So, Elementary fandom has talked about gaslighting before, and how it is used in abusive relationships. We’ve seen Irene/Moriarty do this to Sherlock in Elementary, and the same pattern appears in the newly-aired Sherlock with Sherlock and John. This article defines how gaslighting takes several distinct forms most of which can been seen paralleled with Elementary and BBC Sherlock. (Also, if anyone with psychiatric background could weigh in on this, that’d be great.)
1-4: Compartmentalising: Irene fakes her own death, then makes a sudden reappearance a year later, after Sherlock has moved on and formed healthy relationships with other people (Elementary).
Sherlock fakes his own death, makes a sudden reappearance two years later after John has moved on and formed healthy relationships with people (BBC)
5&6 - Denial, Blaming/Deflection, Chronic Invalidation: Sherlock deduces that Irene is working for Moriarty (or at least, not held captive by him as she stated) and thinks she’s lying to him - he gets angry. Irene placates him, saying it’s because he is “seeing things that aren’t there”. (Elementary)
John’s angry at Sherlock for not contacting him for the last two years; Sherlock doesn’t apologise and dismisses John’s anger, explaining that it was because Sherlock didn’t trust him. (BBC)
7&8 Domination: Irene tries to make Sherlock take back his words - when he doesn’t, she replies with “You lied before! You don’t want to come with me, so you’re inventing an excuse not to!”. Then she walks out of Sherlock’s life and makes him think he’s cause of it because in her eyes, he is the just as bad as Moriarty. (Elementary)
John’s angry that Sherlock acts irresponsibly and the bomb is about to go off. Sherlock defuses the bomb in the tube train, but lets John believe that they’re both going to die. Sherlock fakes vulnerability, apologises to John and uses the now-or-never-scenario to make John accept his apology. (BBC)
9&10 Minimalisation: Irene waltzes back into Sherlock’s life, reveals her true identity, and calls Sherlock’s trauma at her death a game. “You’re a game I’ll win every time.” (Elementary)
Sherlock reveals that the bomb had an off switch, and laughs at John’s trauma and fear when he thinks he’s about to die. “Your face, your face! Totally had you!” (BBC)
The most important thing about this, though, is that Elementary portrays it as an abusive relationship and recognises that Moriarty/Sherlock is not in any way a healthy relationship. Meanwhile BBC Sherlock does the complete opposite, which is all kinds of fucked up.
I’m going to get hate for this
by Rachel McKibbens
my father asks what you see in me.
I bite the inside of my cheek,
shove a forkful of pancakes into my mouth,
notice the salt shaker eyeing my wounds.
you launch “I love yous”
from a Brooklyn fire escape.
they travel 3,000 postcard miles
and collapse into my ear, exhausted.
I pinch their noses,
breathe new life into their lungs,
fold them into airplanes,
send them back to you
there isn’t a building
taller than two stories
here in Orange County.
not a single fire escape.
no point in jumping.
the worst that could happen
is a broken leg or heart.
this is why the sad kids get
so goddamn creative around here.
the mayor’s son rigged his noose
to raise with the garage door
when the Mercedes came home.
a nine-year old leapt into the lion’s cage
at Prentice Park Zoo after
her dog was hit by a car.
on our wedding day,
when I tell you “I do,”
it’s because I do.
it’s because you understand
how ten-thousand dollar apologies
still keep fathers worthless,
it’s because my ribcage expands
every time I think of you,
it’s for all the things
you see in me
not to notice.
Essex Hemphill, “American Wedding”
CONTEXT: today in my queer theory/material culture lecture we watched this performance of this poem (WATCH IT. IT’S A WHOLE THING.) and these lines, just, like punched me in the lungs with queer feelings and mental illness feelings and arundhati roy feelings (“remember this: we be many and they be few. they need us more than we need them. another world is not only possible, she is on her way. on a quiet day, i can hear her breathing.”) and so of course i was immediately like I NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS TO/WITH THE INTERNET
Maybe she killed herself / Maybe it’s Maybelline
The Scaffolding Inside You
Your thoughts have hung themselves from nails
The sky has stopped
offering you reasons to live and your heart is the rock
you threw through each window
of what’s deserted you, so you turn
to the burnt out building inside you: the scaffolding
overhead, the fallen beams,
the unsound framework;
according to the blue that’s printed on the inside of your arms
you have no plans, no plans
uncovered, or uncovering: the offing is emptying,
the horizon empty
now that your sanity is
a tarp or a bedsheet
in the rough hands of the wind,
now that everything is hooded
in drop cloth.
It didn’t happen
overnight. Or maybe it did:
your heart, the rock;
your soul, the Gothic barn.
You’ve even started envying the flowers their stems.
Will the Norther let up?
Will the moon ever again be so full of itself
that that ragged barn will fill with light, through its tin-covered roof?
You should bury more than the dead.
You should try harder.
You should give up.
Olena Kalytiak Davis
from Her Soul Made of Nothing, University of Wisconsin Press, 1997
ROOTLESS | Orphan Black
for a root, for a leaf, for a branch, for a tree