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Gaslighting. Are you losing your mind?

by | Aug 16, 2019 | Blog, Press room - EN | 0 comments

There hasn’t been much time for fun this summer. It’s been a never-ending stream of urgent translation jobs and high temperatures. The beach might be five minutes away, but August is here, and I haven’t set foot on the sand. Nevertheless, I’ve still enjoyed my summer – vicariously – by watching reality TV show Love Island from 10 pm to 11 pm every night before I go to bed. I would not confess this unless practically everyone I know, even the snobbiest among my friends and family, are also hooked.

Basically, it goes like this. A group of silicone enhanced, gym bunny twenty-somethings are holed up in a luxury villa in Mallorca for a couple of months and are filmed night and day while they couple up, split up again and get up to lots of antics on the way. Apart from their fascinating physical appearances (revealing swimwear), although some of them are quite highly qualified, others talk as through they haven’t been to school, believing that Rome is in Spain and Barcelona is in Rome, for example. Hardly a learning environment, but I have learned a new word from them: gaslighting.

Gaslighting, which, incidentally, perfectly describes the behaviour of Donald Trump, is a type of abusive behaviour whereby the abuser manipulates information to make a victim question his or her sanity. Gaslighting makes the victim doubt his or her memories and perception of reality. Perhaps the reason I have found this so interesting is that it has happened to me on more than one occasion, which is also probably the reason why I now live alone!

One example of Trump’s gaslighting antics are his unfounded accusations against Hillary Clinton of starting the ‘birther’ movement against President Barack Obama. Less importantly, on the reality show Love Island, the men seem inclined to gaslight the girls, ditching them for other girls and then making out that they’ve been forced into it by original girlfriend’s behaviour.

Interestingly, the term first appeared as the title of a play “Gas Light” in 1938, but most think of the 1944 film adaptation in which Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman play a married couple. Throughout the movie, the abusive husband manipulates the wife to convince her that she is losing her mind, making it look as though she is stealing things without realising it and hearing non-existent noises, to the extent she starts questioning her sanity.

In the film the wife sees gaslights dimming and brightening for no reason. The husband convinces her that it’s all in her head, while in actual fact he is making them flicker from the attic. Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for her performance, so perhaps it is worth watching the film, although I don’t recommend you get hooked on Love Island! Listen out for the term ‘gaslight’… I’ve heard it come up numerous times since I first heard it used. Don’t you just love learning a new word?