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Old 01-13-2020, 06:42 PM
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Difference between "gaslighting" and having one's beliefs/assumptions challenged


In a thread a few weeks ago, one poster complained about "gaslighting" in the transgender debate issue, while another poster denied that there was gaslighting going on. (Not mentioning names, since this isn't a Pit call-out thread).


In an ideal world, everyone would be operating off of the exact same facts, logic, and also interpret reality the same way. But people of course do not. So what I wanted to ask was, where exactly does the boundary lie between "gaslighting" someone, and legit differences in debating viewpoints?

If Flat-Earthers or Moon-landing-hoaxers or anti-vaxxers continuously pushed their obviously false viewpoints onto society, relentlessly, we would rightfully consider that gaslighting. But on an issue like transgenderism, for instance - (where you have one side that firmly believes that there are men and women and you can't "truly" become the other gender, and then you have one side that believes that you can indeed switch over and that there are more than two genders,) who is truly gaslighting the other?

Is it "gaslighting" if you push for your own side relentlessly and repeatedly? If your beliefs or assumptions are being undermined by others, when is it you being gaslit, and when is it just your wrong beliefs being rightfully challenged?

(Not a thread only about transgenderism, but all sorts of other issues as well. Is someone who believes the Earth is billions of years old being gaslit by people who continuously tell him/her that the Earth is only 6,000? Is an atheist being gaslit by people who tell him God exists? Is a Trump voter who thinks Trump is fantastic being gaslit by people who tell him Trump is the worst president ever? etc.)
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:55 PM
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If Flat-Earthers or Moon-landing-hoaxers or anti-vaxxers continuously pushed their obviously false viewpoints onto society, relentlessly, we would rightfully consider that gaslighting.
Not as I understand the term, assuming their beliefs are sincere. Which is not necessarily a safe assumption for everyone.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

Last edited by Ruken; 01-13-2020 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:01 PM
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I have not taken gaslighting to mean what you imply. As such I have no answer.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:41 PM
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Gaslighting is when you try to get someone to deny what they know is true so they doubt themselves and are easier to manipulate and control.

Debate is an honest criticism of your opinions and someone elses.

Totally different.

Gaslighting would be if I said 'you never made a post about gaslighting on 1/13, you're crazy'. not the same thing.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:57 PM
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Gaslighting involves deceit. Honest debate does not.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:14 PM
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I think you need to define gaslighting if you want this to be a good discussion.

I use "gaslighting" to describe the phenomenon whereby Person A points out something that is very obvious to them and Person B responds with a rabid denial of that very obvious thing, even when that obvious thing is sitting right in the room with them. The goal is to make Person A question their sanity so they hesitate before speaking up in the future.

Person A: Can you stop farting, please?

Person B: I'm not <farting noise> farting. I don't know what you are <farting noise> talking about. <farting noise> Maybe you're <farting noise> hearing things again. You know how sensitive to <farting noise> noises and smells you are.

Person A: Stop trying to gaslight me, you farting jerk.


I used "gaslighting" in the aforementioned thread because for much of the thread I was scolded after confessing to having negative feelings about a suspected edgelord calling himself a woman and then a poster who had been a part of that condemnation denied there would be a problem with someone having negative feelings about a suspected edgelord calling himself a woman. It felt "gaslighty" because it seemed like that poster was pretending my experience in that thread didn't exist and that I was thus crazy.

But we realized there had been a big miscommunication between us and we kissed and made up.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:32 PM
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Double secret gaslighting is when you gaslight about the meaning of gaslighting.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:36 PM
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IIf Flat-Earthers or Moon-landing-hoaxers or anti-vaxxers continuously pushed their obviously false viewpoints onto society, relentlessly, we would rightfully consider that gaslighting.
No, you would not rightfully consider that gaslighting, because relentlessness is not a defining or even an important feature of gaslighting. Go read an article about it and come back when you're ready to construct a thesis based on correct assumptions.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:39 PM
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Double secret gaslighting is when you gaslight about the meaning of gaslighting.
Only a crazy person would think that.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:46 PM
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Only a crazy person would think that.
You've read my posts here.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:07 PM
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I think there are people that gaslight, but they aren't exactly lying. They just have a fluid relationship with reality, and decide the truth is whatever they decide it is. So they decide they didn't say that, or that they didn't do that, or whatever. It's infuriating and it can make you doubt yourself because they don't seem to be lying. They just convince themselves the truth is what they want it to be.

