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How to Tell If Someone is Gaslighting You

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

The topic of mental health is talked about more openly now than ever before. With this, gaslighting has become an increasingly common topic, especially among young people, over the last few years. If you are unaware of the term, gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their memory, perception, or sanity. Often employed by abusers, cult leaders, narcissists, and dictators, this abusive tactic can be subtle and insidious, leaving victims feeling confused, anxious, and unable to trust their own judgment. At New Hope Healthcare Institute, we understand how crucial it is to recognize these harmful patterns, particularly in a dual diagnosis setting where patients might be grappling with mental health issues alongside substance abuse.

What is Gaslighting?

In understanding how to protect yourself and loved ones, it’s important to first clearly define gaslighting. The term originates from a 1938 stage play called “Gas Light,” where a husband manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she’s losing her sanity. In a real-world context, gaslighting happens when someone manipulates you into questioning your reality.

Key Characteristics of Gaslighting

Identifying gaslighting can be difficult, especially when it comes from someone you trust. However, there are common signs you can look for:

  • They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
  • Their actions do not match their words.
  • They use what is dear to you as ammunition.
  • They wear you down over time.
  • Their actions confuse you, creating a sense of self-doubt.
  • They project their behaviors onto you.
  • They try to align people against you.

How to Respond to Gaslighting

If you recognize these signs in your own relationships, it’s crucial to take steps to regain control:

  • Trust Your Perceptions: Confidence in your own feelings and thoughts is key.
  • Document Everything: Keep a record of events or conversations, so you have evidence of the reality.
  • Seek Professional Help: Therapists, particularly those experienced with dual diagnosis, can provide strategies to cope and heal.
  • Establish Boundaries: Clearly communicate and enforce your limits.
  • Build a Support System: Surround yourself with people who validate your experiences.

Gaslighting in the Workplace

Unfortunately, gaslighting doesn’t just occur in personal relationships; it’s also common in the workplace. This manipulation can come from supervisors, colleagues, or employees aiming to gain power, hide their inadequacies, or shift blame. They may undermine your contributions, question your work, or attribute your success to external factors, leading to a toxic work environment that can be detrimental to your confidence and career growth. Recognizing these tactics is crucial, as prolonged exposure can lead to serious mental health consequences.

Gaslighting in Society

Gaslighting also occurs at a societal level and can be propagated by political figures, media, or other influential entities. This widespread form of manipulation is especially dangerous because it’s not just one person questioning your reality but potentially millions. Tactics can include discrediting credible sources, spreading fake news, or outright lying about factual events. Collective gaslighting can lead to general societal anxiety, fear, and can particularly affect those struggling with mental health issues, making it imperative to stay informed and critically analyze the information presented to us.

Strategies to Counteract Gaslighting

Combating gaslighting requires resilience, awareness, and strategies:

  • Self-Reflection: Regularly take time to reflect on your experiences and feelings.
  • External Verification: Seek a third-party perspective when you’re unsure of your own judgment.
  • Educate Yourself: Understanding gaslighting tactics makes them easier to identify.
  • Assertive Communication: Practice stating your needs and perceptions clearly and confidently.
  • Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Implementing these strategies can be particularly empowering, offering a way to reclaim your reality and diminish the gaslighter’s influence.

Gaslighting and Mental Health

Gaslighting inflicts psychological wounds, often leading to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues. The constant self-doubt and confusion can erode one’s mental stability, making it hard to trust your own thoughts and perceptions. For individuals with a dual diagnosis, these effects can be even more profound, potentially triggering substance abuse as a form of self-medication. It’s essential to acknowledge the psychological impact of gaslighting and seek professional help to start the healing process.

Call New Hope Healthcare Institute Today!

At New Hope Healthcare Institute in Knoxville, TN, we specialize in dual diagnosis treatment for teens and adults, providing the support necessary to heal from both psychological trauma and substance abuse. If you or someone you love is experiencing gaslighting, particularly in the context of dual diagnosis, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 866-806-1027 – our compassionate professionals are here to help guide you toward recovery.


Gaslighting can severely impact mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and severe stress, and often exacerbating pre-existing mental health conditions.

Absolutely, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where the abuser manipulates information to make their victim doubt their own reality.

Individuals with a dual diagnosis may find their conditions aggravated by gaslighting, as it intensifies self-doubt and can increase reliance on substances as a form of self-medication.

While challenging, it’s not impossible. With professional help and a genuine desire to change, gaslighters can learn healthier interaction patterns.

Trust your instincts, document incidents, seek professional support, and consider reaching out to trusted facilities like New Hope Healthcare Institute for specialized care, especially if dealing with a dual diagnosis.

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