67 thoughts on “20 Situations in Which a Man Tends to “Gaslight” a Woman (To Get Her to Think She’s Crazy)

  • January 18, 2016 at 6:54 am

    It’s not just men who use this.

    Reply
    • January 18, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Thanks for the message. It’s likely true that there are exceptions, in either case, it’s still a pattern that damages and blocks the formation of healthy emotional intimacy. It’s not about men or women per se. It’s about the socialization; women are not socialized to “need” to silence their partner and make them think they’re crazy for wanting emotional closeness — they’re socialized to do the opposite, i.e., to want closeness, sharing, intimate conversations, partnership etc. Thanks again for commenting.

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      • December 21, 2016 at 11:54 pm

        Most of the research out there that I have read says that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has about a 50/50 split between the sexes, and I can assure you that anyone who has had any sort of relationship involving a person who is NPD (romantically or otherwise) has experienced gaslighting. Personally I don’t buy your attributing it to men in this article, nor do I agree with your rebuttal of saying that “there are (female) exceptions”.

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      • December 22, 2016 at 7:55 am

        Thanks for commenting NWerth. Unfortunately, most all research on narcissism uses a forty-item forced-choice narcissistic personality inventory that is at best a waste of time because it was specifically designed to “measure features of narcissism in the general population,” or what is known as “normal” or “nonclinical” narcissism, which means most persons who score high on this inventory do NOT meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

        If you look at the items on the list, for example, inclinations to want to influence others, to take a leadership role, to make own choices, or to look at self in mirror — all of which are potentially very healthy behaviors — are considered narcissistic traits with no regard to context!

        In contrast someone who qualifies for a clinical diagnosis for NPD, is someone who is not capable of love and relates in dehumanizing ways to their partner. You may find helpful my article on “What a Narcissist Means When He Says I Love You

        In either case, it’s not about gender, gaslighting is a shoot-self-in-foot pattern that damages and blocks the formation of healthy emotional intimacy.

        So yes, the same rules would apply to women. Thus, if a female partner systematically communicates in a way that intentionally shuts down her partner’s influence (iow, not just because she’s triggered or trying to stop gaslighting!) — and methodically derails any criticisms when she does something hurtful to him — and at the same time repeatedly uses language to make him doubt his ability to think or make decisions, and to make him feel like he’s crazy for ever bringing anything up that upsets her — then yes she is gaslighting.

        There’s no question that, whereas women’s socialization emphasizes a “good woman” must to put others feelings first, to collaborate, to empathize, to partner, etc., men are socialized to prove superiority, to need to feel like topdog in relationship, to take pleasure in being cruel and cold, and to perceive as weak those persons inclined to empathize, apologize, be kind and thoughtful of the other, etc. This is just fact; and those men and women who do not conform are still shamed accordingly.

        It’s not about men or women per se. It’s about the socialization that sets up women and men to fail in their relationships. Male or female, the adult partner that gaslights, in effect, is acting like a parent who is entitled to one-way respect and being made happy by the child — and treating their partner like a child who needs to learn to be seen and not heard.

        I hope this helps. Thanks again for commenting.

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      • August 24, 2017 at 12:25 am

        While I appreciate this response. I think your article and information is outdated. The culture of adults and gender roles has greatly changed since 1998. 20+ years of empowerment of women has made a lot of things more equal… narcissistic behavior included.

        I am married to an alcoholic whose narcissistic gaslighting behavior comes out late in the evening about 9 beers into the daily 12 pack. She is a stay-at-home mom that spends her days publicly bragging about what a great father and provider I am and then the nights screaming about her being a single mother 50% of the time and that I’m a horrible parent. I am a firefighter that works 48 hours shifts, and an Air Force Reservist (that takes me away an additional one weekend a month 2 weeks a year), so she is without me home about 50% of the time, but when I’m home I do me best to catch up on the chores and care for the children’s needs. She thanks me one day for the things I do around the house then a few days later yells that I do nothing but sit on my phone all day (even though she stares at hers even more than I do). She spends a lot of time criticizing me, but if I bring up any error that she’s made all hell breaks loose. Often when I call her out for her behavior, I get called the oppressive white man that doesn’t ever remember the way the conversation went. The next day she always acts as if nothing happened the night prior.

        8 years after my two older children came to live with us full time she’s still yelling about things that happened when they came to live with us. My 17 year old daughter is a far different person than she was at 13. She is often praised by my wife during the day for her hard work, then at night my wife screams at night about how much she hates my kids and how they’ve ruined her life.

        I am emotionally drained, I avoid conversation for fear that anything I say will be used against me, but I do not shy away from telling her she’s being ridiculous when she criticizes me for things I can’t change.

        She learned this behavior from her mother; as my wife is treated by her mother the same way my wife treats me.

        Anyway, my main point is your gender biased data and gender biased article are out of date with today’s American society. Many of today’s men are taught to be respectful to a point of being submissive and many women taught to be dominate to the point of shaming men for being male.

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      • August 31, 2017 at 7:09 am

        Thanks for commenting FFJake, and thanks for sharing your concerns, makes sense that the experience of being married to an alcoholic is emotionally draining. Your alcoholic wife may or may not be a narcissist, however. Why not seek couples therapy to get support to break the toxic interactions you describe, with a therapist that has experience dealing with substance abuse at minimum, perhaps also narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

        You will know your wife has NPD in therapy, when you observe that, whereas you’re doing 100% to participate in therapeutic processes, she refuses to do so, insteads continues to blame you,criticize, make excuses for how she mistreats you, ignores therapy guidelines, complains about therapy, says therapist is siding against her, etc., mostly to get out of a situation that invites her to look at her self, and make genuine, healthy change. (In similar yet unique ways, an alcoholic also denies and avoids change, and taking responsibility for their harmful-to-self-and-other actions.)

        While not all NPDs are male, it is impossible to understand the roots of narcissism for men, and codependency for women, and their attraction to one another, unless these behavior patterns are, first and foremost, examined as highly ingrained, valued and socialized roles, or norms, for men and women respectively in the socio-cultural milieau in which we live.

        The NPD has a “might makes right” worldview and behaviors, and these are based on values that continue today to be highly condoned for men, and excused as “boys will be boys” — and in contrast highly frowned upon for women.

        (Note: There are two primary NPD types to note, and the overt NPD is relatively easy to spot, as he boasts of his prowess. The covert NPD however typically does not seek to dominate directly (or uses alcohol to do so sporadically); they control their partners with strategies that block any influence, resist their efforts to feel valued, heard, get their concerns or needs met, and so on, primarily passive aggressive means of ensuring their partners have “no control” over them etc.)

        And this is based on decades of research, mostly male researchers. Countless studies conducted in universities since the 1970s substantiate this. For example in research conducted by Drs. Matthew Jakupcak, David Lisak and Lisabeth Roemer, at the University of Massachusetts in 2002, titled “The Role of Masculinity Ideology and Masculine Gender Role Stress in Men’s Perpetration of Relationship Violence,” found that the masculine gender role accounted for a significant portion of aggression and violence in relationships.

        The point is, not to get into a competition, rather to see that the norms for masculinity harm men and negatively impact relationships at every level of our society.

        That’s because this worldview normalizes and condones the use of violence, shame, humiliation, and other punitive tactics, as “necessary” means for those in “status” positions to achieve dominance by those in authority positions to “socialize” low status persons into “obedience,” the norms are harmful and traumatizing for both men and women, from childhood. Alcohol addiction runs high in such families. Wives as mothers are expected to conform to these norms in socializing their children. This leaves many people lost, hurting, confused, most everyone feels not good enough etc, men, women, children alike.

        Hope I’ve addressed your concerns, and thank you again for writing. Best wishes to you.

