News Karnataka
Wednesday, February 01 2023
Brian's Subtle Humour

Find the gaslight in this jigsaw puzzle!

Gaslight
Photo Credit : Unsplash

I took a week off my weekly column because I was fully intent on solving a jigsaw puzzle! And there was no way I could because newer versions came on the market almost every couple of days in the last two weeks! So much progress in such a short while!

Each was bigger than the other and drew inspiration from the previous one (must be presumed). I wouldn’t use the word better, rather the word batter (not the one in Cricket or a dosa) than the other. Both the similarity and the innovation were evident in the later ones.

When we were younger, we all loved a Jigsaw puzzle. Didn’t we? The one where we tried to fit the irregularly cut pieces together to create the big picture? And if one was missing, we never got the picture. Literally!

We could pass hours at a time, either individually or in combination with siblings, cousins, and friends – just trying to make the picture we saw on the back of the box. We had to refer to that picture time and again, not because we were dumb, just numb from moving the pieces around! And the complexity of the puzzle came in the form of the number of pieces in the box. More the pieces, more the complexity! Most children don’t play the jigsaw puzzle these days because of their low attention spans. They prefer video games to puzzles. These too reflect our reality and there are 13 reasons why (pun intended).

Nothing much has changed though as far as Jigsaw puzzles are concerned. Only the pieces are now the real body parts of a real person. They don’t come in a box but in a fridge (not quite the ad for refrigerators though) and Fridge Size matters. Not its frigidity though; that’s because of the rigidity. And the pieces are scattered across a large geographical area, making piecing them together to get the big picture rather more difficult for the ordinary man. It’s a puzzle for the police who have to be extraordinary to get the whole picture. It’s a themed puzzle that is becoming common by the day. I’ve counted three in the last couple of weeks – not parts, but bodies. One had 35 pieces, one 22 and another 6!

The sizes of the puzzle pieces are inconsistent as they must be. And the tools used to create the jigsaw are as yet untraced. No patents on those though, they are common. Even the methodology is generic and popularized by the media. So, there is no value add to it. Just Value Bad. And it’s bad. Really. There is no Good Bad or Ugly. Only Bad and Ugly. The G is missing!

Incidentally, these fans of the jigsaw puzzle perhaps did not know that the jigsaw puzzle is as old as 2 and a half centuries. The first jigsaw puzzle was created by a map engraver called John Spilsbury, in 1762. He mounted one of his master maps onto wood and then cut around the countries. He gave it to children in the local school to help them with their geography education. And in that act jigsaw puzzles were invented. Now they have evolved to cutting up people not wood – the tools too. In 1946 Albert Kaufmann, an engineer of Scintilla AG company in Solothurn, Switzerland, replaced the needle on his wife’s sewing machine with a saw blade. In 1947, after the development of Kaufmann’s invention, Scintilla started producing jigsaws under the name “Lesto jigsaw”.

But sadly, all this gore came to light in the week after International Men’s day on Saturday 19 Nov 2022 and further dented the reputation of men in the week they were slated to receive the love and affection of their spouses, partners and children and family for being their bulwark against a rising tide of misogyny. A mirage if ever there was one. A dented reputation that was further fractured due to the Halo effect (not the shampoo the saintly taint)! Now everyone is more afraid of men! At home too they keep the knives away! Luckily, they don’t stay away! But who knows, the media may drive them to that too.

Indeed, in all the media coverage I could not find one report on a couple of issues, that arise from this jigsaw puzzle. Not just how to solve it – That’s easy, find all the pieces put them in a box and then try to fit them together according to the picture on the box. That’s what the police are trying to do, though they may not get all the pieces as they were scattered far and wide.

It was apparent though that all these human jigsaw puzzles were not created in a fit of rage, but possibly in a rage arranged to fit. They’ve seen the big picture before and want to create it! And throwing a fit is what fits this challenge! The couple of issues I was referring to are actually couple issues! Why abuse and why live with it?

Abuse goes one step ahead of use which is more subliminal in its offering! Whether it’s a live-in or a spousal arrangement, it’s clear it’s a can’t live without situation. And Why or why not is what I was trying to fathom through Psychology today!

