Team English -
Created by: Team English -, Last Updated: May 22, 2024


You may have heard this being told to you by a friend, a spouse, or a colleague. “I did nothing.” “Who said I did it?”.  There is a term for this in psychology, that they coin as gaslighting or narcissistic behavior. But have you ever wondered what gaslighting may be? You may have gotten it from a psychological assessment or even in literary books or stories.

What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where one person makes another doubt their own perceptions, memories, and sanity. It often involves denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, creating confusion and self-doubt in the victim. Originating from the 1938 play “Gas Light,” where a husband manipulates his wife by dimming the lights and denying the change, the term now broadly describes any manipulative behavior that undermines an individual’s sense of reality. Recognizing gaslighting is crucial for protecting one’s mental health and seeking appropriate support.

Where does “gaslighting” come from?

The term “gaslighting” originates from the 1938 play “Gas Light” by Patrick Hamilton, and its subsequent film adaptations, where a husband manipulates his wife into doubting her perception by dimming their home’s gas lights and denying any change. This form of psychological manipulation involves denying facts, contradicting the victim’s memories, and presenting false information to make them question their sanity. Over time, “gaslighting” has come to describe any manipulative behavior that causes someone to doubt their reality, extending its usage from personal relationships to professional and political contexts.

Variety of Gaslighting Techniques

Gaslighting can manifest through various techniques, all aimed at undermining a person’s perception of reality. Here are some common gaslighting techniques:

1. Withholding

The gaslighter pretends not to understand or refuses to listen to the victim’s concerns. They might say things like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just trying to confuse me.”

2. Countering

The gaslighter questions the victim’s memory, even if the victim remembers something accurately. Phrases like “You never remember things correctly” or “Are you sure? You have a bad memory” are common.

3. Blocking/Diverting

The gaslighter changes the subject or questions the victim’s thoughts to divert attention. They might say, “Why are you bringing this up?” or “Stop being so paranoid.”

4. Trivializing

The gaslighter belittles or dismisses the victim’s feelings, making them feel insignificant or invalid. Statements like “You’re overreacting” or “You’re too sensitive” are typical examples.

5. Forgetting/Denial

The gaslighter pretends to forget things that have happened or denies things they’ve said. They might claim, “I don’t remember saying that” or “You must be imagining things.”

6. Discrediting

The gaslighter spreads rumors or false information about the victim, causing others to doubt the victim’s credibility. This can include saying things like “They’re always so dramatic” or “You know how they are.”

7. Intimidation

The gaslighter uses threats or aggressive behavior to instill fear and assert control. This could involve yelling, physical threats, or other forms of intimidation.

8. Isolation

The gaslighter isolates the victim from friends, family, or support systems to increase dependency. They might say things like, “They don’t really care about you” or “You don’t need anyone else.”

9. Projection

The gaslighter accuses the victim of the very behaviors they are guilty of, such as lying or cheating. This confuses the victim and deflects blame from the gaslighter.

10. Love Bombing and Devaluation

The gaslighter alternates between intense affection and harsh criticism, creating an emotional roller coaster. They may shower the victim with love and praise, only to abruptly withdraw it and criticize them.

11. Gaslighting by Proxy

The gaslighter recruits other people to help manipulate the victim, either knowingly or unknowingly. This can involve getting friends, family, or colleagues to support their false narratives.

Types of Gaslighting

Gaslighting can occur in various contexts and can take on different forms depending on the relationship dynamics and the intentions of the gaslighter. Here are some common types of gaslighting:

1. Personal Relationships

Romantic Gaslighting: In romantic relationships, one partner manipulates the other to gain control. This can include denying past events, dismissing feelings, and isolating the victim from their support system.

Family Gaslighting: Within families, a parent, sibling, or other relative might manipulate another family member, often to maintain control or avoid responsibility. This can involve rewriting family history or undermining the victim’s confidence.

2. Workplace Gaslighting

Professional Gaslighting: A boss or coworker manipulates an employee to maintain power or control within the workplace. This might involve denying conversations, undermining the employee’s work, or spreading false information about them.

