Post by occam
In a BBC News story titled "Australian MP apologises over comments to
"Ms Higgins has accused him of using "gaslighting" language and doubting
I had not heard this expression before. Nor is its meaning very obvious.
Gaslights were dimmer than current electric lights. At the same time,
they gave a warmer glow (lower Kelvin temperature) than current
lightbulbs. "Gaslighting language" has stumped me.
I think the term "gaslighting" was originally an American term, but
has started to be fairly widely used in the UK, prompted by a 2016
storyline in The Archers (on BBC Radio 4):
'The Archers domestic abuse is classic "gaslighting"– very real,
One of the comments following that article reads:
'I think the article is slightly mistaken about the details of the term's
origin. It does indeed stem from the film "Gaslight" but the flickering
/ dimming of the gas lighting was not a deliberate ploy by the husband.
It was as a result of him turning on the gas lights in the supposedly
deserted upper floors of their house, which he entered secretly from
the empty house next door in order to search for a jewel which he had
failed to find when he killed the woman who used to live in their house.
Since he couldn't avoid causing the gas lights to dim and the sounds
from upstairs, he told her that she must be hallucinating them. He did
also take deliberate steps to feed her fears by hiding small objects
and then "finding" them amongst her possessions, then accusing her
of stealing them, and subjecting her to public humiliations designed to
undermine her will.'
Apparently Oxford Dictionaries named 'gaslighting' as one of the most
popular words of 2018. Wikipedia defines it as:
'Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person
or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or
group, making them question their own memory, perception, or
judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other
changes including low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection,
contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to
destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's beliefs.'