It’s apparently a cycle. The cycle, other than when it is used as a political party’s symbol, is a symbol of continuity, circularity, and balance. So too the Cycle of Violence

Initial – Tension building; usually there is tension building within the batterer and there is usually an argument; Middle – Explosion; where the assault happens; and a return to equilibrium – the abuser apologizes for his behaviour by buying the victim gifts or flowers, which are accepted with grace and love!

The Tension building phase is the one in which the abuser abuses constantly, subtly sometimes, overtly sometimes – Emotionally – playing mind games, verbally through name-calling, technologically through GPS tracking, social media sabotage, Sexually – when no is converted to a yes, and physically – punching, choking, and even murder. It does not contain chopping – because that comes afterwards.

And there are signs, without the neon sign boards. Generally, an abuser is first a user, and then he becomes jealous, controlling, isolating, rigid about role identities and very patriarchal. If they are not arrested, these personality contours increase in intensity with time and space,  – both literally and figuratively speaking.

Given that we are still in the eco-space of International Men’s Day, it is heartening to note that only a small percentage of men suffer from anti-social Personality Disorder ( deceitfulness, repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure), Borderline Personality Disorder (a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships by alternating between extreme idealizations and devaluation narcissistic Personality Disorder (a grandiose sense of self-importance) that generate this kind of personality mind maps that conclude in mishaps.

But why don’t the victims of this abuse just leave when they can? Because they don’t realise until the very end that they are being gaslighted very skilfully! Much like the voter in India. They stick on until the end comes!

Gaslighting is a technique that undermines a person’s perception of reality. When someone is gaslighting you, you may second-guess yourself, your memories, recent events, and your perceptions and you conclude it’s just not true! Indeed! The term “gaslighting” comes from the name of a 1938 play and 1944 film, Gaslight, in which a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she has a mental illness (When he has one apparently!)

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, gaslighting can happen in a variety of ways. Some examples!

  • Countering: This is when someone questions a person’s memory. They may say things such as, “Are you sure about that? You have a bad memory,” or “I think you are forgetting what really happened.”
  • Withholding: This involves someone pretending they do not understand the conversation, or refusing to listen, to make a person doubt themselves. For example, they might say, “Now you are just confusing me,” or “I do not know what you are talking about.”
  • Trivializing: This occurs when a person belittles or disregards how someone else feels. They may accuse them of being “too sensitive” or overreacting in response to valid and reasonable concerns.
  • Denial: Denial involves a person refusing to take responsibility for their actions. They may do this by pretending to forget what happened, saying they did not do it, or blaming their behaviour on someone else.
  • Diverting: With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion by questioning the other person’s credibility. For example, they might say, “That is just nonsense you read on the internet. It is not real.”
  • Stereotyping: A person may intentionally use negative stereotypes about someone’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to gaslight them. For example, they may say that no one will believe a woman if she reports abuse.”

Gaslighting gradually, very gradually in most cases, breaks down a person’s trust in themselves and increases in proportion, how much they trust or depend on the abusive person.  They question their own reality, competence, and ability to manage independently. The more this happens, the more power and influence the abusive person has. And he (or she – it does work in reverse too!) does not have to have personality disorders to gaslight – All he needs to do is be near the gas stove!

Ah, there you have it. Why they cannot apply for, or actually leave. It’s just a theory. Don’t test it! Gaslighting also operates on a larger scale as a feature of systematic oppression! But that’s another story for another day. It would be too much Gas for a day!

But I don’t mean to Gaslight you when I leave you with a meaningful tweet by Michelle Obama (not Donald Trump though he is back on Twitter I understand!) Just to give you an alternate reality that we should all pursue, despite the gas lighter in hand!

Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash

Disclaimer

This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

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Brian Fernandes

Brian is an alumnus of Roshni Nilaya’s Post Graduate School of Social Work, HR Department and has 30 years of local and international HR and General Management experience. Journalism, poetry, and feature writing is a passion which he is now able to pursue at will. Additionally, he loves compering and hosting talk shows. He loves learning and imparting it; so, when time permits, he provides leadership facilitation and soft skills training to Postgraduate students and Corporates in Mangaluru and Bengaluru. Besides, he is an accomplished Toastmaster under the aegis of Toastamasters.org and a designated Distinguished Toast Master.

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