Volume 35, 2019
Health, Well-Being, and Society
Karen C. Adkins
Gaslighting by Crowd
Most psychological literature on gaslighting focuses on it as a dyadic phenomenon occurring primarily in marriage and family relationships. In my analysis, I will extend recent fruitful philosophical engagement with gaslighting (Abramson, “Turning up the Lights on Gaslighting” ; McKinnon, “Allies Behaving Badly: Gaslighting as Epistemic Injustice” ; Ruiz, “Spectral Phenomenologies” ) by arguing that gaslighting, particularly gaslighting that occurs in more public spaces like the workplace, relies upon external reinforcement for its success. I will ground this study in an analysis of the film Gaslight, for which the phenomenon is named, and in the course of the analysis will focus on a paradox of this kind of gaslighting: it wreaks significant epistemic and moral damages largely through small, often invisible actions that have power through their accumulation and reinforcement.