They have a tell. “No you’re not“, whatever the topic and they’ll try to make you feel stupid.
They try to tell you what you’re (supposedly really) feeling, or that what you’re feeling is wrong. Feelings can’t be wrong, facts causing feelings can be wrong but again, there is a clear demarcation. It comes down to a 100% logical truth: Another person cannot know your mind better than you can. Anyone who claims otherwise is gaslighting you.
(For this reason, you will never hear a psychologist deny your experience, they will simply work with what you’ve got).
However gaslighting may be claimed by people who want to lie for attention and later claim other reasons. If you’ve got proof their ‘memory’ is wrong, they’re in the wrong. Sometimes manipulative people want you to take their version of events, with varying levels of awareness about how much they’re manipulating. That’s right, many gaslighters have little awareness about what they’re doing, and deny-deny-deny if they feel the slightest gain is to be had. Narcissists may use gaslighting without a conscious awareness of what they’re doing, like a deceptive fugue, better known as a ‘selective memory’. They’ll manipulate and even with dripping knife in hand, will always play victim, sometimes claiming to be gaslight victims themselves, or justifying themselves commonly with “She deserved it.” As if anyone deserves any form of abuse. That they can treat someone they ‘loved’ with such cruelty, someone intimate and personal, that they took personal revenge? You’re dealing with an omega, lowest of the low.
The two types of narcissist act differently but both play Victim to control others: the covert kind often self-diagnoses (no, don’t do that) to control the narrative of their own life and use this ‘diagnosis’ as an excuse to control others. Frequently female.
The overt narcissist Plays the Psychologist (without qualifications, obviously), diagnosing everyone who disagrees with them as some form of ‘crazy’ (as if mental illness is an insult and sign of personal weakness). This type are more often male and almost always think of themselves a superior version of Freud (who, as we know had Mother Issues), so they often go for women they believe they can break, psychologically, and put back together in their model of Perfect Woman. First they minimise your experience before completely denying it. Naturally, this never works and she leaves him eventually. They become more bitter and sadistic as time goes on. They like Freud because they mistake it for an easy way to blame with a veneer of social acceptability.
Bear in mind the key question: If this person is so crazy, why do you want them?
For couple there is a simple way to smoke the rats out.
If they are actually ‘crazy’, why don’t you want to see a psychologist together? You see, they don’t want the psychologist to see their interactions, what they’re doing, because the psychologist has legally and socially valid opinions on what is crazy, although I have seen men try to gaslight female psychologists. Yep, scumbags. Exactly the same type to complain about how they never find the Right Woman (defined in real terms as a sex slave happy when emotionally abused, if you ask for details) and how it’s an injustice because they’re so ‘sweet’, when in the same bloody sentence they casually refer to us all as ‘whores’ (regardless of behavior). Does that sound oddly specific? Yes, yes it does. It’s a tell with 100% reliability. Berating the entire sex because you can’t get 1 (ONE) is desperate countersignalling (‘I didn’t want one anyway’… sure you didn’t).
“You’re (personal insult).” or “You’re not offended (as an order).” = dismissive, judgemental, definitive, gaslighting
“I think (self-ownership) your reasons (distinction) for being offended (valid emotion) might (room for error) be mistaken (outcome).” = not gaslighting
Translation: She doesn’t trust my version of events above her own direct experience of events. I’ve seen them deny text messages, honestly.
Of the man with ‘crazy exes’ ask yourself: what are the odds they were ALL crazy, if so, why did he pick them? Or did he make them crazy?
They tend to select introverted victims because those people naturally question themselves. If they’re too busy looking within for the problem, how can they look at the person next to them?
If you’re in this situation, you have my sympathy, ask yourself: Did these problems start when he showed up?
Gaslighters despise self-confidence, self-respect, any form of dignity (differentiates you from them) and happiness (when you’re happy, they’ll tear you down, test it by pretending to be happy for no reason and watch their reaction).
You need to establish clear personal boundaries and be willing to walk if you don’t get your needs met.
Somewhat connected to mansplaining before the concept was taken too far (dismissing a man’s opinion on a non-female-exclusive topic on the basis of being a man), really it’s where a man assumes he knows more on a topic, any topic – because he is a man, and attempts to browbeat you under the guise of teaching. This is like a subtle form of gaslighting but is light enough to be done naively, it can become true abuse with time and constitutes a red flag for this reason. The concept is amusing if only for all the mansplainers who deny it vociferously, then make it personal when it wasn’t even aimed at them, which actually proves its validity as a concept. By definition, they hate it when you point out what they’re doing (like gaslighters).
Mansplaining: because a Y chromosome is not a qualification.
Gaslighters do the opposite, it’s more advanced, they make everything about you because it’s personal. Most egregious are the ones where he pretends you’re too dumb to understand his argument (why socialize at all then?) when you reject it because you happen to be an expert (gaslighters deny any form of expertise not connected with them), and/or use their feelings (bless) as the barometer for what yours should be (solipsism).
…The actual crazies deserve one another. Leave them be.
Sorry this turned into an advice post but I thought What If someone in that scenario found this page by accident and couldn’t help myself.
Another final test for a gaslighter is to joke they’re gaslighting you, while they’re doing it. If they fly into a rage (and know exactly what that is), that’s a positive. “How could you?” they’ll turn. If they look confused, “Why?” they may be in denial or Mr Expert may be playing dumb, something along the lines of “I think I know my own mind better than you” is appropriate, delivered cheekily. If they logically explain why they aren’t, with proof, they’re either fine or a sociopath (good at rationalization, most people can’t tell the difference between that and logic).