Medical bullying: is your doctor making you sicker?
Visit any busy doctor’s waiting room and check out the vibe. Can you detect the almost palpable excitement among those patiently waiting—an electric anticipation of the soon-to-be-dispensed medical compassion, enlightenment and blessed relief from whatever ails them? Can you sense their certainty that all will soon be well? While you might catch a whiff of this in a cannabis dispensary, along with some happy, smiling faces, you’re unlikely to feel particularly uplifted in a medical office—and not just because people are sick. Unless you’ve been lucky enough to find a friendly, knowledgeable, open-minded doctor (and it took me years to find one), the vibe you’ll experience in most waiting rooms is usually one of quiet resignation, and even a vague, underlying tension, almost as if the patients are preparing to do battle.
And battle they may well end up doing, if they’re unlucky enough to have some long-standing, complicated condition. If you just want a prescription for sleeping pills, anti-depressants or some other readily prescribed drug, however, your interaction may be fairly simple: explain your insomnia/depression, get your prescription and go home (although what happens when you use those drugs is another story). But if you’ve had a chronic illness that has not been addressed or even fully explored by conventional medicine, you may be in for a much bumpier medical ride. Whatever information and insights you may have gleaned in the course of tackling your illness, it’s unlikely to be well received by most conventional doctors. In fact, as many dissatisfied patients report, their input is routinely dismissed, their symptoms disregarded, and their personal experiences discounted—what I call ‘3D medicine’ or ‘medical bullying’, which leaves individuals feeling unheard, frustrated and disempowered. Given the authority conferred upon doctors, however, patients often feel as if they have no choice but to accept the way doctors treat them.
A deadly dose of disempowerment?
Such treatment is the result of a long-standing tradition of deference to the supposedly omniscient gods of medicine, which has created a widespread trend of arrogance, indifference and neglect on the part of many doctors. I hasten to add that there are, undoubtedly, lots of medical doctors out there who are wholly and diligently committed to the well-being of their patients, working with them as equal partners in restoring health and balance. I just haven’t met them—yet.
In my own quest for wellness, however, I’ve discovered some deeper reasons for the widespread ignorance and disrespect among doctors: for as long as they’re considered to be the absolute authorities who we must consult if we want to understand or heal our bodies, doctors will forever disappoint. Their resistance to hearing us, respecting us or heeding our input, coupled with our dependence on them to heal us and make sense of our complexities, represents a perfect recipe for disempowerment. It’s the ‘push’ that we need in order to realize a deeper truth: relying on—and deferring to—doctors sets us up for a lifetime of unhealthy dependence on others and, in many cases, on drugs that do us more harm than good. We further diminish ourselves by believing that we know less about our own bodies than some stranger sitting behind a desk who spends 10 minutes with us and either disregards or dismisses the all-important factors of nutrition, environment, stress levels and emotional well-being—not to mention our unique individual requirements, personalities, situations and life experiences.
We can only ever be misled by others if we fail to do our own due diligence or, at the very least, to trust our gut instincts when we sense that something’s not right. The challenges presented to us in the form of indifferent, dismissive and/or arrogant doctors are designed to push us towards self-responsibility—to take back ownership of our bodies, rather than handing it over to someone else in the hope that they can ‘fix’ us, and to cultivate a mindset of wholeness, rather than perceiving ourselves as ignorant, powerless or incapable of self-healing.
If this is true, then…
If we surrender the fate of our innately intelligent bodies to a system that’s based on treating symptoms and using drugs, rather than seeking to understand the underlying cause and use the body’s own healing capacities to restore balance, should we really be surprised if we don’t get well? And does it make sense to be indignant if we’re unheard or unheeded, if we ourselves are not listening to our own bodies?
If doctors don’t encourage us to actively get to know and trust our own bodies, we might wish to ask ourselves whose interests they’re serving. And if we don’t actively take ownership of our own health, we might wish to ask ourselves the same question.
If we’re meant to be empowered in our lives, in control of our health and our minds—and how can it be otherwise, given that we’re independent walking, talking, living, breathing units of self-sufficiency, designed for creative self-mastery and proactive manifestation—it makes no sense to rely on others for the self-awareness required for us to thrive.
If wellness is the healthy balance between our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual selves, we can only ever hope to find it if we go beyond the purely physical and if we respect and honour ourselves enough to explore the deeper parts of us that are begging to be heard—not by doctors who are limited in their training and their knowledge of us, but by our own neglected, all-powerful selves.
So the next time you consult a doctor who behaves with anything less than human decency and consideration, you might want to remember what it’s all about. Take him/her down off that medical pedestal and remember that you know you better than any expert does. A doctor may help you find some missing piece of the medical puzzle, but only you can see the whole picture, and only you—with awareness, diligence, commitment, a strong voice and faith in self—can break the cycle of medical bullying and unhealthy dependence, and attract what you need in order to be healthy, whole and empowered.