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Gaslight: a glimpse of psychopathic manipulations

The word “gaslight,” when used as a verb, means “to manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity; to subtly drive someone crazy.” It’s a term that’s been used on this website to describe the psychological damage inflicted by a psychopath.

I was aware that the word, when used in this way, was a reference to the 1944 movie Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Angela Lansbury and Joseph Cotton. But I had never seen the film. A few days ago, I watched Gaslight for the first time.

The story is set in Edwardian London, where an accomplished singer is mysteriously strangled in her home. The crime is discovered by the singer’s young niece, Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman). Paula is traumatized by the murder and leaves London to live in Italy.

Ten years later, Paula falls head-over-heels in love with a handsome and suave pianist, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), and they quickly marry. The couple returns to the London house, which Paula has inherited. Then Gregory begins a slow, calculated campaign to make Paula believe she is becoming forgetful, then hysterical, then insane.

Working on the mind

Several film reviews call the villain of the movie, Gregory Anton, a psychopath. Most movies that are supposedly about psychopaths do not, in fact, portray them accurately. Gaslight does a fairly good job.

Gregory maneuvers himself into Paula’s life and quickly sweeps her off her feet. (Does this sound familiar to anyone?) Gregory has an agenda, which is revealed later in the movie. He manipulates Paula into going along with his plans—starting with going back to the London house.

Gradually he starts working on Paula’s mind. He moves things and then asks Paula what she did with them. When Paula is understandably confused—after all, she didn’t do anything—he feigns concern, while making more and more items disappear.

Gregory shames Paula in front of their servants, and gradually convinces the servants that there is something wrong with their mistress. (Has anyone experienced that?) He lets it be known in society that Paula is not well, and then contrives to make Paula have a very public breakdown.

The psychopath shows flashes of rage, then quickly shifts to solicitous manipulation. He becomes more and more dominant—telling Paula what to do and where to sit—while his wife crumbles.

In my opinion, Gaslight provides a fairly good representation of the destructive relationship between a psychopathic predator and his victim. The only big thing that seems off is that Gregory, the villain, has a motivation for what he is doing. From what I’ve seen, many psychopaths destroy the people they supposedly love for no reason at all.

Understanding the dynamics

I was hoping that I’d be able to tell people to watch Gaslight and they’d understand what it’s like to be victimized by a psychopath. Although anyone who has experienced a psychopath will recognize the villain’s behaviors, I’m not sure the movie will help people who haven’t been there understand the dynamics. The film is just a bit too theatrical for the manipulation to be perceived as real.

I also watched American Psycho. In the beginning, the portrayal of the psychopathic character, Patrick Bateman, does seem to capture the grandiosity and cold heartlessness of a psychopath. But then the film turns into a bloody slasher movie, or maybe a horror fantasy—I couldn’t figure it out. In the end, it’s just another one of those movies that confuses people about psychopaths.

So we are left trying to explain to people how the psychopath manipulated us, how we could have fallen for it, why we didn’t see it. And the words just never seem to capture the experience.


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46 Comments on "Gaslight: a glimpse of psychopathic manipulations"

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it never ceases to amaze me how universal the experience of loving a sociopath is. they all use the exact same techniques to manipulate and destroy, to break us down into putty in their hands.
the most amazing part is that they do it just because thats WHAT THEY DO. Like they r programmed that way and they can’t not do it.
r they even aware of the fact that they r NOT NORMAL?
do they know what they put us through mentally?
do they have insight into the minds of their victims?
maybe we’ll never know for sure what their awareness level is…
when ever i try to describe my story it feels inadequate. Like how can I truly get accross what happened to me, what i felt, why i stayed with him so long? The words I write are never enough to explain it.
The only ones who get the paralyzing helplessness u felt and the inner prison he kept u chained to are the women who have been through it.
i guess thats why we need this site so badly.
thank you so much for starting it.

