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Counseling a Gaslit Nation

Counseling a Gaslit Nation


In 1944 the truly remarkable movie Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, was released to theaters to great success and acclaim. Its plot centers around a woman who is being manipulated by her husband to believe that she is becoming insane, even to the point where he uses her observation of the gas lights dimming in their home as proof of her hallucinations or false memories.

So impactful was this movie that it gave birth to the term gaslighting, which is ”a form of psychological abuse where a person causes someone to question their sanity, memories, or perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel confused, anxious, or unable to trust themselves.” It is one of the principal forms of abuse that a victim experiences at the hands of a malignant narcissist.

Gaslight depicts such abuse vividly, as the wife’s very real memories are used as proof against her that she is insane:

This scene depicting narcissistic abuse came to mind as Google’s no-doubt maliciously programmed algorithm decided that I needed to see the following headline:

The article itself includes a parade of “experts” subtly saying that people are crazy for thinking there is even a problem at all. For example, take this snippet:

Even for people whose incomes have kept pace with prices, research has long found that people hate inflation more intently than its economic impact would suggest. Most people do not expect their pay to keep up with rising prices. Even if it does, the higher pay may come with a time lag.

“They’re obsessing over the fact that the prices they pay for the things that are very salient — gas, food, grocery store prices, rent — those things still seem elevated, even though they’re not increasing as rapidly as they were,” Hershbein said.

Since the abusiveness of the article in question is so very subtle, I thought it better to summarize it in the manner of a scene from Gaslight, as if those in power were speaking to America:

“Oh America, if we could only get inside that brain of yours and understand what makes you do these crazy, twisted things. Do you not remember how terrified you were after we showed you those images from Bergamo and New York City? How you begged us, your betters, for your safety? How we lovingly allowed you to stay home and order things to be delivered with the government checks which you cashed? How we brought you safely back into the world with our gift of muzzles and injections? The fact that you are even alive today is a credit to our brilliance and care for you, and all you can do is complain about the price of food and energy? How ungrateful!

“What a small price to pay for your survival! Your ingratitude shows itself even more by your demands that prices return to what they were in 2019. Do you not understand how DANGEROUS and HURTFUL deflation is to us, your loving caretakers? After all we have done for you, you turn against us, your benefactors, and desire to bring us harm? You are monstrously insane, and we shall have you put away from the levers of power, so that you may bring harm to yourself and us no more! You are lucky that you even have jobs, and it is to our credit that we even allow that.”

So much of what we have gone through in these recent years is understandable as a form of societal-level narcissistic abuse. We weren’t allowed to leave our homes, see our friends, go to church or work, or even make our own medical decisions. We were constantly told that those in power were to credit every time the scary numbers went down and that we were to blame every time the scary numbers went up.

I distinctly remember Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio lecturing his citizens as if it were their fault that he had to impose a mask mandate. President Biden’s infamous “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin” is a textbook example of narcissistic rage.

If I were counseling a victim of narcissistic abuse in my office or the confessional, my immediate suggestion would be to break off contact as completely as possible as the relationship is unrecoverable.

How does a nation respond when the abusers are politicians from both parties and nearly the entirety of the administrative state and legacy media?

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  • Rev. John F. Naugle

    Reverend John F. Naugle is the Parochial Vicar at St. Augustine Parish in Beaver County. B.S., Economics and Mathematics, St. Vincent College; M.A., Philosophy, Duquesne University; S.T.B., Catholic University of America

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