Convinced that the wife is insane, Nancy begins to treat her with contempt, and Paula can feel her loathing, which further distresses her. He then takes command of all outside influences so that he has complete control over Paula, making it easier to manipulate her sense of reality. Of course, he pretends to have a genuine concern for Paula, but the bottom line is that he is only concerned about isolating her.
Having isolated her from those within the house, he then precedes to take command of all outside influences so that he has complete control over her. He stops all visitors, and he does not allow her to leave the house. He implies that he is doing this for her own good because her “kleptomania and imaginings” are due to her nervous disposition.
On the rare occasion when they do go to a gathering at a friend’s house, he shows her his watch chain, from which his watch was missing. When he searches her handbag he mysteriously finds it there. Horrified, she becomes so hysterical that Gregory has to take her home immediately. She is convinced that there is something very wrong with her, and that it is best that she no longer goes out in public.
Gregory’s overall goal is to drive Paula out of her mind so that he can have her certified insane and institutionalized. He continually tells her that she is ill and fragile, until confused and scared, Paula begins to act more erratically, and she starts to internalize that she is becoming the fragile person that he says she is.
He even begins to rearrange items in the house, and then he accuses her of “always losing things”. Cruelly, he tells her that she is losing her memory. Knowing that her mother had died insane, to demoralize her further by viciously convincing her that she has inherited her mother’s bad genes. The more she doubts herself, the more desperate she is for her husband’s approval and love, but he rejects her, insisting that she is insane. With a combination of seduction, deception, isolation, bullying and rejection, reluctantly Paula starts to accept that she is losing her mind, and she becomes totally dependent on him for her sense of reality.
Unbeknown to Paula, Gregory is not who she thinks he is, little does she know that in fact he is her aunt’s murderer, Sergius Bauer. It was no coincidence that he happened upon her in Italy. He had deliberately gone to search her out with the intention of seducing her into marrying him. His main objective was to gain entry into the house in London where he could continue his search for Alice’s jewels.
It was his rummaging in the attic for the jewels that Paula had heard, and it was he that had caused the flickering of the lights (from the attic) when he reduced the flow of gas to the downstairs lights. She had become an impediment to his search, so he needed her certified insane and institutionalized so that he could be free to find his treasure.
He came very near to realizing his goal, but by some chance encounter Paula meets Inspector Brian Cameron of Scotland Yard (acted by Joseph Cotten), who was an avid admirer of her Aunt Alice. He tells her that she is not going out of her mind, but that she is beings slowly and systematically been driven out of your mind by her husband.
Related: Signs You’re Arguing With A Psychopath.
Together with Paula, and with the support of the old housekeeper (who had suspected the master of causing these events), he opens the “cold case”. The drama reaches its final conclusion when he arrests Gregory just as he has found his treasure of the long lost jewels.
What is the purpose of gaslighting?
As you can see, this “Gaslighting Tango” is a form of psychological warfare that is both deliberate and progressive in nature between one individual (the gaslighter) and another (the gaslightee).
The Gaslighting Effect involves an insidious set of psychological manipulations that are carried out gradually in stages, and repeated time after time, in order to undermine the mental stability of its victim. It is truly a convoluted dance, where finally the unsuspecting gaslightee believes that they are going crazy.