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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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Oblomov23 · 22/01/2024 09:49

Agree, sadly diluted, to lying or worse still disagreeing.

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TorroFerney · 22/01/2024 09:51

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.

If you were labelled a gaslighter then the label would be wrong. I think you’ve inadvertently proven the op’s point!

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Mydpisgrumpierthanyours · 22/01/2024 09:58

I'm on the fence about if the tories were gas lighting us.
If it doesn't come under that term it comes under something more than just lying.

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Josette77 · 22/01/2024 09:59

I would say manipulating instead of just lying.

Still not gaslighting though.

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SwordToFlamethrower · 22/01/2024 10:04

Same with the word "triggered".

Words used to help people describe abuse or their problems get destroyed by abusers who take the piss out of them.

As a person with PTSD and cPTSD - diagnosed, it is awful to have these words used by people to make fun.

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FuckOffTom · 22/01/2024 10:16

I think the term gaslighting should only be reserved for person on person abuse - if that makes sense? So, not the Tories. It’s the intent behind it that is important.

This happened to me, and I think this is a good example of gaslighting:

An ex of mine (who was definitely abusive) called me when I was at home and decorating our hall to say he would be back from the pub in half an hour to come and help me.
Two hours later, still no sign of him so I tried to call him. No answer.
When he eventually did show up, I asked him why he told me that he would be back in half an hour when we spoke. He completely denied that the conversation ever took place. He told me that the phone call never happened and I was imagining it. I went to go in my phone to show him the call log, and it wasn’t there. I am guessing he deleted it when I was out of the room (this was before smartphones when nobody ever really locked their phone)
He swore blind I had imagined the whole thing and made out that I was crazy.

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SwordToFlamethrower · 22/01/2024 10:17

My ex did these things to me:

Told me that my thoughts were wrong.

If i said I felt a certain way about something, I was wrong and I didn't know myself as well as he did.

Said I should have told him things sooner and shouted at me for not being more honest, even when I tried to explain that I only had the information that minute and I couldn't physically tell him any sooner. I was still in the wrong and I was lying and could have told him sooner.

I walked wrong (not sexy enough)

If I wasn't smiling all the time, it was because I was angry at him, even if I was perfectly happy, I couldn't say that because I'd be wrong and a liar.

My expectations were too high, yet I needed to try harder in all areas of my life.

I didn't have a soul.

I was "cray cray" or a "crazy psycho bitch"

I wasn't allowed to speak until he had finished speaking and I had to give him eye contact at all times or I'd be in trouble.

If I defended myself when he came at me, I was abusive and he threatened to tell our friends and report me for abuse.

No man would ever want me as I'm too high maintenance, and if I left him, he would take my children away and I'd have nothing and be bankrupt.

There are more examples, but would you say this is abuse and gaslighting combined, or just abuse?

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Jumpingthruhoops · 22/01/2024 10:24

I'm not sure. Yes, it's used a lot. But I think that's because this manipulative sort of behaviour has always been commonplace - we now just have a name for it. And those doing the gaslighting absolutely hate that!

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GasPanic · 22/01/2024 10:25

Passive aggressive is another one.

People use it a lot when what they mean is aggressive.

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Flickersy · 22/01/2024 10:33

SwordToFlamethrower · 22/01/2024 10:17

My ex did these things to me:

Told me that my thoughts were wrong.

If i said I felt a certain way about something, I was wrong and I didn't know myself as well as he did.

Said I should have told him things sooner and shouted at me for not being more honest, even when I tried to explain that I only had the information that minute and I couldn't physically tell him any sooner. I was still in the wrong and I was lying and could have told him sooner.

I walked wrong (not sexy enough)

If I wasn't smiling all the time, it was because I was angry at him, even if I was perfectly happy, I couldn't say that because I'd be wrong and a liar.

My expectations were too high, yet I needed to try harder in all areas of my life.

I didn't have a soul.

I was "cray cray" or a "crazy psycho bitch"

I wasn't allowed to speak until he had finished speaking and I had to give him eye contact at all times or I'd be in trouble.