I dont know if it can be consider being gaslighted or not, but times and times again, my sociopath made me doubt myself and my instinct. It was like I felt that something was wrong, there was inconsistancy in his “stories”, and everytimes he made me doubt my instincts, telling me I was imaging things or that I was paranoided. I know now that wasnt the case, but too often I let him get away with things because he could so easily manipulate me. It breaks my heart and my spirit just to think about it, the way he used me and manipulated me, just because he could…

I call it second-guessing myself. And looking back at my relationship with the sociopath, it’s probably the hidden key to every time I didn’t protect myself or do the logical thing in getting him out of my life.

It started really early. Before we were even involved, he set himself up as an authority in everything that was important to me. Or everywhere I was vulnerable. Whether I was attractive. Whether I was knowledgeable about social trends. Whether my writing was good (I’m a writer). Whether I was sexually adequate. Whether I was good mother. Whether I was an ethical person. And on and on.

And it wasn’t just that he criticized me, he also flattered me. I never knew what kind of judgment I’d receive. But in retrospect I realize that the nature of the judgment probably wasn’t as meaningful as the fact that he was constantly judging me. And though I tried to fight off those judgments, particularly in the beginning, he was very clever about punishing me, withdrawing attention or finding some reason to be unable to meet an important commitment, or humiliating me in some way when I tried to stand up for myself.

One of the hardest things for me in getting over it was getting over hating myself for being so unbelievably stupid. I agreed to things that I never would have agreed to with anyone else. Over the course of five years, there are maybe a dozen major pivotal moments when I agreed to something that was clearly self-destructive. And each time I did it, part of me knew I couldn’t handle it or I was going to get badly hurt, but I didn’t trust my own instincts. Instead I trusted his elaborate rationales about why this would be “good for me.”

Dr. Leedon said that depression is “learned helplessness.” I think that depression is crippling grief and absolute fury with yourself for letting go of your own power over your life, for becoming so helpless. It took years to learn how to trust myself again. And in doing that, I learned how, when faced with someone who wants to use me or convince me that they know better than me what is good for me, to be a warrior in defending myself own ideas, values, feelings and dreams.

I’ve also learned how to be hyper-conscious of that strange feeling of second-guessing myself. Those questions like do I have a right to feel this way, do I really deserve better treatment, am I really not smart enough to understand what’s going on? When that kind of question comes up in my mind, I give it one good look to see if my inner self is trying give me some advice — because sometimes we do get lost in the heat of the moment — and then turn away from anything that diminishes me or makes me feel confused, weak or stupid. This is my life, and I may make mistakes because I’m not perfect, but it’s my job to trust myself, take care of myself, and do the best I can with my circumstances.

And that means that, from now on, anyone who tries to get into my mind — especially people who start volunteering information about me, about who I am or what I need — get banished very quickly. That is disrespectful. I respect other people’s dignity and their efforts to live meaningful lives, and I expect it in return. And I think that’s the best inoculation against ever letting another sociopath into my life.

This weekend is Mother’s Day and I plan on watching “Gaslight”. I should be happy but instead, am depressed. I was with my ex-sociopath for 9 years and he tried his best to manipulate my children as well as poison my mind. He turned me into an alcoholic and drug addict and made me feel as though I were losing my sanity. But, that was 4 yrs ago and I recovered…slowly. What scares me the most, however is his relationship with my middle son who is now 20. He says bad things to him about me and is slowly poisoning him like he did with me. It sickens me to hear about it. In March, his own son died of a drug overdose. He was only 19. When I think back on his treatment of him, I can’t help but think that he poisoned his poor little mind in a slow and methodical manner. Everything he has touched has turned out badly and it gives me great relief to read these stories and see that I am not alone. My ex has left behind him a path of destruction and we are left picking up the pieces in his aftermath. Hopefully, I will enjoy a nice Mother’s Day with my sons but I have anxiety and am afraid that he will try his best to ruin it for me.

Oddly enough, it was when he tried Gaslighting me that I really started to look at him. Even then, I thought he was just stressed by his mother’s illness. But he told me I had interupted him when he was discussing his mother’s illness to talk about my own. Then he said I did it again a few minutes later. Even then, even though he was drugging me to the point my memory was shot, I thought, that isn’t how I act, that’s how HE acts. He rarely let me finish a sentence.

