Medical gaslighting is a term used to describe doctors or medical practitioners who blame a patient’s illness or symptoms on psychological factors, or deny a patient’s illness entirely, for example wrongly telling patients that they are not sick.
What does Medical Gaslighting look like?
Medical gaslighting can take on many forms. It can look like…
Minimizing debilitating or dangerous symptoms– “Your pain can’t be that bad“
Blaming symptoms on mental illness – “It’s all in your head”
Assuming a diagnosis based on sex, race, identity, age, gender, ethnicity or weight. – “If you lost weight, your symptoms would disappear“
Refusing to order important tests or imaging work. – “I know you don’t have “xyz”, I do not need an MRI to tell me this. I know how to do my job“
Refusing to discuss the health issues with the patient. Berating patients for trying to self-diagnose. – “Who’s the doctor here, me or Google?”
What can you do to stop medical gaslighting?
What can you do if you experience medical gaslighting?
Raise awareness and talk about it. By talking about it, it shows how important it is that medical staff not fall to these patterns. It helps in being conscious of why treating patients like this is wrong and can have negative , long term consequences.
Make A Formal Complaint- You have a right to speak out against these occurrences. There are ways to complain about a medical professional, for example via the medical board. If they work in a hospital, they are employed by someone, and if the employer gets complaints they will need to react.