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Gaslighting = Psychological War

Gaslighting is a term that can be used to describe mind games when they are used against someone in a kind of psychological war. This may be to discredit a person, destroy their reputation, isolate them from others, make them doubt their sanity or even lose their mind.

Where the abuser has a clear motive, Gaslighting may be used deliberately to achieve an outcome . This is demonstrated in the movie “Gaslighting” where the perpetrator’s ambition is to steal precious jewelry.

Gaslight Free Classic Mystery Suspense Movies Full Length
Gaslighting may also be used as a defense against abuse in situations where a victim has few other options to defend themselves. This is demonstrated in the movie “Amélie” where a young woman uses this strategy to protect a disabled boy who is being publicly humiliated by his boss. Amélie (2001) Full movie with English Subtitles

Gaslighting is more generally an unconscious form of negotiation. This may result when a person grew up in a family where emotional abuse and manipulation were the main bargaining chips for how family resources were distributed. Punishing, undermining and discrediting other family members to ‘stay on top’ may have been learned behaviours.

Whether aggressive, defensive or unconscious; Gaslighting is a tactical form of mental torture and aggression that equals psychological warfare.

If you feel that you are the victim of gaslighting you need to accept the reality of having become entangled in a war. Regaining confidence in yourself and getting yourself focused and grounded is essential.

Trying to explain gaslighting or the calculated nature of the abuse to people outside the conflict is probably not in your best interest. Instead you need to take this battle on strategically and defend yourself as best as you can. It is easy to be so overwhelmed at the idea of what is happening that you will want to tell everyone the whole story as you try and believe it yourself. This will not help your credibility and will make it harder for people to support you. Again, it is better if you can ground yourself and get into present time and think about how you can deal with the situation play by play.

Allowing the actions of the person who is gaslighting you to rebound on themselves is usually your best strategy.

For instance, if they are trying to convince other people that you are crazy it is very important that you stay composed and show the world that you are confident and sane. Keep yourself as calm and grounded as you can and try to focus on one piece of the story at a time to find where you can best find a way to re establish solid ground for your own ambition and goals.

Kim Cooper

In our book Back From the Looking Glass Steve and I share the account of how I ended the ‘psychological war’ in our home.

Back From the Looking Glass –

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I am out of control.
    I can accept happiness into my life its just so difficult.
    I need help I self harm.
    Any advice would be great thanks.

    1. Hi John, Finding someone you trust to talk to can be difficult in the beginning. You might start with a local minister or community worker who can recommend a doctor who may be sympathetic and helpful. It can help to have an idea of something polite to say to excuse yourself if you decide the person you ask is not someone you really feel you can trust. You might simply say, “Thank you for your time, I have to go now but I will consider what you have said.” Having an exit plan ready like that can help make asking for help less anxiety causing.

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