I would not call it a mainstream concept but it was discussed in some mainstream sources. However, there's a divergence in meaning; some old Commonwealth medical/psychiatry papers mostly use it to denote having someone inappropriately committed to a mental institution... whereas the broader notion you ask about is found in more recent sources and of more marginal impact factor. Furthermore, the original British concept has been re-labeled "tertiary gain of illness" in the US.
First of all, the 1981 "seminal" paper (by Calef and Weinshel)
you mention is in psychoanalytical journal, which would immediately give me pause as to its validity/acceptance (unless you're in France). However the Wikipedia page cites an older paper by Lund & Gardiner, 1977, which is just a case report though, but in a mainstream psychiatry journal, the British Journal of Psychiatry. Abstract:
A case of paranoid psychosis in an elderly female is reported in which recurrent episodes were apparently induced by the staff of the institution where the patient was a resident. The issues raised by this case are discussed.
The actually seminal paper (cited in the previous one) is Barton & Whitehead (1969) "The gas-light phenomenon". Lancet,i,1258-60. but this was also case report (two actually).
The Lancet, as you probably know, is a mainstream medical journal (not just psychiatric).
Another paper in the Br. J. Psych is Smith and Sinanan, 1972, The `Gaslight Phenomenon' Reappears A Modification of the Ganser Syndrome, https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.120.559.685 starts with:
In 1969 Barton and Whitehead reported two
cases in which there were definite plots to
remove an unwanted and restricting relative
by securing admission to a mental hospital, and
one case of an old lady admitted to a mental
hospital following induced faecal incontinence.
The old lady was considered a nursing home
nuisance and she was given purgatives regularly.
Inevitably she had some "accidents" and these
were used as an excuse for removing her to
hospital. They labelled such attempts 'The
Gaslight Phenomenon', inspired by Patrick
Hamilton's play Gaslight which was first
produced in London in 1939 and later formed
the basis for a film. Their survey of the
literature uncovered few recent reports of such
Without the emphasis of Barton and White
head's report the following cases might have
passed unnoticed. We feel that it is time to
stress again the presence of this phenomenon,
and, as this report shows, it is not unique to
And they also discuss a couple of cases.
But nevertheless these paper have few citations, using the Google Scholar count
30 for the 1969 one. So while it was discussed, it was seldom so. It's true that the 1981 paper seems to have more citations (57) but in my experience GS undercounts for the older papers and overcounts the newer ones.
Searching for the "gaslight" term in pubmed returns around 10 papers (a couple of which are clearly false positive) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=gaslight and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=gaslighting only 3 hits. Hence my conclusion: discussed in mainstream sources, but seldom, so not a mainstream term.
Also note that the sources from the Commonwealth (there is a paper from Canada as well https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7093877) use gaslight phenomenon/syndrome, while all 3 hits in pubmed for "gaslighting" are from US authors (and 2 surely are psychoanalytical, including the paper you found.) I find it a little odd that there no hits in any US psychiatry journals; perhaps US psychiatrists called the notion something else... or they did not find worthwhile discussing. Actually, one US (VA) psychiatrist, Dansak, who is citing Barton and Whitehead, proposed to call the concept... "tertiary gain of illness" and he (unlike the British) applied a psychoanlitic lens:
PSYCHIATRISTS recognize that their patients acquire certain gains from
their emotional problems. The gains were originally defined by Sigmund
Freud as the primary and secondary gains of illness.’ The primary gain is an
intrapsychic gain which the patient obtains as a result of his symptoms, i.e..
a defense against and a reduction of anxiety. The secondary gain is an interpersonal
or social advantage attained by the patient as a consequence of his
illness In each case, it is noted, the patient is the one who “benefits.”
An intriguing variation of the problem of secondary gain is mentioned by
Ross’ in his discussion of the “traumatic neuroses” and their relation to compensation.
He gives an example in which “the wife of an injured breadwinner
may have gone to work while her husband was incapacitated, contributing to the
shift in the family equilibrium. This shift may further a regression in which he
becomes like a child or a substitute mother in the home, dependent on his wife.
or retaliating for her assumption of his role. The wife may then push for compensation
to reduce her own load.” This illustration presents the notion that
someone other than the patient may seek or achieve gains from the patient’s
illness. In this particular example the gain would be some form of financial
compensation that would allow the wife to stop working, hire a maid. etc.
The author proposes that gains sought or attained from a patient’s illness by
someone other than the patient be called the tertiary gain of illness. Furthermore,
though the above example highlights the tertiary gain to the wife of the
husband’s acquiring compensation for his injury, all tertiary gains are not
financial. The following case will demonstrate another type of tertiary gain, that
of expelling the patient from his family.
In keeping with the
frame of reference of the patient and his illness, the writer proposes to define
this phenomenon, where someone other than the patient gains from the latter’s
illness, as the tertiary gain of illness. [...] Recent reports in the British literatures have discussed examples of this under the heading of the “Gaslight Phenomenon.”
Also worth noting is that the concept discussed in the medical journals is narrower than what Wikipedia proposes, and it's usually just about having someone committed to a mental institution in inappropriate circumstances. I'm not sure about psychoanalytical papers, I'm not really in a mood to read them now.
However the 2017 hit on "gaslight" in pubmed (from J. Adv. Nurs.) has a quite different tint:
Conduct in our nursing workplaces remains a curious contrast of overt statements
about quality, collegiality and community accompanied too often with the opposite (Cassell
2011, Lampman et al. 2009, MacKay et al. 2008, Twale & De Luca 2008). Known as
gaslighting (Sarkis 2017), misalignment of words with actions serves to deny or justify
bullying and harassment in a language of legitimacy. This behavior includes verbal and non-
verbal actions, from overt aggression to subtle but ongoing undermining via institutional
means, including: unfair allocation of work and roles, assignment of heavier teaching loads,
unfair performance evaluations, and denial of opportunity (Gloor 2014, Cleary et al. 2016).
So it's possible the notion adopted in the US came by a different route (not the British psychiatry journals), which might explain the different connotation as well as the small number of citations for the British papers. The "Sarkis S. (2017)" reference in that 2017 paper alas is just a PT blog.
Dorpat writes in his 2007 book "Crimes of Punishment: America's Culture of Violence" (p. 179):
Like the psychoanalysts Victor Calef and Edward Weinshel, I have adapted
a broad definition of gaslighting, one that includes not just those who are made
psychotic by it, but a wider range of victims. [...]
A mild and naive form of gaslighting may be carried out by psychotherapists
and others who are unaware that they are gaslighting, and who may also be unaware of the harmful effects of what they are doing. I gave examples of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts who were gaslighting
patients and did not realize it. [citing his older book mentioned in the other answer]
So I suppose Calef and Weinshel are responsible for broadening the notion, which might explain the number of citations they've got (57 in Google Scholar).
Also note that when applied to therapists this gaslighting clearly falls under iatrogenesis... and iatrogenesis in therapy has been discussed aplenty.
Finally (I hope!) Gass and Nichols (1988) talk about gaslighting in the context of extramarital affairs:
"The worst part, Harry, is the lying."
"I'm not lying; you're just imagining things."
Such conversations become a vicious part of the interaction between
some husbands and wives. The husband gaslights or distorts
reality in an effort to convince his spouse that she is crazy, that what
she is perceiving is not happening.
They don't cite any other paper for their use of the term.