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      • January 1, 2017 at 4:22 pm

        I eperianced this: I asked my wife to refrain from kissing me at work. Although it was a bar with live entertainment I felt public displays of our effection were inapropriate. I explained that it gave potential clients (Music industry promoters and managers)the wrong empression about how approachable i was. She acused me wanting to appear “more” available when I wanted to be seen as more professional. She refused to kiss me for the next ten years in any situation. We had other intimate moments But any and all hints at the simplest touch of our lips were sternly rejected. I evenualy gave up managing the bar due to her disaproval and constant criticism of that career but months later she told me “You told me it wasnt right to kiss you at work so I will never kiss you again” we had 3 children in those years but still not one kiss. And she would remind me of this oath of hers to illustrate to me how controlling I was. this happened often when I dissaproved of her spending beyond or budget. If I then pointed out that I missed that specific bit of our effections , she would instantly claim that Sex was all that I ever really wanted from her and if it wasnt, than I would let her spend our money on whatever she saw fit. thereby implying the impression that my feelings were not genuine or rational due to thier implied intenesions. and YES that is using gender roles to invalidate my feeling and an attempt to make me feel crazy. I have witnessed other men recieve simular emotional batterment by thier female partners. Gaslighting is an unhealthy behavior when perpitrated my any gender. It seems a behavior to me that can only be done with entention, but sadly I have witnessed a woman do this who was completely unaware due to her own narsicism.

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      • January 2, 2017 at 3:30 pm

        What you describe, Muxie, does not meet the criteria for gaslighting or narcissism, rather learned traits of stubbornness, holding grudge etc. Your wife was hurt when you didn’t kiss her at work, and held this grudge stubbornly. You’re both stuck in battling it out, each with their own defensive programs. This is not healthy for either one of you. Please consider marriage counseling or therapy to heal your communications. Thanks again.

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    • March 27, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Willing to agree with this. But power and control….. Men who do use it. It can be pretty ugly and pathetic; very childish as a way to control a woman; a person.

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    • December 5, 2016 at 10:44 am

      I am a 22 year old man who has Social Anxiety Disorder and PTSD. I just escaped avoided a potential relationship with a girl who refused to communicate with me openly. This had been going on and off for a year.

      I think some genetic narcissism runs in her family. I would bet her aunt is unwillingly to take personal responsibility for her own loneliness. This girl was very sensitive to criticism and personalized everything I said. She had a hard time understanding why I would talk about other friendships in my life. I’m just proud of my friends and their the remarkable accomplishments of people I am emotionally close to. She acted as if she thought I was trying to implicitly convey something to her. She was seemingly a very calm person who subtly released her rage. She had a lot of male behaviors and interests. She had a hard time understanding people who didn’t share her beliefs–a subtle arrogance. She had weird little selfish behaviors that her best friend had to control. The way our interactions turned out seriously fit into the personality of the narcissist vs. the empath. I don’t think its good to think of gas-lighting in terms of male and female, but in terms of the selfish vs. the selfless.

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      • December 6, 2016 at 7:49 am

        Thanks for the comment Brandon. What you describe above, a pursue-withdrawal pattern that is common in relationships, but likely not narcissism. In relationships, more often than not, one person (when they get upset or stressed) wants to talk and solve issues, and the other is very sensitive to even hints of criticism, and defends themselves by avoiding conflict like a plague. This is frustrating, and seems selfish to the person who wants to talk, and it’s not easy to understand conflict avoiders … they’re always focused on treating others nicely, not making demands, chilling and having fun. Hope this helps, thanks again.

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      • February 2, 2017 at 9:45 am

        I agree that couples tend to find the “need to talk about it” versus “need to NOT talk about it” dichotomy or talk/listen partnerships frustrating.

        But this isn’t exclusive of any comorbidity. In my case, I’m the “need to talk” 95% of the time, and he is a better listener than I am. He does talk, but 95% of the time, he would rather keep his vulnerabilities to himself to process in covert or less verbal ways.

        This relationship is not inherently flawed in that sense, but when conflicts or major decisions or life changes arise, the partners have little coping skills to manage them as a team. When the chips are down, they will need to dig deep to effect a mutually tolerable solution in which both are respected enough to wish to continue as a couple.

        That said, when the chips are down and a solution is needed, my husband responds to my attempts to meet him halfway via talk that is respectful as if they are a direct threat. Because he is so sensitive, empathic, insecure, and has not healed his childhood psychic wounds (again, hide it from consciousness; ignore it and it will go away self-deception nurtured by both fear and his type) he unfortunately falls back on his socialization from his father, which is to gaslight the female in the house to feel more powerful and to quell the sense of fear.

        Later, further gaslighting will be necessary to cover the previous, and he changes the lie to suit the situation to effectively remain in that state of denial. This defense strategy makes it hard to feel trust and respect and undermines all the other work we’ve both put into our otherwise good relationship.

        The question isn’t what’s at work here, or who’s to blame. That could go back the family tree to Adam and Eve or God himself. The only practical question is, What can I live with? What can I do about this to protect myself and my kids from his gaslighting emotional abuse? What can a person who is being gaslighted do to have a good life?

        Since that is a personal line of inquiry, I suspect time, reflection, counseling, and trial and error to the max are the only ways of keeping the marriage. Divorce is a quick fix, but leaves the unmet needs chasm wider and me more vulnerable to a worse predator.

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    • September 13, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      Any tips on how to get my daughter (28) to recognize she is married to a very narcissistic gaslighted, who has convinced her to block us all (her family), that her mother is bypolar and convinces everyone to hate her husband. What a twisted lie. We are living in a twilight zone, and his final step will be to isolate her at a family farm.

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      • September 30, 2018 at 8:53 am

        Thanks for your comment and question Phyllis Stallard. It sounds like your daughter has symptoms of narcissist abuse syndrome, which is not unlike what was previously known as Stockholm Syndrome. Look for my article and others, and may wish to seek emotional support from a therapist experienced in this area. Best wishes and thanks again.

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    • April 20, 2019 at 8:53 pm

      Is there a term that extends on narcicism in that they not only try to control their partner with sex but go one step further by dressing provocatively, using sexual undertones in their language and generally taunting a sexually frustrated partner. Specifically when the frustrated partner has openly communicated that frustration, accepted the other person’s right to not engage in sex and requested that in turn their partner not wear sexy nighties, sit in revealing positions on the couch or rub their legs and buttocks while laying on the couch in full view of their partner.
      After periods of this behaviour they tell you that you have a problem with sex. Is that gaslighting? Is it narcicism? Or are some men dealing with a new condition that is a combination of both?

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      • April 22, 2019 at 10:11 am

        Thanks for the message, Sjk. Does it imply, however, that a woman who says no to sex is making a power play, on the basis of what she’s wearing and so on? Or that if she turns a man on, it’s her duty to have sex?

        In my opinion, the problem here is likely projection. (We humans are all prone to projecting our own mindset onto others; in which case we make assumptions, thinking they’re 100% true! Projection is the cause many relationship problems and ongoing conflicts.)
        Based on socialization, men and women approach/see/experience interactions quite differently. Men tend to attribute sex- and power-focused attributions to women, for example. As a result, it’s not unusual for a guy to interpret a woman’s friendliness as sexual.

        Nevertheless, the problem you describe is best addressed by a professional in couples therapy; negative labels will not woo or turn on your partner’s libido. If you have not already, and your partner agrees, consider some couples work. Thanks for writing.

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  • January 18, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    For me, I do want the want closeness, sharing, intimate conversations, partnership but when the other person is toxic, makes negative comments continuously & generally has no respect for anyone in the family that doesn’t see it her way. It makes life impossible. After the uproar, to want to be with someone, it’s just not worth it.

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    • January 19, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Thanks for commenting, Rich. Yes, men also want “closeness”; both men and women are wired to want closeness, and not just women. Both however also tend to approach their couple relationship from what they learned from their parents (likely not the healthy skills they need to communicate to form a close relationship, i.e., for most men “closeness” means sex whereas for most women it means “emotional tenderness and connection.” My suggestion? First, both need to avoid blame patterns like the plague. It takes two to make it work (and two to make a relationship go sour). Second, if gaslighting has been a factor in your relationship, it may explain the increasing toxic negativity coming from her. And that means, you both could benefit from some help and support to heal; most likely … neither of you feel valued by the other. If you have not already, please consider seeing a professional therapist for couples therapy, it will make a difference. Thanks again.

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      • January 1, 2017 at 5:29 pm

        Please cite where you get your statistical validation for your gender based statements as to which gender is more or less prone to certain behaviors. Please also sight which gender study’s have concluded that men are “socialized to dominate women” and which specific cultures perpetuate this socialization.

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      • January 2, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        Thanks for the comment, Muxie. In this case, no debate or statistical validation is necessary. Apart from this being a mainstream norm, this knowledge also comes from about 5 decades of gender studies and the textbooks that outline hundreds of studies, mens studies textbooks and womens studies, some studies that integrate most all social sciences, such as Riane Eisler’s seminal work, “The Chalice and the Blade.”

