Gaslighting has been a term since 1938. It originated from a play and later film adaptation of the same name. The plot involves a husband slowly convincing his wife that she is going insane. Per the term, gaslights are involved in his attempts. Since then, it has been used to describe a pattern of abusive behavior that exists in relationships. It has become more popular in recent years with the increase of connectivity via social media platforms. Although there are a few playful memes, gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation.
Gaslighting occurs when one person dismisses, devalues or even contradicts another person’s experience. The person experiencing it questions their own perception, memory and in some instances sanity. This goes beyond miscommunication or having different perceptions of a situation which is not uncommon even in healthy relationships. Communication errors and misunderstandings happen in relationships. There may even be times where one person attempts to correct the other. The major difference is these interactions are not designed to control the other person. Gaslighting is done intentionally to undermine another person’s experience of the world. For instance, hitting a partner and convincing them that it is their fault. Telling a partner that abusive language is “normal” and that they are being “too sensitive.” This is not typical behavior for anyone.
Gaslighting may be the symptom of a much larger issue, please seek support as needed.