Monday, July 24, 2023

Gaslighting Personality Disorder: What Is It?


Girlfriend-Gaslighting- Partner
Credit: Pexels.

Gaslighting personality disorder is a damaging way that people with narcissistic traits try to get what they want. It includes planting doubts in the mind of the victim, making them question their reality, feelings, and memories. 

Gaslighters use lies, inconsistencies, and denial to hurt the self-esteem of their victims and gain power and control over them. In this piece, we'll talk about how gaslighting works, how it affects mental health, and how to deal with this kind of bad behaviour.

How Gaslighting Works

Gaslighting is a clever psychological trick used to make the target doubt what they think is real. It means changing facts, denying events, and twisting the truth to make the target confused and doubtful. The person who gaslights tries to get control by making the target question their own sanity and good sense.

The main goal of gaslighting is to distort reality and make the target doubt what is true. Here's how gaslighting works in more detail:

1. Making the Victim Doubt: 

Gaslighters start by making the victim doubt. They ask the victim about their memories, feelings, and thoughts about what happened, which makes them feel unsure and confused.

2. Denying Reality: 

The person who is trying to gaslight you always denies that you did anything wrong or that you did anything wrong. This constant denial makes the subject question what they have seen and what they remember.

3. Using Contradictions:

Gaslighters may say things that contradict each other to make the target even more confused. They might say something and then say they didn't say it, leaving the target confused.

4. Blaming the Victim:

People who use gaslighting often make the victim think they are to blame for the issues in the relationship or situation.

5. Isolating the Victim:

Cutting the victim off from friends, family, and other support systems. This makes the victim more reliant on the gaslighter for approval and information.

6. Withholding Information:

Gaslighters may withhold information or only tell part of the truth in order to control the story and change how the target sees what happened.

7. Emotional Manipulation:

The gaslighter uses emotional manipulation to get the target to feel sorry for them or guilty, which gives them even more power over them.

8. Gradual Escalation:

Gaslighting usually starts out slowly and gets worse over time. This slow increase makes it harder for the target to see that they are being manipulated.

9. Reinforcement and Punishment: 

Gaslighters get people to do what they want by giving them praise or love, and they get people to stop resisting by pulling away or being emotionally cold.

10. Projection:

Gaslighters may try to make the victim feel guilty for their bad qualities by projecting them onto the victim.

11. Invalidation:

Invalidating the victim's feelings, experiences, and emotions. This makes the victim question their own worth and what they think they know.

12. Gaslighting as Emotional Abuse:

Gaslighting is an example of emotional abuse because the person doing it wants to gain power and control over the victim's thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Understanding how gaslighting works is important if you want to recognise it and get out of its grip. If you think you're being gaslighted, talk to trusted friends, family, or a mental health professional who can validate your feelings and help you get back in touch with reality. 

Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, and that gaslighting is never a sign of how valuable you are.

Where Can Gaslighting Occur?

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Gaslighting can happen in many places, such as personal interactions, the workplace, friendships, and the way a family works. The person who gaslights can take advantage of any situation where they can be in charge and influence their victim. 

Here are some places where gaslighting often happens:

Personal Relationships:

Gaslighting is most often seen in close relationships, like those between love partners, spouses, or family members. In these situations, the person who is trying to gaslight the victim wants to gain power and control over them, which can lead to mental abuse.


Gaslighting can happen in the workplace, where bosses, coworkers, or higher-ups use deceptive methods to hurt an employee's confidence and trustworthiness. It can make the workplace unpleasant and hurt how well people do their jobs.


In toxic friendships, gaslighters may use trickery to gain control over their friends and make them do what they want. They might make fun of what their friends have done or how they feel, which would make their friends doubt their own worth.

Parent-Child Relationships: 

Gaslighting can happen when a parent tries to control and rule their child's thoughts and actions by using manipulative tactics.

Online Spaces:

As social media and online exchanges have become more popular, gaslighting has moved into the digital world. Gaslighting is a way for online trolls and cyberbullies to attack and scare other people.

Social Groups: 

Gaslighting can happen in social groups or communities, where some people may try to separate and control others by changing how they see the world.

Therapeutic Settings:

Even though it's rare, gaslighting can also happen in therapy or counselling relationships when the therapist or counsellor uses their position of trust and power to control the client's feelings and experiences.

Educational Settings: 

Gaslighting can happen in school, where teachers or classmates may use creative methods to make a student's skills or accomplishments seem less important or less impressive.

Media and Politics: 

Gaslighting can be seen in the public sphere in the form of false information, propaganda, or political speech that is meant to confuse the public and plant seeds of doubt.

Cultural or Religious Contexts: 

In some cultural or religious settings, people may unintentionally be able to gaslight others by using the rules and ideals of their culture or religion to control and manipulate them.

Causes of Gaslighting Behaviour

Gaslighting is often caused by deep-seated problems in the person doing it. Common reasons for this are narcissism, a desire for power, and a lack of understanding. Gaslighting can sometimes be caused by past traumas or unresolved mental problems. 

