Every once in awhile, some idea presents itself to you and it simply won’t shake free. That has happened to me recently. I thank an unnamed source for providing the name of the phenomena I’m describing.
It has been a rather interesting last week or so among the various anti-Kimkins boards and blogs, to say the least; some of it seemingly unrelated, but all held together with the common thread of Heidi Diaz - if only because that is the reason that we have all congregated into these communal areas. As I watched various things unfold I was struck by the intensity of emotions, and the dogged determination of one group of people to control another.
Am I referring to Heidi Diaz herself? Am I referring to Low Carb Friends and those who venture into the Fascination with Kimmer threads? Am I referring to the manipulation that takes place in some types of damaging relationships? Am I referring to the latest hoopla that has consumed so much bandwidth within the comments area of several blogs? Maybe I’m referring to one – perhaps to all. You decide.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse. It uses persistent denials of fact which, as they build up over time, make the victim progressively anxious, confused, and less able to trust his or her own memory and perception.
The term was coined from the 1940 film Gaslight and its 1944 remake in which changes in gas light levels are experienced several times by the main character. The classic example in the film is the character Gregory using the gas lamps in the attic, causing the rest of the lamps in the house to dim slightly; when Paula comments on the lights' dimming, she is told she is imagining things. Paula believes herself alone in the house when the dimming occurs, unaware that Gregory has entered the attic from the house next door, and is searching for jewels he believes to be hidden there. The sinister interpretation of the change in light levels is part of a larger pattern of deception to which the character Paula is subjected.
This technique is also supposed to have been used by the Manson Family during their "creepy crawler" burglaries during which nothing was stolen, but furniture in the house was rearranged.
In 2006, a case of internet gaslighting cost 13 year old Megan Meier her life, after she was befriended by 16 year old Josh Evans, who abruptly turned on her. It turns out that Josh was created in the mind of 47 year old Lori Drew, a neighbor of the Meier family who had decided she needed to teach Megan a lesson, apparently for deciding not to remain friends with her daughter. After several weeks of friendship and innocent flirting, Josh suddenly turned on Megan, beginning with telling her he didn’t like how she treated her friends. He flung insults at her, belittled her. Others soon joined into the fray, hurling insults at Megan. Josh finally told her that the world would be a better place without her. Megan was devastated by this turn of events which she couldn’t begin to comprehend. She closed herself in her closet and proceeded to hang herself. All because some other person – an adult, no less – justified in her own mind that it was acceptable to “mess with her”.
One of our deepest emotional needs is that of acceptance. While I believe we can never find complete fulfillment of that need outside of our relationship with God, it is normal – no, necessary, to find some level of achievement filling that need in our human relationships. It is in the quest to meet that very need that we become vulnerable to the dangerous phenomenon of gaslighting.
Do we fling around terms like crazy, self-serving, distorted, in need of professional help, trouble maker, deceptive … the list goes on … without pausing to comprehend the level of responsibility we truly do have towards our fellow human beings? Do we mount purposeful, orchestrated attacks on other individuals, in the hopes of silencing them by berating them and humiliating them so soundly – by refusing to provide them proof of our claims and simply demanding that they accept we are right - that they begin to wonder if we know their minds better than they do themselves?
Could our behavior towards others be considered gaslighting?