Gaslighting and Problem Drinking

A term that seems to be very common at the moment is Gaslighting – which basically means that one person is trying to make the other believe that things are different from what they seem.

In this video Lou and John discuss the relevance of the term in relation to problem drinking.

10 Replies to “Gaslighting and Problem Drinking”

  1. With narcissism being so popular in today’s psychology industry, gaslighting is so often referred to even normal relationships. The term gaslighting is what brought me to ask a therapist what it was 5 years ago. I had never heard of it but when I read about it, it felt so fitting to my experiences. I never got a direct answer from him, but I have since found it did exist in my life over the years.
    What made it so confusing is that alcoholism runs generationally in the families I am attached to. If narcissism is cultural or generation, add alcohol to it, you will experience a challenge to know reality especially if the alcoholic denies their condition. It becomes very painful and is almost like a Catch-22.
    Just one more addition to the equation…during COVID, there was so much misinformation about the pandemic. I happened to hold a different view of reality regarding the reality of the pandemic. I took it seriously as I do have a medical background. My family took it lightly as if they could get by or they were stronger than the virus. I live with my son, who is an alcoholic with narcissistic traits, and nightly I would go through put downs, denials, confusion and challenges about the virus and how I felt. No matter how I explained myself, the conversation went in circles. Over time, I was worn down mentally and really felt like I was going crazy and walking on eggshells. Even if I walked away, the conversation would follow me. Alcohol definitely played a part in it because the alcoholic needed to be able to break the quarantine guidelines to get his fix. Somehow, I think his strategy was to break me down so he could do so without questioning his actions.
    I can’t and won’t say it wasn’t gaslighting because the behavior continues now even after the quarantine guidelines are gone. Is it learned? Is it a generational taught way of getting ones needs met? Is it a cultural way of proclaiming independence of authority. I can only guess. All I know is that I was the one on the receiving end and it felt abusive. I think that is how the term gaslighting is coming to be known as. Not so much what a person is doing, but how it is received. Two guys can gaslight each other to the cows come home and it won’t make a difference and they laugh it off. You take a more intimate relationship and it becomes this way, the level of trust is affected and abuse is very possible. What are the intentions? Gaslighting is serious but needs to be examined and not just thrown out as a colloquial term or it can hurt people.

  2. I needed this today. I was my lifeline. I have experienced this with my (x) former partner who is an alcohol-dependent person who has been abusing me with gaslighting for years. Thank you.

  3. I think lying and denial are one thing, and gaslighting is certainly more to do with deflection and projection. My long term partner is alcohol dependant and has become worse over the last number of years. He has tried, and failed to go a day without. He simply cannot manage/function without it. He becomes affected quicker these days and nastier.
    He frequently makes me feel I am the problem, my personality, my comments,my lack of empathy. He makes out that he is the hurt party constantly and therefore almost justified in his drinking. He really does make me question myself, my very being and therefore after long reflection I do feel it is a form of gaslighting.
    I feel this type of behaviour becomes habitual and ingrained very quickly too so you become stuck in its cycle. Self-esteem is definitely affected which produces depression and resentfulness. I try to pick myself up, try to get on with my own things/life but trying to save our relationship difficulties feels further and further away

    1. I can really relate to what you are going through. My son, who lives with us, is exactly the same. I’m sat here scrolling to try and find some answers, it seems wrong just to ignore what is going on
      Kathy x

  4. Gaslighting is gaslighting and it is painful to be on the other end of it. I listened to this video again today because it came in my inbox again. I hadn’t listened to the entire video the first time. It is funny, you used the term colloquial at the end and I had already written my reply to you, using the term colloquial. 🙂 Yes, gaslighting is being used haphazardly. The consequences of gaslighting are devastating. It ruins a person’s sense of trust for a long long time.
    I also don’t think you really presented the seriousness of gaslighting. I do understand you deal with alcoholism and you explained gaslighting from that narrative. I would love to hear how you might address narcissism and alcoholism together, not just with the alcoholic, but the family dynamics. For example, an alcoholic husband and narcissistic wife. Or a narcissistic and alcoholic husband and narcissistic wife. Generational narcissism and alcoholism combined and it’s effects on the families. I think gaslighting is one of the key components that keep these patterns going because it erodes the individual self-esteem and self worth to nothing producing a wicked shame, which is the core of alcoholism and narcissism.

  5. Im glad Jon seems to distance himself from this term Gas Lighting or the use of it. Problem drinkers are just plain “selfish liars” and in constance denial. If you live with such a person you know when they are drinking and lying etc. Its so strange and madding that we question ourselves.

  6. For anyone who has doubts -re marrying or living with a person they believe has an issue or problem with drink. Trust your instincts and dont go there. Sounds harsh but trust me- you think you will be able to change them make plans in your head that things will change. Before you know it you will, prehaps have a family or a mortgage etc and a messy tangled web has been woven.
    Drinkers wont thank you- they will just blame you or their past or anything thats not them. You will be let down constantly lied to -their behaviour will upset you- the mess you will get up to drives you mad. You will live a life or secrets and lies and thats will be you- because its so difficult to admit you have a partner who drinks too much. I live my own life now- friends and family are used to me going to parties on my own. Its just better for all. Drinking isnt a game- soon the whole family gets to take part.

  7. Very difficult, all around for me. First, I have the alcoholic hubby who thinks I should roll over so “he can be happy” and then I made the mistake of trying to talk to my mother, who has always been jealous of me since I was very close to my dad. She doesn’t give me the support I need and dismisses my situation, telling me she feels sorry for hubby. Okay, mom. Thanks. I have two gaslighters in my life.

  8. I am reading this because yet again my husband has lied to me about his drinking. We even had a counselling session together yesterday but still it continues. He gave me a big hug afterwards and said thank you and that he would be sober.
    It’s not the drinking that upsets me it’s the person who he becomes.
    We have agreed that when he drinks and lies he will go to stay with a friend.
    This has happened twice in the last month and was as a result of reading that if everything carries on as normal I am basically enabling it.
    Despite that he did it again tonight except this time he acted as if I am in the wrong.
    Please, if you have any advice do reply. I’m at my wits end.

  9. My husband has been an alcoholic since he retired 7 years ago and used drinking to fill his day. In his lucid moments he realises he has thrown away his health, alienated his friends, kids and me. It’s heartbreaking to see what alcohol has reduced him to. However, more often now it is me who gets the blame for all his problems… from lack of affection through to being out too often and leaving him on his own.
    I hadn’t understood the term gaslighting, I just thought he was a compulsive liar, making up his own narrative, but I see he is trying to drag me down with him by isolating me (doesn’t want me to go out without him) and taking my self-esteem. One minute he’s throwing crockery about and shouting at me, the next he wants a hug and to plan a holiday together as if nothing has happened.
    Luckily I have strong support from friends and family, and I have taken advice regarding divorcing him, but this kind of manipulation is insidious if you waver.

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