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Medical gaslighting finally is being recognized by the mainstream press

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Annikki, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. Annikki

    Annikki

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    Finally, the practice of doctors dismissing patient's symptoms as "imagined" or "psychogenic" is entering the wider public discourse. The sad truth is this gaslighting of patients doesn't just occur with ME/CFS, but to a long list of medical disorders. Maybe, this can bring important change to the lives of ME/CFS patients.

    I hope the emergence of these articles shows things are changing for patients who've been marginalized. I'm sure the more people who become aware of the practice of medical gaslighting, the greater the chance we have to end it. These articles show this is a huge problem, more than I ever realized before.

    This practice of denying disease and calling patients crazy arbitrarily is a violation of human rights and patently inexcusable. Spread word of these articles. Also, take a moment to sign the petition at the bottom of this post. Silence equals death, especially in a world where sick people are forced into silence about their disease from medical gaslighting.

    "How Doctors Take Women's Pain Less Seriously," by The Atlantic Monthly
    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/emergency-room-wait-times-sexism/410515/

    "IS MEDICINE’S GENDER BIAS KILLING YOUNG WOMEN?"
    https://psmag.com/social-justice/is-medicines-gender-bias-killing-young-women

    "Is There A Gender Bias Against Female Pain Patients?" by The Huffington Post
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entr...ale-pain-patients_us_589b6b3ee4b061551b3e06ab

    ‘Gaslighting’ – or, why women are just too darned emotional during their heart attacks
    https://myheartsisters.org/2011/11/25/gaslighting/

    "When Gender Stereotypes Become A Serious Hazard To Women’s Health,"
    https://thinkprogress.org/when-gend...-serious-hazard-to-womens-health-f1f130a5e79/

    "Doctors, Stop Gaslighting Women In Pain"
    https://journal.thriveglobal.com/doctors-stop-gaslighting-women-in-pain-3934a2fdc1b

    "Women in Pain Report Significant Gender Bias," by the National Pain Report
    http://nationalpainreport.com/women-in-pain-report-significant-gender-bias-8824696.html

    "Gender Stereotypes in Pain Diagnosis," by AMA Journal of Ethics
    http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2008/07/ccas2-0807.html

    "The Gas-Lighting Physician"
    http://challengingrelationships.com/2015/09/23/the-gas-lighting-physician/

    "Medical Gaslighting"
    https://longevity.media/medical-gaslighting

    "Chronic Pain Is Overwhelmingly Experienced by Women—So Why Do They Have Trouble Getting Care for It?",
    https://rewire.news/article/2015/02...ingly-experienced-women-trouble-getting-care/


    "When Gender Stereotypes Become A Serious Hazard To Women’s Health"
    https://thinkprogress.org/when-gend...-serious-hazard-to-womens-health-f1f130a5e79/

    “It’s All in Your Head!” - How A Patients Health Suffers When Medical Professionals Doubt Them.
    http://www.inflamed-and-untamed.com/post/17922554878/its-all-in-your-head-how-a-patients-health

    "We Cannot Continue to Let Doctors 'Gaslight' Chronic Illness Patients"
    https://themighty.com/2016/10/mecfs-and-gaslighting-what-to-do-when-doctors-dont-believe-you/


    "Medical Sexism and Fibromyalgia"
    https://wholehealthchicago.com/2011/12/05/medical-sexism-and-fibromyalgia/

    "Why Doctors Don’t Listen to Endo Patients"
    http://www.thenutritionista.ca/why-doctors-dont-listen/


    "20 Ways that Hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s Patients are Gaslighted"
    https://stopthethyroidmadness.com/2017/02/14/gaslighted/

    "6 Absurd Ways Modern Medicine Fails Because Of Sexism"
    http://www.cracked.com/article_23304_6-weird-ways-sexism-screwing-up-healthcare.html

    Study: "Gender-biased diagnosing of women's medical complaints:contributions of feminist thought, 1970-1995".
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15778134


    I'm aware that most of these articles relate to women's health issues. I'm not ignoring male patients at all in sharing these articles. Of course, male ME patients are being dismissed based on bizarre, outdated sexist ideas like neurasthenia.