        Apart from studies, it is evident in the conversations among men, and among women, and between them. IT’s an expectation for men that is so widespread that we (men and women) begin to “shame” men who do not conform from boyhood and throughout their lives.

        Here’s one article on “What Does It Mean to Be a Man?” that you may also find interesting.

        The point of these studies is not whether men seek to dominate (overtly or covertly) or not, rather the negative effect of this cultural expectation (for proving self worth on basis of meeting arbitrary standards for “masculinity” ) on men’s health and mortality, marriage and family, and so on. I hope this helps.

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  • January 19, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks! for your input. Rich.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Your analysis/evaluation of a mans Gaslighting was enlightening and informative. However, women engage in this behavior also. I have been the recipient of it.

    Please provide some typical examples of how women engage in this behavior. I would like to hear both sides of the story.

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    • January 21, 2016 at 9:20 am

      Thanks for commenting Cedric. In either case, gaslighting is a shoot-self-in-foot pattern that damages and blocks the formation of healthy emotional intimacy.

      So yes, the same rules would apply to women. Thus, if a female partner systematically communicates in a way that intentionally shuts down her partner’s influence (iow, not just because she’s triggered or trying to stop gaslighting!) — and methodically derails any criticisms when she does something hurtful — and at the same time repeatedly uses language to make him doubt his ability to think or make decisions, and to feel like he’s crazy for ever bringing anything up that upsets her — then yes she is gaslighting.

      In truth, gaslighting is something we learn as children in our family relationships. It shows up a lot in our culture … in relationships we’re conditioned to regard as inherently “hierarchical” — between an “authority” figure with status and another of little or no status. One or both parents (thus both genders in this case) likely used similar tactics, i.e., to keep children in their place, and especially to make sure they shut down, dismiss, distract children from expressing any emotions that made parents uncomfortable, unhappy, anxious, etc.

      It’s not about men or women per se. It’s about the socialization that sets up women and men to fail in their relationships. Male or female, the adult partner that gaslights, in effect, is acting like a parent who is entitled to one-way respect and being made happy by the child — and treating their partner like a child who needs to learn to be seen and not heard.

      I hope this helps. Thanks again for commenting.

      Reply
  • January 20, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    I thought I was asexual but after reading this I think it’s because of what happened 4 years ago. My husband was trying to get close with other women behind my back and when I found out, he claimed that they were just friends and that I was being possessive and not allowing him to have friends. He had plenty of friends including females that I already knew about and was completely fine with – why did he need some new female friends!???! He didn’t physically cheat on me but it was clearly heading that way as he was inviting them for drinks at a bar etc. He insisted that I was blowing it all out of proportion and imagining the private messages he was sending them. I felt so crazy because I knew I wasn’t imagining these things and even showed him the messages yet he would brush it off so easily that I did start to question my sanity. I was so depressed and bewildered by his sudden cruelty that I ended up in hospital after an overdose and even then, my husband claimed it had nothing to do with his inappropriate interactions with other women, he said it was because I didn’t like the birthday present he got me!! It was so insulting and hurtful that he would tell people that I would take my own life because I was a spoiled little girl that didn’t get the birthday present she wanted!! For some reason he still wanted to be with me and I should have had more respect for myself and left but I didn’t, I just felt utterly numb. I felt nothing and just stopped caring what he did. I wouldn’t have cared if he just went ahead and cheated on me however he didn’t and he did stop talking to these other women. Was I gaslighted???

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    • January 21, 2016 at 7:48 am

      Thank you for sharing this experience Jenny … it appears you already knew the answer. My response to your question is … a resounding yes, this is exactly how gaslighting works to break down resistance…and in this case you worked yourself to exhaustion attempting to get him to see that his actions were a betrayal of his vows to you. I’m glad you chose to ultimately chose to put your own peace of mind first, and stop “caring what he did.” Not sure if this opposite extreme improves your relationship … however, it does protect your sanity. If you have not already, it would be helpful to do some individual therapy, it will make a difference.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    A little more gender neutral next time. Trying to deflect, are we?

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    • January 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Thanks for the comment, Tjay. To address your request for more neutrality, please see my response to “Cedric’s” comment (a similar request for examples when women may use gaslighting).

      To that, I’d like to add that the reason gaslighting is more likely to be used by men is that, whereas women are conditioned (or free) to regard couple relationships as partnerships, men still tend to hold onto regarding them in hierarchical terms, a win-lose competition etc. Not surprisingly, a female partner who tries to get something she wants, i.e., a chore, a trip, communication, etc., is often perceived as trying to be the topdog, in control, etc! (This is a widespread, and serious, problem in many if not most couple relationships, by the way.)

      Gaslighting is only a necessity when a person (man or woman) approaches their relationship as an ongoing moment-buy-moment competition in which there “must” be a clear winner or loser etc.

      In contrast, most women are socialized to do the opposite, i.e., to want closeness, mutual sharing, to love to make their partners happy, to want collaboration, intimate conversations, partnership etc. This socialization makes it less likely that women would employ gaslighting with their partners.

      Male or female, when each partner is triggered and feels scared the other does not love or value them, they can say and do hurtful things in desperation.

      Gaslighting is distinct in that there’s a clear and methodically applied “intent” to take away the voice of the other partner, by making them think (playing with their mind) they’re crazy is what identifies the behavior.

      This form of emotional manipulation is emotional abuse at its worse. Thanks again for commenting, much appreciated.

      (Please note: The words “Trying to deflect, are we?” are an example how gaslighting works. Thanks.)

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      • August 13, 2016 at 10:16 am

        Dear Doctor,

        TOUCHE!!

        Annabelle

        Reply
  • March 28, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    “Because the habit is so ingrained, conceivably, many men may not even be aware when they are gaslighting. It is after all, a quick-fix way at any moment to end a conversation he doesn’t want to be in, and more specifically, to redirect its focus to “her problems” of nagging and being too “emotional,” “controlling,” “crazy” or “sensitive,” etc.”

    They are FULLY aware they are doing it. And besides, even if it HAD become a “habit” (which I don’t think is the case), he’s still the one who chose to form the habit in the first place.

    And the problem isn’t just the manner in which he ignores his wife’s feelings. It’s the fact that he WANTS to in the first place.

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  • March 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    “And what does it spell when a man doesn’t get sex (his way of connecting to love) and a woman doesn’t get emotional intimacy (her way)? A disaster.. Suddenly, a male partner can feel confused and exhaust himself doing everything he knows to do (except what works) to get their partner back to wanting sex.”

    The problem is not that the man’s trick to get her to have sex didn’t work. It’s the fact that he is dishonest and has an ulterior motive. People should be fair to each other because it is right, not because they will get something out of it (especially not something* that is NOT an inherent sign of love or caring)

    *Sex in and of itself is a PHYSICAL activity, just like movie watching or eating out at a diner. Having sex isn’t in and of itself an act of closeness.

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  • May 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

    So what does a person do when their spouse does this? My Dad did this to the extent my mom tried to commit suicide when I was a teen, then blamed it on me. I didn’t recognize it in my husband until I had children. For some reason he could do this to me when no one noticed, but once my children were involved I started to fight back. I am ADHD, but I am not incompetent because of it. I couldn’t stand to have my kids think I was crazy. I probably made them crazy….

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  • June 7, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    When opening up a discussion on gaslighting, it would be prudent to define what it is, rather than just leap into how it is used. I came here to learn about it, but I had to go to another site to find out what the original definition was, so that then I could understand the rest of your article.

    I would argue that by making blanket statements that men mostly use this to belittle or control their women, that you are contributing to the us v. them mentality. Men tend to be more physical in their behavior, and women tend to use emotions and words. I don’t think you can say that men are more likely than women to use this behavior; there are terrible people on both spectrums.

    But I’m not a psych or shrink. So I will stop there.

    Thanks for the article.

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    • June 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks for the comment J Gus. In this case, it makes sense that men use gaslighting more than women … and it doesn’t mean they’re terrible persons … it’s how men are socialized, to think of women’s attempts to talk about emotional closeness, commitment, make requests for change in behavior, etc., as “emotional craziness” — and to think it’s a man’s job to “fix” their woman’s “craziness” — to silence, train women to never complain or bother them with “childish nonsense” etc.

