Is Gaslighting Overused?

is gaslighting overused

Is the term gaslighting overused? Leslie Jamison raises the question in an article in this week’s New Yorker magazine: So You Think You’ve Been Gaslit?

I dunno, New Yorker… there are a lot of fuckwits out there.

But you hear this criticism a lot, how terms that used to be reserved for the psych profession — such as narcissist or gaslighting — are now bandied about by every armchair shrink who feels hurt in a personal interaction.

Yet gaslighting is a real thing.

Jamison gives a couple of horrifying examples.

When Leah started dating her first serious boyfriend, as a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Ohio State, she had very little sense that sex was supposed to feel good. (Leah is not her real name.) In the small town in central Ohio where she grew up, sex ed was basically like the version she remembered from the movie “Mean Girls”: “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.”

With her college boyfriend, the sex was rough from the beginning. There was lots of choking and hitting; he would toss her around the bed “like a rag doll,” she told me, and then assure her, “This is how everyone has sex.” Because Leah had absorbed an understanding of sex in which the woman was supposed to be largely passive, she told herself that her role was to be “strong enough” to endure everything that felt painful and scary. When she was with other people, she found herself explaining away bruises and other marks on her body as the results of accidents. Once, she said to her boyfriend, “I guess you like it rough,” and he said, “No, all women like it like this.” And she thought, “O.K., then I guess I don’t know shit about myself.”

She’s the one with a problem, not him. Women like to be hurt. She doesn’t like to be hurt. The abusive boyfriend will inflict his version of “reality” to demean her. Gaslighting, in my opinion, is part of his turn on. Demean her in bed, degrade her reality.

Or the mother who gaslit her daughter.

Growing up in Bangladesh as the daughter of two literature professors, a woman I’ll call Adaya often had difficulty understanding what other people were saying. She felt stupid because it seemed so much harder for her to comprehend things others understood easily, but over time she began to suspect that her hearing was physically impaired. Her parents told her that she was just seeking attention, and when they finally took her to the family doctor he confirmed that her hearing was fine. She was just exaggerating, he said, as teen-age girls are prone to do.

Spoiler: The doctor actually told her parents that she had profound hearing loss. But they didn’t want her to be “weak”, so they lied to her. She didn’t confirm her diagnosis for decades, and just assumed she was stupid.

We usually discuss gaslighting in terms of romantic relationships, and that’s certainly the case for this blog. But the article discusses the much more common power dynamic of gaslighting between parents and children. The author worries that she might be gaslighting her children, when she blames her daughter for being late. (Was it the kid, or was it her own bad planning to get out the door?)

It made me wonder about the more insidious grooming (sorry, a loaded term) of future chumps. Being forced to muffle your own danger sirens. There’s something wrong! THERE’S NOTHING WRONG. You’re hysterical. You’re over-reacting. Or you’re too sensitive. I’ll give you something to cry about…

How many people learn to doubt their senses?

Or that it is dangerous to assert truth to power?

Many, I imagine. And that’s where I thought the article was going — is gaslighting overused, or it is actually just a really common power dynamic? As I say here a lot — there are only so many moves on the chessboard if you want to manipulate someone.

Where Jamison goes, in my opinion, is to a watered down both-siderism. That gaslighting is on spectrum and we all do it, and probably do it unconsciously. We assert our version of reality when we feel discomforted by an opposing viewpoint.

She acknowledges the more malicious forms of gaslighting, but as exceptional cases. And here is where we disagree. I think malicious gaslighting — like many other sins — is more common than we realize. And what is different today is that we have the internet to compare notes.

That’s not just true of gaslighting, or forms of psychological abuse, but all abuse. Technology has revealed a very dark side to humanity that used to be kept under wraps. You could isolate people better. You’d hide the family secret because there was no one to tell it to. We didn’t have mass communication a generation ago.

Take, for example, the shocking rates of familial incest we know about thanks to popular DNA testing. It’s one in 7,000 births in the U.S. It was assumed to be one in a million births.

Maybe there are more monsters than we thought.

Do gaslighters know they are gaslighting?

But that’s why gaslighting is so effective as a mindfuck weapon. We don’t want to believe in monsters. To gaslight someone is to weaponize their decency and reason. Perhaps I am mistaken? We second guess, and even spackle, because we don’t want to believe that people — especially those we love and trust — would deliberately harm us.

Jamison writes:


The question of the gaslighter’s motivation often becomes a chicken-or-egg dilemma: whether their impulse to destabilize another person’s sense of reality stems primarily from wanting to harm that person or from wanting to corroborate their own truth. Think of the college boyfriend who convinces his girlfriend that all sex involves violence—is his fundamental investment in controlling her or in somehow justifying his own desires? Abramson writes that both goals can be at play simultaneously, such that a gaslighter may be “trying to radically undermine his target” and also, “in a perfectly ordinary way, trying to tell himself a story about why there’s nothing that happened with which he needs to deal.” (Indeed, as she points out, gaslighters “are often not consciously trying to drive their targets crazy,” so they may not always be self-aware enough to distinguish between these reasons.) If the need to affirm one’s own version of reality is pretty much universal, it makes sense that a desire to attack someone else’s competing version is universal, too. Yet, in the popular discourse, it can seem as if everyone has been gaslit but no one will admit to doing the gaslighting.

In my chump experience, gaslighters absolutely know they are gaslighting. My cheating ex was NOT sleeping in his car in January without cell phone reception. This wasn’t an unconscious lie. He was guarding his double life. His gaslighting was deliberate. So was his rage.

Friday challenge: what do you think? Is gaslighting overused?

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Young Crone
Young Crone
1 month ago

I have seen abusers falsely accuse their victims of trying to gaslight them in ways that don’t even make logical sense. For example: Chump—I don’t understand why asking you about your day would make you angry and defensive. FW—You’re trying to gaslight me! So, I don’t think it’s overused so much as the gaslighters themselves have started using to, in fact, gaslight.

Cal
Cal
1 month ago
Reply to  Young Crone

And it works because the Chump is horrified at the thought that they’re doing something so awful.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  Young Crone

Agree. Abusers and stupid, intolerant people in general have co-opted it for their own selfish, dishonest ends.

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
1 month ago

Being overused is subjective. To the person on the receiving end of it, yeah, overused and hurtful. But my FW (like all of ours here) used it constantly to cover his tracks and hide his disgusting double life to make him appear to be a decent, upstanding husband and father. Cheaters wouldn’t hide it if it were the norm and socially acceptable, and since it isn’t (and actually a sin and repulsive behavior, and they know it) they choose gaslighting as a main weapon to hide it. So they love it, gaslighting, the best tool in their toolbox! It’s all about perspective, I guess.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

How absurd to claim that the term “gaslighting” as the territory of clinical psychology since it began as a popular coinage after the play and films were released in the 30s and 40s. Playwright Patrick Hamilton originally intended the play as an analogy for the the tactics used by Hitler and totalitarian states in general so one could even accuse the social sciences of misappropriating language from the domain of political resistance. In any case, the term has been popularly and analogously used as a reference to political propaganda and mindfucking for about as long as it’s been used to describe interpersonal manipulation and emotional abuse.

As far as popular overuse of “therapy speak” in general, I’m a bit on the fence about it. On the one hand, more widespread understanding of things like “Stockholm syndrome/captor bonding” and terminology regarding psychological tactics of abuse and control helped to shift traditional public and institutional victim blaming attitudes towards domestic abuse survivors and helped pave the way for the shelter movement and better legal protections and social support for victims. Furthermore, in an age when laws and policies can often be based on science and social science, democracy can’t function if the public is bamboozled by science speak and the issue is treated like 10th century church cannons banning the laity from translating scripture. Voters have to be literate enough to know what their voting for so any attempt to curb the democratization of science is suspect in my book.

But I also see the downside. I think we’re living in an age of psychiatric inquisition where many people armchair diagnose anyone they don’t like with dire disorders or use therapeutic language as a means of coercion and control. But, hey, all the more reason for the term “gaslighting” to exist in the public lexicon in order to describe the mindfuckery.

Speaking of mindfuckery, as far as the Times watered-down both-siderism, according to Noam Chomsky’s analysis of the the NY Times’ “takes two to tango” tone in covering US-backed terror states around the world (in which political resistance to violent regimes is usually depicted as equivalently erring– aka, the “dos demonios” form of propaganda, also what Chomsky meant by, “Manufacturing Consent”), the Times has always specialized in this brand of spin. The Times lightly spanking abuse survivors networks for “clinical pretensions” in using terms seems like the same general format in a sense.

Cam
Cam
1 month ago

I notice the people who have the biggest problem with terms like gaslighting and narcissistic abuse entering mainstream awareness tend to sound abusive themselves.

Personally, I think these things are endemic and we don’t talk about them nearly enough.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cam
Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago

Yes, the historical context of that movie is important.

I pretty much stay out of using the terms of the day, having experienced clinically diagnosed narcissism with borderline aspects in my ex. It affected EVERY freakin’ relationship in his life. He even tried to power-over his attorney like he did me, and that didn’t go well.

