Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
The term "gaslighting" comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations. The term is now also used in clinical and research literature.
The term derives from the 1938 stage play Gas Light (known as Angel Street in the United States), and the 1940 and 1944 film adaptations. The plot concerns a husband who attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment, and subsequently insisting that she is mistaken or misremembering when she points out these changes. The title stems from the dimming of the house's gas lights which happens when the huesband is using the gas lights in the attic while searching there for hidden treasure. The wife accurately notices the dimming lights, but the husband insists she is imagining.
The term "gaslighting" has been used colloquially since at least the late 1970s to describe efforts to manipulate someone's sense of reality. In a 1980 book on child sex abuse, Florence Rush summarized George Cukor's 1944 film version of Gas Light, and writes, "even today the word [gaslight] is used to describe an attempt to destroy another's perception of reality". The term was further popularized in Victor Santoro's 1994 book Gaslighting: How to Drive Your Enemies Crazy, which outlines ostensibly legal tactics the reader might use to annoy others.
The 2000 Steely Dan album Two Against Nature includes a song entitled Gaslighting Abbie. Musicians Walter Becker and Donald Fagen acknowledged that the lyrics were inspired by the Gas Light film featuring Charles Boyer.
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Gaslighting is a new word for me. I am familiar through novels, movies, and TV shows with that psychological abuse but never heard the name. I think it may have been used on me. That may explain a lot of things. Thanks eberntson.
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