Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, which can occur in differing severity and time frames. This narcissistic behavioral pattern got the name from a 1938 play, called “Gas Light,” which was about a sadistic man whose goal was to drive his wife insane, so that he could get her money. If your partner or a family member tries to control, weaken, and manipulate you through gaslighting, you may frequently question your self-worth, your abilities, and your mental and emotional stability. In fact, you may often question your core beliefs and even your perception of reality.
Over time, the gaslighter’s manipulation and distortion of reality can greatly erode your sense of dignity and self-confidence, and this “shredding” of your identity can actually cause you to remain dependent upon this person. This dependence results from believing that the relationship problems are your fault. Remember that gaslighting is particularly damaging when it comes from your intimate partner, but it is also a common pattern within families, such as from a parent to a child or teen.
Gaslighting has chronic and long-term effects upon your faith and hope toward achieving your most cherished life goals and can lead to self-destructive behaviors, emotional numbness, and perceiving yourself as flawed, hopeless, and helpless. There are several residual effects of surviving a gaslighter: actions which are focused solely on pleasing others, chronic self-doubt, social isolation, self-defeating inner talk, identity confusion, guilt, shame, loss of your previous identity, poor decision-making abilities, dissociation, and poor self-care.