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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:
FictionalCharacter · 22/01/2024 14:56

regenerate · 22/01/2024 14:31

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

a liar

In the case being discussed, yes he lied, in order to gaslight her - make her think she was going crazy, which he succeeded in doing. If you’re telling the truth you’re obviously not attempting to gaslight anyone.

It doesn’t seem likely that he was lying but wasn’t trying to get her to accept a different reality. Plain uncomplicated lying: I didn’t stop off at the pub on the way home, I was working late. Gaslighting (with intent to make someone believe they didn’t see what they did see): I didn’t move your keys, you’re crazy (when he’s hiding her keys repeatedly to make her believe she’s crazy).

It’s possible that he wasn’t doing this at all, and actually believed what he was saying himself (he forgot he dropped her off at the hospital) and doing odd things for no reason (moving her things), and was not trying to make her believe something false at all. That would mean he was mentally ill himself in a quite different way.

regenerate · 22/01/2024 14:59

if you are lying
you are trying to make someone think something is the truth that is not the truth

FictionalCharacter · 22/01/2024 15:02

MistyGreenAndBlue · 22/01/2024 14:47

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.


ruby1957 · 22/01/2024 15:10

Flickersy · 22/01/2024 08:32

Gaslighting is a specific and very serious type of psychological abuse designed to get the target to question their own sanity.

It is not

  • lying in order to get out of trouble (a la Johnson)
  • genuinely believing in a different version of events
  • disagreeing with someone
  • telling someone they're wrong if you really think they are (regardless of who's actually right)

And so on.

People throw it out for anything nowadays.

Absolutely this. Gaslighting is more than just telling untruths.

FuckOffTom · 22/01/2024 15:20

regenerate · 22/01/2024 14:59

if you are lying
you are trying to make someone think something is the truth that is not the truth

Gaslighting is a form of lying. But it is distinctive because of the intention and the insidious nature of it

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