Most often seen in intimate relationships, gaslighting is one of the methods narcissists use to gain the upper hand. This psychological manipulation can lead partners to question their own judgment and believe ideas that are patently untrue. Keep reading to find out what gaslighting is and why it works so well on even the most well-grounded person.
Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?

Nick Bognar

Nick Bognar, a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Find him at

It robs us our most fundamental experiential

Everything we think and do is based on what information we take in and how we make sense of it. When someone gaslights us, it takes away our ability to trust our senses and our own logic. Gaslighting is effective because it robs us of our most fundamental experiential and decision-making resources.

Once we’ve been convinced not to believe what we see, hear, or think, the abuser identifies themself as someone we CAN trust – even more than our own senses and our brain. When we’re afloat in the kind of chaos that results from not being able to trust your own brain, we cling even harder to someone who appears to be reliable, even if they’re doing and saying things that truly hurt. After all, how do we know they’re actually bad for us? We can’t trust ourselves. Gaslighting is the ultimate theft.

It makes you believe in what [the gaslighter] is saying

Gaslighting can be defined as psychological abuse that can make an individual question their perception, judgment, or memories. Victims usually feel confused and question themselves. Personally speaking, it is one of the worst things that you can do to someone.

The science behind gaslighting is that it makes you question your thoughts, judgments, and the likes by making you overthink what you did or said to a person. It is very effective because it makes you believe in what [the gaslighter] is saying. It gives you something to think about, which eventually makes you believe and agree with what they are saying or doing.

Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?

Sonya Schwartz

Sonya Schwartz, Founder of Her Norm.
Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?

Sam Lowy

Sam Lowy, I’m the CEO of Life Insurance Star, a New Jersey Insurance agency.

It makes you question your reality

I have first-hand experience being gaslighted. A roommate of mine from years back would use it on me all the time. [She] went from denying that she ate my food in the fridge and broke a few plates to making it seem that I was going insane; that I was losing articles of clothing while we’re the only two people in the apartment.

So, gaslighting is a tactic used by narcissists and bullies to make you question your reality. It’s like you’re being brainwashed to believe something that’s the exact opposite of what’s happening.

I spoke to a good friend (a psychiatrist) and told him about my problem, and he confirmed that my roommate could’ve been using the said tactic on me. He says it’s so effective because they do it over a prolonged period. In this case, I put up with this kind of behavior for nearly two years!

What’s worse is [narcissists] use other people who are close to you as ammunition to get you riled up.

Thankfully, that arrangement eventually ended before I began losing it completely.

It makes you confused

Gaslighting can greatly affect the mental health of an individual. As a relationship expert, I believe that gaslighting poses a danger in a relationship since gaslighters want to be in charge and to be right about everything.

What is the science behind gaslighting?

Gaslighting is the psychological manipulation by a deceiver that can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health. This [behavior] is usually observed in intimate relationships and social interactions where inequality is observed.

Why is it so effective in manipulating and punishing people?

Gaslighting greatly affects the thinking of a receiver by gaining control over the other person, making the victims confused and losing their identity and sense of perception. It is so effective that it can isolate people and control all the aspects of their lives.

Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?

April Maccario

April Maccario, Founder at AskApril.
Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?

Lynell Ross

Lynell Ross, Resource Director for Test Prep Insight, an online education resource company.

Masterful at playing the part of the caring husband/wife

Narcissistic behavior falls along a spectrum, and it is those on the extreme end that may be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as described in the DSM-III-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). This mental health diagnosis describes people who feel entitled, lack empathy, and are self-obsessed to such a state that their lives are negatively impacted by their own behavior. In the end, their world can come crashing down in an attempt to maintain their image.

The term gaslight comes originally from a 1938 play titled, Gaslight, about a woman whose husband manipulates her into believing she is going insane. In 1940 and 1944, two movies were made based on the play, which prompted psychologist Sam Vaknin, Ph.D., author of “Malignant Self Love,” to coin the phrase into modern psychology to describe the abuse and trauma inflicted on the partner of a malignant narcissist.

Why Gaslighting is so abusive

When the narcissist’s partner finally wakes up and realizes that they are being abused emotionally or otherwise, and they start to pull away, the narcissist may put a plan into action to “gaslight” them. The reason this technique is effective in manipulating and punishing people is that the narcissist can be masterful at playing the part of the caring husband or wife, appearing to “take care” of their partner while playing tricks on them behind the scenes.

The abuse victim of the narcissist feels confused because their partner can act loving but gives subtle messages which undermine their self-confidence and self-esteem. The narcissist often lies and isolates their partner, driving away other friends and family, so they feel alone and only have the one who is emotionally abusing them to lean on for support. The end result is that the victim feels like they are going crazy and does not challenge their abuser.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?
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Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?
Why is gaslighting such an effective manipulation tool?