, then it is not an apology. It’s a means of making you feel like you are the problem and that they are sorry that you feel the way you do rather than apologising for what they have done or how they have made you feel.
” I don’t remember saying that. I think you’ve made that up.” This is the ‘go to’ phrase that a gaslighter will say intentionally to get you questioning your experience, behaviour and thoughts in order to take the focus off them.
“It’s your anxiety that made do the things I do.” This is a common response when people get called out for their behaviour. I am no stranger to this one; in my first long term relationship, they would use this as a reason to justify their own negative behaviour when in fact, they were responsible for their own actions but instead chose to blame to me.
“You need help.” This is used by gaslighters to again, imply that you are the problem and that you need to address your issues rather than them working through their own issues. This is a shut down response to avoid working through things with you.
“It’s your fault.” People who gaslight will neglect any responsibility for their actions or for a situation. Instead they will directly blame others; this can be a repetitive cycle where you may be made to feel like something is your fault even if it is isn’t. You m may even apologise for things which aren’t your fault to make peace with them.
“You’re too emotional.” This implies that your characteristics are seen as a flaw and this can make you question your own sense of who you are.
“It’s not a big deal.” People who gaslight have a tendency to minimise the impact that something has on another person. They may make you feel like you are making a bigger deal out of something when you are within your right to talk about things which are bothering you and express yourself in a healthy way.
“Why are you so defensive all the time? You are attacking me.” This is a common phrase used when you challenge a gaslighter. They have a tendency to flip the conversation towards you and make out like you are the one who is the in the wrong. They will say you are defensive and that by attacking them, they are then the victim.
I hope that this article has been useful and that you have enjoyed reading it. Please remember that these are only some of the things people who intentionally gaslight will say to you. You may have heard these before or even said them yourself but this does not necessarily mean that you have been gaslighted or the you are a gaslighter. Gaslighting is intentional; people who are gaslighting will do with knowledge about what they are saying and what they are doing. Please seek further help or guidance if you suspect that gaslighting has played a role in your life.
Keep safe and watch this space for more articles coming soon!
24 phrases ‘gaslighters’ use against you – PR Daily. (2020, February 2). PR Daily. https://www.prdaily.com/24-phrases-gaslighters-use-against-you/
Wikipedia Contributors. (2019, May 17). Gaslighting. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting