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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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.

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When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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