“Oh come on. I never said that.”

“You’re just being overly sensitive.”

“I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this…”

Psychologists use the term “gaslighting” to refer to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions.

The term gaslighting comes from the original 1930’s play and the famous 1944 movie, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. In the film, Bergman’s husband sets out to gaslight her into insanity to hide his illegal dealings. He moves objects around the house and blames his wife, he flickers the gaslights in the house and says it didn’t happen or make noises in the house and denies hearing anything.

This attitudinal disorder can occur in any gender and often times we make people around us victims. These people could be spouses, children, colleagues at work or even employees. First off, it is very brave and self-aware of you to take the first step to admit you might have a problem. Following these easy steps below will help you pull away from being a gaslighter:

  • Admit fully to what you have done
  • Stop excuses and blaming
  • Make amends
  • Accept responsibility and recognize that abuse is a choice
  • Identify patterns of controlling behaviour you use
  • Identify the attitudes that drive your abuse
  • Accepting that overcoming abusiveness is a decades-long process — not declaring yourself “cured”
  • Not demanding credit for improvements you’ve made
  • Not treating improvements as vouchers to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (For example; “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so it’s not a big deal)
  • Developing respectful, kind, supportive behaviours
  • Carrying your weight and sharing power
  • Accepting the consequences of your actions (including not feeling sorry for yourself about the consequences, and not blaming your partner or children for them)


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