Some emotional abusers are particularly adept at using a technique called “gaslighting” (from a movie starring Ingrid Berman and Charles Boyer) to drive their victims to question their own grip on reality and even to make them feel like they are going insane. The essence of gaslighting is to make somebody believe a falsehood and to wonder why they didn’t remember or recall it previously. It is a mind game often used to distract from their own problematic behaviors and to create self-doubt in their target of abuse. Many Borderlines and some with related personality disorders from the DSM-IV Axis II Cluster B group (including Borderline, Narcissistic, Antisocial, and Histrionic) personality disorders are particularly skilled and prone to using gaslighting on their partners and people close to them.
In The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life, Dr. Robin Stern sums up the behavior like this:
Gaslighting is when someone wants you to do what you know you shouldn’t and to believe the unbelieveable. It can happen to you and it probably already has.