Monday, 13 August 2012

Gaslighting: A form of abuse and manipulation used by sinister cyberstalkers

Gaslighting is a sophisticated manipulation tactic which certain types of personalities use to create doubt in the minds of others. It is sometimes used (whether consciously or unconsciously) as means of control and manipulation by stalkers and in particularly by cyberstalkers.

Gaslighting is defined by Wikipedia as:
A form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. 
The term "gaslighting" comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations. In those works a man uses a variety of tricks to convince his wife that she is crazy, so that she won't be believed when she reports strange things that are genuinely occurring, including the dimming of the gas lights in the house (which happens when her husband turns on the normally unused gas lamps in the attic to conduct clandestine activities there). 
The term is now also used in clinical and research literature

Spatial stalkers can and do use gaslighting as a means of mind control and abuse of their victims (for example constantly stealing or moving items belonging to their victim), however the use of gaslighting by a spatial stalker often involves risk (of discovery). However as with many other tactics deployed by cyberstalkers, gaslighting can be employed with relatively little risk of detection or detainment by the perpetrator.

Gaslighting is a tool of intimidation and extreme harassment used to ill-effect by the most sinister of cyberstalkers and internet trolls.

Whilst gaslighting has been acknowledged as a form of abuse, manipulation and harassment for many years, it has only recently been acknowledged as a particularly sinister form of abuse in incidences of cyberstalking. Generally speaking, in order for gaslighting to occur within the context of a campaign of cyberstalking, the campaign will have been a prolonged one. Whilst there is not a great deal of detailed research available on gaslighting, anecdotally it is quite clear that is becoming a preferred tool for particularly sinister, controlling and manipulative stalkers and cyberstalkers.

The use of gaslighting indicates extreme sociopathic behaviour.

In simple terms, it is beyond the average person's ability to conceive the use of such sinister, manipulative and abusive tactics.

In extreme cases of gaslighting by a cyberstalker, the perpetrator will actually write publicly (for example on Twitter) "predicting" what the victim will do next - then following this up with further "confirmatory" writing, once their "prediction" has become reality.
Gaslighting is just one of the many weapons in the arsenal of personalities hell-bent on having their way, even if it means doing so by subtle and covert means of conning others. One of the most important points I make in all my articles, books, and other writings about the narcissistic and most especially, the aggressive personalities, is that they will do whatever it takes to secure and maintain a position of advantage over others. And some of the most effective means at their disposal are tactics that conceal their malevolent intent while simultaneously prompting their “target” to accede to their desires.Dr George Simon, PhD

A full downloadable copy of the movie Gaslighting is available courtesy of The National Film Archive

How do you know if you are being gaslighted? 

The following (albeit non-exhaustive) are common signs of gaslighting. If you are a victim of spatial stalking or cyberstalking and answer "yes" to several of the following, seek the opinion in the first instance of a trusted friend, confidant or counsellor. Thereafter consider seeking medical and legal advice:

  1. Constantly 2nd guessing yourself
  2. You feel emotionally trapped and imprisoned by your stalker - and yet you cannot explain quite how or why to your family and friends
  3. You feel like you stalker/cyberstalker is constantly one step ahead of you - almost as if they are predicting what you will do next
  4. Persistent dull sense of inexplicable confusion
  5. Constantly find yourself apologising for your actions to those closest to you (professionally, personally and socially)
  6. If you find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don't have to explain or make excuses
  7. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can't place your finger on what exactly is wrong
  8. You have trouble making simple decisions
  9. Persistently asking yourself, "Am I over sensitive?"
  10. Your personality has been changed dramatically and inexplicably by the stalking from confident to under-confident; from relaxed to tense; from creative to fuzzy-headed and incapable of creativity
  11. Lacking in peace and hope
  12. You start doubting your abilities generally
  13. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don't have to explain or make excuses
  14. You find yourself withdrawing and becoming more and more isolated socially - even from close friends

Useful Links and References

Counselling Resource Psychology, Philosophy & Real Life | 8 November 2011 [Dr George Simon, PhD]

I trust that this post proves helpful to some of you.

As always, please feel free to contact me for more information and assistance either below or via

Stay safe!


Andie Steele-Smith

No comments:

Post a Comment