    All of these things doctors project on patients, male or female, are patently absurd. I joked to someone, saying, "What's next? Do doctors evaluate black patients based on phrenology?" Then while I was doing this research, I was made aware of the fact, that yes, this happens. Read this article, it certainly sheds light on how backward doctors really can be:

    "The disturbing reason some African American patients may be undertreated for pain,"
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...-doctors-may-think-so/?utm_term=.27bb46f165ff


    "Black patients half as likely to receive pain medication as white patients, study finds" by The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/science...rescriptions-pain-management-medicine-opioids


    And this really is undeniably about racism. Case in point:

    "Black Kids Get Less Pain Medication Than White Kids in ER," by NBC News
    https://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/black-kids-get-less-pain-medication-white-kids-er-n427056


    Please sign this petition!
    Petition: Stop Power-Hungry Doctors From Bullying, Gaslighting, and Blacklisting Their Patients!

    https://www.change.org/p/stop-power...g-gaslighting-and-blacklisting-their-patients
     
    antares4141, MEMum, Mary and 23 others like this.
  2. E.man

    E.man Senior Member

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    'Gaslighting' ?
    The what ?
    Well it's the first time I've heard that.
    Going to take a punt and say it's another American 're-application'.

    So it now means gender biased medicine?
    Plenty of blokes here too by the way.
     
    Countrygirl likes this.
  3. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Yes, I was myself wondering why so many of the above articles are written from a gender inequality perspective.

    I would guess that if you are a patient with ME/CFS, you are going to be ignored and badly treated by the medical profession irrespective of whether you are male or female.

    Of course, these so-called functional disorders which are often incorrectly assumed to be psychogenic usually affect women a lot more than they affect men (ME/CFS is 4 times more prevalent in women, and fibromyalgia 9 times); so in that sense they can be seen as a women's issue. But I think male or female, anyone with these diseases is equally ignored by their doctor.


    From the medical profession's perspective, the reason doctors often try to fob off patients with the this bullshit notion of "it's all in your mind" is that patients with functional disorders often end up taking up a lot of time at the doctor's office, and so the doctors just want to pin any old diagnosis on these patients (even a bullshit psychosomatic diagnoses which say your symptoms are created by your mind), just to get the patient out of the office.

    But maybe it would be better if doctors were honest, and just tell the patient that we know your disease is real and almost certainly biologically caused, but at present there are very few treatments available, mainly because for several decades now, unscrupulous quack psychiatrists have tried to portray these functional disorders as being "all in the mind", and therefore far too little biomedical research has taken place to understand these diseases.

    So the doctor should apologize to the patient on behalf of these psychiatrists who have made such a mess of the field and functional disorders, explaining that these dumb psychiatrists are the reason why so little research has taken place, and the reason why there are currently so few treatments for so-called functional disorders like ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, etc.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  4. CFSTheBear

    CFSTheBear Senior Member

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    Because as a general rule, women are treated worse than men by those in positions of authority. In particular because we have no test 'proving' this illness, it gave rise to the idea of housewives catastrophising about something that was "all in their head". A side issue is that due to pride / traditional views of masculinity, men may not seek help, and therefore a doctor may have simply seen more female patients with the illness due to more of a propensity to come forward.

    One only needs to have worked in any workplace for more than a day to see that women are generally treated more patronisingly than men by those in positions of seniority. I think the same has applied on the whole, but with obvious exceptions, to the medical profession.
     
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  5. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    If treating medical gaslighting as a women's issue gets more attention and raises more awareness on the gaslighting issue, then I am all for it.

    However, I suspect in reality this gaslighting issue that surrounds functional disorders has less to do with the fact that functional disorders affect women a lot more than men, and much more to do with the fact that:

    (1) Very little is found to be physically wrong in the body in patients with functional disorders, ie, there are no obvious structural abnormalities (until you look deeper, when many physical abnormalities are found in functional disorders, but not the sort that are detected by bog standard medical tests);

    (2) Functional disorders, although physical diseases, often cause various neuropsychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, emotional sensitivity, etc to appear, due to the negative affect of the disease on the brain.

