Top 10 Signs of Gaslighting


We as humans think that we make our decisions and perform tasks based on our understanding, but the truth is that 90% of our life decisions are made unconsciously. A large part of our mind, called the unconscious mind, comprises our childhood programming and learning that are fed inside our mind from the day we were born till now. It acts as a feedback loop, which is the real cause of our current life condition. So basically, the effect of your childhood trauma of growing up in a bad environment will profoundly impact your personality, and it can transform you into a short-tempered or dominating person that may fail to deal with their psychological issues and end up projecting them on others.

what is gaslighting

In this blog, we will talk about a psychological condition known as gaslighting, which is the act of emotional abuse where someone tries to control you by convincing you to doubt your experience of reality or even your sanity. We will cover the reasons for it and also different types of gaslighting. But the main focus of this blog is to share with you the top 10 signs of gaslighting so that you can recognize manipulative and emotionally abusive people–and break free.

What Is Gaslighting?

A form of psychological abuse in which untrue information is presented to disorient a victim. The abuser manipulates their victim by accusing them of being crazy or imagining things. The perpetrator will try to make the victim doubt their perceptions and memories, thus making them more dependent on the abuser. It can also be used to control someone who is already vulnerable.

The term “gaslighting” was coined in 1944 by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw when he wrote his play “Pygmalion” about a man who tries to convince his wife that she has imagined things for years so that he can continue abusing her without any consequences. (1)

The abuser gradually and cunningly plants the seed of uncertainty and self-doubt in the victim’s mind. The harsh truth is that these types of manipulative actions are performed by your close ones only. It can be your father, spouse, a friend, or someone with whom you live. 

The only end goal of the abuser is to gain control over the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions and control their life according to their needs. In recent research done by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the data showed that 74% of the female victims of domestic violence also experience gaslighting either their partner or ex-partner. (2)

Unconscious Gaslighting

Sometimes the gaslighter is aware of their action, and their objective is only to manipulate you. This often happens in the workplace where people from higher hierarchy try to dominate others, or sometimes colleagues do this. 

 In other cases, the gaslighter is not fully aware of their actions and has no intention of doing so. This is called unintentional gaslighting or unconscious gaslighting. It often occurs in close relationships and with parents or spouses when they have no intent to harm you as they are out of their actions. Chance is that your life may be affected by gaslighting parents, friends, or co-workers.

What is Narcissist Gaslighting?

Narcissist gaslighting is a form of abuse where the abuser denies, distorts, or plays down their abusive behavior. The victim may feel confused and uncertain about what has happened and why. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Gaslighting and narcissism go hand in hand; in both cases, the abuser tries to dominate the victim in multiple ways. It is a type of disorder of personality in which people inflate a deep sense of importance and attention for them. This leads them to harm other emotions and leaves no room for empathy.

Some of the most common narcissist gaslighting examples are you’re sensitive, and I never meant that way. You are always the problem, and I am doing this for you only. These are some of the ways narcissists try to persuade verbally.

Also Read: breathing techniques for anxiety

10 Signs Of A Gaslighting

Here are ten signs you need to know to identify if you’re being gaslighted.