This very rarely happens in this format.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:57 PM
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Gaslighting involves deceit. Honest debate does not.
I agree that this is the key point. Gaslighting is an attempt to manipulate somebody's beliefs by giving them information the gaslighter knows is false.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:03 PM
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You've read my posts here.
You've never posted here.


... and so forth. I gather for the purposes of debate, "gaslighting" isn't:

"You're crazy for drawing that conclusion from that evidence. The evidence really suggests such-and-such."

...but more like...

"You're only imagining the evidence you say you're basing your conclusion on. I don't see any such evidence. It doesn't exist."

I'm just now watching a Frontline episode about climate-change deniers. The mental Kevlar they've built for themselves is frustratingly impressive.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:13 PM
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I think there are people that gaslight, but they aren't exactly lying. They just have a fluid relationship with reality, and decide the truth is whatever they decide it is. So they decide they didn't say that, or that they didn't do that, or whatever. It's infuriating and it can make you doubt yourself because they don't seem to be lying. They just convince themselves the truth is what they want it to be.
My parents are experts in this kind of gaslighting. I'll bring up something shitty they did to us kids back in the day (something that can always be corroborated by someone else), and they will always deny it happened the way I said it did. "We slapped you guys, but we never made anyone's nose bleed. That's ridiculous!". "Sure, we whupped you, but never with a broom handle. You're always making up crazy stories!"

If my siblings didn't back me up every time, I probably would be fooled into thinking I'm crazy.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:14 PM
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Gaslighting is more like “you didn’t experience what you think you experienced.” It’s come up in the vein of “you weren’t raped/assaulted because you actually consented to whatever happened” or “you weren’t subjected to racist/bigoted behavior Even though you think you saw it because you don’t know what was truly in the heart of the person who did that.”
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:14 PM
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Gaslighting is, as noting above, involves giving information that is known to be false and pretending it isn't.

Stating that another poster is gaslighting is calling them a liar.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:27 PM
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I agree that this is the key point. Gaslighting is an attempt to manipulate somebody's beliefs by giving them information the gaslighter knows is false.
Although gaslighting involves falsehoods and attempts to manipulate other people's beliefs, I don't think this post quite gets at the true essence of gaslighting. If I claim there's a unicorn in my bedroom, then post a fake or manipulated photo of a unicorn in my bedroom, that's giving others information I know is false--"lying" or "hoaxing"--but it isn't necessarily "gaslighting". Gaslighting is if I play a prank and sneak a horse into your bedroom, then stand there and look you right in the eye and say "Horse? What horse? There's never been a horse in your bedroom". Possibly while the horse is still standing there whinnying and nuzzling my hand for another piece of apple. (I would also say that merely saying "Whoa, someone snuck a horse into your BEDROOM? Wow, man, that's crazy! Uh, but that totally wasn't me who did that!" is also not really "gaslighting".)

It's not just making you believe something untrue, it's making you think you're the crazy one.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:42 PM
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I agree that this is the key point. Gaslighting is an attempt to manipulate somebody's beliefs by giving them information the gaslighter knows is false.
I think it is important to look at it from the victim's side, though - otherwise this is a bit like saying, "Verbal abuse is insulting someone in a way that the insulter knows is wrong." From the perspective of the abuser, he/she may think they're not being abusive, they're dishing out what the recipient needs to hear. And from the victim's standpoint, they may consider hurtful words hurtful regardless of whether the insulter considers their words right or wrong.
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Old 01-13-2020, 11:06 PM
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I think it is important to look at it from the victim's side, though - otherwise this is a bit like saying, "Verbal abuse is insulting someone in a way that the insulter knows is wrong." From the perspective of the abuser, he/she may think they're not being abusive, they're dishing out what the recipient needs to hear. And from the victim's standpoint, they may consider hurtful words hurtful regardless of whether the insulter considers their words right or wrong.
This is false. The abuser knows they are lying. They are not trying to reason the target into believing their lies. They are trying to rob the target of any sense of truth so that any statement seems as believable as the next.

