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Gaslighting is a form of unhealthy psychological manipulation wherein the abuser attempts to manufacture thoughts or feelings of mental instability in the victim. The abuser may do so unconsciously, or so as to destabilize the victim, make them feel upset, induce delusional states in them, and/or exercise control over them. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline considers gaslighting a form of serious abuse.
Schizophrenia-like symptoms that previously did not exist have been shown to be induced by professional psychiatric treatment. Psychiatrist Theo L. Dorpat, M.D argues that this is widespread in clinical settings due to some medical professionals having authoritarian attitudes or wanting to exercise social control over their patients.
Gaslighting in detail
The most commonly cited gaslighting tactics abusers use were outlined by Patricia Evans and include:
- Withholding information from the victim;
- Countering information to fit the abuser's perspective;
- Discounting information;
- Using verbal abuse, usually in the form of jokes;
- Blocking and diverting the victim's attention from outside sources;
- Trivializing ("minimising") the victim's worth; and,
- Undermining the victim by gradually weakening them and their thought processes.
Although gaslighting as an abuse tactic is not questioned by anyone except extreme sociopaths and narcissists, it is true that some people claiming gaslighting may not be experiencing gaslighting. Theoretically, they may instead by experiencing a real delusion not induced by an abuser. At the same time, some prominent anti-psychiatrists such as David Cooper claim all serious cases of non-drug-induced persistent delusions are caused by interpersonal abuse or neglect, particularly from authority figures such as parents.
It is possible to gaslight someone experiencing delusions, as making a person feel out of touch with reality is not going to stabilize them, and is just going to make them more delusional. And that is obviously not healthy. Someone may have a delusion that a gaslighter may utilize to make the person have more delusions. Arguably it may be useful to have someone delusional instead merely recognize their delusions instead of making them feel more delusional, so as to work them out of their delusions, a principle of cbt talk therapy.
- Dorpat, Theodore L. (1996). Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation, and Other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. ISBN 978-1-56821-828-1. OCLC 34548677. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- Evans, Patricia (1996). The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond (2nd ed.). Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Media Corporation.
- The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout (2006) Harmony. ISBN 0767915828.
- The death of the family. Harmondsworth: Penguin