Gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. Victims of gaslighting are deliberately and systematically fed false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, often about themselves. The term derives its name from a 1938 play, Gas Light, and a film adaptation starring Ingrid Bergman.
Victims of gaslighting may end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity. Over time, a gaslighter’s manipulations can grow more complex and potent, making it increasingly difficult for the victim to see the truth.
Gaslighting can occur in personal or professional relationships, and the victims are targeted at the core of their being: their sense of identity and self-worth. Manipulative people who engage in gaslighting do so to attain power over their victims, either because they simply derive warped enjoyment from the act or because they wish to emotionally, physically or financially control their victim. Those who employ this tactic often have a personality disorder; narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy chief among them. Manipulators have a tendency to present one face to their prey and another to the rest of the world, leading victims to assume that if they ask for help or speak out, no one will believe that they have been manipulated and emotionally abused.