Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome to The Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm Robin Stern, co-founder and associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and author of the bestselling book, the Gaslight Effect. I'm an educator and a psychoanalyst, but first and foremost, I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, aunt, and healer. And just like many of you, I was a victim of gaslighting. Please join me for each episode as I interview fascinating guests
Dr. Robin Stern: And explore the concept of gaslighting. You'll learn what it truly means to be gaslighted, how it feels, how to recognize it, and how to understand it, and ultimately how to get out of it. Before we begin, I want you to know that talking about gaslighting can bring up challenging and painful emotions. Give yourself permission to feel them. Some of you may wanna go more deeply with your emotions. While some of you may hold them more lightly, no matter what you're feeling, know that your emotions are a guide to your inner life. Your emotions are sacred and uniquely you respect and embrace them for they have information to give you. If you want to listen to other episodes of the Gaslight Effect Podcast, you can find them at robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for being here with me.
Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome everyone to this episode of the Gaslight Effect podcast. Today, my guests, and I'm thrilled to have you with me, are Brian Rettke, an attorney from Oregon, and Dr. Debra Rosenzweig, a clinician who now lives in Vermont, but when I met her many years ago at Columbia University, she lived in New York City, and, um, we've known each other for many years, uh, have been collaborators and colleagues together, and, uh, have worked on a medical gaslighting case that we're gonna tell you about today. And Brian, um, I'm gonna ask you to tell our audience how we met and why you are here to discuss medical gaslighting.
Speaker 2: Well, we met through one of my experts in a case of medical negligence that I was working on. And, uh, I, uh, I I, my practice is devoted primarily to medical negligence and to nursing home litigation. And I had a case involving an orthopedic error in surgery, and I have an expert that I consult with on a regular basis. And as I was talking to him, he told me that he thought that this would be an, that, that, uh, he had read your book and he said, as I reviewed this case over and over again, I think there's a great amount of gaslighting in this case, and you need to bring that up in your case. And, and I was really hesitant at first because frankly, when I'm evaluating a case, I'm trying to figure out the nature of the medical error. I'm trying to involve my medical, my, my client's medical history.
Speaker 2: I'm trying to locate the proper experts for the case, and I'm educating myself on the actual medicine, whether it's internal medicine, neurology, orthopedics, things of that nature. And I'm not so much concerned about things like gaslighting because I'm focused on what I'm focused on, which is the medicine. But he told me that I really needed to read your book, and that as he reviewed the case, it was quite evident in this case that there was medical gaslighting. And so I did. And after I had done that, um, he had told me that he had reached out to you and he told, he made the introduction, and that's how the two of us became acquainted.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yes, I remember. And, uh, I remember when you told me about the case and with the focus on what had happened medically, my interest, of course, not that that isn't also interesting, but my interest was what was happening for the patient while you were going through finding out the, uh, medical, uh, veracity of one person versus the other. Uh, the, this patient was second guessing herself, was feeling unsure of her own, um, evaluation of her own condition in her body. She was, uh, uh, I'm gonna let you tell the story, Brian, if you will, please, on this case, um, because it was so clear to me from the beginning. And then of course, I met, I met your patient, and, um, we spoke about it. And that's at shortly thereafter, Debra, you got involved as well. And we both spoke with her. And, um, it was pretty clear that the offending doctor was trying to convince her that there was something wrong with her that didn't have to do with the medical situation.
Speaker 3: Well, he kept saying that she didn't have a high enough pain tolerance,
Dr. Robin Stern: Right? And so here she was walking around having been, um, an athlete and, uh, feeling like she couldn't go on with the life she was having because of the amount of pain she was in, but then being told that if, if she had a higher pain tolerance, just switch it up, um, in your brain, uh, and, um, she would've been okay. Uh, so before, uh, uh, we even go to, into the particular case, Brian, which I'm ask, gonna ask you to tell the story. And, uh, I would like Debra for you to introduce yourself and tell our audience how you got involved in this case and why you're here today.
