As a psychologist who works with struggling couples, I am struck by the behavior of our president-elect toward the American people. We’ve been “engaged” for barely two weeks and this is already feeling like an abusive relationship.
I had this realization a few days back while reading how Donald Trump gathered a group of television anchors and executives to tell them that they are “liars” for not reporting the “truth.” The truth as he sees it, of course.
Gaslighting is the term that comes to mind here.
Popularized by the film about a woman whose husband attempts to drive her mad by telling her she’s imagining things that are really happening, it is a classic move by abusers. “Trust me: I know what’s going on and you’re crazy.” When the soon-to-be president with a long history of documented untruths lectures us that our version of reality is wrong, we’re getting played in a big-league un-American way.
And it’s not just that we’re being gaslit. All the key hallmarks of abuse are present in this developing relationship.