Mindfuck

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: mind!fuck, mindgames, gaslighting, mindwashing, psychological manipulation
Related:
See Also: darkfic, mind control, torture
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Mindfuck describes works in which the point-of-view character (and/or the reader/viewer) becomes confused as to what is real. It's usually reserved for scenarios when other characters (or bodies such as the government, or aliens) are deliberately manipulating appearances to cause the effect, rather than the PoV character simply going mad or knowingly taking mind-altering substances. Often the aim is to persuade the PoV character to change their views or allegiance, or to manipulate them into an uncharacteristic action, such as murdering a friend. It's a form of torture.

The reader/viewer can be clued in to what is going on, in which case the trope can function as slow-building horror, as they anticipate what the outcome is going to be. Alternatively the reader/viewer themselves can be the subject of the mindfuck. Often the reveal of what's really going on is left till the last minute, or just implied, or omitted entirely to leave the scenario ambiguous.

Methods include verbal manipulation, virtual realities (eg the holodeck), mind-altering substances, sleep deprivation and physical torture. Unreliable narration is often used when the reader/viewer is the only victim of the mindfuck.

In fanfiction, it's a form of darkfic; the genre can apply to vids and is also used in many sources such as Blake's 7, Star Trek and the play/film Gas Light.

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.