Speaker 3: Uh, thanks, Robin. I, uh, I'm here today largely because of you, because I, uh, have been a great admirer of you over the years and have loved working with you, you on whatever it is that you're doing. But also, I, um, I love this podcast, so I'm thrilled to, to be here. You have such a fantastic array array of guests and such deep educational conversations that really seem quite intimate at the same time. Um, so I'm, I'm very excited to be here. And I got involved because you and I both were involved in sort of figuring out what the, what the psychological aspects of, uh, the case was because there was clearly already a, a medical malpractice that had happened. But in addition to that, it seemed clear that she had had both a medical trauma and a psychological trauma because of the gaslighting that the, you know, the, that was very clearly, clearly indicated through throughout the doctor's treatment of her.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. And I, I'm gonna interrupt to add to your introduction that in the years that we've worked together, I know you to be someone who is super smart, like very gifted intellectually, and also very gifted emotionally, very compassionate and tuned in. And, um, so when I was thinking about who do I want to work on this case with me, you were really my first choice. So I'm really thrilled that you are, you were, you said, yes. And also that, uh, we were able to work together because we wasn't clear at the beginning whether we would need to testify. And it wasn't clear whether, um, I would be able to do it, and if I wasn't going to be able to do it, who was I gonna turn to for backup? And you were that person. So I thank you for saying yes at the beginning, and then of course, saying yes to being here, um, with me and your expertise as a clinician and expertise as you learned more about gaslighting, felt solid with that, um, is, was compelling for me. So now, um, your turn, Brian, I'm gonna go back to you, uh, to explain the case.
Speaker 2: Alright. This was a case in which a client underwent, uh, a c l a meniscus repair for a knee injury. And it's important to note that she had never gone undergone surgery before. Also, she had gone through natural childbirth, so she was well aware of what pain was, uh, the surgery occurred. Um, she was immediately after coming out from anesthesia complaining of extreme pain, not just a little, but a lot. And, uh, to the extent that she was given a number of doses of, of intra, of intravenous pain medication, copious amounts, and it really didn't touch the pain. Um, she was then admitted to the hospital following the surgery for intractable pain. And, uh, to add insult to injury, she was designated by the surgery center to not be a candidate for future surgery at that facility because of her low pain tolerance. So she was released from the hospital after, after a series of days, and she began a course of physical therapy.
Speaker 2: If anyone's gone through a c l repair, they know that after a c l repair and meniscus, you go through physical therapy, generally for a healthy person is eight to 12 weeks. And it's two or three sessions, uh, per week along with your home exercise program. This client ended up going through nine months of physical therapy and with little improvement, and it to, to the point that the physical therapist became frustrated because the physical therapist couldn't figure out what was going on there, peaks and valleys, the client would improve, and then she'd go back and she'd improve and she'd go back. And there was never any real, uh, there was never any real improvement. So throughout this course of physical therapy, she is seeing her physician and, uh, there are, there were chart notes indicating that her pain was out of proportion for what she, uh, undergone.
Speaker 2: And every time she would see her surgeon and complain of this ongoing pain, and she was experiencing experiencing numbness, and she was experiencing some, uh, some hypersensitivity in the leg, the surgeon would tell her, look, you just had a big surgery. And she never did recover her fully, recover her strength. And she never did lose the, the sense of the sense of numbness and the sense of, of, uh, hypersensitivity. So for over two years, this, this went on. And at one point, at two, at two years past the surgery, she, uh, experienced a sharp pain in her knee, and she went to an urgent care, not affiliated with the, the medic medical providers, uh, uh, that she had previously seen. And an x-ray was done the first time an x-ray was done, and it showed that there was a retained instrument in her knee. And that retained instrument turned out to be a portion of a meniscus repair needle, which my expert was prepared to testify was, is, is, is considered a cutting needle.