I have anxiety disorder and chronic depression, but I do know what behaviors I do, and what is against my nature. Sadly, I just thought he was having some sort of midlife crisis, and didn’t know enough to protect myself. I trusted him completely. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is such a thing as waaaay too much trust.

He flattered me too, never said a mean word to me. I’m still learning how much he managed to manipulate me, how many hoops I jumped through to keep that coming, while I told him a thousand times a day how wonderful he was. He played on my illness and somehow I turned from a very independent, stong person, to a sick weakling. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from that, I’m scared to death that I’ll get involved with yet another one.

Funny, just happened to go back and look at some of these archives and this one popped out at me.

Gaslight….what a great analogy. There are days I still question my sanity in regards to my now defunct relationship of nine years with a sociopath. I have a child with this sociopath which gives me about another decade of this emotional rollercoaster ride of intimidations and tactile legal manuevers to deal with.

I have found solace in this web site in the knowledge that I am not crazy and that as much as you and I can see the issues on mental illness with these sociopaths, the legal system is not ready to handle them on the level in which they need to be dealt with. They are smarter than you and I and any legal system anywhere and plot their next move with the precision of a master chess player.

I have developed the sixth sense to be able to anticipate his next set of manuevers. This had lead those involved in the legal side of this game to question my mental stability in the past. However, over the years of sticking to my principals and continously handling myself in the most honest and decent manner I have won their respect and trust.

It is those on the outside who can never understand the depth of misperception and deceit that a sociopath will go to in his grand plot. They are the ones who still make me doubt myself sometimes because I feel humilated and belittled by the level at which I sank in my relationship with this man. I still have my days where I cannot believe that I was that Trusting and that Naive.

I can never regret my time with him because I have the greatest gift from him, our son. For that, I am grateful everyday and vow everyday to watch for the signs that he may possess his father’s “evil” ways and when I see anything the remotely takes on that form, I give him love and positive reinforcement on the good he does and hold him highly accountable to any lies or deceits that he may try to pull.

Everyday is a day of recovery from my time with this person and I am now not anywhere near the person I was either prior to meeting him or while I was with him. I am who I am because of him and hope that someday I can provide hope to those who are going through the same mess.

I linked to this from another archived post … which delighted me because I always have trouble getting into the archives and in between new posts it is valuable to read older ones.

I watched the movie Gaslight and although it’s portrayal is in another era and world … the behaviours are recognisable. I first learned the term when I was researching an abuse tutorial – it is a symptom of emotional abuse – well a tactic of abuse. We were separated at that point and I thought it ‘just hadnt’ worked out’ for reasons I couldn’t really explain. It was at that point I realised I had been abused and he had practiced virtually all the tactics on me. I later found out what he really was and ended up here.

I wonder if these posters are still around and how they’re healing from their experiences. I can so relate to what they wrote – about long time spent wondering what the heck was happening, losing myself and continually doubting myself. It’s not an easy recovery by any stretch of the imagination.

Well hopefully others will read this older post and comment as well – I think it is a great discussion of the film plot and characters – well done yet again Donna! My congratulations for this one are very late though 🙂

Dear Polly,

I saw this movie years ago and at the time it really didn’t have any “meaning” for me, not like now. Alfred Hitchcock did a TV show of the same kind where the husband was driving the wife crazy with “lilttle things.”

There’s an old book, I read, 40 yrs ago called “Body Language” that explains how our body language sends subtle signals that can make people uncomfortable. Like how people become uncomfortable if you stand too close or too far away, or put your purse on someones deas, or move your drinking glass on to their “half” of the table, etc.

The book told how to assume dominant “postures” or submissive postures in just about any situation, all with body language. I started observing these and found them very interesting. Any good actor would have to know this, and in fact, watching a show last night, I saw a particularly good example of this.

The person who is being intimidated may not even be aware of what is going on, but they react to the body language as well as the gaslighting. Sometimes they are not even aware of what is going on. I think that is just another part of the gaslighting and the D & D. as well.

That is part of what amazes me – I had no idea I was being abused till I read through all the behaviours that constitute psychological abuse. In actual fact, I had skimmed them years before and actually thought to myself
“Those poor women going through that – thank goodness I have a reasonable husband”
And he was doing it at that time too! Unbelievable!

