Gaslighting, not just for women anymore

lamplight-6That’s not what you saw! That’s not what you heard! That is not what I said!

Sound familiar, America?

Yes, we residents of the United States are being subjected to what is known in the psychological world as gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. (Wikipedia)

You don’t mean that!

That’s not what happened! You’re delusional.

You’re over-reacting (Why so angry? Raging woman! Shrill. Screaming. Over-emotional, hysterical…)

I’m going to go out on a not-so-long limb to say that every woman has heard statements similar to these to some degree or other. It is the dismissal and undermining of our own experiences, emotions, and intuition. Quoting Carolyn Heilbrun in Writing a Woman’s Life, I wrote in my graduate thesis:

Women haven’t traditionally been allowed anger, ambition, or authority and that they are denounced for shrillness or inappropriateness, which denies them power and their place in “whatever discourse is essential to action.”

Even our education, our learned and personal knowledge, can be explained away by what has been come to be known as “mansplaining.”

Mansplaining describes the phenomenon of someone (usually a man, but not always) behaving as though he has superior knowledge to someone else (often a woman) who actually knows more about the topic in question than he does.  (flavorwire.com)

In a Psychology Today article, we read:

Gaslighting can take many forms but it is a twisting of reality that turns a person into a true victim. It’s about second guessing yourself or getting so far from reality that you don’t guess it at all, you just accept someone else’s interpretation of reality.  […]

Gaslighting causes you to think that up is down and down is up. Gaslighting is sowing very real seeds of doubt in your ability to believe in you and what you are experiencing. Gaslighting takes away your ability to think rationally and critically in almost every situation.

Congratulations! We are all now experiencing what women have dealt with for far too long. Sad!

He-who-shall-not-be-named is attempting to gaslight us all. While he constantly changes his mind, his opinions, his version of events, he expects his Followers (and the rest of us) to go along with it. Urging us to deny facts and even our own eyes and ears, he wants us to blindly accept his Truth of the Moment.

He believes his authority, his rules of how the world work, which can change from minute to minute, are to be followed with no questions asked. Unfortunately, many are happily trotting along, wagging their tails as their “master” tells them what to do.

And to continue that analogy, it is well known that loyal dogs will continue to love a master even when beaten, even waiting to be hit, thinking it is love.

It is a form of abuse!

Again from Psychology Today:

Gaslighting is now recognized as psychological abuse whereby a perpetrator manipulates a victim into doubting his or her own sanity or reality.

It is an experience that happens to many who are involved with very dysfunctional or personality disordered people. The perpetrators are most likely sociopaths or narcissists.

Our President-Elect is attempting to manipulate — to abuse — an entire population.

We are being asked to not know what we know!

(And I am also very aware that the dismissal of his sexual assaults is all part and parcel of this manipulative, disrespectful, contemptuous, self-serving behavior.)

Those of us who choose to believe our eyes and ears are gob-smacked, often lacking words to explain the upside-down, bizarro world we have entered wherein we are being asked to dismiss what is clearly before us.

In my graduate thesis, I wrote on this very topic — the dismissal of our experiences — that of women and men — to be replaced by the “rules” of so-called Authorities. Patriarchal systems, including organized religion,

… can be merely a system of rules: a code to live and believe by handed down by an external “authority” who answers all questions for its followers… even taught [brain-washed? Think Fox News, etc.] to believe that they need to be told all the answers.

He-who-shall-not-be-named believes he can Speak and It Shall Be So. Like those who rely on a,

religious text(s) of choice, it sets in place a hierarchy, a pyramid of those who have an “exclusive line to the Word… [and] an exclusive right to interpret that Word…” (quoting Eisler).

BUT!

It’s not going to work! While we listen to the Words — the lies — spewing from his mouth, we are also watching the videos, listening to the audio files, reading the tweets, reports, emails, news reports.

We’re not buying it! We are smarter than that. We don’t need an outside Authority to tell us what we know. We don’t put any faith in His Words. We don’t need to believe in fantasies just because he is our new leader.

Unfortunately, like the generations of women who have been denied anger or the acceptance of their own experiences and emotions, we are being told we are “whiners,” “cry babies,” “snowflakes” for our out-cry. In response to the election of a new leader whose vitriol incites violence against “The Other,” whose sexism undermines half the population, whose cronyism could dismantle the structures which are helping to ensure the rights and well-being of many, whose thin-skin and narcissism could lead us into war, our outrage is mocked and demeaned.

But we will continue to stand in our truth, the truth we see and hear and know.

An entire country cannot be gaslighted. We know the flickering gaslights are just caused by an ill man looking for something he will never find in his golden “attic.”

 

 

 

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