In a way, it’s psychological brainwashing. Gaslighting is a type of emotional or mental abuse when someone uses manipulation and distraction tactics to distort the truth, making their victim question their own reality. It can happen in any type of close relationship, including romantic relationships but also between family members, friends and coworkers.
It may not be as visible as other types of abuse but gaslighting can be just as damaging, says Robin Stern, PhD, a licensed psychoanalyst and author of The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life. “When a loved one undermines your sense of reality, you become trapped in a never-never land, where you feel bad, inadequate and crazy all the time,” she says.