The Politics of Medical Gaslighting
by A Midwestern Doctor May 9, 2022
In the previous sections of this series, I have sought to explain why doctors will often refuse to recognize adverse reactions to pharmaceutical medications and gaslight their patients. The one dimension of this problem I have so far excluded from focusing upon are the politics inherent to medicine.
Political dysfunction and competing egos have always been major problem for the medical field. In part two of the series, I highlighted a few examples of where medical politics has resulted in medical evidence being ignored and practices that would have saved patient’s lives not being allowed to see the light of day. There are many other medical innovations which likewise have been buried by medical politics, and I hope to bring awareness to these in future articles.
However, while political dysfunction has always been an issue in medicine, everything went insane during COVID-19. Scientific evidence that goes against the narrative was censored on every platform, any doctor who challenged the narrative was canceled (often losing their means to support themselves), clearly harmful pharmaceuticals and lockdowns with no real benefit were forced on the population and a wide range of effective treatments were buried. Things have gotten to the point that many individuals who had previously fully supported the medical establishment broke from the herd to say what their profession was doing was nuts.
My thesis is that these changes within the politics of medicine are reflective of the broader changes that have occurred in our political system over the last 10 or so years which dramatically accelerated during the Trump presidency.
There are a lot of ways to define “politics.” Each of them is meaningful to understanding the structure of medicine. So far in this series I’ve looked at the “office politics“ and “organizational politics“ that guide and shape the practice of medicine. However, medicine is also a cultural institution that exists within the prevailing political viewpoints of the time.
Many of my own viewpoints of societal politics could be summarized as follows:
Human beings are inherently tribal and instinctually seek to segregate themselves into tribes. At the same time, most humans (at least within Western societies) share the same values and on the majority of issues actually agree with each other.
The upper class always seeks to dominate the lower class, and one of the most frequent tactics used for the objective is to break the lower class into tribes and then encourage these opposing tribes to blame each other for all of their problems so that the ruling elite is absolved of all responsibility for exploiting the rest of the population.
The degree of tribalism and polarization within a nation fluctuates as a function of time, and typically will maintain a general equilibrium where it does not become too polarized. However, in certain times there can be periods of hyperpolarization and extreme tribalism. These can often herald either a broad societal change to a new societal paradigm or violent conflict within the nation.
In the last ten years, the polarization in the country has significantly increased. This is typically attributed to the Trump years, however I believe he was riding a wave that Obama started. Wall Street engaged in criminal financial activity during Bush’s presidency that resulted in trillions of bank bailouts being given by Bush and Obama to the banks.
Because the bankers who did all of this were never punished (rather Blackrock was allowed to buy out a large portion of the economy), it incentivized the criminal activity to continue to do this day and shifted a large portion of the country’s wealth to the 1%. The Occupy Wall Street Movement (which I strongly supported) came about as a protest to this, and gradually brought awareness to this issue.
To contain this protest movement, a top-down policy reusing a classic strategy was enacted that redirected this popular sentiment from being a class issue to a race issue (essentially everything was reframed so that white people rather than the 1% were responsible for all the issues the country was facing). The media and President Obama inflaming the Treyvon Martin case (which happened less than a year after Occupy Wall Street started) that brought Black Lives Matter to mainstream attention, and a variety of establishment news outlets such as the New York Times suddenly publishing large numbers of articles on White Privilege are two such examples.
This approach was successful and the focus on the parasitic 1% was displaced by a focus on divisions over identity politics. Since that time, wealth inequality has continued to grow to unprecedented levels, and nearly everyone except the 1% has suffered.
The best metaphor I have seen for this situation occurred during George W. Bush’s presidency, where large numbers of people were strongly motivated to protest his oversees wars. Bush somehow was able to get away with creating “free speech zones” where individuals were allowed to protest, but only within fenced off areas that had been designated for protest.