Behaviours used were – denial, minimising, gaslighting, coercion, using fear, obligation and guilt, name calling, making me feel bad about myself, distancing, cold shoulder and silent treatment, crazy making behaviour, lying, starting arguments over nothing, blame shifting, stone walling, humiliation (both public and private), playing mind games, pressuring me, blame shifting, raging, severe economic and financial abuse … you know all the rest!

I just download and read in one sitting Women who Love Psychopaths … eye opening to say the least. It was like reading a highly detailed description of myself and my character, his character (the fake and the real horrible one) and everything that happened. It was uncanny and I will have to read again.

Journalling it out is really helping. It is funny that I intuitively knew I had to write it – so far I am at 178 pages and still stuff is pouring out. I read a book on PTSD that recommended journalling, integrating the experience into your personal history and coming to terms with what has happened. I still will probably need to explore therapy but for now journalling is really helping me when I have doubts come up – ‘surely it wasn’t that bad’ ‘Maybe it was just a lousy relationship’

I just have to read through what I have written to squash those statements flat – he was very dangerous and I am lucky to have emerged with the level of harm I have. It could have been much worse for me. My position in life is still somewhat recoverable although I will never be the same again. I now honor my instincts – if I am uncomfortable with something I don’t do it.

For example, I met a new friend a while ago locally. We were conversing through email and decided to meet up for coffee. He asked me to pick him up and I didn’t feel right about it so I said NO. Even if he got soaked in the rain! I explained why too – said ‘I don’t know you well enough and I trust my instincts now. If you don’t want to meet me because of this then I am fine with that but I won’t be picking you up till I know you better.’

I half expected a bad reaction to this – must be the conditioning from The Evil One, but this guy took it well and replied
“If you have the courage to be yourself with me then you are a friend worth having. I will make my own way there and meet you at the coffee bar.” We had a great conversation – he’s normal – how refreshing! And we are taking our friendship slowly. It’s very strange interacting with normal people again – I am not as confident as I used to be.

I now realise how utterly sensitive I am to non verbal cues from people as well as verbal ones … I have to be careful in future not to fall into traps with people trying to manipulate me.

Dear Polly,

GOOD FOR YOU! Stick with those instincts!

I made a list of “deal breakers” for ANY kind of a relationship whether friendship, romantic, or wahtever….

1) NUMBER ONE–NO LIARS–no second chance
2) NO illegal activities of ANY kind
3) NO sleezy behavior of any kind
4) NO person who is a mooch
5) NO person who is unreliable/irresponsible
6) NO person who is a “blame placer”

The first “episode” of any of these things, the first episode of any form of untrustworthiness or failure to be fair or reasonable, I will not have this person inside my “circle of trust:.”

I consider my “circle of trust” to be one that a person must EARN the right to enter….not automatic admittence and then when they break trust, I throw them OUT—they don’t get IN until they have shown that they are WORTHY.

There are of course different levels of trust and a person must work their way from the outside the outer circle on toward the inner one, but I have decided (and followed up on) tossing people out who have been inside quite some time, including some “close” friends that were never really friends, just parasites.

Reading through this post.. what stands out to me is the one that wrote, ” I let him set himself up as the authority on everything in my life. That is key in my opinion… That is what I have done in many instances in my life.. then later to find that I was the one with the knowledge and common sense and know how.. and my turning over whatever in my life to anyone resulted in it not being good for me.. but benefited them or they benefited off my displeasure… this can happen in relationships and or business or just social interaction..

That giving your authority away … is key.. what do you do it..?
I have thought about this in my life … and it is because I ‘think’ at the time that this person knows more than I do.. or my confidence is lacking in something or I am not good enough.. when the truth is that I am what they want to be.. they want what I have, my confidence, my talent, my life style, my disapline, my honesty and integrity…
I read on another post where a woman gave half her business to a man who didn’t know how to run a business and he ran it into the ground and it now trying to take more from her..
What is that exactly?
Why are we giving to others with no return? Even while knowing in our heart, mind body and soul that this is not good for us, yet we do it anyway.. thinking that they know better, will take care of us, or something.. or for ‘love’…
Why we do this is the key to most everything on here…
if we stop doing this and stand up, pull away, put up boundaries… the user, the con, the predator is handicapped.. and we miss the experince of their harm…instead of having to dig out of the mess left….

so look into yourself.. what are you afraid of? Why do you ‘think’ that you need this person?

