Most People Don’t Know What “Gaslighting” Is, But It’s Probably Happened To You

by Candice Jalili

Odds are, you have probably never heard of the term "gaslighting."

And even if you have heard of it, there's still a pretty big chance that you still might be pretty unclear on what the term actually means.

I'm going to be honest, I had no idea what the term meant until recently.

But a new study conducted by YouGov found that I may not be the only ignorant one here.

The study found that most of us don't know what "gaslighting" means.

Beyond not knowing what it means, more than half (59 percent) of the survey's respondents reported that they have never even heard of the term before.


Beyond that, 16 percent of the people who had heard of the term still didn't even know what it meant.

Time for a quick vocabulary lesson.

It turns out, though, you might be more familiar with gaslighting than you ever thought.

You know that fight you got into with your boyfriend the other night where you were really upset, and he blew you off by saying you were being "crazy?" Or when you sent your girlfriend one too many text messages, and she told you that you were being "insane?"

Well, it might have felt like just another fight to you, but the truth is, you may have been subject to gaslighting.

According to YouGov, gaslighting can occur when you're fighting with your partner and "one person in a couple accuses the other of being 'crazy' or 'insane' in order to not only weaken their significant other's credibility, but force them to doubt their own logic."

How often does it happen?

The researchers over at YouGov also asked their respondents how familiar they were with the whole gaslighting thing, whether or not they had actually heard of the term before.


Apparently, whether we are on the giving or the receiving end, Americans are pretty familiar with what gaslighting is despite not knowing the word.

A third of women and almost a quarter of men have admitted to being called "crazy" or "insane" by a romantic partner. That being said, more than a quarter of men (26 percent) and women (27 percent) admitted that they have subjected their own partners to gaslighting.

"Crazy" is a term that really should be erased from our colloquial vocabulary immediately. It makes light of the experiences of people with real mental health issues, and it also demeans people's natural human responses to situations.

What's also troubling about this is that gaslighting, however small, is a potentially dangerous form of mental and emotional manipulation. And educating ourselves on what gaslighting actually involves is the first step to putting an end to the troubling phenomenon.

The next step is refusing to tolerate it from our partners and, by the same token, refusing to subject our own partners to it.