Gaslighting is an extreme form of emotional, psychological, abuse, and as such, gradually erodes the victim’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem, with the outcome being; self-confidence destroyed. Alas, the victim adopts a confused, disorientated stance and thus renders herself exposed, moreso, to criticism and judgment. Henceforth, the roles are quite clear: the victim is considered “crazy” (mentally deranged) whilst the abuser is the “suffering soul.”
The abuser causes the victim to lose faith in her ability to manage and to cope with the world and its demands. She no longer trusts her senses, her skills, her strengths, her friends, her family, and the predictability and benevolence of her environment.
The abuser subverts the victim’s focus by disagreeing with her way of perceiving the world, her judgment, the facts of her existence, by criticizing her incessantly – and by offering plausible but specious alternatives. By constantly distorting the truth, (pathological lying), he blurs the line between reality and nightmare.
By recurrently disapproving of her choices and actions – the abuser shreds the victim’s self-confidence and shatters her self-esteem. By reacting disproportionately to the slightest “mistake” – he intimidates her to the point of paralysis.
The abuser gradually and surreptitiously takes over functions and chores previously adequately and skillfully performed by the victim. The victim finds herself isolated from the outer world, a hostage to the goodwill – or, more often, ill-will – of her captor. She is crippled by his encroachment and by the unstoppable erosion of her boundaries and ends up totally dependent on her abuser’s clever schemes.
Moreover, the abuser may even engineer impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely needed. The abuser will employ this strategy to ensure his knowledge, his skills, his connections, or his traits are the only ones applicable and the most useful in the situations that he, himself, has carefully crafted. The abuser cleverly generates his work of indispensability.
Control by Triangulation
If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, any third party – to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate victim. He (or she!) employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he (or she) always dumps his (or her!) props unceremoniously when the job is done.
Another form of control by triangulation is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios of embarrassment and humiliation provoke social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, social exclusion) against the victim. In this instance, society becomes the instrument of the abuser.