My feed
Premium

Please
or
to access all these features

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:
Report
followingthebreath · 22/01/2024 13:21

regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:12

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

Surely a psychiatrist is exactly the appropriate person to diagnose someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Report
PillowRest · 22/01/2024 13:21

It seems to have shifted from the true meaning, of intentionally lying, to meaning someone has a difference of opinion which isn't agreeable.

Report
PillowRest · 22/01/2024 13:24

Some people also seem to struggle to understand that not everyone will percieve and recall things in the same way. Memory isn't very reliable when it comes to details, especially when emotions are heightened.
It's easy for one person to fully believe something was said one way, and the other to believe differently, whilst neither are likely intentionally lying and the reality is somewhere in the middle of their recollection.

Report
regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:28

apologies

NPD has been an official diagnosis for thelast 16 years.

m i was wrong and sorry

Report
RiderofRohan · 22/01/2024 13:31

followingthebreath · 22/01/2024 13:19

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.

I'm not talking about people who have severe trauma and PTSD. I'm talking about people who claim to have PTSD because they had a mean boss or even from some bad culinary experience so they can't possibly eat Thai food again after their terrible case of the runs. This is what I mean by overused. Some people have unfortunate experiences (as we all do sometimes) and self diagnose with PTSD.

Report
SuperDopper · 22/01/2024 13:35

regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:28

apologies

NPD has been an official diagnosis for thelast 16 years.

m i was wrong and sorry

Think you need to aim that apology at @Josette77.

Report
whatsitcalledwhen · 22/01/2024 13:38

regenerate · 22/01/2024 13:28

apologies

NPD has been an official diagnosis for thelast 16 years.

m i was wrong and sorry

Hopefully @Josette77 sees this apology.

Report
CakedUpHigh · 22/01/2024 13:41

It's not overused and only a mad person would think it is!

Report
FuckOffTom · 22/01/2024 13:44

CakedUpHigh · 22/01/2024 13:41

It's not overused and only a mad person would think it is!

Are you gaslighting us? 🧐

Report
SwimmingWorrier · 22/01/2024 13:46

RiderofRohan · 22/01/2024 13:31

I'm not talking about people who have severe trauma and PTSD. I'm talking about people who claim to have PTSD because they had a mean boss or even from some bad culinary experience so they can't possibly eat Thai food again after their terrible case of the runs. This is what I mean by overused. Some people have unfortunate experiences (as we all do sometimes) and self diagnose with PTSD.

Yes, it's so annoying.

Report
FuckOffTom · 22/01/2024 13:46

Even the word ‘trauma’ is overused quite often. It has a very specific definition in the DSM V:

“when an individual person is exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence”

A bad curry that gives you the shits is not traumatic

Report
CakedUpHigh · 22/01/2024 13:49

regenerate · 22/01/2024 08:50

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

I'm not, a narcissist would tell people as they would assume everyone would agree with them that the psychiatrist was a quack.

Report
wutheringkites · 22/01/2024 13:54

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

I've had a therapist and two GPs tell me in the past 3 months that what I am experiencing is most likely PTSD has I have the typical symptoms. None of them can diagnose officially PTSD. Does that mean I'm wrong to consider myself as having it?

I once saw someone have a heart attack. I'm not a doctor so I can't diagnose one but I knew what I was seeing.

Report
FuckOffTom · 22/01/2024 13:55

The DSM does also have listed the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Apparently, most of us have many of the traits (I think there are 9?? And most people have 3 or 4 of them - apparently there is such a thing as a healthy level of narcissism.
But you need an actual qualified professional to diagnose someone with it. But individuals with NPD are very unlikely to seek a diagnosis as they usually tend to believe it is everyone around them that’s the problem!

Report
FuckOffTom · 22/01/2024 13:57

wutheringkites · 22/01/2024 13:54

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

I've had a therapist and two GPs tell me in the past 3 months that what I am experiencing is most likely PTSD has I have the typical symptoms. None of them can diagnose officially PTSD. Does that mean I'm wrong to consider myself as having it?

I once saw someone have a heart attack. I'm not a doctor so I can't diagnose one but I knew what I was seeing.

Of course it’s not wrong - it seems highly likely you have if you’ve been told this by medical professionals. I think PP are referring to people who have never even had the conversation with a medical professional and just claim it, based on not experiencing anything traumatic