I got out of a relationship about a year ago.. as he tried to sweep me off my feet, my gut the whole time was telling me no.. no.. something is wrong.. so I watched.. pulled back.. protected myself and certianly gave him no access to my finances.. even as he commented.. if I had you account number and routing number I could just deposite money when you pay for something and I pay you back.. every bell in my body was clanging..
you see this guy was a fianance man, a former bank board member.. he knew how to work the system..

I even began getting freaked when I left him at my house alone.. that he might get a check or some financial info..
and if I felt that way.. I shouldn’t have had him in my life…

So, I got him out.. and I was hurt, I felt lied to betrayed, the dream he created was false… I wanted the happy ending.. but had I stayed with him, he would have sucked me dry and we were on a path to nowhere… I saw early on where we were heading so I block anything that could have him infiltrate me too much…
Years, ago, I married a man and I co-mingled money from a house I sold to buy one with him.. and even though we had a financial agreement, I got screwed.. I was awarded the house in the divorce but he left town without signing the papers that turned the house over to me.. so I was not able to sell it for years.. and I maintained this large house all on my own until finally I had an attorney get him to sign it over to me.. he was trying to sink me but he didn’t but he almost did..

I learned my lesson well.. Protect your finances.. they are separate from ‘love’.. …

So back to the deal.. the deal is why give anyone authority over your life?

You are the authority in your life and if you feel in your gut something is wrong then it is…..

It is about self-actualization.. people that ‘love’ you don’t take you down.. and why love someone that isn’t your equal in that you can create a sympatic partnership.. If you know that someone has a history of bad decisions, why would you think like some ‘miracle’ that they all of a sudden will change for you… ‘Love’.. that magic word of love.. I am seeing that this word can be the con of the universe…

Let me help you. I love you… blah blah and blah… Love takes time.. love is based on reality.. love is not some fast paced spin.. love is slow and enduring..

If you don’t understand anything else about psychopaths, understand what gaslighting is and how it works.

Gaslighting is one of the psychopaths favorite tactics of abuse, as far as I am concerned.
I believe it is because gaslighting is SO SUBTLE, that you don’t even know it is happening.

I am getting the book “The Gaslight Effect” for myself as a Christmas present.

If you have healthy and strong self-confidence.. it makes it lots harder for someone to ‘gaslight’ you…
because you trust yourself not them…

I agree it can make you feel strange .. confused, but when you feel strange and confused know that something is wrong and trust yourself not them.. don’t get your authority over to anyone.

I am speechless… without words to write the humiliation alone this past year is unbelievable….. Alone I am stronger and more confident, I am much more than a shell of a person he is…I will make it through this and more! Last X mas eve sucked… this one…no matter how it is spent will be S/P/N free all that matters… Oh I got an 80 on my sociopath/anti social paper ! yippie… cross my fingers for the final grade…If I am the only one who knows the truth…willing to acknowlege and accept it.. I know in my heart who I am when I am not being manipulated by a user and someone who just takes from you until you have nothing else then onto the next….. YUK who wants to be around that nasty ness…
Spirit does the little freedom jig…jig… jig….. yippie !!!

one/joy_step_at_a_time

spirit,
thanks for this. 🙂

for all of it but especially for ‘knowing the truth.’ when so much is pushing against me, it is hard to hold on to that.

$*&#, I could have gone to a meeting this monring a 12 step – don’t like them, but it would have done me good to talk – i thought of it, and then it just left my head. it is so hard for me to stay on point.

the nasty landlord is in the building doing work. loud. i am very bullied by this guy. triggered.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

and corgrats on the paper mark! nice to know there was a small advantage for you in knowing about spath!

Dear Spirit,

Congratulations on your paper. Did the person who read it have any “comments” on the subject matter? If so, I’d like to know what they were.

