Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser manipulates the victim into doubting their own perceptions and memories. Gaslighting can take many forms, including denying events or information that the victim knows to be true, causing the victim to doubt their own memories or perceptions, and manipulating evidence to support their own versions of events.
Gaslighting can be very confusing and disorienting for the victim, as they may feel like they cannot trust their own perceptions or memories. They may begin to question their own reality and feel a sense of uncertainty and insecurity about their own experiences.
Symptoms of Gaslighting Include:
- Difficulty making decisions
- Difficulty trusting one’s own perceptions or memories
- Feeling confused or disoriented
- Feeling like one is “going crazy”
- Feeling isolated or alone
- Difficulty expressing oneself
- Low self-esteem
Gaslighting can have a severe impact on a victim’s mental and emotional well-being, as it can cause them to doubt their own reality and experiences. It can also lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and helplessness.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing gaslighting, it is important to seek support from a registered / regulated Psychotherapist. This is vastly different from friends because the Psychotherapist is able to take a more objective position, and highlight what’s going in your emotional experiences. We are also able to help you achieve clarity regarding confusing mental processes that can keep you in a loop.
It is also important to remember that gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. With the right support, individuals who have experienced gaslighting can learn to rebuild their confidence and trust in themselves and their perceptions.
Psychotherapy can be a helpful treatment for individuals who have experienced gaslighting, as it can provide a safe and supportive space for them to process and heal from their experiences.
If you’re wondering what psychotherapy for gaslighting can look like, here’s an example.
In psychotherapy for gaslighting victims, the therapist may help the client identify and challenge any negative thought patterns or beliefs that may have been reinforced by the gaslighting experience. The therapist may also help the client build self-esteem and a sense of self-worth, as gaslighting can often lead to feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem.
The therapist may also help the client explore any past experiences that may have made them more vulnerable to gaslighting, such as a history of abuse or neglect. This can help the client understand the roots of their vulnerability and develop strategies to protect themselves in the future. We often use attachment theory to help frame gaslighting experiences. According to attachment theory, the way in which an individual’s primary caregivers respond to their needs and emotions during childhood can have a lasting impact on their attachment style and relationships throughout life. In the context of gaslighting, attachment theory can help explain why some individuals may be more vulnerable to gaslighting than others. For example, an individual with an insecure attachment style, such as anxious or avoidant attachment, may be more likely to experience gaslighting due to their difficulty trusting others or their tendency to doubt their own perceptions and emotions.
The therapist may also help the client develop assertiveness skills and teach them how to set boundaries and communicate their needs effectively. This can be especially important for individuals who have experienced gaslighting, as it can help them regain a sense of control over their own lives and relationships.
Throughout the psychotherapy process, the therapist may encourage the client to set goals for themselves and track their progress. The therapist may also provide the client with homework assignments to complete between sessions, such as practicing assertiveness skills or journaling about their experiences.
Your therapist will work with you to help you validate your experiences, heal, and rebuild yourself.
All Our Services
The term “gaslighting” originates from the 1938 play turned 1944 movie titled “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman. The storyline depicts a husband systematically convincing his wife she’s losing her mind by manipulating the literal gas lights in their home. This term aptly captures a set of detrimental relationship patterns aimed at making individuals feel unstable, full of self-doubt,, and confused.
Gaslighting typically stems from a desire for control. The innate need for control, when disrupted, can lead to feelings of disorientation and unrest. Individuals resort to gaslighting when they lack healthy means to regain control. This control may manifest benignly or turn into emotional abuse with the goal of maintaining a power imbalance. Gaslighting erodes the victim’s self-trust while increasing reliance on the abuser. Ranging from subtle hints to severe domestic abuse, gaslighting exploits vulnerabilities and manipulates emotions. Recognizing and understanding power dynamics is crucial, as true gaslighting involves exploiting control to harm and manipulate.
Gaslighting aims to induce uncertainty and self-doubt, profoundly affecting a victim’s mental well-being. If you find yourself a victim of gaslighting and are grappling with these symptoms, seeking support from a psychotherapist can be really helpful in navigating the trauma both during the gaslighting experience and in its aftermath, fostering healing and restoring mental well-being.