Even though the series ended in 1983, I am still a M*A*S*H fan. In one particular episode BJ plays a practical joke on Charles. At first he makes Charles think he is losing weight by trading his uniform with larger ones. Then he reverses the process and with smaller uniforms that get Charles engaged in a rigorous weight-loss program. Remembering this episode makes me laugh.
But what got me thinking about this storyline is not a laughing matter. I have learned a new term lately: gaslighting. It is based on a stage play from 1938 (Gas Light) and movie from 1944 (Gaslight) about a husband who wanted to get rid of his wife so he began driving her crazy by adjusting the gas lamps (hence the title) but denying he was doing so. The term gaslight has since been used referring to psychological abuse where the abuser attempts to make the victim question their reality. This is done gradually so that the victim doesn’t realize they are being brainwashed and is a common technique manipulation through deception.
Some of the characteristics of gaslighting include telling blatant lies, embedding lies into truths, denying having said something – despite evidence to the contrary, periodically giving positive reinforcement – which keeps you off-kilter, telling others that you are crazy while telling you everyone else is a liar, and wearing you down over time.
Why do I focus on this? Because domestic abuse is far too common. And because we are seeing increases in neo-Nazism. Gaslighting is used in both contexts to confuse and thereby gain control. Here are some things that can help you avoid being victimized:
Thanks be to God.
1 For more information see Gaslighting: Know It, Identify It, and Protect Yourself by Stephanie Moultin Sarkis, PhD. www.stephaniesarkis.com
2 For more information see Controlling Behavior – 6 Keys to Avoid Gaslighting Psychological Abuse by Jeanne King, PhD. http://www.preventabusiverelationships.com/articles/gas_lighting_215.php
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
So beseeches the traditional Scottish Prayer, and judging from the extent to which many of us decorate our homes for the annual sugar-fest known as Halloween, we are increasingly haunted (so to speak) by all manner of forces that lurk under rocks and in the dark. Their deeds unseen, their nefarious purpose hidden, on All Hallows’ Eve we let such as these know that we are on to them.
Recently, two of their scarier denizens have come to light.
Here’s something I bet you haven’t worried about: “if new genes that wipe out malaria also make mosquitoes go extinct, what will bats eat?”
No hunger. No pollution. No disease. And the end of life as we know it. All brought to us by DNA editing, as easy as cut and paste. Evolution is about to get an upgrade. Call it the post-natural world. So read the teasers from the cover of the August issue of “Wired” magazine and the lead article, “The Genesis Engine.” All of this is made possible by a technique called Crispr-Cas9. The first term is an acronym for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” the second is the name of a protein that makes it work. Using the technique, agronomists have rendered wheat invulnerable to killer fungi. Hmmm. Such crops, adapted to a warming planet, might feed a population of 9 billion.
GMOs, anyone? Monsanto must be salivating.
I asked if he had seen the 1986 film, The Mission. He had not and asked if it was good; I replied that it was hard. Set in the 1750s in South America it depicts how the arrival of Europeans in the Americas was not healthy for indigenous peoples generally, so frequently were they victimized by the politics of power and the economics of greed. As if that were not enough, this film interweaves the complicity of religion with the structures of power. In this case, the church, itself deeply enmeshed in European colonial politics, sacrifices a community of Guarani people for what can only be called its own political and institutional expedience. A hard movie, indeed.
Talking about a film is not necessarily to recommend a film (this one is a really tough slough, particularly in the closing military campaign), but if you should happen to view The Mission, look for the redemptive moment at the end,
Dr. Richard R. Kurrasch
Following forty years of pastoral ministry, Rich and his wife, Ann Marie, retired to the Central Coast where in addition to the opportunities of the SLO life generally, he divides his time between PFJ, the Rotary Club of Five Cities Eco (one of three Eco/environmental Rotary clubs in the country), and writing a memoir.