Ingrid Bergman starred in Gaslight the 1944 film about Gaslighting
Classic Self-Help Literature, Gaslighting, This Just In

The history of the term ‘Gaslighting’ in modern pop culture history and self-help social circles

The term Gaslighting comes from a movie reference to the film “Gaslight”. Gaslight is a story about a woman targeted by a Love Fraud predator for extreme abuse of her hospitality and humanity.

In the motion picture made back in 1944, the social psychology phenomenon of using psychological and emotional abuse as a way to groom targeted victims into believing that they are somehow insane was brilliantly showcased.

The classic movie — now a cult classic film of sorts in self-help social circles — starred Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in a dramatic tale of a man who meets, marries, and sets out to convince his wife that she is not psychologically stable or in touch with reality.

In the film, every time the husband — a Love Fraud predator extraordinaire — starts to gaslight or to tell outright lies, she takes his word over her own sensory as well as intellectual impressions. The destruction of her confidence in her own intellect and body is deliberate, calculated, opportunity-driven, and predictably methodical.

The male character in the film is the kind of man any girl who reads his bio on paper is likely to love. His target? The person most likely to never suspect he would be capable of pretending to love someone or to lie to another.

He targets the nicest person he can find who has something he can use — in this case, money and access to social power and status.

He chooses her the same way all Love Fraud victims and people who get pulled into to Narcissistic Harems do. Inadvertently, without realizing they have been lied to, misled, and profoundly brainwashed by a person using false, partial, or inaccurate speech in intentional ways to win their trust and social support while the predator deceives.

The character Ingrid Bergman plays is a lovely person — innocent, prone to being earnest, and she trusts him. He is charming, Machiavellian, Alpha in his presentation of himself as an authority figure and male, he demeans her intellectually and emotionally passively, and he uses her hospitality as a way to gain access to her home, health, finances, and family.

Gaslight was first put on film in 1939 with actor Anton Walbrook playing the Love Fraud predator with the sinister agenda. That film edition featured actress Diana Wynyard in the role of the woman tricked into believing her sanity was failing and that her imagination had run amok with hallucinations.

The story — while extreme in nature — showcases a topic that is seldom publicly or even privately discussed. Namely, that when and if someone socially predatory, their number one goal — regardless of the gains or material reward from conning they seek — is to take control of our subjective judgment of ourselves.

They want us to not only tolerate abuse and social mistreatment and to strive to non-stop continue to strive to please them, but they also want us to truly believe they are expert sources on our perception of reality.

They want us to believe when they tell us we are imagining that they are having an affair that they truly never shared romantic time with the other person in question. When the DNA test confirms they had sex because a child was produced, what will the Gaslighter do?

Connect the Dots
How to stop feeling sorry for toxic people

Likely lie and claim the victimized child, misled and likely treated like garbage for the sin of being born, faked their own test results to embarrass their toxic mother, and to net gain themselves some undeserved form of social mercy and attention.

They want us to believe that they have never met that person. That they don’t know them. Even if you have them bragging on tape just a few weeks, months, or years earlier that they know the person they deny knowing in a personal manner, incredibly well.

They will punch you in the face when no one is looking, then look you directly in the eye and tell you that you imagined that they hit you. Or that it’s your word against theirs whether or not they actually harmed you.

If you refuse to believe that they did not hit you because your eye is swelling or your lip is busted… the professional and most Machiavellian forms of gaslighters are likely to tell you some kind of lie coupled with the spin to claim that you imagined they hurt you — pretending you are not harmed. Or they will try to trick you into believing that you don’t really remember, that you lost track of time and must have wounded yourself.

By feigning they like you and love you they harm you. By pretending they like and love anyone they harm literally everyone on the planet.

People who use words to harm by making threats of violence and who make people feel bad by ridiculing, mocking, and or name-calling them do one kind of harm to their target’s mind.

But when the smear campaign against a person’s very sanity begins, the abuse of the human targeted for psychological, social, and emotional destruction is so profoundly anti-social that anyone morally sane who finds out about the ruse or who witnesses the con happen is likely to call the person or peers who collude to pull such inhumane social ruses off “evil” according to most popular forms of religious literature.

Hospitality betrayal is what it is — deplorable and likely to land a person in what Dante Alighieri (author of “The Inferno”) described as the 9th circle of hell.

Judas and people like Brutus — people who pretend to be trustworthy then betray those who show them social kindness — land themselves in the 9th circle of the fictionalized Hell, trapped in a permafrost type of ice, unable to communicate functionally with others in any way that gives them comfort.

By the time the 21st century started to roll around and people started to realize there’s an incredibly small percentage of human beings who like to target people vulnerable to social and financial abuse for use and mistreatment by manipulating them psychologically, the term “Gaslighting” as a pop culture influenced word to describe a systematic pattern of targeting another person to trick them into believing a false portrait of reality showed up on the SEO heatmaps.

As of 2018, the term was broadcast in pundit discussions related to the social and political current events on cable networks like CNN and MSNBC to describe when a political figure makes claims that they did or did not do something that facts and other eye-witnesses to their behavior know full well in real life that they did.