Speaker 2: It is designed to cut tissue. And this particular point of the meniscus, this meniscus needle was migrating throughout her knee for that period of two years. And it was not until that was discovered that the source of her, of her pain was known, but throughout this entire period, she began to de decide that there was something wrong with her. Uh, she, she, she doubted her own pain tolerance. Um, she didn't engage in the activities in which she had engaged in previously. And she got to the point where she would, when she would go see her physician, she did what many of us would do in that case and just be stoic about it and say, no, it's all okay. It's all okay. Because that's what you're expected to say. I've gone through the surgery, it was successful, now I'm okay. But in reality, it wasn't. And so of course, the, the, once the, uh, repair needle was, was discovered, it was removed. Um, the problem is, is by that point, a lot of that damage was done, but, uh, at least she was, she learned to under, or she became to understand that it wasn't her. And that that was, that's the, that's the important part at, at least for today's podcast as well.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. So I, I just wanna say before we go on with the case that, um, I hope as people are listening, they realize how an incredible, uh, what an incredible attorney you are because you were open-minded enough to take a look at something that wasn't top of mind for you to, um, read additional materials to support your client, uh, and to hope, hopefully help her, um, be compensated for all the damages that were done to her, not just the physical damages. So I, I really admire and have a lot of respect for the way you went about this case as well, Brian, because not every attorney would've said, yeah, maybe this is important, and you were willing to look at the whole client and address her for who she was when you saw her. Debra, do you wanna say something about that?
Speaker 3: Yeah, I was also really impressed by that. That's so rare. So it was exciting to be able to get, to be able to bring our expertise into this case and have that be considered as important as the actual, you know, the medical damage that was done. But for us to be able to look at the ensuing trauma that happened and, and the depression that this client went through as a result of the way she was treated,
Dr. Robin Stern: Right? Because at the end of the day, the needle could be removed. But what happens to the way she felt about herself? What happens to what happened to the gaslight effect, the, the impact of the gaslighting over time when people around her began to not believe her, either because she was so, or she was able to convince other people that they shouldn't believe her, by her disbelieving herself, by her saying, well, maybe I, I don't have a high pain tolerance.
Speaker 3: It's crushing to think she actually showed up at the doctor's office in enormous amounts of pain and felt like she had to say, no, I'm fine. Because she was questioning her own validity, her own experience. And also that was what she described went on in her relationship with her husband. She'd had a really great marriage, and it took quite a toll on what was going on their relationship. But the doctor, he went with her to all the appointments with the doctor, and the doctor would say, oh, this is just because you don't have a very high paid tolerance. And so that's what her husband started to believe too. And so he started to question whether or not she was really in pain. So her support network started to dwindle as a result. And, you know, like,
Dr. Robin Stern: And, and I think the, the ripple effects, um, of the psychological abuse and the psychological damage far out outlast the physical effects of that. And I, I re very familiar territory for me, because I know when I was first writing the book in, uh, the Gaslight Effect in 2007, and I interviewed people who were working at shelters for battered women, and some people who were running those shelters, they said, wait, you know, the, the loss of the actual reality you're living and the loss of your confidence in yourself is the worst kind of abuse. Because when the black and blue marks heal, or in this case the needle removed, you're still left with the way you approach the world emotionally and mentally and, um, psychologically. And if the way you approach the world is not that same strong, decisive self anymore, you are not that person.
Dr. Robin Stern: You are someone who doesn't really know if you're thinking straight, doesn't really, it has been encouraged and now are a believer that you can't trust the way you feel. And it takes a long time to begin to have confidence in reclaiming your reality. And I, I, I think, um, one of the things that is helpful perhaps for the audience is to know that Debra, you came into the case, um, when I learned about it, and I reached out to you because of your expertise as a psychologist. So I wonder if you could talk a little bit about your own background.
Speaker 3: Um, well, I, I really didn't have, uh, experience per se in gaslighting that I was aware of when, uh, you and I first started talking about it. But then once we started talking about it, I began to realize, oh, this, this happens constantly. And this has actually even happened to me a couple of times. I started to remember about recent experiences that I had had because I had undergone some experiences getting surgery. And, you know, I showed up prepared to go to my aftercare visits with my list of questions, thinking that I was, you know, ready and competent, and my friend was there to help me, you know, take notes in case I got too nervous. And immediately the, uh, surgeon said to me, oh, I hope that you haven't been visiting Dr. Google. And dismissed, you know, the, the research that I had done, the, the, the work that I had put in.
