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A Guide on Gaslighting: How to Spot it and Shut it Down

A Guide on Gaslighting: How to Spot it and Shut it Down

A Guide on Gaslighting How to Spot it and Shut it Down TheMindFool

When it comes to your relationships in life, you hope that most of them are positive. Your intimate and platonic relationships are hopefully based on mutual respect, trust, understanding, compassion, love (for romantic relationships) and shared interests, values and hobbies. Positive relationships can have an excellent benefit to your mental and even physical health. However, some relationships can become, or are, toxic. That is, they are not good for you because the other person is being abusive, aggressive, violent or otherwise unpleasant.

That’s why it’s important to understand what gaslighting is, how to spot it, and how to shut it down. This is as useful if you want to study a Masters in Social Work online or simply prevent yourself from being gaslit. This helpful and informative article will share a guide to gaslighting and how you can prevent someone from using this deceitful, manipulative behaviour against you. Continue reading to learn more.

A Broad Overview of Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse when a person, usually an intimate partner, but not always, causes someone to question their sanity, memories, or perception and understanding of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel anxious, confused, or unable to trust themselves or their thinking.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the name of a 1938 play and 1944 film, Gaslight. In this work of fiction, a husband manipulates his wife into thinking that she is crazy. The term has been used to describe this behaviour for a few decades at least.

Examples of Gaslighting

Now, we’ll share some common examples of this behaviour, which family violence experts and researchers have given some labels to.


This is when someone pretends they do not understand the conversation or refuses to listen to make a person doubt themselves. For example, they might say, “Now you are just confusing me; I don’t know what you’re talking about”, or “That’s nonsense; it makes no sense”.


This occurs when a person disregards or belittles how someone else feels. They may accuse them of being “overly sensitive” or claim they are overreacting in response to valid concerns.


This is a behaviour when someone questions a person’s memory or recollection of events. They may say things like, ” or “I think you are forgetting what really happened, that didn’t happen that way. Or “Are you sure about that? You have a really bad memory.”


This classic gaslighting technique involves changing the focus of a discussion by questioning the other person’s credibility or facts. For example, they might say, “That is just nonsense you read on the internet. It is not real. That’s all made up.”


Denial involves a person who uses gaslighting behaviour, refusing to take responsibility for their actions and words. They may do this by pretending to forget what happened, saying they did not do it, it didn’t happen, or blaming their behaviour on someone else, usually the gaslighting victim.


Some research suggests that a person may intentionally use negative stereotypes about someone’s race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexuality, or age to gaslight them. For example, they may say that “no one will believe you” if a woman tries to report domestic violence or “you’re just overly sensitive because you’re gay.”

The Impacts of Gaslighting

It is important to note that gaslighting is indeed a form of psychological abuse, and in intimate partner relationships or when used on family members, it is a form of family violence. Experiencing family violence has profound impacts on a person’s mental health, well-being, sense of self and ability to participate meaningfully in daily life. Some impacts of gaslighting include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety, ranging from slight to severe
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Feeling uncertain of your perceptions
  • Constantly apologising to the abusive person
  • Believing you are irrational or “crazy”
  • Defending the gaslighting person’s behaviour to others
  • Feeling incompetent, worthless or losing confidence
  • Becoming withdrawn or isolated from others
  • Frequently questioning if you are remembering things correctly.

How Gaslighting Works

Gaslighting is a method of gaining control over someone, like all forms of abuse. It works by breaking down a person’s trust and faith in themselves while increasing how much they trust or depend on the abusive person. The end goal of this is for the abuser to gain coercive control over their victim.

In romantic relationships, gaslighting often begins gradually. The abusive person gains their partner’s trust, sometimes with a “honeymoon period” in which there is no abusive behaviour and everything seems fine.

Then, the gaslighter begins suggesting that their romantic partner is unreliable, that they are forgetful, or that they are mentally unstable. They do this by using the methods we’ve shared above.

Over time, this can cause the victim to question if their partner is right and they are actually unreliable, forgetful or mentally unwell. The more this happens, the more power and influence the person using gaslighting gains.

Unable to trust themselves, the victim may start to rely heavily on their partner to recall memories of events or make basic decisions for them. They may also feel they cannot leave the relationship due to this, as they have a false perception that they can’t cope with life.

How to Turn Off the Gas

Now that you’re aware of what gaslighting is, the common methods used to gaslight someone, and why someone will use this awful behaviour, let’s explore how you can turn off the gas and shut this behaviour down.

You can start by sorting out what is true compared to what actually happened in a situation or event. This is to counter the Countering behaviour we explained above. When you have a conversation when the gaslighter distorts the truth, jot it down afterwards, and what was said. A record of the conversation may reveal the tricks they use to confuse and abuse you.

Another tip to turn off the gas is if you notice a conversation being steered towards distortion when they might attempt to use Diverting or Denial. Simply stop the conversation. The more you engage in it, the more chance the gaslighter has to continue their abusive agenda. If you get the sense you’re engaged in a power struggle, you probably are, when it’s your power vs their attempt to control you and gain some for themselves.

In Conclusion

This helpful and informative article has covered all about gaslighting – the abusive, psychologically violent practice used by some people. You’ve learned what gaslighting is, how you can spot it, and the common techniques used by gaslighters to abuse their victims. Finally, we’ve shared how you can turn off the gas and shut this abusive and manipulative behaviour down for good.