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Summary: Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis

Gaslighting (2018) is an illuminating guide in the obscure world of emotional manipulation. It reveals how to identify and break free from the devastating impact of gaslighting, so you can regain control of your life and restore your sense of self.

Introduction: Shatter gaslighting’s illusions, and step into the light of your truth.

Have you ever felt like you’re questioning your own reality?

Maybe you’re being regularly blamed for things you’re sure you didn’t do. Or your feelings and experiences are consistently being disputed or dismissed, leaving you unsettled and disoriented. And when you try to confront the person causing these doubts, they seem to have an uncanny knack for twisting the narrative, resulting in you feeling even more confused.

Sound familiar? If so, this might mean you’re caught in a web of gaslighting.

And if you are, how do you get out of it? Well, it all comes down to arming yourself with the knowledge to recognize these deceptive maneuvers, and the resources to steer clear of their damaging effects. Instead of feeling powerless or stuck, you need to confront manipulation – not just in personal relationships but also in wider contexts like workplaces and political scenarios.

This Blink to Stephanie Sarkis’s Gaslighting will journey into the heart of gaslighting, peel back its layers of deceit, and provide you with the wisdom to take control of your own reality. In doing so, it’ll help you reestablish your sanity, your confidence, and, most importantly, your power.

Ready to shine a light on the darkness and expose the truth that’s been hiding in plain sight?

Summary: Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People - and Break Free by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis

Trapped in deception: Recognizing the gaslighting maze

Imagine you’re in a labyrinth, and your trust becomes the tool that pulls you deeper into confusion. This is the world of gaslighting – a crafty and harmful form of manipulation that bends reality and makes you question your very sanity. But by recognizing the common traits of gaslighters, you can pinpoint their deceptive tactics and avoid their manipulation.

Gaslighters are artful at delivering what are called conditional apologies. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” they say, subtly deflecting the blame onto you. They cleverly make it appear as if the issue is with your feelings rather than their actions, leaving you doubting the legitimacy of your emotions.

Additionally, they’re fond of triangulation – a method of indirect communication that breeds confusion and tension. Instead of addressing issues directly, they pass messages through others, keeping themselves in control and others in disarray. In the same vein, gaslighters use splitting to divide and conquer. They pit people against each other, creating distractions that shift attention from their actions and build an illusion of innocence.

Gaslighters are often characterized by their demand for special treatment. They dismiss and undervalue those they perceive as less powerful, expecting preferential treatment in return. Obsessed with personal image and reputation, they tend to dominate interactions, shining the spotlight on superficial matters.

But here’s the thing: gaslighters don’t respond to traditional discipline or punishment. They consistently dodge responsibility and resort to lying, manipulating, and teasing to wear down your resistance. For them, gaslighting is not a tactical manipulation – it’s an integral part of their personality, closely tied to their constant thirst for power.

Living with a gaslighter may have led you to develop cognitive dissonance. This is a state where you’re dealing with constant discrepancies between the gaslighter’s words and actions, making your reality a confusing tangle of contradictions. This can make you feel compelled to stay in the relationship even though it’s ultimately harming you.

Healthy individuals don’t resort to gaslighting. See these behaviors for what they are – the machinations of a manipulator who’s an expert at sowing seeds of self-doubt and distorting reality. Recognizing these patterns is the first step toward breaking free from their grip.

Love’s deceptive mirage: Gaslighting in dating

Imagine a whirlwind romance filled with grand gestures, overflowing affection, and promising commitments. It feels like a dream, right? But beware: this could be the opening act of a gaslighter’s performance. This act is often referred to as love-bombing, an overwhelming display of love and attention designed to reel you in. Gaslighters are master illusionists. They make you believe you’re entering a love story – only to flip the script, leaving you disoriented and questioning your reality.

