Gaslighting: A term that has become synonymous with toxic relationships.
Most commonly, it is used to describe a partner’s behavior: actions that trick someone into questioning their own judgment.
Today, the word is widely used on Instagram and Twitter to highlight emotional abuse, and domestic violence charities in the US and UK recognize the phenomenon as a tool of manipulation.
But readers may be less familiar with the term medical gaslighting and the telltale signs.
The concept – what does a medical professional dismisses or minimizes a patient’s physical symptoms – was hotly debated last week, following new reports about the circumstances of Hollywood actress Sharon Stone’s stroke.
The star of Basic Instinct revealed to Fashion Doctors initially did not believe him after suffering a nine-day brain hemorrhage and stroke in 2001.
Actress Sharon Stone recently revealed to Vogue that doctors initially didn’t believe her after she suffered a nine-day brain hemorrhage and stroke in 2001.
He suffered a rupture of his vertebral artery, which caused a brain hemorrhage. The problem is usually caused by some type of trauma, such as a fall, but it can also occur for no apparent reason.
The actress said doctors missed the signs on her first CT scan and then “decided she was faking it.”
Only after her best friend convinced them to give her another one did they discover that she had been bleeding into her brain.
‘My vertebral artery ruptured. I would have died if they had sent me home,’ she said.
“What I learned through that experience is that in a medical setting, women often just aren’t listened to, especially when there isn’t a female doctor.”
DailyMail.com has discovered that Sharon Stone’s experience is not unusual. In fact, some studies suggest that up to 70 percent of American women have experienced medical gaslighting.
And it seems that women are increasingly eager to talk about it. Search #MedicalGaslighting on TikTok and you will find that the video selection has around 222 million views.
But how do you know if it’s happening to you? And what can you do about it?
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kelly E. Green He often sees the impact of medical gaslighting on his patients.
“I see serious health anxiety in many of my clients; many are considered hypochondriacs.”
The effects, he says, are “even more extreme” than those of gaslighting in other types of relationships because “doctors and nurses are in a position of high esteem and power by society.” They are trustworthy.
Clinical psychologist Dr Kelly E Green said her daughter was gassed by medical professionals for a year and a half.
“Patients begin to doubt themselves,” he adds. ‘Not only because of their pain, but also because of their other forms of judgment. They think, well, if I’m wrong about this, am I wrong about something else too?
“Because they don’t believe them, they focus more on gathering evidence, so they focus more on their bodies… on every symptom, every thing that feels abnormal, because they’re trying to get someone to believe them.” . If you say to someone, “Oh no, that’s not the case,” then start thinking about all the reasons why that is the case.’
Dr. Green said this can lead to “catastrophic thinking and depression.”
And he adds: “Often also isolation, because when you are so focused on your physical pain and your medical symptoms, you don’t feel like going out, you don’t feel like socializing, you don’t feel like caring for others.” other parts of your life or maybe you can’t even do it, but I don’t know why.’
One patient who knows all too well the devastation of medical gaslighting is Dr. Green’s own daughter, who suffers from a genetic connective tissue syndrome that causes extreme pain and mobility problems.
But for more than a year, the condition was dismissed as “simple anxiety.” The ordeal began when her daughter was seven years old and she began complaining of severe pain.
SIGNS THAT YOU ARE A VICTIM OF MEDICAL GASLIGHTING
Sharon Stone has spoken out about her experience with medical gaslighting after her brain haemorrhage in 2001.
Experts say there are a number of warning signs that patients often ignore. These include:
- You leave a doctor’s appointment feeling embarrassed
- A medical professional interrupts when you speak or does not let you finish
- You wonder if you are imagining symptoms
- Health problems are considered your fault
- A doctor or nurse laughs at your worries.
Dr Green told DailyMail.com: “There were days when he would say he couldn’t walk because he was in so much pain, or he would fall a little and end up thinking he had broken something.”
‘There was so much inexplicable pain that some days she would wake up crying and say she just couldn’t do it.
‘So we went to the emergency room, they did x-rays, sometimes they found something, sometimes they didn’t.
“But they usually sent us home, saying that she was overreacting, or that she was trying to get out of school, or that it was fictitious.”
This continued for about a year and a half, Dr. Green said, until she scheduled a final appointment to see if her daughter had arthritis.
Shortly after, he was diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic disease that explained all of his symptoms.
Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos syndrome is a rare condition that affects connective tissue. Symptoms include loose, unstable joints that dislocate easily, joint pain, and extreme tiredness.
“Since we received his diagnosis, everything changed,” Dr. Green said. ‘We provided him with the right type of therapy, got him school accommodations and were able to explain to his teachers what was happening.
‘There were still days when she couldn’t walk, but we had a wheelchair. “We were actually able to approach it as a physical medical condition instead of not knowing what was going on, because everyone said it was nothing.”
He adds: “One of the things doctors are taught is that if it looks like a horse and sounds like a horse, it probably is a horse.” But sometimes it’s not a horse, sometimes it’s a zebra.
In some cases, medical gaslighting can be life-threatening. This was the case for Sherri Rollins, 50, from North Carolina.
The mother-of-two was diagnosed with colorectal cancer twice before the age of 50, but suffered subtle symptoms such as back pain, weight loss and gas, which doctors initially put down to her being “hypersensitive”.
Rollins began experiencing back pain in 2017. Although scans showed a liver injury, a gastroenterologist told him there was nothing to worry about.
However, when he went to another doctor a few months later for an MRI, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer: the disease had spread to his liver. Rollins received chemotherapy treatment for about a year before undergoing surgery.
She was in remission for four years before she began experiencing symptoms again: rapid weight loss and painful gas.
Mrs. Rollins had tumors in her liver, rectum and pelvic floor. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. She now encourages others to speak up when they feel something is not right.
Up to that point, Ms. Rollins’ regular scans had come back clear, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
His oncologist told him: ‘I can assure you that you do not have cancer. You are hypersensitive.
However, in March 2022, doctors found a tumor in her rectum that had spread to her pelvic floor.
“I was disappointed,” she said.
Ms Rollins underwent high doses of radiotherapy, surgery and had an ileostomy placed for three months – an opening in the abdomen that involves pulling a piece of the small intestine outside the abdominal wall to create a stoma.
Rollins still has some lingering effects from the treatment, such as nerve damage in his hands. He now encourages others to speak up when they feel something is not right.
She said: “I hope that even if one person advocates for more treatment options and it saves them, then that’s why I speak out.”
“Being your own advocate doesn’t mean you’re a disgruntled patient.”