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The Gaslight Effect

How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life
Narrated by: Nan McNamara
Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Are You Being Gaslighted? 

Check for these telltale signs: 

  • You constantly second-guess yourself. 
  • You wonder, "Am I being too sensitive?" a dozen times a day. 
  • You wonder frequently if you are a "good enough" girlfriend/wife/employee/friend/daughter. 
  • You have trouble making simple decisions. 
  • You think twice before bringing up innocent topics of conversation. 
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner's behavior to friends and family. 
  • Before your partner comes home from work, you run through a checklist in your head to anticipate anything you might have done wrong that day. 
  • You buy clothes for yourself, furnishings for your apartment, or other personal purchases thinking about what your partner would like instead of what would make you feel great. 
  • You actually start to enjoy the constant criticism, because you think, "What doesn't kill me will make me stronger." 
  • You start speaking to your husband through his secretary so you don't have to tell him things you're afraid might upset him. 
  • You start lying to avoid the put-downs and reality twists. 
  • You feel as though you can't do anything right. 
  • You frequently wonder if you're good enough for your lover. 
  • Your kids start trying to protect you from being humiliated by your partner. 
  • You feel hopeless and joyless. 

Your husband crosses the line in his flirtations with another woman at a dinner party. When you confront him, he asks you to stop being insecure and controlling. After a long argument, you apologize for giving him a hard time. 

Your boss backed you on a project when you met privately in his office, and you went full steam ahead. But at a large gathering of staff - including yours - he suddenly changes his tune and publicly criticizes your poor judgment. When you tell him your concerns for how this will affect your authority, he tells you that the project was ill-conceived and you'll have to be more careful in the future. You begin to question your competence. 

Your mother belittles your clothes, your job, your friends, and your boyfriend. But instead of fighting back as your friends encourage you to do, you tell them that your mother is often right and that a mature person should be able to take a little criticism. 

If you think things like this can't happen to you, think again. Gaslighting is when someone wants you to do what you know you shouldn't and to believe the unbelievable. It can happen to you and it probably already has. 

©2007 Dr. Robin Stern (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Compassionate and honest in equal parts, The Gaslight Effect is like a sturdy, truth-telling friend in difficult times. Robin Stern will show you you're not alone in your toxic relationship, and she'll also help you identify your role and how to change - and be a stronger, wiser person as a result." (Rachel Simmons, best-selling author of Odd Girl Out)
"An essential survival tool. In a clear, comforting, and sophisticated voice, therapist Robin Stern takes her psychologically abused readers on a step-by-step journey that will help them take control of their lives and their destinies." (Phyllis Chesler, PhD, author of Woman's Inhumanity To Woman)

What listeners say about The Gaslight Effect

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This book has changed my life

My eyes have been opened. I have to thank FB for recommending this book completely randomly on an ad. It’s almost divine intervention- something I didn’t believe in. My entire life I fall for the same trap in relationships. I never realised my part and how to spot the most glaringly obvious signs from others! I have come to believe I am a good, loveable, capable person within myself and no longer seek validation of that from those closest to me. Midday through this book I realised that both my new partner and close friend were using every tactic in this book to gaslight me!? Once I’d seen it, I couldn’t un-see it! Made the easy decision to cut them out of my life and I’m so much happier for it! Now other doors have opened almost immediately and I have new friends that don’t use these toxic traits I fall for, that have no ulterior motive and I’m happy within myself with my own company for the first time in my life. To the author - thank you. Sincerely. I’ve been struggling with depression for a very long time and with these newly taught tools you may have literally saved my life. I’ve also put clear boundaries in place with my parents and no longer line for their approval. It’s changed our relationship for the better! I knew I was the common denominator as all my long term relationships have gone down the same path with me coming in happy and strong, falling head over heels and 5 years later having no sense of self and being a “doormat” but I had no idea how to change it. I am the exact example of a “gaslightee” as spoken about in the book. Since I became aware of my traits I have stopped any further gaslighting occur immediately in all areas of my life. I recommend this book to anyone who feels they become manipulated without realising it until things are out of control or find themselves in relationships with people where they become a “doormat” or for anyone wanting to feel strong and happy within themselves, by themselves. Thank you again.

1 person found this helpful

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Nothing but man bashing and feminist propaganda.

Nothing but man bashing and feminist propaganda. Couldn't finish and is the words of a spiteful ignoramus

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Good

The content for this book is very generous with examples and attempts to engage you. I found this great. It shows you different types of gaslighting, traps people fall into and why. It shows healthy responses to gaslighting and intimidation. It’s always great to understand why you were a “victim” and how to reduce future occurrences. The narrator is not a great fit but when you speed her up it’s better. I would “de-sex” the book/examples. If you came as far as buying a book regardless of what genitals you have — you don’t need to be treated as an average statistic. This is a common theme in ALL books on this topic. Despicable.

