Days ago I came across an article on Repubblica on gaslighting that is defined as “psychological manipulation that during a prolonged period of time causes the victim to question the validity of their thoughts, their perception of reality or memories, and leads to confusion, loss of security and self-esteem, uncertainty of their emotions and mental health”. But the thing that struck me is not so much this definition because of course we have the ability to have access to much more sophisticated tools than these, we’ve been knowing the pair schizoid/ depressed for a long time and we have also talked about it in the past on this blog. However, limiting words to psychological violence seems to me not enough.
It struck me instead to see that gaslighting is the word of the year 2022 because it has been searched on the Internet many times, we’re even talking about a search increase of 1740%! This element confirms to me what I have been saying for a long time and that is that there is a cleavage now clearly visible between the official psychiatry, the one of conferences, of gene research at all costs, and thinking instead of ordinary people who basically attribute the cause of mental illness to the interhuman relationship. Now if a child is restless there is immediately around the corner the diagnosis of a genetic predisposition, not to mention who has, I don’t know, the problem of being inattentive and so on. We talked a lot about this too on this blog, but the interesting thing is that obviously ordinary people don’t believe in these things at all. Perhaps we should say paradoxically that we are all “genetically” predisposed to mental illness because, although we are all born healthy, we all have an absolute need for valid interhuman relationships to feel good, otherwise we get sick. So talking about genetic predisposition is like talking about hot air because it lacks the element that would activate that hypothetical gene. And we would say, as many people now think, that element is the other with whom we enter into relationship. The desire to be able to measure and quantify, in order to acquire a scientific identity, has led organicist psychiatry and much of psychotherapy, to lose sight of the object of study that is made of realities not measurable, but it doesn’t mean not scientifically knowable, such as affections, anger, hatred, envy, harmlessness, etc. all things that are dynamized within the interhuman relationship. The depressed person would not exist if there were the non-lucid and anaffective schizoid. There is no mental illness that is not born in the human relationship, obviously sick and violent. And gaslighting is but one of the many forms that can take the psychological violence that generates disease. The pathology that goes beyond the human relationship concerns neurology and not psychiatry.
Still on Repubblica there was an interview with Rita Raucci, author and interpreter of “I live for you” which is a short that tells a typical relationship affected by gaslighting. At a certain point in this interview, the author says that gaslighting is not a gender-based violence but it becomes a statistical fact because women are the most numerous victims. In this regard, I immediately remembered the situation of women in Iran with regard to which I have the feeling, perhaps wrong, that not enough is being done to defend and support the protest of these young women, flanked by so many boys, who are risking their lives every day. A protest that does not concern so much the civil rights of women, that is, their possibility of being equated with men in school and work, surely there is also that, but perhaps the protest is more subtle, less rational and it concerns the female identity. It’s a rebellion against scarring, denial of female identity, that kills you inside. I believe that we are facing an epochal turning point, which is not just about Iranian women. We Westerners can fight for the civil rights of women, for equal opportunities, we Italians also have a woman in charge of the government. But as far as the denial of female identity is concerned, we are not that far from Iran, even if the whole thing is much more hidden, more invisible. The overwhelming, proud and mysterious beauty that emanates from those faces without veil speaks to us of something that is not reducible to the search of being socially considered as males. And it’s not just more, it’s something else.
Is it, perhaps, the reason why we don’t do enough for them?
Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article