What is gaslighting to you?

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
I was recently accused of gaslighting on a website that caters to people who - to put it bluntly - have lots of illnesses. I have lots of illnesses so I'm not running them down, I just don't put #"a list of all my medical problems" after every post. I wrote a post about why pain meds won't be given out like they used to be before it was found that they were addictive after all. Thank you Sacklers for making so many people believe that they have a right to have as much pain medicine as they want. I thought gaslighting was when person A would try to make person B think they were losing their mind. There are many ways to do this, my ex-husband used to tell me my blue couch was green, and he brought his friends over to tell me so. That is what I think of when I think of gaslighting. To say that doctor's usually don't believe patients who say their pain is 14/10, they promote their self diagnosis as being diagnosed by a medical professional, and telling the doc only 1 pain med works for them, is not gaslighting, it is what the docs told me in ER. I was actually trying to be helpful.

So, is gaslighting saying you don't believe someone, or their pain is all in their head, which I didn't and never would say, or is it trying by different methods to get someone to believe they are crazy?
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Gaslighting is purposefully distorting the truth to manipulate someones beliefs and make them doubt their sanity.

The couch thing is a perfect example. For me, someone saying X was a company standard and continuing to change X at their whim or want was gaslighting.
 
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arfie

MyPTSD Pro
may i give away my age by saying my own understanding of gaslighting stems from having worked by literal gaslight. the strobe effect of literal gaslight shifts and distorts physics just far enough that it can be tricky to know exactly where the physical parts, etc., actually are in a specific moment in time. an old world example of psychological gaslighting would be that movie you loved as a kid and when you see it as an adult, you are embarrassed to admit you could ever have been such a dork. or. . . big sis finds a way to make it look like **you** broke that lamp.

buttttttttttaaaaaaaaa. . . i just did a web search on "gaslighting" and got a reminder of how old world i am. may i translate the diversity of the results as "slang?" it means whatever the speaker says it means.

sigh. . . i'll bet i'm just confusing you further, right alongside myself. another fine example of gaslighting?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
So, is gaslighting saying you don't believe someone, or their pain is all in their head, which I didn't and never would say, or is it trying by different methods to get someone to believe they are crazy?
It's both those things* and more?
It's telling someone their experience, memory, feelings, thoughts are wrong/inaccurate/made up.

*Although saying you don't believe someone might not be gaslighting, suppose it depends on the context, motivation and situation.

But also, someone might experience something as gaslighting when the other person hasn't intended that, because people are complex and we all bring stuff into it.
 

Friday

Moderator
It’s like the word “trigger”.

A trigger is a mechanism that starts a series of events resulting in a projectile leaving a device, although most commonly referring to a projectile leaving a weapon.

That term has been borrowed by nearly every branch of science and engineering to describe a (usually external, or previously external) “thing” that starts a series of events, resulting in a cumulative event. A chemical trigger, a psychological trigger, etc. As well as has become part of the common vernacular to indicate the starting point of absolutely anything. This triggers that.

Hence people “misuse” the term “triggered” all the durn time when referring to anything trauma/PTSD … because they’re not using the definition that’s been lain out by psychology, but are using the slang version of this caused that.

***

The “actual” definition of gaslighting is a movie-trope; deliberately lying in order to manipulate someone into believing they’re insane.

It’s gotten watered down to mean any of the following

- deliberately lying to someone in order to manipulate them
- lying to someone for any reason
- being wrong / incorrect (even not knowing it) & arguing your point, (even if you come to believe you were wrong, and correcting yourself)
- disagreeing with someone

^^^
All of which means when someone accuses me of gaslighting them? I spell the f*ck out what I am actually doing, and what I am not. 😉

In order of most common to least : Someone I’m disagreeing with; someone who thinks they can mindread, & my life is “really” about them <casts eyes skyward>; someone who isn’t even part of the conversation but who is inserting themselves in it by attempting to put others on their back foot by accusing them of whatever. Accusations du jour are gaslighting & narcissism, but really it’s any trendy “you suck” wedge out there. It’s a very boring way for someone -usually a newcomer- to pivot a conversation so they’re at the center of it. Shrug. I grew up going to state dinners. Conversational sweet nothings (enchanted, delighted, my pleasure, you must simply, how divine, how charming, how intriguing, we’d be desolated/inconsolable/whatever without whomever) & gymnastics (pivots, tap dances, pole vaults, seductions, misdirections, et al) are dull as f*ck. Even by top operators who smoothtalk for a living. The gawky & awkward attempts of gossips, queen bees, and the shallow? Pfft. Nope. At least put some effort in, if you’re going to attempt to bully & browbeat others, ya know? Learn your damn craft. A 14yo southern bell has more sting and subtlety. ANYHOW, I’m off of that tangent. Point being?

- I am disagreeing with you. I am not deliberately lying to you in order to manipulate you.