Modern protest movements also work within free speech zones. Certain protest movements (those which do not threaten the 1%) are encouraged across the board, while the other movements are criminalized, and the tech platforms provide comfortable spaces for individuals who support the sanctioned protests to meet their need for activism by harassing people online (resulting in those potential protestors rarely doing anything else and many activists have postulated along with the digital erosion of privacy have basically ended effective progressive activism in the country).
What was particularly sad about all of this is that the left of the country has traditionally opposed the corporate overreach and wealth inequality we are seeing now. In our current timeline, the progressive movement been hijacked and made to turn their hatred and frustration over the injustice in the world towards their fellow countrymen (with many progressives actually identifying with the corporations responsible for much of this mess due to their PR messaging on behalf of social justice).
Because of the changes created by Obama, widespread polarization began appearing throughout American society. Trump in turn rode that wave to the White House, which, egged on by the corporate media, grew throughout his presidency and has continued to grow since he left office.
From looking at the issue of bigotry (I believe that term is more comprehensive than “racism”), the underlying issue always seems to be mental laziness. Being fully present to the individual complexity of another human being takes a large amount of mental work. Painting a large group of people with a brush and viewing them collectively as a homogenous group takes much less effort, and is the default mode of processing for many in a society that encourages mental laziness.
The key point within my political soap box is very simple. Hyper political polarization is always incredibly damaging to a functioning democracy. Outside of situations where an actual hot war is occurring and your life depends on eliminating the enemy, the best solution is always to accept your differences and find common ground with the other side to reduce the existing polarization.
While there definitely are some people in this current era who have lost their minds, in most cases if you create a space for that exchange to happen, it will happen. Most members of the 99% within the United States have much more in common than what is different, but the entire corporate media day in and day out agitates the population over and over again to focus on where they differ so they can never come together as brothers (or sisters).
Many members of the medical profession now are just as political as zealots on the far-left and the medical community in turn often collectively parrots the current political fad. For example, there was a period not too long ago where medical students would dress in white coats and then lie on the ground pretending to be dead (while being sure to take selfies on their phones) in order to protest for Black Lives Matter. Likewise, “prestigious” medical journals will often publish articles of poor quality because they agree with the dominant political narrative. This has been particularly evident during COVID-19, but numerous similar scandals also preceded the pandemic.
The problem with this politicization creeping into medicine is that you will encounter the identical close mindedness and prejudice you see in conventional politics that has now become sanctioned against parts of the Republican party. Young doctors will frequently lash out at individuals who question aspects of medical dogma (i.e.. that a drug could be harmful or that it is not appropriate to gender transition young children), and there are cases of medical students being expelled from medical school for offending the political sensibilities of their peers.
The reason I view this politicization as so problematic is because it provides doctors with a justification to dehumanize or hate patients who offend their political sensibilities. This is not a new phenomenon; doctors in Germany encouraged by the Nazi propaganda machine frequently viewed the Jews as vermin and their horrendous treatment of the Jews reflected this bias. Likewise, in the earlier days of American medicine, there was tremendous racism directed towards black people that resulted in unspeakable acts being committed against them.
While all patients should be treated equally (I feel this principle sacred and should be extended towards everyone), most of you can emphasize with why most physicians might have negative biases towards the ex-convict who abused the child they saw right before him. Every member of the medical field has a different capacity for the spectrum of patients they can see as fellow human beings, and those who are more mentally lazy frequently dehumanize a larger portion of their patient base. Most importantly, as emphasized throughout this series, mental laziness typically increases during periods of stress.
The Politics of Vaccination
Currently, there are two groups that are commonly held in contempt for political reasons by many members of the (increasingly liberal) medical community. Trump supporting conservatives (who are less frequently a target now Trump has left office) and individuals with reservations towards vaccinations.
The vaccination thing seemed to really kick off in 2015 when California enacted SB-277, which required all children attending schools in California to be vaccinated. This was a highly contentious law (it received mass protest for days at the state capitol), it barely passed, and then set off a wave of other similar laws being proposed around the country that met similar counter protests.
