Are You Being Gaslit? What to Do About It

Jul 04, 2024
Are You Being Gaslit? What to Do About It

In this post, we are diving deep into the topic of gaslighting, particularly medical gaslighting, and what you can do about it.

Understanding Gaslighting

Medical gaslighting refers to the experience of feeling dismissed or invalidated by healthcare professionals. It's that feeling when you know something is wrong with your body, but you're told it's all in your head. But gaslighting isn't limited to medical settings; it can happen in our personal lives and, surprisingly, we can even gaslight ourselves– often ignoring how we’re feeling and convincing ourselves that ‘everything is fine’. 

A survey revealed that 72% of women have felt medically gaslit at some point, being told that their symptoms are imagined or insignificant. This episode will explore how gaslighting manifests and how we can address it.

The Elements of Gaslighting

Psychotherapist Esther Perel identifies five key elements of gaslighting. Let's break these down:

  1. Reality Manipulation: This involves denying what is actually happening and replacing it with an alternative version. For example, being told you're acting crazy or not thinking clearly. A common scenario is a woman visiting a doctor for extreme fatigue postpartum and being told it's just normal mom tiredness, dismissing her genuine health concerns.
  2. Disqualifying: This is about not accepting someone else's experiences or feelings. Comments like "You're too sensitive" or "I was only joking" are common. In healthcare, it might manifest as a doctor telling a patient they are too hypersensitive about their symptoms.
  3. Scapegoating: Shifting the blame and not taking responsibility. A patient might be told they aren’t sticking to their diet or exercise plan when, in fact, they are doing everything right. This can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness.
  4. Coercion: Making someone do something against their will through threats or guilt. This is common in healthcare when patients are pressured into treatments they are uncomfortable with because they are told it's the only option.
  5. Self-Gaslighting: Dismissing your own symptoms and concerns. For example, convincing yourself that a recurring symptom is just minor or imagining.

Addressing Gaslighting in Healthcare

Gaslighting in healthcare can be incredibly damaging. Here’s how to address it:

  1. Trust Your Instincts: Believe in your own experiences and feelings. If you feel something is wrong, it probably is. Seek a second opinion if you feel dismissed.
  2. Ask Questions: If you feel your symptoms are being dismissed, ask clarifying questions. For example, "What could be causing these symptoms if it's not what I'm suggesting?"
  3. Document Your Symptoms: Keep a detailed record of your symptoms, including when they occur and any potential triggers. This can help provide concrete information to healthcare providers.
  4. Seek Support: Talk to friends, family, or support groups about your experiences. Sometimes, hearing that others have had similar experiences can validate your feelings.

Addressing Self-Gaslighting

Self-gaslighting can be just as harmful as external gaslighting. Here are steps to address it:

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Don’t dismiss your symptoms or feelings. Acknowledge them and understand that they are valid.
  2. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Recognize that it’s okay to feel how you feel and that your body is trying to communicate with you.
  3. Seek Professional Help: Sometimes, talking to a therapist can help you validate your experiences and develop strategies to cope with self-doubt.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If something feels off, investigate it. Don’t immediately dismiss it as trivial.

The Role of Functional Medicine

If traditional medical approaches aren’t providing answers, consider functional medicine. Functional medicine looks at the root causes of symptoms and considers the body as a whole. That it has the answers and the symptoms are providing clues. When considering functional approach to your health, consider your 4 female fundamentals: Here’s how it can help:

    1. Nervous system


  • Metabolism
  • Nutrients
  • Blood Sugars


If you want tools to support you in caring for these fundamentals in your life, join the membership. If you would like a test to see how your personal fundamentals are functioning- look here

Practical Steps to Combat Gaslighting

  1. Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power. Understanding your symptoms and possible causes can help you advocate for yourself in medical settings. This includes understand what is health and what is ‘normal’ just because it’s common. Check out my book- What’s my body telling me?’ for simple clear guides to know what is truly healthy and what is just ‘normal’. 
  2. Find the Right Practitioner: Look for healthcare providers who listen to and respect your concerns. Don’t settle for someone who dismisses you.
  3. Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with people who support you and validate your experiences.
  4. Set Boundaries: Whether in personal relationships or with healthcare providers, set clear boundaries. Don’t tolerate being dismissed or invalidated.

Final Thoughts

Gaslighting, whether from others or ourselves, can undermine our health and well-being. By understanding the elements of gaslighting and taking proactive steps to address it, we can better advocate for our health. Trusting our instincts, seeking support, and exploring functional medicine options are crucial steps in ensuring our health concerns are taken seriously.

Remember, the most important person to trust and believe in is yourself. Your body knows what it needs, and it’s essential to listen to and respect those signals. If you need to discuss this further, join our community and check out the resources available to support you.

Stay empowered and always trust in yourself and your body’s wisdom.

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