What is “Gaslighting”?
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades.
The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way. Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and systematically withhold factual information from the victim, and replacing it with false information. Because of it’s subtly, this cunning Machiavellian behaviour is a deeply insidious set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim. That is why it is such a dangerous form of abuse. The emotional damage of Gaslighting is huge on the narcissistic victim. When they are exposed to it for long enough, they begin to lose their sense of their own self. Unable to trust their own judgments, they start to question the reality of everything in their life. They begin to find themselves second-guessing themselves, and this makes them become very insecure around their decision making, even around the smallest of choices. The victim becomes depressed and withdrawn, they become totally dependent on the abuser for their sense of reality. In effect the gaslighting turns the victim’s reality on its head.
Where does the term “Gaslighting” come from?
The term “Gaslighting” comes from the 1944 Hollywood classic movie called Gaslight. The film starts with the murder of the famous opera singer Alice Alquist in London. The perpetrator was after the stars jewels, but before he could get them, he was interrupted by her young niece Paula (played by Ingrid Bergman); a child that Alice had reared after the death of her own mother. To help her get over the trauma of Alice’s death, Paula is sent to live in Italy, where she studies opera with her aunty Alice’s old teacher for several years. While in Italy, she meets a charismatic older man named Gregory Anton (played by Charles Boyer), they have a whirl-wind romance and very soon she marries him. He persuades her that they should return to London to live in the house bequeathed to her by her aunt. When they arrive, hidden in a book, Paula finds a letter addressed to her aunt Alice, it was from a man called Sergius Bauer. The letter was dated two days before the murder. Gregory reacts violently to the letter, but recovers his composure quickly, and justifies his outburst as vexation at seeing his lovely bride relive bad memories. Once Alice’s things are removed into the attic, Gregory’s diabolical psychopathic behaviour becomes very bizarre indeed. Almost immediately he sets out, systematically and methodically, to deliberately drive Paula insane by psychologically manipulating their environment covertly; for example, when a picture is missing from the wall, Gregory tells her that she took it, but Paula cannot recall having done so.