The Sinister Trick All Women Should Know

In 1938 the play “Gas Light” debuted in London. The curtains open to a cluttered domestic scene in the salon of an 1880’s Victorian townhouse. A nervous woman, through the course of the evening, is variously berated, ignored, mocked and belittled be her self-assured husband who also flirts with the pretty maid who attends his wife. When the wife complains of his too-familiar attitude toward the staff he accuses her over being oversensitive, irrational and controlling.

As the scenes unfold, the other source of her anxiety is revealed; inexplicably the glowing gas lights which illuminate the house periodically flicker and dim and when she observes this, her husband assigns this to her imagination as well, not noticing any change in the lamps on the walls. She also claims to hear noises from the upper floors of the house – more evidence of her failing mental capacity, according to her husband. Slowly, the situation erodes her confidence in her own perception and the whole cast call into question her sanity.

Whilst her husband is out of the house on one of his undisclosed errands, a visitor is introduced – a police inspector has come to visit. He explains that the house so recently occupied by the couple was previously the residence of a woman murdered for her jewels by a man who was never caught but who also never found his prize as he ransacked the house after the murder. During the inspector’s visit, one of the gas light moments occurs but for the first time the wife is validated in her perception – the inspector sees it too! This is the pivotal moment for our heroine.

The inspector reveals his belief that the woman’s husband is the aforementioned murderer who leaves the house to secretly return through the neighbouring house to search the upper floors for the unclaimed jewels, covering his noisy exploits with a smoke-screen of behaviours and tricks which confuse his wife and make her too unsure to challenge him properly.

The play Gas Light appears to have been well received by both critics and audiences. In fact, it struck a chord so resonantly that the script has been performed consistently since 1938, as far a-field from London as the Philippines and as recently as this year.

The play was also adapted into various movie versions of the same plot (the black-and-white Ingrid Bergman version is particularly good). And most significantly, the name of the play has been used to brilliantly capture the special type of relationship dynamic that many women (and some men) experience at the hands of a certain type of partner – ‘gas-lighting’. Gas-lighting is the term used to describe the way some people manage to convince their partners that any concerns they have are imaginary, exaggerated or irrational, even being able to make some clueless or trusting types question their own perception and sanity.

Gas-lighting is most often done to smokescreen inappropriate romantic behaviour but can be applied to draw attention away from any behaviour the perpetrator couldn’t justify if scrutinised, like selfish financial choices. In essence, gas-lighting is a weird combination of a refusal to disclose information or negotiate decisions which should be jointly made, affront at being questioned, implicit or explicit questioning of the mental capacities of the other person, and unpredictable emotional withdrawal. In the susceptible partner, these tactics create confusion and anxiety which serve to dissempower and heighten dependency (more on that in another article).

What typically ends this psychological torture is either the ‘gas-ligher’ ending the relationship having satisfied their need for proof of their power by way of a complete break-down of their partner, or, some third party intervenes and provides the partner with enough validation of their ‘irrational’ perceptions that the smokescreen begins to clear and the naked truth is revealed. Such is the case in the original play – the inspector arrives to put the pieces of the puzzle together in such a way as the wife can see the sense in what previously made no sense.

Rather gratifyingly, the wife has her revenge for nearly being sent to the asylum. The inspector makes his suspicions known to the husband who tries to enlist his devoted and ‘irrational’ wife to help him escape justice. She obediently complies with her loathsome husband’s demands but manages to orchestrate his escape right into the clutches of the knightly inspector. As her husband threatens her one last time, she places the cherry on the rancid cake of his deception by claiming that he cannot hold her accountable as she is, of course, not responsible for her actions.

It will be the rare women who has not experienced some version of this treatment, from a man who exploits the stereotype of the irrational, emotional women in order to undermine her confidence in her own perceptions, as a way of disguising unacceptable behaviour. Some women have endured such well executed gas-lighting for such extended periods that their mental health is permanently damaged by the scars of anxiety and self-doubt. Now you have an alternative to doubting yourself – believing in your own perceptions and realising that such a trick could be played on us.

Relationships: Are Some People Destined To Attract People Who Are Abusive?

If one was to take a step back and to think about the people they have been with throughout their life, they might think about the different moments that they have shared with them. This could then be a time when they will see that they have had more good than bad moments in this area of their life.

A Closer Look

When it comes to the bad moments, perhaps there have been times when they had a connection with someone and then before long, they came to see that there was nothing there. How they felt when they first met them would then have been radically different to how they felt as time went by

Along with this, they may have been at least one person who they had to break up for reasons beyond their control. This could have been a time when they were about to head to university/college, or vice versa.

Another Country

If this was not something that took place, it could have meant that it was during a time when they were about to spend a little while in another country. One may have believed that this would be for the best.

Or the person they were with might have done this, and one might ended up being in a bad way. They may have seen this person as someone who they wanted to spend the rest of their life with.

A Lasting Impact

But if one was to put these moments to one side, they may remember the good times that they have shared with others. This may have meant that these were people who they connected with on all levels.