Report
CeciledeVolangesdeNouveau · 22/01/2024 14:00

I think there’s an added aspect that gaslighting isn’t just one lie (“my printer broke” when you haven’t done your homework) and I wouldn’t qualify the lies about the Christmas parties in Covid as gaslighting either. Everyone knew they were lying their faces off and it wasn’t sophisticated, he was just saying no I didn’t do it, not it wasn’t a party, no I - insert infinite variations of not my fault because.
The overuse of the word pisses me off because I’ve had my mind systematically dismantled by gaslighting over the course of thirty years. At this point I’m so unconvinced of my own reality I need to take pictures or tell friends as applicable to check whether I’m imagining something, or if I can’t verify it (eg being told I’d been violent when I distinctly remember being dragged around by two bigger adults without provoking them and had finger-shaped bruises) going through whether it’s likely what the other person said happened. They are also running around talking to my doctors, my boss(!), family members about what a lunatic I am and how I am constantly making things up. That is gaslighting and yes it has driven me literally insane in some ways.
I think political campaigns or regimes can be gaslighting too, though. I would say there was a lot of gaslighting around Brexit, though it was mild. But one of the most excellent examples is 1984. When he’s been tortured and tortured and his mind just finally gives up and he believes that four is five, black is white, Big Brother is benevolent. That scene chills me to the bone partly because it resonates so strongly with me. I had a friend who did a governess-type thing in China and left because the parents just wouldn’t let their daughter have her own wants and needs, for example telling her to put a coat on when she was already too hot. I had a similar thing - still do - and consequently ignore all the signals my body sends me like too warm, hungry, feet are bleeding, hip pain. That’s what gaslighting does. It takes a while to get to that stage but there’s a difference between Johnson saying he didn’t have cheese and wine - a lie - and getting someone to the stage where you can say you never sent the text you are literally showing them and afterwards you are left seeking out a sane person asking if you’re imagining the text.

Report
peacocksuite · 22/01/2024 14:08

I don't think you can 'gaslight' a whole country as we are all individuals who have responded very differently to both covid and the subsequent enquiries.

Gaslighting by definition has to come from an abusive relationship where a person can be made to feel like they're going crazy and question their own sense of reality.

Report
TripleDaisySummer · 22/01/2024 14:11

I think it's often misused for lying or being dismissed or disagreeing or having alternative recollections - gaslight is making people seriously doubt their reality.

Making people doubt their reality is going to be made up of dismissing, lying and alternative recollections and a lot of disagreeing and possibly also social isolation but an accumulation of behavior and over a long period of time.

Staycation - is one that get same - it got misused in covid to huge extent that many now insist it means UK holiday - rather than original meaning of taking few days of staying at home but doing local attractions. So for some people in UK there's no differentiation between traveling for two week to other end of country and stopping in a hotel and taking two days/week off sleeping in own bed and doing a few local attractions.

Report
KimberleyClark · 22/01/2024 14:14

I agree. Ditto toxic. People aren’t toxic just because you don’t get on with them or they dislike you for some reason.

Report
NeverAloneNeverAgain · 22/01/2024 14:15

Agree that the meanings have been diluted and I think that undermines some people's experiences. I get irrationally annoyed when people say they have flu when what they have is a bad cold. I've not had 'proper' flu thankfully as when my mum had it I thought she was going to die she was so unwell.

I've used gaslighting in respect of an ex partner. It was a horrific time and in the end I used to record conversations because we'd agree to do something or I'd tell him information and he would tell me it never happened. He once dropped me off at a hospital appointment then denied he did this and accused me of going out meeting other men. He also used to move belongings from where I left them. I genuinely thought I was going crazy. It was awful, even now I leave my car keys in the microwave overnight as I make a conscious decision to put them there so I know I've done that - relationship ended about 18yrs ago. The difficulty with this term though I guess is it could be down to the impact on the individual so maybe there's some wiggle room in the definition?

Report
FictionalCharacter · 22/01/2024 14:17

Yep. People now say gaslighting when they just mean lying.

Gaslighting is an extreme form of invalidation. An example of invalidation is a parent insisting a child likes or should like something they don’t: “don’t be silly, of course you like going to see grandma, she’s lovely, you love her”. You’re invalidating the child’s feelings.

Gaslighting goes further, and involves telling them that something they experienced didn’t happen, and that they are making it up or remembering wrongly; and this is done with persistence and conviction, so that the person doubts that it did happen and starts to doubt whether they know what is and isn’t real. It’s done deliberately to unsettle a person so that they can be controlled, or out of cruelty.

Report
FictionalCharacter · 22/01/2024 14:29

@NeverAloneNeverAgain That was definitely gaslighting. He repeatedly told you things that had happened didn’t happen, and succeeded in making you think you were going crazy. I’m so glad you got away.
The after effects of being treated like this can be very long lasting. For me it was a parent and less extreme than what was done to you, but to this day I get furious if someone says something like “I didn’t know, you didn’t tell me” when I absolutely did, even if they’re just being scatty or simply forgot.

Report
regenerate · 22/01/2024 14:31

He repeatedly told you things that had happened didn’t happen

lying
a liar

Report
NeverAloneNeverAgain · 22/01/2024 14:40

FictionalCharacter · 22/01/2024 14:29

@NeverAloneNeverAgain That was definitely gaslighting. He repeatedly told you things that had happened didn’t happen, and succeeded in making you think you were going crazy. I’m so glad you got away.
The after effects of being treated like this can be very long lasting. For me it was a parent and less extreme than what was done to you, but to this day I get furious if someone says something like “I didn’t know, you didn’t tell me” when I absolutely did, even if they’re just being scatty or simply forgot.

Same here! Part of the reason I communicate a lot with texts and have a planner/calander! I often repeat and confirm things but it's a lot better now than it used to be. Sorry you had those experiences too.

Report
MistyGreenAndBlue · 22/01/2024 14:47

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.

No no no. Gas lighting would be you wiping up the water marks and telling your husband they were never there - that he was imagining them.

Not disagreeing about how irritating they are.

Report
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.