Am I Gaslighting Myself with Mental Health Self-Stigma?
Gaslighting and self-stigma—do they have ties to one another? I’ve been exploring this concept in my head, especially as I work on my internal mental health struggles. Thinking about both of these terms got the wheels turning, and I thought it would be an interesting discussion to have.
What Are Gaslighting and Mental Health Self-Stigma?
Gaslighting is a term that’s become very popular these days (definition below). For me, the first time I heard and understood the concept, it was one of those moments where pieces fell together. Situations that felt off that I couldn’t properly put into words suddenly made sense. I had a word to validate things I’d gone through that I’d always questioned or felt like I was overreacting over ("Gaslighting: Designed to Destroy Your Sanity").
I’ve become fascinated by the concept of gaslighting, so it’s no surprise to me that it’s crept into my mind coupled with mental health self-stigma.
Let’s start by defining these terms.
From right here on HealthyPlace, self-stigma is defined as follows:
"Self-stigma is the biased, negative judgment that we impose on ourselves."
As for gaslighting, here’s the Merriam-Webster definition:
"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 and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one's emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator"1
What Signs of Gaslighting Do I See in Mental Health Self-Stigma?
If I really pay attention to my internal narrative, there are a couple of signs of gaslighting2 that I see when I’m criticizing myself over my mental health struggles.
- Feelings of being “too sensitive” for my needs or concerns
- A reshaping of what happens so that I’m the one to blame
Then, because of that internal narrative, I end up feeling like I’m overreacting and like I shouldn’t feel what I’m feeling. I also get the sense that I can’t do anything right and that things are constantly my fault.2
It’s this kind of realization that got me wondering if I’m gaslighting myself and what role mental health self-stigma plays in that.
Both Self-Gaslighting and Mental Health Self-Stigma Exist
At first, I thought it might be a bit of a stretch to pair the two. I worried that, by turning the term gaslighting on myself, I’d be invalidating the more commonly thought of experience of gaslighting. But, in doing a little digging, I see that I’m not the only one who’s thought about self-gaslighting.3
So maybe I am gaslighting myself when mental health self-stigma comes into play. Ultimately, these kinds of psychological concepts are complicated, in particular when it’s your own mind at war with you. But I think they’re worth thinking about for the betterment of our own wellbeing.
What do you think? Does self-gaslighting play a part in mental health self-stigma?
- Merriam-Webster, “Gaslighting Definition and Meaning.” Accessed March 6, 2022.
- Morris, S. and Raypole, C., "How to Recognize Gaslighting and Get Help.” Healthline, November 24, 2021.
- Otis, R., “What’s ‘Self-Gaslighting’ and How Do I Unlearn It?” Healthline, October 25, 2019.
Barton, L. (2022, March 7). Am I Gaslighting Myself with Mental Health Self-Stigma?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2022/3/am-i-gaslighting-myself-with-mental-health-self-stigma