If I defended myself when he came at me, I was abusive and he threatened to tell our friends and report me for abuse.

No man would ever want me as I'm too high maintenance, and if I left him, he would take my children away and I'd have nothing and be bankrupt.

There are more examples, but would you say this is abuse and gaslighting combined, or just abuse?

That's straight up abuse, and I am sorry you had to experience that.

Gaslighting is a very specific phenomenon, designed to make the victim question their sanity and memory. For example, deliberately moving or hiding objects, then insisting that it was you who put them there or that they've always been there. Eating / throwing away food then telling you that you ate it. (To use a PPs example) cleaning up marks and then telling you there never were any marks.

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Flickersy · 22/01/2024 10:35

Jumpingthruhoops · 22/01/2024 10:24

I'm not sure. Yes, it's used a lot. But I think that's because this manipulative sort of behaviour has always been commonplace - we now just have a name for it. And those doing the gaslighting absolutely hate that!

Gaslighting is not the same as manipulation.

Emotional manipulation is designed to get someone to do something.

Gaslighting is to make someone question their mental state.

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bethepeace · 22/01/2024 10:36

SwordToFlamethrower · 22/01/2024 10:04

Same with the word "triggered".

Words used to help people describe abuse or their problems get destroyed by abusers who take the piss out of them.

As a person with PTSD and cPTSD - diagnosed, it is awful to have these words used by people to make fun.

Same, sending solidarity and very best wishes x

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FuckOffTom · 22/01/2024 10:51

SwordToFlamethrower · 22/01/2024 10:17

My ex did these things to me:

Told me that my thoughts were wrong.

If i said I felt a certain way about something, I was wrong and I didn't know myself as well as he did.

Said I should have told him things sooner and shouted at me for not being more honest, even when I tried to explain that I only had the information that minute and I couldn't physically tell him any sooner. I was still in the wrong and I was lying and could have told him sooner.

I walked wrong (not sexy enough)

If I wasn't smiling all the time, it was because I was angry at him, even if I was perfectly happy, I couldn't say that because I'd be wrong and a liar.

My expectations were too high, yet I needed to try harder in all areas of my life.

I didn't have a soul.

I was "cray cray" or a "crazy psycho bitch"

I wasn't allowed to speak until he had finished speaking and I had to give him eye contact at all times or I'd be in trouble.

If I defended myself when he came at me, I was abusive and he threatened to tell our friends and report me for abuse.

No man would ever want me as I'm too high maintenance, and if I left him, he would take my children away and I'd have nothing and be bankrupt.

There are more examples, but would you say this is abuse and gaslighting combined, or just abuse?

Psychological and emotional abuse - definitely!
As PP said, gaslighting is a very specific form of abuse. Not necessarily ‘worse’ than what you experienced - just different. Abusers often use a combination of gaslighting and the abuse you experienced.

I saw a skit on this once. Was designed to be funny but also I think explained gaslighting quite well.

Woman says to partner: I am going to start gaslighting you
Partner says: What? Why would you start gaslighting me?
Woman replies: “that’s not what I said”

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ChiefWiggumsBoy · 22/01/2024 11:06

Gaslighting, narcissist, triggered, and now boundaries all words that are used a lot by a certain subset of people to generally mean "I don't want to do that".

Drives me potty.

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Jumpingthruhoops · 22/01/2024 11:06

Flickersy · 22/01/2024 10:35

Gaslighting is not the same as manipulation.

Emotional manipulation is designed to get someone to do something.

Gaslighting is to make someone question their mental state.

Only used that word to establish the kind of behaviour. In most instances it's the latter!

Ie, making people think conversations never happened or twisting the narrative of conversations that did happen to suit an agenda, or perhaps moving/changing something, then denying it, when the person questions etc. These instances are all gaslighting.

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RiderofRohan · 22/01/2024 11:42

Yes it's overused. As are other words like 'triggered' and 'trauma' and 'PTSD'.

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Mayorq · 22/01/2024 11:48

Mydpisgrumpierthanyours · 22/01/2024 09:58

I'm on the fence about if the tories were gas lighting us.
If it doesn't come under that term it comes under something more than just lying.