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Narcissistic people fancy themselves as Puppet Master pulling strings

People who lie and gaslight or who spin words using doublespeak or misrepresentation tactics to trick or fool others into believing their assertions are not only Dark Triad by behavior. They are likely to be Cluster B by nurture as well as by enabled nature.

When and if you realize the red flags exist that indicate a person is willing to do things like lie, to gaslight, and or to situationally abuse others while disrespecting things like truth, close porous boundaries and stop all forms of Reverse Projection immediately.

As of 2015, it can be proven on a brain scan whether or not someone has functional EQ and working empathy.

Entire families are being put on court-ordered brain scans now in High Conflict Divorce cases to help judges and authority figures understand who is likely to use words with the intent to communicate with a respect for other people’s time, the law, and physical emotions and who is not likely to be medically (meaning neurologically physically) capable.

What that means to victims of severe Gaslighters is this…

When they try to convince you (and more than likely anyone who will listen to them) that you are crazy, not remembering facts or wholly subjective personal trauma experiences accurately, and or that you are not to be trusted if you tell anyone that they are abusing, neglecting, or betraying your social, sexual, financial, personal, or emotional trust… they are manipulating. Plain and simple.

Not presenting facts or data with the intent to create a win-win solution and to share intellectual fellowship or emotional camaraderie with another person. And certainly, they are not there and trying to gaslight you in order to do you any favors… especially when and if they tell you they are only telling you whatever spin they are uttering for something like your own good.

It’s not.

The movie “Gaslight” follows the stereotypical plot of a profoundly Machiavellian and socially adept Love Fraud capable con artist picking out a woman of a congenial and generally affable nature to trick into believing he loves her.

His goal? To win social favor in the community among her peers by tricking her and everyone she knows into thinking and believing that she has lost her mind and is not a safe person to trust to share information about social or physical reality.

IMDB shares, “Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane.”

Little did they likely know while writing the summary how accurately their words sum up the core nature of someone with a Dark Triad personality type. Their remark above is truly quite perfect.

Willing to do or say whatever it takes to win what they perceive to be a social competition with other people that only exists in non-collaborative people’s heads, the extreme social predator who uses words to harm bodies aspires to play mind games with literally everyone’s head.

Connect the Dots
Religious Abuse is a common issue in communities led by narcissistic people

Historically speaking — related to pop culture — the term Gaslighting might refer to the film “Gaslight”. But in modern pop culture history, understand if you hear a Narcissistic Abuse Victim, Survivor, or Recovery Advocate use the term gaslighting, chances are they are discussing someone else who is making a statement or series of statements that is false or misleading.

Whether the person sharing the gaslighting commentary knows that what they have said is a falsehood or logically offensive can or should be held morally responsible for uttering the GIGO depends on a few simple deciding factors.

Namely, what did they know and when did they know it.

A man who claims to his wife that he does not know his own mistress, for example, when he’s been seeing her for months or years, is gaslighting his spouse and more than likely his family into believing an artificial portrait of reality he personally crafted, more than likely to see if he can get away with having his cake and eating it too while pretending the fact he’s even got access to cake makes him the actual pink elephant in the living room.

A wife who tells her husband she has no idea how the credit card bills got so high after using cards that are in his name only, for months, to the max, while hiding the bills is gaslighting not only him but also herself. She is likely to have a conception of guilt, knowing she was wrong to hide bills and that she should have considered appropriate to budget types of curving her spending… but by pretending to him she was somehow not the cause of the issue she’s left herself in a position of literally no social or reputation power.

A child who tells mom and dad that he’s going to the mall to see a movie when he actually is heading off to get wasted at a house party thrown by some sketchy adults, likely at an address and with people unknown to the family who could do harm to the minor or permanent emotional harm to him if and when things go bad or someone slips something into his drink so they can take pictures and videos of what they plan to do impulsively for their own nefarious purposes while he is drugged or drunk… is not only actively gaslighting his parents into thinking he is somewhere he’s not. He’s engaging in high risk, arguably self-destructive, Machiavellian, and profoundly short-sighted psychopathic behavior.

Ingrid Bergman’s character met and married a man she was told loved and liked her. Then she put her faith in his word over trusting her own mind and her own body in order to please him and not seem confrontational.

She gaslit herself into believing his word was credible.

Any of these gaslighting scenarios sound familiar?

If yes, welcome to Narcissistic Abuse recovery.

It’s the right time to read more articles about things like Dark Triad behavior, red flags presented by Cluster B personality types, and about how social predators use things like covert brainwashing techniques to criminally and socially trick their prey into believing false or inaccurate portraits of reality.

If not… consider yourself incredibly lucky

Plato's Stunt Double

DISCLOSURE: The author of this post is in no way offering professional advice or psychiatric counseling services. Please contact your local authorities IMMEDIATELY if you feel you are in danger. If you suspect your partner, a loved one, co-worker, or family member has a Cluster B personality disorder, contact your local victim's advocate or domestic violence shelter for more information about how to protect your rights legally and to discuss the potential benefits or dangers of electing to go "no contact" with your abuser(s). Due to the nature of this website's content, we prefer to keep our writer's names ANONYMOUS. Please contact directly to discuss content posted on this website, make special requests, or share your confidential story about Narcissistic Abuse with our staff writers. All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.

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