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Forms of human Manipulation seen in relationships: Ghosting v/s Gaslighting

In the realm of human behavior and interpersonal dynamics, the phenomena of ghosting and gaslighting stand out as intricate forms of manipulation that can significantly impact relationships.

In both cases, the technological landscape and evolving social norms have influenced the manifestation and prevalence of gaslighting and ghosting in today's generation. The ease of digital communication, coupled with societal shifts, has shaped the dynamics of modern relationships and introduced new challenges in navigating emotional well-being.

Dr. Damanjit Kaur (MD Psychiatry) 

Ghosting, a prevalent contemporary behavior, entails the sudden and unexplained withdrawal of communication. This deliberate silence leaves the other party in a state of perplexity, fostering emotional distress and uncertainty.

The abrupt cessation of communication denies closure, fostering a sense of rejection and abandonment that can linger in the psyche of the recipient.

Whereas, gaslighting delves into the more insidious territory of psychological manipulation. It involves the intentional distortion of reality by one individual to make another doubt their own perceptions, memory, or sanity. This form of manipulation is rooted in power dynamics and control, as the gaslighter seeks to undermine the victim's confidence and independence.

Gaslighting can be associated with narcissistic tendencies or an attempt to establish dominance in a relationship. By destabilizing the victim's sense of reality, the gaslighter gains a disturbing level of control, leaving the victim emotionally vulnerable and dependent.

Ghosting and gaslighting can have profound impacts on mental health, contributing to a range of emotional and psychological challenges for those who experience them.

Ghosting often leads to feelings of rejection, abandonment, and confusion. Over time, this lack of closure may contribute to a diminished sense of self-worth and trust in future relationships, potentially leading to issues like anxiety and depression.

Gaslighting, on the other hand, can have even more insidious effects on mental health. This erosion of self-confidence and clarity can lead to anxiety, depression, and even conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Gaslighting victims may struggle with feelings of powerlessness, isolation, and a pervasive sense of being controlled, which can significantly impact their overall well-being.

Both forms of manipulation can contribute to a negative cycle where individuals may become more guarded, anxious, or hesitant to trust in future relationships.

The impacts of gaslighting and ghosting on individuals and society can be significant, affecting mental health, emotional well-being, and overall relationship dynamics.


Gaslighting Impacts:

  • Doubt and Confusion:

Gaslighting often leads to victims doubting their own perceptions, memories, and even sanity. This constant state of confusion can erode self-confidence and create lasting psychological distress.

  • Isolation:

Gaslighting may result in victims feeling isolated as they struggle to make sense of their experiences. The manipulation often involves isolating individuals from their support networks, making it harder for them to seek help.

  • Emotional Distress:

The emotional toll of gaslighting can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Constant manipulation can create a pervasive sense of fear, guilt, and powerlessness.

  • Constant Connectivity:

The constant connectivity provided by smartphones and social media platforms allows gaslighters to exert control and manipulation in real-time, making it challenging for victims to escape from the psychological impact.

Ghosting Impacts:

  • Rejection and Abandonment:

Ghosting can leave individuals feeling rejected and abandoned without closure. This emotional impact can lead to feelings of unworthiness, affecting self-esteem.

  • Trust Issues:

Experiencing ghosting can make it challenging for individuals to trust others in future relationships. The fear of being abruptly abandoned may influence how they approach new connections.

  • Communication Breakdown:

Ghosting contributes to a breakdown in communication skills, as it avoids open and honest conversations. This can hinder personal growth and the development of healthy relationships.

Combined Impacts:

  • Relationship Patterns:

Experiencing gaslighting or ghosting may influence individuals to develop patterns of behavior that protect them from potential emotional harm, impacting their ability to engage in healthy relationships.

  • Mental Health Consequences:

The cumulative effects of gaslighting and ghosting can contribute to long-term mental health consequences, influencing how individuals perceive themselves and interact with others.

  • Social Trust:

On a broader scale, the prevalence of gaslighting and ghosting can contribute to a decline in social trust. If individuals feel they cannot rely on open and honest communication, it can impact societal bonds and cohesion.

Understanding and addressing these impacts involve fostering open communication, promoting mental health awareness, and developing resilience in navigating the challenges presented by manipulative behaviors in relationships.


Dr. Damanjit Kaur (MD Psychiatry)  

Ms. Shefali Bhardwaj (Psychologist)
Faith Hospital, Chandigarh
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