Gaslighting – A substantial book on control and psychotherapy

gaslightingI almost never come across a book this good. It’s rated five stars in four reviews on Amazon, I think it’s pretty scarce but I was able to borrow if from Denver University Library. I was surprised when I got the copy because it was written in 1996 and appears to have never been read.

The title should have sold this thing, you’d think. “Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation and Other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Analysis”, by Theo. L. Dorpat. I will leave others to explain why that didn’t happen and just tell you this is an extraordinary book.

It deals specifically with the interplay between patient and practitioner during psychoanalysis but everything in it is widely applicable to all relationships and sports a gem or two or more on virtually every page.

This is not mass market material but psych-minded people will devour this book and here’s a sample. It is not especially indicative of the style of writing or content of the book, in fact this bit is opposite that but I was struck by it and wanted to share it.

Theo. L. Dorpat writes:

On Normopaths and Functioning as a Mirror for Others

People who did not know Mrs. G well erroneously thought of her as being exceptionally “normal”. This erroneous judgment was based partly on her surface agreeability and appearance of being “normal”. Her sense of security was founded on her ability to understand and meet the expectations of others and this is what she initially believed meant being normal. She was a “normopath” – one of many in our culture who want to appear normal and who confuse the appearance of normality with the substance of normality. Though she was extraordinarily sensitive and vigilant to the desires of others, she was most often vague or unaware of her own desires and needs. She gave to others what she unconsciously wanted for herself, and frequently in her interactions with others, she provided selfobject mirroring functions for them.

In her interpersonal relations she behaved like a mirror reflecting back to others what they wanted and at the same time (again, like a mirror) concealing from the view of others whatever was going on inside of her and behind, as it were, the exterior surface of the mirror.”

Now I wonder what people think when they read that.  Do you know someone like this? Are you someone like this?

I’ll tell you what I thought when I read it. I thought, jeez! I’m glad I’m repulsive!


62 thoughts on “Gaslighting – A substantial book on control and psychotherapy”

  1. I dated someone like this and I had no idea until the veil dropped. It left me wondering if everything that I was in love with was actually just aspects of myself that he was reflecting back to me. Both heart breaking and empowering.

  2. Oooops, I might be a normopath. Although I try not to be. I mean, I voice my wishes, concerns and problems, it’s just that they are usually ignored. It’s like I’m too nice so no one thinks twice about ignoring me. They just all get very surprised when I go off on my own and leave it all in the past.
    Hmm, now I think about it, I guess I’m not a normopath. 🙂

  3. This sounds like the man I’m currently splitting up with. Could it be Asperger’s syndrome. It’s referred to as mind blindness. I always call him “Spock”. Which he takes as a compliment. Super high functioning and secretive. He’s a computer engineer. Emotions and empathy non existent. Studies and watches movies to learn how to become whatever and whoever he is currently trying to gain use of. Has 100s of jackets, hats and shoes. Owns artwork and beautiful material items to change to suit the outward appearance he is portraying. Also tells everyone what they want to hear. Walks away from people and relationships without any remorse or sense of loss. Even his fathers death did not phase him. He will act like what’s normal to do or be but nothing behind his eyes. Once I saw a slight color change to his lids when I spoke of my deep sorrow but, I may be mistaken. He is definitely a mirror. What’s behind the smoke and mirror? His Sun in Virgo conjunct Uranus and wide orb to pluto.Opposite jupiter rx and chiron rx in Pisces 2nd and 8th houses. Moon and mars in cancer in 12 th. Leo rising. Neptune is final depositor. He can only sustain any normal relationship for short time. I’ve known him all my life -so normal- and became involved with him 5 years ago when we became reintroduced over a discussion about Art. Wow talk about a head trip. I’m ready to find a real normal guy. ???

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    Wow, I’m going to read this book. Best part is understanding when you’re being gaslighted by your therapist!

    Reminds me of this story. Husband of a speech pathologist found out he had this form of autism later in his life. He describes how he rehearsed speaking like David Letterman and Howard Stern. He “played the part” to be able to interact with people, but also had several things he couldn’t hide. Mostly, as a way to survive this very social world.

    Also see…. Story of Luke. 🙂

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