Speaker 3: And I thought, oh, okay, this is happening. I'm, I'm being dismissed right now, and, and I'm being told that my concerns are silly. And, you know, if I didn't have the wherewithal to hold onto myself in that moment, I, you know, I easily could have just put down my list and let go of being able to bring up the things that I was concerned about. And then I started seeing it in a lot of other, you know, like just, it, it seems like it's popping up all over the place nowadays. And there's, uh, been a number of really great articles in the New York Times about it as well. So, you know, it's, uh, it seems like, uh, one thing that Brian was bringing up in our previous conversation was that it does seem like gas lighting is more likely to occur with certain types of people. And, you know, I thought that that was actually a really important thing for us to discuss here that glass lighting is more likely to occur with people of color, people of size, um, and older people, you know. So, um, I thought that that would be an important thing for us to be able to talk about here. And the way that, you know, those people can be more vulnerable and need to work to really protect themselves when they're trying to get proper medical care.
Dr. Robin Stern: Well, and of course, in, in the situation with a doctor and a patient, the doctor is in the power seat, which is, um, one of the identifying, uh, pillars of gaslighting. Somebody's more powerful, and, um, somebody's approaching that patient with whatever their background, their biases may be. So, I know we talked a little bit yesterday in our, um, prep conversation about obesity and, um, what your thoughts are about that. So I wonder, Debra, if you wanna continue, or Brian, if you wanna jump in here.
Speaker 2: Well, I, I do think that there is, uh, there is, and it's, it's, it's driven by a lot of culture issue issues, but, but there is a definite bias against people of size, uh, people that suffer obesity. And, you know, often what I see the response from a primary care provider or specialists, uh, is, uh, particularly with complaints of pain, is that the patient is overweight and therefore putting weight on the joints, and that the patient would just, uh, lose weight and it would resolve the problem. And as a result, I, I think it's, it's pretty common that there, that this, this gaslight results in misdiagnosis and, and, and in delayed treatment. And in, in some sense, what happens is, as we've discussed, the patient feels that they're just being ignored by their doctor. And, you know, the signs of that are, are pretty obvious.
Speaker 2: If you're the patient sitting there in the exam room trying to explain what your issues are to this care, this care provider, you know, your, you feel that your complaints are not being addressed, and you, your, you feel that your, your symptoms are downplayed. And, and as a result, uh, I think that often some diagno diagnostic testing that could be ordered is not, is not ordered because of this bias against people, uh, that, that suffer from obesity. And another thing that you might be telling your story, but you're interrupt, you're interrupted and peppered with questions and, and as, as opposed to being to listen to about what your issues are. So there are a few things that, that you can do when you're in that situation that can help, uh, that, that, that can help you, uh, at least attempt to be heard by your doctor. And I think that, uh, Debra, you might have some, some, some information about that.
Speaker 3: Yeah. Um, I, I would love to talk about that. But I also just wanted to add to what you were saying, Brian, about, uh, what it can be like for people in larger bodies to visit the doctor. I know that going to the doctor is u usually one of the most terrifying experiences. You know, first of all, you have to get weighed, and that in itself, and then there's all the debate about B M I and, um, where that actually came from. But, you know, there's often assumptions that people who are in larger bodies, you know, eat at McDonald's and stuff themselves with french fries and sugary sodas. And I, I, I recently had a, um, uh, a parent who came in who, who was, uh, I was working with, and she's got a, a daughter who is, she's heavy. And so her doctor prescribed her to go to the, um, pediatric obesity specialists.
