Gaslighting

I was interested to read this article from the unlikely source of TeenVogue earlier today. As you may expect it isn’t a publication I have ever read before, but that’s what made it so surprising. To see an Op-Ed piece so well crafted in what you might think wouldn’t be such a politically charged publication has certainly seen it shared widely on Twitter.

In short the piece explores Donald Trump’s approach to the truth, or to be more appropriate, Donald Trump’s approach to disregarding the truth. The latest and most pernicious example of this is without doubt the unfolding report from the CIA that Russia was actively involved in specific actions to promote and aid a Trump victory in last month’s election. An episode which I am sure will have a lasting effect on the Trump Presidency and the 2020 election.

The final paragraph of the piece is the most powerful:

“The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion. It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering.”

“The gaslights are flickering” – this specifically refers to a phenomenon I hadn’t heard of until today – Gaslighting. Quick research explains its origin in the 1930s play ‘Gas Light’. It refers to psychological manipulation of one or a group of people to which they will question their perception and sanity. The gaslight specifically refers to the dimming of the light in the house which one of the play’s characters is aware of but coerced into believing she is imagining.

Many around the world feel trepidation about President Trump; his potential actions, his potential reactions and his potency. I certainly share those concerns, heightened given the fact the world is arguably more uncertain at a country, continent and global level than at any point in my lifetime. But as the article explores, the most distressing aspect of Trump isn’t the reality of what Trump may do, but the lies and spin he may layer on top of what he does, both for justification and pretension. We live in a ‘post-truth’ world – ironically one of the facts no doubt Trump would deny – but the brazen capability Trump and his incoming administration seem to have to dismiss facts and impact the US public’s perception of the factual truth is summed entirely by the image of the dimming gaslight.

 

 

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