In a normal debate we can point back historically and say "ah, you said thus, and I responded thus." The gaslighter covers not only his rhetorical tracks but our own, trying to pretend that we reasoned ourselves into this place in some other way than we did.

Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. You're to forget anything you heard to the contrary, and you'll comply because we've changed our story so much that you're not confident what's authoritative.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:12 AM
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Gaslighting is, as noting above, involves giving information that is known to be false and pretending it isn't.

Stating that another poster is gaslighting is calling them a liar.
Is that board policy?
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:51 AM
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In an ideal world, everyone would be operating off of the exact same facts, logic, and also interpret reality the same way. But people of course do not. So what I wanted to ask was, where exactly does the boundary lie between "gaslighting" someone, and legit differences in debating viewpoints?
The point of the original film was the victim of gaslighting was actively being convinced that she was insane, by virtue of challenging her perception of reality (that the lights were dimming.) It was an active, targeted campaign of psychological torture against a specific person.

The term suddenly became popular about, I dunno, seven or eight years ago in the manner such things do these days ("ghosting" suddenly became a thing just before that.) Originally the term was borrowed as a way of describing psychological manipulating in relationships, usually romantic ones. Since then, though, it has come to mean pretty much anything; in a short Google search I found the term used to describe almost any negative behaviour in a relationship, including being too quiet, being too loud, changing the subject, arguing, not arguing, and a dozen other things, which is unfortunate because it ruins the word of value in describing what it actually is.

Expanding the term to describe people arguing over different opinions, or to make the term synonymous with "lying," is really watering the term down to meaninglessness. Of COURSE people have different viewpoints of reality, or else we wouldn't have anything to argue about.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:27 PM
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Expanding the term to describe people arguing over different opinions, or to make the term synonymous with "lying," is really watering the term down to meaninglessness. Of COURSE people have different viewpoints of reality, or else we wouldn't have anything to argue about.
But consider the following hypothetical (which I'm sure plays out in real life):

Trump voter: "Trump is the greatest president ever, Trump has done nothing wrong."

Trump opponent: "Trump is the most corrupt president ever, terrible scandals, 13,000 documented lies, got Americans killed, tried to get Ukraine to investigate Biden, was helped out by Russians,"

Trump voter: "Trump has done nothing wrong."


Assuming both sides are absolutely sincere in their beliefs, is one getting gaslit here?
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:28 PM
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The point of the original film was the victim of gaslighting was actively being convinced that she was insane, by virtue of challenging her perception of reality (that the lights were dimming.) It was an active, targeted campaign of psychological torture against a.


“Gaslighting” is not a synonym of “lying” , but deception is a necessary condition of gaslighting - it’s not gaslighting if I don’t perceive the lights are dimming, it’s gaslighting if I know they are dimming and try to convince the victim that they aren’t.


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Old 01-14-2020, 12:50 PM
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Assuming both sides are absolutely sincere in their beliefs, is one getting gaslit here?
No.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:16 PM
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I was under the impression that gaslighting also tended to involve actually altering the world and then claiming that the altered state was always the case, thus the better to crush the victim's perception of reality.

Which I suppose would make Trump's sharpie shenanigans re: hurricanes a form of attempted gaslighting, give or take the fact the Trump is such a bumfuck incompetent that nobody was fooled for even a second. And that his intent wasn't to damage other people's sanity, but rather to protect his own damaged sanity.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:21 PM
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I was under the impression that gaslighting also tended to involve actually altering the world and then claiming that the altered state was always the case, thus the better to crush the victim's perception of reality.
I think the "perception of reality" part is the one necessary element. It's when someone tries to convince someone that they can't trust their own perceptions, either because their senses are too faulty ("you're too sensitive") or because they are insufficiently perceptive ("you don't understand what actually happened").
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:44 PM
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It's not about actually making someone think they're crazy. That's a tall order, (although I think that's the original meaning of the term).