Corporate Gaslighting: A company or organization manipulates employees or the public to avoid accountability. This can include denying wrongdoing, providing false information, or manipulating public perception.

3. Medical Gaslighting

Healthcare Gaslighting: Medical professionals dismiss or downplay a patient’s symptoms, attributing them to psychological causes rather than investigating physical ones. This can lead to misdiagnosis or lack of proper treatment.

4. Political Gaslighting

Governmental Gaslighting: Politicians or political groups use misinformation, denial, and contradiction to manipulate public perception and control narratives. This can include denying facts, spreading false information, or discrediting critics.

5. Cultural and Social Gaslighting

Media Gaslighting: Media outlets or social influencers manipulate information to shape public opinion. This can involve presenting biased information, denying certain events, or creating false narratives.

Cultural Gaslighting: When societal norms or cultural narratives deny the experiences of certain groups, such as minorities or marginalized communities. This can involve rewriting history or dismissing lived experiences.

6. Friendship Gaslighting

Social Gaslighting: Friends manipulate each other to gain control or assert dominance in the friendship. This can include denying previous conversations, spreading rumors, or dismissing the friend’s feelings.

Examples and Signs of Gaslighting and How to Respond

  1. Denial of Reality

    • Example: “I never said that. You must be imagining things.”
    • Sign: The victim feels confused and begins to question their memory of events.
  2. Lying and Deception

    • Example: “You’re just paranoid. That never happened.”
    • Sign: The victim starts to doubt their perceptions and may feel paranoid or anxious.
  3. Contradiction and Confusion

    • Example: “You always get things wrong. How can you be so sure?”
    • Sign: The victim experiences constant second-guessing and uncertainty.
  4. Minimization and Trivialization

    • Example: “You’re overreacting. It’s not that big of a deal.”
    • Sign: The victim feels their emotions are invalidated and begins to believe they are overly sensitive.
  5. Withholding Information

    • Example: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just confusing me.”
    • Sign: The victim feels frustrated and unheard, leading to self-doubt.
  6. Blame Shifting

    • Example: “If you weren’t so insecure, this wouldn’t be happening.”
    • Sign: The victim takes on blame unnecessarily and feels guilty.
  7. Projection

    • Example: “You’re the one who’s lying and cheating, not me.”
    • Sign: The victim feels confused and defensive, questioning their own behavior.
  8. Isolation

    • Example: “Your friends don’t really care about you. You’re better off without them.”
    • Sign: The victim becomes isolated and more dependent on the gaslighter.
  9. Using Compassion as a Weapon

    • Example: “You know I love you, but you’re just too sensitive sometimes.”
    • Sign: The victim feels conflicted, caught between affection and criticism.
  10. Gaslighting by Proxy

    • Example: “Even your friends think you’re crazy. They told me so.”
    • Sign: The victim feels alienated and begins to distrust their support system.
  11. Creating False Realities

    • Example: “Everyone knows you’re not good at remembering things. Are you sure that happened?”
    • Sign: The victim questions their reality and memory, feeling increasingly uncertain.
  12. Intimidation and Threats

    • Example: “If you keep bringing this up, I’m going to leave you.”
    • Sign: The victim feels fearful and may avoid addressing issues.

How to Respond to Gaslighting

  1. Recognize the Signs

    • Acknowledge that gaslighting is occurring. Trust your feelings and perceptions.
    • Action: Keep a journal of events and conversations to validate your experiences.
  2. Seek Support

    • Reach out to trusted friends, family, or a therapist to gain perspective and support.
    • Action: Discuss your concerns with someone you trust to confirm your experiences.
  3. Set Boundaries

    • Establish clear boundaries with the gaslighter to protect your mental health.
    • Action: Communicate your limits and enforce them consistently.
  4. Stay Calm and Collected

    • Respond to gaslighting attempts with calmness and confidence to avoid escalating the situation.
    • Action: Use phrases like, “I remember things differently,” or “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”
  5. Document Evidence