Yes any day is a GOOD DAY if it is P-FREE! (((hugs))))

If I can decipher his handwriting Oxy! I will, overall he said it was a good paper… as far as comments on the sociopaths…none but I will check again…hugs to you too!

Oxy….Only comments Interesting topic psychopathy has come into its own as a behavioral science…..

one/joy_step_at_a_time

re gaslighting – the sock puppets were about this. the ‘bf’ and the ‘sister’ who i talked to after ‘he died’.

i feel crazily angry today. i want to push back against here. have had to stop myslef from going to the website and outing her. i cannot put myself in a situaion to up the anxiety in my life right now.

I feel wildly hurt by what she did to me. to do this….to pretend to be someone that i loved, to pretend to be his family and bf….it’s vile.

man, i feel so F%*ked up.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

that should have read,
‘i want to push back against her’.

Dear One step,

Since it is impossible for you to be “no contact” with someone who DIDN’T EXIST, I suggest that you stay off the web site where she posts. IMHO I think every time you go there it is going to rip the scab off your wounds.

Yes, anyone who would do such a thing for ANY reason is EVIL, and I think she qualifies as EVIL. You are hurt because you (like the rest of us) loved something/someone that didn’t exist. Yours didn’t even have a “body” just a “voice” and even that was fake!

While YOUR feelings were real, at least you didn’t buy a house with this holographic “vision” and didn’t have a kid with it, or so many other things that could have happened if it had a body. I know that sounds weird, but count your blessings, my friend, and work on the things that TAKE CARE OF YOU, your health, your sanity, your balance! You mentioned in another post the good things tha tyou had done for yourself, TOWANDA for you, now get back out there and do more good things for YOU! That’s all any of us can do! God bless.

just a question,is there any legal recourse we could pursue?look hes raped,drugged,beaten, kidnapped,imprisonment against will,robbed,slandered,breach of contract,homeland terrorism,grand theft auto theres too much more and the insane thing is he has gotten away with most of it.

Dear NO-object,

Sometimes there is legal recourse to prosecute, sometimes not.

It also depends on the area police and how seriously they believe the witnesses (you?) AND if there is OTHER EVIDENCE than just the word of one person

I would suggest that you gather any evidence or other witnesses who are willing to tell the truth and approach the authorities, the federal authorities if you can’t get the local guys to cooperate.

God bless you.

Soimnotcrazy, I just found this and thought you might enjoy it, So I brought this thread back for you!

Wow…gaslight!!! So there is a term for it!! I am so HAPPY I found this…

Thank you

coping,

Read the O for umbrella article.

That should be an eye opener for ya 🙂

LL

Very helpful read. Thank you Donna.

Hi Panter, I am not sure I have seen you here before but I haven’t been on for awhile either.

Yeah, gaslighting is an amazing thing. Normal people don’t think that way and it is hard to figure out when you are being gaslighted.

While mine was gaslighting me and I was unaware and about lost my mind. In hindsight I able to look back and laugh. I guess I laugh at myself for being an adult and falling for a magic trick. Geesh. No wonder it is so fun for them (being they are evil)….they must think, “Really? It’s actually driving her mad.She’s an adult. Idiot ….THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY.”

Hahha, hi justus5. No, I am completely new here. I’ve been hanging around reading for about a month, then finally got the guts to post. If you want to see the panther101 comment, here is my little/HUGE intro in the comment section of this post: http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2009/03/02/after-the-sociopath-how-do-we-heal-part-5-getting-angry/

So, yours could make you believe in the tooth fairy too? Someone on her posted that their spath could tell you it was raining outside when the sun was shining, and you’d believe them.

My spath was really good at this gaslighting stuff. He used to tell me that I did things I knew I hadn’t done, and then he’d tell me that I had BLACK OUTS where I did things and forgot or imagined things happening which never happened, and this is all because I am unfortunately delusional, which is because unfortunately I have been programmed that way because someone a long time ago must have hurt me and now I have issues.

Oh, and about the magic. YES! A friend of mine said, after I told her in detail all he’d done, “What the hell do you see in this a***hole?”

My response? “Uh, you don’t understand…it’s like a spell…like he has…something. I dunno.”

