Adam Quinn of the University of Birmingham writes for EA:
Is everybody familiar with the concept of “gaslighting”? Inspired by an Alfred Hitchcock film in 1944, it is “a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity.”
I think it is already very clear that gaslighting is going to be a key tool of those seeking to lay primary blame for the divided state of the US today at the door of the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign.
Laying blame, doubting our memory and perception even though we all knew what the Donald Trump campaign was and what it did. We heard it. We saw it. We were there.
This is quite literally the perfect time to talk about gaslighting.
— Clarkisha Kent (@IWriteAllDay_) November 13, 2016
The start of Clarkisha Kent’s Twitter essay about being “gas-lit”
The political extremists and demagogues who have quite deliberately torn the social fabric asunder now want to make their opponents internalize a sense of guilt over the horrifying, abased state of political discourse. A sense of guilt about the straining, to breaking point, of social unity and governing institutions.
Their ability to succeed in this relies on the inherently greater vulnerability of reasonable and moderate people to doubt and second-guess themselves when confronted with a level of dishonesty and hypocrisy so brazen that we cannot fathom how its practitioners could be so utterly without shame.
Democrats and moderate Republicans both need to make the most serious and determined effort to understand the reasons for what happened in 2016. They need to develop strategies to regain power in future.
And at the same time, our psychological resilience against gaslighting and concern-trolling from the right is essential. We must be strong if there is to be any prospect of reclaiming the American polity from its abusive new custodians.