Staying Healthy

What to do about medical gaslighting

If you feel like your doctor is dismissing your health concerns, you may be experiencing medical gaslighting.

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

illustration of two people, one is holding a megaphone and speaking; the other is wearing a white coat and headphones, with white lines emerging from the megaphone and moving around the other person's head

The term "gaslighting" is usually applied to personal relationships, when a partner's manipulation causes you to doubt your mental capacity, ideas, and feelings. But in recent years, gaslighting has been recognized in medical settings, too.

Medical gaslighting describes when health care professionals seem to invalidate or ignore your concerns. It can be linked to missed diagnoses, delayed treatment, and poor health outcomes. It might damage your trust in the health care system and make you less likely to seek care.

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About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

photo of Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. SimcoxPatrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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