I’ve decided that it’s not worth saying, “Ah, actually, I think he’s a jerk, not a narcissist.” I did that with one friend, and she was highly offended. Ok, lesson learned. You suffered, let’s take it that way. And people like to say “gaslighting” with someone disagrees with them or says something off. Not quite, but I keep my mouth shut.

I had the gaslighting discussion one time with my therapist, who also saw my ex for many years and gave me his diagnosis after he announced he wasn’t coming back. She also said, “Not a clinical term, but worth discussion.” Like narcissism, true gaslighting is pervasive and based on a plan they have to keep people off balance and to manage their image. Their true self is all messed up. At the time, she was thinking that the gaslighting I experienced was potentially part of my ex’s sociopathy, but she wasn’t really able to question him closely on that before he quit therapy entirely.

At this point, it really doesn’t matter though. He’s off doing his thing, and I’m doing mine. Life is good.

Young Crone
Young Crone
1 month ago

Gaslighting is still not a clinical term, at least not in a narrow, strict sense. The fact that so many people think it is shows how effective it is at describing a very real phenomenon.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Young Crone

Very true, “gaslighting” isn’t literally listed in the DSM as a behavior related to mental disorder. But I think (honestly, correct me if I’m wrong) the point you’re making is that, in a strict sense, all sorts of very sick thinking patterns are not listed as “clinically disordered” (like violent misogyny or racism or things like “rape myth acceptance”) even when those kinds of biases are, in terms of societal views, really batshit crazy because tend to doom any hope of functional power dynamics in interpersonal and social relationships.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Lol, oops! But you can understand how the same exact spin (“Oh noes, democratizing clinical speak leads to too many people identifying as victims! Things were better for the rapey .01% when people just called that ‘romance’!”) gets recycled so much that it all blurs together. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/11/learning/love-bombing-gaslighting-victim-is-trauma-talk-overused.html

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
1 month ago

My AP English teacher used the term “tired phrases” to describe overused words, phrases, and expressions, so I try to avoid using tired phrases and words when I write or speak.

That being said, gaslighting is a real phenomenon. I only object to its inaccurate usage.

(I still have my notes from his class. He was an excellent English teacher!).

Traitor Ex told Little Hammer that I am a narcissist and he is the victim of narcissistic abuse. I have been in counseling with a few very good therapists over many years. Many of those years he went with me. I am not a narcissist, something I have worried about the whole time I have been in counseling because my mother was a true narcissist. That concern and awareness began in the mid 80’s, well before the current ubiquitous usage of the term. Again, like “gaslighting” or other words and terms and concepts that come from the field of therapy, I only have objections to inaccurate usage.

Tori Spelling, with her metric ton of therapy (that made me laugh, CL!) in her podcast says that she gets to redefine words so they fit her….yikes.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

I find it really interesting that, in some ways, the term “gaslighting” has always been used somewhat inaccurately. In the original story, the victim character was never crazy-baited regarding the flickering of the gaslights when the abuser character was scrounging in the attic for the stolen jewels. The two characters never talk about it. Instead the victim character starts using the dimming of the lights in the main part of the house as a signal that the douchebag is up there hunting again and that, when the lights become brighter, it’s a warning he’ll come back downstairs again. It’s true that at first the dimming lights causes anxiety but then the character uses the signal to her own advantage as she takes counter measures.

Basically people were really using the title of the film as a sweeping reference to the whole mindfuck game. If gaslighting was specifically in reference to the dimming of the lights, it could be reference to the evidence by which victims start to figure out what’s being done to them– the “giveaway” so to speak, some way in which the perp messed up and gave away the game or the manner by which victims turn the tables. But instead, using the title as a reference to all the crazy baiting has muddled perceptions of the story. People assume Boyer’s character was mindfucking Bergman’s character over the dimming lights.

Anyway, a bit of geeky parsing. 😀

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

I think gaslighting is a necessary word to explain/describe a process of denying and altering a victim’s reality (whether by an individual or group) for which I don’t know any other adequate term that exists – and I think it IS part of a general process of ongoing lying and manipulation rather than one time lying. It’s kind of like the word “blackmail” (or a lot of other words) we can describe the behavior or process but the word encapsulates the meaning better than a lengthier description would. It’s one of those, unfortunately, necessary words.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
1 month ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Words and terms I am avoiding these days include “unpack”, “walk me/us through”, “journey”, “my truth”, “snapped up”

For the wordsmiths out there, Catchphrase is a really fun game.

One of my favorite apps is Wordweb, and I start my day with Wordle and Connections.

I definitely try to keep it simple and creative and economic and avoid being trendy when I speak or write, but sometimes no other word will do. Knowing when to break the rules and when to follow them and pull it off artfully is a gift, one I am not sure I have!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Unpack = rings of “baggage.” Walk us through it = corporate HR bs. My truth = pseudo woke. Snapped up? Probably more corporate culture-speak?

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Journey particularly drives me crazy. It makes me think of Frodo.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

“Journey” grinds my gears, too. My sister uses the word to describe almost anything from our mother’s “journey” with Alzheimer’s to her “journey” in buying a puppy. Now that my parents are gone and I no longer feel the need to communicate with my sister, life is much more peaceful. But “journey” is still like nails on a chalkboard because it reminds me of her and how she used to gaslight me. “Cheating is no big deal. Everyone does it. You’re too sensitive. You need to just get over it.”

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

I think people like this want to turn everything into some kind of hyperbolic experience….It’s a JOURNEY!!!! when it’s really just…..life. To me, it’s a narcissist term to make everything they do seem….extra special.

weedfree
weedfree
1 month ago

You were on a Cheating Journey

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

OK, that should have had a beverage alert.

FuckWitFree
FuckWitFree
1 month ago

Asking if gaslighting is overused is like asking if lying is overused. Of course it is. And by saying that gaslighting is on a spectrum seems to soften or normalize it somehow. Gaslighting is purposeful deception. What makes it so harmful is it’s intent. You intend to deceive. Some do it easily and subconsciously maybe because they are used to doing it to cover their tracks. It’s knee jerk lying. Still bad. Still withholding truth from someone else about reality. Purposeful gaslighting is self explanatory. How can someone who is “harmless” purposely withhold reality from another? A lying piece of shit, that’s who! Once they get away with it a few times it becomes a behavior pattern. I’ve observed repeat criminals IN A COURTROOM in front of a judge with incontrovertible evidence try to gaslight. It’s not curable.

hush
hush
1 month ago

“a watered down both-siderism” Nailed it. Before CL, not enough of us 45+ folks grasped gaslighting and disordered patterns, but thank goodness it’s finally catching on. Especially on the Gen Z TikTok that the US government is trying so desperately to ban – CL gets mentioned there a lot, which is awesome! And so of course the abusers are BIG MAD about their young victims increasingly being able to spot and avoid them now. Still their enablers continue to write “both sides” & nonsequitur, sea lioning, bad faith crap like this, “wOmeN r AbUsERs tooooo!” (No shit) in the stupid comment sections, and in published articles etc to shut the conversations down. Hope it’s just an extinction burst. Lol

One we know and can NAME the tools of abusers, we can set ourselves free. Raised awareness really bothers the enablers so much. As if it’s “dIaGnOsIng” someone to note that he has every red flag flying, uses triangulation, tells lies, subtly devalues… oh but “don’t say he’s a narcissist.” Who benefits from such silencing?

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  hush

Words go in and out of fashion– or are forced out of fashion. My parents were a few decades older than average when I was born and their generation of politically progressive NYC types used the term gaslighting quite a bit for totalitarian tactics, corporate propaganda or interpersonal fuckery. I knew what it meant from the age of ten and was put out that my peers didn’t get it because it apparently hadn’t caught on with their parents’ generation (or its use had been discouraged).

I think why and how the term got semi-retired for a generation and seems like “new usage” now isn’t such a mystery if you look at the current echo chamber campaign going on in some mainstream media to actually re-retire it. Google “overuse + gaslighting” and you’ll see the echo chamber banging away on the same gong like Wapost, NY Times, etc, (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/11/learning/love-bombing-gaslighting-victim-is-trauma-talk-overused.html).

Precisely because the playwright who wrote the original story in the thirties meant it as political warning and analogy for fascist propaganda, various corrupt or authoritarian entities have probably never liked it much– particularly when used politically– because it exposes the typical tactics favored by propagandists. I’m sure the burgeoning fascistic Red Pill manosphere probably hates it because, when used interpersonally, it empowers women against Red Pill tactics to erode consent.

Words that compact and encapsulate complex ideas have enormous power to spread and influence and not everyone likes the power particular words wield.

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago

Good point, HOAC.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  hush

“And so of course the abusers are BIG MAD about their young victims increasingly being able to spot and avoid them now.”

ABSOLUTELY – this is why abusers seek to isolate the victims, not only to prevent detection from those who might protect the victim, but those who would REINFORCE THE VICTIM’S REALITY….”yeah, your spouse really shouldn’t be punching you in the nose every Friday night, definitely not normal or right”. “yeah, your spouse shouldn’t be going out with his co-worker and spending time “fixing things” at their house”….etc etc.

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
1 month ago

Like a lot of hot-button issues online, most of this is semantics.