      PS The reason I didn’t begin the article by defining gaslighting is that it was a commentary that linked to another article that defined the term. I will take your comment into consideration, however, and perhaps add a definition. Thanks again.

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  • June 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Wow! I’ve never seen so many defensive comments from aggressive “gas-lighting” men, seeking to shut down an experienced relational professional before. Your article clearly stated that, as a general rule, men are socialised to dominate and silence women, in terms of the softer emotions and behaviour that they see as weakness. Most, but not all as you say, have these weak tendencies in themselves (because they are natural) but have been taught to deny, suppress them and to be critical and dismissing of those who have them (women). This seems close to people who have developed Avoidant Attachment Systems from childhood. They coerce and manipulate and bully to be rid of in the other what they cannot tolerate in themselves – what their parents would not tolerate in them when they were young. While women may also coerce, criticise and bully, it is much less common and usually for other reasons (survival not power). My Mother was such a person – she Gas-lighted with impunity. My brother has identified with her and is very cruel and aggressive towards any emotion or weakness (incl ill-health) in both himself and others. I have been gas-lighted many many more times by men than by women. Women are conditioned (socialised) to submit and turn to either the “freeze” or “flight” response, whereas men are conditioned (socialised) to turn to the innate “fight” response when they feel threatened and cannot cope in a functional way. All Psychology research & textbooks acknowledge this. It is the main reason that our prisons are largely full of men & Psychiatric Wards are full of women. Men tend to develop Sociopathic Personality Disorders and women tend to develop Borderline Personality Disorders. Girls are more likely to be sexually assaulted than boys are. Testosterone drives the male need to be aggressive and to dominate and to fear weakness. At no point in your article did you say it was ONLY men but rather MOSTLY men – strange that so many men chose not to see that but to accuse you of global statements. Rather than contribute to the exchange of useful information, they merely sought to correct what they perceived to be a mistake in your article. Did they ask for clarification? No! Just to criticise. All great examples of what you were talking about. The man who stated that he was inconvenienced because you had not explained what gas-lighting was, and he had to go elsewhere to find out – as thought it was your fault, is a prime example. Are YOU really responsible for HIS ignorance? Hoist by his own petard, perhaps. Thank you for this informative article, and well handled replies to the responses.

    Reply
    • January 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      Maybe they are just tired of seeing inumerable posts about how men should act posted daily and weekly on their facebook timelines, etc. It is kind of amusing to hear women who are passive-aggressively trying to control men complain when those men stand up to them. No doubt you will attack me also for daring to point out not all women are perfect (the great contemporary taboo). Pointing this out does not detract from the fact that a lot of men are real bastards (and I detest them also). But good golly, spend a week in my shoes and you’ll see what I mean – probably 99% of all relationship and psychological articles that make it into our pop culture assume the male to be dysfunctional and the female to be the standard.

      Reply
      • January 6, 2017 at 7:21 am

        In all due respect, Cato, seems to me that your comment is an example of gaslighting.

        And the intent of gaslighting is:

        (1) to shame women to silently “keep their place” (in this case, by reinforcing the idea that when a woman “complains” that means she is being “controlling,” or that she “detests” men, etc. … in addition to minimizing the gravity of women’s concerns by referring to posted comments as “kind of amusing”).

        (2) to get women to buy into “let boys be boys” and male dominance as norms (which also means entitled to treat/mistreat women and weak members of society in general, as they please (in your words, “the fact” is “that a lot of men are real bastards” and you’re “daring to point out that women are “not perfect” either …; and

        (3) to derail the focus away from a woman’s concerns, and back to where women’s attention is solely on what men need, what hurts or “tires” men, and as codependents, to think it’s their job to “rescue men” and their failure if men aren’t happy etc.

        The problem is not a competition for which sex is better or worse.

        To see what is designed to be a partnership as a fierce competition for “which sex is the biggest victim of the other” is unhealthy for both women and men.

        The real problem, as I see it, is we still socialize women and men to conform to arbitrary rules with good doses of shame, guilt, fear. In the case of men, they’re socialized to conform to “masculinity rules” or else, to be constantly shamed and instilled with fear that they’re not “real” men!

        Men are pressured to prove their worth through rightful dominance, and making sure they never let their female partner make them to any unmanly love stuff.

        From the time men are boys, they are taught to think of women as dangerous and crazy because they want emotional intimacy and connection and closeness — that is nonsexual.

        Men learn to view women partner’s attempts for emotional intimacy as a controlling and dangerous contamination to manhood.

        This is a real problem, and causes much emotional suffering, acting out addiction related problems, not to mention what it does to the children.

        Finally, I would agree that pop culture depicts human beings in dehumanizing, demeaning ways.

        It is false to say, however, that 99% attacks of pop culture are of men as “dysfunctional,” whereas women are depicted as the “standard.”

        We still live in a women where there is a prevalence of hate propaganda against women, and female members of family, especially moms and wives, are given the larger share of blame by far.

        Whatever the stats are on that … the main point to all of us needs to be on the real facts, and that is that:

        Women are human beings. Men are human beings. All human beings have needs for emotional connection. They deserve to enjoy the freedom of authentic relating and a passionate friendship. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

        Reply
      • January 10, 2017 at 4:15 am

        I’m sorry Cato, but from 35 years of experience almost all “nice guys” are passive aggressive when they don’t get what they want and gaslighting is the next step, I am sure females do it too but definitely not like men, it is a reality of dealing with selfish people, but you are entitled to your opinion.

        Reply
  • June 16, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Brilliant article Athena, I’m sharing this with a whole range of people mystified and tormented by this highly distressing dynamic. And I agree with Crow, all these defensive comments from men – come on! The two dominant (and I mean *dominant*) gaslighters in my life are women, but without question this is a predominantly male tactic, used everywhere in the social and work world and across all cultures. As an academic sociologist and pastoral care volunteer for 20 years I see this terrible bullying tactic used as a weapon daily. Anyone who gets defensive reading such a succinct, considered article by a professional needs to take a good hard look in the mirror.

    Reply
    • June 23, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Thanks for the support and feedback, dechen. Much appreciated!

      Reply
  • July 29, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    This is such a great article, I have gone 3 months before where he has gaslighted me…saying I am the one that is making it that way-

    Well recently I expressed that I tell him things I love about him, tell him I get butterflies still, that when I walk outside all I am looking for is if I see him (live downtown Chicago) and if I do see him out randomly I get so excited! Yet he never tells me stuff like that-After 5 years of getting gas lighted, stonewalled, verbal abuse it’s just exhausting that he can’t even express emotions to me-I live one floor above him and he has never, ever just randomly knocked on the door to see me, to say hi-Even when I gave him a key, he never used it! It’s like he is a robot and can’t do things that are normal, like if you want to see someone so bad, you call them or go see them-

    He has basically said to me “I’ll tell you I love you when you are good…and don’t make the relationship bad”

    I am getting gaslighted now b/c a couple weeks ago my rent renewal was sent to me, I had 10 days to decide if I were stay here to not have my rent raised-I expressed this to him, since we’ve lived in this bldg since 2014-I looked at other places to see if I could save money, and I shared this with him-Yet not once did he say “I’ll miss seeing you” or “Oh no, you’re considering moving” or even “What can I do?”

    So the day before I needed to renew my lease I knocked on his door and asked him (in a nice way, I promise) “I have one question, does it matter to you that I have been looking at other place and thought about moving somewhere? Where you’d probably only see me on the weekends since I wouldn’t be one floor up?” He got this look on his face and said “I am not doing this” and walked away-I decided to follow him and let him have it-

    I was told that me thinking of moving out was a game, that I was a liar, I never do this or that…just attacking me-Saying how I ruin the relationship and he tries to save it-

    Now a normal person, such as myself, if he were thinking of moving out, I would have showed my concern for the very instance it was brought up-The first time if he mentioned it I would tell him how I’d miss him and talked to him about it-I wouldn’t have blown up and walked off at the question-

    After he kept yelling at me saying I was a liar, I was playing a game I got fed up with the 5 years of his verbal attacks that I told him “I hate you” and pushed him-Yes, I was very wrong to push him and that has never happened in my entire life, that rage, but him being 195 lbs and 6’4 and me being 5’5 110, he didn’t even move and it wasn’t a hard push-

    I did apologize afterwards in many ways, yet my apology is not good enough for him-

    He can dish it out, call me much worse things and do worse to me yet if I do something minimal to him he is majorly upset-

    This happened on July 9th, and I haven’t seen him since, well once when I was leaving the bldg-I tried calling, they go unanswered and when I texted and asked why he does not accept my apology and why does he keep ignoring me I got told “You are the one making it happen, I’m tired of being bullied”

    So I have stopped calling, stopped texting and no emails-

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Followed the link on your narcissist narrative article {which was compellingly accurate} and ended up at this article from the gaslighting link within that.

