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AIBU?

To think the word "gaslighting" is overused

105 replies

willywallaby · 22/01/2024 07:49

The first time I heard the word "gaslighting" was in the early 00s when Richard Hillman in Corrie tricked his mother in law into believing she had dementia. I think the meaning used to be quite specific and usually in domestic abuse cases, where the abuser tries to make the person doubt their own reality. It's been used way more often in recent years, particularly when Boris Johnson was PM it seemed people had started to use it just to mean "lying". Even more recently, online I've seen other people accuse others of gaslighting when all they're doing really is disagreeing, not even lying! AIBU to think the meaning of the word has been hopelessly diluted?

OP posts:
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Josette77 · 22/01/2024 08:48

regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:46

but he would have been the only one to have been privy to the diagnosis

Yes and he was pretty pissed about it.

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regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:50

Josette77 · 22/01/2024 08:48

Yes and he was pretty pissed about it.

baffled he told everyone his diagnosis which he didn’t believe!!

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regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:51

and SS saying someone is a narcissist is not a psychiatrist “diagnosis”

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Oneofthesurvivors · 22/01/2024 08:53

regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:51

and SS saying someone is a narcissist is not a psychiatrist “diagnosis”

Why do you have a bug up your nose about this? What is the need to pick apart her childhood.

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bethepeace · 22/01/2024 08:53

I'm always banging on about this - but 'triggering' too, so hard for people with diagnosed PTSD and C-PTSD to be able to discuss their symptoms anyway, without triggering sliding into meaning 'upset'

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SuperDopper · 22/01/2024 08:53

Oh it drives me nuts!

You often see it on MN where posters say “ignore the gaslighters / gaslighting” just because people disagree with the OP.

As PP mentioned, narcissist is another one where people have no idea what it means but throw it around whenever someone has done something they don’t like.

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SuperDopper · 22/01/2024 08:56

regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:51

and SS saying someone is a narcissist is not a psychiatrist “diagnosis”

Did you miss the bit where she said they saw psychiatrists as well as SS?

Another MN bug bear - posters who can’t read posts properly and like to think they’re smart!

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Urcheon · 22/01/2024 08:58

Absolutely. And using this kind of language inaccurately has potentially damaging consequences. There’s a difference between ‘someone who behaves badly to me’ and ‘a narcissist’.

Less seriously, or maybe not, see also the complete and regular misuse of ‘introvert’ and ‘introversion’ on here, which has the effect of normalising social withdrawal, misanthropy, or struggles in relating to other people in general.

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C1N1C · 22/01/2024 08:58

@RandomButtons

Making the victim feel like they are crazy or overreacting

I find that one as being the most subjective, though. What is a 'big deal' to someone, is a non-event to someone else.

In our house, water marks around the sink is a big one. I think it's nuts to worry about it, but my partner goes crazy every time a drop isn't wiped up. I'd hate to be labelled a gasslighter for something so trivial, when it truly is so subjective.

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Josette77 · 22/01/2024 09:05

regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:50

baffled he told everyone his diagnosis which he didn’t believe!!

Everyone? No.

His family that he abused? Yes, because it was our fault for making him look bad in the first place.

I'm not going to continue answering questions though about this.

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JustEatTheOneInTheBallPit · 22/01/2024 09:07

My husband’s best mate recently got divorced and met a new woman immediately. He’s a nice man and we’ve always got along just fine. I’ve honestly never had so much as a raised eyebrow from him in the last 13 years I’ve known him. He was best man at our wedding.
I actually thought the new lady seemed nice enough, but she took an instant dislike to me.

They share a FB profile now - is this a thing? They posted a long rant about how I am gaslighting and abusing my husband. I’m not even on FB to defend myself. I have honestly never had anything like this happen to me before.

Anyway, they are absolutely devoted to this idea that I’m a gaslighter. They seem to think I control my husband and don’t let him have his own thoughts. It’s so humiliating.

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Crunchingleaf · 22/01/2024 09:13

bethepeace · 22/01/2024 08:53

I'm always banging on about this - but 'triggering' too, so hard for people with diagnosed PTSD and C-PTSD to be able to discuss their symptoms anyway, without triggering sliding into meaning 'upset'

Until about 12 months ago I thought triggered was BS. something people used to describe being upset.
Then my ex initiated court proceedings and generally just escalated his antics. What happened to me wasn’t being ‘upset’. It was a real physical response that affected my body as much as my mind. I started reliving the abuse all over again.
By overusing a word or using it incorrectly it does make it harder for people to articulate what they have been through without sounding like they are some influencer on too tok upset that someone has got the coffee order wrong.

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RandomButtons · 22/01/2024 09:16

C1N1C · 22/01/2024 08:58

@RandomButtons

Making the victim feel like they are crazy or overreacting

I find that one as being the most subjective, though. What is a 'big deal' to someone, is a non-event to someone else.

In our house, water marks around the sink is a big one. I think it's nuts to worry about it, but my partner goes crazy every time a drop isn't wiped up. I'd hate to be labelled a gasslighter for something so trivial, when it truly is so subjective.

But then “crazy” is another word that is misused. You “ driving him crazy” is actually you winding him up.

Thsts a world of difference from a gaslighter who makes someone question reality and what has or hasn’t happened.

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Heather37231 · 22/01/2024 09:19

Do you know it comes from a play called Gaslight?

I saw it years ago at the Royal Court Theatre.

It’s set in Victorian or Edwardian times and the husband messes about with the gas lights then tries to convince his wife she’s imagining it, she goes insane.

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HowDoYouSolveAProblemLikeMyRear · 22/01/2024 09:22

regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:50

baffled he told everyone his diagnosis which he didn’t believe!!