I went to grad school with her, and she knew me as being very sharp, so this really didn’t compute for her.

I now think that being smart, feisty, and tough actually makes you a challenge for a sociopath who is tired of easy prey!

But yes…there is this element of, “DOPE!” as I palm my forehead! If it looks like s**t, and smells like s**t, and tastes like s**t…wait, why are you tasting s**t?

Yes, mine could tell me of course their is a tooth fairy, and I would believe him. In the beginning he said it in a nice manner, then later it was very hateful and authoratative. He always said, “No, (my name)” when he wanted me to believe whatever he said without question. The tone he said it in, oh boy.

Yeah, I use to always agrue with my bf when she tried to warn me. I was always defending him and told my bf it wasn’t like she was telling me because….

Yeah, I have STUPID written on my forehead, although I am not stupid and definitely am fiesty.

So far, I have found that the ONLY people who understand what I am talking about in the slightest are other former victims.

That movies sounds interesting, although I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to see something like that just yet. It would be like watching a documentary on my past 1.5 years from the sounds of it. But I definitely think you caught the big oops in that film. I was thinking right away, “Oh, no, don’t tell me he actually has a motive! Come on, he doesn’t need an incentive to be that cruel!” You then mentioned this, which goes to show all over again that only people who have dealt with socio/psychopaths get them fully….if anyone gets them fully.

You are right. They will do it just to do it, like a cat killing a butterfly because the butterfly moved.

panther, i hear ya. It’s quite a lonely road we walk. Thank God for LF and everyone here. You all are a godsend.

Yea, the gaslighting is enough to drive you crazy and make you believe YOU are delusional, have mental problems, are forgetful etc. I sit here shaking my head…wondering why I ever fell for it all. But we are NOT “stoopid” we ARE gullible sometimes, but we are learning and we “ain’t as gullible as we ust’a be! TOWANDA for us!

Not sure where to post this…but it relates to writing and how a sociopath responds to ideas and expresses that response. It made me think of media and how ideas are processed.

I experienced an extended relationship with what I now recognize as a sociopath.

What was very consistent about her was how she responded to my letters and in conversations. She could never seem to have an emotional reaction to or reciprocate a pleasant or loving sentiment- however it was expressed. If I wrote to her about a feeling that I had while thinking about her – she would respond to it with an analysis of it or, in the way an english composition professor would respond to an essay from a student. A response to a letter from me where I recount my thoughts about her and the feelings that they engendered would get a response like: “You write so well. You are able to elicit a tactile response.”

Very often, when I wrote a love letter or just expressed my the love and desire I was feeling for her – it was as if she could edit out the pleasantries, look for points to criticize and, treat it as if I had just given her a shopping list – or a spreadsheet of some kind.

Perhaps she was a teacher? Sounds like she did not understand the meaning of a love letter?

Wow, I always saw “gaslighting” regarding this subject but never knew what it was til I just now looked it up then found this post here. Sheesh, I have seen this relentlessly from DH’s spath-ex-wife and lately I have also come to see it in DH and his mother. When the ex did I was like, “Whhhaaa?” I just didn’t get why someone would do that, and I just thought she was basically dumb while playing smart (high level exec). Now I see! Over that last year, every time I look harder, I see worse and worse of these unhealthily narc. traits in heck, DH, but also just about every husband anyone I know has currently. I like pollyannanomore’s having at least met someone normal. I’m wondering WHO IS normal? Though true, I am starting to see or wonder if it’s just everyone I decided I “didn’t like” as I was dating who WERE normal? I’ve had way too many mean/abusive in whatever ways relationships to not admit that I still need to learn way better boundary keeping. Pollyannanomore is my new hero. Thank you!

