How Pence Does Gaslighting

Christine L Golden
2 min readOct 10, 2020

Pence got away with a powerful linguistic trick twice within the first few minutes of the Vice-Presidential debates. What if Senator Harris had confronted the tricks instead of having to pretend Pence was actually debating issues?

Image of a generic figure with swirly, hypnotic eyeglasses

Conflating ‘Trump’ with ‘the American People’

Harris criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and Pence responded by saying, with astounding aplomb, that she was criticizing how ‘the American People’ have handled the coronavirus.

I noticed it worked quite well to confound me. Suddenly I couldn’t remember what Harris had just said and I began to doubt my previous understanding.

I believe the power of this tactic is based on the psychological concept of ‘fractionation.’ When I Google ‘what is fractionation in psychology’, all the top search results are about how men can use the tactic to seduce women.

I know the word fractionation from chemistry, but it’s used here in the way hypnotists use it. It’s a way to deepen someone’s hypnotic state by abruptly breaking one trance state and using the power of suggestion to create another.

Of course, this means that in order for it to work, one must already be in a hypnotic state— which is just where we are when we get ‘carried away’ with our internal stories. We all have…



Christine L Golden

Concerned human. Educated in Zoology & Biochemistry. Semi-retired WordPress/Frontend developer. Interested in patterns, systems and the essence of things.