Day: May 19, 2021

Gaslighting and its Antidote

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At this point, I want to delve into the psychological term known as “Gaslighting”. The origin of the word is in the title of the 1944 film, “Gaslight”, directed by George Cukor, in which a man of nefarious intent tries to drive his wife insane through subtle manipulations and sleights of hand. In one instance, when his wife tells him that she has heard footsteps in the attic and seen the gaslights flicker, he tells her it is all in her imagination. In actual fact, the reason for the footsteps and flickering gaslights is because her husband keeps going to the attic to rummage around searching for her family jewels.  When he turns on the lights in the attic, the lights elsewhere in the house momentarily flicker. He hopes to get his wife committed to a mental institution so that he can gain power of attorney over her and thus control all family finances. At the same time, he wanted his wife to believe that he loved her when the very opposite was true. So, we are now in a position to formulate a definition of gaslighting — the term having been used since the 1960s. Gaslighting is making someone believe that something ISN’T real when it is, and making them believe that something IS real when it isn’t. Thus, gaslighting involves making someone doubt their own reality and substituting a completely false reality — the one imposed upon them by their abuser.

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