What Gaslighting Isn't

What Gaslighting Isn't

Distinguishing between honest disagreement and pathological manipulation.
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You may have seen the term 'gaslighting' being thrown around lately, perhaps attached to an article that warns of the dangers of this phenomenon. This term has it's origins in a play from 1938 called "Gas Light". Since we are going to examine what gaslighting isn't, you could click here and get a decent enough explanation for what it is. Gas-lighting as a specific phenomenon of long-term manipulation among romantic partners is being interpreted more broadly to be something that occurs even in short-term social interactions. The purpose of this article is to make sure we understand what gaslighting isn't and to put to rest many of the biased and skewed interpretations of it.

If you read enough gaslighting articles or scroll through the search results of a simple google search for gaslighting, you quickly begin to see a trend. If we are to trust the majority of perspectives in these articles, women seem to be the primary victims of gaslighting, with narcissistic men being the victimizer. Part of this is because studies have shown that narcissism tends to show up in men more than women, and narcissism is the primary trait that fuels gaslighting and other manipulative behaviors. However, men clearly do not have a monopoly on narcissism or rewriting reality to suit our selfish needs. Women indeed have their own subjective realities just as men do, and women can indeed be narcissistic. However, there's a difference between pathological manipulation and honest disagreement between two human beings.

Almost all arguments between human beings are because someone has a different point of view about something, it's the clashing of two subjective interpretations of an event. The fact is, everyone has a subjective truth they want to convince others to believe. This is why religious people go out and minister to non-believers. This is why debates are important in understanding societal issues. Varying subjective realities are the truth of human interactions. Persuading others to understand and believe our subjective truths is an unspoken fact of every social interaction. It is one of the primary reasons why we communicate with one another. Having a genuine, different opinion about an issue or an event is not gaslighting, even though many articles have begun to argue just that. Disagreeing about social justice issues does not necessarily mean that you are pathologically invalidating someone's subjective experience in order to make them doubt their own experience. Labeling disagreement in this context as gaslighting seems to be another method of shutting down conversation and smearing social justice skeptics as pathological social deviants.

Gaslighting is a type of long-term manipulation that seems to mostly be talked about as a pop-psychology topic. I think if I were to give my own quick, and concise definition for gaslighting, I would say it is the conscious manipulation and control of another person's perspective for unethical reasons over a long period of time. However, manipulation itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. Manipulation has a negative connotation but education, therapy, and parenting are all forms of manipulation. Manipulation becomes a bad thing if your reasons are ignoble, this is the most important distinction. If you suspect your partner is gaslighting you, then you have already "won". Gaslighting that is recognized isn't gaslighting at all. Since gaslighting is a conscious manipulation designed to warp your perspective of reality, if it's recognized, then it is unsuccessful. This is assuming that you are actually correct in your assessment. With the broadening definition for what gaslighting is, I suspect the false positive rate has increased exponentially. People forget that they themselves are often the ones that are wrong.

Do you want to avoid gaslighting? Be skeptical, and hold true to what you believe. Consider other people's perspectives if they offer clear and convincing evidence and a persuasive argument. If you shape your understanding of reality on anything other than these standards, then you are probably going to be a target for manipulation one day by someone. Accomplished liars always take into consideration how you think, and will exploit that. They take notice of the things that you have a soft spot for and will no doubt use that against you. However, it should probably make you feel better that most people aren't smart enough or motivated enough to really pull off gaslighting with any real success, because it is such a long-term process. True narcissistic personality disorder is also quite rare, with probably no more than 1% of the general population fitting the actual diagnostic criteria. Having said all this, however, victims of abuse are a more delicate matter. I recommend seeking professional help in actual traumatic cases such as an abusive relationship where such manipulation occurred. Don't go to the internet for help, please seek a professional with a specialty in abuse and trauma.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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A Second Person Has Achieved Long-Term Remission Of The HIV Virus

A second man has had long term remission of the HIV virus.

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Over a decade after the first man, known as the Berlin Patient, was declared HIV-free, another patient may also be cured. Though it's too early for scientists to say for sure, the London Patient has been in a long term remission for around 18 months without the help of medication. Both men were treated with a bone marrow transplant. However, these stem cells carried a rare mutation in the genes that affect the production of the CCR5 protein, which HIV viruses latch onto to enter the cell. The virus cannot latch onto the mutated version of the protein, thus blocking its entry into the cells.

With the transplant of these HIV resistant genes, the body effectively builds a new immune system free of the virus.

After the Berlin Patient went into remission, scientists tried and failed to replicate the cure and were unable to until the London Patient, whose HIV count has reduced into undetectable numbers. While this is extremely helpful, bone marrow transplants are not a viable option to cure all HIV infected people, as it is an extremely risky process and comes with many side effects. Even so, scientists are developing ways to extract bone marrow from HIV infected people, genetically modifying them to produce the same mutations on the CCR5 gene or the inability to express that gene at all, and then replacing it back into the patient so they can still build resistance without the negative effects of a bone marrow transplant. There have also been babies whose genomes have been edited to remove the CCR5 gene, allowing them to grow up resistant to HIV.

This does not eliminate the threat of the HIV virus, however.

There is another strand of the virus, called X4, that uses the CXCR4 protein to enter the cell. Even if the editing of the CCR5 allows immunity against one strand, it is possible for a person to be infected with the X4 strand of the virus. Despite this, immunization against one strand could save a countless number of lives, as well as the vaccine that is currently in the stages of development for HIV. Along with the London Patient, there are 37 other patients who have received bone marrow transplants, six of which from donors without the mutation.

Of these patients, number 19, known as the Dusseldorf Patient, has been off anti-HIV drugs for 4 months. It may not be a complete cure, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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