Is Everyone Gaslighting You?

Sometimes others are just insensitive, stupid, or clueless, without being manipulative

John Kruse MD, PhD
Wise & Well

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Frauke Riether / Pixabay

In the last few years many of my adult patients with ADHD have shared that their partner had accused them of gaslighting. Or they described the mirror scenario, where they felt that a spouse, co-worker or family member was gaslighting them.

The term gaslighting has surged in popularity, becoming Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year in 2022. Originally gaslighting was used to describe a pattern of behavior in which a perpetrator manipulates a victim to make them mistrust their sense of reality, and thereby take advantage of them. But people keep stretching the meaning, to the point that some people throw around the term to categorize almost any type of disagreement.

At the same time, many people are aware that they don’t know what the term means. When I asked one science nerd friend to define the term, she replied, “Helium is a gaslighter than every other gas, except for hydrogen.”

Maybe if we turn up the lights, we’d see that gaslighting — whatever it actually is — isn’t quite as common as we seem to believe.

An example and definition of gaslighting

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John Kruse MD, PhD
Wise & Well

Psychiatrist, neuroscientist, father of twins, marathon runner, in Hawaii. 100+ ADHD & mental health videos https://www.youtube.com/@dr.johnkruse6708