By Peter W. Dunn, PhD
“Gaslighting isn’t a reflection of the person being gaslit – it’s about the abuser and their need for power and control.”
The environment of public discourse has become toxic. Gaslighting now happens to everyone who questions or protests the official COVID 19 narrative, with its lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, social distancing, masking, and vaccines. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation, and it is a main technique of narcissists—it’s not being done for your benefit but because the one gaslighting you is trying to get something from you.
The term “gaslighting” is fairly recent and comes from “Gaslight”, which in its 1944 movie version starring Ingrid Bergman, was about a young woman whose aunt had been murdered in their home, and she is sole heir of her aunt’s estate; while away in Italy a man befriends her and she marries him, but as soon as they are living in her aunt’s house she finds that he begins to treat her like she is crazy. He belittles her, he tells her that she is imagining things: when he goes out she hears noises in the attic and the gaslights in the house dim, and he says she is just making this all up in her head. By the end of the film, we learn that this man, who has been psychologically torturing her, has been searching for jewels in the attic each night among her aunt’s possessions. He was doing it because he was greedily trying to steal these jewels. We learn that he was the one who murdered the aunt, but he was unable to find the jewels at the time of the murder.
So what is gaslighting? The main goal of a gaslighter is to get you to doubt yourself: to question yourself, your research, your conclusions, your decisions, your observations. Who is doing it now during the COVID 19 pandemic? The mainstream media, our political leaders, our unelected public health authorities, and often it is even our friends, family, and neighbors. They want you to obey the rules; but not only so, they want to force you to agree with the rules and believe that they actually work. Thus, gaslighting is an attempt to make you feel inferior so that you conform both in deed and in thought to the official pandemic guidelines. Here are some of the weapons that gaslighters employ:
(1) Gaslighters main weapon is to make you doubt yourself. They do this by calling you stupid, questioning your sanity, claiming that you are following conspiracy theories.
(2) Gaslighters scold. They will tell you should be ashamed for expressing your opinion on COVID 19 or vaccines, when that opinion does not agree with the official narrative. They will tell you that you are dangerous because you are not going along with the majority. And if that doesn’t work, they will have you censored and silence your voice. That’s why I keep getting these 31 day suspensions from Nextdoor on social media. When the gaslighters can’t convince me they silence me.
(3) Gaslighters blame you for what goes wrong. With no scientific evidence, such as contact tracing, they say that the anti-maskers or the anti-vaxxers are responsible for the next wave or for the Delta variant, when there are top level scientists who claim that the Delta variant probably exists as a vaccine resistant escapee. I.e., it is the vaccinated and the masked that may be the main reason for the variants as viruses adapt to escape barriers placed in their way.
(4) Gaslighters call you names. Doug Ford will call you yahoos or idiots for disobeying his rules. Doug Ford who took away our fundamental freedoms has the audacity to call me a yahoo. He is our gaslighter in chief in the province of Ontario. He scolds, he name calls, he abuses. He is a narcissist. He is so classic in this regard.
(5) Gaslighters appeal to authority, especially their own. MDs are the classic gaslighters. One of the things that they do is demean your health choices (if you go against their recommendations) if it is based upon your ability to reason and research a subject. Classic is the coffee mug that MDs came up with, “Please do not confuse your google search with my medical degree.” They are the authority and you must get in line with whatever program that they have for you. If your MD is like that the best thing to do is run.
(6) Gaslighters make a false appeal to do your duty. The other day, my wife said that a major American Orchid Society publication said that people should get vaccinated because it is their patriotic duty. We have to “do our part” according to an ad by the Province of Ontario. Gaslighting by telling us that our human right to informed consent must be subservient to our duty to our community and or to our country. It is a classic form of gaslighting. Even the Queen said that we should not be selfish and get vaccinated. Or people say, my mask protects you, your mask protects me, and they portray you as a selfish murderer if you have a mask exemption and still want to be able to do your essential shopping.
(7) Gaslighters tell you that you don’t belong. Yesterday I put on Melissa Lantsman’s Facebook wall the comment that when I became a Canadian I had to learn the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to pass the citizenship test. I said this Canada without any human rights is not what I signed up for, and this is what a certain gaslighter on Facebook said, “Feel free to find a new homeland. No one is stopping you from leaving.” But we have seen many people say you can’t be with them if you don’t get the double vaccinated. People who don’t conform to the agenda are being shunned.
(8) Gaslighters will ridicule you. And this is perhaps the most abusive and humiliating of all the weapons that they use. Gaslighters mock. Here is what the aforementioned gaslighter also said to me on Facebook, “Peter W. Dunn you clearly don’t understand what human rights are. I actually know someone who works for Pharma as bioethics personnel. She laughs at people like you. Who think there is some conspiracy to hold back the masses.” People are laughing at you behind your back. They are ashamed of you. You are a laughing stock. This is a complete disregard for feelings of another person and shows that the gaslighter is a narcissist.
I hope this summary will help us to understand how psychological manipulation is being used to force us into obedience. Those of us who wish to protest will see this every time we stand up for our human rights. We must be aware of it, because our society has become increasingly narcissistic, and thus gaslighting has become a standard weapon that people use to control us. If we can more easily recognize it, we can better equip ourselves to deal with it. In my opinion the best way to deal with it is via withdrawal from the company of these narcissists and putting people around us who will be more sympathetic to our views and opinions.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
This speech was delivered at the Bathurst and Rutherford freedom protest in Vaughan, Ontario, on July 18, 2021