Do you find yourself questioning your own reality? Do you constantly second-guess your experiences or think you are "going crazy?" If you answered 'yes' to these questions, you might be experiencing gaslighting.
So what exactly is gaslighting?
The term gaslighting came about after the 1938 play and then the 1944 movie titled “Gas Light.” The movie, featuring film stars Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer is all about a husband who tries to convince his wife as well as other people that she is insane. In order to do this, he starts manipulating and moving around objects in her environment and then insisting she is imagining things when she points these changes out. The husband often dims the gas lights in their home, while pretending nothing has changed, in an effort to further make his wife doubt her own perceptions. He also begins to isolate her, telling her it’s for her own good. His goal is to make her go insane and have her committed to a mental institution.
After the film came out, the term gaslighting became a way to describe someone who is intentionally manipulating another person’s perception of reality through psychological abuse and manipulation.
What constitutes gaslighting?
When gaslighting occurs, the manipulations are typically small and happen over time, which allows the victimizer to push the boundaries and gain control over the victim before they are really aware of what’s happening. In addition to denying a person’s experience, gaslighting can often involve the following:
Insistence that the victim is "selfish"
Verbal abuse of the victim or belittling (things like name calling, “you’re stupid,” you’re crazy” or “you’re too sensitive”)
Isolating the victim from others.
Blaming the victim for anything and everything
Some ways to protect yourself against gaslighting are:
Share your experience with a trusted outsider and asking for their perspective
Practice assertiveness of your own boundaries
Get professional help and support