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I am going to submit that I am becoming weary and frustrated in seeing my country become an international political deficit from what we used to be…
…and an appalling domestic pot of political crap. If there was swamp cleaning needing to be done at the beginning of the last election, it’s certainly turned into quicksand in the last year and a half. The truly sad part is that there are actually Americans who are enjoying all this… and think the country is better off.
As I’ve posted ad nauseam in the past that my issue is Trump, the man… and far less about his agenda. Recent polls through CNN have suggested some shifts in favor of some of the Trumpian efforts thus suggesting that people seem to be vacillating or becoming null and/or numb given the daily barrage of unpresidential behavior.
What is Gaslighting?
For those readers not familiar with the term, “gaslighting” is the process of convincing someone to believe something other than reality. In average domestic situations in relationships it’s the process to taking advantage of someone’s vulnerabilities to suggestion, and convincing them of a lack of their own self-esteem and behavior. It’s a form of abuse common in society, from abusive spouses straight up to political leaders and dictators. You could call it brainwashing. The idea is someone asserting power and dominance over someone else through consistent intimidation.
In Psychology Today author Stephanie A. Sarkis, PhD, suggests there are 11 signs of gaslighting (HERE).
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.
She continues on listing and explaining the 11 signs of gaslighting…
- They tell blatant lies.
You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.
- They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.
- They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.
- They wear you down over time.
This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.
- Their actions do not match their words.
When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.
- They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.
- They know confusion weakens people.
Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.
- They project.
They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.
- They try to align people against you.
Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.
- They tell you or others that you are crazy.
This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.
- They tell you everyone else is a liar.
By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.
The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.
Obviously we can all see Trump reflected in this behavior.. and a good number of people have fallen victim to this behavior, and have been convinced in Trump’s agenda.. and his erratic behavior.. as being a new norm. In spite of the fact that this author does not mention Trump… we can note that this was published in Psychology Today On January 22, 2017… just two days after Trump was sworn in. My point is that to those aware and educated enough in behavior analysis, Trump’s persona was easily identifiable throughout the campaign.
Now.. in no way am I suggesting that everyone who supports Trump has been a victim of some grand conspiracy scheme of Trump gaslighting the entire country. There are obviously a lot of folks that simply do approve of his behavior and agenda. Many, I have found, love his agenda and could care less about his behavior. Usually those folks just plain hate democrats/liberals on any good day for idealistic reasons. But I have been convinced all along that Trump has no idea how he is, nor does he have the capacity to have any original thought enough to scheme. He is, in fact, unaware of his gaslighting.
As a postscript to this article, the author posted another article in January 30, 2017 (HERE) indicating that those who gaslight many times are unaware of doing it. I put Trump in this category.
Others gaslight in order to feel some sense of control in their own lives by making others depend on them. Gaslighting can also be part of an authoritarian personality. A person with an authoritarian personality tends to think in absolutes: Things are 100 percent right or 100 percent wrong. When a gaslighter thinks that they are not the problem and everyone else is, this is called having an ego-syntonic personality.
So.. when we see the polls shifting a bit in support of Trump’s actions or initiatives it’s not always because someone has “surrendered” their morals to TrumpWorld as a result of Trumpian gaslighting efforts. BUT… as time has gone on since I began this blog my posts have diminished in frequency as I have gotten used to the daily appalling behavior of Trump across every facet of the political spectrum, frustrated that nothing can be done about it, and just too overcome with the sheer volume of political and moral shock & awe to keep up with it all. So.. dare I ask myself if I have fallen victim to some level of Trumpian gaslighting?
My fatigue is a form of ideological surrender.. NO, call it a contemptible acceptance… NOT surrender. I place my hope in Mueller as most people do, a shift in Congress to favor the Dems in the mid-term, and their desire to begin impeachment. The problem with accepting my.. our.. national fate until such time as he leaves office, is that I see the country floundering politically and socially. Very fortunately our economy, having begun well into the Obama administration, the country has been improving and unaffected by Trump….. so far.
And we wait…….