You’ve probably come across the word ‘gaslighting’ recently – it’s been commonly used to describe a certain president (who now can’t admit defeat) and has been popping up all over social media with the rise in mental health discussions. But what does it mean and why is it named after a lamp?

The term ‘gaslight’ was coined by psychotherapists after the play, Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton – it tells the story of a manipulative husband attempting to control his wife by convincing her that she is going insane. One of the ways he does this is by adjusting the flame on a gas lamp and insisting that she’s imagining the light change.

According to Psychology Today, this manipulation tactic is prevalent among abusers, dictators, narcissists and cult leaders who slowly make their victims question their reality so they don’t notice they’re getting brainwashed. How do they do this?

Gaslighting techniques include:

If you’ve experienced any of the above, you may have found yourself:

Here’s what you can do if you recognise the signs:

Remember, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and the abuser is responsible for their own toxic actions. You are not to blame for what you have experienced.