Kate Strong | Intuitive Healing

Uncovering the Dark Reality of Medical Gaslighting

What is Medical Gaslighting?

Medical gaslighting is a term that describes when healthcare professionals dismiss or invalidate a patient’s symptoms, leading to the patient feeling unheard and unsupported. The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1940s movie Gaslight, where a man manipulates his wife into thinking she is going insane by dimming the lights in their home. Medical gaslighting has become an increasingly common issue for patients who have had negative experiences with doctors and other healthcare providers.


Patients who experience medical gaslighting may feel anxious, depressed, and paranoid about their health conditions. They may also question their own judgment or doubt themselves as they are being told that their symptoms are not real or severe enough. This can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment of serious medical conditions which can further worsen the patient’s health condition.


It is important for healthcare providers to listen carefully to their patients’ concerns and take them seriously. By establishing trust and rapport with patients, doctors can help alleviate anxiety about health conditions while providing effective care. Patients should never be made to feel like they are exaggerating or imagining their symptoms since this could lead them down a dangerous path of self-doubt and mistrust towards the medical profession.


Definitions & Examples

Medical gaslighting is a form of abuse where healthcare professionals, intentionally or unintentionally, invalidate a patient’s symptoms, experiences and emotions. This can lead to delayed diagnoses, inadequate treatment and ultimately harm the patient’s health. Medical gaslighting is prevalent among women, people of color, those with mental health conditions and other marginalized groups.


An example of medical gaslighting is when a doctor dismisses a woman’s pain as “just menstrual cramps” without conducting any tests to rule out more serious conditions like endometriosis or ovarian cysts. Another common example is when healthcare providers stereotype patients based on their race or ethnicity and assume they are exaggerating their symptoms. Patients who experience medical gaslighting often feel frustrated, helpless and unheard.


To prevent medical gaslighting from happening, it is important for healthcare professionals to listen actively to patients’ concerns and take them seriously. They should conduct thorough examinations and diagnostic tests before dismissing any symptoms as trivial or imaginary. Patients also have the right to advocate for themselves by seeking second opinions or switching doctors if they feel invalidated by their current provider.


Physiological Effects

Medical gaslighting can have significant physiological effects on individuals. This type of manipulation and invalidation from healthcare professionals can result in elevated stress levels, which can lead to a variety of physical symptoms such as headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive issues. When an individual’s concerns are dismissed or made to feel insignificant by medical professionals, it can also result in feelings of anxiety and depression.


The consequences of medical gaslighting extend beyond just immediate physical symptoms. Long-term exposure to this type of emotional abuse has been linked to chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, being repeatedly disregarded by healthcare providers can cause individuals to avoid seeking treatment altogether, leading to further complications down the line.


It is crucial for medical professionals to recognize the impact their words and actions may have on their patients’ mental and physical wellbeing. By taking a patient-centered approach that prioritizes empathy, validation, and open communication with patients about their concerns, healthcare providers can prevent the harmful effects of medical gaslighting.


Causes of Medical Gaslighting

One of the major causes of medical gaslighting is the inherent power imbalance between doctors and patients. Doctors are often seen as experts in their field, and patients may feel intimidated or unsure about questioning their judgment. This can lead to doctors dismissing or downplaying a patient’s symptoms, concerns, or experiences.


Another cause of medical gaslighting is implicit bias. Doctors may hold unconscious stereotypes about certain groups of people based on race, gender, age, or other factors. These biases can affect how they perceive and respond to a patient’s symptoms.


Additionally, healthcare systems that prioritize profit over patient care can contribute to medical gaslighting. Medical professionals working under such systems may be incentivized to minimize costs by providing minimal care or dismissing patients’ concerns rather than thoroughly investigating them. This can leave patients feeling unheard and invalidated in their health experiences.


Strategies for Overcoming Medical Gaslighting

Here are some strategies for overcoming medical gaslighting:

1. Seek out second opinions: If you feel that your concerns are not being taken seriously by your current provider, don’t be afraid to seek out another opinion from a different doctor. You have the right to advocate for yourself and your health.

2. Educate yourself: Research your symptoms and conditions so that you can better communicate with your providers and ask informed questions about your care.

3. Bring an advocate: Consider bringing a trusted friend or family member to appointments with you who can help ensure that you’re being heard and understood by providers.

By taking these steps, patients can work towards overcoming medical gaslighting and receiving the proper care they need and deserve.


Working With Healthcare Providers To End Medical Gaslighting

To end medical gaslighting, it is essential to train healthcare providers to listen actively and empathetically to patients’ stories without jumping to conclusions or stereotypes. Providers should acknowledge the legitimacy of patients’ experiences and work collaboratively with them to investigate the root causes of their symptoms. This may involve running additional tests, consulting specialists, referring patients to support groups or therapists, or simply providing reassurance and validation. Providers should also be aware of systemic biases that may influence their clinical judgment, such as racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, or heteronormativity.


Patients themselves can also play a role in ending medical gaslighting by advocating for themselves assertively but respectfully. They can prepare a list of questions and concerns before their appointment; bring a trusted friend or family member for emotional support; request copies of their medical records; ask for second opinions if needed; report any incidents of mistreatment or discrimination promptly; and seek out alternative sources of information and support online or offline.


Conclusion: Taking Back Control

In conclusion, taking back control is essential when it comes to dealing with medical gaslighting. Patients should be aware of their rights and take an active role in their healthcare decisions. It is crucial to recognize the signs of gaslighting, including dismissive behavior, lack of empathy, and disregard for a patient’s concerns.


Additionally, patients should not hesitate to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or dismissed during a medical appointment.


Lastly, it’s important to advocate for oneself when dealing with medical professionals who engage in gaslighting behaviors. Patients can do this by keeping detailed records of conversations and appointments as well as contacting hospital administrators or legal representatives if necessary. Taking back control from medical gaslighters requires persistence and self-advocacy but ultimately leads to better health outcomes and emotional well-being.

Kate offers Healings and Intuitive Guidance. She offers sessions in the Emotion Code, Body Code, Cord Cutting Past Life Healings, Soul Healings and more. She offers these by email.

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