As defined in psychoanalysis & psychotherapy, gaslighting is the act of trying "to cause another individual to doubt his/her own judgments and perceptions". The name is inspired by a famous Ingrid Bergman movie in which she is slowly driven insane by her husband. A common method of gaslighting is known as the "double-whammy", in which the gaslighter puts down the victim, waits for the victim's response, and then attacks the victim's judgment, perspective or questioning of the original attack. The term "gaslighting" comes from the 1938 British play Gas Light wherein a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using a variety of tricks causing her to question her own perceptions and sanity. Gas Light was made into a move both in 1940 and 1944. It's a powerful way for manipulators to maintain control over others, especially if the person subjected to this treatment has less-than-robust self-esteem. In many cases, the gaslighter does this to help himself feel better by making someone else feel worse. Gaslighting is hard to admit. At the extremes, these behaviors qualify as emotional abuse. But even less egregious versions of gaslighting are insensitive, boorish or just plain sexist. The irony is that many people engaging in these behaviors especially milder forms may not even realize it.
©2017 Patricia A. Carlisle (P)2017 Patricia A. Carlisle