The Gaslighting of Patients

Gaslighting: A form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.

Gaslighting occurs far too often to patients who experience adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals. Often, it is done by the people patients turn to when they are sick–our trusted advisors, our healers: our doctors.

I don’t think that most doctors mean to gaslight their patients, or that many of them are narcissists or abusers who intentionally manipulate people. I think that most doctors want to heal and help their patients. They use the information and tools that they have to move their patients toward health and well-being.

Yet, gaslighting is occurring.

When “floxed” patients approach their doctors with symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity (or FQAD-fluoroquinolone associated disability) they often face denial, derision, and hostility from the doctors who they are requesting help from. The doctors say that the symptoms that the patient is experiencing can’t be from the Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin), Avelox (moxifloxacin), or Floxin (ofloxacin), even though most of the symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity / FQAD are listed in the 40+ page warning labels. They say that the drugs should be out of the patient’s body, even though the black box warning label notes that fluoroquinolones “have been associated with disabling and potentially irreversible serious adverse reactions.” They say that they’ve never seen a patient who has had an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone–and that may be true, but are they looking? They say that delayed reactions can’t happen–but they’re documented. They deny that adverse reactions can happen, probably because they are in denial about the very real possibility that the drugs that they prescribe can cause serious, severe, and irreversible pain to their patients.

Then, they suggest that the patient see a psychiatrist and get on antidepressants.

Some people who experience adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones benefit from seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants (though others are hurt further by both–be careful), and those things aren’t inherently bad, but the implication in suggesting psychiatrists or antidepressants is that patients who are experiencing adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones are crazy. We’re not crazy. Though some fluoroquinolone toxicity / FQAD symptoms are psychiatric, none of the symptoms, not even the psychiatric ones, are choices, decisions, or even the result of being crazy. All the symptoms of fluoroquiolone toxicity / FQAD stem from fluoroquinolone use and the damage done by these drugs.


When a person, especially a doctor, suggests that all the symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity / FQAD are in a patient’s head, they are gaslighting the patient and making him or her feel crazy.

It’s dismissive, it’s obnoxious, sometimes it’s abusive, and it’s always wrong.

It happens all the time though, and I wish that it would stop.

Adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones (and other pharmaceuticals) are real, and they happen more often than they should. Denying that adverse reactions occur, then blaming the victim and telling him/her that he/she is insane, is not only useless, it is destructive. It hurts the patient/doctor relationship, and, more importantly, it hurts the patient. As I said above, I don’t think that many doctors intentionally seek to manipulate or hurt their patients. It’s happening though, and it needs to stop.

In the stories of patient pain and suffering from fluoroquinolones described on Fluoroquinolone Stories and The Fluoroquinolone Wall of Pain, doctor denial and gaslighting are described.

Sherry describes the gaslighting and denial that she experienced after taking Floxin and Flagyl:

“I went from doctor to doctor trying to convince them that these drugs did this to my body. They looked at me as if I had ten heads. They couldn’t believe that these medications could stay in one’s body for that long. I was crazy. I would bring them papers to show them proof and one doctor said to me that the medical community would use these papers for toilet paper!”

Cheryl notes the following experience after taking Ciprofloxacin XL:

“I went back to the pharmacist and told him the reaction I had. He said it can happen and it certainly sounded like I had an adverse reaction but he did not report it. I went back to the doctor how prescribed the drug to me and he did not believe me that I had reacted in that manner. Again, no reporting back to any authorities that I had an adverse reaction. I tried to show him the evidence of how many people have been damaged by this group of drugs and how dangerous they are and I was blown off. He told me he prescribes this drug all the time and has never had anyone react. I beg to differ because I bet people do have negative reactions but because they happen after the drug has been used, the connection between the aching muscles, nausea, anxiety, stiffness etc are not connected to the drug they took a month or more ago.”

There are many others.

Floxies are not alone in getting gaslighted by doctors. In the post “The Unintentional Gaslighting of Women and a Goodbye” Kerry Gretchen describes how her stroke that resulted from hormonal birth control wasn’t taken seriously by the doctors who treated her. Support groups for people who have had adverse reactions to a variety of pharmaceuticals and medical devices are full of patients who are frustrated and hurt when their doctor denies both their pain, and the cause of it.

