Merriam-Webster Dictionary has picked a powerful word as Word of the Year for 2022. After Collins selected 'permacrisis' and Oxford opted for 'goblin mode', Merriam-Webster picked 'gaslighting' as its Word of the Year for 2022, which saw a 1,740% increase in searches.
Gaslighting was popularised by a 20th-century play and is used to describe misleading and manipulative behaviour in numerous scenarios, from personal relationships to politics and medical practices. Reports state that the public interest remained at an all-time high in the meaning of the word.
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In a statement released on its website, Merriam-Webster said that 'gaslighting' was defined as "psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories."
Over the years, the purview of the term has been broadened to “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage."
'Gaslighting' is derived from the title of a 1938 British stage play, Gas Light, later produced as a film in both the UK and the US. There are a few basic methods that explain gaslighting someone.
As per Britannica Encyclopaedia, these include;
Presenting superficial evidence and forcefully insisting to the victim that something nonsensical and intuitively false is true.
Openly denying saying or doing something that a person has said or done.
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Shunning the victim's feelings and perceptions that are opposite to that of the gaslighter as invalid.
Forming doubts about the facts and questioning the motives of persons who refute the abuser's viewpoint.
Isolating the victim from independent sources of information and assurance.
Influencing the physical environment so that the victim doubts their truth and perception.
As per Vogue, research has suggested that gaslighting is most typically used as a form of emotional abuse by heterosexual men towards women. Being gaslighted by someone can have an impact on one's mental health including lowered self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and disorientation.