One of the main things that made me realize something had fundamentally changed with the Democratic Party was that in nearly all cases, regardless of public outcry, these laws were unanimously supported by Democratic state legislators and only opposed by Republican state legislators. My hypothesis to explain this change in the Democratic party was Obama convincing Big Tech and Big Pharma (who around the same time merged with each other) to become the primary sponsors of the Democratic party, after which Biotech, the intelligence community and the military industrial complex followed.
American politics has always had one party that represents the working class and another that represents the elite class. Obama’s policies transitioned the Democrat party from representing the working class to the elite class and created the curious situation in 2016 where there was no longer a party representing the working class.
I have hypothesized this is why the MAGA movement, an unprecedented populist movement, was able to explode, and the primary reason why it faced such strong bipartisan opposition. This was somewhat confirmed to me by a close friend after he met privately in 2015 with members of the Republican congressional leadership who conveyed that Jeb Bush, an establishment lackey, would be nominee and under no circumstances would the outsider Trump be allowed to win and disrupt their existing business arrangements.
As a result of the new party priorities, the school vaccine mandates passed in each state where Democrats had a majority and failed in each state where Republicans had a majority. The closest state was Colorado (the mandate was defeated), where at the time the Republicans had a slim majority in the senate and the Democrats had a slim majority in the House of Representatives.
At the time this all was happening, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny told a few of us that the state level push for mandatory child vaccinations was an opening salvo in the WHO’s Decade of Vaccines plan. While I’ve always distrusted major institutions, one of my major regrets in life was nonetheless not believing Tenpenny’s assertion that mandatory adult vaccinations were just a few years away because until COVID-19 happened, I could not fathom how that large of a social change could possibly be enacted. Her warning was also the primary reasons I invested so much time into the pandemic when it was still primarily unknown quantity somewhere in China.
From retrospectively observing how everything fell into place, it is now very clear much of the groundwork for the current vaccine mandates was laid by the steps taken during these campaigns. SB-277 (the 2015 California law mandating childhood vaccinations) for example paved the way for SB-241 (the 2019 California law banning medical exemptions to vaccinations), which has since made it impossible for individuals, including those who previous nearly died from a COVID-19 vaccination to receive medical exemptions.
The architect of SB-277 and SB-241, Richard Pan, was one of the foremost vaccine zealots in the nation and was challenged for re-election in 2018 by the independent Eric Frame. During Frame’s campaign (which he did primarily on his own going door to door without any outside support), I discovered that Pan like many in his tribe advocating vaccines for public health, had an absolutely abysmal record on meeting the severe public health needs of his district (which was Frame’s reason for running). Looking back on things, I often wonder how different the world be now if Frame had received outside support for his campaign and won (The Butterfly Effect is one of my favorite thought experiments).
Bigotry in Medicine
Many members of the medical field like to distinguish themselves by emphasizing their commitment to protecting traditionally marginalized communities (sadly in many cases by pushing unsafe medical interventions on them) and hunting down fellow physicians who commit microaggressions against these demographics. What initially shocked me was that during the 2015 SB-277 campaign, these “humanitarian advocates” had an unfettered hatred towards those opposing SB-277 and frequently wished death upon their unvaccinated children (as they did not deserve for vaccines to save their children’s lives). As I watched this situation unfold, I was reminded of a close friends opinion on a similar situation: “These people need to understand that you can’t hate hate.”
Overtime, from the vibes these medical zealots gave off, I came to believe if these people had been alive during World War 2, they would probably have been the ones to rat out their neighbors hiding Jews, which was ironic given their ardent opposition to anything related to Nazism.
One of the things that confused many members of the vaccine safety movement during the statewide vaccine campaigns was why Big-Pharma was polarizing vaccination into a left vs right issue. Doing so transforming the issue from something 90% of the population supported and never thought to question to something 50% supported and was regularly debated, which was a position the vaccination program could never chance due to the major risks of exposing the clear issues with the vaccine program to public debate. One lawyer in the vaccine safety movement repeatedly cited industry documents stating the pharmaceutical industry wanted to do everything they possibly could to prevent vaccines from turning into a political wedge issue for this exact reason.
