The fact that a term like this has so firmly taken root expresses the spirit of the times, an era where the line between reality and imagination, sanity and insanity and good and evil is more blurred than ever
Very few works created before World War II have succeeded in coining a term that is so relevant, even today, well into the 21st century. A 1938 play, Gas Light, twice adapted into feature films, tells the story of a man who tries to convince his wife and those around them that she is losing her mind. The phrase itself refers to the wife’s complaints that the gaslights in their home are too dim, while the husband explains that she is simply imagining things.
Although 82 years have passed, there is still no word in Hebrew that conveys the meaning of gaslighting, and hence, from Wikipedia (translated from Hebrew): “Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse involving the continuous denial of a fact, which causes the victim constant anxiety, confusion, and also to begin to doubt his or her ability to trust their memory and interpretation of reality in general. People are liable to adopt this form of abuse, consciously or unconsciously, coupled with a variety of tactics, manipulative or otherwise offensive, to rebut criticism or remain in denial of their actions”.
The term gaslighting recently rose to prominence in the discourse about the late journalist Yehuda Nuriel’s treatment of women (Nuriel passed away two months ago), in Linda Holmes’ book, Evvie Drake Starts Over, and in an excellent must-see Netflix series, The Betty Broderick Story, which is based on a crazy marital relationship that ended in disaster. The fact that a term like this has so firmly taken root expresses the spirit of the times, an era where the line between reality and imagination, sanity and insanity and good and evil is more blurred than ever. And perhaps it’s only a parable, which symbolizes just how much relationships of this kind are a contemporary reflection of a far broader relationship.