December 12, 2018
David Livingstone Smith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, was recently interviewed about “Gaslighting” for Everyday Health.
“Gaslighting is the practice of getting others to distrust their own accurate perceptions,” Smith told Everyday Health. “It’s really an undermining of their sense of reality. If you can’t trust what you see and hear and feel, what can you trust?”
In the classic 1944 film Gaslight, a husband tries to drive his wife crazy by persuading her that she has done things she can’t remember doing and sees things — such as flickering gaslights — that don’t exist.
Smith says the net effect on the gaslighted person can be more than just temporary confusion.
“It has all the same physical effects associated with psychological stress,” said Smith,
Everyday Health recently completed a special report, “The United States of Stress,” in which Smith is mentioned. The goal of the report is to empower people with the knowledge and tools to manage their own stress.
Smith is the author of the award-winning book Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others. He is currently working on two more books on the subject of dehumanization. One to be published by Harvard University Press and the other by Oxford University Press. His paper "Manufacturing monsters: dehumanization and public policy" recently appeared in The Palgrave Companion to Philosophy and Public Policy.