Here are some possible reasons for gaslighting:

Narcissistic Personality Traits 

People with a high sense of self-importance and a constant need for praise and control are often the ones who gaslight others. They see other people as tools they can use to get what they want, and they don't care about the people they hurt.

Desire for Power and Control

People who try to gaslight others often want to be in charge and have control over them. They feel threatened by anyone who questions their power or freedom, so they manipulate to stay in control.

Insecurity and Low Self-Esteem 

Gaslighters may have deep-seated feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. Gaslighting becomes a way for people to avoid facing their own flaws by putting the blame on others.

Past Trauma and Emotional Wounds 

Some people who gaslight others may have had trauma or emotional wounds in the past, which may have led them to repeat harmful behaviours as a way to cope or feel in control.

Learned Behavior 

People can learn how to gaslight by seeing and experiencing similar methods in their families or social circles. If someone grew up with parents or role models who used gaslighting, they might think it's normal to do the same thing.

Lack of Empathy

People who gaslight often don't care about how other people feel or what their point of view is. They might see their victims as just pieces in a game, putting their own wants ahead of everyone else's.

Personality Disorders

Some personality disorders, like narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, are linked to gaslighting. These disorders can make it hard to make good relationships and know when to stop.

Desire to Avoid Responsibility

Some people use gaslighting as a way to avoid taking responsibility for what they have done. By changing the truth, they can put the blame on their victims and escape having to deal with the results of their actions.

Dependency on Others' Validation 

Gaslighters may have a strong need for approval and praise from other people. They use gaslighting to protect their fragile sense of self from abuse or what they see as threats to their ego.

Manipulative Tactics for Personal Gain

Sometimes, gaslighters use their methods to get what they want, whether it's money, emotional control, or furthering their own goal.

History of Gaslighting

The word "gaslighting" comes from the play "Gas Light" by Patrick Hamilton, which came out in 1938. In the play, a man makes his wife think she is going crazy by turning down the gaslights and denying that anything is wrong. Later, the idea was turned into pictures and became a common way to talk about how people can be manipulated psychologically.

Gaslighting and Mental Health

Gaslighting can hurt a person's mental health in very bad ways. It can cause anxiety, sadness, low self-esteem, and a distorted view of reality. Gaslighting can make it hard for people to trust and believe in themselves even after the relationship is over.

When to Seek Help

If you think you are being gaslighted or are being emotionally abused, you need to get help right away. Reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional who can give support, validation, and direction.

Gaslighting Personality Disorder

1. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

People with NPD often use gaslighting. People with NPD have a strong need to be admired, a sense of privilege, and can't understand other people. 

They use other people to keep up their false sense of self-worth and keep control over their victims. Gaslighting helps them break other people's trust, which makes them easier to control.

2. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

People with ASPD often do things like gaslighting that are manipulative and dishonest. They don't care about how other people feel, and they may use gaslighting to take advantage of and control their victims. Gaslighting lets them keep their power and keep other people from asking what they do.

3. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) 

Gaslighting is more often seen in people with NPD and ASPD, but people with BPD may also have traits to do it. BPD is marked by an unstable view of oneself, strong feelings, and a fear of being left alone. Gaslighting can be a way for people to protect themselves from what they think is rejection or being left alone.

4. Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

People with HPD often want respect and approval from other people. Gaslighting can be a way for someone to get people to pay attention to them and keep control over the story. They may exaggerate events and feelings to get people to like them and feel sorry for them.

5. Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) 

Gaslighting is more common in other personality disorders, but people with PPD may also use it to protect themselves from imagined threats. They might change the truth to fit their delusional beliefs and try to discredit people who disagree with them.

How to Respond to Gaslighting

1. Set limits: Set clear limits and be clear about what you want.

2. Trust Your Instincts: Go with your gut and don't second-guess how you feel.

3. Ask for help: Talk to a therapist or counselor who specialises in trauma and mental abuse.

4. Take care of yourself: Do self-care tasks that improve your emotional health and teach you to be kind to yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can gaslighting occur unintentionally? 

Gaslighting is usually done on purpose, but some people may be controlling without knowing it because they haven't dealt with their own problems or don't know themselves well enough.

Is gaslighting limited to romantic relationships? 

No, gaslighting can happen in any kind of interaction, whether it's with a friend, family member, or coworker. Even though the situations are different, the methods of manipulation are still the same.

How can I confront a gaslighter about their behavior

If you talk to a gaslighter about what they've done, they may deny it and try to put the blame on you. Think about doing it in a safe place or with the help of a counsellor.


Can gaslighting lead to physical abuse?

Even though gaslighting is mostly a psychological problem, it can sometimes lead to physical abuse. If you think someone is hurting you physically, put your safety first and get help right away.

Is it possible for a gaslighter to change their behaviour?

Gaslighters can change, but it's rare for them to do so without professional help and a lot of self-reflection. Most people who use gaslighting don't like change because they think it risks their sense of superiority and control.

Can therapy help survivors of gaslighting? 

Yes, therapy can be very helpful for people who have been gaslighted. A therapist can help you feel better about yourself, give you support, and give you tools to help you set good boundaries.