  1. The Person Is A Falsifier: The most common trait in all gas lighters is that they tell lies deliberately. They are always ready with stories and false proof to validate their opinions. But the problem is not the lie but rather the nonacceptance of their behavior. Even if you prove that whatever reason they are presenting is entirely false, they still won’t agree with you. They structure their mindset and do not let anyone break it as others’ opinions hardly matter to them, no matter how right it is. They lie very subtly in the beginning, then they gradually lie more frequently, and it becomes so familiar that eventually, the victim cannot distinguish between fabrication and actual reality. 
  1.  Feel Like You Don’t Fit Anywhere: Social acceptance is essential for everyone. We all want to be known, honored, and respected in the environment that we live in. But you are being gaslighted, then you will start feeling that you do not fit in anywhere. You will begin spending time alone and do not like socializing much as you think you do not belong to the places. This can also be called self-gaslighting.
  1. They Blame You For Everything: Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Only genuine people have the guts to accept them and work on them to rectify them. But if you are with a gaslighter, then there is no way they will get their mistake as they will never accept that they made it in the first place. They will every time twitch the truth and turn the argument around you as you are responsible for everything wrong. And automatically, the blame will shift onto you. You may have nothing to do with any of these acquisitions, but still, the abuser will continue to persist until you feel guilty.
  1. They Frequently Let You Down: The trait of gaslighters is that they fail to keep their promises, so their actions never match their words. They always keep their victims unsure and uncertain. You constantly have to make backup plans because you know that they won’t show up. And every time the promise is broken, you start to question yourself is it worth it to continue?
  1. You Are Never Enough: If you are in a relationship with someone, you may try every possible effort to make it the perfect one. And it feels perfect when your partner notices even tiny steps of yours and appreciates them. But unfortunately, if you are with a gaslighter, then none of your efforts will be enough for them, no matter how hard you make it. They will try to find fault even in the minor thing. Nothing will satisfy them. 
  1. You Question And Doubt Yourself: Having your self-image is fundamentally essential. It matters what you think about yourself. It helps us define our values, beliefs, and ethics. But unfortunately, one thing that the gas lighters deliberately do is that they shred this image of yours through persistent lies such as you are remembering that wrong, you never did that, you are not capable. The result of the consistent contradiction is so intense that the victim gradually starts doubting the things that they know about themselves. Suppose you are with someone who claims to learn more about you than you do. Then definitely, they are a gal lighter.
  1. They Use Your Fears Against You: We all fear something, whether it’s a physical thing, a situation, or a place. The Gaslighters perfectly know what triggers you emotionally and what your fears are and use them against you from time to time. This is a technique they use to scare the victim to do what they want. The victim develops a mindset that if they disagree with a gaslighter, they will end up alone.
  1. You Are Now Isolated: If you are wondering where your friends went, and how you have turned from a socially active person to a complete loner, then this is a vital sign that you are being gaslighted. The gaslighters affect your relationship with others by spreading lies and manipulation. Eventually, you will end up being dependent on only one person, and that is them.
  1. You Question Everything: By this, we do not mean to question everything out of curiosity, which is a good thing. But instead, because of constant manipulation and mental harm, the victim starts questioning their existence. They ask for their sanity and destroy every aspect of their reality. They kind of develop an existential crisis.
  1. Constant Mood Swing: One of the most disturbing attributes of a gaslighter is that you cannot quickly tell how their current mood is. One moment they love you, and in another, they hate you. The reason behind this fluctuation is that they unconsciously fail to distinguish between their own emotions, so they end up projecting them on the victim.

Treatment Of Gaslighting

It is always easier to criticize people for their behavior and psychological affairs because they mostly choose to condemn others instead of trying to understand them. You need to know that every effect has a cause, and if you closely analyze the lives of people who are dominating, you will realize that they must have been to some childhood trauma or abuse that shaped their personality in such a way. 

Such kinds of people have a lot to say. The only treatment you can give them is to listen to them. Or else you can take them for several therapies.

No matter how close your relationship is and how important the person is, it is not worth continuing if it is affecting your mental peace. Gaslighting can be dangerous for both the abuser as well as the victim. Someone who wants to control others is also in prison for their programming. To understand and to be understood is all that we ask for. I hope this article has been valuable for you. You can identify a case of gaslighting by using the signs mentioned in this blog. Also, please do not fail to share it with someone who needs it. Thank you for reading.

Sejal is qualified in health sciences from Yale University and has a degree in Psychology from University of Michigan. She is currently pursuing her Master's in clinical psychology from Gujarat University. Her aim is to aid people in improving their health and achieve fit and healthy bodies and wishes to propagate her knowledge to everyone for their betterment.

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