When some nefarious person tries to convince a potential victim that it is he/she who is crazy, or is the cause of the problems, this is called, "Gaslighting". Gaslighting is a way of pushing denial onto somebody else, in order to control that person, and to escape blame or detection, or to service the dysfunctional power structure, (whether status-quo or revolutionary).
- Clinical examples:
Sociopaths frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but typically, are also charming and convincing liars who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their perceptions.
Some physically abusive spouses may gaslight their partners by flatly denying that they have been violent.
Gaslighting describes a dynamic observed in some cases of marital infidelity: "Therapists may contribute to the victim's distress through mislabeling the woman's reactions. [...] The gaslighting behaviors of the husband provide a recipe for the so-called 'nervous breakdown' for some women [and] suicide in some of the worst situations."
Gaslighting may also occur in parent–child relationships, with either parent, child, or both, lying to each other and attempting to undermine perceptions. Furthermore, gaslighting has been observed between patients and staff in inpatient psychiatric facilities.
In an influential 1981 article, "Some Clinical Consequences of Introjection: Gaslighting", Calef and Weinshel argue that gaslighting involves the projection and introjection of psychic conflicts from the perpetrator to the victim: "this imposition is based on a very special kind of 'transfer'... of painful and potentially painful mental conflicts."