Really, it's about distorting the frame of discourse to avoid addressing an argument. It's often done with the types of phrases which Acsenray mentions above: "you're just being too sensitive," "you don't understand what actually happened," etc.

Fox News does it when they say about Trump: "What are the Democrats so upset about? Presidents have always done that." It doesn't have to be a lie, but it often is--or at least is deceptive and dishonest.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:53 PM
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But consider the following hypothetical (which I'm sure plays out in real life):

Trump voter: "Trump is the greatest president ever, Trump has done nothing wrong."

Trump opponent: "Trump is the most corrupt president ever, terrible scandals, 13,000 documented lies, got Americans killed, tried to get Ukraine to investigate Biden, was helped out by Russians,"

Trump voter: "Trump has done nothing wrong."


Assuming both sides are absolutely sincere in their beliefs, is one getting gaslit here?
This is not really a valid example of gaslighting. Read my post above.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:15 PM
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Not as I understand the term, assuming their beliefs are sincere. Which is not necessarily a safe assumption for everyone.

...

Gaslighting involves deceit. Honest debate does not.

...

Gaslighting is an attempt to manipulate somebody's beliefs by giving them information the gaslighter knows is false.

...

Gaslighting is, as noting above, involves giving information that is known to be false and pretending it isn't.

...

The point of the original film was the victim of gaslighting was actively being convinced that she was insane, by virtue of challenging her perception of reality (that the lights were dimming.) It was an active, targeted campaign of psychological torture against a specific person.
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Assuming both sides are absolutely sincere in their beliefs, is one getting gaslit here?
Seriously?
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:24 PM
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Is that board policy?
Board policy would be up to the mods not me and could be brought up on ATMB if you desired. GD is not the forum for that.

I merely describe that while not all lying is gaslighting, all gaslighting involves lying, and the accusation is calling someone a liar. Go from there.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:06 PM
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As Rick Jay said, I always thought it was an attempt to manipulate reality in order to convince the victim that they're nuts. Even if its meaning has broadened, reading this thread convinces me that there is certainly no general agreement on what it actually means.

For example, on Sunday, Putin's puppet tweeted that it was snowing in DC when the temperature was 52 deg. Is that gaslighting? Did he actually believe it? Did anyone?
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:21 PM
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It's not about actually making someone think they're crazy. That's a tall order, (although I think that's the original meaning of the term).

Really, it's about distorting the frame of discourse to avoid addressing an argument. It's often done with the types of phrases which Acsenray mentions above: "you're just being too sensitive," "you don't understand what actually happened," etc.
I'm not I'm sold on the claim that "gaslighting" has lost its original meaning of deliberate attempts to attack one's confidence in their understanding of reality, and changed to just mean crappy argument.

Wait, are you gaslighting me?

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As Rick Jay said, I always thought it was an attempt to manipulate reality in order to convince the victim that they're nuts. Even if its meaning has broadened, reading this thread convinces me that there is certainly no general agreement on what it actually means.

For example, on Sunday, Putin's puppet tweeted that it was snowing in DC when the temperature was 52 deg. Is that gaslighting? Did he actually believe it? Did anyone?
As I hinted in my own comment about Trump, gaslighting can't work if the gaslighter has no credibility. Before you can shake somebody's confidence in reality, they have to believe that you are credible when you talk about reality. (Unless take the approach of covertly altering reality around them, that is.)
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:47 PM
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I'm not I'm sold on the claim that "gaslighting" has lost its original meaning of deliberate attempts to attack one's confidence in their understanding of reality, and changed to just mean crappy argument.

Wait, are you gaslighting me?