A lot of times when you have to push forward an indefensible policy, the easiest way to do it is to turn it into a hyperpolarizing topic so that the supporting political party will look past the serious issues with the policy as their focus is entirely redirected to beating the opposing side. When SB-277 was being passed, this possibility never occurred to me, because while I strongly opposed the law, mandatory school immunizations were nowhere near egregious enough for more than 10% of the population to reject them. However, once the COVID-19 vaccines entered the market, this calculus changed: the vaccines were extremely dangerous to the point many could see it and outside of a few select professions, there was no existing precedent for requiring all adults to be immunized.
Because the vaccine issue had already become polarized (“I believe in science,” “I believe in vaccines,” “Republicans are anti-science religious nutjobs,” etc.) it led to many members of the progressive tribe that had previously been critical of Big Pharma looking past innumerable red flags and ardently adopting the COVID-19 vaccines. This made it possible to create a large enough coalition of vaccinated individuals to push forward mandates after the voluntary stage of the rollout, and redirect criticism of the vaccine to being a despicable Trump supporter rather than opposition towards the vaccines themselves. To some extent, similar things have happened with other issues such as forcing the gender transition of prepubescent children.
Hating the Unvaccinated
There are a variety psychological defense mechanisms people use to protect themselves from cognitive dissonance. One is to hate individuals who provide information that creates cognitive dissonance so that their message can be ignored.
A common trend I see amongst weak-minded who repeatedly fail in life is to blame others or bad luck for their failures. I hate how judgmental that is to say, but it’s been such a common thing for me to encounter throughout life I feel it needs to called out for what it is. Frequently, the best advice I can give people who repeatedly run into the same issues is to get over themselves and recognize how they are creating the dysfunctional patterns in their lives.
There has always been a tendency in the medical profession to blame patients for the failure of a pharmaceutical drug to fix their issue (this is another form of medical gaslighting). There are so many diagnostic labels you can place on someone, that it is extremely easy for a mentally lazy doctor to dehumanize a patient and put them in a box where the treatment failure is entirely the patient’s fault.
However, while this was a problem I noticed from members of the medical field (as supporting vaccines is a key aspect of pledging to allegiance to the medical tribe), the hatred towards the unvaccinated began to significantly accelerate in 2015. While they are by no means the majority, I now regularly hear or hear of medical doctors and medical students in private professing their contempt for patients who refuse their COVID-19 vaccines. This is a violation of medical ethics (you should not discriminate against your patients), but in my experience, it is very rare anyone calls them out.
In this series, I’ve listed many potential mechanisms to explain this behavior, and many of you have shared examples of doctors blowing a gasket for you having the audacity to question a COVID-19 vaccination. While all these explanations likely contribute, my best guess for an explanation is another common human response to cognitive dissonance.
When individuals are insecure or unsure about their personal choices, they will frequently seek validation from their external environment. Put differently, the greater someone’s internal doubts are over something, the more aggressively they will push members of their surroundings to validate their belief system.
The COVID-19 response has been so badly mishandled that it is obvious to even the most committed member of the mainstream tribe something is wrong. When a doctor directs hatred against a patient who will not vaccinate and is hence responsible for the pandemic not ending, there are many ways this could be interpreted. My belief is it frequently is an expression of the doctor’s own doubts over the vaccine’s ability to end the pandemic and their participation in that approach (granted there are many other potential explanations too).
Pharmaceutical companies will use every trick in the book to push their drugs, and whenever they can politicize an issue to keep doctors from acknowledging Iatrogenesis they will. About two years ago, I read a study Scott Adams posted on his twitter (if anyone can send me this please do) that made the case the professional class tends to be highly susceptible to radical members of their professions pushing an irrational agenda onto the entire profession. This is because the members of that professional class have invested so much to become members of their class that they are unwilling to take the risk to their professional status by challenging the outspoken radicals who thus are able control the direction of the entire profession.
