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IDIC: Gaslighting in the Spotlight

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Gaslighting has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, but it’s essential to look at the meaning behind all the buzz. After all, gaslighting is a terrible manipulation that often happens in individual relationships but has long-term social effects.

Gaslighting at its heart is manipulating someone into questioning their perception of reality. There are many ways to do this, which can be incredibly subtle. That makes it hard to recognize, especially if the person doing the gaslighting has done this before.

Gaslighting is often intentional, but it can occur unintentionally as well. Intentional gaslighting can occur in romantic, family, and even friend relationships. The reasons someone may gaslight another person can vary, but it often comes down to control.

It’s also important to recognize that gaslighting is not remembering a specific event differently from friends. Gaslighting is not forgetting something that happened five years ago with your partner. It’s not the occasional slip-up.

Unfortunately, the cumulative effect of gaslighting is questioning truth, decision-making, and even sanity. These effects often last for years, decades, or even a lifetime, so it’s truly horrible. The effects of gaslighting often require professional treatment.

Unfortunately, the effects of gaslighting often mean someone withdraws from society, work, family relationships, friend networks, and more. This fact can create many different, long-term effects in the social and personal realms.

While much gaslighting is personal, there are several different types of cultural gaslighting. Cultural gaslighting is often subtle and persists in almost every quarter, from race to gender and beyond.

Let’s look at one example. Most women have a story about a joke that was utterly inappropriate, but they were told they were “overreacting,” that they “have a problem,” or that it “didn’t mean anything.” This behavior rises to the level of social gaslighting at this point.

So, what can we do? The first step is talking about gaslighting so more people can see it when it happens. The next step is finding out more since gaslighting is insidious. The third, and this one requires personal judgment, is speaking up. Whether that’s publicly calling it out, privately pulling someone aside, or communicating about it, it’s all steps.

Together, we can do more to create a safer environment for everyone.

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