Women have been subjected to medical gaslighting so frequently in the past few years. When you scroll through the Internet, there are articles and reports detailing their experiences.
According to an internet definition, “Medical gaslighting is when doctors or health practitioners blame a patient’s symptoms on psychological factors or deny the patient’s illness entirely, for example, wrongly telling patients that they are not sick.”
There is a greater likelihood of women being subjected to medical gaslighting than men, which is extremely dangerous. Furthermore, when they present at surgeries or hospitals, they are not only gaslighted but also victimised. (Taylor, 2021)
It is negligent and dangerous for doctors to make remarks such as, “Your blood tests came back fine, so there is nothing to be concerned about despite your symptoms of pain in your vagina or a lump in your breast. Perhaps you are experiencing significant stress. The problem may be psychological”
A doctor may also say the following:
“Your pain cannot be that severe.”
“Your mind is playing tricks on you”
“It would benefit you to lose weight to alleviate your symptoms.”
Medical gaslighting is a form of sexism and misogyny
Due to this form of gaslighting in the medical profession, women have become incredibly sick and have developed additional health conditions and complications. A growing number of women have complained about medical practitioners dismissing their illnesses or health concerns, so it is time for professionals to take notice.
Several patients have also developed incurable diseases due to the treatment they received. They were gaslighted by doctors who asserted that their illness resulted from emotions and feelings. In this case, gaslighting can be considered a form of abuse. In my opinion, this should be a criminal offence. It is also common for women to experience gaslighting and are often misdiagnosed when sexually abused, raped, and harassed by men (Taylor, 2021)
According to Disability Rights UK, disabled women are more likely to be subjected to medical gaslighting.
A Muslim woman or a woman of colour, or both, may experience more severe gaslighting.
When a woman is sexually assaulted she is told to seek assistance from a mental health professional. In place of prosecuting the perpetrator, the mental health professional victim blames her and prescribes tablets claiming they will aid her in coping with her trauma or rape. This is nothing more than an act of victim blaming and gaslighting. Several mental health professionals are quick to wrongfully diagnose women with borderline personality disorder, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. (Taylor, 2021)
Often, women who have been pathologised and medicated will become angry and assertive because they have been gaslighted. It is suggested that the anger is a symptom of her mental illness and that she requires more medication and support to cope. This is another example of victim blaming. (Taylor, 2021)
After experiencing violence and abuse, women are unable to express their emotions. If they do, they will be perceived as unstable and needing more medication. Therefore, it begs the question, how many women have been wrongly prescribed medication by psychiatrists?
Why is trauma-based therapy not offered instead of pills?
Why is gaslighting of this type permitted to persist?
In addition, instead of addressing a woman’s trauma and its causes, she is told to stop acting hysterically and shut down.
My next point is how some mental health professionals are part of this never-ending cycle of misogyny and gaslighting.
How many women are treated poorly when presenting with trauma?.
Mental health professionals labelling of women is problematic, which often leads to women blaming themselves for becoming victims of abuse and harassment. Some mental health workers are marginalising, victimising, and causing more harm than good. (Taylor, 2021)
Medical professionals in the physical and mental health fields should be held accountable for contributing to the never-ending violence and harassment against women.
Instead of blaming women for the abuse and violence, they have suffered, we should bring the perpetrators to justice. The responsibility for ensuring fair treatment of women belongs to everyone in our society, including organisations established to assist women.
Women should be taken seriously when they present with physical health conditions and trauma. Trauma should not be used as an excuse to misdiagnose a woman with a mental disorder and wrongfully prescribe her medication. Putting the blame on women for their health or trauma is a form of abuse and should be recognised as such. Ultimately medical gaslighting is a form of sexism and misogyny. Doctors and medical professionals must listen to women’s concerns instead of ignoring, gaslighting and victim blaming them.
Bibliography – TAYLOR, D., 2021. WHY WOMEN ARE BLAMED FOR EVERYTHING. [S.l.]
The evidence for my article is derived from the research conducted by Dr Jessica Taylor. It is recommended that those who are interested in learning more about how women are gaslighted read the book “Why Are Women Blamed for Everything” and ‘Sexy but Psycho’ – Dr Jessica Taylor.
There have been a number of articles written about medical gaslighting, which can be found below.