Last night I finally understood why I’ve been feeling so confused, dizzy, and disoriented.
The word came to me, a psychological term that captures this ambiguous, knot-in-the-gut feeling perfectly. It’s called gaslighting. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, here are some explanations I found in my Google search.
One definition of gaslighting is “an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to, the victim, having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused, and less able to trust their own memory and perception.”
The goal for the gaslighter is to make their victim undermine their own judgement and reduce their self-esteem, making the victim dependent on the abuser for longer (metro.co.uk).
Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. A human being’s natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help him feel more stable — and that happens to be the gaslighter (psychologytoday.com).
Gaslighting may lead a person to develop mental health concerns. The constant self-doubt and confusion can contribute to anxiety. A person’s hopelessness and low self-esteem may lead to depression. Post-traumatic stress and codependency are also common developments.
Yes, I feel pretty “gas-lit.” I think a lot of us do.
When they say, “we are all in this together,” maybe the “this” they are referring to is “the twilight zone.”
The most confusing things for me in the current crisis are:
- There are no credible or accountable experts
- There is no accurate or consistent data
- Death tolls have been manipulated
- Hospitals have been incentivized
- Mind-numbing slogans and catchphrases have been pumped through the airwaves
The bottom line is that everyone is confused and literally guessing at everything.
Some people say masks and social distancing saves lives.
Other people say sunlight and oxygen saves lives.
Who is right? The answer: No one knows for sure.
We have no one we can trust and no one to turn to. That is the heart of this problem. We are told by the people in charge to keep following arbitrary and changing edicts.
In my opinion, the original sin here was the deeply flawed premise at the very beginning that it was a good idea for people to hide from something invisible.
This is a virus, like all viruses that came before and will come after. Our bodies and our planet have invisible defenses bestowed by G-d, Who created all.
Had this thing turned out to be as deadly as they initially predicted, would hiding really have helped prevent the inevitable? If the invisible boogieman was coming to get you and you couldn’t see him coming, wouldn’t everyone start looking like the boogieman to you? I don’t know about you, but when I walk down the street I feel everyone eyeing me up and down like I might be him.
- The deaths
- The suffering
- The homelessness
- The suicide
- The desperation
- The poverty
- The compromised medical care due to pandemic protocol
- The isolation of the elderly
- The birthing alone and the dying alone
- The policing of each other
- The judging of each other
- (The list is endless)
Each one of these sad outcomes can be traced back to that original flawed premise of trying to outrun the invisible.
Yes, I included death.
Loved ones have died. Loved ones have suffered.
This is life. This has always been life. It breaks my heart like it breaks yours.
We do our best:
- We wear a seat belt
- We look both ways
- We wash our hands
- We don’t jump out of airplanes
- We don’t walk on railroad tracks
- We use commonsense
Diseases and accidents come. We can’t control them. No amount of hiding and shutting down of life will stop a death that has been commissioned from Above. Fear and panic may actually facilitate it.
No one does anyone a service by refusing to talk about how we got ourselves into this mess and looking to false gods for the next rule to follow.
My hope is that talking about all this will help empower us, calm us, center us, and prevent future suffering. To me, this is our best way towards the future.
If we remain in a heightened state of fear, waiting anxiously for the next virus to hit, what quality of life is that? One of our greatest challenges as human beings is to look death in the eye and to live anyway. Enjoying life is the greatest gift you give back to the One Who made you.
Prolonged exposure to gaslighting produces something called brain fog. I’m asking you to step out of the brain fog and come back to life with me.
Gaslighters only want one thing: control.
Victims of gaslighting only want one thing: their life back.
It’s your freedom to figure out who is who and which way of life resonates with your sense of truth.
There is one source of information that can be trusted at all times. One way out of a gaslighting situation. Something that can lead you out of the confusion. We all have access to it.
Our soul. Our connection to G-d. The truth inside us.
I wish I heard more people talking about that right now. Where are the rabbis and spiritual leaders who talk about emunah during the regular times?
We are living in the Olympics challenge of emunah right now. Now is when I need to trust G-d the most. The world went silent on emunah.
Is the message of emunah too simplistic now? Too insulting to the ones who have died and are suffering? I don’t know the rules of emunah. How long are we supposed to wait until we can talk about it again?
Emunah is meant to be transformed into action, and I can’t think of a better time than right now. My intention in writing this is not to hurt anyone. If I am hurting anyone, I’m truly sorry. I ask myself: Was it G-d’s expectation that we hide in our homes and cover our faces? I’m asking because I don’t know.
It seems counterintuitive to my soul, my only remaining compass.
Dr. Gila Jedwab has been practicing dentistry for nearly two decades years. She graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 2000 and completed her residency in general practice at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her dental practice is in Cedarhurst.