Speaker 3: And so they went there and the first thing that happened is the doctor sat down and said, all right, you gotta stop hanging out at the fast food joints. And there was a, you know, like a, um, you know, a condescension there and an expectation that because this child was heavy, it meant that they were, you know, constantly eating fast food and, and not eating in a healthy way as opposed to acknowledging the, you know, all the research that has been coming out recently. And she, she thought going to a pediatric obesity specialist, that this would be someone who would really understand that people are in, you know, have, have different sized bodies, largely due to their genetics. And, you know, like that, that's, um, something that, you know, like affects their hormones and their metabolism. And that, you know, one 14 year old who eats french fries is gonna burn it off in two seconds, and the other one is gonna, you know, have to go up at a pan size. And so to have that kind of recognition and acknowledgement, um, should be something that goes on nowadays. But, you know, there's gaslighting, there's this expectation that if you're in a larger body that you are, you know, that all that you deserve to be there.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. And, and it's, I mean, it's a, it's a heartbreaking story. And in, in the mind and heart of that 14 year old, I can imagine the, um, the shame that she must have felt, because in America, it's just not good to be in larger bodies. Um, and, uh, and yet when you feel that shame or when you feel that somebody's accusing you of something that you recognize about yourself that maybe you don't like, your first instinct in that moment besides being hurt, is to say, that's true. I am, I am too fat, or I am too large. Or maybe I didn't eat the french fries, but like, what's wrong with me? And even if you are eating the french fries, that may not be the reason you're in the doctor's office to begin with and why it stops the doctor from looking further to see if there's something going on.
Dr. Robin Stern: It's unconscionable because they made a decision be that you are too large, and therefore, that's the reason. So if you leave the doctor's office and you don't lose weight between then and the next visit in some way, then they get to confirm their diagnosis. Well, you see, it's because you're too large rather than doing any tests to see if there's something else going on. And I mean, I love my doctor. I feel very well cared for this, and I love many of the doctors and and respect many of the doctors I've met through time. But there are doctors who will go to that easy, um, uh, biased moment inside of the
Speaker 3: Right that it's because of your weight, whatever it is. It's if you're overweight, then whatever problem you have is because of your weight.
Dr. Robin Stern: Like, of course you're gonna feel this way, you're getting old. Like of course that's the problem. You know, you're aging when it may not be.
Speaker 3: Right.
Dr. Robin Stern: And I think, Brian, you were talking yesterday about the problem with, um, that in nursing homes of addressing people who are aging and yet have very real complaints.
Speaker 2: Yes, I, I've seen that, and I usually see it in the records, or actually I see it when I talk to the, to the family. And, uh, unfortunately, often that's after all the bad things have happened, because that's when they come to see me is because mom or dad has either been grievously injured or they've been, or they've died while they're in the, in, in a facility. And when I talk to the clients, I ask about their, their experience of having gone to visit their parents in the facility. And, um, it be, it's became, it, it has become pretty obvious to me that these folks are routinely gaslit by the folks that work in the facility. And, and a lot of that, I mean, I understand is, is because there is some understaffing and things of that nature, but complaints of such things like mom or dad is losing weight, or they're saying that they don't feel well, or that their mood has changed, or that they don't seem like they're being kept clean.
Speaker 2: They're often met with responses like, well, honey, that's just part of the aging process. They're, they're getting old and this is part of the part of the decline. They don't want to eat as much. Rather than recognizing that when you're placed into a social situation as an a, as an elderly person with other people around you eating and chatting instead of just having, uh, food delivered to your room, you're more likely to eat a little more than. And, uh, and the social aspect is really, is really important in those facilities, but in, in many cases, they simply don't get that. So the, the family is simply told that that's just part of the aging process with regard to things about keeping them clean. Oh, mom refused to have a shower. We like to give them to her twice a week or three times a week, but she refused in this case.
