Gaslighting isn’t an argument – it’s a form of emotional abuse

September 20, 2022, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Gaslighting has been in the news a lot lately but the term is not well understood by many people.  


What is gaslighting?


The term comes from the play Gas Light in which a scheming husband tries to convince his wife that she has lost her mind. As part of the attempt, he dims all the lights in her house but tells her that she is imagining the dimming of the gas lights.


It is defined as:


gerund or present participle: gaslighting

1. manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

"in the first episode, Karen Valentine is being gaslighted by her husband"


It is most harmful when the person who is gaslighting you is a partner, parent, friend or boss. When these people challenge you on what you know is true they can make you question yourself, your beliefs and even your sanity.


Why do people gaslight others?


As a form of abuse, it is a way to gain control over others. It is a form of bullying and it helps to shape a conversation to make the bully seem right and the victim at fault. It is manipulation.


How can you tell if you are being gaslighted?


You may notice someone who is using this technique to gain power over you by denying things they have said and done. They may accuse you of forgetting the conversation, calling you too sensitive, confused and crazy. They may even change the story to favour themselves and make you look at fault. Over time you may being to question your memory of many things.


Why is Gaslighting Harmful?


As time passes you can begin to doubt your instincts, your feelings and your memories. You may begin to believe that you are indeed too sensitive and find yourself apologizing for things that you didn’t do, or taking responsibility for the gaslighter’s behaviour and actions.


Who can gaslight you?


Anyone who has regular access to you and has a chance to exert control over you. This can be a family member, a spouse or significant other, a salesperson or even healthcare providers.


What should you do if you are being gaslit?


No healthy relationship should have these behaviours. Try to step back and examine the situation objectively. Step away and protect your mental health. You are NOT the problem.



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