When someone goes to their doctor with a concerning symptom or unexplained pain, they expect them to ask some questions and do some basic diagnostic testing – even just poking and prodding. While it might be reassuring to be told there’s nothing wrong with you, you’d probably feel better if your doctor didn’t just dismiss your concerns out of hand.
Unfortunately, that can happen. Medical gaslighting isn’t typically done for malicious or manipulative reasons as the gaslighting we’re familiar with (a term that comes from the classic movie Gaslight and an ever earlier play). No responsible doctor wants to make their patient think they’re losing their sanity.
More often, medical gaslighting occurs based on a combination of a doctor’s experience and prejudices. Seniors may be told that their pain or other symptoms are the results of getting older. Overweight patients may have their symptoms blamed on their size. Women are victims of medical gaslighting more than men are.
Is your doctor gaslighting you?
Common signs that your doctor isn’t taking your concerns as seriously as they should include things like the following:
- They interrupt you and provide a diagnosis before you’ve even finished telling them what’s wrong.
- They don’t conduct a thorough exam or order any kind of tests.
- They chalk up your symptoms to emotional issues like stress or anxiety (or flat-out tell you that you’re imagining things).
While doctors have less time than ever to spend with each patient these days, you still have a right to advocate for yourself (or bring a loved one with you who will do it) if your body is telling you something is wrong.
If you or a loved one suffered harm or worse because an accurate diagnosis was delayed or missed completely because of a doctor’s negligence, you have a right to seek justice and compensation. Having sound legal guidance will help.