On the topic of "gaslighting" - What it is and what it isn't

Discussion in 'Off-topic Discussion' started by ProtagonistOfMyLife, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. ProtagonistOfMyLife

    ProtagonistOfMyLife Fapstronaut

    I have seen a lot of people use the word online here. It's been trending in society for quite some time now and nearly everbody seems to know what it means.
    However, I have never seen a word (except for a exceptions) that has been understood more wrongly and has been more misused.


    For those of you who don't here is the wikipedia definition:

    is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's belief."


    "An abuser's ultimate goal is to make their victim second guess their every choice and question their sanity, making them more dependent on the abuser. A tactic which further degrades a target's self-esteem is for the abuser to ignore, then attend to, then ignore the victim again, so that the victim lowers their personal bar for what constitutes affection and perceives themselves as less worthy of affection.

    There are two characteristics of gaslighting: The abuser wants full control of feelings, thoughts, or actions of the victim; and the abuser discreetly emotionally abuses the victim in hostile, abusive, or coercive ways."

    And here is renown Merriam-Websters Definition:

    "to attempt to make (someone) believe that he or she is going insane (as by subjecting that person to a series of experiences that have no rational explanation)"


    A lot of people seem to believe that simply questioning someone's reaction or point of view, or, giving an honest evalution of it can constitute to "gaslighting".

    That means that some intellectual powerhouses have come up with the very extreme idea that even saying "you are overreacting" or "you are crazy" constitutes to 'gaslighting'.

    By that logic, if A insulted B and B wants to stab A with a knive in the face for it A's reaction of saying "Hey, calm down, you are overreacting" would constitute to A 'gaslighting' B.

    Seems kinda stupid right? Well that's because it is stupid.
    It is valid concept to question other's perception because our own perception does not always necessarily reflect reality in a good way. Our perception can fail us, we could remember something wrongly or simply seem to remember things that haven't really happened but believe them to be true.

    Using "gaslighting" to destroy every attempt at trying to find out the truth and reconnect with reality is just in poor taste.

    For example, someone could buy icecream put it into the fridge and eat it after a while. However, he was flying on autopilot because he was busy with work and preoccupied with other things so he forgot, that he ate the ice cream.

    Now, the room mate was also at home and the ice-cream-eater asks the room mate: "Yo did you eat my icecream. Why didn't you ask me?"
    And RM: "Chill dude, I didn't eat you icecream, you must have eaten it yourself."
    And Ice-cream-eater: "I clearly remember having put it in the fridge, but it don't remember eating it, stop gaslighting me!"

    You see my general point. right?
    Our perception can fail us, as well as our reaction to things, impulsivity control and emotional regulation mechanisms. We are not perfect and we can be happy if other people point out or shortcomings and stop us from doing stupid things that we'd regret.

    Gaslighting is simply - continous, regular occuring attempts to undermine someone's reality in order to destabilize someone's mental health and stability.
    Basically, you are convincing someone perfectly healthy that they are insane, and can not trust themselves.

    For gaslighting several prequesites have to be met otherwise it is not gaslighting:

    1. The person doing the 'gaslighting' has to know/believe that the victims perception and reaction is actually valid and reflects reality, but still tries to convince them otherwise.

    You could sum that up as "malicious intent". You know that someone is right in reacting the way they are reacting but still try to convince them otherwise. This goes not only for reactions but also for all other forms of gaslighting.
    If A honestly believes that X happened and tries to convince B that it did, even though it actually didn't, then it still is not gaslighting, as A doesn't have any manipulation intent.

    2. Gaslighting always has the goal of making people question their sanity, questioning singular events or reactions without malicious intent can never be gaslighting.

    So, if you boyfriend starts going rage-mode because you turned off the television and you tell them to "stop going crazy" it is not gaslighting.

    If you tell your girlfriend to stop "overreacting" because she went crazy because you talked about another girl and you said you thinks that she looks pretty, then it is not gaslighting.

    It's not even manipulation.
    So many hobby-psychologists and know-it-alls throw with words around themselves they don't even understand rudimentairly, really it's so embarrassing, it's no wonder English had to incorporate the word fremdschämen into it's lexicon.

    Don't be that person. Gaslighting is actually a very serious thing, mostly done by sociopaths and psychopaths. Don't use this word just because you don't like something or don't agree something. It's a very serious allegation and if you don't actually know if the other person has malicous intent at manipulation it's totally unwarranted.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019

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