As I understand it, “gaslighting” means deliberately telling a lie that will cause the other person to question his/her memory or sanity. This generally means taking an objective fact – one that both sides know has occurred – and asserting the opposite so that the other party can no longer rely on his/her senses or memory. It is a deliberate attempt to undermine someone’s grasp on reality.

This is distinct from regular lying. The examples cited are pretty much just run-of-the-mill lying. Gaslighting, in contrast, would be if Adaya’s doctor informed her that she had hearing loss and then her parents told her that the doctor had never said that (so that Adaya is not only misinformed about her diagnosis, but then avoids medical care because she thinks she can’t comprehend what doctors say).

My XW lied and lies pretty frequently (though she mostly uses lies of omission and paltering, which is its own special form of deception) but afaik she only gaslighted me once: (A) I asked whether she was having an affair, to which she responded “I don’t have to answer that”; (B) a day or so later I said “I think your refusal to answer means you *are* having an affair”; and then (C) she answered “what are you talking about? When you asked me the other day I told you that no, I am not having an affair”. That last statement was a lie, she knew it was a lie, and she knew that I knew it was a lie, but she stuck to it in the hope that I would be so confused that I would doubt my own recollection.

Gaslighting has such negative connotations that people try to attach it to regular lies as a way to signal “this is a really bad lie that’s worse than other lies” but IMO this undermines the original meaning of the word; it’s sort of the linguistic equivalent of stolen valor. The vast majority of the time you can just substitute “gaslighting” with “lying” and you have a more accurate description of the events, but one that doesn’t pack the same moral punch.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

I might dicker with that a little to say that any lie that conflicts with someone’s very strong intuitive alarm bells can be crazy making and fits the definition of “gaslighting.” But that’s because I don’t consider the “conscious intent” of an abuser to define their MO, only the effect. The only questions to ask regarding the effect of a particular abuse tactic is “Did it have a certain effect (like, did the victim question their sanity?) and did that effect provide some benefit for the abuser?” If so, then it was intentional.

The reason I parse it is because of stuff I learned in advocacy but also from observing a lot of creeps up close. Many abusers are so exceptionally practiced and talented at things like gaslighting/mindfucking and coercion (“gaslighting” as it was understood back in the 30s and 40s when the play and films were produced would naturally be part of a campaign of coercion because the victim character would fear the then-common practice of being sent to the booby hatch for being “crazy”) that these things become second nature/”unconsciously intended” and they’d actually have to intend not to do them in order to not do them. They do this shit like they breathe. Another reason I think this is that, like the Talented Mr. Ripley put it, “No matter what you do, no matter how awful, no-one ever thinks that they’re a bad person,” perpetrators are the kings and queens of denial and lack of self reflection. According to studies of incarcerated spousal abusers, they all engage in elaborate systems of rationalization to justify their behavior but, since they typically internalized these disordered thought processes from family of origin, the whole rationalization process may become rote and “unconscious.”

But I agree that sometimes lies don’t meet the standard of “gaslighting.” Before those intuitive alarms are set off– say, in the very early days of cheating when the chump is blissfully ignorant, not having graphic serial nightmares about betrayal or even vaguely unsettling gut feelings and suspicions that keep them up at night, etc.– a lie is just a lie. For example, if the chump asks “How was the meeting?” and FW answers, “It went on so long, I was dying to get out of there!” and chump has no “flare of instinct,” feels sorry for poor sad sausage FW, makes their favorite dessert and sleeps fine that night because they have not a clue, it’s a plain old lie. It’s still evil, still robs consent, still extracts labor by unfair means and is still abuse but it’s not “gaslighting.”

Come to think of it, the ultimate measure of gaslighting is how well or poorly the victim sleeps (without chemical assistance) the night after being lied to.

FormerlyKnownAs
FormerlyKnownAs
1 month ago

I agree. I’m glad the term gaslighting is out there and commonly used, but it gets used incorrectly and substituted for other forms of lying. All lies suck, but gaslighting is particularly damaging and when it’s happened to you – it’s quite hard to heal from. It’s like being lied to all the time is constant stabs and then gaslighting is twisting the knife. Here’s my example:

I found a small tube of lube in our car. I asked FW, what is this? He quickly replied, I bought it for us. I said, we didn’t talk about needing lube. Then a weird argument ensued and I ended with, I don’t believe you. Then he ramped up with, I think your memory is bad and I’m worried about you – you need to go see a doctor. We’ve talked about wanting to use lube and you forgot. In fact, you’ve been forgetting a lot of things lately. Such as xyz….By the end of the conversation I was starting to think there was something wrong with me and my memory was indeed the issue. I ACTUALLY APOLOGIZED.

So I’m not sure if it matters whether the term is overused – it’s good to know about it, but gaslighting is definitely distinct from other fuckwittery.

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
1 month ago

That’s a perfect example. It’s not enough to lie to simply mislead you: he needs to get you completely twisted around so that you doubt your own memory and end up apologizing to him.

It’s particularly nasty when used during moments of high tension and emotion when (in my experience anyway) it’s already hard to process words, attend to detail, and remember things. I often thought to myself “how is it possible that I remember than conversation so differently from her? What is going on here?” It’s part of why I *never* make a verbal agreement with XW to this day. It needs to be in writing so I can refer to it later and quote it back to her if necessary. Come to think of it, this happened just last week!

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago

Yeah, as I was reading the recap, I had the same thought: those aren’t very good examples of gaslighting.

Example: you buy a dozen cookies and put them in the cookie jar. The next day there are nine cookies. You ask your partner “did you eat three of the cookies I bought yesterday?”

Lie: “No, I didn’t”

Gaslighting: “No, there were always nine cookies in the package. You were mistaken that there were a dozen in the package. Did you count them when you put them in the cookie jar?”

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

That’s a good example of the difference between a straight up lie and gaslighting.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

Even better – what cookies? There were never any cookies in that jar. You must be getting confused….maybe you should lie down for a while.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Better yet, “What cookies? There were never cookies in that jar. I’m really concerned about the safety of leaving you alone with our children…”

One thing that gets overlooked these days is that, in the era in which the play Gas Light was originally written, men could still pretty easily incarcerate their wives in mental institutions on a whim. Being branded crazy could have lasting and horrific consequences. Charles Dickens managed to do this for a time to his wife after she got wise to his affair with a teenage fan. JFK did this to Jacqueline– at least temporarily– after she ran amok on discovering one of his many infidelities. And even in modern times being branded “crazy” can cost people child custody, job security and social support.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

Ya know, HoaC, my mother would tell me of her experiences in the mental hospital – state hospital usually – and those were a type of gaslighting in themselves. They were supposed to be kind and helpful to these people and involved in healing them, but all too often it was about being really really sadistic to helpless people and then who are they going to tell about their experiences? Nah, that didn’t happen, you’re just crazy. We DO need psych hospitals and interventions for people but unfortunately they often draw the absolute worst kinds of people. I worked in areas where they did animal research too and had to quit – I think much of this stuff is just active sadism being justified as “research”. A bit off topic but some of the things I’ve seen……whoa.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Yikes, I heard a lot of horror stories about inpatient abuse in US psychiatric institutions when I worked for an environmental health publication that sometimes investigated drug side effects (among other causes of environmental illness). The same issue was on the radar of the Mad Rights movement so the two causes ended up sharing leads and information a lot. Then I crossed paths with more Mad Rights advocates (Psychrights, Mad in America, etc.) and campaigns when I did work for disability lawyers. But the biggest “radicalizing” event in my life was when my middle child developed a chronic illness and related disability as a toddler. What I saw regarding institutional maltreatment of the disabled was so bad that I actually ended up leaving the country to raise my kids.

If I were going to do a really oversimplified summary of the issue, I’d say that any society that tends towards a kind of prevalent cultural neoCalvinism is always going to abuse its most vulnerable members because of the underlying belief that anyone suffering misfortune must have “had it coming,” was fundamentally “defective” or “less favored by God.” Callous treatment or even persecution naturally follows victim blaming and victim blaming is the natural default of the cultural belief that the rich, powerful and fortunate are better, smarter and more deserving, which is pretty much the driving belief system in neoliberal forms of capitalism.

I’m not completely anti-capitalist.For example, Norway has mostly had a very energetic market economy but, at least before Scandinavian countries started gradually caving to neoliberalization, there was nearly universal cultural support (even among conservatives) for programs that prevented anyone from starving or falling through the cracks. I think this arguably reflected a cultural belief that misfortune is not always due to the moral failing of the unfortunate and good fortune doesn’t always say nice things about the morality of the fortunate.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

Oh yes, that happened to my own mother. My father would drive her crazy with his violent drunken rages and she’d have periodic “nervous breakdowns” where she’d be hospitalized in the mental institution for months at a time. I remember making out patient visits with her to the mental hospital when I was about 6 years old. Very educational…blah. Once I became a teenager and could testify in my own right, that shit stopped as I told them it wasn’t her, it was him with his drinking so she stopped being hospitalized. But you are absolutely right – there were men who had horrible abusive behavior of their wives and then use the system to bash them when the wife started to “act out”. I don’t think it’s as easy as it once was, we just don’t have the mental hospital structure we once did. Unfortunately so many of those places were places of torment rather than healing and frequently did more harm than good.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I’m honestly not sure anything is better in modern times. Forced institutionalization based on unsubstantiated claims is pretty common.