Someone I knew who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder told everyone too.

She ranted about how the psychiatrist was clearly making it up just to insult her, but when we looked up the symptoms it seemed spot on to us!

I'm not sure why you're keen to prove Josie wrong about HER stepfather...

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Mrsgreen100 · 22/01/2024 09:24

Wish I had known the term narcissist and it’s true meaning, gaslighting also
having been a victim of both for years , if only
I had known about NPD and coercive control
it would of saved me years of abuse mental financial and more .
after discovering fraud and theft on a huge scale and cheating etc etc by my ex partner it was the first male police officer to visit my home who said looks like your have been the victim of a narcissist! He did warn me off using that term with the detective ( female)
as the vast amount of evidence etc came to light , so complicated it’s taken 18 months , some people find it hard to understand so much around this ,
I’ve read every medical paper, I can lay my hands on every book et cetera.
narcissists are about taking somebody’s power away , it’s about devaluing their victims in any anyway they can, not just for financial gain etc
some off the things my ex did seem bizarre, it’s easy for people to understand theft DV etc
but once you have a true understanding of NPD it is so clear
wish I had been educated around this shit years ago .

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AliceA2021 · 22/01/2024 09:25

regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:02

along with narcissist

Along with I think x has adhd or autism. Everyone has 'mental health issues'. The people stating they suffer severe anxiety when being bit worried about something unusual.

Perhaps some people grab words and use them inappropriately?

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Willyoujustbequiet · 22/01/2024 09:32

Goatymum · 22/01/2024 08:41

Ocd one drives me mad! My ds has ocd - diagnosed - very not like what people mean when they say ‘I’m a bit ocd’ - you are not.

Yes dc is too. Its offensive tbh.

A bit like the tidal wave claiming ADHD because they have lost their keys a couple of times.

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AliceA2021 · 22/01/2024 09:33

Goatymum · 22/01/2024 08:41

Ocd one drives me mad! My ds has ocd - diagnosed - very not like what people mean when they say ‘I’m a bit ocd’ - you are not.

And this. So many say they are a bit ocd. Having seen someone with genuine ocd it was life restricting and very challenging for them to actually move on, they become stuck.

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Talkwhilstyouwalk · 22/01/2024 09:36

Obviously intentionally manipulating someone iis an awful thing to do but I can't help but feel it's often used as a dramatic term to describe fairly basic forms of human interaction.

• Denying that an event took place, even if there is evidence to prove it

Or could just be different recollections of the same event?

• Lying and contradicting what the victim knows to be true

Definitely can be gaslighting when this happens but again, could just be disagreeing on the facts


• Making the victim feel like they are crazy or overreacting

They could be? People do overreact sometimes. Does this mean that every time I overreact I should feel like I'm being gaslit?


• Making the victim doubt their memory and perception

Don't we all perceive things differently though?

• Manipulating the victim’s environment to make them question their reality”

This is perhaps the most obvious form of gaslighting

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StrawberrySquash · 22/01/2024 09:37

But Johnson wasn't lying to try and make us doubt ourselves. He was lying to try and make us think he was better than he actually was. There's an important distinction. It's the undermining of your sense of self and sanity that is so horrible in gaslighting. That's not what he was doing.

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shepherdsangeldelight · 22/01/2024 09:40

C1N1C · 22/01/2024 08:58

@RandomButtons

Making the victim feel like they are crazy or overreacting

I find that one as being the most subjective, though. What is a 'big deal' to someone, is a non-event to someone else.

In our house, water marks around the sink is a big one. I think it's nuts to worry about it, but my partner goes crazy every time a drop isn't wiped up. I'd hate to be labelled a gasslighter for something so trivial, when it truly is so subjective.

There is no gaslighting here though. Both of you agree that water left around the sink causes water marks. No one is trying to distort the reality. You just don't consider it to be a big deal, and your partner does.

Telling your partner you hadn't used the sink and he was imagining the water marks that had appeared would be gaslighting. Wiping the water marks away after he'd complained about them and telling him there had never been any would be gaslighting.

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Josette77 · 22/01/2024 09:40

There are also two movies based on the play Gaslighting. They are excellent and on YouTube.

I prefer the earlier one, the second one has Ingrid Bergman in it though and she's amazing.

It is exactly as above. Gaslighting is to deliberately make the other person question their reality. It's psychological abuse.

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Pocketfullofdogtreats · 22/01/2024 09:48

RandomButtons · 22/01/2024 08:24

“Examples of Gaslighting BehaviorThere are many different ways that someone can gaslight another person. Here are some common examples:

  • Denying that an event took place, even if there is evidence to prove it
  • Lying and contradicting what the victim knows to be true
  • Making the victim feel like they are crazy or overreacting
  • Making the victim doubt their memory and perception
  • Manipulating the victim’s environment to make them question their reality”


https://www.northpointrecovery.com/blog/gaslighting-examples-effects-confront-abuse/#:~:text=Denying%20that%20an%20event%20took,doubt%20their%20memory%20and%20perception

that literally describes what Boris and his cronies did. It was just cheese and wine. They were literally laughing in our faces partying whilst our relatives died alone. Edited

Well for a start, that's a US point of view, which might not apply in the UK. Secondly, dictionaries reflect usage - they don't dictate it. So if common usage changes then the dictionary definition changes. So the OP is saying that it's now used in a wider sense than it was originally, and she's right, and the dictionary definitions reflect this. What happens is that we lose a very specific definition for a particular word or phrase (such as 'begs the question'), which is a shame.

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GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER · 22/01/2024 09:49

People just don’t know the true meaning of the word.
If they ever watched the old B&W film Gaslight, which was the origin of the term, they’d understand soon enough.

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