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Physical intimidation, controlling (through scare tactics) and oppression are just a few of the forms in which psychological abuse can come. As in the situations of romantic relationships and child abuse, it is usually related to an unequal division of power. The humiliation and intimidation of others in the workplace, for example, are examples of psychological abuse taking place on larger scales.
Workplace abuse is a large cause of workplace-related stress, which in turn is strong cause of illness, both physical and mental. Group psychological abuse is another real phenomena, such as in racial oppression, bigotry, and cults.
Although being dysfunctional has not been proven to be genetic, quite often abuse is passed down from one generation to the next.
"Gaslighting" is a particular type of abuse that derives its name from two movies of the early 1940s, in which an attempt is made to cause the victim to question their sanity, due to tricks and reality distortion caused by trusted people around them.
Any situation in which the repeated and extreme impact of a situation affects a person's emotional and rational thinking, in such a way as to adversely impact their later lives, could be termed as psychological abuse at some level.