It’s time to talk about the term gaslighting.
It’s a go-to term that people who perceive themselves as victims love to use. Most of them have no idea what it actually means and they plaster the word everywhere and accuse nearly everyone of doing it. I’ve been accused of it so often I’ve lost count of the different incidents.
I’m accused of this because I disagree openly and publicly with people and they don’t like it.
There is the definition from Google.
The expression comes from a 1944 film called “Gas Light,” in which Ingrid Bergman plays the role of a woman whose husband wants to convince both her and other people that she is nuts. To do this, he changes small things in their environment and then insists that she is imagining things, that what she perceives as real is not real at all.
The important thing here is that gaslighting involves a deliberate effort to make somebody believe that something did not happen that clearly did, in fact, happen, or that something happened in a certain way, when it clearly did not.
Here’s an example.
This is Trump’s statement, his so-called apology, about the “pussy grabbing” tape. The tweet below it is from a series of them done by a psychotherapist named Leah McElrath. I highly recommend reading the whole page. (It’s just a bunch of tweets. It’s not a huge long article.)
So, now you see what gaslighting is. It is deliberate. In Trump’s case, he did it to deflect guilt. He knew he couldn’t simply deny that he’d ever said the thing that he quite obviously and clearly said, so he began to “spin” the perception of his own words.
And I will note there that I could have chosen a different politician to use as an example of this, since many of them do it. However, nobody, and I mean nobody, does it as brazenly or as openly or as often as Trump, so he was easy. And it’s not just politicians. We all have a tendency to try this. We want reality to be altered so we don’t feel guilty, or so Mom doesn’t think we’re guilty, or so that teacher doesn’t know we cheated, or so that boyfriend doesn’t figure out what actually happened last Saturday night.
Some of us are better at it than others. Being a sociopath (as I think Trump is) helps. You have to be able to just blatantly lie, and do so convincingly. Most people can’t pull it off very well. The attempt simply falls flat, and that’s a good thing.
But remember, it’s deliberate.
Now, let’s talk about what gaslighting is not.
Gaslighting is not simply disagreeing with another person.
Let’s assume that two people witness an accident, a little fender-bender. How about a fender-bender that didn’t even cause any fender-bending?
One person says that the accident occurred because the vehicle in front slowed and when the driver of the car behind tried to pass the front vehicle, the front vehicle sped up and blocked the way.
The other witness says that the person in the back actually struck the vehicle in front deliberately, due to impatience or irritation or carelessness.
This, if left right there, is simply a difference of opinion in how the accident occurred. From the viewpoint of one driver, the other driver was at fault, and vice versa.
This is not gaslighting.
This is just a difference of opinion. Two people see the same event differently. It happens all the time. This is the reason, by the way, that eyewitness testimony in a court is considered much weaker than forensic evidence.
One of them calls the police. The policeman comes, and takes statements from each of the drivers. There is no damage, and everyone concerned declines to press any charges. The policeman is fine with that and leaves.
Months later, the people in the front vehicle decide that the little fender-bender, that bent no fenders, was actually “vehicular assault,” implying a deliberate attempt to cause bodily harm, and begin bashing the other driver on the internet.
Now we have gaslighting.
From a fender bender that bent no fenders, we get accusations of an attempt to quite literally kill the occupants of the other vehicle. Couple that with all sorts of accusations of that driver being a”crazy bitch,” and it becomes classic. It’s an attempt to alter the perception of the reality of what occurred that day. This is not about a difference of opinion. It’s about an attempt to paint a picture that quite clearly never existed and convince us all that it represents reality.
Nicole asks her commenter, “Do you know what gaslighting is?”
Nicole should know. She engages in it.