Speaker 2: And that's not actually true. And it's, it's unfortunate, but what you really have to do in these cases, and that's what breaks my heart, is for every family to come to see me, there's many people who are in this facility who don't have any family to come and try to do something to help out their, their loved ones who are in the facilities. But, uh, you have to be a squeaky wheel. You have to go in there and voice your complaints. You've gotta get 'em on the record. And if push comes to shove, you've gotta get ahold of the nursing home, the, our, you know, the, the long care, long care ombudsman in whatever jurisdiction you're in. And if push comes to shed, you've gotta get ahold of the Department of Human Services and have their senior and people with disabilities come in and take a look at the facility to make sure that they are adequately meeting the needs of all of their residents. And those needs can be met quite simply, uh, by having sufficient number of staff to meet those needs. So that's one of the first questions I ask as well, is, when you get there, are you seeing a lot of staff? And who are you talking to when you get there? So, uh, it's, it's prevalent in, in, in the nursing home situation. And I'm,
Dr. Robin Stern: I'm gonna interrupt you for a minute because it's also prevalent. Uh, the gas lighting is also prevalent to the family members of people in the nursing home. And I was one of them, and I was one of them that who was honeyed, you know, by the
Dr. Robin Stern: And, and yet, and so that, and that person also said, your mom's in pain. So I would go to the whoever was on call and say, my mom's in pain. And inevitably with a certain set of people, I would, they would roll their eyes at me and say things like, she has Alzheimer's honey, she's not, well, she's 80 something years old. And actually, my mom was pretty young or an aging person when she passed, and I don't, I don't know if she had been somewhere else where, and her complaints were taken seriously, whether she would've lived many more years. And I don't know whether she would've wanted to in the state she was in, but that's another question. I was so disturbed by the gaslighting that I was getting, like, you're just not accepting what reality is here. Your mom is aging, she has Alzheimer's, and in the next bed there was a woman who,
Speaker 3: Uh, whose
Dr. Robin Stern: Nurse who nurse's aide would yell at her because she would soil herself, and she would say, can't you do that on someone else's shift?
Dr. Robin Stern: So I wanted a complaint to the administration or to the person in charge. And, and she, the daughter said to me, please don't do it, because they're gonna tell me, I made it up. It never happened, and then they're gonna take it out on my mom. So, I mean, it can have really serious consequences, um, not just for the person who's being gaslighted. I mean, I didn't walk into the gaslighting tango. I didn't believe them. I knew I was right, and so did this daughter, but of the patient next to my mom. But, um, they tried, they tried to tell us that we were not seeing reality or that we were making things up. Mm-hmm.
Speaker 3: Those are the hallmarks of medical gaslighting, right. Trivializing the patient's symptoms and belittling the patient. Yes. Yeah.
Dr. Robin Stern: And even if you are someone who is very sensitive, that doesn't mean there isn't something wrong with you. And so, Brian, when you brought this back to the case we were talking about, when you brought the idea of gaslighting back to your colleagues, how did people respond to your saying, well, I think this is important, and I, and, um, I think we should, however, in your language, you talk about it, make a claim because of it?
Speaker 2: Well, it, you know, in, in some respects, it's in, in, it's like a light bulb goes off. We, we, we speak in terms of damages and, and, uh, so you have non-economic damages and economic damages. Economic damages are easy. That's the cost of surgery, that's the lost income. If someone's debilitated and can't work any longer, you hire experts to, to to, uh, to, to, you know, to, to multiply that all out and make your claim there. And then in terms of non-economic damages, the pain and suffering, we generally just look at those two things, pain and suffering. But I, I've never, I had never gotten that deep into the, the strong emotional damage that's done when someone has been told over and over again, what you're experiencing is not true. Uh, we know that you think you're experiencing, but what you're experience is not true.
Speaker 2: And that can be really debilitating. And of course, I, I try to surround myself with, with, uh, with, with, with good lawyers
Dr. Robin Stern: Exactly. And so we, many of us have had those experiences in our personal lives, and you're, I'm sure you're a hundred percent right, that the jury then, of course, went back to their lives and, and thought or could think that happened to me, and to have a name to it, rather than just, I didn't like that doctor. Or, you know, that doctor gave me a hard time. No, that doctor was manipulating you. That doctor was trying to convince you of a reality that wasn't the reality and certainly wasn't your reality. And, um, I, I'm just, uh, so appreciative of this conversation as it's evolving because our listeners are really getting a chance to hopefully understand their own medical backgrounds a little bit more. And many people who are listening, I'm sure, have had those instances where they feel like they've been dismissed. They, they are caught, they're second guessing themselves at the hands of somebody telling them, there's nothing wrong with you, or it's just because you're going through menopause, or it's just because you have too much stress, honey. You know, or it's just because of something else.
