Gaslighting is a term that has been thrown around a lot in recent years. It is a very powerful form of emotional abuse that is extremely harmful to those on the receiving end and should not be taken lightly.

With the word’s popularity growth, comes misunderstandings of what it really is. Gaslighting is not just lying to someone or disagreeing with what they say, it is much deeper than that. To truly understand gaslighting we have to look at its true meaning as explained by clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula.

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Gaslighting is:

“A form of emotional manipulation that's characterized by denying a person's reality, experiences, or perceptions.”

Knowing this, we can determine what is and what is not considered gaslighting.

If someone gives you misleading information or tells a lie, that isn’t gaslighting. For example, if someone unintentionally gives you false information, or they withhold it without malicious intent, that is not gaslighting.

Gaslighting has to be done in a controlling or manipulative way and causes the recipient to doubt themselves and the way they perceive the world. So, if someone says something rude to you and when confronted about it says something like “I never said that, you have a bad memory,” that is gaslighting.

Gaslighting is coupled with some sort of demeaning statement like “you’re just being sensitive”, “you’re making a big deal out of nothing”, “you can’t take a joke”, or any other wording that is meant to make the recipient doubt themselves and their reality.

This form of abuse can take a huge tole on an individual’s feelings of self-worth and confidence in themselves. It is also a trait that is demonstrated by narcissists (as we discussed in a previous article), but not every person that gaslights is considered a narcissist.

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