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What is gaslighting exactly? Are you using it right?

The buzzword is as fascinating as its origin

Ujjainee Roy @UjjaineeRoy 12 July 2018, 4:32 PM
Ross Geller — God of the gaslight

Ross Geller — God of the gaslight Image: Twitter

The newest millennial buzzword isn't new at all. Gaslighting has been a very real part of any and every kind of relationship. We get gaslighted by our parents, our partners, our politicians (especially, our politicians), our friends, our bosses and everybody, okay? Everybody has faced it at some point without realising it.

Let us make this simple — gaslighting is basically when someone manipulates you to an extent that you start doubting yourself or your convictions.

Let's make this simpler — whatever Ross did to Rachel his whole goddamn life.

The word has found incredible resonance among millennials mainly after they realised all of their favourite movie leads or fictional characters, or Donald Trump, are all trying to gaslight people to save their own butts.

People often confuse gaslighting with other forms of manipulation, or with just good ol' lying. It's not really gaslighting when your mum says dinner is on the table, and you see no food. That's just a nasty lie, mom!

Gaslighting has to do with the other person messing with your head and to some extent your sanity and your mental balance. 

"Gaslighting is a psychological tactic used to make another person believe they are losing their mind. It is literally a manipulative attempt at making another person think they are losing their ability to think, remember, and be rational," clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow recently explained in a Cosmopolitan report.

The cinematic adaptation of Gaslight starred the iconic Ingrid Bergman

The cinematic adaptation of Gaslight starred the iconic Ingrid Bergman Image: Twitter

The word gaslighting has a terrific origin, which should give you more context. In the 1938 play Gas Light by British playwright Patrick Hamilton, a man drives his wife to insanity as he dims the lights in their home every day, but denies it when confronted by his wife. The wife, Bella, starts questioning her mind and falls apart mentally.

It's exactly like how Ross tried to convince Rachel that it wasn't a big deal he had slept with another person, even though they hadn't broken up. On a break? Bi**h, please.

Or in 10 Things I Hate About You, Kate (Julia Stiles) flips out when she finds out that Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) was actually paid to ask her out, and he tries to tell her otherwise. Sorry, Heath Ledger, we love you, but that was a d**k move.

More recently, when the Trump administration, specifically the secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, denied reports that children were separated from their parents at the American borders, Merriam-Webster savagely burnt them for gaslighting people (by citing the word's origin).

Gaslighting is the worst thing to pull off mainly because it takes away a person's sense of self and that's the last thing you should ever lose. It has you questioning the reality and temporarily paralyses you emotionally or mentally. Most importantly, it is a form of abuse from which you can't walk away very easily.

Now you see why millennials are so paranoid all the time.

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