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The term gaslighting comes from the 1938 play GAS LIGHT. In it, the man makes his wife think she’s losing her mind in order to get her committed. It later appeared in a 2007 book by Dr. Robin Stern called The Gaslight Effect.

One of the most talked-about tools today for manipulation is gaslighting. It is a method of destroying someone by making the person doubt themselves. In gaslighting, an abuser tries to control a victim by making them believe they’ve imagined something happened. A partner might do something abusive, then deny it. The person receiving the abuse may begin to question their memory and believe that they're mentally unfit or too sensitive. The abusive person may support this belief by accusing the victim of these actions.

In her book, Stern says that people gaslight because being right allows them to validate themselves. The gaslighter sometimes gains a feeling of superiority. This often happens in three distinct stages, according to Stern, though not every gaslighting dynamic involves all three stages.

· Disbelief. Someone displays gaslighting behavior. Not realizing it, you brush it off as a one-time event.
· Defense. After it occurs a few more times, you start to defend yourself.
· Depression. You begin to accept the person’s vision of reality and try to earn their approval. The denial of true reality disconnects and causes denial of actual truth. You begin to feel hopeless. Depression sets in.
Getting support from a mental health professional offers an unbiased look at what has been happing to you. A therapist can also teach skills in dealing with gaslighting. They can offer you ways to identify what is going on and cope with it. With help, you can return to yourself.


Gas Light--Play, 1938

“GASLIGHT”--Movie, 1944

11 Red Flags of Gaslighting in a Relationship

How to Recognize Gaslighting and Get Help, Susan York Morris and Crystal Raypole



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