Medical Gaslighting: Although not intentional, medical gaslighting can happen to anyone and is more often seen among certain races and women

If your doctor is not an active listener and interrupt you often when you might be describing your symptoms, then they might be unintentionally gaslighting you

We all have been gaslighted at some point in our lives, haven’t we? In simple words, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person is made to question their perception of things, sometimes memories even. This manipulation can be seen in personal relationships like close friendships where a person is made to doubt their thinking by a loved one or a trustworthy figure. It might be interesting to know that sometimes you might get gaslighted by your healthcare provider. Medical gaslighting is when a medical professional dismisses a patient’s health concern as a result of their imagination. When gaslighting occurs in medicine then it can lead to dangerous consequences such as misdiagnosis and delayed treatment.

Although not intentional, medical gaslighting can happen to anyone and is more often seen among certain races and women. It can be difficult to spot whether you are being gaslighted by a doctor especially if the notion prevails that doctor knows the best. While healthcare providers are trained to become experts in one field but as humans, they too are not free from biases. Sometimes even therapists and psychiatrists can also engage in the behavior unintentionally.

Who is more prone to medical gaslighting?

While medical gaslighting can happen to anyone but its probability is more among women and people with certain conditions like reproductive concerns or obesity. Some people are more likely to get their health insecurities overlooked by their healthcare provider.

  1. Research over a period has shown that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed after a heart attack or stroke. As per a study The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain, women are more likely to receive a psychological intervention in the treatment of pain than a physiological one. They are often judged for catastrophizing or exaggerating pain through verbal cues. As to studies, they are more likely to wait in emergency rooms for medical intervention as compared to their male counterparts.
  2. As per some health researchers, women suffering from reproductive health concerns like endometriosis are more likely to have their symptoms disregarded by family, friends and physicians. Women might also have a habit of normalizing pain-like symptoms especially if others in the family have been doing the same.
  3. Some research has shown that there is weight bias in healthcare. As per studies, some doctors are not free from weight-shaming attitudes and might overlook their health concerns on the pretext of patients being obese.
  4. As per studies, sometimes racial bias might also lead to medical gaslighting.

Signs your doctor might be gaslighting you?

As a patient, you must know that medical gaslighting can be subtle and cannot be easily identified. The following are some signs of it that you must take notice of-

  1. Your doctor is not an active listener. He might not listen to you attentively and might interrupt you often when you might be describing your symptoms.
  2. They don’t ask you follow-up questions when they should be asking
  3. They might not discuss your symptoms in elaboration
  4. They might try to convince you that it is in your head
  5. If they belittle your symptoms by not thinking that some test or imaging can be used to rule out the concern
  6. If you find them discounting some pain or discomfort and blaming it completely on factors like obesity. Home Page 

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