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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.

In an article from http://psychology.suite101.com, the term gaslighting is said to come from the 1944 movie “Gaslight.” The movie was about a husband who tried to make his wife believe she needed to be in a mental institution. The article also mentions that besides romantic relationships, gaslighting can be found in work relationships and parent-child relationships.

Some simpler forms of gaslighting that the article mentions and I have personally witnessed include “convinc[ing] you that you have shortcomings that you really don't have,” “exaggerat[ing] your shortcomings in an attempt to damage your self-confidence” and “get[ting] angry because you don't believe their lies and try[ing] to shame you for not trusting them.”

Gaslighters can also move items and furniture around to confuse the victim and allow for more control. These perpetrators might have antisocial personality disorder and sadistic personality disorder, according to the article.

It seems that knowing about gaslighting can help awareness and even prevent it happening in the future. If you notice your significant other or even friend causing you to doubt yourself constantly and trying to make you think something’s wrong with you in many ways, there is probably something wrong with your relationship.

People who are constantly trying to make you appear wrong and cause you to suffer are probably not worth the effort. This is not to say that in certain cases you may not be wrong — no one is perfect. And everyone doubts themselves at some points in life.

However, if you find this to be a common occurrence, and it appears to be caused by another person on closer examination (and not solely yourself), this might be worth looking into (and it could be linked to gaslighting). Stern suggests in her post to look at the stages of gaslighting: disbelief, defense and depression. Hopefully, with awareness, people will never get to the last stage and realize that their relationship is not all that it should be, if indeed there is gaslighting present.

Don’t always assume there are going to be psychological attacks happening to you, but also be aware of the possibility. Don’t let people manipulate you, and trust your own judgment and decisions (at least in most cases). Don’t let someone else change your perception of who you are and stay true to yourself and who you want to be.


Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have been going through this with my husband. I really started to doubt my self. Until one day I realized, it's not me that's got a problem it's my husband. I would not find my favorite earrings, I would ask my husband do you know where they could be , he always said to me you are always misplacing things, how would I know where they are? ( I'm a very organized person and have a designated place for everything) so my earrings should have been in my jewelry box. Two days later I would find them in my jewelry box.i asked him if he put them there, answer always the same: No! Same thing with my clothes, my favorite pants, blouses, are missing, not hanging in my closet, couple days later, there they are hanging on hangers in my closet. Asked him again, same question, the answer is always No I did not touch anything. Same thing with credit cards, etc. He gives me the silent treatment, will retreat to his computer room and leave me in the family room watching tv by myself, he will pass me in the hallway and not even speak to me, I will ask him a question and a lot of times won't answer me. I really want to leave, but he has all the financial control

October 14, 2017 - 9:12am

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
Anonymous (reply to Silentlife)

Im same as woman above. Game playing but we don't get to know we are involuntarily players in a sick game with physopaths.

October 9, 2017 - 11:24am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Silentlife)

This is the same thing that happened to me.

September 17, 2017 - 10:37pm
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
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.