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Gaslighting: Psychological Manipulation to the Extreme

By HERWriter
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There are different unofficial terms for psychological attacks and abuse that people may suffer. Gang stalking has already been introduced in one of my earlier articles as a group of people in a community who target an individual with the end goal of breaking that individual down in a covert operation (mainly psychological, causing the person to think he or she is going crazy in some cases). This can be real or possibly a delusion of the individual, especially if that person has schizophrenia.

Gaslighting is another form of psychological abuse, and there are actually more online and text resources than for gang stalking.

For example, Robin Stern’s book, “The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life” discusses the phenomenon.

The book reads, “The Gaslight Effect results from a relationship between two people: a gaslighter, who needs to be right in order to preserve his own sense of self and his sense of having power in the world.”

The person being gaslighted, or the gaslightee, “allows the gaslighter to define her sense of reality because she idealizes him and seeks his approval.” Although it appears that the gaslighter is generally male and the gaslightee is more often a female, they can be of both genders.

The gaslighting behavior also seems to happen with romantic couples more often than in other types of relationships, according to Stern.

Stern also defines gaslighting in another way in a Huffington Post article: “Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another's reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn't so and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person.”

The most prominent expert on gaslighting appears to be Stern and she wrote about gaslighting in yet another media outlet, Psychology Today. In one of her blogs, she notes how to identify if you have been gaslighted. The first sign is that you are constantly second-guessing yourself.

Add a Comment9 Comments

I have been going through this for years,I thought I was craxy! My clothes coming up missing,my toothbrush,my car keys,money. Oh, I am so irresponsible,I loose everything! All the while it's been my husband's sabatage.

June 27, 2016 - 10:03am
EmpowHER Guest

My current boyfriend was victimized by a woman he considered his best friend. It hurt me so terribly to see him being taken advantage of in this way but I couldn't make him see what she was doing. It got to the point where she convinced him to cheat on me. The reason I'm with him still is that yes, he did something wrong, but she had control of his brain. And now he's seen it. That was far enough and he acknowledges now how liberating it is to know what she was doing and to be free of that burden. He was depressed because of it and he was generally so unhappy and it killed me to see him as such. I wanted to be making him happy but because of this gaslighting, there was nothing I could do to pull him out of this destructive 'friendship'. For others' use, is there anything someone in my position could have done? To stop it or prevent it from getting worse? To make them realize what's really happening? I know that this is the rare case where a girl is victimizing, not the victim, but this does happen. An article on how to help someone going through this would be so incredibly beneficial.

January 2, 2015 - 10:56pm
EmpowHER Guest

My ex-husband used to have me look up a street on a map when we traveled, and when I couldn't find it, (because it didn't exist) he would point to a completely different street and say, "There is is. You can't even do a simple thing like look up a street name." When I'd tell him that he had asked for a different street, he would deny it.

December 24, 2014 - 9:59am
EmpowHER Guest

Gas lighting is a technique is used in Organized Stalking or Gang Stalking in making a Targeted Individual doubt his own sanity. In Gang stalking it would involve breaking into a person's residence or office and moving around objects or stealing items of small value and replacing them ..........the victim starts doubting his sanity on seeing all this.

June 21, 2014 - 12:11am

PMS Comfort wrote about this very topic recently: http://j.mp/x5WXew
Sometimes feminists get a bad name for saying that there is a "war on women" but there is some truth to the fact that many men seem to feel threatened by women, and use passive tactics like gaslighting, or active tactics like intimidation and violence, to control women. Curiously, though, these same dysfunctional patterns occur in same-sex couple, where a woman perpetrates this on another woman; and in mother-daughter relationships, too.
I agree completely about the self-diagnosis for gaslighting: if you're constantly questioning yourself, that's a red flag.

Dr. Daniel Heller
PMS Comfort

June 1, 2012 - 11:24am
EmpowHER Guest

I've experienced this effect within the context of being the only woman in a group of men who worked together (some of them unintentionally) to make me think that I'm wrong all the time, over-sensitive in the face of sexual harassment and other kinds of harassment, and bad at my job, so I don't think you should confine the definition of gaslighting as something that's done by just one perpetrator.

December 6, 2011 - 6:59am
HERWriter Guide

Gaslight is one of my all-time favorite movies.

I think these are the tactics also done on prospective cult members. One friendly, concerned and educated cult member is sent to attach him or herself to a victim and proceeds to make them believe their families, friends and any one not associated with the cult is out to harm them or is truly not a legitimate part of the life the victims needs to live for fulfillment. The victim eventually questions her own reality and is convinced her reality does not exist - or if it does, it's destructive. Often times it's done in a group setting but there is also that one-on-one gaslighting that manipulates the prospective member into joining. Once she joins, she believes that her former reality was just a dream.

March 24, 2010 - 12:48pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

i believe that this may have been what happen to a good friend of mine. I took this friend in, paid and assisted them as much as i could so they could live here to recover from bad situation with condition they finish college. My friend did go on to college...did well, all with some help from my but mainly paying it for it themselves since i did not have the money to pay for it. I did what could such as bought all their clothes and extras, plane fares home here for holidays. they got a job on graduation still up in area far from here. Eventually made some friends which i was happy about...i go and visit but it just was too much of drive with my illnesses.
All was well ..they kept saying how they wanted to work near to me and finally got a job down in my state.
Out of blue...i was told they might not be moving down here. Had made some friends and might not want to leave them. I thought was it like bf etc...No people from 'church' group has befriended him last week or so after going for few years.
I had not got my hopes up about them moving near till actually had job...so i was stunned and hurt. Than i was told how i am manipulative and been using them. NOW thisperson lived with me for free, totaled one of my cars. I pain for dental work etc...only thing i got back was once hired they did buy me lap top which did not even pay for all the dental work which they always said they were going to pay back...as well as the totaled car.
So how did i use and be manipulative? I was sad ..and as i said i am more emotional now since i just lost very important dog of mine unexpectedly. I asked to explain what i had done..give me examples.
to which i was told they could not think and i was just pushing them away by asking such questions...
i can see just by writing this how i should not have even slightly questioned myself...they put it on me because they know what they were doing was wrong and not fair to me.
If they had just said look i am not sure i do not want to move down ...yes i would have been upset but i would have got over it and this person knows that...i thought of this person as family since we both do not really have any.
Now i am pretty sure that someone in that church group...influence him since his new job doubled his old salary and was going to be making excellent money. I did not care..i would not take his money. I just wanted his friendship like i have been to him.
I keep thinking of all things i did...now i was told in email to never contact him ..like i had done something horrible to him.
I did nothing but be supportive...yes i spoke to him about my disease and problems...but i say how i am sorry i whiner at times to him about the pain i was in.
I wish i knew what or why or what happen but i am glad that i finally do believe that some one got him to gas light me and i did buy into it.

October 28, 2012 - 10:32pm
EmpowHER Guest

As someone who identified the bizarre happenings around me several years ago as organized stalking and has since been navigating the internet and all the wise fellow TI's, kooks who think they are, and everyone in between, it's a tough call to figure out. I'm not afraid to call out charletans when it's painfully obvious, why shouldn't I when their attention you-know-whatting affects me? I think those of us in this position should concede the fact some are in need of mental health evaluation as blind defense of pretenders does place YOUR credibility in jeopardy. The Psychiatric industry for its part has many fine qualified people but in general can be as much of problem as it will be a solution. Its very foundation deems that OS accounts descibe mental illness symptoms.

March 24, 2010 - 12:00pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.