Are those in Scotland that still use the BBC as a source of news and current affairs information the constant target nowadays of something akin to ‘gaslighting’? Indeed, more generally are we experiencing the political gaslighting of a nation by a dominant, Unionist media? It is arguably so!
And the context for this is that many of the people being subjected to putative gaslighting have for over a decade given multiple democratic mandates to govern to one party, the SNP. The objective is to undermine confidence, trust and ultimately electoral support for the SNP and more deeply and insidiously – the ultimate goal – to undermine confidence in Scotland having the capability and capacity to be independent.
As we know, gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation. It is used to sow doubt in individuals or groups so they question, among others things, their ‘perception’ .
Potentially it sets out to generate this kind of voter response: ‘given this endless stream of bad stuff that I’m hearing/reading about Scotland how could I have been so deluded to vote SNP and even worse, how could I ever have considered voting for independence?’
Perception changes; beliefs questioned; confidence in prior judgements shaken; incline to return to (imagined) old certainties; alter voting intentions.
The gaslighting behaviour sets out to destabilise the target and delegitimise the target’s beliefs. In her book ‘Gaslighting: Recognising Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free’, author Stephanie Sarkis describes gaslighting techniques. Written to explain the techniques as applied by one abuser to one individual or group, Sarkis’ list does however include some that can be recognised as being applied now within Scotland’s polity.
– Tell blatant lies – so we’re left never sure what if anything is true.
– Wear us down over time – gaslighting is done gradually so that even the brightest and most self-aware can be sucked in over time. “Like the proverbial frog in the pot of water, we don’t realise we’re being cooked until it can be too late.”
– Exploit the knowledge that confusion weakens people – by constantly questioning everything, gaslighters are able to uproot a sense of stability and normalcy – and so create fear. As a result, gaslighters can present as the ones offering to make things more stable.
So, can a nation be subjected to something comparable to gaslighting? And if so, is that what’s happening here and now? I fear it could be! Interested in others’ views.