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  • jalmquist
  • 13-11-2019

Women's book

This is completely from a women's perspective. This book, in itself, is gaslighting every man that reads it. Men, do not read or listen to this garbage.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Abraham
  • 18-07-2020

Sexist

This book is really really sexist. Apparently Gaslighting can only happen to women. I went through severe gaslighting during an 8 month relationship 3 years ago and I just recently found out that the real cause of multiple mental health diagnoses and years of pain and confusion was from her gaslighting me, and when I read the first two chapters of the book, the forward author, and the author of the book itself just talked about how "even the most confident woman" can be brought down by gaslighting, and "several women" have made it through, etc. It would be just as easy to say person. When I read this, everytime I hear the author say "women who..." it makes me feel invalidated as a man that I've had many of the same things happen to me. It's like she's assuming "all women are good. Only men will gaslight". That's blatant sexism. As a human being who's had this problem and is trying to recover from it, I don't want to be gaslighted even more by the author, who's acting like this is only a problem for women, and always hearing the men are at fault. I'm seeking help for this problem, and her sexism is doing the opposite. I understand if most of the people she's had as clients were women, so it would make sense to use "her" or "she" when talking about clients. But, also saying only "women" when talking about people who could be gaslighting is gaslighting in itself. This is emasculating and complete bullshit.

9 people found this helpful

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  • A. Demas
  • 14-08-2018

Tough topic but important

This is so prevalent but important to read. It isn't the most enjoyable book but one to read for great awareness.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Concerned nurse
  • 17-05-2019

I prefer writers who don't politically polarize

Russian collusion & pretending not to spy while spying are also gaslighting. Politics are rough and should stay out of these kinds of books. I'm surprised she didn't balance the political climate or better yet, leave it out. I feel gaslighted. Such a wonderful opportunity to address real emotional safety to all of us in all walks of life.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Sharon
  • 01-08-2019

This book is very bad.

This book is very bad. I can’t even get through it. The premise is wrong. Instead of teaching about gaslighting as abuse and that verbal abuse is wrong, it attempts to shift the blame onto the victim. “It takes two to tango.” This is absolutely wrong. I feel sorry for every person who listens to this book and isn’t strong enough to recognize the abusive message. I’m very glad I was far enough into my recovery from emotional and verbal abuse to recognize that this book is far from the mark. I really tried to give it a chance, but I simply couldn’t listen anymore to this misguided and wrong advice. There are far better resources out there on verbal abuse and gaslighting. This book is not helpful. Stay away.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Courtenayveenis
  • 20-12-2018

I loved it because its harshly honest and needed

nothing has come close to explaining my issues better. its honest and impactful. happy I found it

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 08-06-2020

Practicality seems to be lacking

Did you know that it takes at least two people in order for manipulative behavior to take place? This is one, among other, of questionable questions this book answers. So, if you didn't know it, give it a listen. Dr. Stern does the job introducing the notion of gaslighting in clear and accessible language and gives a number of examples of how it may occur in life. The book is good for those who want to learn about certain behavioral patterns of manipulative people. Unfortunately, Dr. Stern doesn't go into much detail explaining in operational terms how gaslighting works. What aspects of these behaviors are directed towards the ends of a manipulator? What does he/she use in this or that specific case in order to get what he/she wants? What does he/she say or do, and what does he/she hope the victim's reaction to be? What exact words or doings can indicate an attempt at manipulation? How do we know? I believe that these and many other questions could have been answered in this book if a clearer framework for answering them had been established. As I see it, manipulative people have two main relative priorities: 1) to get what they (in the broadest sense) want; 2) to conceal the first priority. I think that more, and more detailed, examples would have been more beneficial to the reader from the approach of looking for answers to the two general questions: 1) What does the manipulator want in this case, and how do we know it (what aspects of his behavior serve as indicators)? 2) What does he do in order to keep his motives hidden, and, again, how do we know? The idea of the "gaslight tango" - that it takes two people for gaslighting to take place - is, first of all, obvious. Second, it implies that the 'victim' can simply become aware of the fact the he/she is being gaslighted and just stop falling for it. No instructions given as what to look for in the suspected gaslighter's behavior and what exact patterns of his/her behavior make it evident that it is gaslighting (or other type of manipulative behavior) that is taking place. Gaslighting and manipulation is not like, for instance, advertising, that we know is manipulative, and we can stop falling for it, because deception and manipulation in advertising is common knowledge. A suggestion to stop falling for gaslighting is no different from one to stop being deceived when you have no way of knowing, on the spot, that you are being given false information. Recommendations such as to learn to see yourself as a lovable person, to believe that your perceptions are true, to know that the truth is the truth and you know the truth, etc., seem as good for a gaslighter as for a gaslightee. One can easily mistake any behavior for a manipulation just because one feels uncomfortable and thinks it's someone else's fault. "My partner is concerned that I spend too much money. He must be gaslighting me." In this particular example it's never brought up why he or she should be concerned with overspending. Perhaps, saving up for a rainy day, when he or she may need an expensive surgery, or in case of another financial crisis in the country, or whatever else. Nope, he's just gaslighting. The directions are too general and abstract. In order to deal or prevent gaslighting or other types of manipulative behavior from happening one has to be able to recognize it as such, and in order to do that one has to know in as much detail as possible how it works. Dr. Stern does give examples of specific ways to reply to a gaslighter, but, again, there's no steady framework for reacting to his/her behavior. All the replies 'work' in this book, because they are in this book and the author says they work. The reader may find him/herself asking, "How do I know that I should reply with this or that specific phrase that's in the book?" And the reader doesn't know, because the book fails to explain things properly.