- Dude. I’m not even disagreeing with you, much less lying to you in order to manipulate you. What I am saying? Has nothing to do with you. Because I am talking about myself, my life, and my experience. Full stop. I have no problem with your vanity, until it means you think everything about ME is actually about you. It’s not.

- Pfft. I already think you’re crazy. Which means I DGAF what you think. And am also not talking to you. Much less attempting to convince you of anything. For any reason. So f*ck off, and play your BS mind games on someone else.
 
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Mee

MyPTSD Pro
My therapist said something I found important in my first year of therapy- we learn to gaslight as kids - the lying stage of development where we will deny what is clearly there in front of us and our parents. Most people learn empathy and outgrow this almost all of the time but might attempt gaslighting if it’s for sense of safety or a pattern we’ve grown up with. ( I know I grew up seeing it and performing it and I see it all around me when others don’t)


Here is a difficulty with ‘gaslighting’ - the ‘deliberately ‘ deceiving and the idea of ‘trying to induce doubt’ into someone. I think when most people lie ( not gaslight) it can do that but the element of trying to induce self doubt in the ‘victim’ isn’t there. I have to think this to stay walking through the world. I also think most people are more about themselves and there own feelings and perception than they are of others’. Then you can add to the cohort of those people those of us who have mental health difficulties of one sort or another.

I’m lucky to ‘only’ have ptsd to deal with but the trauma lens can be distorting enough - I’m pretty sure other health issues can distort our perception in different ways - so what appears gaslighting might not be. Or might be but might not be recognised by the person doing it?

Then there is difference in perception.

I am always blown away by the theory that some women can see 99 million more colours than the average person and most women see more colours than most men.

My sitting room is a colour on the cusp of green and blue . Most people read it as blue and I smile when another person reads it more like I do because it’s a very unusual perception to read it more green than blue . The sofa example therefore made me smile ( though I presume the sofa was clearly blue :) and have no reason to think otherwise) but my room is decorated this way as a sort of ‘aide memoire’ or joke that we see the world differently yet all correctly. and that that is super hard to deal with at times.

Sometimes being super sensitive is ok to agree to differ - our sitting room looks ok what ever colour it is ! But recognising degradation in words or social structures? I see things that I’m not sure if it’s trauma lens or wrong and lots of this forms therapy.

So I’m going to also say gaslighting can become the tome and narrative of our critical voice or inner monologue if it’s what we are used to hearing in our environment. And then I think the ‘deliberate’ element almost becomes moot because it’s become our ‘cultural norm’ and the deliberate element unconscious. I think but am not wedded to the idea ( aware it could be trauma lens) that this type of ‘endemic’ of ‘naturalised’ gaslighting has become a problematic factor in some spheres and communities.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
I would put my keys on the key hanger in the hallway. Go to bed. I would attempt to find them in the morning to get to work and they would no longer be on the hanger. I would ask my now ex - have you seen them? He would say 'Nope. What is wrong with you? You are always losing your keys! I married you because you were smart.'

Concerned, and recognizing there was stuff going on in the relationship that wasn't good, I put a Voice Activated Recorder in the kitchen and waited. I found out all sorts of interesting things. Including my ex laughing with his brother about how he kept hiding my keys, remove things from the kitchen that I needed for cooking, put things places so I thought I had misplaced them. He installed a tracking devise in my car and when I figured it out and said something told everyone he knew that I was paranoid schizophrenic. He did unbelievably crazy things that were unbelievable so that when I reacted people could see I was 'crazy'.

He purposely tried to get me to believe I was crazy and everyone in the town. He destroyed my life.

That's gaslighting.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
It’s like the word “trigger”.

A trigger is a mechanism that starts a series of events resulting in a projectile leaving a device, although most commonly referring to a projectile leaving a weapon.

That term has been borrowed by nearly every branch of science and engineering to describe a (usually external, or previously external) “thing” that starts a series of events,

not to split hairs, but i believe the borrowing went the other way. dictionaries still describe "trigger" as a mechanical device. the development of guns and bombs were old news long before psychology was born.
 

Friday

Moderator
not to split hairs, but i believe the borrowing went the other way. dictionaries still describe "trigger" as a mechanical device. the development of guns and bombs were old news long before psychology was born.
That’s what I said. “A mechanism that starts a series of events resulting in a projectile leaving a device, most commonly a weapon”

Triggers were around long before guns & bombs… with cross bows, trebuchets, and other projectile weapons. The lever one pulled to activate the series of events simply became smaller and smaller over the centuries, is all. Pull the lever switched to pull the trigger. It’s arguable the lever was just a giant trigger, as prior to that people had to physically cut a rope to release the stored tension, whilst the lever mechanism released the tension without having to restring the device every time one wanted to use it, as no ropes had to be cut. Either way?

^^^ That term being borrowed BY nearly every branch of science & engineering? Includes the science of psychology borrowing it.
 
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