FormerlyKnownAs
FormerlyKnownAs
1 month ago

So scary!

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

These are not the droids you’re looking for!

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago

Am I the jerk that has to point out that saying “‘gaslighting’ is an overused term” is, well … a form of gaslighting?

“No, you silly, paranoid people. It’s perfectly natural and normal for people to misrepresent reality in order to assuage their mental angst or to manipulate people.”

Actually this argument negates itself. If something is natural and pervasive, then how can the term also be overused?

Orlando
Orlando
1 month ago

I do know that gaslighting is being identified & called out more in my little part of the world. But I’ve also been accused of gaslighting a family member. It threw me and I had to think about it. We talked later and she realized I was simply trying to cheerlead her on, not to use it as a weapon to manipulate her. So we do have to be careful how we’re coming across & examine our motives behind our intentions. I myself experienced a big campaign of gaslighting in my marriage:
1. I must have a mental illness.
2. I must have angered someone in a previous life because I’m not successful no matter how hard I try.
3. If I was a better person, he might be more attentive to me.
4. Our home wasn’t fashionable enough because I didn’t try or have a lick of designer instinct or class in me.
5. I sometimes didn’t know where I left my keys. I think in the beginning it was my absentmindedness, but towards the end, I suspected him of hiding them deliberately as I would intentionally make note of where I put them.
It was cruel & deliberate of him.
I won’t get into details but all of his gaslighting missiles has since been shot to hell. As one of my best friends said “your ex was like an anchor tied to your ass, once the anchor was gone, you soared”.

Last edited 1 month ago by Orlando
kokichi
kokichi
1 month ago
Reply to  Orlando

Mine did this as well. He liked taking small things, like finger nail clippers, so I was constantly looking for them and having to buy new ones. Which in hindsight means that Schmoopie is cutting her nails with my used clippers.

Orlando
Orlando
1 month ago
Reply to  kokichi

Haha Schmoopie using your used clippers is a satisfying image lol

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  kokichi

If only you had had a communicable case of nail fungus at the time Schmoops misappropriated those clippers. But, not being a filthy “high risk-living” FW, you were probably perfectly healthy and posed no risk to her.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
1 month ago
Reply to  Orlando

What is it with toxic people and keys? My ex used to hide my keys, too. And sometimes he’d “help” me look for them. They always miraculously reappeared as soon as it was inevitable that I’d be late for work. And it was always some extremely unlikely place that either I had already searched or he had claimed to have searched.

Orlando
Orlando
1 month ago

It’s a low hanging fruit game for FWs, I imagine

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

Wow, that’s literally the kind of thing the villain did in the actual movie “Gaslight”. He’d hide things on his wife and make her think she was losing her memory or even crazy. Maybe he was a fan of that movie!

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Yeah, he told me my memory was so unreliable, I shouldn’t be working in the medical profession. And he made me late often enough that I was in disciplinary status at work. I started questioning my memory, began to wonder if I really was an unsafe nurse. And then one day, he just smirked in that smarmy, smug way when he “found” my keys for me. I had this little creepy/crawly feeling that *he* was hiding my keys — one in a forest of red flags. After that, I kept my keys either in my pocket or under my pillow while I was sleeping. Never “lost” them again! (Although they did go through the washer once — fortunately before I had an electronic key fob.)

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

OMG, that’s psycho enough for a Lifetime movie!!!

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago

Possibly, but I think it also falls under the terms of lying or manipulation; it’s a way of distorting the truth or reality of the situation for some type of gain or benefit.

I am better at detecting when I am being “gaslit” as I will call the person out on it. I just had to deal with it over phone conversation with the ex. She said are you questioning my ability to be a healthy and good mother? And I said no, that is not what I said or asked, I asked a question as to whether our son is seeing a Psychiatrist or Psych-NP, so stop putting words into my mouth as to what I asked. She shut down after that.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

I know it isn’t always possible but could you do stuff like that with her over email so it’s documented and less prone to her verbal diarrhea back and forth? It sounds like you could say the sky is blue and she’d start an argument.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

We use Our Family Wizard and only call in an emergency or for clarification on an issue; this was one of those times. Calls are used very sparingly.

Orlando
Orlando
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

Not sure that was gaslighting. Your ex’s defensiveness either screams she’s insecure, has a history of being put-down or narcissistic (in that she makes everything about her). I do wonder though is your ex solely responsible for your son seeing a psych? I might not to be too happy if my ex put all the responsibility for that on me.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago
Reply to  Orlando

I know that was not gaslighting, I will clarify, it was her way of trying to manipulate me. It’s a past behavior she engages in. As to her gaslighting, many of the men she was meeting up with she was flirting with and texting and called them “just friends”, which was not what they were or what she was doing.

As to the responsibilities, we manage different aspects of med, sport, etc. and we are supposed to update each other per our parenting plan and communicate about any changes or issues. She has not done so until now, and repeatedly called the NP a doctor and even called her a psychologist which isn’t true, as each provider level offers different levels of care and observations, so I have gotten more involved as he is changing meds.

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
1 month ago

I think that the word “Gaslighting” rather gentrifies (or softens) both the intent of the perpetrator and the impact on the victim of the act. I prefer to call it out for what it is … lying.

As for whether the term is overused now I don’t have a view, but I do now know that Ex-Mrs LFTT did it a lot.

LFTT

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago

Whenever a concept is thrust into the popular spotlight, there will be a type of faddish bandwagoning of the term that becomes obnoxious and damaging to the people who really have to live through it. For example, the gluten-free craze made it more challenging for people with Celiac to find genuinely gluten-free products.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago

My second cheater knew what he was doing but also wanted to continue to make abnormal/ Normal so he could continue his abuse. He told me repeatedly that his touching me sexually 100% of the time..
Never just affection but all groping and grabbing was what all men did. My first cheater had low level sex drive( or was cheating longer than i imagined) so I thought, maybe cheater 2 is right. Maybe I’m
A prude. So I bought that for my entire marriage from day 1. Also being touched, often against my will. Coercion. And when i said everybody, every man can’t be like this???…I had no way of taking a survey. My history with men was dating 2 or 3 but those guys were teens… I had zero reference points. I asked no one. My husband was into porn all his life. I was an object and a useful one until I finally said the word NO. And the spelll was broken forever. I was groomed for his addiction, lied to in incriments,set up to be used for 32 years. I was forgiveness groomed..how much will Chump forgive? Also in increments.. How much will Chump let go?? It is both conscious and unconscious…it is a pattern as is all addictions. This is my experience. When i gas- lit my precious son who was telling me the truth one day…about cheater 2 and me…I turned it around on him. That was 30 years ago and I know what I did and I lied to.my 8 year old child. I never forgot what I did. But I was saving myself from his truth of me. Yes we may all do it but just like anything else, there are degrees and harm done. Cheaters know what they are doing and the harm is astronomical.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago

Personally? I don’t think it’s used enough but I also think it’s another term that is prone to misuse. It’s easier to talk about than “abuse” but gets in the correct vector. That’s just me though.

I don’t think our FWs would term what they did as gaslighting(or as abuse, or “wrong”, but well…here we are.) I think it’s another overly polite term that masks abusive intent and action(wherein I refer to the one that did me such hideous harm as “my ex” in open conversation as “the fuckwit that betrayed me and everything I’ve ever held dear and ruined parts of me temporarily” is less succinct). I think it’s a good “framework for understanding” term.

As I have previously discussed…I notice A LOT of criminal thinking errors come from the “I’ll just…” line of thinking. “I’m not lying-I’ll just tell them that…” You know. Lying. Puts a prettier hat on bullshit behavior.

Actually had a good conversation with my morality canary last night about “do you think it’s the thrill of getting caught OR the thrill of getting one over that motivates people to cheat?” (No conclusive answer btw.)

My FW had a pathological need for control. The white lies to get out of feeling embarrassed degenerated into outward mental abuse over time. Toward the end she made me seriously question my sense of reality by telling me that I was distorting things that were said or that had happened. She’d call me paranoid when I called her out about things(mostly skewed boundaries with schmoopie). Which, well, I was. She was cheating! That whole “A+B must equal C” fallacy. It made just enough sense. I was supposed to trust her and I paid for it. It’s just so…exploitive.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

I love the term “reality canary.” Is that a “thing” I haven’t heard of? If so, it’s an apt “thing.”

Bluewren
Bluewren
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

I agree.
It’s time the word abuse and the title of abuser were used more often- that’s what this is and that’s exactly what those people are.
If the shoe fits, they can lace that bitch up and call a spade a spade.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago
Reply to  Bluewren

You know, I sometimes wondered why my favorite book I had to read in high school was Scarlet Letter…

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Wow, FW is a classic gaslighter. Sounds like she has a natural aptitude for it.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I would almost feel bad for Schmoopie…almost 😉

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Like I almost feel bad that FW didn’t end up with Schmoopie. They’re both so evil it would have been just desserts. Built-in punishment and all that. But alas.

