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How to Address ‘Medical Gaslighting’

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Gaslight, a psychological thriller starring Ingrid Bergman, was a box-office hit when it was released in 1944, but its time in the limelight could have ended there. However, the ruse employed by its villain gave the work remarkable staying power.

Set in 1880s London, the story plays out in the upper-middle-class, gas-lit home of Gregory and Paula Anton. Gregory is intent on making Paula think she is going insane so that he can have her committed to a mental institution and claim her inheritance. He attempts to convince her that the gas lighting in their house, which the audience can see is flickering, is not really flickering. What her senses tell her is a lie – a sign of her steady descent into madness.

Today, the term “gaslighting” is widely used to describe psychological manipulation, where a person is made to doubt their perception of reality. Politicians are accused of it, as are celebrities. The term also used in discussions about health.

Medical gaslighting refers to cases in which a healthcare practitioner imposes a pattern of questions, testing or diagnosis…

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