Review: “The Gaslight Effect” by Dr. Robin Stern

Quick review for a quick read. So I would probably give this book closer to 3.5 stars. Wonderful audiobook narration and a decent reading experience. I remember reading this book a while ago in its original edition, but recent events (and admittedly a very personal situation that I’ve been through for the past year and a half) prompted me to pick up the latest edition. Dr. Robin Stern does a great job discussing the aspects of gaslighting, the three stages one goes through when in any kind of relationship with a gaslighter, the three types of gaslighters, and how to approach situations to either manage, reduce, or even get away from the influence of gaslighting. There’s a part of me that’s conflicted about the language of the book in the sense that parts of it place responsibility mostly on the person that’s the victim of this behavior. On one hand, it is empowering for the person to take charge and find means to diffuse situations with their gaslighter, whether it would be a significant other, family member, boss, friend, or other relationship as provided in the examples in the book.

However, I think also this book straddles points of placing blame on the victim of gaslighting by the measure of the “gaslight tango.” I have issues with narratives that say that victims of this behavior are somehow equally responsible for being in these types of situations. While the narrative does delve into mental traps and influences of a gaslighter, it really only does so much to place responsibility of the gaslighter’s behavior and doesn’t do much to affirm that this isn’t the fault of the person being subjected to it. I had this same problem with Beverly Engel’s “Nice Girl Syndrome” narrative. It’s still full of very useful information about the topic, and admittedly the author was the first to coin the term and the nature of this behavior. I will likely come back to this as a reference on the topic, but would warn some of its language and attributions could have been improved.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

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