You might find yourself being blamed for the gaslighter’s actions. For instance, they might project their infidelity onto you, accusing you of cheating when they’re the unfaithful party. The shifting of blame is a classic gaslighting tactic. Here, it’s essential to remember that it’s not your fault. Infidelity in a relationship, especially in the hands of a gaslighter, is a manipulation tactic – not a consequence of your actions.

Post love-bombing, the gaslighter’s true colors start to show. But just when you feel yourself pulling away, they might suck you back in with sweet promises and loving gestures. This is known as hoovering, an attempt to regain control over you. Conversely, they might resort to stonewalling – shutting down or disappearing when confronted or challenged, further adding to the emotional chaos.

So, how can you guard yourself against gaslighting, especially when venturing into the world of dating? It begins with observing the red flags. Gaslighters are known to thrive in online dating platforms, crafting ideal personas and targeting vulnerable individuals. If your profile suggests you’ve been single for a long time, recently divorced, or prone to seeing the best in people, you might be on their radar.

On your first date, watch out for warning signs. If they’re showering you with affection, discussing long-term commitments, moving in together, or even having children, be cautious. This rush into a serious relationship is a common gaslighting technique. Also be wary if they order food for you or try to persuade you to drink more alcohol. These actions might seem benign, but they could be subtle attempts to exert control.

Whether you’re just starting to date someone or are in a relationship where you suspect gaslighting, trust your instincts. Pay attention to the signs, and listen to your friends’ perspectives – they might see things more objectively. Never hesitate to step away from a relationship that feels wrong. Recognizing and escaping gaslighting early on can spare you emotional turmoil and lead you toward healthier relationships. In this maze of manipulation, your discernment is your guiding light. Trust it.

Gaslighting unmasked: The workplace nightmare

In the theater of life, gaslighters aren’t confined to just the personal stage. They also infiltrate professional settings, turning workplaces into arenas of manipulation and destruction. Spotting a gaslighter in your workplace involves keen observation and awareness – but it’ll safeguard your peace of mind, professional growth, and overall job satisfaction.

Is there someone who takes credit for your work, conveniently forgetting your contribution? Do they place the blame on you when things go south, even if it’s clearly not your fault? Do they habitually lie or spread gossip, disturbing the tranquility of the workspace? Do they sabotage projects or coworker relationships, causing unnecessary confusion and conflicts? If these behaviors sound familiar, you might be dealing with a gaslighter.

Caught in the act, gaslighters often double down instead of admitting their mistakes. They spin their webs of deception tighter, ramping up their efforts to control and manipulate. They may also engage in sexual harassment or play disruptive pranks, pushing boundaries while maintaining plausible deniability. It’s typically just subtle enough to avoid immediate detection and action, leaving you questioning your own perceptions.

But trust your instincts. If you suspect you’re being gaslighted, chances are, you’re probably right. Keep in mind that you’re protected by law in the workplace. Your first line of action should be to address the gaslighter directly, articulating your concerns in a clear, assertive manner. Keep all your communication with them in writing, whether it’s emails, chat messages, or formal letters. It’s essential to gather evidence and build a case, which might prove invaluable down the line.

Your safety and well-being are paramount. If the situation escalates and you feel unsafe or unfairly targeted, don’t hesitate to approach HR. They are there to ensure a safe and conducive work environment for everyone.

One tricky situation is when your supervisor is the gaslighter. Do they unnervingly watch you while you’re working? Do they collude with other supervisors, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere? Are their performance reviews for you always harsh and biased? Try to avoid being alone with them. If possible, request a desk move or a change in supervision. Remember, you have rights and options.

But what if these measures don’t work, and the gaslighting persists? Sometimes, the most practical solution is to look elsewhere for work. Your mental and emotional health is priceless, and no job is worth jeopardizing it. While leaving may feel like surrendering, it’s an act of self-preservation and resilience against gaslighting’s corrosive influence. You deserve a workplace that respects and values you, free from the shadow of manipulation and deceit.