Speaker 2: Well, I, I do wanna add something and, and, uh, and this, because I don't wanna, I, I don't wanna try to reach out and give a black eye to every physician out there. I think that the practice of medicine has changed considerably. And I have many medical professionals in my family, and I, I I do have a, a, a great amount of sympathy for what they're going through now. Medicine has changed. The, uh, providers now are expected to see someone in a 15 minute time period. They're supposed to be four patients an hour, and I think they're just trying to keep their heads above water as well. And so when they come in, they really don't, unfortunately, have the time to devote to what you'd like to have them devote the time. And if you asked, if you asked any physician out there, would you like to have spent more time with your patient, I will tell you, they will say yes.
Speaker 2: Um, especially a, a lot of the doctors who are retiring, and they're retiring because they're not, not able to spend the time enough with their patients in order to, to really get a good sense of who they are and what their diagnosis can and should be, and, uh, and any of the complaints that they voice to their supervisors about that in, in the hospital are often met with, well, I'm sorry, but you need to see four patients an hour. So I think that it's part of the entire way that medical practice is designed now that has led to a lot of this.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah, I really appreciate you saying that because I too have wonderful doctors who work with my family and who, who have worked with patients and friends of mine for the years, and, and I don't know what I would do without them. Um, and there has been a, a significant change in medicine. And, and to the extent that that is encouraging people coming up with these diagnoses before they really have had the time they wanted to have to explore further. It's just, it's ter terrible.
Speaker 3: Well, also I think the, the, um, the struggle that doctors have with being able to prescribe tests, right? Because the amount of money that an M r I would cost or an ultrasound to do the further testing or the lab work that the patient would be requesting, you know, like, they're gonna be given a hard time by the insurance company. Why did you give them these tests? So I think that's very much connected to, uh, predisposition toward gaslighting for even, uh, great doctors, because they then have to be in a position where they have to not be as, um, uh, you know, like they don't have the freedom to be able to order the test because it's gonna be a big issue with the insurance company. So, you know, like I, I think, um, like it's good for us to be able to sort of see, uh, the struggle coming from the doctor's side as well. Uh, and I mean, I think we all have great respect for people who go into the medical profession. There's no question. And most, you know, most doctors go in because they wanna be healers, but they get put into this position of having to make decisions based on what the insurance company tells them instead of what they know is right.
Dr. Robin Stern: Really so important. So Deborah, I'm gonna ask you to, to close the content of this up by sharing, um, what we all agree would be some ways to, uh, make sure that gaslighting in the medical, in medical offices is not happening to you. And then I'm gonna ask each of you to tell our audience where they can find you.
Speaker 3: Okay. Um, well, if you are going to a medical appointment, uh, first of all, I think there's the, the basics that we all are kind of well aware of, that you wanna be, um, you wanna keep records, you wanna keep like, records of your symptoms as much as you possibly can to write it down. When did it start? What triggers it? How often does it happen? How, how bad is it, is it bad under different conditions to have, have that clear? Because, you know, sometimes you go into a doctor's office and you get nervous and your, you know, your mind can go blank. So really having that list, uh, prepared ahead of time is so important. And a list of questions prepared ahead of time. Um, you also want to have a friend with you or a partner or someone who can write down what's happening in the conversation, because it's hard to have the conversation and write things down at the same time, but you do wanna keep track.
Speaker 3: Um, one good question that I think would be is really good to always have is, uh, to ask the doctor, if you were me, what would you ask yourself? Right? What would you ask the doctor if you were me? What, what are the things that I should be asking about? And kind of get the doctor to help you understand a little bit more, and to kind of step back and be thinking about having an empathic experience with you. Um, now if the doctor is minimizing your experience or, um, refusing to request the lab work or to do the imaging, what you wanna do is ask that, that gets put into your chart that the request for imaging, the request for lab work was denied or refused. And then often when that happens, if you ask for it to get put in the chart, you might find that they'll go ahead and do it because, you know, like they see that you're someone who is sort of on top of things, and you're not gonna be just, um, uh, you're not gonna be flattened by the refusal. You're not gonna allow them to minimize your experience and, and deny your reality.
