Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes including low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilizethe victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. Instances can range from the denial by an abuserthat previous abusive incidents occurred, to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
The term originated from the British play Gas Light (1938, but originally performed as Angel Street in the United States) and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations (both titled Gaslight). The term has been used in clinical psychological literature, as well as in political commentary and philosophy.