Manipulation in high places: Unmasking gaslighting in the political arena

Gaslighting isn’t just an interpersonal scourge; its reach extends into broader societal structures, particularly in politics where gaslighters in positions of power can bring about catastrophic outcomes. Just as you’d detect gaslighters in personal relationships or workplaces, there are indicators to help you spot their presence in politics too.

First, be vigilant about individuals who believe they’re infallible or omnipotent, dismissing any criticism or accountability. Lack of empathy is another hallmark, often paired with a megalomaniacal view of their position. They frequently deny responsibility for their actions, conveniently shifting blame onto others. Intellectuals and critical thinkers often find themselves on the receiving end of a gaslighter’s contempt, as they pose a threat to the gaslighter’s constructed narratives.

Watch out for politicians who value material wealth over social responsibility and are known to lie blatantly. They often single out marginalized groups, leveraging societal prejudices for their gains. The proliferation of propaganda and questionable information is another tactic to influence public perception in their favor.

So, how can you counter this political gaslighting? Exercising your right to vote is a powerful first step. Be informed about your candidate’s policies, promises, and, most importantly, where their campaign funds originate. Get involved in politics at a local or national level to better understand the dynamics and ensure your voice is heard.

Historical analysis can also provide valuable insights on how to topple gaslighters as well. A study of 218 incidents where democracies emerged from authoritarian regimes revealed that in two-thirds of the cases, the leader’s mistake was the turning point. Four common errors were identified: calling for elections or military conflict and then losing, overlooking public unrest, reforms spiraling out of control, and the selection of a secretly pro-democracy person in the regime. It seems a gaslighter’s ego often becomes their downfall.

Gaslighters frequently weaponize the media as a tool to control narratives and sway public opinion. Look at the media outlets a leader endorses or condemns. Social media, while a powerful platform for free speech, can also be a playground for bots spreading misinformation. Always maintain a degree of skepticism toward the information you consume online.

In conclusion, staying alert, skeptical, and engaged is the best defense against political gaslighting. Just like in personal relationships or workplaces, acknowledging the presence of gaslighting is the initial step toward combating it. Democracy, like any relationship, thrives on truth, trust, and mutual respect. Upholding these values is key to keeping gaslighters in check.

Domestic deception: Uncovering gaslighting in family dynamics

In this final section, we’ll look at how gaslighting can pose significant challenges when it seeps into the very core of your personal space: your family. The effects can be profound – family ties are intricate and robust, and escaping from such situations isn’t always feasible. Confrontation, a typical response, rarely helps; the gaslighter may simply dismiss or ignore your concerns, reaffirming their power.

When it comes to family events, the gaslighter’s discomfort with happiness often surfaces. They may go out of their way to tarnish celebrations, create discord, or tell stories designed to embarrass or demean others. Their goal is control and power, leading them to make unreasonable demands or corner you. It’s almost like an addiction for them – a craving for dominance and subservience.

An important point to remember is that gaslighters can exploit familial relationships for their needs. Be cautious about lending them money or entrusting them with valuable possessions. They may even manipulate other family members to draw you back into their influence, creating a complex web of control and manipulation.

Enabling is another unfortunate aspect of family gaslighting. Other members might unknowingly or knowingly perpetuate the gaslighter’s behavior, normalizing it within the family structure. Gaslighters rarely share in your joys or successes. For instance, your decision to pursue higher education may be met with negativity – a claim that it’s a waste of time. They delight in sending mixed signals, perpetuating confusion and instability. It often feels like no matter what you do, it will never be enough to satisfy them.

Parental gaslighting is especially damaging. It can take various forms, from competing with their children to undermining their achievements or manipulating their feelings. Gaslighting parents often inhibit their children’s journey toward independence because they fear the loss of control. For example, if you assertively decline your mom’s request, she might resort to the silent treatment. This manipulation is frequently paired with other forms of emotional or even physical abuse.

Contradictory messages are another common tactic. They might insist you need to lose weight, only to prepare your favorite high-calorie treat later. This strategy keeps you off balance. They might also use you as a vessel to live out their dreams or constantly compete with you. Unsettlingly, these behaviors are often passed down from generation to generation, leading to a cycle of subconscious gaslighting.