Divorce Minister
Divorce Minister
1 month ago

I suspect this “both-ism” of the author whose article CL dissects is an effort to minimize the scary nature of our world. Who really wants to believe that we live around people who do these things?! That they aren’t just rare outliers? Sadly, if you are here, you are painfully aware that such “gas-lighting” is more common than not.

CakeWalked
CakeWalked
1 month ago

It’s a pervasive type of lying and I find the term overused only when people use it incorrectly. As for whether or not people realize they’re gaslighting someone when that is, in fact, what they’re doing: does it really matter? Does it make it less harmful?

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago

If it were conclusively shown that 80% of men physically hit their spouses, would we stop calling it “abuse” just because it was so pervasive and “existed on a spectrum”? Would we roll our eyes at a person who said they were abused, and ask, incredulously, “were you really, though? He only slapped you. He didn’t beat you with a tire iron. This term ‘abuse’ is so overused.” At some point, a person can decide that they don’t want to be hit anymore.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

This is such a great point! The terrible thing is that in many parts of the world, women particularly DO live like this still and it wasn’t that long ago that it was fairly common in our own world and women were expected to put up with it because as long as it didn’t destroy useful bodily organs, it was “normal”. Abuse can be normalized certainly….but I think the gaslighting line is clearer if someone denies that the actual event happened. Like in a society where physical abuse is “normal”, if someone said, “yeah I slapped her face or punched her, so what”….is kind of different from “no, I never touched her, she walked into the door or fell down the stairs” (or even worse….”I don’t see that anything happened to her”). To me, the denial of actual reality is the gaslighting, not the behavior (in this case hitting) itself.

I think this is what is happening now with INFIDELITY….people are telling us that this is so common – or indeed “normal” or “natural” and they will put together studies or scientific explanations or whatever, to prove this – that I think there is a societal expectation now that people will cheat at some point in the relationship and that “Chumps” should just accept this and move on. So we’ve graduated from acceptable physical abuse to acceptable mental/emotional abuse. Another hurdle to overcome!

Bluewren
Bluewren
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

So many people are just fine with it – and want to know why you’re not ‘over it’ yet.
Until it’s their turn.
It blows my mind how people just accept the abuse of others -especially those in their circle.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

Gaslighting is bullying to make you deny your own reality and accept some other person’s who usually doesn’t mean well for you. It’s the upgrade from simple lying. It alters reality itself and IT IS VERY COMMON especially (IMO) in the US where I think social lying is a way of life. Individuals can gaslight you and so can groups, but the ultimate point is to get you to deny your own reality (sometimes physical reality) to make other people feel comfortable or let them maintain control or their preferred belief system. It should NEVER be tolerated, obviously but I think it usually starts subtly and people ignore it thinking….maybe I remembered wrong, maybe I misunderstood, etc. It’s perhaps the worst kind of bullying.

I always recommend the 1940 or so version of “Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer as it is, to me, the best depiction of this on screen. He starts off small and then it escalates and ends up with him isolating her because….no one else can interfere with the “reality” he inflicts on her. The thing that always strikes me at the end is that he really does “love” this woman in his own sick way but he loves something else more. Love ain’t everything and it’s nothing to give up your own reality and self respect for.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I know this is a bit off topic but this movie really is rich to me and it’s partly the script but the acting really brings it to life. I DO believe that the husband who is the villain, actually DOES love his wife but as I say….he loves something else more, and just as he wants to control her, that thing controls him and prevents him from ever being “normal”. The relevance of this point, to me, is that we Chumps frequently doubt we were ever loved by our spouses/partners and that’s not necessarily true at all. They CAN love us, even during an affair, with their sense of what “love” is but sick people have sick love. Just like the husband in “Gaslight” sometimes it doesn’t matter if a sick or even evil person “loves” you – it doesn’t make any difference to the damage that they cause. Sometimes it’s better to just escape it than understand it.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Hmmmm…..I think this might be a good explanation of why so many abusers isolate their victims. Other people can give feedback on what is happening to the victim and present a reality to coincides with the victim’s. Can’t have that, the abuser’s view of “reality” is the one they will go pretty far to maintain. If someone realizes that you’re lying to them, abusing them, stealing from them, etc, they might actually try to get help and escape.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
1 month ago

I don’t think it’s overused (but it can sure get inaccurately used), but rather is a reflection of the character crisis and increase in narcissistic traits/behaviors in today’s world.

Learning from the experts who have researched or read the research on the subject (Dr. George Simon, Dr. Ramani, Dr. Les Carter), I finally have a greater understanding of what happened to me as a child being raised by a highly narcissistic mother and harmed by a narcissistic bully older brother – then marrying a covert narcissistic abuser/cheater.

With this background and my insatiable learning on the subject, I see that gaslighting is a far more insidious form of lying than straight-up lying. It is done by people who are trying to control and maintain power over another by getting them to question their reality, their sanity.

I’ve had to fight HARD to find my true self and understand the reality of my experiences after having it all actively attempted to be dismantled for most of 40+ years of life before I escaped my abusive, cheating ex. (He continued the gaslighting and other abusive tactics even after our separation and divorce, but I am much better equipped to spot it and resist it now, thanks to the above-mentioned experts).

“Was it really that bad?”, I was asked by an ignorant relative. YES! It was really that bad, I can say with certainty after 3+ years of therapy and lots of learning. I was not making it up or using words like gaslighting and abuse frivolously. There are real victims being harmed by truly destructive people, and this is more common than people like to believe.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
1 month ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

Essentially, whereas straight-up lying is often a defensive move (i.e. covering up something so as to not face negative consequences), gaslighting is always an offensive move. Gaslighters have cruel, diminishing-the-other intentions. We NEED words like gaslighting to be able to understand these dynamics better, even if some people misuse the term.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

That’s a great point about the defensive and offensive nature of lying vs gaslighting, very true.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

That is a good distinction. I agree.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago

This post has me all wound up.

Sure, gaslighting exists on a spectrum. And I would guess that many on here would agree that they have experienced two major subcategories of gaslighting in the cheating context.

First, are what I’ll call the micro-gaslights that are almost quaint in comparison. These are the petty little lies about who was doing what, and when. These are the “I wasn’t where you thought I was last night. You are mistaken. I was actually somewhere else,” or “that text from my coworker is actually quite innocent. You are being paranoid, jealous, and controlling.”

Second, there’s the large macro-gaslights that dominate and rewrite the entire narrative of the relationship, and are completely hostile to your sense of self and self-worth. It’s the “We actually don’t have a good marriage. I’ve always been unhappy with you. You have been unloving and inadequate the entire time we’ve been together. I had no choice but to cheat.”

I think it’s those macro-gaslights that are so demoralizing. For me, it has lingered a LOT longer in my mind, even years after divorce. It also didn’t help that my father did this to my mother and me. After a literal lifetime of this, every morning is like a Stuart Smalley exercise to convince myself that I’m not worthless.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

“You’re imagining it!!!”

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

If all gaslighting is a form of combining a lie with a dose of reality manipulation, then what is the hidden truth at the heart of the macro-gaslight? For the micro-gaslight, it’s relatively straight-forward. FW wants you to believe that the flirty text you found actually isn’t flirty at all, or that when they were out golfing with the bros, they were actually in a hotel room with schmoopie.

For the macro-gaslight, this is the hidden truth they are covering: they actually enjoyed cheating and didn’t care about your feelings when they were doing it.

That’s terrible, right? Can’t have that, can we? The only choice is to retcon the whole marriage – to reconstruct a whole new reality in which the FW was actually really quite unhappy the whole marriage, and it was the Chump’s fault.

Think about how horrible that is. This terrible things that happened to you wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t such a pathetic excuse of a spouse.

Last edited 1 month ago by ChumpDchump
Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

To me, I think a couple of important aspects of gaslighting are that it’s not just an isolated simple lie….it’s usually a whole series of lies over time that probably escalate as underlying behavior they’re covering for, escalates, and I think it’s part of an overall psychological process of destroying the victim’s sense of reality, mentality, keeping him or her as isolated as possible (if that can be done) and bullying them into accepting the abuser’s version of what is going on. Keep victim under control. That’s why I recommend the movie “Gaslight” as I think it shows the entire process exceedingly well. It’s frequently easier to see in others than it is for ourselves. The worst is when other people around us support the abuser’s tactics, perhaps to protect the abuser but also thinking it’s in the best interest of the victim. Like what happened to our poor Indian victim here – her parents might have actually thought it was somehow in her best interests to not admit she had a “defect”. Of course it’s easier for them too to not have to deal with it or spend money and it gives them a built in mental punching bag. Some people just like to kick the dog.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Just an aside that comes to mind, I think that explains some group behavior when it comes to marital issues like infidelity….sometimes there’s just a tendency to pile on the “victim” because the group may like to have the low person on the totem pole, or the low chicken in the pecking order, to make the group feel coherent and superior. Gaslighting can involve more than one person. I think it’s more of a process or syndrome than just a simple lie.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Process sounds familiar.

Example: My fw never thought I was a good enough house keeper. Please note: I was a decent house keeper; but I was not a spit shiner.

From the time we were first married, he would come home and usually no matter how hard I worked, he would find something. I quite honestly I think after a while just accepted that I would never live up to his lofty vision of what I should be in that area. I never knew where he got that lofty standard, it wasn’t like his mother was a spit shiner. She did fine just like I did.

