That is Not Gaslighting.

That thing that really bothers you, doesn’t bother me is not gaslighting.  It’s expressing a difference in perspective.

I and many other people are aware of this thing that you find distressing, but we are at peace with it is not gaslighting.  It’s an affirmation that different people can process things in different ways.

I don’t consider x, y and z to be evidence that a person or an institution are deceptive, harmful, or irredeemable is not gaslighting; it may just be a reflection of a realistic outlook based on someone’s life experience dealing with different kinds of individuals and institutions.

I said something in good faith that ended up not being true is not gaslighting. Gaslighting is by definition done in bad faith as a form of emotional abuse. 

We are citing different–but valid–numbers, statistics, or accounts is not gaslighting; taking into account as much information as possible is a good and healthy practice. 

I am skeptical of your argument is not gaslighting. It is not even a statement of disagreement with your premise. It is a statement of the constituent part of your premise, that is, a single argument. Similarly, I am skeptical of the evidence you presented is not gaslighting, nor is it even a statement of disagreement with your premise. Calling such gaslighting–if done knowingly–can indeed cross the line into actual gaslighting territory.

All of that said,

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where someone applies manipulative and deceptive tactics over time to undermine someone's sense of reality.

Now that gaslighting has become a more popular term, it is inevitable that it will be misused, overused, or confused with other behaviors. Gaslighting is generally not synonymous with:

  • People or institutions not handling things the way we think they should;
  • An honest disagreement, even an intense or heated one;
  • An argument that includes misunderstandings, sometimes on both ends;
  • Individuals being obstinate or stubborn;
  • Highlighting positives and ignoring negatives (marketing);
  • Erroneous, even confusing, orders and instructions;
  • One side or multiple sides talking past, over, or through each other;
  • A refusal to accept or validate another person’s views;
  • “White lies” meant to mask a more painful or difficult truth;
  • People defending themselves or others against accusations;
  • Instances of incivility; or,
  • An incoherent explanation.

Of course, gaslighting could become a part of these interactions, but it is not their equivalent.


Further reading:

Laura Ellyn: This is not what gaslighting is.

Invoking the term gaslighting chills conversation, pivoting it away from the subject toward a discussion about the moral status of the alleged gaslighter. (http://samanthapfield.com/2018/04/05/the-misuse-and-abuse-of-gaslighting/) (article gets crude near end)

“As people have begun using the term more frequently, what has stayed with it is the implicit moral judgment it makes: gaslighting is not just bad, not just impolite, not just harmful: it’s abusive. Describing a person’s conversation, or social media comment/interaction (since, let’s be honest, I’ve seen this happen most often on Facebook and Twitter), as “gaslighting” means that the person opposing you in the discussion is being more than unfair, they’re being abusive. Once the accusation has been made, it substantively changes the interaction. Suddenly, it’s about whether or not this person is behaving abusively, and that’s an incredibly serious matter that deserves the proper amount of concern. Considering this accusation gets tossed out among people who know what gaslighting even is, the reaction is usually swift and nearly universal: stop. Get out, get away from us, we don’t serve your kind here.”

This article delves into what gaslighting is, then gives a brief list of what it’s not: (https://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/gaslighting-at-work/)

2 thoughts on “That is Not Gaslighting.”

  1. Gaslighting, the best trump card for poisoning dialogue.

    If you accuse someone of gaslighting and they don’t disagree, it must be true.

    If you accuse someone of gaslighting and they deny it, that’s what a gaslighter does, isn’t it?

    Either way, the conversation loses.

    Reply

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