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Merriam-Webster Declares ‘Gaslighting’ 2022 Word of the Year

From the film Gaslight: Paula has finally had enough of Gregory’s Gaslighting
By John Leake | Courageous Discourse | January 1, 2023

Merriam-Webster just announced the following:

In this age of misinformation—of “fake news,” conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes—gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time.

A driver of disorientation and mistrust, gaslighting is “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.” 2022 saw a 1740% increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year.

Merriam-Webster’s report and definition of the term acknowledge that the meaning of ‘gaslighting’ has evolved since the word was coined. In my opinion, the current spike of usage is based on a misunderstanding of the concept. In the current, popular imagination, gaslighting is often confused with gross lying and deception, but in fact the term refers to tricking the victim into believing he is losing his mental competence so that he will doubt his perceptions of reality.

The term originated in a play and 1944 film Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, in which a woman is manipulated by her sinister husband into believing she is losing her sanity. In his initial gambit, he rigs their home’s gaslights to flicker periodically. When she asks him, “Why do the lights keep flickering?” He says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about—that the lights are NOT flickering.

In another notable scene, he gives her a valuable brooch—a family heirloom that he claims had belonged to his mother—while warning her that she must be very careful not to lose it. “You know how you tend to lose things,” he says. Later, when the brooch goes missing from her purse, it seems (in her mind) to confirm her husband’s concern (not realizing that he removed it from her purse).

Gaslighting is a particularly malevolent form of psychological warfare, most often deployed in interpersonal relationships by what the Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg called “malignant narcissists.” The concept of the malignant narcissist is closely related to Dr. Robert Hare’s concept of the psychopath. Incidentally, in a recent conversation with the British cardiologist, Aseem Malhotra, he observed that the pharmaceutical industry displays distinct traits of psychopathy in the way it conducts business.

I suspect that the spike in usage of ‘gaslighting” is an outcome of our current Orwellian administration. As Orwell memorably wrote in 1984:

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

I frequently thought of this command as I was reading Edward Dowd’s new book, Cause Unknown: The Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022. Every day we see reports of young people suddenly dropping dead, and our mainstream media would have us believe the cause is unknown.

This is a crazy-making form of mass deception and pretending that indeed bears a resemblance to the original meaning of ‘gaslighting.’

January 1, 2023 - Posted by | Book Review, Deception |

2 Comments »

  1. As US Constitution and laws have been based on written American words it is downright stupid to allow malicious modifications of American words and grammars by subverters.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by tonytran2015 | January 1, 2023 | Reply

  2. Redefining words for nefarious reasons in common language between private people is one matter. When the government uses this method it is straight up manipulation. But when the entire system, and especially the judicial system use dog Latin to enslave or incarcerate the masses it is totally unacceptable.

    As an example. The federal and state governments have convinced almost the entire population that they are in act US Citizens. We are citizens of the sovereign state we live on. The government defines a US citizen as a federal employee, born outside the countries borders. Does this apply to you?

    The majority of US courts, with appointed “judges”, are in fact Admiralty law courts acting in the jurisdiction of the sea. In this jurisdiction, Backs law redefines almost every common word we use in conversation. This is intentional to trick people out of their land jurisdiction and rights, alienable or unalienable.

    Like

    Comment by raggs12 | January 1, 2023 | Reply


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