Although many people put their health and lives in the hands of medical professionals, they are people, and people don’t always have your best interests in mind, regardless of their profession. That’s why it’s essential to be able able to recognize when a doctor is ignoring or mistreating you. This article will review what medical gaslighting is and how to recognize it.
What Is Medical Gaslighting?
In general, gaslighting is a form of manipulation that makes a person question their sense of reality and what they believe to be true. In relationships, an abuser might gaslight their partner into thinking that it’s them that’s the problem and not the abuser. In medicine, gaslighting occurs when the doctor intentionally or unintentionally ignores the patient’s concerns. Often, this leaves the patient with a poor treatment plan and many unanswered questions.
What Are the Signs of Medical Gaslighting?
Sometimes, medical gaslighting occurs due to unconscious bias. For example, if a senior is experiencing severe back pain, a doctor may write it off as a part of aging when the pain could be from something much more severe. Or, if a woman is having excruciating abdominal cramps, a doctor could see it as just a part of the menstrual experience, when it could be an appendix rupture or intestinal blockage.
However, medical gaslighting can also occur purposefully to gain power over a patient. Sometimes, it’s for insurance money, but other times it can be much more insidious, especially for seniors, children, or younger female patients. These groups are especially susceptible to experiencing different forms of sexual harassment, such as unnecessary undressing and procedures.
One of the best ways to recognize medical gaslighting is to pay attention to how a professional speaks to you. Are they taking your concerns to heart? Are they writing you off? Are they talking to you in a sarcastic tone? Are they treating you with less respect than you would expect out of medical personnel?
What Are the Effects of Medical Gaslighting?
Medical gaslighting can lead to long-lasting trauma or even death. Patients who go undiagnosed can continually and unnecessarily experience excruciating pain. Often, these unchecked illnesses only worsen and can even become death sentences. Some medical professionals can also victimize patients through medical gaslighting, leading to medical trauma and PTSD.
If you or a loved one is feeling unheard, you have the right to seek another opinion or report any form of harassment. Never stick with a medical professional who isn’t keeping your life and health in mind.