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Gaslighting: When Your Doctor Tells You It’s All in Your Head

This post has been shared by the AdvoConnection Blog. It was written with a patient-client audience in mind, but might be useful to you, too.

It is provided so you can find it in a search here at myAPHA.org, but you’ll need to link to the original post to read it in its entirety.

Link to the original full length post.


Gaslighting: When Your Doctor Tells You It’s All in Your Head

Jessie has trouble describing the pain in her stomach. It comes and goes. Sometimes it’s a stabbing pain, and sometimes its just dull. Sometimes it takes her breath away. She wants to know what causes the pain, and what can be done about it. She’s frightened; afraid it could be life threatening. She wants an accurate diagnosis. Jeremy suffers from headaches, sometimes 4 or 5 times a week. He has been unable to figure out what triggers them. They don’t quite debilitate him like a migraine would, but they interfere with his work, they interfere with his fun, and they interfere with the choices his family makes about everything from enjoying meals together, to going on vacation. He wants to get to the bottom of it. He wants an accurate diagnosis. Both Jessie and Jeremy have talked to their primaries, and have been sent to specialists. Both have had tests. But neither of them has an answer, a diagnosis. So far, prescribed treatments have not improved their symptoms. The one answer both have heard boils down to this: “It’s all in your head.” Granted, their doctors didn’t use those exact words. Instead, the words used were “somatoform disorder” or “hypochondriasis” or “psychosomatic illness” which sound scientific and medical, but are just official-sounding alternatives for “it’s all in your head.” Of course, there are definite connections between one’s mind and one’s body. And certainly, our state-of-mind can affect our physical health. Stress, dealing with negative emotions, depression – all can have an negative impact on our physical health, too. But that’s not what we are talking about here. No – what we are talking about is a problem with the doctor who has been unable to diagnose accurately. And because he can’t figure it out, or won’t take the time to arrive at a usable answer, he blames the patient. Blaming the patient, whether it is spoken or not, is a default for a lazy or arrogant doctor who has decided she can’t make enough money or admit her inability. Blaming the patient by trying to convince the patient that he or she is at fault, instead of taking responsibility for finding the diagnosis, is a form of gaslighting. Gaslighting a patient is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. If you have symptoms that are unsolved and unresolved, if you have been dismissed, or told you need to do other things to make yourself happier…


 

 

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