Anyway fast forward and the only excuse he could come up with for lying and cheating for years was “the house”. Long story to say, I now wonder if that was a long assed gaslight, to be preserved for when he needed it, and I remember when he said it, it devastated me because my first thought was oh God, I caused this I should have worked harder. Never mind that I was raising a child working part time, then later on full time, and volunteering for whatever he wanted me to do in the community and politics.

It didn’t take me long to get over that guilt feeling, when I saw who he really was; but I still wonder if that was his fall back plan from the get go.

Funny thing was when my now husband asked me to marry, I told him if he was looking for a maid, keep looking because I am not a spit shiner nor do I care to be. So he said we can hire a house cleaner to do that when needed. And so we did.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

Some people just look for a chink in the armor – a weakness, any weakness – they can exploit. My husband is also one of these spit shiners but he is a very messy person inherently. I always told him that I am NOT a house keeper….I’m not married to a house and as long as it’s reasonably clean, I don’t give a shit. I’m more about clutter frankly. But I think some people just want to find SOME kind of weakness they can use to keep you off balance and poke you when they have a need to. Sounds like your husband also used it as an excuse for cheating when of course, Schmoopie isn’t Betty Crocker either and I bet she barely knows what a broom is.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Lol, true. My daughter in law told me o’whore made me look like Martha Stewart.

My ex was weird in that he would piddle all day straightening his desk, but he never lifted a finger doing any housework, laundry, cooking etc. I did it all and worked. It never really bothered me, as I knew it was just how he was. Unfortunately for me I never really knew “just how he was”, I just thought I did.

He wasn’t special, just your run of the mill, rank and file fw. I do think aside from his wandering dick, he had some OCD tendencies.

It didn’t take me long to realized after he left the house smelled so much better, he smoked a lot and there was no getting rid of that by cleaning. I cringe when I think how my clothes must have smelled.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

You never really realize how bad the smell was until the skunk is gone. I bet also that he’s found some chink in the armor of o’whore as well….something that he criticizes her on (I’m assuming they’re still stinking up the bushes together). That’s a behavioral pattern of finding fault to put others in a weak position that doesn’t go away.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mehitable
susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Likely her housekeeping. She made me look like a spit shiner per my daughter in law.

Oh yes they stayed together, and he cheated and then gambled them into massive debt. If I remember right she gambled also.

He passed in Jan of 2021, left her in debt for a huge RV. She is living in a Trailer park in Florida. The one thing he did was put the Trailer in her sons name before he died so the RV folks couldn’t take it. But hey she got her KISA.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Victim blaming gives the person a false sense of control over their own life, and we do it all the friggin’ time in this country. Even when a person gets cancer, it’s like “were they a smoker? Did they eat too much read meat?” You know, sometimes a person just gets cancer. But, if it is somehow the victim’s fault, we can all go around believing that we’ll all be safe if we can just avoid the “bad” things in life.

Chumps blame ourselves! It’s easier to believe the convenient lie that the FW gave us because we don’t want to believe that we actually hitched our wagon to a scumbag who has no decency or sense of empathy.

I agree with you. That’s why I wrote, below, that the New Yorker article was, in itself, a form of gaslighting, writ large. “Oh, there’s no gaslighting out there! It’s just something that insecure people make up to explain why they broke up with someone!” That feels, safer, right? Or, you know, maybe the term “gaslighting” is used a lot because there are a lot of creeps out there who do it.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
1 month ago

I am wondering whether the question is “Is gaslighting overused?” Meaning are people doing too much gaslighting? Are too many people doing *some* gaslighting? Or is the question, “Are we labeling things as gaslighting even when they’re not because that’s a fad these days?” Sort of like every asshole ex is a “narcissist.”

When I first left my cheating, abusive husband, I called him a narcissist. Six mental health professionals who were qualified to diagnose narcissism labelled him as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” But I got a lot of clapback on various blogs because apparently everyone called their ex a narcissist and blamed that for their break-up. My husband was a diagnosed NPD, but “friends” dismissed it by saying, “everyone says that about their ex.” (Helped me clean out my address book, but I digress.)

I think the answer to the question is “yes.” People are labelling communication as gaslighting without truly understanding the term. And people (probably some of those same people) are truly gaslighting others for their own ends.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago

A PhD clinical psychologist who worked with my ex for years diagnosed him and added aspects of borderline as well. She didn’t tell me until he was truly gone.

So when I told my attorney, he was polite but I could tell was skeptical. Still, he was writing away on his legal pad, page after page during my intake appointment and then what he called the “marital history” appointment.

Some months in, he apologized, saying that he had heard that term so much that it didn’t really register. But after representing me for awhile, he called a therapist friend of his that owed him a favor, and they talked about his “anonymous client’s husband.” Yes, he got it.

My ex’s attorney never used that term with mine but did put together that his client was deeply disturbed and had significant mental health issues.

At this point, I don’t feel a need to justify why the divorce had to be anymore. Done.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago

I still think my ex had some form of PD, but of course it was never diagnosed.

What I did find out was that he was a long time liar and cheat, but I don’t know if it was just because he was evil, or he was seriously disturbed. I would rather think he was disturbed. Disturbed sounds better than evil.

I would never call him evil to our son, but when we did discuss his issues I did say he must have had some serious issues to do that stuff for so long.

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
1 month ago

I think the formal definition of gaslighting requires a link between the lies and allegation of craziness, So, yes, it’s overused.

As chumps, we gravitate around this explanation for staying in the relationship. We have a built-in time delay where we finally recognize the lies and the behavior the lies covered up. But to credit FWs with intentional emotional abuse usually takes time and distance. It’s about recognizing a pattern which, for me, would often involve me saying “So let me get this straight …”

In the famous words of Abraham Lincoln, “How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” 

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Stepbystep

I agree, the trying to cause you to doubt yoursel, or make you look crazy has to be in play.

For instance my fw used to tell me he was going out to ride around with the guys, that was a straight out lie to deceive. Had I accused him of instead going out to ride a whore, and he said, you are crazy, that would be gaslighting.

Even when I figured out he was going out to ride a whore, I didn’t confront because I knew he would lie.

But there were other way he gaslighted me, more subtle ways.

marissachump
marissachump
1 month ago

I would say no, it’s not overused, there’s simply THAT many abusers. This isn’t to say that some abusers won’t weaponize the language of gaslighting against their victims. That certainly happens.

The statistic of 1 in 7000 births being a result of incest reminded me of another terrifying statistic I read years ago. 13% of men surveyed admitted to raping another person when the term “rape” was removed from the question. They were asked if they obtained “sex” as the survey called it through force, threats, or coercion. 13% said yes. That’s a HUGE portion of the male population if it is representative. And then there is the fact that most rapists are serial rapists.

There are simply THAT many monsters in the world. Methinks someone claiming that the term gaslighting is overused is in fact a mighty abusive person themself.

Helen Reddy
Helen Reddy
1 month ago

Is the word gaslighting overused at the moment? I vote yes, in the sense that people trying to bait you into defensive mode are now accusing you of it in their effort to gaslight you.

There are also (from old SNL McGruber sketch starring Charles Barkley) the “He came at me!” people, who make highly emotional, overblown accusations against everyone. It tracks that this group of folks would wrongly use and overuse all en vogue accusatory terms.

My definition of gaslighting hinges on it being a pattern of behavior designed to exert abusive control. When this pattern is done to convince an abuse target that the problem is the target’s perceptions (i.e., not the abuser’s actions)) it’s gaslighting. For me, keep it framed as a control pattern works to discern whether the term is being lobbed in good faith or not.

But I confess I have also used in word in a sloppy, shorthand way, to describe the feeling when you know you said something, and someone else is remembering it differently. For instance, my faithful but forgetful current partner, who is king of the in-one-ear-out-the-other listening style. He may be making me crazy, but it’s not because he’s trying to control me.

Bluewren
Bluewren
1 month ago

Overused?
Maybe.
The real issue is the fact that so many do this that therapists attempt to normalise such behaviour or explain it away as a symptom of someone’s horrible childhood or something equally irrelevant to the current issue and behaviours.
Apparently ‘everyone’ lies as well.
No- no they don’t.
Normalising or excusing unacceptable behaviour is far too common among these sweater vested clowns – or even your friends and family- who know nothing about how disordered humans work.

weedfree
weedfree
1 month ago
Reply to  Bluewren

I query now how much the epidemic of anxiety is connected to gaslighting/cognitive dissonance (from attachment figures during childhood or marriage, but also institutional settings, governments, etc.)

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

I think you’re absolutely right! As a tween, my daughter asked what depression was and why so many of her peers are stricken with it. My short answer was that, if it wasn’t caused by exposure to shitty toxic food or other toxic environmental factors or specific traumatic experience, I always felt that “existential” depression was a case of falling into the chasm between the propaganda and myths that we’ve been programmed to believe are true about the world, our lives, etc., and what our intuitions sense is actually true. In other words, if it’s not poison or trauma, it’s bullshit (or all three at once. Think of the PG&E victims in Erin Brockovich. It could be very traumatic to develop a catastrophic environmental illness and then be lied to about it and victim-blamed).

