Power Relationships

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I feel like my husband’s doctor does not even see him as a person. We both feel uncomfortable when we see her. My husband has mentioned that he feels like she is constantly judging him and I try to reassure him that this is not the case but to be honest I feel that way about her too. Not only that she is judging him but that she is judging me too. What do I do?

It is very important that your husband and you both have a comfortable relationship with his doctor. At minimum, there must be a feeling of respect. It sounds like you are feeling a power differential is being expressed by the doctor. It is not uncommon to hear of feelings of inferiority expressed by family members when dealing with professionals. This is not going to contribute to a healthy relationship and could in fact lead to lower rates of cooperation between the professionals and the family. If possible, pick professionals that your family member and you are comfortable with and who treat you respectfully. If you do not have this opportunity, stand up for your family member and yourself so that you are treated with the dignity and respect that everyone deserves.

Of course, the expectation would be that doctors are unaffected by the stereotypes that exist, but unfortunately that may not always be the case.

Stigma not only judges, but it pre-judges. Labels are put on people and judgments are made without contact. People are not even given the opportunity to fight the misconceptions; they are automatically assigned a label and all the judgments that come with the label. How can someone not lose hope when that is what they experience this over and over again? When people are put down over and over again how can they recover?

If the doctor is contributing in any way to the stigmatization your husband is feeling, find another. The reality is that she does have a lot of power but she should be using this in a helpful, productive way, not in a way that is demeaning. She should be helping him recover, not contribute to feelings of helplessness.

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