“Am I a Gaslighter? Or Just Scared of Losing People Over My ADHD?”
“All gaslighters are liars. But are all liars also gaslighters? No. Sometimes, those of us with ADHD lie almost out of reflex. Our symptoms of impulsivity or inattention or forgetfulness cause problems, and sometimes we just want those problems to go away and for us to appear in control of our lives, so we lie — though rarely do we consciously make the decision to do so.”
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1 Comment: “Am I a Gaslighter? Or Just Scared of Losing People Over My ADHD?”
I appreciate that this article suggests people who lie compulsively come clean, or admit they don’t know or did something wrong. It sounds simple, but is so difficult to do. On the other hand, though, this article strikes a very defensive tone that makes me uncomfortable.
“It boils down to intent” is categorically untrue. Intent counts for something, sure, but *impact* is absolutely central. If my (accidental, reflexive) lies make my partner question their reality, that impact is far more important than whether I intended to gaslight them. The reality is that a lot of toxic or abusive behavior comes from a place of insecurity, confusion, panic, mental illness, etc.—but that doesn’t mean it’s not toxic or abusive behavior. To absolve myself because I didn’t *intend* to cause harm is to completely miss the point (and to make it harder to fix things). If my lies are hurting my partner and undermining their sense of reality, I call that gaslighting.
Saying that gaslighting “by definition” is intentional is letting yourself off on a technicality. If your *unintentional* behavior is hurting people around you, it might feel unfair to be called harmful, toxic, or abusive. But ADHD or mental illness are not excuses, even if they are explanations. I’m done making excuses for myself. I’m learning how to take responsibility for my compulsive lying and trying to learn how to stop doing it.