“In the stage play and suspense thriller from the 1930s entitled “Gas Light,” a conniving husband tries to make the wife he wishes to get rid of think she is losing her mind by making subtle changes in her environment, including slowly and steadily dimming the flame on a gas lamp. In recent years, the term “gaslighting” has come to be applied to attempts by certain kinds of personalities, especially psychopaths and narcissists, who are among the personalities most adept at sophisticated tactics of manipulation, to create so much doubt in the minds of their targets of exploitation that the victim no longer trusts their own judgment about things and buys into the assertions of the manipulator, thus coming under their power and control”.
For the purpose of this article I believe a version of this technique is now being used online as a type of experiment in social control.
And the focus of these attacks are survivors of childhood abuse.
The easiest way of describing it is “how far can you push people, or what can you make them do”?
They closely watch the effects on those they target and keep endlessly repeating whatever method that achieves the best result.
Effective ‘Gaslighting’ can be accomplished in several different ways.
So here is how it works and what you need to watch out for.
A random person can assert something to or about you with such conviction that you start to doubt your own perspectives.
Using vigorous and unwavering denial alongside public displays of righteous indignation can also achieve the same result.
They may use known facts about you that seem accurate but contain minute, hard to prove distortions and use them to their advantage.
It is particularly effective used alongside other tactics such as publicly shaming and bringing on feelings of intense guilt.
Anything that assists in getting another person to doubt their own judgement and back down will work.
It is only one of the many weapons in the arsenal of people who are hell-bent on getting the result they want, even if it means doing so by very subtle and covert means.
They will do whatever it takes to secure and maintain a position of advantage over their ‘targets’.
The concentrate on aspects of your personal life by using information that you have unwittingly provided to them as they have probably saved every Tweet, Forum post and comment that you have made online.
From this they use certain facts and highlight anything that they think will get the strongest reaction. For example if you have innocently written or commented on the Benefit changes, they will direct comments that are normally used by the media to describe the unemployed in a negative way.
If you are ill, or have a disability, they will focus on this and use the most cruel words in order to anger, humiliate or cause you distress.
In my case they have focused on the fact that as a 14-year old boy I was taken to secure facility to be psychologically assessed. Regardless of the other facts, which were it was illegal, and that I received a clean bill of mental health, they still see that as a lever to get a reaction from me.
Gojam, who writes the Needle blog for example, has tweeted that fact several times to his followers with the sole intention of trying to cast doubts upon, and discredit anything I say.
Another Twitter user has used the same information, to write a blog about how she and her daughter are now living in fear of their lives as she has been fed information that I am ‘Stalking’ her and taking photographs of her child.
Some of the most effective means at their disposal are tactics that conceal their real intent while simultaneously prompting their “target” to submit to their will.
Deception is often the key ingredient in manipulation.
Deception can be accomplished by outright denial, distortion of key aspects of events, and a variety of other methods, especially very sophisticated lying techniques.
Really accomplished liars can deceive you by merely reciting a catalogue of absolute facts, while deliberately and cleverly leaving out one or two crucial elements that would change the entire character of what they’re trying to make you believe.
A common element among all the tactics manipulators use is that they cause the person being targeted to doubt their own instincts about what’s going on.
Their gut tells them they’re under attack or that someone is trying to get the better of them, and they instantly go on the defensive.
But because they often can’t find any clear evidence that the other person is actually doing this, they start doubting and questioning themselves.
This is the real secret of effective manipulation.
If their “target” was solidly convinced they were in the process of being attacked they would be more likely to put up more resistance instead of capitulating.
The Manipulators know this.
They win by getting the other person to back down or give in.
Gaslighting has come to some prominence lately because several authors have highlighted it as one of the more crafty tactics psychopaths use to disadvantage their victims.
Many of these disturbed individuals, especially the aggressive personalities, are prone to using numerous tactics, including covert techniques, to get the better of their targets.
Their goal is always to win or secure whatever it is they want.
And they’ll do whatever they have to do to get it.
Sometimes the most effective way to do that is to avoid bringing attention to their intentions but rather get the other person to unwittingly but voluntarily surrender.
If you can install shame, guilt, fear, or great doubt, the other person will more than likely back off any stance they wanted to take.