Gaslighting

Any movie with Ingrid Bergman must be worth watching. If your evil partner is manipulative and you feel you might go insane then watch the 1940s movie “Gaslight”. Lamps dim for no reason and your grip on reality starts to slide. As the thriller unwinds so the process of gaslighting is unveiled.

It’s not uncommon that people are their own harshest critics. Naturally, if you are a psychopath that’s not the case. Similarly, if you have a mountainous ego where nothing much will shift you from thinking you are right, in any circumstances.

Gaslighting is an insidious form of emotional harm. It’s associated with abusive relationships. Where one person deliberately manipulates situations to undermine another. Motivations can range from being just plain evil to money or an insatiable desire for power over others.

It’s not individual relationships that these words will cover. What’s a phenomenon is the frequent use, particularly on social media, of the term “Gaslighting” to refer to current political manipulation. It’s way up there on the lexicon of how to describe the Conservative Party’s campaigning.

You don’t have to be a glamorous film star to suffer the effects of techniques aimed at undermining your perception of reality. It’s all to easy in the febrile world of social media.

Political villains’ intent on distorting facts are there to take advantage of the compelling nature of the small screen. You shouldn’t have to second-guess yourself when reading the News but its not so difficult to persuade people to do so.

Just now we have the nonsensical rhythm of double speak in the question – when a party is not a party. It’s almost got to the stage of asking the question – when a cake is not a cake.

In all of that, let’s recognise what’s happening. By deliberately muddying the waters and sowing doubt so a lot of Conservative MPs are gaslighting the public. The Prime Minister is gaslighting the public. It’s difficult to know what’s true when the sand is shifting so often. The manipulator can seem charming and as nice as pie, but their motive is to deceive you.

Our perception of reality depends on acquiring information that is accurate and reliable. In my aviation world, fatal accidents are caused by a loss of situation awareness. Even a lapse of awareness can get pilots into serious difficulties. Accurate and reliable information is needed to stay safe.

COVID has caused a great deal of social isolation. That is fertile ground for despicable political operators to disorientate people. We are players in a psychological thriller. We are people trying to make sense of the world. Trying to make a better world. We need to be able to recognise it because “Gaslighting” is a big danger.

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