In the 1994 MGM film, Gaslight, Ingrid Bergman plays a woman whose husband wants to steal her jewelry collection by first having her declared insane and caged in a mental hospital. To accomplish this insidious plot, he sets the gaslights in their house to flicker off and on. When Bergman comments, he tells her she’s just seeing things. Gradually, Bergman’s perception of reality — and perception of herself — are compromised until she becomes totally unhinged, until she actually believes herself to be crazy.
In a recent editorial, Yashar Ali makes the case that gaslighting, the psychology term based on the film, is a dangerous reality for women today.
Women have increasingly been told that they are hypersenstitive, overly emotional and unncessarily dramatic. Women’s reactions to injustices or inconsiderate behaviors are increasingly blanketed as overreactions.
“Women are crazy,” say men and society and now, disturbingly, women themselves.