mental health, therapy, counseling and psychology terms glossary


Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person is made to question their own sanity so the abuser can exploit them. The abuser is often a narcissist or other controlling personality (like a cult leader or sociopath). They will manipulate the individual in order to control them to easily bend to their agenda. This could be a partner, a coworker/supervisor, or even a trusted friend.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of emotional and psychological abuse and manipulation. Narcissistic personalities will use gaslighting to cause you to doubt yourself just enough for them to manipulate you. That can be a lot or a little, depending on you and your relationship with the narcissist.

Gaslighting tactics include belittling, denial, misdirection, and even staging false events. The individual will feel disoriented and begin to question their own thoughts and memories. Once the person feels helpless and confused for long enough, they are then susceptible to being controlled by the abuser without question.

Gaslighting is very serious and can cause anxiety, depression, and psychological trauma. Therapy can help to understand the events as they truly took place and work to heal the trauma and restore self-confidence.

You can learn more about how to recognize narcissistic personality traits and gaslighting on our blog.

Anyone who believes they may be experiencing Gaslighting or any form of abuse should seek support. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 800-799-7233 or online chat at

At Claibourne Counseling, we offer caring treatment for individuals seeking validation and support!