The pain caused by pharmaceutical injuries is real, and patient pain should never be dismissed or denied. When denial of pain occurs, and patients are told that their symptoms are all in their head, it hurts the patient psychologically, and destroys the trust and bond between the patient and his or her doctor.

Doctors can stop this cycle through listening to their patients, not dismissing or disregarding adverse drug reactions as “rare” or “all in your head,” and being conscious of gaslighting as a phenomenon. Good, thoughtful, kind doctors don’t want to hurt or manipulate their patients, but, in order to maintain their worldview about the safety and efficacy of the drugs they prescribe, they often deny and deflect. Hopefully, with awareness of both gaslighting as a phenomenon, and how adverse drug reaction symptoms appear, the cycle will be halted.


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23 thoughts on “The Gaslighting of Patients

  1. Tracy February 3, 2017 at 12:37 pm Reply

    Please, listen to me, nine years of suffering through Levaquin and prednisone, stop taking big Pharmas , poisonous, synthetic chemicals, they’re all harmful, you have been harmed enough, I was fully suicidal, the first several years, suicide or suicidal ideation, is a side effect of all antidepressants, big Pharma put you where you are today, haven’t these goons caused enough harm, stop going to traditional, western medical Doctors, they are the leading cause of death, go, instead to Naturopaths, who have natural things that will help you, not kill you, please hear me, and, start texting Trump at the White House every day, inundate him Hamburgs indictment, til he has to do something about it, please, this will never stop, 27 million prescriptions for Levaquin have gone out since Margaret Hamburg was indicted, Big Pharma is big eugenics.

    • Anonymous February 13, 2017 at 6:52 am Reply

      is big pharma Swiss Pharma, roche, novartis, faulty studies with corrupted guidelines, Trump will hopefully call outgroups like boulewho seem to jave sold out as well ignoring pizzagate & podesta & breitbart

    • Cindy September 30, 2018 at 8:58 am Reply

      I agree with you 100%, I was a happy, healthy non worrier until I took Cipro and Flagyl which changed my mind and body, life is miserable most times now, I try to stay positive around people, but in my mind from the moment I wake up I feel pain, worry, anxiety and depression, and this is not me, I miss me so much. I believe many of the people walking around today with depression and and anxiety, ones who cant take it anymore are caused by these drugs, then doctors want to give you antidepressants which make you more suicidal, its criminal. Then not only do they take our minds they strip our healthy bodies and replace it with pain and disabilities. I pray someone comes up with something to helps us one day, because instead of getting better, year after year I feel I get worse.

  2. tammyrenzi February 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm Reply

    Thank you for saying this, Lisa. It’s so important for people who are suffering to know this. Doctors who say they have never heard of this are disingenuous.

  3. Erin February 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm Reply

    You know my story, Lisa. I suffered a neurotoxic reaction to metronidazole, which has noted warnings about causing brain dysfunction on its FDA label and systematic reviews/case studies about its neurotoxic effects (although I wouldn’t realize this until later). While on the drug, I lost the ability to walk and speak…and the attending physician told me I needed to see a psychiatrist. The denial is real, and when it’s happening to you, it can be as terrifying as what’s happening to your body and mind.

    • Tracy Whiteside February 3, 2017 at 8:24 pm Reply

      Dear Erin, how HORRIFYING, Your so right, I can’t even go them anymore, I can’t take it, I wrote the other comment. And, I’m sorry for sounding so angry, but, I am so sorry you had to go through that, I’m nine years out, and all the doctors have thrown all of my Levaquin literature in the trash without looking at it in my face, I can’t do it, I go to Naturopaths.

