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Different Forms of Gaslighting

Theodore Dorpat describes two characteristics of gaslighting: that the abuser wants full control of feelings, thoughts, or actions of the victim, and that the abuser emotionally abuses the victim, discreetly, but in hostile, abusive, or coercive ways.

There is a difference between the terms of gaslighting now and two decades ago. When I think of gaslighting I think of verbal attacks when really in the modern age, gaslighting can be more non verbal. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face. It can take on abusive forms through social media platforms that makes it operate on an entire new level. I wonder which is worse? Or, which is easier to navigate through should you find yourself up against a Firestarter?

Let’s say you get in a fight with a gas lighter in person, you might find yourself stumbling on a response, you may become frazzled, bewildered, confused, all of the above. Whereas you get in a fight with a gas lighter over a text or an email, and have time to try and figure out a response. Which would you prefer?

Off the bat I’d say give me time to think it over and carefully choose my words to respond via email or text, but when I think about it, I am more inclined to step up to the challenge and battle it out face-to-face so I can “check” the gas lighter, and study his or her moves and how they go about their gaslighting operation. You can’t do that over a text. You also might not be able to even respond cause you’ll be blocked or ghosted which can be really frustration. If you are face-to-face with being set on fire, you can pay attention to his or her body language, and how they respond to the exchange. They can’t just turn their phone off when you’re sitting right there. You might find yourself in an argument that is fueled with lies, manipulative language, almost word salad which can be perplexing, frustrating, and pointless, but at least you get a chance to respond head on versus responding to an email that may or may not get a response and leave you hanging.

Whether it’s old school face-to-face, or new school email or texting, gaslighting is a terrible abusive behavior. I suppose it’s a generational thing, but I wonder in the future when people study the nature of gaslighting, its outcomes and the most optimal ways to manage it, which side of the coin causes more turmoil, stress, frustration, anxiety, hopelessness and feelings of being out of control.

In person, or, over technology?

Comments and thoughts are welcome. We might not have solutions but we all have experiences worth noting.

Photo by Steve Snodgrass

Different Forms of Gaslighting

Erica Loberg

Erica Loberg was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended Columbia University in New York and graduated with a BA in English. She is a published poet and author of Inside the Insane, Screaming at the Void, What Men Should Know About Women, What Women Should Know About Men, Diamonds From The Rough , Undressed, and I'm Not Playing.

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APA Reference
Loberg, E. (2019). Different Forms of Gaslighting. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Dec 2019
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