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There's a word for something, that when remembered--or a person that when spoken to--brings you back to reality and the knowledge that you're not insane. I keep wanting to say "touchstone", but I don't think that's it. "Cornerstone" kind of works (and is probably why "touchstone" comes to mind), but is more about a foundation you build yourself upon, rather than something you come back to.

I think I'm looking for a synonym for reality check. It's also the opposite of something that gaslights you.

  • A person or a belief can keep you "grounded". Is that what you are looking for? – suse Dec 31 '18 at 5:01
  • I'm looking for the idiom that represents that person or belief. Something akin to anchor. – dx_over_dt Dec 31 '18 at 5:02
  • People say, “She/He’s my rock – Jim Dec 31 '18 at 5:05
  • Hmm, not quite the word I'm looking for. Rock is something you rely on constantly, something that supports you. I'm thinking of something that you remember when you're experience doubt that reminds you of the truth/of reality with the sense of epiphany. – dx_over_dt Dec 31 '18 at 5:07
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    "Compass" might work, but I don't think it is widely used in the sense you're looking for. – Sven Yargs Dec 31 '18 at 5:37
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An anchor:

A person or thing that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation.

‘the European Community is the economic anchor of the New Europe’

[Oxford]


If you're comfortable with a movie reference, like "Gaslight" itself, I suggest "totem", as used in the movie Inception:

A Totem is an object that is used to test if oneself is in one's own reality (dream or non-dream) and not in another person's dream.

[inception.wikia.com]

  • Totem is clever, but not the word I'm looking for. :) – dx_over_dt Dec 31 '18 at 17:10
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His raison d'être, his family's plight, when remembered brought him back reality and sanity.

raison d'être. TFD

The fundamental reason for something or someone to exist; the sole or most important purpose for someone or something.

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Could you be thinking of lodestone?

Oxford Dictionaries

Lodestone: A person or thing that is the focus of attention or attraction.

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A number of idioms or expressions might work here. I might choose the idiomatic expressions the light in the dark or the beacon in the fog to refer to a person or belief that acts as a waypoint in navigating (such as sifting through what could be considered a web of lies).

Likewise, the idiomatic "location" you'd return to when checking in with your person or belief would be home, or your center, possibly your home base. They act as a tether and as a ground for you.

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Ironically, "touchstone" actually was the word I was looking for. I just happened to be rereading the book from which I learned the word last night.

From The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfus:

Simmon gave a relieved smile and nodded encouragingly. “That’s it exactly. All your inhibitions have been sliced off so cleanly you can’t even tell they’re gone. But everything else is the same. You’re steady, articulate, and rational.”

“You’re patronizing me,” I said, pointing at him with the knife. “Don’t.”

He blinked. “Fair enough. Can you think of a solution to the problem?”

“Of course. I need some sort of behavioral touchstone. You’re going to need to be my compass because you still have your filters in place.”

I took its definition from context, rather than the dictionary, so I was wrong about its meaning, but it was the word I was looking for.

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