This frequently describes the state of medicine (where the “radicals” are frequently individuals acting on behalf of pharmaceutical money), and is somewhat analogous for Islamic extremists guiding the direction of Islam because the moderates cannot risk their lives to challenge them.
In the first three parts of this series, I’ve tried to paint the physician behavior that leads towards medical gaslighting in a compassionate and understanding light. In this article, it likely seems I am doing the opposite. However, this is not the case.
Tribal polarization is simply another facet of the human condition. Much in the same way the ability to recognize complexity or resist irrational coping mechanisms to cognitive dissonance declines in periods of external stress and fatigue of the nervous system, the tendency to succumb to tribal bigotry likewise increases.
The entire medical field has been subjected to a profound degree of gaslighting throughout the entire COVID-19 response. When COVID-19 first started in Wuhan, I tried to raise the alarm over what was happening to my colleagues (who all said I was full of it). In December 2019 I came across the documents for Event 201, a simulation exercise for an outbreak of a dangerous novel coronavirus from China, which in the organizers own words is described as follows:
“The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.”
These documents for example emphasized the importance of implementing widespread censorship on social medial to supporting the existing narrative. One of the most interesting things I found within their documents was a decision that at the start of the pandemic, the key message to be distributed across each platform was to not be concerned with the virus. If you were still concerned, it was important to remember that influenza was much more dangerous, and the most important thing you could do to prevent getting ill from COVID-19 was thus to get your flu shot.
While this is absurd on many levels, the incredibly disturbing experience for me was in the span of week (this was around the time COVID-19 started breaking out in Italy) suddenly seeing every doctor I talked to begin repeating this talking point to dismiss my concerns of a potential pandemic. Given the tendency of the media to sensationalize every potential pandemic, the fact the opposite was being done for a much graver one told me this one was the real deal.
A bit after I witnessed the collective adoption of “it’s just a flu bro”, I listened to one of the early WHO broadcasts on COVID-19 where they declared a critical priority would be ensuring the supply of PPE for health care workers. Immediately afterwards, I began to hear public health officials (including Fauci) state there was no reason whatsoever to wear masks for COVID-19. Once this announcement was made, I bought out the entire N-95 supply in my area which, and once the U.S. PPE supply ran out I mailed it to all my colleagues who had previously refused my advice to purchase PPE .
A few weeks after I had gotten the N-95 masks and respirators, COVID suddenly exploded in New York, and all hell broke loose. I was not in NYC at the time, but numerous friends working there told me there was a palpable fear throughout the inhabitants of the city, patients died in rapid unexpected ways they had never seen before, physicians they worked with on the front lines died from COVID, oxygen supplies at one hospital ran out, and a lot of people were put on vents and then died.
From retrospectively looking at the whole situation, I believe a significant number of the deaths in NYC arose from the anxiety and terror surrounding COVID-19. For example while it is know that diabetes and obesity are major risk factors for a bad outcome from COVID-19, there is also a third major risk factor; a pre-existing anxiety disorder (which a lot of people have). Similarly, many people were prematurely rushed to vents upon showing up to the ER because doctor’s knew how dangerous the virus was and the patient’s anxiety both created respiratory compromise and the impression their respiratory failure was worse than it actually was.
COVID-19 was initially assumed to be identical to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (which needs ventilation). While ventilators reduce the death rate in ARDS, it took a while for physicians to recognize ventilators often increased the death rate in COVID-19. A major point of confusion was that COVID-19 patients can tolerate a much lower oxygen saturation than was typically deemed necessary for survival in critical care medicine.
Since this goes against standard ICU practices, the practice of permissive hypoxia took a while to figure out (it is hard to justify not venting someone with a low oxygen saturation). Based on my own research, I’ve theorized this curious phenomenon is due to the blood clotting and increased blood viscosity that COVID-19 creates having a much larger impact on the peripheral vasculature (which is not necessary for survival) than the central vasculature. This causes a different blood oxygenation in the periphery where oxygen saturation is almost always measured (as the stagnated blood is often unable to return to the lungs and be reoxygenated) from that within the central vasculature, and hence creates an erroneous measure of central oxygen saturation. That said, I’ve never been able to compare central oxygen saturations to peripheral ones to validate this hypothesis.