Dr. Robin Stern: I would add to that, Debra, that if the doctor says, well, this is not a chart note, I'm just telling you this, or deny or, uh, won't put it in the chart, you can send a confirming email yourself and say, this is what we discussed today. And, um, uh, just to, um, let you know that, uh, when I left the office, your advice was X. And, um, if the person then doesn't confirm it, at least you have it in writing. Uh, I would add also, and you may be about to say this, so I don't mean to step on your words because I'm gonna ask you to continue, but if you are feeling minimized, dismissed, um, squashed, uh, belittled in that office, honor those feelings. And you can always say, I appreciate where we've been up to this point, but I'm going to get a second opinion. Or, um, you can always say, uh, I'm just, I'd like my records,
Speaker 3: Right? Or even before that, even before that, just to, to to honor your own experience, right? You, you always wanna first identify, okay, what am I feeling? What's going on inside of me? Slow yourself down, taking a deep breath and then say, you know, I feel like you're not hearing me. You know, and can we start again? Because I feel like, um, you're, you're, you're, you're really not getting what it is that I'm saying.
Dr. Robin Stern: And for some practitioners, they can hear that. And for some practitioners that will just advance the gaslighting mm-hmm.
Speaker 3: Right? I feel like my symptoms are being dismissed. I feel like I'm not being heard. But really being able to lean into kind of caring for yourself in those moments and honoring your experience and slowing yourself down instead of feeling like, okay, I realize we, you know, he has to get out of here in three minutes, or she, um, but allowing yourself to take the time that you need to communicate what you need to express.
Dr. Robin Stern: And if you can't do it in those few minutes, let him know. I wanna think about everything we said. I'll get back to you about whether I'm going to take that test or, or next appointment. Brian, you look like you wanted to, to jump in.
Speaker 2: I, I do. And that is, uh, understanding the time constraints and the fact that, that the doctors not only see you, but they've also got to go back and chart about the visit that you had, because they don't do it contemporaneous when you're there. Often they, they'll have three or four or five files stacked up that they've gotta do the charting on. Everyone has MyChart now, and it would really behoove you to go through and look at your MyChart records and make sure that what you recall is what is in those records. And if there is a discrepancy or if something was missed, you need to get back a hold of that provider and say, I recall that we discussed this, and I need to make sure that it's in my chart, because you would not believe the number of times that I had gone through with a client after going through their records from two or three years ago. And they go, wow, I, this, is this foreign to me, this never happened, or, I don't remember it happening. And it's because sometimes things are just overlooked. So with the technology, which I think is both good and bad, but the good part about this technology is you do have access to your chart and you can look at it and find out, uh, that it's accurate. And if it's, if it's inaccurate, there are steps you can take to make sure that it's accurate.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you for that. So I'm looking at the clock, and I know we have to wrap up soon. So Brian, where can people find you if they want to contact a lawyer who knows about gaslighting and, and can be a compassionate, um, person in their lives?
Speaker 2: Well, the best way to get ahold of me is on, is by email. Um, my firm is the direct key law firm that's spelled D R E T K E. My email is Brian, b r ia n atke, d r E TK e l a, wre ke law do com.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you so much, Brian and Debra, if people want a compassionate, wonderful therapist who, um, works remotely from Vermont, so is healthy because you're living in nature all the time,
Speaker 3: Thank you, Robin. Um, you, my website is, uh, debrarosensweig.com.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you. Well, thank you both for this very important conversation and, uh, I hope that our listeners are thinking, wow, I'm glad I tuned in today. Thank you very much, Brian and Debra, and, uh, listeners, I'll see you next time on the Gaslight Effect podcast. Thanks for joining me for today's episode. I hope you found it helpful and meaningful. If you want to listen to other episodes of the Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find email@example.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please leave a rating and a review. I also invite you to follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. This podcast is produced by Mel Yellen, Ryan Chang, Coco, Mike Lens, and me. The podcast is supported by Gabby Kaoagas and Salar Karangi, all of my work and my upcoming book is supported by Suzen Pettit Marcus Estevez and Omaginarium, also by Sally McCarton and Jacqui Daniels. I'm so grateful to have many people supporting me and especially grateful for all of you, my listeners.