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Playing With / Gaslighting

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Basic Trope: A person attempts to drive someone insane by making them think they are already insane.

  • Straight: Bob tries to drive his wife, Alice, insane by constantly moving her items around to make her think that she has a chronic problem with misplacing things.
  • Exaggerated: When Alice isn't around, Bob secretly rearranges the furniture, repaints the walls, replaces the carpets, drapes and her clothes, and even adds and removes entire walls to and from the house.
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  • Downplayed: Every morning, Bob keeps moving Alice's coffee cup around for fun. Alice always chalks it up to not being fully awake, yet.
  • Justified:
    • Alice already has a mild problem with misplacing things. Bob taps into this to his make subtle abuse more effective.
    • Alice is manipulative and proud of it. Bob decides that the best way to put her out of commission is to make her think she's crazy, so nobody will listen to her.
  • Inverted: Alice actually has mental problems and constantly places stuff where they don't belong. Bob just quietly puts stuff back in their rightful place, hoping that this will cause her to think she's already cured.
  • Subverted: It turns out that Alice has been gaslighting Bob by moving her own items around. Bob, not realizing that he has snapped, is unconsciously moving the items back to their original positions.
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  • Double Subverted: ...or so Alice thinks.
  • Parodied:
    • One day, when Alice is gone, Bob completely rearranges their house. When Alice calls him out on it, he tries to convince her that the house was always arranged that way.
    • Bob takes Alice to a miniature replica of there house, and when she wakes up, she believes that she has became an enormous giant.
    • Bob does not even attempt to conceal his behavior. He rotates Alice's coffee cup in front of her face and insists it was always that way.
  • Zig Zagged: Bob tries to gaslight Alice, not realizing that he's actually falling for Alice's own gaslighting...except, actually, he isn't; Alice thinks he is because she's already gone insane. ...or not, as it turns out the story is from Bob's perspective and he's the insane one, driven crazy by Alice's gaslighting.
  • Averted: Bob doesn't try to mess with Alice's head.
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  • Enforced: The movie is a Feminist Fantasy, and intended to show women how one can be easily gaslighted.
  • Lampshaded: Alice asks, "Bob, you're not trying to mess with my head — are you?" Bob's eyes fill up with tears, as he responds, "Alice, dear, do you really think I would do something like that?" Alice, feeling guilty for upsetting Bob, mumbles, "No, you're right. I'm sorry."
  • Invoked:
    • Alice is threatening to divorce Bob, so Bob decides to convince Alice that she's insane to make her believe that he truly cares about getting her help and she's better off staying with him.
    • Alice is an criminal investigator and Bob is hiding wanted fugitives; Bob decides that if he can cause the investigator to question her mental facilities, then she will get off his tail.
  • Exploited: Alice discovers Bob is moving her things and decides to turn the tables by convincing him they had always been where he just put them.
  • Defied: Alice is well-versed in the concept of gaslighting, and is not fooled by any of Bob's tactics. Within a matter of days, she divorces him.
  • Discussed: Alice's friend, Carol, advises her, "I'd stay away from Bob, if I were you. I heard that he drove his last girlfriend insane by constantly moving her things, and making her think that she has a failing memory."
  • Conversed: Donna remarks, "I hate it when people try to drive someone insane by making them think they are already insane."
  • Deconstructed:
    • Alice has a mental breakdown after weeks or months of psychological abuse, hurting herself and possibly Bob in a panic attack. If she starts realizing that her stuff was re-arranged only when she was out of the house, she starts putting clues together and discovers Bob's antics. He initially denies it, but Alice eventually takes it to court, divorcing Bob and making him pay for damages.
    • Carol, Bob's mother, comes for an unexpected visit and sees him shuffling through Alice's wardrobe. She then told Alice what has been happening, and both accuse Bob of abuse. Alice divorces Bob afterwards, and Carol also disowns Bob for not honoring his promise to his mother of being a good husband.
  • Implied: A careful inspection of Bob's house shows that various objects are on tracks, rails, magnetic surfaces, or otherwise designed to be moved discretely without visible intervention.
  • Played For Laughs: Every night, Alice has a tendency to lay out what clothes she plans to wear the next day. Slyly, Bob will replace certain pieces of clothing — causing Alice to wonder if she is starting to lose her sense of fashion.

"Wait, I could've sworn that Gaslighting used to be in the other room..."

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