I think it's close enough to be appropriate when it's being used as something of sn analogy, and phrased as a variant of "attempting to gaslight the nation ", which it mostly was.

It wasn't simply lying it was attempting to force people to accept an alternative version of the truth when the facts didn't bear it out.

Telling you that what you were seeing with cake, an interior designer and a non governmental spouse was in fact a necessary government meeting. Etc is a fairly cackhanded way of doing this, but I think there were two very pernicious examples in there which might lack the personal aspect to qualify as the original meaning of gaslighting but would satisfy all the other criteria.

In telling people that the guidance had always allowed for someone to drive to Bernard Castle to test their eyes, or to have gatherings to thank colleagues who were leaving or claiming that a drink at the end of the day with colleagues was of course allowed, they weren't just lying to save their skin they were also saying to people who hadn't seen loved ones for nearly a year, had missed saying goodbye to relatives, had suffered terribly with the isolation of lockdown Etc that it was their fault for missing out on these things which had in fact always been allowed and they were wrong for remember when they were told it wasn't.

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wutheringkites · 22/01/2024 12:14

RiderofRohan · 22/01/2024 11:42

Yes it's overused. As are other words like 'triggered' and 'trauma' and 'PTSD'.

Can you give an example of where someone has said they have PTSD when you know for a fact they don't?

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RiderofRohan · 22/01/2024 12:39

wutheringkites · 22/01/2024 12:14

Can you give an example of where someone has said they have PTSD when you know for a fact they don't?

PTSD is a medical diagnosis. I have heard many people say they have PTSD despite never visiting a psychiatrist or psychologist.

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regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:08

Oneofthesurvivors · 22/01/2024 08:53

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

bugger all to do with her childhood

i am focussing on fact this poster says someone received a professional diagnosis of narcissism

i asked what type of professional

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regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:10

SuperDopper · 22/01/2024 08:56

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!

a psychiatrist would not “diagnose” someone as a “narcissist”

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regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:12

thankfully the obsession with narcissism and gaslighting is limited to mumsnet in my experience.

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regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:16

SwordToFlamethrower · 22/01/2024 10:17

My ex did these things to me:

Told me that my thoughts were wrong.

If i said I felt a certain way about something, I was wrong and I didn't know myself as well as he did.

Said I should have told him things sooner and shouted at me for not being more honest, even when I tried to explain that I only had the information that minute and I couldn't physically tell him any sooner. I was still in the wrong and I was lying and could have told him sooner.

I walked wrong (not sexy enough)

If I wasn't smiling all the time, it was because I was angry at him, even if I was perfectly happy, I couldn't say that because I'd be wrong and a liar.

My expectations were too high, yet I needed to try harder in all areas of my life.

I didn't have a soul.

I was "cray cray" or a "crazy psycho bitch"

I wasn't allowed to speak until he had finished speaking and I had to give him eye contact at all times or I'd be in trouble.

If I defended myself when he came at me, I was abusive and he threatened to tell our friends and report me for abuse.

No man would ever want me as I'm too high maintenance, and if I left him, he would take my children away and I'd have nothing and be bankrupt.

There are more examples, but would you say this is abuse and gaslighting combined, or just abuse?

an abuser

good on you for getting away

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followingthebreath · 22/01/2024 13:19

RiderofRohan · 22/01/2024 11:42

Yes it's overused. As are other words like 'triggered' and 'trauma' and 'PTSD'.

Well yes, except by people who actually do have trauma and PTSD diagnosed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, then those words are entirely appropriate,
And it's just so important that we give people with that diagnosis the precise terms with which to discuss and explore their experiences.

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mildlydispeptic · 22/01/2024 13:19

My issue is that there's completely cold and calculating gaslighting (the type in the film and as practised by full-on abusers and seasoned liars like Boris IRL) and the type that's hard to really diagnose. My exDP used to categorically reject my version of events and deny things had happened, but I think a lot of that was his emotional investment in his version. Still made him completely unplayable of course, but I feel like it needs different terminology.

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