Normally, gaslighting requires two people: the manipulator and the target. The manipulator lies to the target about what the target perceives, believes, feels, etc. He does this in order to gain control over the target. The term comes from a movie from the 1930s called Gaslight.
I have come to believe that children in “alternative” family structures are gaslighted by the adults who raise them. They quite naturally want the children to be happy with the decisions the adults made regarding cutting off the children from one or both of their natural parents, those extended families, and those cultures. So everybody pretends that this is OK, when really it is not.
Since it is gaslighting, it is evil. But I don’t believe that the adults are deliberately being evil. I think they really believe what they believe, that none of those things I mentioned should matter to the child.
So I don’t blame the adults nearly as much as I blame professionals who claim to know better. “Alternative” families could not have become the norm without the imprimatur of the professional class.
In my case, even though I had to pretend everything was OK, my anger still surfaced, often. My parents were frustrated with me for being “cranky,” as my mother would say. They didn’t understand why I was so unhappy. And how could they understand? The professional class had lied to them about the long term impact that their divorce, and subsequent remarriages, would have on me over time. They had given my parents a flawed framework through which to understand what I was experiencing:
“She will be fine as long as you are happy.”
If I’m supposed to be fine about the situation, but am not fine, then this means that there is something wrong with me, not the situation. This is why I say it is a form of gaslighting and is evil, especially to do it to a young child over a long period of time. It is an attempt to manipulate the child’s reality, but in my case it ultimately failed, thank God.
Let me be clear: I do not argue or believe that the adults are being deliberately evil or know that they are manipulating the child’s reality. They may suspect their error on some deep level, but since nobody is affirming what they suspect, it is easy for them to ignore their gut.
What transpires in “alternative” families is more of a structural/social/cultural gaslighting rather than the individual gaslighting that is normally associated with narcissists. Thus, it requires more than two people. It requires the entire culture, due to the social belief that “sexual and reproductive liberty” is a positive good.