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Behind the term ‘Gaslighting’

The term ‘gaslighting’ comes from a 1938 play ‘Gas Light’ by dramatist Patrick Hamilton and it’s 1940’s psychological thriller movie adaptations ‘Gaslight’.

Image from the 1940’s thriller ‘Gaslight’

It’s about a newlywedded couple that move into a house.

And every time the gaslights dim, the husband tells his new bride that she is seeing things and convinces her that she’s going crazy.

He also does many other things to make her think she’s going insane just to hide and protect his secret.

Gaslighting was first noted as a behavior in a clinical report in 1969,

which involved people that were sent to a mental institution in an elaborate plot designed to make them appear mentally ill.

There is also an interesting article on case studies relating to gas lighting called ‘The Sociology of Gaslighting’ which I found to also be good study material.


The narcissist’s main agenda when they gaslight their victim is to gain control.

They want to influence people’s thoughts and behaviors so they can gain control in all situations to get what they want.  

Control can be used for self-preservation, creating self image, avoiding accountability, exploiting or to dish out punishment.

And gaslighting also allows the narcissist to push their agenda onto others, thus giving them more control towards their desired outcomes.

Narcissists are extremely sensitive to criticism, and they cannot handle opposition to a disagreement,

so much so that they feel the need to strongly change the other person’s perspective to be agreeable with theirs.

Or the narc may want to destroy and eliminate their opposition completely.

And they often do this by getting their flying monkeys to assist them in creating a smear campaign about their targeted victim.

Image by Anthony Shkraba

They cannot simply just accept or respect someone else’s differences of opinion,

or to have someone else challenging their views.

And they do not want to feel inferior to anyone.

By slowly and consistently planting self-doubt in the victim’s mind,

it can break the victim’s confidence where the victim no longer trusts themselves or their intuition.

The induced confusion and self-doubt destabilizers the victim,

it makes them not be able to think clearly thus becoming dependent on the narcissist.

When the victim is in this state of confusion, it is easier for them to go along with the coercion and give into the narcissist’s narrative.

And the narcissist will try and instill other feelings and emotions,

such as inferiority, forgiveness, hope, fear, anger, guilt, pain or shame upon the target they are exploiting.

They have mastered how to manipulate our feelings through gaslighting and lies to influence the way we act in different situations.

Image by RODNAE Productions

We must gain back control of our emotions and independent thinking,

and accept that it is the narcissist’s behavior that is toxic, and it’s not us who is crazy.

Keep your mind on how you see the narcissist and the situation,

and not how the narcissist wants you to see it.

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Awareness is power.