    • Keep records of incidents and interactions to have concrete examples of gaslighting behavior.
    • Action: Save emails, texts, and take notes on conversations.
  6. Focus on Self-Care

    • Prioritize your well-being through self-care practices and activities that reinforce your sense of reality.
    • Action: Engage in hobbies, exercise, and spend time with supportive people.
  7. Consider Professional Help

    • If gaslighting persists, consider seeking help from a mental health professional or counselor.
    • Action: Find a therapist experienced in dealing with emotional abuse and gaslighting.
  8. Plan for Safety

    • If the gaslighting is part of a broader pattern of abuse, make a safety plan.
    • Action: Contact local resources, such as domestic violence shelters or hotlines, for advice and assistance.

Gaslighting in a Relationship

Gaslighting in a relationship is a form of emotional abuse where one partner manipulates the other, causing them to question their own reality, memory, and perceptions. This behavior erodes the victim’s self-esteem, creates dependency, and leads to severe emotional distress. Common tactics include denying past events, undermining the victim’s confidence, shifting blame, minimizing their feelings, and isolating them from friends and family. Recognizing these behaviors is crucial for victims to seek support and regain their sense of reality.


  1. Denial of Reality: “I never said that. You must be remembering it wrong.”
  2. Undermining Confidence: “You can’t do anything right. You always mess things up.”
  3. Blame Shifting: “If you weren’t so demanding, I wouldn’t have to lie to you.”
  4. Minimizing Feelings: “You’re overreacting. It’s not a big deal.”
  5. Isolation: “Your friends don’t really care about you. They’re just using you.”

Gaslighting Examples in Marriage

  1. “I never said I would take out the trash. You must have imagined it.”
  2. “You’re terrible with money. That’s why I have to handle all our finances.”
  3. “If you weren’t so needy, I wouldn’t have to work late all the time.”
  4. “You’re being dramatic about me forgetting our anniversary. It’s just a date.”
  5. “Your family is always against us. You should stop talking to them.”

Gaslighting Examples by Parents

  1. “We never punished you unfairly. You’re making that up.”
  2. “Your grades were never that good. Your memory is off.”
  3. “If you weren’t so difficult, we wouldn’t have to discipline you so much.”
  4. “You’re upset over nothing. You’re too sensitive.”
  5. “You only think you had a rough childhood because you don’t remember things correctly.”

Gaslighting Examples in Friendship

  1. “I never said I would meet you. You must be confused.”
  2. “You’re too paranoid. No one is talking behind your back.”
  3. “If you weren’t so busy, maybe we’d hang out more.”
  4. “You’re overreacting about me canceling plans. It’s not a big deal.”
  5. “Your other friends don’t really like you. You should just stick with me.”

Gaslighting Examples Phrases

  1. “You’re remembering it wrong.”
  2. “You’re too sensitive.”
  3. “Stop being so paranoid.”
  4. “I was just joking. Can’t you take a joke?”
  5. “You’re overreacting. It’s not a big deal.”

Gaslighting Examples in Family

  1. “We never said that to you. You’re making things up.”
  2. “You’re imagining things. That never happened.”
  3. “You’re always so dramatic. Why do you have to make a big deal out of everything?”
  4. “You need to toughen up. You’re too emotional.”
  5. “Why can’t you be more like your sibling? They never cause problems.”

Gaslighting Examples at Work

  1. “I never assigned you that task. You must be confused.”
  2. “You’re misremembering the deadline. I told you it was due today.”
  3. “Everyone here thinks you’re overreacting. It’s just a minor issue.”
  4. “You’re too sensitive. It’s just constructive criticism.”
  5. “If you can’t handle the pressure, maybe this job isn’t for you.”

Gaslighting Examples with Siblings

  1. “Mom and Dad never said that. You’re just trying to stir up trouble.”
  2. “You’re always exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad.”
  3. “You’re just jealous because I’m more successful than you.”
  4. “Stop being so sensitive. I was just teasing you.”
  5. “You always remember things wrong. That’s not how it happened at all.”

