What is gaslighting and where does the term come from? – The Sun | The Sun

IF someone is making you question what you feel or what you see isn't real, you could be a victim of gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a cruel method of abuse that partners, friends, colleagues or family can use to make you think you are crazy.

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is essentially a control tactic used to manipulate others by using deceptive behaviour to make you doubt your own sanity – often making the victim feel like they are going crazy, questioning their actions, while explaining away their own.

Worryingly, we are seeing more of this on our TV screens, with reality shows like Love Island criticised for allowing such manipulative behaviour among young couples.

Victims usually start to question their memory and perception as a result of psychological manipulation, with gaslighters tending to twist words or convince victims they said or did something they didn't.

They will try to make you look unreasonable or irrational, distorting reality to make you feel guilty – trivialising your feelings and excusing their own bad behaviour.

Gaslight tactics are frequently used by sociopaths, narcissists and abusive or controlling partners in relationships.

The effects can be devastating and damaging to mental health.

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Where does the term gaslighting come from?

The term 'gaslighting' originated from the 1944 film Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.

In the movie, a husband convinces his wife that she's gone insane.

It begins when he starts disappearing from the apartment at random times.

Then, as the story unfolds, it is revealed that he has in fact murdered the lady who lives upstairs in their apartment block and is stealing her jewellery.

While he visits the upstairs flat he switches on the lights, which dims the lights in his own apartment.

When his wife notices and questions the event, her husband dismisses her and says she is mistaken.

Over time, she starts believing she has imagined it all, thanks to her husband's calculated and systematic actions and responses.

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Is gaslighting a form of abuse in relationships?

Gaslighting is a psychological form of emotional abuse in relationships which can have a serious negative impact on mental health.

Often partners will cause a victim to question their own feelings and sanity – giving the abusive one in a relationship a lot of power and control.

Once an abusive partner has destroyed the victim's ability to trust their own thoughts and feelings – the victim is more likely to stay in the unhealthy relationship out of fear.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, gaslighting typically happens very gradually over time in a relationship, with the abusive partner's actions seeming harmless at first.

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Information on the charity website states: "Over time, however, these abusive patterns continue and a victim can become confused, anxious, isolated, and depressed, and they can lose all sense of what is actually happening.

"Then they start relying on the abusive partner more and more to define reality, which creates a very difficult situation to escape."

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