For a moment, imagine being in the situation of a doctor in NYC who has never had to face the fear of dying in a hospital before. You go from months of being told the virus in China is a conspiracy and won’t matter to suddenly having waves of patients and a few colleagues dying in front of you while lacking many of the supplies or medical guidelines you need to address the epidemic. This dramatic upending of their reality and the collective trauma they experienced was sufficient to make many doctors radicalize into supporting a fanatical party line against all things COVID-19 and take up any piece of authoritative guidance given to them.
After the initial wave of COVID-19 occurred, the messages from the establishment then shifted to COVID-19 being a deadly plague, that there was nothing that could treat COVID-19, and that indefinite lockdowns, cloth masking (which does nothing), and handwashing were what we had to do to mitigate the pandemic. This was also absurd, and societal messaging was redirected into polarizing people for or against this policy prescription (those in NYC were some of the early foot soldiers to advance this message). As a result, the debate over those policies was restricted to the political realm rather than them being critically examined within the scientific community where they would not have stood up to outside scrutiny.
If you follow the common blueprint, this sequence of events was expected and was a major reason why I and others invested so much work in late 2019 to try and find treatments for COVID-19. The next step in the blueprint was of course to introduce a vaccine as the solution, which historically, frequently turns out to be a huge mistake (with the correct response being to develop an effective treatment regimen, something that has still not happened).
Once introduced, the COVID-19 vaccine was then heralded as the safe 95% effective salvation that would end the terrifying pandemic, and everyone in NYC (and other areas) lined up to get it. Once the NEJM paper on Pfizer’s vaccine was published, the mantra I heard across the medical field was “well we had hoped the vaccine would be effective, but we never imagined it could be this effective; this is a miracle that will end the pandemic.” Despite many attempts, I found I could not debate the clear methodological errors within the NEJM with most of colleagues because they were stuck on the idea that Pfizer’s vaccine was a miracle.
Another sign of how effectively the vaccine had positioned for mass societal adoption was the fact close friends of mine in the medical field who already had serious reservations about the childhood immunization program got the vaccine despite me warning them of its danger. In many cases this was after I had been acknowledged by them as the only person who had correctly predicted how catastrophic COVID-19 would be in NYC, which meant the credibility I had earned was insignificant compared to the momentum behind the vaccine campaign.
Continuing the gaslighting of the medical profession, the vaccine completely failed to meet its promises. Its efficacy dropped off in a few months, instead of ending the pandemic as promised, the pandemic arguably worsened following the vaccination campaigns, regular boosters (which make no sense as they are for the wrong strain) are now being expected and almost everyone has heard rumors of colleagues getting s ill or dying from the vaccination.
As these doubts grew, health care workers who spoke out against the vaccine were retaliated against and the vaccines went from optional to being mandated. For many people who saw this occurring around them while also having to continue to work, sooner or later, the only real option they had was to block all of it out and pretend it was not happening. I actually have had a few conversations with physicians who admitted to me they are doing this as an act of self-protection.
Out of respect to the dead, I will not share the posts directly, but at this point, many of you have seen the posts of extremely arrogant doctors mocking the unvaccinated, getting the vaccine and then dying shortly after from an injury commonly attributed to the vaccine. The immediate response is to laugh at them and say the doctors got what they deserved. My own opinion is that they represent very sad cases of being gaslighted to death by their own profession.
The central point of this article is to illustrate how political polarization plays such a key role in the current gaslighting carried out by the medical profession. This is important to recognize because just as attacking a radical on the far end of political spectrum with “facts” will do nothing to change their positions, the same can be said for members of the medical profession who have become polarized to the current political dogma.
Fortunately, this is a common problem that human beings have run into in almost every society. Many of forefathers have developed effective strategies for mitigating that polarization. In the final installment of this series, I will discuss the best political and non-political strategies I have identified to address the issues we commonly encounter when navigating the blindness within the medical system.
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