Though it can take many different forms, at its core, gaslighting is a communication technique in which someone causes you to question your own version of past events. Most times, it’s meant to make you feel like you’re losing your grip on reality. In its milder forms, gaslighting creates an unequal power dynamic in a relationship. But at its worst, gaslighting can actually be considered a form of mind-control and psychological abuse.
The phrase originated from a 1938 mystery thriller, Gas Light, written by British playwright Patrick Hamilton. The play was later made into a popular movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. In the film, husband Gregory manipulates his adoring wife Paula into believing she can no longer trust her own perceptions of reality.
Gaslighting can occur in all types of relationships, from a "friend" telling you you're overreacting about them gossiping about you behind your back to a co-worker insisting that he's doing all of your team's work (when, in fact, you're the one working overtime). If you suspect someone is gaslighting you—whether it’s a supervisor at work, friend or spouse—here are seven ways to cope.