96. Gaslighting

Raise your voice

It is 96 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

In yesterday’s entry, “On the road,” I dropped the term “gaslighting.”

The phrase has been tossed around quite a bit during the Trump presidency though I feel a lot of people, like me, had not previously been familiar with it. Having a grasp on gaslighting could be instrumental in you determining how important it is for you to vote Trump’s enablers out of office this fall.

I will only hit on some high points here, but I strongly encourage you to read “Gaslighting in the Age of Trump: 6 Tips for Survival” by Leah D. Schade, assistant professor of preaching and worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky.

First, some definitions of gaslighting:

“Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.” Psychology Today

“Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.” Wikipedia

“A form of intimidation or psychological abuse, sometimes called Ambient Abuse where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory, perception and quite often, their sanity.” Urban Dictionary

When talking about the subject in relation to the Trump White House, the conversation quickly turns to lying.

Schade bracketed the more than 3,000 false or misleading claims counted by The Washington Post with (1) the assertions about Trump’s inauguration crowd size being larger than President Obama’s, even though every one of us could see that was not true; and (2) the recent statement, repeatedly referenced by observers as almost directly out of George Orwell’s “1984,” when Trump told a crowd, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

She then takes a brief look at five things to know about gaslighting. I’m just listing them here; read her article for further explanation.

  1. Gaslighting requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality.
  2. Gaslighting has the goal of actually changing who someone is, not just their behavior.
  3. Gaslighting doesn’t always involve anger or intimidation.
  4. Gaslighters accuse the victim of being the bully.
  5. Gaslighting engages the victim in a hamster-wheel of illogical arguing and sucks up vast amounts of emotional energy.

Schade wraps up her piece with six ways to respond to gaslighting, thereby helping yourself and others to survive.

  1. Name it, don’t normalize it. It’s a lie, call it a lie. The theologian she is also pointed out lying is opposed to God’s will. When lies are told, we need to respond with the truth.
  2. Do not enable it. Shut it down. “When a person is gaslighting, cut them off,” she wrote. “Do not engage. Do not negotiate. Walk away, turn off the feed.”
  3. Check in with people you trust.
  4. Listen and believe those who are confiding in you how they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing. Be that person others can turn to and share their load.
  5. Help others to self-differentiate and find communities of resistance. OK, I cannot rephrase this. Read what she wrote.
  6. If you are a person of faith, use every spiritual and religious resource available. For those who have a faith to fall back on … do it. Apply what you know and trust what you believe.

Find her article here.

Verify your voter registration status at https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/ and, if you’re not registered, do it today.

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