As I hinted in my own comment about Trump, gaslighting can't work if the gaslighter has no credibility. Before you can shake somebody's confidence in reality, they have to believe that you are credible when you talk about reality. (Unless take the approach of covertly altering reality around them, that is.)
Well, if that's its only meaning, then its frequent usage isn't justified. I just don't see people deliberately creating schemes to make other people question their own sanity--except on TV and in movies. It might be something that might happen privately between two individuals in a dysfunctional relationship, but not in public. Certainly not on a message board.

So my assumption is that the term has acquired a secondary meaning.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:59 PM
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I use "gaslighting" to describe the phenomenon whereby Person A points out something that is very obvious to them and Person B responds with a rabid denial of that very obvious thing, even when that obvious thing is sitting right in the room with them. The goal is to make Person A question their sanity so they hesitate before speaking up in the future.

Person A: Can you stop farting, please?

Person B: I'm not <farting noise> farting. I don't know what you are <farting noise> talking about. <farting noise> Maybe you're <farting noise> hearing things again. You know how sensitive to <farting noise> noises and smells you are.

Person A: Stop trying to gaslight me, you farting jerk.
Don't you have to set the farts on fire for it to be gaslighting?
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:03 PM
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Well, if that's its only meaning, then its frequent usage isn't justified. I just don't see people deliberately creating schemes to make other people question their own sanity--except on TV and in movies. It might be something that might happen privately between two individuals in a dysfunctional relationship, but not in public. Certainly not on a message board.

So my assumption is that the term has acquired a secondary meaning.
My assumption is that people are just using the word wrong.

Call me a purist, but if people using words wrong automatically changed their meanings, then call me an echidna.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:21 PM
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As I hinted in my own comment about Trump, gaslighting can't work if the gaslighter has no credibility. Before you can shake somebody's confidence in reality, they have to believe that you are credible when you talk about reality. (Unless take the approach of covertly altering reality around them, that is.)
Arguably, Trump has gaslit the fuck out of all of his base and a number of people on the center-right because they are willing to grant him the requisite amount of credibility.

That is, if it counts when people voluntarily participate in their own gaslighting. I think it does count.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:30 PM
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Arguably, Trump has gaslit the fuck out of all of his base and a number of people on the center-right because they are willing to grant him the requisite amount of credibility.

That is, if it counts when people voluntarily participate in their own gaslighting. I think it does count.
Hmm, does it count as a successful gaslighting if the person simply accepts the new reality rather than questioning their sanity?

"Oh, you say the lights have always been this dim? Okay! So, what's for dinner?"

I'd think an actual gaslighter would be disappointed.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:42 PM
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For example, on Sunday, Putin's puppet tweeted that it was snowing in DC when the temperature was 52 deg. Is that gaslighting?
No, that's just lying. Gaslighting would be later claiming that he never said anything about snow.

Last edited by Skywatcher; 01-14-2020 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:49 PM
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As I hinted in my own comment about Trump, gaslighting can't work if the gaslighter has no credibility. Before you can shake somebody's confidence in reality, they have to believe that you are credible when you talk about reality. (Unless take the approach of covertly altering reality around them, that is.)
Trump has his base believing that video evidence of him saying something that he denies to have ever said is nothing more than librul propaganda. They are voluntary victims of gaslighting.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:50 PM
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Hmm, does it count as a successful gaslighting if the person simply accepts the new reality rather than questioning their sanity?
I'm probably going overboard overthinking this, but I don't think the the target has to question their sanity as long as the goal of altering their reality is achieved.


Quote:
I'd think an actual gaslighter would be disappointed.
Again, I don't think that's a requirement. But Trump seems pretty happy. "Shoot a guy on 5th avenue, etc". He's pulled off a mighty gaslighting and he's pleased about it.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
Hmm, does it count as a successful gaslighting if the person simply accepts the new reality rather than questioning their sanity?

"Oh, you say the lights have always been this dim? Okay! So, what's for dinner?"

I'd think an actual gaslighter would be disappointed.
It's too late for them; they've already been brainwashed.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:04 PM
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Gaslighting is more than lying. It has been a long time since I saw the movie on which the word is based, but the villain (Charles Boyer) engages in a systematic campaign to make his wife (Ingrid Bergman) question her own judgment and eventually her own sanity.

