Gaslighting’s Real, and Secularists Do It

By Anthony Esolen Published on December 26, 2018

The gaslighter wants to persuade you that you are not in your right mind. He’ll call you mad if you believe in God, saying that you are no different from a psychotic with an invisible friend, perhaps a very tall rabbit named Harvey. He’ll act as if anyone with a brain would immediately see that not all people who menstruate are women and that a biological female can become a male.

The word “gaslighting” usually describes what an abusive husband does to his wife to destroy her confidence and independence. It’s got more uses than that, though — because a lot of abusive people want to make you think you’re mad for not believing the crazy things they tell you. They want to take away your ability to disagree with them.

It’s not just abusive husbands. It’s heads of television networks and professors at major universities.

Four Antidotes, One Vaccination

This word gaslight comes from the 1944 movie by that name, in which a suave and sinister husband tries to persuade his wife that she is going mad, and that she needs to be kept away from society, locked up in her mansion. What he’s really after are some priceless jewels, hidden away somewhere.

Influential people want you to believe you’re crazy for thinking what people have pretty much always thought, like males being men and females being women.

We run into his descendants all the time. Influential people want you to believe you’re crazy for thinking what people have pretty much always thought, like males being men and females being women. And they want to get something from you, if they can only get you to believe you’re crazy.

But you can protect yourself from being gaslighted. There are four antidotes to gaslighting. There is also a vaccination.

One antidote is sheer cussedness. You simply insist upon your observations, and you don’t care what anybody thinks. Two and two make four. That emperor is buck nekkid. Until they make lady fires, lady firemen are going to be rare, and often of really limited usefulness.

The Word Gaslight

The word “gaslight” refers, of course, to lamps lit by inflammable gas. (Inflammable, not flammable, is the correct word, because it can be inflamed.)

The first part of the word was coined by a Dutch scientist in the late Renaissance, from the Greek chaos. Think of unorganized matter. The second part is from Anglo Saxon leoght or light. It’s cognate with words all over the Indo-European map, such as Latin lux and Greek leukos, meaning clear, bright. That’s where we get the word “leukemia,” for example, meaning “white blood.”

A second antidote is to ask the question, “Cui bono?” Who profits? Charles Boyer wanted the jewels. What do today’s gaslighters want?

If somebody says, “Nobody believes what you do,” ask why is he saying this? Why does he care? Why that veiled threat, of the lunatic asylum, or ostracism, or loss of employment? What is in it for gaslighters? What are the jewels they seek? They always want something they shouldn’t have.

The Other Antidotes

A third antidote is to hang around sane people, or to stop hanging around insane people. We are a mimetic species. We imitate. If we hang around with mad people, we will share in their madness.

So get away from them. Hang around with normal, sane people. People who won’t tell you that are many genders because sex isn’t a biological reality but a “cultural construct.” You may be surprised by how quickly your head will clear up. It is like waking up from a nightmare.

A fourth antidote is to do normal things. Go outdoors, for example. Animals are not insane. Trees are their own sweet selves. The setting sun is not “social constructed.” You will never stumble upon a postmodernist rock. The rock knows nothing about political fads. If you apply a certain force to it, it will move. If you don’t, it won’t.

The vaccination is this. Read history. Know something about the madnesses that have seized whole populations in the past: the Bolshevik madness, the Nazi madness, the LSD madness, the witch madness at Salem.

The Gaslighter

Don’t believe anything the gaslighter tells you. Trust the truths you know.  Remember that he only wants to steal the jewels. And he’s probably quite mad himself.

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  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Right. “ Gaslighters” need to get back to the beginning of a thing in order to apprehend the truth of a matter. You know, that “ in the beginning God” kind of starting point.
    Until & when such an advantage is appropriated these “inflamed folk” & their convoluted ways are simply destined to go up in smoke. Sadly until that burnout occurs the collateral damage will have already scarred its victims , some for life .
    Thank God for the Light He has provided. It’s so much brighter, lighter & won’t ever go up in smoke …

  • apollo

    When this issue comes up it presents us with an excellent moment to introduce them to the Holy Spirit.