Gaslighting Examples in Media

  1. “Our initial report was accurate. Any claims to the contrary are just conspiracy theories.”
  2. “You’re misinterpreting the facts. What we said was completely different.”
  3. “The critics are just trying to discredit us. There’s no real controversy here.”
  4. “The other news outlets are biased. We’re the only ones telling the truth.”
  5. “If you believe those reports, you’re just being naive. Trust us instead.”

Gaslighting Examples in Politics

  1. “I never made that promise. You must have misunderstood.”
  2. “The opposition is spreading lies about me. Don’t believe their false narratives.”
  3. “Those statistics are manipulated. The real numbers tell a different story.”
  4. “The media is biased against me. They’re distorting the facts.”
  5. “Any criticism of my policies is just fake news. Don’t be fooled by it.”

Gaslighting Examples in Movies

  1. “Gaslight” (1944): A husband manipulates his wife into thinking she’s going insane by making subtle changes to their home and insisting she’s imagining things.
  2. “The Girl on the Train” (2016): A woman is led to question her memory and sanity as she’s manipulated by her ex-husband and others.
  3. “Gone Girl” (2014): A wife frames her husband for her disappearance, manipulating public perception and his sense of reality.
  4. “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968): Rosemary is made to believe she’s paranoid and imagining things while her husband and a cult manipulate her for their own purposes.
  5. “Sleeping with the Enemy” (1991): A woman escapes her abusive husband who has been controlling and manipulating her reality.

What to Do If Someone Is Gaslighting You

Gaslighting is a serious form of emotional abuse that can leave you doubting your own perceptions and reality. If you suspect someone is gaslighting you, it’s crucial to take steps to protect yourself and regain your confidence.

Steps to Take

1. Recognize the Signs

  • Identify the patterns of behavior that make you question your reality.
  • Action: Acknowledge that gaslighting is happening and trust your instincts.

2. Keep a Record

  • Document interactions and incidents to have concrete evidence.
  • Action: Write down conversations, save emails, and keep a journal of events.

3. Seek Support

  • Talk to trusted friends, family, or a therapist about your experiences.
  • Action: Share your concerns to gain perspective and validation from others.

4. Set Boundaries

  • Clearly define and communicate your limits to the gaslighter.
  • Action: Assertively tell them what behavior you will not tolerate.

5. Stay Calm

  • Respond to gaslighting attempts with calmness and confidence to avoid escalation.
  • Action: Use phrases like, “I remember it differently,” or “Let’s agree to disagree.”

6. Practice Self-Care

  • Engage in activities that reinforce your well-being and sense of reality.
  • Action: Prioritize hobbies, exercise, and spend time with supportive people.

7. Seek Professional Help

  • Consider consulting a mental health professional for guidance and support.
  • Action: Find a therapist experienced in dealing with emotional abuse and gaslighting.

8. Evaluate the Relationship

  • Assess whether the relationship is healthy and worth continuing.
  • Action: Decide if it’s best to distance yourself or end the relationship for your well-being.

9. Educate Yourself

  • Learn more about gaslighting to better understand and recognize it.
  • Action: Read books, articles, and resources on emotional abuse and gaslighting.

10. Plan for Safety

  • If the gaslighting is part of a broader pattern of abuse, develop a safety plan.
  • Action: Contact local resources, such as domestic violence shelters or hotlines, for advice and assistance.

How does a Person Gaslight You?

Gaslighting Tip Sheet

Example of Gaslighting Template

Gaslighting Example

1. The Sociology of Gaslighting

2. Warning Signs of Gaslighting

3. Gaslighting Template

4. Gaslighting Workplace

5. Gaslighting in Indian Politics

6. Psychological Gaslighting

7. Institutional Betrayal and Gaslighting

How to Avoid Getting Gaslighted

Now that we know what gaslighting is and the signs of being gaslighted, the next thing we need to know is how to avoid it. If you believe there is no way to avoid this, there are actually ways. This is only when you are familiar with what is going on.