With the help of their housekeeper, Boyer engages in an escalating series of dirty tricks to make Bergman believe that she is losing her mind. It's a steady stream of little things. She straightens a picture, leaves the room, and when she returns the picture is crooked again. He's in the room (surprise!) and tells her the picture was crooked when he entered the room and she couldn't have possibly straightened it. He straightens the picture for her and it stays straight.

He has the housekeeper help Bergman to bed and give her a sedative.

Bergman can't find her purse, which she always puts in the bureau. She's distraught and leaves the room to ask her husband if he has seen the purse. Of course not! Let's check again. They go back to the bedroom and the purse is in the bureau.

Back to bed she goes with another sedative.

Boyer ostensibly goes to work at night. He leaves the house and she can hear his footsteps as he walks down the sidewalk. Shortly thereafter, the gaslight in her room flickers as the gas is being diverted elsewhere. She thinks it's her imagination and she has learned that she can't trust her judgment. This happens a number of times shortly after her husband leaves for "work" in the evening.

Of course, her husband isn't working. Instead, he pretends to go to work, doubles back, quietly enters the house, and heads to the cavernous attic where all of her possessions are stored. He is looking for the source of her family's wealth, which arrived with the family when they immigrated, but no one knows where it is or what it is. When he goes to the attic every night to search, he turns on the gaslight in the attic which is responsible for the flickering of the gaslight in the bedroom.

That's the gist of it, albeit an oversimplification. I may have some details wrong, as I'm going on memory. It's really an elaborate ruse, using trickery and illusion (and sedatives), to undermine a person's ability to trust their own senses and judgment.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:46 AM
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I saw the movie recently explicitly to try to understand what this new word meant. That's a very good summary.

My conclusion was that most people who use the word gaslighting have not seen the movie.

It's a shame. Gaslighting is a good, evocative word for an important concept. The word is literally losing its meaning and the world will be a poorer place without it. They'll probably try to convince us that it never really meant what we thought it meant.

The OP should just go see the movie already.

Last edited by kevlaw; 01-15-2020 at 04:48 AM.
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:19 AM
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I saw the movie recently explicitly to try to understand what this new word meant. That's a very good summary.

My conclusion was that most people who use the word gaslighting have not seen the movie.

It's a shame. Gaslighting is a good, evocative word for an important concept. The word is literally losing its meaning and the world will be a poorer place without it. They'll probably try to convince us that it never really meant what we thought it meant.

The OP should just go see the movie already.
That happens with a lot of concepts. I saw one guy complaining to a second guy about how a third guy had mansplained something to him.

Gaslighting is a specific concept: Manipulating someone by making them doubt their perceptions. But I'm worried it will be used for lying in general.
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:31 AM
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It's a shame. Gaslighting is a good, evocative word for an important concept. The word is literally losing its meaning and the world will be a poorer place without it.
No sense complaining about the death of words. This is the way. I'm sad that 'salty' now means 'jealous or resentful' instead of 'sailor-like, esp. of language'. The internet is a graveyard of expressive richness.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:00 AM
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Gaslighting is a specific concept: Manipulating someone by making them doubt their perceptions. But I'm worried it will be used for lying in general.
I'm more worried that it'll be screeched when someone just challenges your opinions in a steadfast way. I can totally see how someone tangentially familiar with the concept could interpret it incorrectly and claim they're being gaslit when in fact they're just being challenged and having their sources' credibility challenged without anyone trying to warp their perceptions.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:10 AM
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No sense complaining about the death of words. This is the way. I'm sad that 'salty' now means 'jealous or resentful' instead of 'sailor-like, esp. of language'. The internet is a graveyard of expressive richness.
Well, at least part of it is that we don't really experience salty sailors as an element of our society all that much these days. So reserving "salty" exclusively for that will basically cause the term to die out for lack of use.
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Old 01-15-2020, 11:07 AM
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Words change, but the OP seems way ahead of the pack and maybe not even going in the same direction.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:49 PM
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But consider the following hypothetical (which I'm sure plays out in real life):

Trump voter: "Trump is the greatest president ever, Trump has done nothing wrong."

