I read this article about Donald Trump and it got me thinking about gaslighting.
Gaslighting is “a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.”
It could be as simple as a denial that certain things ever occurred or as elaborate as creating events specifically to disorient the victim. The term Gaslighting comes from a 1938 play Gas Light and a film released in the 1940’s. It has become a term used clinically and in research literature.
As the HuffPost article says, “When faced with their brazen lies, gaslighters deny their own statements, change the subject, lash out with insults (think “little” Rubio and “liar” Cruz), act indignant about the accusation, or turn on the messenger — which, for Trump, is often the national media.”
I think it is important to note that gaslighting is a sustained pattern, not just being lied to once. It is a torturous process that, as seen in the play and film, is intended to make the victim feel crazy and even become crazy. Which might be why have asked yourself during this election season “Am I crazy? Or has the whole world gone mad?”
According to this article, some people are easier to gaslight. Women unfortunately, have a higher chance of falling victim. Also certain personality traits – being empathetic, being a caretaker or being a “people pleaser” – might make a person more susceptible. The same site has some tips to help victims break out of the cycle.
Two things to remember are this:
You Know What Your Truth is – You Always Have, and You Always Will
Your Reality is Not Up For Debate
Like the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.