  • koomo

    Ask them, “Was Dennis Avner a cat?” That usually clears their head or identifies them as an unreachable loon.

  • Craig Roberts

    “Don’t believe anything the gaslighter tells you.”

    Sorry but that is a different common psychological disorder: paranoia.

    How are you supposed to react when the “gaslighter” says things that are obviously true? To react with pure contrarianism shows that you really are crazy!

    This is not good advice.

    • Tony

      Mistaking a figure of speech for a literalism.

      The point is that the gaslighter is not to be trusted. Liars sometimes tell the truth, but only by happenstance, or indifference, or as part of a strategy. They are still not to be trusted.

      • Craig Roberts

        Actually, most all of the liberals I’ve known (and I know tons of them) sincerely believe that the things that they take for granted are true (e.g. more gun laws will prevent violence, more taxes will alleviate poverty, republicans are greedy, quotas atone for racism, the planet is dying (and we can save it), gender is fluid, etc. etc., etc.). Well if they actually believe these things are true, how is it they are lying to you?

        The authors own definition of “gaslighters” is basically evil people trying to manipulate you into questioning yourself by telling you things that they KNOW are not true so that you will go nuts and they can get some metaphorical “treasure”.

        In reality, 99% of liberals are irritatingly earnest and have the best intentions and no ulterior motives. They just happen to believe so stridently in their causes that they are unable to see the obvious negative consequences of their “virtuous” endeavors.

        Thanks for the response.

        • OK – liberals believe it, but then Satan is the gaslighter behind the naive liberals, right?

          Still we must challenge them with right thinking otherwise “group think catastrophe” ensures (e.g, Venezuela, Nazi Germany, global warming hysteria, etc.)

  • Craig Roberts

    When you start labeling people that disagree with you as ill-intentioned (e.g. “They always want something they shouldn’t have.”) and by implication evil, and giving them sinister names like “gas-lighters” and lumping them together in a conspiracy to drive you nuts, maybe you really should try to take a mental inventory and chill for a second.

    The bottom line is that if you’re even slightly worried that people that are crazy enough to deny something as obvious as their own gender could influence your own stability of mind…then maybe you’re not so stable!

    • Irene Neuner

      Spiritually speaking the author is correct in that:
      1. We are all either children of the darkness or children of the light. Eph. 5:8
      2. The jewels (motive) they want is Satan’s promise that “ye will be as Gods.”
      3. All attacks on truth (that which corresponds with reality) are indirect attacks on the Truth namely Jesus Christ.
      4. Maybe some these ‘gas-lighters’ are significantly unconscious of what they are doing but they still at some point even in a young life made a choice against Truth (that which corresponds with reality.)

      And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness more than light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

    • You get an A+ in missing the point. The author is correct. People who go about spewing madness often have ulterior motives in mind.

      • Craig Roberts

        The author himself states in the last line of the article that the ‘gaslighter’ is, “…probably quite mad himself.” Well if you’re crazy you don’t need an ulterior motive. That’s why the courts allow insanity as a defense for crimes.

        The problem is that the author doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that if someone is ‘mad’ that doesn’t mean that they are evil and are intentionally trying to drive you or anybody else crazy. It in fact mitigates their culpability for any actions that you suspect are designed to upset you.

        If you insist that they have nefarious intentions you should examine your own assumptions because thinking that a great number of people are secretly and deliberately trying to drive you out of your mind sounds to me like pretty good definition of another type of psychological malady: paranoia.

        • You sound like you are unaware that Satan is evil and is working ceaselessly to deceive and control the minds of millions. The author is simply arguing never let them get by unchallenged with calling evil good & good evil — or the next thing you know Antifa will be setting your house on fire!

    • Tamsin

      Is this a parody of gaslighting?

      • Craig Roberts

        No. but if you want a good parody of “gas-lighting”, check out the song ‘Institutionalized’ by the band Suicidal Tendencies.

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