Misuse of the Term Gaslighting in Popular Culture: What does it really mean?

By: Caroline Clarke

In this generation it is not uncommon to hear from friends about how someone they know “gaslit” them. When scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, it is virtually impossible to evade the word “gaslighting”. So what is gaslighting anyway? Where does it come from?

The term “gaslighting” originates from the 1938 play Gas Light in which the husband turns down the gas-powered lights to make them flicker. When his wife points out the lights have been flickering, he denies her claim and instead pushes her to believe that it is all in her head.

Nowadays, when someone uses the term “gaslighting”, they are often referring to a time when someone lied to them. However, lying and gaslighting are not interchangeable terms, despite that being the trend in popular culture. Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic often used in abusive relationships to maintain power over the victim. A technique much more malicious than lying, gaslighting causes the victim to question their perception of reality and their mental sanity. This breaking down of the victim’s mental state and their ability to trust themselves is a major reason victims will feel it is impossible for them to leave the relationship.

Signs you are being gaslit include (but are not limited to):

  • Consistently second-guessing yourself and your instincts
  • Excessively apologizing to the person
  • Believing that you are too sensitive or over-emotional
  • Doubting your own memory
  • Blaming yourself for the way the other person treats you
  • Walking on eggshells around the person
  • Feeling like you cannot do anything correctly
  • Making excuses for the person’s behavior or withholding information from family and friends

If any of these experiences ring true for you and you suspect you may be a victim of gaslighting, know that help is always available. Remember: you are not at fault in this relationship. The first step is to reach out and tell someone about the abuse.

If you or someone you know is a victim of gaslighting please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Psychotherapy & Psychiatric Services. Contact our Manhattan, NY or Paramus, NJ offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com

References: https://www.thehotline.org/resources/what-is-gaslighting/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s