Gaslighting is the phenomenon when one’s words and experiences are twisted and manipulated by another making one question one’s reality. It is pervasive and examples can readily be found in all forms of media, ages, and cultures. It can be psychologically damaging and may lead to very poor life choices and decisions. Medical gaslighting occurs when a patient is led to question the veracity of their own disease’s signs and symptoms. The health care professional may use phrases like, “It’s all in your head.” or “That’s normal for a person of your age.” While these phrases may be spoken with no sinister intention, and may, in fact, be true, a subtle message may be communicated to the patient. After hearing this, the patient may think to themselves, “Yes, perhaps it really isn’t that bad.” or conjure a reasonable excuse. “I’ve been feeling tired because I started a new exercise routine.” The patient may then descend a slippery slope. Critical laboratory and radiographic tests may not be ordered resulting in a delay in the diagnosis. This pattern may be repeated with other specialists resulting in further delays. Not surprising, medical gaslighting is more prevalent amongst women and minorities. It is a tragic situation when those in authority, intentionally or unintentionally, create a situation that may hinder access to health care.
Is there a spiritual gaslighting? Is there a situation when one deliberately attempts to mislead another, making them question their own spiritual reality? Sadly, this happens very often and it occurs with those who seem the least likely to do so. Pastors and leaders in our local churches, laypeople, even seminary professors-the Bible warned of such ungodly people.
I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:4 (NLT)
It may begin with seemingly innocent phrases such as, “I am sure God would want you to be happy, so go ahead and do it.” or “The Bible does not specifically mention this so God leaves it up to us to decide.” While the actions that lead from these statements may be appropriate, everything must be tested and held to the light of God’s Word. If it leads to one questioning one’s spiritual reality, this is a sure warning.
In any form, gaslighting is a dangerous practice. We need to be aware of when it is happening to us and if we are unintentionally doing it to others.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.