I have been using this word, gaslighting, often since Trump started running for President. And while I understand the term pretty clearly having lived through some of my own gaslighting experiences, many people do not understand it. Sadly, most people who are gaslighted NEVER get away from it and live their whole lives in a false reality for some aspect of their life.
So what is gaslighting? Simple put, it is a way of manipulation that makes a person question their own beliefs. The manipulation takes the form of persistant contradiction, lying, denial and misdirection. When you are gaslighted, you do not see it or know it. You start to question your beliefs and sometimes are drawn to the gaslighter believing that they are the expert because you have problems.
Here’s an example of my gaslighting experiences. My ex used to go out drinking after work every night. He would go to the bar and hang out and then come home drunk. He would promise me that he would be home by midnight and then not show up until 3am. This was in the day before cell phones so I had no way of knowing whether he was dead or alive or out driving drunk or maybe even in jail. When he came home, I would be upset. There were some nights where I would be crying worried about him. Instead of apologizing, he would turn it on me and make me feel like a horrible person for being upset with him. The misdirection of him being angry at me for being upset made me question my own sanity. He would get angry at me and tell me that he should be allowed to have his own time away from his family without me being upset. This misdirection was very effective in that he took the focus off of the real reason I was upset (him coming home past the time he said and me sitting up worrying about him). He put the focus on my emotional health. I would always end up with me feeling bad about myself and thinking that maybe I am wrong for being upset. Now this may seem like a minor thing to some people, and truthfully happens alot in relationships, but it is a form of gaslighting.
But being very strong-willed and just being a loving caring person, it didn’t stick. I did stop caring about whether he came home or not and stopped getting upset. And with that made me care much less about him. So he got what he wished for, I stopped caring. I wasn’t about to go through life feeling bad about myself everytime my husband acting like a college frat boy. Which was about 3 times a week. I was never allowed to get upset without him turning it on me and making me out to be the bad guy. So that relationship ended.
Too many people stay wrapped up in a relationship where they are made to feel like their own sanity is questionable.
The media is really good at gaslighting people. It is much of the problem we have today. With the right wing media convincing people that facts are not facts and conspiracy theories are probably more real, the public are being gaslighted every day. Trump is a master gaslighter, convincing his followers that he doesn’t lie, among so many other things, even with real videos and real voice recordings, his followers are misdirected to other issues. Even when confronted with a video that shows him saying or doing something, he will still deny it and his followers follow up with “well what about…. ” whatever the misdirection issue of the month is.
To prove my point, Wikipedia states “Sociopaths and narcissists frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but typically also are convincing liars, sometimes charming ones, who consistently deny wrongdoing.” Sounds like the definition of Trump.