In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim's perception of him or herself. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman's character reacts to it, he tells her she's just seeing things.
Bergman's husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry.My friend Anna (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight. Her boss has no problem firing people (he does it regularly), so you wouldn't know from these comments that Abbie has worked for him for six years.Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, "You're so sensitive. But every time she stands up for herself and says, "It doesn't help me when you say these things," she gets the same reaction: "Relax; you're overreacting." Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack.I'm just joking."My friend Abbie works for a man who finds a way, almost daily, to unnecessarily shoot down her performance and her work product. And it's exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they're crazy., starring Ingrid Bergman. And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged.
A remark intended to shut you down like, "Calm down, you're overreacting," after you just addressed someone else's bad behavior, is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.
I was just joking, don't you have a sense of humor? When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling -- that's inconsiderate behavior.
When someone says these things to you, it's not an example of inconsiderate behavior.
Today, when the term is referenced, it's usually because the perpetrator says things like, "You're so stupid," or "No one will ever want you," to the victim.
This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer's character in Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction -- whether it's anger, frustration, sadness -- in the person they are dealing with.
Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren't rational or normal.