I"m aware of the term "gaslighting", but I believe this only references when someone else is trying to make you think you're going mad; but I'm wondering is there a similar term that explains when someone is doing much the same, but in this instance is trying to make you constantly doubt your intelligence on the matter and acts as if their opinion on the matter is infallible, based on just their word?

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    Gaslighting is a pretty soft and subtle term. Few people are familiar with the movie it comes from and no one understands the limitations of gas light that made the meaning possible.
    – Elliot
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 3:17

3 Answers 3


Potentially undermine

to make someone less confident, less powerful, or less likely to succeed, or to make something weaker, often gradually

  • Yes; unstring and especially unhinge are blunter. This is appropriate. Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 15:40
  • I think this one suits my situation best :)
    – Brett
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 17:16

A word that comes to mind for me is enervate

enervate: to reduce the mental or moral vigor of (Websters)

Some Examples

Another, really fun word, is unstring

unstring: To deprive of composure or emotional stability; unnerve. (Heritage)

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    Got any examples of 'enervate' in this form? I've never seen or heard 'he/she enervates him/her', though 'I found the music enervating' is common enough. 'He unstrings her' is a new one on me!! Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 2:57
  • @Old Brixtonian I just added a link with some examples.
    – Jim Simson
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 3:37
  • enervate connotes a different type of weakening and isn't appropriate to the context at hand. unstring ( a new one on me as well) is a good one.
    – user405662
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 3:56

I offer unhinge, which carries with it strong connotations of mentally unbalancing someone.

Here is how AHD defines the word—

To confuse or disrupt: an event that unhinged the marriage.

To derange or unbalance: He was unhinged by his wife's death.

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