    I am an older white hetero-sexual male, and I suspect ethat most of your clients/readers are female. This may explain the particular perspective but it may also be that your own clinical experience suggest that men are the traditional antagonists.

    However, my experience is different. I personally know two men who behaved in this “gaslighting” manner, and only one of these gaslighted me. On the other hand, I know eleven women who behave/have behaved like this to those men closest to them, AND to other men who they perceive as posing a threat them or their control, usually of their husbands/boyfriends/partners.

    Some of these women are/have been close to me, but others are not.

    Maybe this “female as controller” is atypical in your experience, or maybe my experience as a male is not that surprising to an experienced therapist.

    I wondered if you considered writing a similar blog article but with a narrative/ slant placing women as the gaslighter and men as the victims.

    For me, it is seriously gender stereotyping to only portray men as controllers and not as victims. I know many (hetero) men who are bullied, harangued, controlled by their wives/girlfriends. The men want intimacy and closeness but it is the women who reject that & who diminish the feelings of the men. These same women humiliate the men if they attempt to bring these issues up – usually by suggesting that they are less then men for being so needy and clingy. The men are effectively told that their objection to the abuse is not valid but rather merely their own over-sensitivity and lack of manliness.

    I am sure that variations on that phrase are familiar to you as a therapist/counsellor.

    I suffered from this gaslighting from one of the two men I mentioned earlier. He was my direct supervisor in a local government workplace. He was a black male with a permanent condescending manner towards me, regardless of how well I worked or respectfully communicated with him. When I raised the issue with him, he looked away and diminished my position further by telling me that his own wife said the same thing. He attacked by self image by effectively calling me a girl. He refused to discuss my comments further.

    I have also been personally subjected to extensive gaslighting by four women. It is destructive, frustrating and leads to depression, particularly if you are obliged or at least feel obliged to have some form of meaningful relationship with them.

    I do try to read your article dispassionately but it is an effort to hear yourself (in general) being portrayed as controller and your controller(in general) as the victim. To understand how difficult it can be, can I suggest that your female readers replace “man” with “woman” and vice versa throughout your article and re-read it and gauge their own sense of injustice. Just to see how they react.

    I hope that you might consider writing a similar piece from “a man as the victim” perspective.

    Thanks for the work you do.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Just read the other comments (should have gone there first!)

    Is it fair to say that the use of conditional love in close relationships is an example of this.

    The constant, regular and persistent use of this by one partner to win arguments, establish control, achieve their goals at the expense of their partner, by withdrawing “love” and respect until they prevail.

    These same people appear to not comprehend or distinguish between unconditional & conditional love (presenting themselves as puzzled/hurt/offended etc) when they are spoken to like an adult.

    These same people insist that they are strong people and that those who challenge their abusive behaviour are week.

    Does these things fit in with “gaslighting”.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2016 at 1:52 am

    I am in my 60s. My husband has been doing this since I met him, 38 years ago. Only I didn’t recognize it because I was dysfunctional, in that I grew up in a very bad household, with my father being so physically abusive to my mother, even in front of us, their children, and also being terribly abusive to us, as well. He would line us up and beat us one by one, daring us to strike out at him, or scream so that he could beat us up more. He even used a belt buckle. He made my little brother stand on hus head against a wall for a long period of time while threatening the rest of us with fear as he irdered ys all to decide what iur worst punishments would be. And then he would start doing thise things to brother while screaming WE made HIM do it! I was horrified and scared of him. I have been thrown out a window and run over by his bike. I’ve been woken at wee hours to come downstairs to pick up his very snot-filled tissue, which he had tossed onto the floor hinself but and said was mine, so ordered me to bend diwn to pick it up. I’d bend over and he would kick me in the stomach or punch me in the face or…. It was non-stop beatings and pure hell growing up there. It was constant fear. It was the mid 60s, and I once called the police on him, but my mother answered the door – at night wearing sunglasses b/c her eyes were black & blue. And guess what? SHE TOLD THEM I WAS LYING AND THEY BELIEVED HER AND SCOLDED ME FOR WASTING THEIR TIME! Imagine my fear and disappointment with realizing that even the cops refused to help me!!! Then my father threw me down the cellar stairs and locked me down there. It was an old home with a rat infested cellar! We lived off the railroad, near a tannery. It was a dirt floor, and moldy, too. I hate my so called parents, to this day! I moved away at 18 and have never looked back. I haven’t seen nor spoken with them in decades, but they’re still alive, I know, and have never – not once bothered to try and find or contact me. I can’t bear to call them. Clearly, they never cared about me. I was quite messed up for many, many years, and didn’t know a bad relationship from a good one. I was so dysfunctional, starved for love and kindness. I had no friends, and still don’t b/c my husband doesn’t like anybody that I like. And he’s pretty much a jerk to people that I like and either tells them wrong things about me, or sizes them up like they might want to “do” him!! Eeegads, no!!! And he’s always gaslighting me, telling me how crazy I am, how paranoid or stupid. He even tells me how I think! He asks me questions then answers them for me! For years and years I have lacked faith in my own self. But now I am waking up, b/c I am so angry with him. I can see more than I ever could see before… My husband is a pervert! He has hundreds of old porn magazines, hundreds of old VCR tapes and DVD porn movies. He’s collected thousands of internet porn movies, and even chats with online porn. Ten years ago he set up numerous accounts on dating at porn sites, using names like muffdiver 55 and such. He made the mistake of leaving open his laptop, where I could hear dings as the nessages came in from ladies, many even older than me, wanting to hook up with him in nearby cities. Stupidly, he made his password 123456, and I was amazed I figured it out so easily bc who dies that? He was making what they called “no commitment fuc* dates”. What a jerk. He always made me feel like a bad person if I so much as wasn’t in the mood, so we had so much sex I was shocked he wanted/needed more. He’s not even handsome. He’s got sagging cheeks from years of smoking (I don’t smoke), age spots all over his face and head, and breath so bad, you’d gag! I think it’s partly from his rotting teeth. He’s got a pot belly and no hair on most of his head. Those ladies must have been terribly desperate, maybe even terribly disappointed, though, becauae, for 11 years, he’s also had erectile dysfunction. I think it’s vascular with the way he smokes 2.5 packs per day and drinks two 2-litre bottles of Mountain Dew everday. His dysfunction has become so bad, he’s like a balled up sock and absolutely never gets stiff. He is always so horny and has always talked like a horny 15-yr-old boy, complete with adolescent like pick-up lines. He’s never grown-up with his talk. Just plain stupid and disgusting. He also needs outfits, like crotchless pantyhose and short tops with no sleeves. He objectifies women and belittles me if I don’t like it. We can be walking in a parking lot full of people and he’ll say “show me your titties. Flop them all about. I’d like to grab those titties. Take off your shirt. You love it and you know it. I’m going to slap your ass and fuc* you hard. ” Crap like that. It disgusts me – it’s not even amusing. Besides, he can’t even live up to talk b/c of his not being able to to get an erection. We aren’t friends – we have no fun nor do we go out nor do we do things together – he treats me like a secretary and a personal female body for his personal needs. He’ll watch enough porn to etch those porn moments into his mind, then thinks he can do me while telling me to say nasty things to him. He disgusts me now, more than ever. His penis is unable to penetrate so he rubs it between my upper thighs in the same motion as intercourse. And he can ejaculate but never with an erection. I don’t know how he does it but while he does it, he grabs me and squeezes my breasts like he wants to rip them off, and it hurts like heck and feels like rape. I don’t like it, and nothing ever feels good anymore for me, since he only cares if his needs. If I tell him it hurts or what I don’t enjoy, he’ll tell me I am ruining his erection and I have too many rules. So not liking pain and doing a balled up sock are rules. Yep, now I realize those porn dates told him to take a hike. He’ll say such disgusting adolescent sexual talk, that I want to hit him with something and knock him out cold. There is no love, no respect, no friendship, no talking unless it’s sexual. I’m not any prudish woman, either. But he is overbearing and disgusting. Smelly, too! He’s no longer attractive and has become such a perverted and disgusting old man. He gaslights me every which way he can, with everything, and I am now so fed up with him I am throwing out my years of stuff and planning to just walk out. I have thought long and hard about suicide, and even thought that best. But now I realize that my suicide isn’t worthy of him. The way I now see, it is that he should be the one to die, not me, so I’m NOT killing myself – I’m finally strong enough to leave! He’s already been doing that killing me part for years. No more. That rat bastard can have his porn, his sockball dick and unappealing talk, along with his bad breath chimney soot lungs, and he can go do whatever he likes WITHOUT ME! I have no education and no skills, but I’m NOT stupid, so maybe Walmart would train me for something. Don’t they like older people? Picking up dog poop would be a relief from this life. No more abuse from anybody, anymore! Not ever! I have had enough night terrors from fear, and bad feelings about myself, and him telling me I am crazy, that I just want to walk out and never be seen by him again. Adiós, Amigo.

    Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 5:31 am

      Dear “i will go free,” I pray that you are ok and have moved on to a better partner and onto pursuing YOUR dreams. Just found this wonderful article, read your comment and my heart aches for you.

      Reply
  • December 29, 2016 at 5:17 am

    Excellent article athena, this is an important message to get out there, so thank you for finding the words, to put a voice to how so many people are feeling!

    I do not believe that people who gaslight have many options to change their behavior, like you say, it is their drug of choice and it is seriously addictive.

    I do however feel that this is only one side of the story. Gaslighting and emotional abuse is only one side of the coin. People who allow this type of abuse, most often without even being consciously aware that they are being treated in a manner that is abusive, is another side of the same coin of addiction. People who desparately need either an intense emotional or an intense sexual connection with another adult figure,have been wounded and damaged/programmed by their nervous systems to respond viscerally. Both parties experience symptoms of intense anxiety.

    I would encourage anyone who experiencing gaslighting to have the courage to step away from being a victim, towards healing this destructive pattern of abuse. Nothing is ever personal and all experiences are valuable if we are courageous enough to look for the silver lining.

    Reply
  • January 5, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    This is good coverage of a very damaging topic. I really detest some of my fellow men to be honest. That said, let’s be honest – some women really are nuts, just as some men are. Not every man is “gaslighting”, some men really are dealing with crazy women (and yes, many of whom were unfortunately made that way by bad men earlier in their life), and those women can be relentless in their obsessions.

    Reply
    • January 6, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Thanks for the comment Cato. Conceivably, gaslighting itself needs to be regarded the cause of much emotional disturbance in a relationship. The use of gaslighting itself is designed to make a female partner feel crazy. In all cases, it harms a relationship.

      Looking back at situations in which you were dealing with a “crazy” woman, the question remains: Was this person crazy or merely human for getting upset because her concerns were handled with gaslighting?

      In any case, using the term “crazy” is name calling, and not likely to help two people build a mutual respect and understanding of one another.

      If a partner is diagnosed with a mental disorder, well, wouldn’t that be more cause to never use gaslighting?

      It is unfortunate that men are taught/socialized from boyhood to think of women as “dangerous to masculinity” and “crazy” because they want emotional intimacy and connection and closeness — that is separate from sex.

      Men learn to view women partner’s attempts for emotional intimacy as a controlling and dangerous contamination to manhood. This is a real problem, and in my experience, the root of much emotional suffering, acting out addiction related problems, not to mention what it does to children in the family.Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 5:35 am

      Cato, if I may suggest something: don’t take this article personally. It appears that you have interpreted the words of the articles as an attack on ALL MEN, which it is not. My goodness, some of the men commenting here really cannot read objectively!!

      Reply
  • January 7, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    And another gender ideologues trying to deny the basic of the human brain.

    Men are not socialize to dominate my dear, they are socialize to COMPETE. Your entire basis is off line. When you will ever see men as people then maybe you will eventually rise above your gender division that only exist in your own mind.

    Women and men both compete, both scam and both use various “tools” to get on top. You focus only on men, and that makes you and your article a man hating propaganda tool for feminist hate machine.

    When will you consider the entire make-up industry of women to be gas lighting? No you will not, because you base your conclusion on gendered feminist hate studies made back when it was all ok to bash men and men only.

    Today men’s are far less aggressive and dominant than any other men in the history of the world. And yet, you falsely accuse them of wrong, using old statistics anda data.

    Anyone can see what men are, and anyone can see the total failure and moral decay of the feminist agenda and its hate filled zealots.

    Finding issues with a single gender is a futile attempt to signal to the world that the other gender somehow is pure and innocent. Newsflash, men get divorced, cheated, lied, and falsely blamed in equal share to women.

    Other newsflash, in the lesbian relation the amount of gas lighting is far bigger than in male gay relations.

    But again, because that kind of real facts will blow your made up gendered man hating feminist statistics to hell you will never admit them as evidence and build an egalitarian case off them.

    Women lie since the second they apply the first make-up on their faces…. and they continue to lie about their weight, age, fitness, shape, beauty, body and hair color and so on trough their entire life span.

    Avoiding the biggest ever lie in the human gender history, the female make-over is like denying the most obvious truth of them all:
    women cheat far far more than men

    of course no hate filled gendered sexist feminist statistic will ever look at the amount of lies a woman is capable of creating during her entire life… it is way easier to create some false statistics using self victimization data and blame MEN for all the problems

    of course your article is false, as your data
    gendered data made by feminist statisticians that use ONLY WOMEN victims of abuse
    until recently the MEN were not even considered EVER as the victim of abuse, so your entire research is bias, gendered, one sided and wrong.

    and so is your phony article

    also you show so much incredible man hating bias in your replies that is hard not to see that your own man hating feminist approach governs your entire logic

    you never cared about being fair, you only cared about the data that blame men

    you never wanted to construct a real proper article about the wrongs of gas-lighting and how both genders are the victims of it, you wanted to blame a single gender as the victim and another gender as the problem

    just as all feminist Marxists do you divided the world into groups
    the oppressed, perpetual victims that will never ever get justice
    and the oppressors, the evil group that use power, force, coercion to keep the oppressed down

    yes, you are a good disciple of the most vile ideology on earth, Marxism
    you cannot be fair, you cannot see between the ideological division lines, you are bias and your work is both wrong and false

    try this instead
    the system that both women and men function is a closed system that has a balance point, therefore for each action a group does, there is an equal and opposite reaction

    by identifying problems with one gender you have your work cut in half, now you have to prove that each and every problem a gender has, is created by the other gender…yes, that is equality and real unbiased feminism

    if men gaslight then what women do?
    if you cannot answer to this question then you are biased and gendered man hating ideologue, not a real intellectual

    here are some of the few things that women do that may provoke gas-lighting
    – cheat
    – blame
    – lie and pretend
    – abuse trust
    – misuse trust
    – deny sex and weaponize sex
    – insult and demean

    try acting fair if you ever want to escape your own feminist mentality that traps you in a perpetual gender bias state that will only make you see men as evil and women as victims

    men are not evil, the society does not force men to be evil, women are not victims the society does not force women to be victims

    try again, this time stop using false feminist statistics and make your own proper gender-less research

    until you will see both genders as equally evil/victims I will file this article under “feminist man hate articles” on my archive

    shame

    Reply
    • January 8, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Thanks for commenting, Titel. Your response seems a “good” example of “gaslighting” however, quite an extreme one, replete with the use of several linguistic tactics, such as “false equivalencies” and “word salad” (mix of falsehoods with truths, intentional misattribution of labels etc), which are scientifically designed (and proven at least with high odds, about 60%) to cripple the critical thinking capacity of the brain, more specifically the ones of unsuspecting human beings. What is often also referred to as “Orwellian contradictions” that fascist or totalitarian societies used to cripple public mind.

      The more informed our society becomes of these crippling methods of “discussion” or “debate,” which render discussion or debate mute, the more we can protect the sanctity of our human minds and relationships, and society.

      In my opinion, any system that promotes dominance and supremacy of one group, with “rights” to silence another group, whether they do so explicitly or in hidden ways, victimizes both men and women, and all persons and groups involved (both those in roles of “masters” as well as the “slave” (and children in family contexts) are equally victimized), blocking possibilities for them to form the shared intimacy and lasting friendship they yearn to create. Men and women both deserve to be regarded as amazing miracle-making human beings.