Trump opponent: "Trump is the most corrupt president ever, terrible scandals, 13,000 documented lies, got Americans killed, tried to get Ukraine to investigate Biden, was helped out by Russians,"

Trump voter: "Trump has done nothing wrong."


Assuming both sides are absolutely sincere in their beliefs, is one getting gaslit here?

No. Gaslighting would be if the Trump voter said, "What scandals? Kids kept in cages, you say? I've never heard of that happening. A Google search turned up nothing. You must be mistaken about the idea that kids were kept in cages."

A more nuanced questions: Is Trump gas lighting when he insists that, say, the description of the July 25 phone call given in the whistleblower's report is completely different from the transcript he released?

Now, the fact is that the two accounts are virtually identical, and that is easily proven by reading them side by side. But here's where it gets hazy. My contention is that when he makes that statement, Trump actually believes that it is true.* Therefore, it isn't gaslighting.

[Mods: This is my first post in GD. If I got too personal/political, I apologize.]


*The guy who wrote The Art of the Deal said that what amazed him the most about Trump was his (Trump's) ability to believe that whatever he happens to be thinking or saying at any given moment is absolutely true.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:43 PM
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The point of the original film was the victim of gaslighting was actively being convinced that she was insane, by virtue of challenging her perception of reality (that the lights were dimming.) It was an active, targeted campaign of psychological torture against a specific person.
This is one of my favorite films. I was about 12 the first time I saw it, and did it ever have me on the edge of my seat. I've seen it quite a few times since. Some time in the early 1990s, I recorded it on VHS from American Movie Classics, and watched my favorite scenes over and over.

SPOILERS FOR A FILM MADE IN 1944:


The irony of the title is that dimming the lights was the thing that made her the most crazy, but it was the one thing he wasn't doing on purpose. "Gregory" was going up to the attic to search for Paula's aunt's jewels, and when he did, he turned on the gaslights there, which drew gas off the house lights, and caused them to dim. Paula (Ingrid Bergman, who won her 1st Oscar for this performance), doesn't know whether or not she's seeing things. She bests him in the end, though, with her really brilliant "Because I am mad" speech.

Here's a scene not quite half through the movie.


The "brooch" is a piece of jewelry he gave her, then stole from her bag. The letter scene is in the movie (and we all see the letter). When Paula says the name "Sergius Bauer," there's dramatic music, and Boyer gets an "Oh f*ck!" look on his face. It turns out to be Gregory's real name, and he's wanted in several countries under that name, and is a notorious jewel thief. As Gregory, he seduced Paula, then convinced her to move back to the house where her aunt had been murdered (by guess who) when she was a little girl, because he always wanted to live in London, he said.

There's no question what Gregory is doing, that's not the mystery, it's why he's doing it, and of course, who killed Alice Alquist. And briefly, where the jewels are.

If the movie is any guide (and I guess it really isn't) the important parts of "gaslighting," are these: it's planned; it's to an end (as opposed to random cruelty by a sadist or sociopath); and it's a long campaign, not a single remark.

People have been using the word "gaslight" to mean this for a long time. "Gaslight" as a verb, ie, "to gaslight someone," or "gaslighting," is new, but I remember when I was a kid people said things like "Doing a gaslight," or "pulling a gaslight number." I can personally vouch for that having been around since the mid-1970s, and I'm sure it's older.

Just as comparison, the maid (played by 18-yr-old Angela Lansbury) is not really "in on it." Gregory manipulates her into being complicit. He does it first by hiring someone whose not really appropriate for the job, and then by shamelessly flirting with her. My point is, it's deceitful manipulation, but it is NOT gaslighting.

Mere deceitful manipulation for a short-term goal, just because you are a tool, or to cover up you own deceit or shortcomings, is what we used to call "playing head games." But yeah, challenging someone's opinion with facts is not playing head games, either. It's having a discussion.

If public discourse has reached the point that any disagreement is an attack, we might as well stop talking altogether.
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