Gaslighting is a term that has gained greater attention in recent years. It is a form of psychological manipulation where one person seeks to make another doubt their own reality, perceptions, and feelings.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic people use to create confusion, self-doubt, and insecurity in their target. The term “gaslighting” is derived from the 1938 play (and later film adaptations) called “Gas Light,” in which a husband tries to make his wife believe she is losing her sanity by altering aspects of their environment and insisting she’s imagining things. The purpose of gaslighting is to increase the manipulator’s power over the other person by making them question their memory, perception, and sanity.
Gaslighting and domestic abuse
In domestic abuse situations, gaslighting is often employed as a way to maintain power and control over the victim. This can be done through continuous lying or denying abusive behaviours, even when confronted with evidence. The result is that the victim may start doubting their experiences, no longer trusting their own memory, and feel isolated from others. Gaslighting can also undermine the victim’s confidence in speaking out about the abuse, as they fear they may not be believed.
Abusers may use gaslighting to gain control of their victims’ emotions and decisions. For instance, an abuser could convince their partner that everyone else is against them or that they are overly sensitive and overreacting to situations. As a result, the victim comes to rely on the abuser for reassurance and acceptance, creating a cycle of dependency and ongoing manipulation.
Gaslighting and changing historical narratives
In the context of history, gaslighting can be used to manipulate the perception of events or facts. This can be achieved through misrepresentation, denial of events that occurred, or even creating alternative versions of history. Some people may employ gaslighting for political gain or as a means of social control.
For example, some governments have been known to use gaslighting tactics in order to rewrite history by denying atrocities or promoting certain narratives that fit their agenda. This type of manipulation may extend beyond just governments but can also include organisations or individuals who wish to revise history for their own purposes.
Gaslighting is a powerful and insidious form of manipulation used in multiple contexts, including changing historical narratives and domestic abuse. By understanding this tactic, we can remain vigilant against attempts to alter our perceptions, challenge such manipulations when we encounter them, and support those affected by gaslighting in both personal relationships and larger societal contexts.