June 9, 2023
Dr. Sarkis 2017 Psychology Today article is relevant today.
Recognize 11 manipulation tactics so you don’t fall in gaslighter’s trap. H.F.
11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used
to gain power. And it works too well.
Posted Jan 22, 2017
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or
entity, in order to gain more power, makes a
victim question their reality. It works much
better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible
to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of
abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.
It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize
how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in
the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his
wife to the point where she thinks she is losing
In my book Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and
Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free I
detail how gaslighters typically use the following
1. They tell blatant lies.
You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are
telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are
they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a
precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re
not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you
unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.
2. They deny they ever said something, even though
you have proof.
You know they said they would do something; you
know you heard it. But they out and out deny it.
It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe
they never said that thing. And the more they do
this, the more you question your reality and start
3. They use what is near and dear to you as
They know how important your kids are to you, and
they know how important your identity is to you.
So those may be one of the first things they
attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you
should not have had those children. They will tell
you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a
long list of negative traits. They attack the
foundation of your being.
4. They wear you down over time.
This is one of the insidious things about
gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie
here, a lie there, a snide comment every so
often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the
brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked
into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the
“frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is
turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes
what’s happening to it.
5. Their actions do not match their words.
When dealing with a person or entity that
gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than
what they are saying. What they are saying means
nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is
6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse
This person or entity that is cutting you down,
telling you that you don’t have value, is now
praising you for something you did. This adds an
additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well
maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is
a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and
again, to question your reality. Also look at what
you were praised for; it is probably something
that served the gaslighter.
7. They know confusion weakens people.
Gaslighters know that people like having a sense
of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot
this and make you constantly question everything.
And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the
person or entity that will help you feel more
stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.
8. They project.
They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are
constantly accusing you of that. This is done so
often that you start trying to defend yourself,
and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own
9. They try to align people against you.
Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and
finding the people they know will stand by them no
matter what—and they use these people against you.
They will make comments such as, “This person
knows that you’re not right,” or “This person
knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does
not mean that these people actually said these
things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the
gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like
you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that
leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s
exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more
10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.
This is one of the most effective tools of the
gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The
gaslighter knows if they question your sanity,
people will not believe you when you tell them the
gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a
11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.
By telling you that everyone else (your family,
the media) is a liar, it again makes you question
your reality. You’ve never known someone with the
audacity to do this, so they must be telling the
truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique.
It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the
“correct” information—which isn’t correct
information at all.
The more you are aware of these techniques, the
quicker you can identify them and avoid falling
into the gaslighter’s trap.
- Follow-up article: Are Gaslighters Aware of What They Do?
- Book: Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free
Copyright 2017 Sarkis Media: www.stephaniesarkis.com
Be sure to read the following responses to this post: