Gaslighting. You hear this pop-psychology term-du-jour a lot lately. It is kind of cringeworthy, often making me wonder, “what do they really mean”?
The term “gaslighting” originated from the British play Gas Light (1938), and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations. It is now used in clinical psychological literature, as well as in political commentary and philosophy.
The name of a play / movie is used to describe behavior. This is similar to the origin of the psychological term “narcissism” which uses a character from Greek mythology in the “science” of psychology. Hmmm…..
Here’s how Wikipedia defines it.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgement. It may evoke changes in them such as cognitive dissonance or low self-esteem, rendering the victim additionally dependent on the gaslighter for emotional support and validation. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction and disinformation, Gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.
A shorthand way to get your mind around it is to think of gaslighting as “deceptive manipulation”. It is a particularly subtle, underhanded, tricky, manipulative form of lying. Lying is very difficult to detect and guard against. This “deceptive manipulation” form of lying is even more difficult to detect and guard against.
Of course, the Bible is way ahead on this as well as “narcissism”. There is nothing new under the sun.
Satan is the original liar…
You (Pharisees) are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He (Satan, the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
…. and the original practitioner of “deceptive manipulation”.
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness…. 2 Corinthians 11:3.
Since deception is one of the primary tools of the narcissist, “gaslighting” or more precisely “deceptive manipulation” can be one of the tools in their toolbox. Prudently guarding against it is foundational. We cannot prevent them from lying to us and attempting to deceive us. They will speak according to their internal nature, and God will hold them accountable for their lies. However, there are things we can do.
How can we defeat lies? With truth.
Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally
As you might imagine, I have a strong bias toward using Biblical terms rather than the popular secular term of the moment.
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