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  • Matthew R McGee
  • 03-11-2018

Great introduction to the concept of Gaslighting

The term 'Gaslighting' is common vernacular in today's society. It can be heard on comedy TV shows as well as the nightly news, but most pop culture sources offer few specifics of what the phenomenon is. Dr. Stern coined the term 'Gaslighting' to create a construct to, more easily, define emotional and psychological abuse. There are many books on the subject. I don't recommend you stop with this one, but, perhaps, Dr. Sterns plain language and pioneering efforts make this book a great place to start a journey of understanding.

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  • K
  • 28-03-2018

Political stuff... really?

I didn’t get this book to listen about the “gaslighting” of the Trump administration. Just irritated me.

49 people found this helpful

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  • Norman
  • 26-11-2019

Great Book!

I love that it has a lot of different examples of what gaslighting can look like! i also enjoyed the steps to turn off the gas if you find yourself being gaslighted.

1 person found this helpful

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  • James
  • 30-11-2019

Strong gender stereotypes

Really frustrating listening to this - if your male, don't bother listening to this! The content is good, but I'm less than half way through and can't listen to any more. I'm male and have been gasslighted by two female work colleagues over the years - emotions still quite raw. The examples in this book were helpful and confirmed thoughts... however the constant reference to the gaslighter as "He" and the gaslightee as "She"/"Her" in all dialog and the vast majority of examples is really unbalanced and insensitive. Especially given the emotive content of the book. It made me feel really uneasy. The subconscious message of the book was to me, I'm male... therefore I'm the problem. Several times it got me doubting myself, was my experience real or was I just being to sensitive. Ironically the authors deliberate choice not to give examples of male and female gasslighting triggered the emotions again... tried to ignore them, but had to stop listening as it felt like I was being constantly bombarded by it. If the author wanted to address male gasslighting, should have called the book gasslighting effect for women. Perhaps written another book for men?

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-04-2018

A guiding light in the darkness confusion caused by gaslighting

This book is essential reading for anyone who has been, or is, in an emotionally abusive relationship. In fact it would be helpful for anyone to read as anyone can be sucked into a psychologically abusive relationship as they start so subtly you don’t realise it’s happening until it’s too late. But this book makes sense of it all - how it happens and what to do about it! Thank you for writing this book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Sparky
  • 06-05-2019

It would be far better if it was not sexist

Having been gaslighted by a woman I find it deeply offensive that the author refers to almost every gas lighter given as an example here is the man.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Jennie McLaren
  • 16-11-2019

interesting concept

worth a listen, some familiar situations and how to tackle them, would recommend listening if you are struggling in a relationship and cannot figure out exactly why

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  • Dickie of Vauxhall
  • 11-11-2019

When the pain leads to gain

For me, it was a first to experience a powerful wave of shame and sorrow when I realised that I've been gaslighted for decades and went into that toxic tango. Then I only could take one deep breath when the Tsunami hit with understanding how I gaslighted others including the one dearest to me. It may not be so dramatic, compelling reading for those who have had the luck of growing up in a functional family and/or their brain is wired like that of majority of people, i. e. not scoring high/significant on the autistic spectrum as a result of neurodevelopmental diversity. Hence it may not send those lucky people on a tough, yet worthwhile, journey to their own interior to a place called "Me" where the treasure of tools and directions is buried to be unearthed if they wish to find there own authenticity that also makes them heard and seen.

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  • Lynne
  • 01-10-2019

A must read for anyone enduring emotional abuse

This book is unbelievable. For ten years I knew there was something not quite right with my relationship but couldn’t quite put my finger on what. After seeking therapy for my confused, overwhelming and crazy feelings I was introduced to the term Gaslighting. Still not fully understanding the term, I stumbled across this book & it has given me so many answers to what I was feeling & why. It was like listening to someone talking about me & my relationship, such was the accuracy of the authors description of Gaslighting & the case studies / stories she presents. I now understand the term Gaslighting, what it means and how it affects me. I understand what I’m experiencing & both my role and my partners role we each play in our unhealthy relationship. More importantly it has answered so many questions and given meaning to how I feel a lot of the time & reassurance that I’m not going crazy. This book gives you strategies to stop the Gaslighting & turn the dynamics of your relationship around. Thank you Dr Stern.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Natalie Jack
  • 09-07-2020

Eye opening and life changing!

Amazing book, gives so much insight. A book that I will be recommending to other people close to me, who I know will benefit from this!

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  • Szilvia Oczela
  • 08-04-2020

Life dramaticaly changed

The book tought me to learn to solve the problem and how to use faith,spirit and different pover to sport something .Incredibley made me strong and able to be the controled of my Life.

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  • Shez
  • 06-10-2019

Amazing and insightful

very good book very insightful and thought provoking would definitely recommend to listen to and not just once got it ingrained into your mind

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  • Louise
  • 16-07-2019

Really Important read

Painful at times but only because of the insight it offers. Glad I read it