    It's these two facets of functional disorders: the fact that nothing much is found physically amiss in the body, until you look deeper at more complex functions (rather than structures) of the body; and the fact that functional patients often have comorbid neuropsychological symptoms that have been biologically triggered by their illness, that leads to some sloppy-thinking medical professionals to erroneously conclude that the physical symptoms of the disease are created by the neuropsychological symptoms. That's the crux of why functional disorders are not taken seriously: slapdash logic by second-rate medical professionals.

    But we know that physical illnesses like MS and Parkinson's can lead to neuropsychological symptoms like anxiety and depression; such mental symptoms arise from a physical dysfunction of the brain caused by the disease. So the way that some none-to-bright medical professionals view functional disorders as psychogenic is sloppy and false logic.



    In the UK these days, 52% of GPs are female. It would be interesting to see if there are any studies looking at whether female GPs treat patients with functional disorders any better than their male colleagues.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  6. Vonjones

    Vonjones

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    Gaslighting is from the 1944 Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight - forget details but someone tried to make woman and others believe she is mad by making gaslight flicker etc when she was sane all the time.
     
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  7. E.man

    E.man Senior Member

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    The only medic out of 4 I have attended as a continuing patient that didn't believe me *was* a woman.
     
    Mel9 likes this.
  8. lnester7

    lnester7 Seven

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    I was told by a neurologist: I don’t touch CFS patients within a 10’ poll.
    2) A Cardio told me: some doctors take the time to tend to patients like you :cautious:
    3) Most just kept passing me by from specialist to specialist.
    I don’t think I was ever disbelievied since I was lucky enough to have very abnormal tests, but they would just scratch the head and move me on.
     
  9. garcia

    garcia Aristocrat Extraordinaire

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    Gaslighting like many such issues only occurs when there is a fundamental power imbalance, and gender can definitely be a part of that. 52% of UK gps may be female, but the power structures within the medical profession and society as a whole are largely male, and certainly medicine is extremely paternalistic (probably the most paternalistic profession there is).
    I think Gaslighting as a term needs to be better known. IMHO it's one of the most horrific things a person can go through.
     
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  10. E.man

    E.man Senior Member

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    I'd suggest some national variations.
     
  11. JES

    JES Senior Member

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    I don't buy that there is some massive power struggle between genders that is causing CFS/ME patients to not be recognized by their doctors. IMO not being listened to is often simply because the average GP does not understand the disease, so like with MS, which was labelled hysteria or conversion disorder not that many decades ago, CFS today has a bit similar status. There is of course the group of UK psychiatrists that desperately wants to keep pulling the strings of CFS/ME patients, but those people also include women like Esther Crawley, so again I don't see it as a gender struggle.
     
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  12. Annikki

    Annikki

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    The article was to show that the practice of discounting ME/CFS as psychological relates to a broader problem of medical doctors dismissing patients as "imagining" being sick.

    The ideas people who discount ME/CFS use come from old prejudices in the medical community about female patients. These prejudices are that women rarely get sick and instead are prone to be "hysterics," "attention getting," and "emotional."

    Look at what Simon Wessely says about CFS/ME patients, and you see these same ideas. Even when patients are male, he is in effect still calling that patient "hysterical."

    Wessly claims CFS patients just want the "secondary gain" of attention for being sick, an idea traditionally ascribed to women.

    This problem extends far beyond ME/CFS patients. It effects many other people. If the public is aware of how extensive this questionable practice is, they will ask that it be stopped.

    I think ME/CFS detractors are using bias against female patients to supplant their own agendas. I think because this practice of gaslighting female patients is pretty much normal in the medical community, Wessely gets more latitude to do this ME/CFS patients. To shut him down, we need the public to question the legitimacy of the practice.

    Really, the point of posting these articles was to provide material for ME patients to share with people who are not suffering from ME/CFS to recognize doctors really do gaslight patients and this is wrong..
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  13. Gingergrrl

    Gingergrrl Senior Member

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    This happened to my friend, who did not have ME/CFS, and ultimately died of stage 4 lung cancer. It was all in her head, until she died. It happens to MCAS patients and some have died of anaphylaxis. It happens in diseases across the board and sadly it is more likely to happen to women. It can also happen in relationships, outside of the doctor/patient relationship, but that is a separate issue.
     