That is sad you have had so many abusive relationships. You may attract the wrong guy. Your DH sounds abusive. You should never allow any kind of abuse. From anyone. I don’t. And never will. My mom and dad always taught me that it was not acceptable to let anyone put their hands in you or verbally abuse u. My ex husband and I spilt because we just were not getting along and fell out of love but we are friends and have a great relationship. My husband now treats me like a queen. The only problem with him is he is such a nice guy he was manipulated by an evil sociopath and believed her lies when she was out screwing every man in town. He was like in denial or something. Until me, he never knew what a genuine, sincere and loving relationship was. He is so funny, I will iron a shirt for him and he is so grateful like I just donated a kidney to him. Because his ex sociopathic wife was so mean abusive and selfish. She did do anything for anyone but herself. She never did the small sweet things that mean the most. It was all about money. What can others do for her. Your situation is more complicated than mine, with the sociopath being successful. My husband ex wife (the sociopath) is so dysfunctional and strung out on drugs. I was at our neighbor hood pool the other day and a lady who I just met knew her and ask me if she still has a drug problem. I said ” I don’t know cause I don’t keep up with the crazy woman”. U really have to stop obsessing over his ex and how much money she has and how much u don’t have and worry about yourself. Obsessing about your husbands ex is really useless. She is an ex for a reason. Don’t let her affect u. Don’t read her blogs. Ignore, act as if u don’t even know she exists. That’s what I did. And my life is so less stressful and I actually have peace of mind. Because I just stopped caring. You will get to that point one day and so will your husband

One other thing I noticed that I did with DH, also DH with his spath-ex greatly pressured by her, is that we, just like Ingrid Bergman’s character in Gaslight, married quickly.

I wonder how common a trait that is, how often “healthy” people marry quickly, versus being pressured to by someone not that healthy or very unhealthy?

Yes marrying quick is either done out of possibly the ex wife threatening her ex husband, by saying they can’t take trips with kids because they aren’t married. My husbands ex wife, is a text book sociopath. She screwed around on my husband with everyone, then left him and Immediatly married her now husband who is like 40 years older than her. Weird…

newstepmom,

That “hurry up marriage” is very common iin disordered and dysfunctional people. I think from your posts that DH and his mother as well as his ex wife all are high in P traits so you may have landed in a nest of vipers. Good luck and keep on reading.

I love to watch the movie “Gaslight” every few years. There are actually two versions of this movie and I have enjoyed watching both of them. I find it helpful as a victim of gaslighting to watch the movie.

Donna, when you mention trying to find movies that describe sociopath behaviors that are hard to detect for outsiders, one movie came to mind: “Sleeping with the Enemy.” However, it is also quite theatrical. I think some Lifetime movies may do a better job of showing the intricacies if they are based on a true story. But, so many people don’t understand that most sociopaths are not murderers. They can be just as damaging using the emotional and verbal abuse as show in “Gaslight.”

I think Patricia Evans does the best job I have seen thus far with describing the different verbal and emotional abuses that slowly chip away at a victim.

But, I still recommend that any victim watch “Gaslight” and see what you think. It has helped me several times to look at what the sociopath does to his victim and remind myself how easy it is for them to do it and how easy it is for me to accept it unless I realize they do not love and take my own feelings of any love or loyalty out of the equation when in any situation with any sociopath.

Nisa, this is another good article for you to read on gas lighting abuse. The stress of gas lighting abuse is tremendous on your body (stress on adrenal glands) & mind. Sociopaths know exactly what they are doing to push their victims over their emotional edge especially when they have a new victims hooked and they want to get rid of the old victim.

Sociopaths gas light their victims on purpose they are pure evil. My ex h did gas lighting everyday to me causing so much stress which caused me to emotionally & mentally push me over my edge because my body & mind could not handle that amount of stress, no one can handle that amount of stress a sociopath puts them under. Sociopaths intentionally keep the victims cortisol/adrenaline/blood pressures levels up with their drama, chaos and mind games it’s all a way to control the victim easily by exhausting them mental, emotionally & physically (adrenal fatigue).

The stress of these mind games causes issues with your adrenal glands…the adrenal glands regulate the body’s blood pressure, blood sugar, cortisol & adrenaline levels and over 50 hormones including all the “female hormones’. When the abuser causes continual stress all of these things that are regulated by the adrenal glands become out of balance which causes great distress for the body & mind (clear thinking).

Most if not all sociopaths use this form of abuse and I am guessing you were too abused this why by your ex.

Behaving in a bizarre manner is also gaslighting.

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