It’s crucial to know that recognizing these patterns in yourself does not automatically make you a gaslighter. Self-awareness and reflection are traits typically absent in true gaslighters. However, remaining vigilant and working actively to break these patterns can ensure that you don’t inadvertently adopt these behaviors when starting your own family.

Healing from gaslighting starts with understanding, followed by action. Don’t berate yourself for past experiences; instead, use them as stepping stones toward a healthier future.


Gaslighting is a destructive form of manipulation that permeates various facets of life, from personal relationships to politics. Gaslighters employ deceitful tactics like deflecting blame, stirring confusion, and demanding special treatment. In dating, they use love-bombing and blame-shifting, while in workplaces, they claim others’ accomplishments and generate conflict. Politically, gaslighters dodge accountability and exploit propaganda. Within families, they control, demean, and manipulate. Recognizing these behaviors and trusting your instincts are critical in confronting and escaping gaslighting’s damaging influence.

About the Author

Stephanie Moulton Sarkis




“Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free” by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis is an essential and insightful book that delves into the alarming phenomenon of gaslighting, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of this form of emotional abuse and empowering strategies to break free from its grip.

Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, a renowned therapist and expert in gaslighting, presents her expertise in a clear, concise, and accessible manner, making the book suitable for both professionals and individuals seeking guidance in their personal lives. The author’s extensive knowledge and experience in the field shine through, ensuring readers that they are in capable hands.

One of the book’s strengths is its structure, which is organized into well-defined sections that progressively guide readers through the complexities of gaslighting. Sarkis begins by providing a solid foundation, defining gaslighting and its various manifestations. She illustrates the tactics used by manipulative individuals to undermine their victims’ sense of reality and self-worth, leaving them confused, doubting their own perceptions, and questioning their sanity.

Through numerous real-life examples, Sarkis skillfully demonstrates how gaslighting occurs in various relationships, such as romantic partnerships, family dynamics, friendships, and even in the workplace. These relatable scenarios help readers identify and understand the subtle signs of gaslighting, enabling them to recognize when they are being manipulated.

The book’s empowering core lies in its practical advice on how to break free from gaslighting and regain control over one’s life. Sarkis offers a range of effective strategies and techniques, including setting boundaries, building self-esteem, improving communication skills, and seeking professional help when necessary. Her guidance is compassionate and non-judgmental, providing readers with a roadmap to reclaim their autonomy and assert their rights.

What sets this book apart is Sarkis’s emphasis on self-care and self-compassion throughout the recovery process. She acknowledges the emotional toll that gaslighting takes on its victims and encourages them to prioritize their well-being. By incorporating mindfulness exercises, self-reflection prompts, and self-care practices, she offers readers a holistic approach to healing and rebuilding their lives.

Sarkis’s writing style is engaging and conversational, making the book accessible to a wide audience. She avoids jargon and presents complex concepts in a straightforward manner, ensuring that readers can easily grasp the material. Additionally, the inclusion of self-assessment quizzes allows readers to evaluate their own experiences and progress, further enhancing the book’s practical value.

While “Gaslighting” is an invaluable resource, it is worth noting that it primarily focuses on understanding and overcoming gaslighting within interpersonal relationships. The book could have delved deeper into the societal and cultural factors that contribute to gaslighting dynamics, broadening its scope to include power structures and systemic issues. However, within its chosen framework, the book provides exceptional guidance and support.

In conclusion, “Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free” is an authoritative and highly informative book that sheds light on the insidious nature of gaslighting. Stephanie Moulton Sarkis’s expertise, combined with practical advice and relatable examples, offers readers a valuable toolkit for identifying, confronting, and ultimately escaping the clutches of gaslighting. This book is an essential read for anyone seeking to reclaim their sense of self, heal from emotional abuse, and build healthier relationships.

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