The term Gaslighting originally appeared in playwright Patrick Hamilton’s thriller of 1938, strangely enough entitled Gas Light. It was turned into a film, starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer six years later.
In the movie Boyer plays the husband Gregory who manipulates Bergman playing the character of his wife Paula. The manipulation techniques are designed to get Paula to believe she can’t trust her own perception of reality.
For instance, the famous scene that set the story into the public consciousness of the time occurs when Gregory makes the gaslights in the marital home flicker from the attic. As Paula questions why the lights are flickering Gregory tells Paula that it’s not happening, that it’s a figment of her imagination.
This is designed to ensure Paula doubts her perception of the reality she is living as Gregory exerts control. It’s from this the term gaslighting comes about, though it’s become famous more so in the last couple of years, thanks to the Trump playbook of making outlandish claims and then discrediting anyone who offers an alternative take on the reality he was trying to peddle, as being in some way unstable.
This evening’s statement on the club website once again managed to tell us the Celtic Board’s general abuse of the Celtic support and understanding of a football season slipping away at the hands of their hesitancy, is in their opinion, our own interpretation of events, but not one they recognise nor appear to have any part in or responsibility for. They’d prefer to tell us what to think rather than converse about how we feel.
They love a bit of psychological manipulation do this Celtic Board as they covertly sow seeds of doubt undermining the Celtic supports perceived reality by denying the facts and the environment around us. One we can see perfectly clearly for ourselves.
The first move was to bring down the fences erected prior to the weekend encounter with St Johnstone. You’d assume we’re supposed to thank them for that action, as if it’s some kind of olive branch.
Yet they are the ones that put them up, they were the one who created that metaphorical barrier between the club and those who support it financially and emotionally. But in taking them down we’re supposed to overlook that and rejoice in the fact the engagement has returned. Do me a favour.
Then came the sweet nothings whispered in our ears by way of the statement. We know how you feel, we feel the same way, and we’re all in this together. But it’s you don’t quite understand the actual reality, you’re overblowing it all, perhaps you need some direction. There there we’ll help you with that.
“The response of the support to the challenges that we all face together has been magnificent. It is therefore important to make clear that the Board has never, as it has been inaccurately reported, referred to any Celtic supporter as ‘entitled’.”
If you feel side-lined, feel your opinion means little or that you’re not being listened to then let us explain why how you feel is not the way you should be feeling.
It seems we’re now to believe and question our perception of reality once more.
Did we really hear them call us entitled? Did we, or are we just getting lost amongst all the different media stories circulating? It was hard to follow after all, yes perhaps we’re mistaken.
Well let’s put forward another take on that, perhaps they didn’t, perhaps no-one connected at any level of Celtic said that, but perhaps someone did to that Daily Record hack. But perhaps that person acted entirely alone and was simply a rogue element, who managed to hoodwink the Daily Record into believing the use on the word ‘entitled’ came from someone at Celtic, and both the Daily Record and the Celtic support got entirely the wrong end of the stick and we’ve all got that perception of reality very much confused. Yes, that’s probably it isn’t it?
Let us explain just how you ought to be feeling about the whole thing. Let me mop your brow and soothe your misinterpreting mind.
‘The Board recognises the range of views expressed by our supporters and the strength of those opinions. Whilst there may not always be agreement, there is certainly a common goal – the success of Celtic Football Club – and we will continue to work together to seek to achieve that success.’
So, we know that you have opinions and while we don’t agree, we’ll pay your perception lip service and continue going about things as we see fit, whilst pretending we are in anyway actually listening to you. Because what you think you see, the problems you believe are endangering our season, are better served by the continuation of the status quo by people who have an actual handle on the reality of it all.
Then just in case we explode at more sitting on hands and ignoring our version of reality, they soothe us further by kicking the can down the road and stroke our hair with; ‘I tell you what, if you really believe it’s bad, let’s all meet up again in the New Year, and we can have another look at it. I’m sure by then you’ll see it was you and not us.
This has been the approach taken by Celtic for many weeks now. The gaslighting has come from the board and even the manager. How many times has Neil Lennon’s perception of the course of a game, of a run of results, of the ebb and flow and outcome of a match sounded like he’s watched an entirely different game to us? ‘Peppered the goal’ ‘Controlled the play’ and so many more.
It may be tempting tonight to say, well at least they are talking to us, at least they are now engaging with the support, but they aren’t doing that at all.
This board is fearful now, worried you will stop spending your money, will ramp up protests or online discord. Perhaps indeed the recent rise in the Celtic Trust memberships has got them thinking.
Or possibly it’s simply that a week today there is an AGM taking place and the share price isn’t looking too clever. Who knows? Perhaps it’s now me that is gaslighting you.