What is gaslighting, where did the term come from and is it a form of abuse within relationships?

But what exactly is it to gaslight someone and where does the term come from? Here's what we know.

What is gaslighting?

To gaslight someone is to use pattern behaviour to deceive and manipulate another into doubting their sanity.

Victims usually start to question their memory and perception as a result of psychological destabilisation.

Gaslight tactics are frequently adopted by sociopaths, narcissists and abusive partners in relationships.

Ultimately, it is a tool which is used to make the victim become dependent on the abuser and to deflect guilt.

Where does the term gaslighting come from?

The term "gaslighting" originates from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play, Gas Light.

In the play, a husband convinces his wife that she's gone insane.

It begins when he starts disappearing from the apartment at random times.

Then, as the play unfolds, it is revealed to the audience that he has in fact murdered the lady who lives upstairs in their apartment block and is stealing her jewels.

Whilst he visits the upstairs flat he switches on the lights, which dims the lights in his own apartment.

When his wife notices and questions the event, her husband dismisses her and says she is mistaken.

Over time, she starts believing she has imagined it all, thanks to her husband's calculated and systematic actions and responses.

Is it a form of abuse in relationships?

Gaslighting is a recognised form of abuse within relationships and many Love Island fans said that Adam's treatment of Rosie displayed signs of gaslighting.

Abusers may use the technique to belittle or trivialise what their partner says or does.

Some of the signs that someone is being gaslighted include:

  • Self-doubt
  • Confusion
  • Constantly apologising
  • Withholding information from friends and family to avoid criticism or judgement
  • Indecisiveness

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