What is Gaslighting and Why Should We Care?

by Haniya Khalid

“By dismissing a woman’s behavior or concerns as crazy, we inadvertently take part in a behavior known as “gaslighting.” Named for the classic George Cukor movie, gaslighting is a term used by psychologists to describe abusive behavior where a person is made to feel as though their emotions and reactions are irrational, even (dare I say) crazy. By constantly minimizing and dismissing someone’s reactions, we make them feel uncomfortable with themselves and cause them to start to doubt their own feelings. If they’re being told over and over again that what they’re feeling is irrational or unreal, that what they’re feeling is somehow out of whack, then they start to accept that maybe it is.

Even when it’s not. Especially when it’s not.“

This was taken from a Huffington Post article that is unfortunately, no longer accessible. To be repeatedly told you are crazy or irrational for how you feel, thereby inflicting doubt unto yourself, is a determinant that you can never be vulnerable around that person. Therein lies the a layer of deceit–you cannot be yourself because you are afraid of how you will be perceived by the one you love, and they in turn will continuously question or berate you for it. Emotions need not be labeled as frivolous, being emotional does not mean you are weak. It is important to remind yourself of this: you, of course, being a woman. Being around someone who makes you feel safe is not a literal sentiment; we should be around people who let our emotional trajectories take whichever path feels most organic. In turn, we should be more accepting of the anomalies, the crazies, the breakdowns, the upsanddowns, etc. all those fairly normal things that make us, if nothing else– human.

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