S36E1 – Dark Psychology: The Use of Gaslighting in Fiction

The human mind can be a dark and scary place, capable of much more evil than most people would even consider possible. As writers, we have a unique kind of permission to explore those dark crevices and bring them into the light of day. It can be the source of great inspiration not only for your villain, but for your storyline in general.

Unfortunately, because many of these darker aspects of human nature are all to real, it’s important to explore carefully within your fiction. Throughout October, we’ll be covering major themes regarding the evil capabilities of the human mind. As a warning, each episode will be talking about potentially triggering subjects, such as domestic violence, PTSD, imprisonment, and more.

In our first episode, we look at gaslighting. It’s a term coined by an early 20th century play in which the husband slowly convinces his wife she’s insane by messing with the gas lamps in the home. The perpetrator’s main goal is to exert absolute control over the victim by convincing them that they cannot trust themselves, and thus must trust the perpetrator. Common examples in fiction include the relationship between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel in Tangled, Dracula and Jonathan Harker in Dracula, and even Jim and Dwight in The Office. Listen for more about gaslighting and how you can use it in your own story.

First aired October 3, 2022.

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