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The 5 Types of Gaslighting With Examples

Types of gaslighting.
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Magnascan

Sadly, there are five types of gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation and abuse. Keep yourself informed and safe with this quick guide.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse which manipulates a person into questioning their own emotions, thoughts, memories, sanity and overall perception of reality. Gaslighting leaves people feeling confused, anxious, unstable and unsure of themselves. This abuse can happen in many different relationships including child-parent relationships, romantic partnerships, teacher-student relationships, doctor-patient relationships (medical gaslighting) and more.

Psychologists and organizations such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and categorize gaslighting in a variety of ways, but the definitions remain the same. Overall, the main categories of gaslighting include lying, trivializing, reality manipulation, coercion and scapegoating.

1. Lying

Lying to your face is a clear gaslighting tactic. It’s also one of the signs of a toxic person. Lying may include blatant or subtle lies. When confronted with evidence of their lying, they will repeat the lie over and over, and find excuses for why the evidence is not true. One example of this is lying about cheating on their partner, even when confronted with incriminating texts.

A gaslighter may also feign memory loss, or fully deny the facts when caught lying. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, examples of this include statements like “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and “you’re just making stuff up.”

2. Trivializing

Gaslighting involves the trivialization of one's feelings and experiences through acts such as brightsiding.
Gaslighting involves the trivialization of one's feelings and experiences through acts such as brightsiding.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / MireiaPascual)

Abusive gaslighters trivialize their victim’s wants and needs, by making their feelings seem unimportant. This is done through statements like “you’re too sensitive” and “you’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” Gaslighters do this to make their victims feel small and unimportant, convincing them that they have nothing to complain about.

This is also done through ‘brightsiding’, which is a type of toxic positivity that gaslighters use to invalidate their victim’s feelings and experiences. Saying things like “look on the bright side, it could be so much worse” is a type of toxic positivity which is unproductive and can be hurtful. Trivializing may also involve undermining you through humiliation, backhanded compliments, and more. Gaslighters will then trivialize your reaction to these statements by saying that they are “only joking” and that you’re being paranoid, dramatic, or too sensitive. 

3. Reality Manipulation

At the pinnacle of gaslighting is reality manipulation, in which the gaslighter attempts to make their victim question their own reality. This is done through countering their victim’s memory of events. Statements like “you’re wrong, you never remember things correctly” can contribute to gaslighting.

Gaslighters may also change the subject, and question their victim’s thoughts through phrases like “you’re imagining things” or “is that another crazy idea you got from your mother?” All of this is in an effort to bolster their own lies, and cause their victim to feel like they are going crazy, and therefore cannot trust themselves. 

4. Coercion

Gaslighters are expert manipulators, who coerce their victims into acting and feeling certain ways.
Gaslighters are expert manipulators, who coerce their victims into acting and feeling certain ways.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Tumisu)

Another category of gaslighting is coercion. According to, coercion, or coercive control, manifests through gaslighting in several ways. These include making you feel guilty for spending time with friends and family, humiliation and verbal abuse and guilting and manipulating you into doing things you don’t want to do.

Gaslighters may also use psychological manipulation by withdrawing affection, being cruel and demeaning, and more, in order to provoke rage. Once their victim gets angry, they say something like “I’m not abusive; you are the one yelling and losing control.” This helps them create the narrative that they are, in fact, the victim in the relationship. 

5. Scapegoating

Gaslighters never take responsibility for their actions. Rather, they will turn things around and blame their victims for their own actions. According to psychologists at Psychology Today, gaslighters will often make false accusations and blame those around them. They call their victims crazy and emotionally unbalanced, in an effort to paint their valid reactions as oversensitivity and overreactions.

For example, gaslighters often do a great job maintaining a cool exterior. They will continuously state that they don’t have any issues in the relationship, and that all the problems are coming from their victim. They create a narrative in which the victim is the crazy one, who is causing all the “drama.” When confronted with evidence or complaints of their nasty ways, gaslighters will respond that their victim is simply jealous, paranoid, or crazy. Gaslighters may even claim that their victims “made them” act a certain way, stating that they are not the instigator. 

If you think you’re being gaslit, it’s important that you reach out to friends, family, or organizations such as the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (800-799-7233) for support. Of course, bring up this abuse to the instigator, and try to distance yourself or leave that relationship when it’s safe to do so. 

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