The Silent Suffering of Caregivers: Understanding the Impact of Ghosting and Gaslighting – PART 1

By shedding light on the issue of ‘ghosting’ and ‘gaslighting’ in the care industry, this article (and the ones to follow) can help to raise awareness of the mental health implications for caregivers who experience abuse.

My hope is that it can also provide strategies for breaking the cycle of abuse, promoting transparency and empowerment, and supporting the mental health of caregivers.

The care industry is a field that requires empathy, compassion, and clear communication to foster strong caregiving relationships. Unfortunately, these behaviours are often perpetrated by care recipients or their families and can cause significant emotional and psychological distress for caregivers.

So what is ‘ghosting’

Ghosting is a term commonly used in relationships, which refers to the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone without any explanation or warning. This typically happens when one person is no longer interested in continuing the relationship, but instead of having a conversation or providing closure, they simply stop responding to messages, calls, or any other form of communication.

Ghosting can be hurtful and confusing for the person being ghosted, as they are left with no closure or understanding of what went wrong in the relationship. It can also be seen as a form of emotional immaturity and a lack of respect for the other person’s feelings. 

and what is ‘gaslighting’

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where a person manipulates another person into questioning their own perceptions, memories, or sanity. The term comes from a play and subsequent movie called “Gas Light,” in which a husband manipulates his wife into doubting her sanity by dimming the gas lights in their home and insisting that she is imagining things when she notices the change in lighting.

In modern usage, gaslighting can take many different forms, but typically involves a pattern of behaviours intended to make the victim doubt their own perception of reality. This can include lying, denying the truth, shifting blame, or presenting false evidence. The goal is to make the victim feel confused, insecure, and dependent on the gaslighter for validation or affirmation.

Gaslighting can occur in any type of relationship, and it can be extremely damaging to a person’s mental health and self-esteem, making it difficult for them to trust their own thoughts and feelings.

Are the two related?

Ghosting and gaslighting are related in that they both involve a lack of communication and can be harmful to the recipient. However, they are distinct behaviours with different intentions and effects.

Ghosting involves suddenly ending communication with someone without any explanation or warning. While it can be hurtful and confusing for the person being ghosted, it is not necessarily intended to manipulate or deceive them. In some cases, the person doing the ghosting may simply be avoiding confrontation or uncomfortable conversations.

Gaslighting, on the other hand, is a deliberate form of manipulation that involves trying to make someone doubt their own perceptions or sanity. It is intended to deceive and control the victim and can have serious long-term effects on their mental health and well-being.

While both ghosting and gaslighting can be harmful, they involve different levels of intentionality and manipulation. Ghosting is generally seen as a more passive form of avoidance while gaslighting is an active attempt to deceive and control another person.

Identifying Ghosting and Gaslighting in the Care Industry

As a caregiver reading this, I have no doubt that you can mentally recall situations where you have been a recipient of this disrespectful behaviour and have no idea how to handle it, move through it and come out the other side…


2 replies
  1. Leanne Horning
    Leanne Horning says:

    I am loving that this issue is being discussed and “outed”. As a Live In Carer I have experienced both ghosting and gaslighting many times – mostly from the family of the client that I am caring for and it can be very distressing if you are not strong mentally and emotionally. I find my peace in being a student of A Course In Miracles and I am now able to not take any of this subtle abuse personally. Thank you for the wonderful article.


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