Southwest Philosophy Review

Volume 40, Issue 1, January 2024

Emily McGill
Pages 35-46

Am I Gaslighting Myself?
(Presidential Address)

The concept of self-gaslighting has recently become prevalent in popular discourse but has yet to be subjected to detailed philosophical analysis. In this paper, I examine one context in which self-gaslighting is often discussed: situations in which someone has experienced trauma. I argue that the phenomenon currently described as self-gaslighting fails to display core features of manipulative gaslighting and that therefore we should seek other conceptual resources for understanding such cases. I suggest that self-gaslighting, at least in some paradigmatic cases, amounts to either extremely successful interpersonal gaslighting or to internalized oppression. Utilizing these concepts instead of self-gaslighting avoids conceptual difficulties and also has a significant practical payoff. By moving away from the language of self-gaslighting we can move away from feelings of self-blame that so often accompany trauma.