Thread: Gaslighting
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Old 11-26-2011, 04:10 AM
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MrFarFromRight MrFarFromRight is offline
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Reply to BrigidsDaughter and SourGirl
Originally Posted by BrigidsDaughter View Post
Originally Posted by SourGirl
The movie is from the late 30's or early 40's I believe ? Psychological
The movie "Gaslight" came out in 1944 and starred Angela Lansbury as the wife. I have yet to see the movie, but am familiar with the term from a course I took on conflict and violence in families a few years back. We watched actual videos of people who experienced gas lighting; one woman's husband even had the neighbors unknowing co-operation in the process and their kids willing co-operation; including filming the escalation of abuse. It wasn't until he lost his job and she had to go back to work that she found someone who helped her realize that she wasn't crazy. It was very sad, but insightful.
There have been various versions of this film. Perhaps the most famous one has Charles Boyer as the [gaslighting] husband and Ingrid Bergman as the wife being driven towards madness [towards believing herself to be mad]. Angela Lansbury didn't play the wife, she played the maid with whom the husband flirted and used as a witness to the wife's "madness". In the society in which this all took place, it must have been considered even more degrading to have the servants smirk about your behaviour.
Originally Posted by SourGirl View Post
A quick sweep of my favourite search engine, tells me :

' A little known, form of abuse. Gaslighting, is an emotional abuse technique in which one individual creates self-doubt in another. '

The most complete, and basic explanation (paraphrased)I found was ;
' Letting someone else twist and define your own reality.'
We all have known cases of 2 people saying:
"I told you that ---"
"No you didn't. You never told me that."
"Oh yes I did: you've just forgotten."
I suspect that each of of us has been,at some time or another, on both sides of this conversation. People really do forget some things that they're told... and people really do believe that they made some point perfectly clear when they actually did nothing of the kind.

I agree with SourGirl that this is the kind of thing that we polies have to particularly careful about.* Someone on this board has a wonderful quote from G.B. Shaw as part of their signature. [I paraphrase from memory:] "The trouble with communicating is people's assuming that it has taken place."

I don't consider such examples of poor memory to be abuse. And I stand by by conviction that the term "gaslighting" should only be used about the willful and calculated technique to undermine another person's confidence in / belief in themselves. [The fact that it's a technique of abuse doesn't necessarily mean that the abuser is consciously aware of using this technique... or of abusing - healthy, well-adjusted people DON'T abuse.]

I wrote on another thread about a dear mono friend of mine whose husband was cheating on her. When she asked him about it, he denied it (of course). I wouldn't consider that gaslighting. That's just being a lying, cheating scoundrel. It was his telling her that she was imagining it all, that she was paranoid, was going crazy [attempting to turn it into HER problem, not his, and inviting her to question her own sanity] that was the gaslighting [as I understand the term, and using the definitions that SourGirl quotes above - creating self-doubt, twisting reality (but with INTENT to do so)].

* One of the [many] advantages of polyamory is that it's more difficult to gaslight a partner if they've got somebody else who loves them, is intimate with them, and can reassure them that they AREN'T going crazy. [Although there wasn't any (physical) polyamory going on, this was the role of the Joseph Cotten character in the version mentioned above.] It must be really awful to have your "one and only love" telling you that [aside from just joking] that you're a few ants short of a picnic.
If I can't dance, I want no part in your Revolution.
- Emma Goldman Anarchist and Polyamorous par excellence
The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.
- old Chinese proverb
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin
I'd rather have a broken heart / Than have a heart of stone.
- from "Boundless Love (A Polyamory Song)" by Jimmy Hollis i Dickson

Last edited by MrFarFromRight; 11-26-2011 at 04:18 AM.
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