      No further comment. The above does not warrant a reply. It speaks for itself.

      Reply
    • June 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      What I got out of all that, was that you blame women and it’s their fault they are gaslighted….hmmmm. interesting.

      Reply
  • May 12, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Dear Author,

    Please note that the author of the cited article is “Yashar Ali” not “Bashar Ali.”

    Reply
    • May 12, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Thanks for pointing this out, Kay. It now stands corrected, thanks again. Best wishes

      Reply
  • August 14, 2017 at 11:43 am

    My ex husband gaslighted me during the entire marriage and physically abused both me and the children. I was terrified of him after he killed the family cat, came into my work to tell me about it, then said he made it all up, although he had scratch marks and blood all over him and the cat was suddenly gone! Only after I finally got away did I find out a cat matching that description was found mutilated in a plastic bag laying in the filed behind where we lived.
    He continued abusing the children so when I tried to protect them, he used gaslighting and claimed “parental alienation” to literally turn every single one of my friends and family against me. They all thought I was making the abuse up and crazy.
    He continued abusing the children and hiding it the entire time he had custody and completely severed the relationship with my children.
    I’m just now recovering all my memories and have suffered severe PTSD because of what he did to me.
    I’m working with therapy to recover my memories and understand how this man abused and gaslighted both me and his first wife only to go on and “happily” marry a woman with a history of abuse and why he doesn’t abuse her…

    Reply
  • September 25, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Emotional abuse doesn’t have a gender.

    Reply
  • March 24, 2018 at 10:05 am

    So, how does a couple go about changing this dynamic? What if a husband, recognizing that his behavior is destructive, wants to change it?

    Reply
  • March 24, 2018 at 10:08 am

    …or am I setting myself up for more gaslighting by believing that he wants to change?

    Reply
  • April 2, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Great stuff. Do you have a citation about the pressure on men to be “masculine” intensifying in the last two decades?

    Reply
  • June 2, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    What I got out of all that, was that you blame women and it’s their fault they are gaslighted….hmmmm. interesting……just like it’s their fault they get hit or beat down. Wow.

    Reply
  • September 22, 2018 at 2:31 am

    It wasnt until recently I began to understand what gaslighting is and that this was likely whats going on with my husband of 14 years. I could not figure it out and then i read what to look for in a person who is being gaslighted and when I fit into each one, I felt relieved in a way bc I couldn’t figure out what was going on but it wasn’t normal and who could i talk to about this? Everyone I was close to and everyone is his family all agree that the problems we have all begin with me or “I’ve caused more issues for him then he has for me” And he used my struggles against me. My Father commited suicide 1 year to the day of my son’s 1st birthday and it was tough to get over. Especially when you already are dealing with other things that may or may not have triggered my father’s depression. And i was taking medication for severe endomitriosis for years and it was becoming a comfort for me the more time went on not just ending the pain physically but the pain mentally. My husband began to tell me i was wrong to put my son and him through my depression that’s not what a good wife does. I became more addicted while he put me down and made everyone i loved think I was wrong. I began to hide taking more of those until it got to a point i had enough and i told him. Slowly things changed and he started talking more to his sister who was jealous and got mad whenever her brother took my side or had my back for when she was rude to me. Now he began to lie about taking to her, let her belittle me, make her life a priority over our family. Ib worked hard to get off my medicine but as time went on she would make fun of me behind my back, she put me down financially anytime i gave her kids a dollar she’s thank him behind my back under her breath and even worse he kept money he got away from mev even though i touched his. He would side with her on things he use to complain about but let’s her think it’s only me who won’t call her or answer for her bc he’s afraid of that suddenly. When i try to talk about these issues he says im crazy, all i do is bitch and calls me money hungry for wanting to get the same ring i got from him after someone took mine and had the money from insurance. He did things with his family with money and says it’s not against our boundaries to not ever keep money separate… its different he says. He shares our problems when we promised to never do so. Im making a bigger deal then it is. Its awful to see someone who once treated u like a princess to hurting you this way using your health issues against you after losing av parent that way.
    Is this a form of gaslighting??????

    Reply
    • September 30, 2018 at 8:47 am

      Thank you for commenting Brokenhearted, and for sharing your insights and experiences. Yes much of what you detail is what you already identified as gaslighting. Trust yourself, you have good instincts. If you are not seeing a professional with experience in this area to support you to build and discover your core strengths and authenticity, please consider doing so. You deserve to learn how to protect your happiness, from within, and take the reins as choice maker and agent of your life and happiness. Thanks again, and best wishes.

      Reply
  • October 16, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you for this well -written article, Athena. It describes perfectly what it is like to be gaslighted by someone you love.

    The fact that so many men have come on here, getting all defensive about this largely male tactic just shows how unwilling most of them are to change or to look at the way males are (anti ) socialized in our society as being a huge part of the problem.

    I mean, it’s just so much easier to blame women instead,isn’t it?

    Reply
  • January 27, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Great article. It’s interesting to watch men invade information warning women of this type of abuse, and act like the assertive responses they receive are “abusive” women.

    It always interests me about how much men whine about pronouns used to describe behaviors most often attributed to their sex. How many women whine when Borderline Personality Disorder is typically applied to them? Never.

    Men gaslight much more than women, and think it is their right. When they attack women who give it right back to them, they are incensed. Facts are facts. More women need shelter, protective orders, and assistance from men than men need from women. If we had equal pay, men would find out how necessary they really are when they abuse women.

    Reply
    • January 28, 2019 at 9:38 am

      Thanks for commenting Tanya, appreciate your support and sharing your wisdom in this area. Yes, it is a fact, that women who do not have financial means to care for themselves, and often children too, are more prone to getting stuck, and at the same time, right wing political supporters with financial give direct support to policies and propaganda campaigns that deter women from having financially independence (as was the case prior to the 1960s by the way). These are inhumane policies, for women, children and men alike. Best wishes to you

      Reply
  • January 28, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    I’m not sure how to word this exactly, but Is it common for someone to attract multiple men who “gaslight”? I’m seeing similarities in my best friends ex husband as well as her latest boyfriend who have both told her shes crazy and make her think everything is her fault. Is she prone to meeting men like this?

    Reply
    • January 28, 2019 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks for the question about gaslighting Sue. It is commonly used by men, even otherwise good guys, to get out of talking about subjects and hearing women’s complaints, and other relational things, that are regarded by men as “unmanly” and merely “emotionally crazy” things women do that men “need to fix.” See my recent post on Romanticized Fantasies that Make Women Easy Prey for Narcissist, and thanks for writing.

      Reply
  • March 11, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Excellent article, thank you for the insight. I’ve benefited from other people sharing their personal stories here, so I will do the same because it’s been really difficult to discern the problems in my marriage – even with the help of a marriage therapist. This article helps me understand what’s going on and possibly why. I particularly appreciated the general comments about how this comes to be through the the socializing of men and women.

    I dated my husband for 5 years prior to marriage and it was a wonderful time of shared responsibilities, mutual caring, mutual respect, mutually gratifying and deeply satisfying sex, he anticipated my needs and eagerly supported what I wanted or said I needed, both of us celebrated each other’s individualism in careers, etc. He was sensitive, supportive, problem solving, positive. I had infant child by a previous marriage at the time this new relationship was forming, and he treated the child in the same manner – with all encompassing love, acceptance and inclusion. He was so thoughtful, so considerate! We lived together for 2 of these 5 years. It was a truly wonderful, almost magical time. That’s why it seemed so natural to get married. So we did. We bought a house. He legally adopted my child. Heaven on earth, right?

    It was shortly after getting married – within six to eight months – when a “switch got flipped.” Our sex life became very one-sided in his favor; division of household duties became very one-sided also in his favor; he refused to make a monthly budget or plan for our future together, he poo-pooed any notion of me going back to school by disallowing use of our now family resources to do so, he discouraged me from getting a better paying job; he refused to equitably participate in child-care, child-rearing and instead tried to make me feel bad that the child was getting more of my time and attention that he was. Prior to marriage, his behavior reflected his words, meaning he did what he said he would do and showed integrity. After we got married, not so much.

