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According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, gaslighting may lead a person to develop mental health concerns. The constant self-doubt and confusion can contribute to anxiety, hopelessness, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress, codependency, and depression. 


What Exactly Is Gaslighting?


Simply put, gaslighting is a way of manipulating someone to gain power. And it can sadly be very effective.

“Gaslighting is an abusive technique used to cause someone to doubt their thoughts and feelings. At first, the abuse is often subtle. For example, if someone is telling a story, the abuser may question a minor detail. The person may admit they were mistaken about a detail and then move on. The abuser may use that previous ‘victory’ to further discredit the person, perhaps by questioning the person’s memory. Over time, the individual may begin to doubt their emotions and memories. They may rely on their abuser to determine whether their memory is correct or their emotions are ‘reasonable’. The abuser takes advantage of this trust to gain control over their victim,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Gaslighting is frequently portrayed in popular culture as a man abusing his wife. However, people of any gender can gaslight others or be gaslighted. Gaslighting can also happen in platonic settings, such as the workplace. Anyone can become a victim.”


Affinity Health discusses some 10 warning signs of gaslighting and highlights how gaslighting can impact your mental health.

1. Lies

Even if you are confident that you are being told a lie, the person gaslighting you will try to convince you that it’s the truth. This is intended to confuse you and make you question your reality.

2. Distortion

You may be sure that you heard something, but someone who is gaslighting you will often make you feel guilty by denying ever saying such a thing. This tactic may cause your memory to be questioned, and the victim may be accused of being incorrect. Phrases like ‘You don’t remember, you’re wrong,’ or ‘No, that’s not how it happened’ may be used. They may also employ a technique known as ‘distortion’, in which they distort older memories or facts – these can be different from what you’re discussing, but they will usually add to the confusion.

3. Downplaying Your Emotions

You may say something and be met with a smirk or a laugh. The person gaslighting you may accuse you of being overly sensitive, making you or your feelings appear insignificant.

4. Feelings Of Anxiety And Self-Doubt

Gaslighting is not something that happens overnight; it takes time. The accumulation of lies and negative comments creates an environment in which you feel anxious and begin to doubt yourself.


5. Words Take Priority Over Actions

Examine a person’s actions; with gaslighters, their actions and words often tell two very different stories. Anyone can say anything, and words have no meaning; what matters is what they do.

6. Positive Reinforcement

Examine a person’s actions; with gaslighters, their actions and words often tell two very different stories. Anyone can say anything, and words have no meaning; what matters is what they do.

7. Perplexity

The person gaslighting understands that confusion breeds weakness, so the goal is to undermine your stability. It’s not uncommon for victims to seek reassurance and stability from someone they care about or crave approval from – usually the gaslighter.


8. Projection

Expect the gaslighter to accuse you of something they do themselves. It could be cheating, substance abuse, or something completely different. It frequently causes you to feel the need to defend yourself, diverting attention away from the gaslighter’s actions.

9. Isolating You From Friends And Family

You might discover that the gaslighter is attempting to turn people against you – or making you believe they are. They are usually master manipulators. A gaslighter will occasionally tell you things that they want you to believe another person is thinking. It’s important to remember that this is often different from the case and that the gaslighter is likely to lie to you regularly. It’s another attempt to make you uneasy and wonder who you can trust. Alternatively, they may try to convince others that you are unstable or a liar to make you question your reality.


10. Altering Your Environment

They may begin to alter your surroundings in a variety of ways. Some of your prized possessions may have been mysteriously damaged, or they may have vanished entirely. Things may appear missing for some time before magically reappearing where you thought they had been all along.

Healing From Gaslighting

Often, the first step is to educate yourself so that you understand what you’re dealing with.


“There are numerous articles about gaslighting available online. When a situation or a comment feels manipulative, write it down so you can refer back to it if you’re unsure. When speaking with the gaslighter, remember to stay alert to their tactics and any emotional triggers they may use. Spend some time deciding whether or not you can save the relationship, assuming the person stops gaslighting. Speak positively to yourself and be kind to yourself, even when it’s difficult,” adds Hewlett.


Because gaslighting is a type of abuse that thrives on uncertainty, people tend to distrust everything they hear, feel, and remember. Validation is one of the essential things a survivor can receive.


A survivor may benefit from re-establishing any strained relationships during the abuse. Other people can confirm one’s hazy memories. Others’ sympathy can help to alleviate feelings of shame. As a person’s social circle is rebuilt, they can relearn how to trust others and themselves.


Those who have been gaslighted may also benefit from therapy. A therapist is a third party who can assist in reinforcing one’s sense of reality. A person can rebuild their self-esteem and regain control of their lives through therapy. A therapist can also help with any mental health issues brought on by the abuse, such as PTSD. Gaslighting can be overcome with time and support.


About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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