  1. Make Narrative Notes

    Remember this, when you are gaslighted, the manipulator wants you to believe that your side of the story does not exist. To avoid this, make daily narrative reports or notes about your day, write out every single detail and the words or the conversation you may have. Add the people who you may have encountered during that day and list them down. That way, the next time you feel like you are being gaslighted, you have the notes to prove that you are not losing yourself.

  2. Avoid Arguing

    One thing that manipulators especially narcissists would love to get you to is arguing. They love to argue and for some reasons, often find a loop hole that they believe would make them win. The best thing to do before you get pulled in, is to avoid arguing with the person at all costs. It is not worth your dignity nor your mental health. If you are not sure about anything you may also take some mental health assessment.

  3. Do Some Research

    Do research on the tell tale signs of gaslighting. Not only will this help you, it will also help others around you. If you are not as completely sure if you are a victim of gaslighting, you may take an authentic assessment. But always keep your options open, do research, understand the reason why they gaslight you and how to be able to avoid it completely. How to cut toxic people regardless of who they are out of your life.

  4. Boundaries Should Be Clear

    One thing to learn how to avoid getting gaslighted is to know your boundaries. Let everyone know that this or these are your boundaries and if they do not respect you for it, cut them off. It is always best to have people who understand and respect you and your personal space than to let others walk over you disrespecting everything about you.

  5. Find Help

    As easy as it is to say than to get done, never be afraid to ask for help from someone. May it be from a family member that you trust, a friend or a doctor. Seeking help from people does not make you feel less of a person, nor does it make you weak. Rather, it makes you strong and you are really putting yourself first and your mental and emotional health.

Why do people gaslight?

When it comes to nature vs nurture, people who gaslight often come from a bad home, a bad childhood, or even worse, their personal trait is affected by the environment they grow up in. In some cultures, they see gaslighting as a form of abuse, while others see it as something normal or part of the norm. There is no real reason as to why people gaslight.  Gaslighting as we know is a form of mental and emotional abuse. The reason why some people do it is, they enjoy hurting others. They enjoy letting others know that they are the boss.

What are the common signs of someone being gaslighted?

The common signs of a person being gaslighted are: they ask for forgiveness even for the smallest things, they have no self-confidence or very little to no self-confidence. They are also paranoid of some people. These are just some of the signs of someone being gaslighted, as well as having to ask if something really happened. As those who suffer from this are often told their version of reality does not exist.

What are the signs of being gaslighted?

As we know that gaslighting is a type of warning label often used by people against others without consent. The signs are: makes you question yourself, insists you have amnesia, insensitive of your needs, apologizing for a lot of things, and less to no self confidence.

How can gaslighting affect mental health?

Gaslighting can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a distorted sense of reality.

Can gaslighting occur in any relationship?

Yes, gaslighting can occur in romantic relationships, family dynamics, friendships, and workplaces.

What are examples of gaslighting in a relationship?

Examples include denying past events, blaming the victim, minimizing feelings, and isolating the partner from friends and family.

How can I respond to gaslighting?

Recognize the signs, seek support, set boundaries, document interactions, and prioritize self-care.

Why do people gaslight others?

People gaslight to gain control, avoid accountability, manipulate others, or protect themselves from their own insecurities.

Is gaslighting intentional?

Gaslighting can be both intentional and unintentional, but it always results in the victim doubting their reality.

How can I help someone who is being gaslighted?

Offer support, listen without judgment, validate their feelings, encourage them to seek professional help, and help them recognize the signs of gaslighting.

People who gaslight others are aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it. They do not hold a person’s worth any value. It goes without saying, being emotionally and mentally bullied or abuse is not a funny business whatsoever. It is not something that people can just shrug off as if it were nothing. It is not something that people can choose to ignore and go on with their lives. Gaslighting is real and there are a lot of people who are suffering from it but have no idea what it is about or what should they do about it.

AI Generator

Text prompt

Add Tone

10 Examples of Public speaking

20 Examples of Gas lighting