Is Your Doctor Health-Gas Lighting You?

New Yorker

According to The Mighty, “Gaslighting” is a form of psychological abuse, whereby the perpetrator attempts to convince their victim to doubt their own perceptions, with the intent of making them believe they are in fact “crazy.” This is very common in emotionally and physically abusive relationships. But did you know that it's common in health care as well?

Has your doctor ever been completely dismissive of your symptoms? Have you ever known you're sick, but your doctor tells you that you're crazy, stressed, or that it's all in your head?

Well, your health care provider might be gaslighting you.

Here are some signs you're being gaslit

  • They dismiss your symptoms as depression

  • They say you're probably stressed

  • They tell you to come back if your symptoms continue, without running any tests

  • Your doctor says they don't have a treatment option

  • He or she doesn't seem to listen to you or take you seriously

  • They say you'll get better or that it's all in your head, even though you KNOW something is up

Why might they do that?

"Sometimes a path forward is less than clear. Your doctor may be unsure about what is going on, and/or not know of any effective treatment options for your condition. Your doctor may feel inadequate to help you. Perhaps they maintain you are imagining things, obsessing over some trivial thing, or have a psychological problem. The doctor may simply have poor listening and interviewing skills—often described as a poor “bedside manner.” Unfortunately, poor listening skills can result in missing critical information provided by the patient and subsequently to poor decision-making and impaired judgment on the part of the professional."

--According to Susan Bednar, LCSW

Mental health reasons

The Mighty explains that, "for those with a mental illness, it gets worse. We already know physicians are less likely to believe a patient has a serious illness if they have a history of psychiatric problems. And when we are already primed to view people with mental illnesses as “fundamentally unstable,” gaslighting is the next logical leap."

So, what should you do?

  • Voice your concerns

  • Be pushy when necessary

  • Be vocal and do not tone down how you are feeling

  • Remember: you aren't a burden

  • And if necessary, go to another doctor!

SHARE this article