I admit that I got a clue about the last factor from a very unlikely source– Ayn Rand. I’m not a fan of Rand in general, find the whole radical individualism thing to be neoCalvinist in a lot of ways. But one book she wrote– Philosophy, Who Needs It?– after she’d cared for ten years for a disabled husband contained some interesting concepts. One was the idea that if we program our brains on BS, it’s kind of like the computer term GIGO or “garbage in/garbage out.” Out will come emotional chaos, anger, depression, etc.

A lot of long, rambling, sort of messy dinner table conversations ensued where the kids stumped me with open ended questions. I felt I was stumbling around drawing from two seemingly different advocacy experiences in which familiarity with the related science was part of the job– one as an advocate for dv survivors and the other in environmental health advocacy. Leading experts in both fields– trauma psych and environmental medicine– sometimes err on the side of thinking every human problem must be a nail that corresponds to the hammer they wield. Many can get territorial and engage in turf wars, discounting, say, that subclinical lead exposure can also be a cause of depression, not just shitty parenting or other early adverse events. Very few will acknowledge something in the middle or that both or more can be true at different times for different individuals.

In the end I tend to favor analysts/experts (in anything) who have a broader scope and can include or integrate factors in their theories that are outside their wheelhouses and risk messing up their pat little arguments, both because those types tend to have some stuff on the ball and– not unimportantly– because they tend to be the types who let the chips fly rather than being expedient and self serving and… LYING. Even if you’re not particularly interested in some sciency or social sciency specialization, following the work of someone who is just not fundamentally full of shit is at least an antidote to the “chasm” type of depression– the despair of being conditioned by gaslighting.

Since then my daughter will brag about reading or viewing stuff outside her usual interests simply because she senses the authors/creators have integrity so that she can “condition” herself on truthfulness or at least the sincere pursuit of it, plus she says the truth is never boring whereas “bullshit makes you comatose.”

Bluewren
Bluewren
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

Yes good point.
It’s far too coincidental to not connect these.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

I would be curious to see longitudinal data on that myself. We know that if you are kept in “fight or flight” for long enough it does permanent damage. I will say my anxiety has gone down dramatically since my FW left, so there’s some anecdotal evidence for you! Have a mighty weekend!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

I don’t know if some overall longitudinal data exists but some of it can be pieced together from existing science. For one, it’s pretty clear domestic emotional abuse causes stress and stress can kill. When the dust settled, I thought the whole snowballing ordeal with health was like the proverb For Want of a Nail:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Except maybe substitute “nail” with “truth” and “shoe” with “sleep,” etc.

I’m sure there are somewhat different effects for men and women but one bit of common ground is that high cortisol for any gender can lead to adrenal collapse which is potentially fatal. For over a year during FW’s bonky gaslighting fest, the mounting stress nearly drove me into adrenal deficiency.

One of the first signs of this was rapid weight loss. By D-day, my BMI had dropped to 17 regardless of what I ate. The fact that I started looking like the Corpse Bride became more fodder for FW’s crazy baiting as he began to insinuate that I had an eating issue, ergo was crazy, ergo was an unfit, “dangerous” mother. Consequently, my terrified sense of being entrapped deepened and my stress levels shot up even more. I stopped sleeping and began fainting at random times. I was given an ECG which showed a brand new heart murmur.

The effects of stress on health are themselves a trap. I remember my heart feeling so weak during the worst of it that it made me suspect that, if anything I did to rescue myself caused another surge in stress even in the short run, I wasn’t going to make it.

Furthermore, the effect of gaslighting on stress and stress on health can deepen the trap of abuse (thus increasing stress) due to incompetent medical response. Fortunately, my integrative family doctor didn’t presume “excessive weight loss + fainting + heart murmur + periodic amenhorrea = “eating disorder” = crazy” because she specializes in the physiological mechanism of stress. She knew it was possible for some to eat like a horse and still lose weight due go stress (whereas most doctors vaguely assume stress always causes weight gain). Secondly, she knew that elevated cortisol doesn’t just burn calories and “eat” your spine (accelerates osteoporosis too, how fun) but basically “eats” your hormones to use as building blocks for itself to prevent cortisol depletion as an emergency measure to stave off death.

That’s another bit of common ground between genders. While high cortisol can consume progesterone in women to rebuild itself as an emergency measure, it can also severely lower testosterone in men by diminishing luteinizing hormone needed for production of testosterone. For both genders, sex hormones aren’t just for reproduction and can affect sleep, mood and everything else. But I think there’s something darkly telling about abusers’ “subconscious intent” in the fact that domestic abuse universally fucks with sex hormones. It’s almost like performing FGM on women or castration on men. It’s almost like abusers want to “unsex” the victims to lower the chance victims may move on to love and be sexual again.

Anyway, aside from begging me to figure out how to reduce my mysterious stress levels, the doctor ran me through another slew of lab tests, spotted the telltale skewed hormones and threw me some bioidentical progesterone supplements to restore what was being “consumed” by stress. What a Godsend. Once progesterone levels got close to normal for age group and menstruation became more regular again, I stopped getting painful tachycardia every time I lay down so I could sleep just enough so I could think. Once I could think again, the horse was shod again, I was back in battle mode and FW was fucked. He was quickly busted and his game shut down.

It still took awhile before cortisol levels normalized but getting out of the snowballing death spiral of stress was the first step. Everything else eventually normalized again which, like you said, was only more proof the cause of it all had been domestic abuse. I think it also helped sensing I wasn’t totally alone in the fight. It seems the family doctor also felt pissed and misused by FW’s betrayal though this wasn’t obvious at first. I remember not being able to read her reaction when, in the course of ordering STD panels, she learned why I needed them. Her response seemed so placid but then, without warning or explanation, she swiftly cut off FW’s prescription Viagra. It was very “hold my beer” lol.

weedfree
weedfree
1 month ago

I heard some great examples of gaslighting when I was a DV lawyer – the modern day “gas” equivalent was the husband who remotely disrupted his ex-wife’s wifi (as in turned it on and off repeatedly so when she had technicians look at it it was always turned back on). Not sure how he did it but she worked it out in the end. Another one was the husband breaking into the house, moving things around, then denying it was him, saying she was crazy and couldnt look after kids to bolster his argument in family court yardy ya. She set up CCTV and confirmed it was him (he still denied it).
My FW was always gaslighting me, but like most of us we do not know it’s happening, just the all pervasive uncomfortable feeling inside our bodies until eventually their cover is blown. I think normal humans do not gaslight someone for decades because it is so bloody sick and quite a lot of effort as well.
Sam Vaknin would say NPD dont gaslight or lie, but confabulate as they need facts to fit fantasy. BPD probably the same but they need facts to fit feelings (although as failed narcissists they have awareness of reality). Psychopaths and coercive controllers – yes, gaslighting is deliberate and an essential tool.

Last edited 1 month ago by weedfree
Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

How wonderful of you to have worked as a lawyer in aiding DV survivors– not just because it’s a “philanthropic” thing to do but because I know first hand how doing such a thing automatically pits you directly against the dominant paradigm. In our top down, victim-blaming, perp-coddling western culture, it’s like signing up for perpetual street fight.

Anyway, in your obviously front lines experience, you’re making a brilliant point that, as levels of empathy are progressively reduced according to the depths of antisocial tendencies of each category of Cluster B criminality, the need to rationalize may also be incrementally reduced. In other words, those with borderline aren’t quite sociopathic “enough” to admit to themselves “I’m a manipulative twat with no human feeling” so, consequently, they still have to go through the boring rigmarole of dredging up more blameshifting alibis for their unconscionable behavior. Then contrast this with a presumably “zero empathy” psychopath who doesn’t really need all the blameshifting excuses to feel okay about what they’re doing to other people.

Point taken even if I could bring up the point that criminologists aren’t all in agreement over whether true “zero empathy” exists due to the fact that even the most gruesomely sadistic serial killers seem to engage in a rationalization system sometimes dubbed “neutralization.” It suggests they still have, if not pangs of empathy and “conscience,” some sense of negative stigma for what they do (click “download” for a full read of this short paper: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/9/2/46 )

I’m hardly a clinical expert so I’m not sure I can be clear in expressing what I think about the issue. Maybe I’m a simpleton but I completely ignore what shitty people say they “intend” or don’t intend. I really don’t care how much they claim that an MO was “unconscious” because, to me, it’s no alibi for an adult who otherwise knows how to file taxes and tie their shoes. The only question is “does the mindfuck serve their agenda?” If so, it was INTENTIONAL. Full stop, the end. Fuck them.

For clinical purposes, I don’t mind all the dickering about conscious intent vs. unconscious, “confabulation” vs. “fully conscious deception.” I appreciate nuanced studies regarding perpetrators’ states of mind in criminology. But, if it works for the perp, I still stubbornly, even stupidly consider the damaging effects “intentional” whether the perpetrator thinks they “meant” it or not.

weedfree
weedfree
1 month ago

The presumption that abusers “lack insight” that permeates the legal response to DV is totally flawed – most of the changing abusive behaviour programs are underpinned by this presumption and of course research shows the programs don’t really reduce recidivism or if they do only to the extent that the abuser learns a few new tricks and moves to more covert forms of abuse.
I don’t think even I understood this until my own family lawyer said my ex “lacked insight” re capacity to parent. This is usually linked to lack of opportunity to parent during marriage possibly due to mommy dearest being a controlling fish wife. No, FW did not lack insight- he just did not give a rats, and the world enabled him to be that way.

