"Gaslighting exploits weaknesses in the human mind and has a debilitating effect on the victim's ability to think rationally and to function independently of the gaslighter. It can take many forms. In all instances, however, it involves the clever manipulation of 'reality' by the predator that undermines the victim's independent mental functioning for the gaslighter's own political, financial, or psychological motives."
Dr. Bryant Welch, Assault On The American Mind, p. 6
One of the more difficult things for me to deal with as a psychotherapist is to sit in the counseling room and watch a spouse swear up and down that he/she is not having an affair, being unfaithful, and lying when it fact there is proof positive evidence that the spouse is having an affair and is lying about it. Sometimes I watch parents tell their children that things are one way when they are in fact another and they are wanting the child's cooperation, compliance, and loyalty. I have worked in organizations when supervisory personnel only told employees what was going on on a "need to know basis" to maintain control over the workforce which might otherwise object to the company's operational procedures.
When politicians lie to their constituents, there is a break down in democracy because constituents can no longer play an authentic role in the life of their community, state, and nation. They are kept blind to what the real agendas are and why things are happening in their name which do not have their agreement and assent. Lying, saying one thing and doing another, creating a charade to project one reality when something else is going on, is a crazy making experience.
It is cause for great concern that the reality projected to the American people has been distorted for political purposes. It has made us all anxious, depressed, confused, and dependent. This is good for the pharmaceutical industry but not good for our democracy.
There are some positive signs with fake news shows like The Daily Show and Colbert Report which daily poke fun at the hypocrisy, duplicity, and inanity which passes these days for leadership. There are the Scott McClellan's whose conscience would no longer allow him to not speak up and openly admit to the deceit. This is hardly news because we all knew it all along, but to have an administrative official publicly admit it, is the first step in recovery.
The ability to recognize gaslighting is a higher level skill. Not all Americans are emotionally capable of reflecting on their own experience, and observing this communication dynamic. Back in the 60s we called gaslighting a "mind fuck" which means that we knew we were being fucked with. Gaslighting works best, of course, when it is so subtle that it cannot be observed, when it is not noticed. The national therapeutic effort is to help people recognize gaslighting and hold the gaslighters accountable. Individually, in our families, our communities, and our nation we would be much better off psychologically, socially, and politically.
This will require a level of literacy never before achieved in a society. And more than just literacy, it will require a level of emotional intelligence never before achieved as well. The major question which needs answering is how to manage deceit and dishonesty in people who have power over you? The answer is very carefully. I will write more about this in the next few days.