    • Tara March 20, 2017 at 8:33 am Reply

      I JUST experienced this last week in fact. I went to the family doctors twice in December after taking Flagyl and Cipro together in October. I went in twitching with a bright red rash all over my body and my eyesight was failing quickly. TERRIFYING! I had suddenly lost the ability to walk, talk, or think. The “resident” (my family doctor was not in that day) looked terrified when he asked me where I got the medication and then he carefully crafted his note to make me look like I read the pamphlet and have “a history of anxiety” (which is an outright lie) when I told him I got the medication at the ER associated with the same practice. I then saw my family doctor who “never heard of” or “had any patients” with that type of reaction. She sent me to a neurologist. The neurologist already had it in her mind that I have a “history of anxiety” after reading the former note and was dismissive. She then asked me for everything that I had been taking- I had noted that I was seeing an integrative MD for IVs- and she then crafted the note to make it sound like these “non-FDA” medications were the cause of my symptoms and I should have a “drug holiday.” I left the visit in tears and feeling more traumatized. I don’t know if these symptoms will ever abate, but where do you go for healing? I guess it’s every man for himself! I wish everyone total healing from these toxic poisons! Erin- are you healed yet?

  4. Petros February 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm Reply

    Thank you for a very useful article that helps to explain the dynamic of manipulation that goes on in the MD’s office. I did not know the term “gaslighting”, but I recognize that this kind of manipulation takes place in other contexts, namely paternalistic relationships. I quote an article I wrote on the subject, I called the phenomenon “belittling”:

    “Belittling. In a paternalistic relationship, the superior belittles the intellect, opinions and concerns of the inferior. The superiority complex in the paternalistic relationship often causes the stronger person to consider the opinions of the weaker to be nonsensical or foolish. The inferiors accept that they have a low level of competence and are in need of the greater intelligence of their superiors. The inferior will accept being treated as a child in need of guidance, unable to make decisions for himself. In the paternalistic relationship between slaves and masters, the master will often call a fully grown man, “Boy”. Also, the superior will often pretend to listen to the inferior only in an effort to trick the inferior into implementing the superior’s agenda. If the inferior party complains, the superior will begin to make accusations of disloyalty, ungratefulness, stupidity, lunacy or extremism. If that doesn’t work, the superior may use violent force to quell legitimate complaints.”

    Thanks again, Peter W. Dunn

  5. Anonymous February 13, 2017 at 6:33 am Reply

    Justina Pelletier, Maryanne Godboldo, BIOFILM, private insurance forwarding mental health bills to Medicare Advantage Plan, doctors refusing to give indicated test, 33% kickbacks, homicidal organ hospitals routinely happenig in hospitals and its not a secret just supported by the feds,pizzagate, Podesta. Sandusky. Jimmy Saville. Boys town Nebraska the Franklin Cover up, who are the SWISS Knights Templar, Roche, Novartis, Moloch & Baphomet worshippers

    • Anonymous February 13, 2017 at 6:45 am Reply

      *homicidal organ harvesting in hospitals, moloch worshippers kidnaping and doing worse to kids Anthony Weiner Dennis Hastert Podesta??? This is old alleged assassinated Senator Nancy Schaefer w/ husband D.C. madaam, baphomet hand sign,kathy griggs military wife exposing gay military in country assassinations of honest…, Shills , The Swiss knights templar may never stop if they are the top of this pyramid if Americans and others are just defensive, Allen Dulles?

  6. Anonymous February 15, 2017 at 4:54 am Reply

    GC-MAF curing and reversing AUTISM then tens of associated holitic mds being assassinated in Florida in a matter of days, some exposing secret stuff in vaccines causing illness? Is it time for an Anti Secret Society Party, spread the intel the less tax dollars they have the better? The money from the ’08 crash, may have gone to the Swiss Knights Templars as well?

  7. Xlabrat March 5, 2017 at 10:17 am Reply

    This is ABUSE. There should be an organization collecting information about the medical attitudes that we encountered as the treatment/lack of diagnosis were just simply human rights violations.

  8. Heidi February 11, 2018 at 7:37 am Reply

    Hate to tell you this but suggesting in any way that antidepressants can help a floxie is irresponsible and dangerous. Tons of research exists on how this class of drugs lacks any true efficacy beyond placebo effect but causes a long list of severe effects both while on and even long after withdrawal that I would not wish on my worst enemy!

  9. Aimee Worsley Jensen February 11, 2018 at 2:33 pm Reply

    Thank you for this article! My husband got akathisia within days of Effexor and we were told by 18 different doctors and specialists that it was in his head and drugs were safe like a can of beans (Top Neuro at Barrows said that one!) all while they polydrugged him causing more damage and still claiming the drugs couldn’t do such a thing. They are narcissists and gaslight like crazy!