Last edited 1 month ago by weedfree
Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

Lacking insight obviously implies lacking premeditation– like babes or innocent animals who know not what they do!

I have the sense that patriarchal authorities offer this malice-of-forethought-neutralizing alibi just in case they themselves are ever busted for the same crime. But it would quite suddenly not apply if the same individual committed an armed heist. It certainly doesn’t account for how most abusers are cagey enough to evade detection and consequences for long periods (partly by copping the old “Dunno? Huh? Who me?” ruse). For what other crime aside from rape and DV do authorities so willingly accept perpetrators’ lame ass cover story that they “didn’t mean it”? “I don’t know how I managed to pull a gun on the armored truck guard, drive off with bags of cash and then lead police on a two hour freeway chase! I wasn’t thinking! I lack theory of mind!”

It reminds me of a recent study about how, contrary to what was previously believed, violent perps like domestic abusers don’t “lose control” (as many claim) but, in fact, become more controlled during assaults. It makes sense that, as one takes control of another person, one is “in control.”

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

There is an argument that domestic abusers may enter into a state called “deindividuated (infantile) rage” much like members of violent mobs who– like babies can’t tell the difference between self and mommy– can “lose themselves” in a crowd, lose any sense of individual responsibility for the violence they participate in and then have very fuzzy recall about events after the fact that enables them to say, with a certain amount of sincerity, “I don’t remember doing those things.” The same fuzzy recall is often seen among domestic abusers regarding their violent assaults whereas victims may have nearly filmic recall of the same events since their survival depended on sharpened awareness.

But, at least regarding people who participate in lynch mobs, getting “swept up/deindividuated” isn’t officially acceptable as an excuse. There’s evidence that people consciously and enthusiatically seek the conditions (arranging to meet with a group, helping to incite and whip up an unruly mood, gathering weapons, etc.) that trigger the “swept up” state of mind and that the state of mind is rewardingly “cathartic.” By the same token, domestic abusers also show signs of engineering circumstances in such a way that it would trigger this “swept away” state, including deliberately using substances as disinhibitors to aid in achieving the mental state.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

Ugh, I just realized that a lot of clinicians and bystanders wrongly use the term “dissociation” (trait of mental illness) to describe what appears to be a “checked out” state in NPD or antisocial personality disorder when what is actually happening is “deindividuation” (trait of criminality). One is beyond the control of the individual and the other is all about control.

Criminal perpetrators’ use of porn, booze, pills, violent films, etc., could be characterized as a means of jacking themselves up into the mental state whereby it’s more gratifying to commit whatever offenses they already wanted to commit. The same difference has been noted in mass killings performed by genuinely mentally deranged perpetrators vs. acts of militant terrorism. One is “crazy,” the other is completely pragmatic and rationally motivated even if the motives are heinous. Norwegian mass killer Anders Brievek even bragged in his diary about ritualistically taking a cocktail of steroids and drugs in order to maximize his own violence and minimize empathy prior to his attacks. It’s the same reason Hitler insisted the Luftwaffe take amphetamines.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

I think they almost always know what they’re doing and why, at least as far as bad behavior towards the family. They just do it because they want to and they want to get away with it and they don’t give a shit about anyone else. It really is NOT hard to figure out.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  weedfree

Yes, I agree with Sam Vaknin on many things, having been married to someone with NPD/BPD. The therapist also said that because my ex had been NPD for so long and had trauma, the BPD elements sometimes would be primary.

At times he would mess with my reality, and then other times our struggles would be all about his emotional and relational instability. He did so much splitting that at times I didn’t know which way was up. I was the best wife ever, or I was the worst wife ever. We had to divorce, or we had to stay together (15 years of that).

Being who I was then, I nearly destroyed myself trying to keep things good while ignoring the hints of infidelity and drug addiction.

The therapist said having him take off was a mercy, and I didn’t believe her at first. She was right, though.

Last edited 1 month ago by Elsie_
KellyWithAWhy
KellyWithAWhy
1 month ago

I’m not sure “gaslighting” is overused, so much as it is used inaccurately to describe good faith disagreements or differences of opinion (which can itself be gaslighting). Gaslighting, by definition, is deliberate and manipulative. It is entirely possible to affirm one’s own version of reality without attacking someone else’s version of reality. Sometimes reasonable people disagree, and perspectives are not necessarily mutually exclusive. To suggest otherwise is a narrow and overly-simplistic view, and it minimizes the experiences of people who are truly being gaslighted (gaslit?).

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
1 month ago
Reply to  KellyWithAWhy

I agree, and also agree that we need a discussion of the correct past participle.

Viktoria
Viktoria
1 month ago

I don’t think it is overused. We are in a time where we are finally being able to recognize, understand and put a label on this insidious, cruel type of abuse: intentional lying that results in the recipient being unable to discern reality. Gaslighting is psychological violence. The harm it did to me was severe. I will recover, heal and survive.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Viktoria

It can be so insidious can’t it?.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago

It’s being used by people who don’t know what it means. All manipulation is not gaslighting. It’s a specific kind of manipulation. People also use it to describe lies in general. Again, this type of dishonesty is specific to trying to get people to doubt their own experience. I’ve also seen it used to describe differences in opinion, FFS. So I would say it is overused in general but underused when it comes to FWs and abusers of all stripes. It seems to me that genuine gaslighting hardly ever gets called out. It’s become a faddish term after being adopted by idiots on social media who don’t understand what it is. They use it to try to sound smart and silence opinions they don’t like.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  OHFFS

I know what genuine gaslighting is like. I developed generalized anxiety and health problems because of that. I didn’t know which way was up by the time my marriage went down, and it took YEARS to sort through everything.

So a friend says that her husband was gaslighting her because he disagreed with her desire to go visit their grandchildren on a particular weekend. Then she told me Wednesday that they worked it out and left yesterday because this weekend was best for both of them. No, that’s not gaslighting.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsie_

I hear ya. It’s hell.

Stephen
Stephen
1 month ago

Oddly, there is a growing body of research on the impact pornographic sex is having on young people and their ideas on how to have sex because pornography is so available and the “sex” is portrayed so violently now. When I read that first example I was thinking about that research and it never really occured to me that the young man was gaslighting the girl or even lying to her. I think he’d have been gaslighting her if he told her “she seemed to be enjoying herself so what is the problem.” I’m not excusing the boyfriend at all because he was an insensitive jerk.

So, to answer the question, yes the term gaslighting is being overused.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 month ago

Maybe gaslighting is, sometimes, overused. Or…maybe we’re starting to recognize it and call it out.

And now I’m going to tell you the craziest gaslighting story I’ve come across in my life among my family and friends. A friend of mine was told that she failed 8th grade and had to repeat the grade. Her mother told her many years later that no, she hadn’t failed. She was told this so that she could go to the new high school that was opening up in our school district the year ‘after’ she would have started her freshman year at the old high school. There was nothing wrong with the old high school; my friend’s 2 older sisters graduated from there.

Can you imagine doing this to your child? The betrayal? The feelings of shame and failure that my friend experienced?

I’m not completely certain how her mother pulled this off, but her mom worked for the school district. Maybe she had my friend’s grades altered? I looked it up after my friend told me this story, and it’s a felony in the state this happened in to alter school records. I don’t know if it was then, but if it was, her mother committed a FELONY… why? Idk, my friend didn’t tell me what reason her mom gave her, if any.

My friend is a better person than I am, I guess. I would have cut off the mom immediately, then and there.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago

I’m flabbergasted by that story. What.The. Hell.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 month ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Indeed!

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 month ago

I should add that my friend had no reason to believe she was failing. Her grades weren’t great, mostly because she didn’t receive much support or encouragement at home. She wasn’t her mom’s favorite child, and her dad was pretty much checked out because of alcoholism.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
1 month ago

Asking whether gaslighting is overused is gaslighting

Cal
Cal
1 month ago

I think the worst “sin” people make is to misuse the term to describe other forms of psychological abuse. Which, honestly, I’d rather they did over minimising the abuse. Use a word wrong to say “I’m being abused” rather than keeping quiet, absolutely.

Abusers know what they’re doing. Again it doesn’t matter if they can put the specific words to it, they know they’re fucking with you. A parent knows when theyre dismissive of their child. A boyfriend knows they’re lying when they’re telling their sexually naive girlfriend that all sex is rough and everyone likes it that way.

You just can’t not know when you’re outright denying someone’s reality.

Adelante
Adelante
1 month ago

Late to the party, again, as I didn’t check in to CL yesterday and only got to my email just now. As it happens, I read Jamison’s article this morning, and was struck by how so much of what she relayed fit my experience. I did think that Jamison’s finish was weak, more than weak, actually. She brought back Leah’s story in a way that I thought minimized it, in that she used it to close with the idea that s/he who is gaslighted needs to figure out what they “get” from the dynamic.