Their head, heart and body would then have been on board, so to speak, and they wouldn’t have wanted to be with anyone else. And due to the connection they had, it would have been a lot easier for them to deal any challenges that arose.

Something to look forward to

Through having had these kinds of experiences, there will be no reason for them to worry about if it they will meet someone similar in the future. They have done it before and so they will be able to do it again.

At this time in their life, they might not have the desire to be with anyone, and this could show that they have recently broken up with someone. One could then prefer to focus on their career and to spend time with their friends, for instance.

Another Scenario

However, while one could look back on their life and reflect on what has taken place, they might not feel the need to do so. This could come down to the fact that they are in a relationship with someone.

As a result of this, they could think about the good times they have shared with the person they are currently with. But regardless of whether one is with someone or not, it will be normal for them to have these kinds of experiences.

Two Extremes

When someone experiences life in this way, this area of their life is going to have a positive effect on them. And, even if they are not currently in a relationship, they will know what it is like to be with someone who is right for them.

But while this is how they will experience life, there are going to be other people who won’t be able to relate to this. It is then going to be as if these people live on a completely different planet.

A Number of Similarities

Yet, although this area of their life is going to be different, there are going to be a number of things that are the same. For one thing, they are giving to breathe the same air, and they might even go to the same places to buy what they need.

Nevertheless, when it comes to what it is like when they are in a relationship, it won’t be the same. One person will be with someone who treats them well, and the other will be with someone who treats them badly.

Undermined

When one is treated well, it will allow them to grow, and other areas of their life will also improve. But when one isn’t treated well, it will stop this from taking place, and other areas of their life are bound to suffer.

If one is can relate to the former, this might be how their life has always been, or there may have been a time when they were also treated badly. And if one can relate to the latter, this might also be how their life has always been.

A Deeper Look

The kind of people that one attracts can be defined by what took place when they were younger. What took place during this time can lay the foundations for what one will feel comfortable with.

So if they were treated well as a child, they are likely to feel comfortable around people who will treat them in the same way, and if they were treated badly, they can also feel comfortable with people who will treat them in the same way. At this time, they wouldn’t have been able to do anything about what took place.

Destined

Therefore, if one is used to attracting people who abuse them, it could be said that this is not much of a surprise. If anything, this was something that was almost certain to take place.

It is then similar to how if someone was born in Mexico, they would have ended up speaking Spanish. Through being abused by their caregiver/s as a child, they would have unconsciously been drawn to people would treat them in the same way as an adult.

Awareness

This will also to apply to people who are treated well by the people they end up with; with their early years setting them up to experience life in this way. Ergo, there is going to be no reason for one to blame themselves if they have been with people who are abusive, they can realise that there wasn’t a lot that they could have done.

But now that they are aware of why this has taken place (and perhaps this was when they were supposed to ‘wake up’), they will be able to do something about it. The next step might be for them to reach out for external support, and this can be provided by a therapist.

Prolific writer, author, and coach, Oliver JR Cooper, hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation, including love, partnership, self-love, and inner awareness. With over one thousand three hundred in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice. His current projects include ‘A Dialogue With The Heart’ and ‘Communication Made Easy’.

The Rest From Work in Child’s Play

Blessedness is the business of those believing in Christ. Our pastime is faith, our proclivity is hope, our passion is love.

But how does that translate in common fatherhood? For me, it pivots around being present, which seems easier than it is in a world full of distractions. I’d love a blessing for every time I’ve failed to be present, but of course life (and God) doesn’t work that way. I’d love it if all those temptations into distraction proved of value, but of course they don’t.

The fact is we’re only rewarded with the sweet Presence of God as we slow down for sweet moments where we’re present in life, especially as we congregate with those we love.

On a common-enough Friday morning, my wife having left for work, which means it’s my day to manage household affairs and care for our son, I found myself in the backyard, absorbed by the imagination of our nearly four-year-old.

He stands atop a sawed-off tree stump and spies through a paper roll telescope at the land over yonder. You can see miles through this thing! He tucks his telescope into his shirt and he’s off. He climbs the ladder on the slide and spies over the fence into the neighbour’s yard, before I divert his attention to worthier pursuits.

Soon enough, he’s moved on to a game on the swing, where he runs up, having taken an on-your-mark-SET-GO approach, and flies through the air, his belly on the seat, nearly upending the swing more than once. (Dad decides to anchor it better!) He is, in fact, performing. Of course! What else?

The next activity takes place in the cubby house. 30-seconds of light relief, before the next idea springs from his mind. His Lightning McQueen (a Tonka truck) has to be refuelled and have its tyres pumped up. Then, he’s off, tearing through the backyard, taking tight turns, kicking up the dirt, just like the racing car reveller. Until Lightning McQueen is bogged in the dirt. We decide he’s to be winched out. I’m about to do it, when I hear, “I’ll do it, Dad.” The joy of seeing him take control of his play, watching him be responsible in discharging his cares.