Gas Lighting: Messin’ With Your Mind

Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths
from victim to survivor

Gas lighting: Messin’ with your mind

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Gas lighting is written about in Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside
the Relationships of Inevitable Harm. J. Reid Meloy writes about it
in The Psychology of Stalking: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives.
The term “gas light” comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight, in which a
gold-digger sweeps a woman off her feet, marries her, then
deliberately sets about making his new wife and other people doubt her

Gas lighting is a form of psychological warfare that is deliberate and
progressive in nature. Gas lighters first start with subtle
psychological warfare to diminish the victims self-confidence, to
upset their sense of reality, and to make them doubt themselves. They
want to break the victim down a bit before engaging in more direct
attacks, so the victim is in a weakened state and will be less likely
to figure out what is going on and take action to protect themselves.

Occasionally you may mention something the psychopath has said and he
may deny ever having said it. Perhaps you can’t find your purse, and
the psychopath helps you look for it. Finally it is located in the
refrigerator. He laughs and gives you an affectionate hug, telling
you that you just must be stressed. A week or two later you’re
hunting your car keys that you are positive you left on your computer
desk because that is where you always leave them. After searching for
an eternity, you finally find them still in the car ignition. Dear
God, the psychopath says, someone could have stolen the car right out
of the driveway due to your carelessness and forgetfulness! You
scratch your head and begin to think Hhhmn, maybe my memory is
slipping. It must be you, right? Because who would ever suspect
someone who professes to love you is deliberately doing these things
to you? But psychopaths are masters at gas lighting.

Gas lighting is written about in Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside
the Relationships of Inevitable Harm. The authors, Sandra L. Brown,
M.A. and Liane J. Leedom, M.D., say the psychopath will do all sorts
of devious things to try to make the victim think they are mentally
deficient or having a nervous breakdown, and that the psychopath
enjoys the process of inflicting psychological damage.

J. Reid Meloy writes about it in The Psychology of Stalking:
Clinical and Forensic Perspectives, giving an example of a 70 year old
man stalking his 71 year old girlfriend. One of the things this man
did was to gas light his girlfriend by sneaking into her backyard in
the middle of the night to rearrange her patio furniture. Meloy also
asks the reader to imagine the frustration of a victim of gas lighting
trying to convince the police that a perpetrator broke into her home,
yet did nothing more than move the candlesticks to the bathroom.

Eleanor White has written a review of a book by Victor Santoro: Gas
lighting: How to Drive Your Enemies Crazy. In the review she points
out that the harassment techniques are both subtle and devious and
indicates stalking victims will immediately recognize the techniques.
Some of the techniques in the book talk about how to cause
disorientation in the victim by sneaking into their home and subtly
moving items around, or stealing an item then putting it back at a
later date. There is advice on starting a whispering campaign against
the target, so multiple people help damage the target’s reputation.
There are also techniques in the book designed to alienate the target
from family members, friends, neighbors, employers, etc. and to make
them doubt the target’s sanity. Here are a few chapter titles from
the book:

Gas lighting Philosophy

Causing Disorientation

Building Paranoia

Destroying Your Target’s Reputation

Provoking Confrontations

This is nasty stuff and the psychopath does not need a book to go by,
as he is a natural at it.

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