Yesterday, I introduced you to an article. “20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You” by Shahida Arabi.
It’s a fairly brilliant piece on coping with people with the variety of personality disorders that are slowly being recognized – sociopathy, narcissism (the two favorite pop-culture “diagnoses” of Donald Trump, among the Trump deranged – which is one reason I’m almost reticent about writing this piece; it’s become “hip” to call people you disagree with sociopaths and narcissists, lately).
But the more I read it – and the more I see the way our nation’s political conversation is going – the more I think it’s a coping mechanism for … well, the rest of us, in dealing with our nation’s socio-political and media ruling classes.
Because my case is this: The behavior isn’t all that different.
Gaslighting: Arabi describes “Gaslighting” as follows:
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that can be described in different variations of three words: “That didn’t happen,” “You imagined it,” and “Are you crazy?” Gaslighting is perhaps one of the most insidious manipulative tactics out there because it works to distort and erode your sense of reality; it eats away at your ability to trust yourself and inevitably disables you from feeling justified in calling out abuse and mistreatment.
Is a comprehensive rewrite of history – “our entire history is racist”, “Reagan didn’t really have anything to do with bringing down the USSR” – gaslighting?
Does systematically impugning the motives and morality of those who differ from the narrative – “The NRA is a terrorist organisation”, “‘Whitenesss’ is an existential problem” – qualify?
When a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath gaslights you, you may be prone to gaslighting yourself as a way to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that might arise. Two conflicting beliefs battle it out: is this person right or can I trust what I experienced? A manipulative person will convince you that the former is an inevitable truth while the latter is a sign of dysfunction on your end.
“All of society’s problems trace back to systematic racism/white supremacy/male privilege” – no matter what the actual parties’ actual beliefs, stories, background and motiovations? That certainly qualifies.
How does one resist?
In order to resist gaslighting, it’s important to ground yourself in your own reality – sometimes writing things down as they happened, telling a friend or reiterating your experience to a support network can help to counteract the gaslighting effect. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you from the distorted reality of a malignant person and back to your own inner guidance.
This is true. And it’s something the gaslighters know, too – because they do their darnedest to shut down that “validating community”; it’s why Big Left is doing its best to remove conservative news and opinion from social media, to push the return of regulations like “The Fairness Doctrine”, to jam down “Net Neutrality” and the like; because like any abusive partner, they know that that support network stands between them and complete brainwashing.
Next installment: Projection.