The dictionary definition of gaslighting is:
“to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity”
When gaslighting is done well and repeated (in often extremely subtle and insidious ways) over months or years it can cause confusion and extreme self-doubt in the victim. It is important to note that people who experience chronic gaslighting aren’t weak or stupid, However, they are victims of cruel actions. A victim is someone who is harmed, injured, tricked or duped and gaslighting does all those things.
One of the key issues many victims report is the “constructed insecurities” created by the perpetrator which are drip fed over time. This forces the victim to focus on the (created and cruelly donated) ‘problems’ rather than the monstrous behaviour of the Gaslighter. When none of these ‘problems’ actually exist victims will spend days/months/years trying to be ‘better’ in order to please the perpetrator and meet their ever changing goal posts.
Common symptoms victims experience as a result of Gaslighting might be:
Depression – but you just don’t know why
Lack of confidence, loss of ‘voice’
Lack of Self Worth & Identity
Sense that “I’m a failure”
Addiction – eating, drinking, shopping, surfing the web
Zoning out from life