Facing Medical Uncertainty, Some Doctors Tell Patients It’s All in Their Heads


From CNN: “When 7-year-old Bailey Sheehan arrived at a hospital in Oregon partially paralyzed, a doctor said the girl was faking her symptoms to get her parents’ attention because she was jealous of her new baby sister.

But that doctor was proved wrong when an MRI showed that the girl had acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, a polio-like disease that’s struck hundreds of children since 2014.

Erin Olivera, mother of a child with AFM and founder of a private Facebook page for parents of 400 children with the disease, says Bailey’s experience is hardly unique. She estimates that based on postings by parents, as many as 1 in 10 children were told that the paralysis was all in their heads when they first sought medical care.

Experts who study the art and science of diagnosis say the problem goes beyond this one rare disease. They say that in general, when presented with a puzzling disease, physicians too often leap to a diagnosis of a psychiatric problem.

‘Mental disorders become the default position to deal with medical uncertainty,’ said Dr. Allen Frances, former chair of psychiatry at the Duke University School of Medicine. ‘It’s widespread, and it’s dangerous.'”

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  1. This is exactly why I avoid doctors like the plague. This, and the carte blanche ‘consent for treatment’ forms. The last one I encountered even contained a clause stating that nothing in it could be stricken or amended without approval of the admin. It is a legally binding document giving them permission to do “any and all” that they deem necessary, and you have 2 choices: sign it and be at their mercy, or don’t sign it and get no care whatsoever. Daniel Webster got a better deal with the devil.

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  2. This is particularly heartbreaking to me because I was also a child that wasn’t believed, who was shamed and blamed when I was simultaneously sick and abused at home.

    Some kids have died of AFM and it makes me wonder if some of them were disbelieved until they were so sick it was too late to treat them.

    This is just horrific all around.

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  3. Doctors also cover up their easily recognized iatrogenesis, by drugging people up, then claiming the adverse effects of the psych drugs are “mental illnesses.” I’m pretty certain the two primary reasons the “mental health” industry even exists, are to cover up “medical uncertainty” or malpractice, and to cover up child abuse or other rape.

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