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.