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Insights / December 14, 2016

You’re Not Crazy

By Casey Helbling

This week, I’m calling to attention a terrifying and very specific form of abuse called gaslighting. Adopted from the title of the 1938 play Gas Light, gaslighting describes psychological abuse where a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory or perception of an event—often leading them to question their own sanity.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Sociopaths and narcissists frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but typically are also convincing liars, sometimes charming ones, who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their perceptions.

Gaslighting can include the outright denial of another’s experience, mislabeling someone’s reaction, or calling into question the validity of their feelings or perceptions. It’s often seen in cases of physical abuse, tense parent-child relationships, marital infidelity, and even psychotherapy and psychiatry.

But right now, we’re seeing it in the media, and from our next president.

So this week, we remind you to pay attention to the world around you. Recognize how you communicate, and how others communicate with you. Protect yourself. Ask questions. Check your facts and your news sources. And, most importantly, stay aware of what’s happening.