Do we gaslight or are we being gaslighted by a loved one?

“I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this…”

Mental health professionals use the term “gaslighting” to refer to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions. And it’s always a serious problem, according to professionals.

It may start out with seemingly small offenses. But the problem is that even more-or-less insignificant instances of you questioning your own judgment or reality — thanks to the deliberate intent of someone else — can snowball. You can end up in a cycle of not being able to negotiate your daily life in a way where you are clear minded, can focus, can make sound decisions, and have a sense of well-being. 

Here are some examples of gaslighting to keep in mind…

  • Discounting: A gaslighter may discount your gut instincts, feelings, thoughts, or opinions by saying you’re crazy or making everything up.
  • Denying: They may invalidate your emotions or perception of your experience. 
  • Isolating: They may say no one else feels the same way or that everyone disagrees with you, in order to have you second guess yourself.  
  • Cutting off: In limiting your contact with other people and making themselves a go-between, they control what information you receive.
  • Deflecting: Instead of acknowledging their toxic behavior, they will make your response to it the issue. 
  • Projecting: They may state that you’re mad at them to create conflict instead of coming to you to discuss an issue they have. 
  • Lying: Gaslighters may outright lie to control the information you receive and how you perceive them.

We work with folks who have been in long term relationships, and a few who have been feeling trapped or incarcerated in their own relationship(s). We invite you to schedule a session with one of our affirmative therapists and discuss and process how you can best manage or find ways to get out (if necessary) of any abusive relationship you may be in. 

From UPC’s Mental Health Team [email protected] 


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