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  14. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    That is what I wish more would do.
     
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  15. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I agree. I see this in a lot of the discussions.
     
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  16. Janice Hargreaves

    Janice Hargreaves

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    I feel that our problem stems from when bog standard tests come back within normal ranges , then the GPs in UK appear to not have the time or curiosity to wonder why.
    They refer us to various specialists if we are lucky but these specialists invariably don't have the time or curiosity either.
    Hence we are ignored and treated as though we are neurotic hypochondriacs.
    Over the years of trying to deal with my anger over this I realise it's not personal to me as an individual. The medical proffesional simply haven't found the bio marker........yet. When that happens, things will change. I feel it slowly changing already.
    Hence why I so appreciate what all our various advocates are working so hard at changing.
     
    JeanneD likes this.
  17. pattismith

    pattismith Senior Member

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    At this stage, I want to thank our fellow ME men for their contribution to the disease,
    because if only women were affected by it, we would still be in the hand of psychiatry and for a long time.

    I have read that for Spondyloarthritis Ankylosis , the time needed for a diagnosis is much longer for a woman than for a man, and same for many diseases...

    Like you I just wish more honesty and humility from docs; and a biomarker...:)
     
  18. JeanneD

    JeanneD Senior Member

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    In my experience, the female GPs are no better and no worse about gaslighting patients than their male counterparts. I don't think the gender of the perpetrator is the relevant issue, it's the position of authority or sense of superiority.

    On the other side of the table, I believe gender stereotyping does result in more female patients overall being gaslighted than male patients. It's been documented that doctors in general take female patients' symptoms less seriously, dismiss them more frequently, and treat them less aggressively.

    That means little in illnesses that are poorly understood like Fibro, ME/CFS, and some pain syndromes. In those cases, all patients are gaslighted equally because the doctors don't understand, or feel that if they can't treat it or they don't have a definitive test for it, it cannot be real. We all suffer equally with these diseases.

    In response to some of the posters above, neither the OP, nor the articles posted by the OP claim that medical gaslighting happens only to women. The OP was clear that is not the case. The articles mostly focus on women simply because women are more consistently gaslighted over a large spectrum of illnesses than men. That in no way means that men are not treated just as badly in some cases, especially with illness like ME.
     
  19. Annikki

    Annikki

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    I submitted this article to draw attention to gaslighting, itself, and the gender part of it is incidental. It isn't just the gender of the patient that triggers gaslighting behavior from doctors, it seems to occur along racial lines. The point of sharing this, is to illustrate the freedom doctors have to participate in such demeaning behavior. This poor behavior needs to be questioned.

    ME/CFS patients are victims of gaslighting. To tell ME/CFS patients they need CBT or psychiatric care and not treatment is by definition, gaslighting. You could argue that people like Simon Wessely are using a tradition of gaslighting to augment their own businesses, the business of psychiatry.

    This is just like a car manufacturer promoting bogus climate change science to sell more cars. That's why you have to question both the science and the profit motives of whatever group is promoting a lie.

    I think this information is important to the ME/CFS community, because could be able to work with other patient groups in the same boat, and hopefully, collectively dig our way out of this mess. Thus, it is important to define this as "gaslighting" and to say gaslighting is a form of abuse.
     
    ScottTriGuy likes this.
  20. JES

    JES Senior Member

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    Well you can call it gaslighting, in one sense I guess you are right, but if you go to the average doctor and he will point out that you need to do CBT/GET, then that's most likely not from intentionally meaning any harm. Why do I think that? Because those CBT/GET studies have been published in high profile journals like The Lancet and the normal modus operandi for any doctor would be to look at the studies backed up by the best evidence, and for CFS/ME that is CBT/GET above anything else. Unfortunately the flaws of those studies are not (yet) obvious to someone that has not done deep research into the subject and so would be missed by the majority of doctors. It's not only about the PACE trial either, most doctors have no idea what the PACE trial is, they base their opinion on things like recommendations by NICE, so even if you'd point out the problems with PACE that would still be of little use.

    But to get back to the part I agree with, certainly the operation of the high-profile CBT/GET supporters like Wessely & Co has elements of this gaslighting or whatever one wants to call it.
     
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