    After marriage, each and every attempt by him to control the narrative and reality of our marriage turned into bitter, raging arguments as I am strong-willed and stand-up for myself. I now know the proper terminology – he began gaslighting me. Pretty much all of a sudden after we got married and bought a house together ANY request I made that did not line-up with his own interpretation of how things “should be” was met with defensive, condescending, dehumanizing, illogical, hostile reactions – some of which were very cruel and scarring. He would say “you’re crazy,” “you need to have your head examined,” “if you saw things my way, we wouldn’t have a problem,” “if you don’t like it here, then get out,” “If you cared about my feelings, you wouldn’t (ask for / want/ talk about) such things,” “you don’t understand me,” “you keep misinterpreting what I am saying,” “how come your glass is always half-empty?,” “you always have an answer, don’t you?,” “Why can’t you just accept what I say? Why do you always have to rebutt what I say?,” “You are keeping me from expressing my personality,” “your requests are an attempt to control me,” “What am I supposed to do? Just roll over and go along with everything you say?” “Everything is good as long as I don’t say a word and you get your way.”

    Some examples? When we were living together this wasn’t a problem. After we got married I had to ask for our bath towels to be used by each of us individually and not shared, and he went off on me. This was the first time he told me I was crazy and it was so shocking that I remember it like it was yesterday. Before marriage, we had frequent, mutually satisfying sex. After marriage, foreplay was shortened and/or non-existent and he would engage only long enough to satisfy himself. Even when asked for more, he would ignore my requests and “blame” me for being so good that he couldn’t control himself. He would promise to do better next time, but then never would. When I asked for help with household chores like cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry since we both worked full-time, he responded with child-like tantrums complete with arm flinging and claimed he should not have to do any more than what he was already doing (taking out the trash, mow a very tiny patio lawn) because he was older than me. There were many, many times he agreed to do something, and then didn’t do it. Like shop for cheaper car insurance. Think days or weeks of delay. In order to avoid confrontation, I would go ahead and do it myself. When he saw that I did this, he didn’t say sorry or thank you, he got angry and accused me of “taking it away from him.” And the list goes on and on and on.

    Because of this, I spent many years thinking I was to blame for the lack of understanding in my marriage and that it was I who needed to modify my behavior (the way I acted, the tone of voice, the time of day the requests were made, how I spent my time, the manner in which I asked for things because let’s face it, I can be cold and harsh at times when asking for my 10-minutes of solitude to read a magazine) in order to have a more positive impact on my needs actually being met. He would blame everything on me – my alleged secret signals that he interpreted and acted inappropriately upon; my unspoken needs that he ascertained and made decisions about without actually consulting me, etc. So I became hyper-aware of how I engaged in the marriage and I did this ad nasuem with no improvement (in fact, things got worse and worse as the years wore on – each incident of me asking for something I wanted or needed, or asking for fairness, led to heated marital strife if he didn’t agree with the request.) And my needs in any category, on any level were still no where close to being met. I became seriously depressed and found solace in the numbing effects of alcohol, considered suicide, considered having an affair. I regularly questioned myself if whether or not what was asking for was even valid.

    At one point, I readied the paperwork for divorce and he in turn threatened to make separation unbearable and told me if I was a decent human I would agree to marriage counseling (which was funny at the time since he refused marriage counseling for several years prior to this.) So, we went to marriage counseling off-and-on for about 5 years from that point. When things got bad, we’d go pretty regularly for several weeks at a time, then our counselor would send us off on our own, but we ended up back in her office within months.

    The best thing the counselor did for me was validate my needs and let my husband know that the things I was asking for were pretty basic and non-negotiable. She worked with us and gave us plenty of positive interpersonal tools to move forward with. He would do OK until he didn’t – which was sometimes only a few days up to several weeks. I got the impression (or at least gave him the benefit of the doubt) that he was trying, but that he couldn’t quite overcome himself and his ways. Sometimes I felt sorry for him. Sometimes I chose to be empathetic toward him. He seemed confused by the rules of engagement – almost always saying he didn’t quite understand. As a consequence, no real or lasting progress has ever been made in the relationship. The agreements, the tools we spent thousands of dollars on via counseling never took meaningful root.

    We are now 5 years post-counseling. I stopped going when my husband out-right lied to the counselor saying he was “unaware” of a specific request I made and he agreed to multiple times – yet failed in his part to make good on it for six months. He told the counselor that he was unaware that I asked for something and denied that he agreed to it. A bold-faced lie. And he dismissed the whole thing as really not that important anyway. At that point I thought maybe he was literally loosing his mind – as in dementia or cognitive decline. But a doctor’s evaluation said he tested “within the range of normal for his age.”

    So here were are – He continues to routinely violate agreements and not act as per agreed. Calling him to accountability is synonymous with cuing more marital strife. So I try to avoid him and engaging with him as much as possible. 14 years in marriage, 19-year relationship total and still going through regular gaslighting episodes and martial strife.

    Part of the reason for staying in the the marriage all this time is vow-keeping – as in it’s not cool to run away just because things get tough and are not to one’s own liking, especially when the partner gives the semi-appearances of trying. Another part is due to economics. I never had the financial resources or support network to strike out on my own with any reasonable chance of success – or at least that’s what I have told myself. At one point, my husband stopped being a provider and our house went into foreclosure. I circled the wagons, took two jobs to make ends meet for 5 years. But he never, and i mean NEVER went back to working/earning his fair share and has refused to modify his lifestyle to match our reduced earnings. Eventually we were broke and forced to moved to a cheaper locale and give up one of our cars.

    I feel terrible that I have stuck around this long. And I’ve not even mentioned my child. The psychological damage to my child having been raised with such a toxic family dynamic is truly beyond words and so incredibly sad to watch play out in a young person’s life. For the rest of my life I will painfully witness the devastating effects in my child’s life, relationships, etc. My child refuses to go to counseling to learn anything about what has happened and and possibly heal from it. It affects literally everything. I know I did a lot of things right as a parent, but honestly, I feel like a failure.

    As one can imagine, there is not much left of the marriage – no intimacy, no sex, no love, no respect, no sense of emotional security, no hope, no future plans. Even when my husband compliments me, I am dismissive because I know it’s not genuine. I don’t wish any ill upon my husband, but if he died tomorrow I would really be OK with it. All that’s left are the financial ties like house mortgage, retirement plans, etc. Even those seem more and more unimportant when I look back on how many years I’ve forfeited my heart’s desires to a manipulator.

    Looking back, were there signs that I missed that he wasn’t all that he claimed to be? Yes, there were. First of all, I am his third wife. His first wife cheated on him; his second wife became a workaholic and divorced him days after their son left for college. The cue that I missed was he blamed his first two wives exclusively for the divorces – he didn’t own any behavior of his own that have may have contributed to breakdown. Secondly, he is 23 years older than me. During the 5 years of heaven-on-earth-dating, this didn’t seem like a big deal, but looking back I now know better. He has leveraged his vastly greater life experience for his own selfish purposes AND denies doing so. Thirdly, he does not have any normal, long-term relationships to speak of – no high school or college friends; he does not even have working relationships with his adult children from prior marriages or his grandchildren. Not to mention his utter lack of successes in life. From doing the bible studies, I’ve come to see that my husband has “no fruit” to show for his life. Fourthly, he acted like looking after his elderly mother’s affairs (she was in a memory-care facility for 5+ years after we were married) as a burden and took $$ advantage of the privileged position he had with her checkbook. He did not treat her with respect.

    So I am slowly, carefully working on becoming financially self-supporting and will go from here. Just when I build up my resolve to move on, he turns on the charm and works diligently at re-building the marriage. I am a sucker and fall for it – who really wants to throw in the towel if things can be saved? But it has never proven sustainable. It’s just act. Within a matter of days, weeks or no more than couple of months when I feel confident enough to ask for something that he doesn’t think is valid then the pattern repeats. It’s repeated itself now for 13+ years. I guess I am a slow learner.

    I’d love to go to professional counseling for myself right now to have some support to heal emotionally from this, learn more about myself as to why I’ve tolerated being treated this way, and gain strength to move on, but I fear that doing so will just give him more reason to dog me and beat me down. My physical health has be deteriorating for years, and even with the specter of cancer brewing (precancerouse signs), he still treats me with disregard. I feel fortunate that he is not threatened by my weekly women-only bible study classes for the past 6 years as I find strength and normalcy in the relationships there. The only thing I look forward to and what keeps me going is the hope of what life will be like without him.

    Reply
 

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