  10. AJ May 22, 2018 at 11:15 pm Reply

    I just came across this post. Days before this was written, I wrote a post for a blog about my own medical trauma, exactly on the topic of patient gas lighting—it even begins with a definition:

    Let me also say that, although my medical disaster had (almost) nothing to do with pharmaceuticals, “Lisa’s Recovery Story – Cipro Toxicity (Lisa’s Healing Tips)” was one of the most relevant, helpful, hope-full collection of words I encountered in my struggle to recover.

    • Bj January 26, 2019 at 2:30 pm Reply

      AJ, the link you posted has been removed. Do you have a website with your story?

  11. Believe it or not June 3, 2018 at 1:06 pm Reply

    Did anyone get their records to see if they put inflammatory psychological labels when floxed?

  12. am i crazy – Lune Magazine September 2, 2018 at 10:04 am Reply

    […] Featured Image from Floxie Hope […]

  13. Judy Gayton January 25, 2019 at 1:46 am Reply

    Heidi is 100% correct that prescribing antidepressants for floxie’s is irresponsible and dangerous. Tons of research exists on how this class of drugs lacks any true efficacy beyond placebo effect but causes a long list of severe effects both while on and even long after withdrawal that I would not wish on my worst enemy!
    There are 1,000’s of psych drug victims warning others about the neurotoxity (brain damaging affect of these ineffective drugs, hundreds of professionals and groups are trying to get the word out as well.
    It is very important -as per some of the comments that people understand they are being PSYCHIATRIZED by drs with “all in your head” psychosomatic disorders and being labeled as “mental patients” in their charts (sometimes without their knowledge.) This way if you are in fact iotrogenically injured by drugs, they have a built in protection to discredit your account, and legally protect themselves by simply blaming you and your imaginary “mental illness” as opposed to any real biological root cause you are suffering from that they missed or are harmed by any drug. Some of the groups starting to recognized that they are being pathologized are Thyroid and other autoimmune diseases, ME, Lyme, Quisism foundation for Meliform vets, “personality disorders”.
    There are 100+ bona fide medical diseases, 500+ prescription & street drugs and numerous common experiences such as lack of sleep, dehydration and vitamin deficiencies called “medical mimics or psychiatric pretenders that are consistently misdx’ed as “mental illness’s” for which there are is NO credible science to support. This is a serious medical malpractice issue that is being exposed. If you are interested you can learn more at Mad In America, Dr Kelly Brogan, Dr. Paula Caplan, Peter Breggin, Drop the Disorder and countless other sites.
    Buyer Beware.

    • Bj January 25, 2019 at 8:34 am Reply

      Judy, the doctor who prescribed Cipro in 2011for a “UTI” didn’t want to see me until two weeks after bruising and swelling receded from a tendon tear. When I went back for results of blood work he said that he didn’t see a tendon tear, didn’t address the pain and made a mental health crack. Then I went to an internist with nerve pain who asked if I felt like I was in a deep dark pit and couldn’t get out and prescribed a steroid. I was prescribed a benzo for the sleep issues from another doctor This happened while I was being verbally and psychologically abused by my now ex-husband who was also gaslighting me. Psychotropic drugs are also prescribed to abused women to stay under the abuse instead of acknowledging and addressing it. Drugs that have these negative affects are sometimes prescribed off label so you must research any drug before you take it. Thanks for the resources. Not buying into the crazy card –

  14. tracypaints44 May 31, 2019 at 11:06 am Reply

    Fluoriquinolones cause b12 deficiency because they block the body’s ability to absorb. Many of the toxicity symptoms could possibly be related to b12 deficiency, that can be treated with injections of b12 (not sprays, tablets, patches, et al). While b12 isn’t the cure-all, it can possibly relieve associated issues from having been “floxxed”

  15. Sharon Campbell June 14, 2019 at 5:57 pm Reply

    Sad to say that im allergic to most all antibiotics .
    Cipro will cause a yeast infection with me.
    i also can do a Z-pac but no problems that i know of.
    But am having alot of pain and muscle weakness in my legs and arms.And will drop things out of my hands without realizing it. In my mind its still in my hand but look down and its on the floor.
    Am allergic to so many things.
    So what can i take when needed?

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