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What Does 'Gaslighting' Mean?

Jewel Enrile
Jewel Enrile
March 16, 2022
What Does 'Gaslighting' Mean?
Illustrations by Yuxuan Wu

What Does 'Gaslighting' Mean?

“Gaslight” is a verb used in psychology. It is a type of manipulation people use to alter another person’s beliefs or reality. It is a deliberate attempt to mislead and confuse another person for personal gain. 

Pretty heavy definition, huh? 

Well, gaslight is also a noun. It can refer to a type of lamp that works with burning gas, or the light that exudes from said lamp. 

Origins

“Gaslighting” originates from a 1930s play called Gas Light. The storyline centers around an abusive marriage. The husband repeatedly makes his wife doubt her reality in order to steal from her. 

One of the notable ways he does this is by convincing her the dimming and brightening of their gaslights were just a figment of her imagination. In reality, he had been turning on different lights that caused the gaslights she saw to flicker and dim. 

Throughout the play, the husband repeatedly attempts to increase her anxiety, question her own reality, and believe that she is insane. As a result, the term “gaslighting” has made its way into our dictionaries. 

I’d prefer if you were looking for the definition for the lamp, and not the manipulation! If you believe you have become a victim of gaslighting or afraid that you may have mistakenly gaslit another person, look for these warning signs

How To Use 'Gaslighting' in a Sentence?

  • I felt as if I was gaslit by my previous partner to believe his version of events. 
  • The gaslight has been flickering since I got here. 
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Charlotte Chen, Designer @Duolingo

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