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Doing Harm
Cover of Doing Harm
Doing Harm
The Truth about How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick
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In this shocking, hard-hitting expose in the tradition of Naomi Klein and Barbara Ehrenreich, the editorial director of Feministing.com, reveals how inadequate, inappropriate, and even dangerous treatment threatens women's lives and well-being.

Editor of the award-winning site Feministing.com, Maya Dusenbery brings together scientific and sociological research, interviews with experts within and outside the medical establishment, and personal stories from women across the country to provide the first comprehensive, accessible look at how sexism in medicine harms women today.

Dusenbery reveals how conditions that disproportionately affect women, such as autoimmune diseases, chronic pain conditions, and Alzheimer's disease, are neglected and woefully under-researched. "Contested" diseases, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, that are 70 to 80 percent female-dominated are so poorly understood that they have not yet been fully accepted as "real" conditions by the whole of the profession. Meanwhile, despite a wealth of evidence showing the impact of biological difference between the sexes in everything from drug responses to symptoms to risk factors for various diseases-even the symptoms of a heart attack-medicine continues to take a one-size-fits-all approach: that of a 155-pound white man.

In addition, women are negatively impacted by the biases and stereotypes that dismiss them as "chronic complainers," leading to long delays-often years long-to get diagnosed. The consequences are catastrophic. Offering a clear-eyed explanation of the root causes of this insidious and entrenched bias and laying out its effects, Doing Harm will change the way we look at health care for women.

In this shocking, hard-hitting expose in the tradition of Naomi Klein and Barbara Ehrenreich, the editorial director of Feministing.com, reveals how inadequate, inappropriate, and even dangerous treatment threatens women's lives and well-being.

Editor of the award-winning site Feministing.com, Maya Dusenbery brings together scientific and sociological research, interviews with experts within and outside the medical establishment, and personal stories from women across the country to provide the first comprehensive, accessible look at how sexism in medicine harms women today.

Dusenbery reveals how conditions that disproportionately affect women, such as autoimmune diseases, chronic pain conditions, and Alzheimer's disease, are neglected and woefully under-researched. "Contested" diseases, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, that are 70 to 80 percent female-dominated are so poorly understood that they have not yet been fully accepted as "real" conditions by the whole of the profession. Meanwhile, despite a wealth of evidence showing the impact of biological difference between the sexes in everything from drug responses to symptoms to risk factors for various diseases-even the symptoms of a heart attack-medicine continues to take a one-size-fits-all approach: that of a 155-pound white man.

In addition, women are negatively impacted by the biases and stereotypes that dismiss them as "chronic complainers," leading to long delays-often years long-to get diagnosed. The consequences are catastrophic. Offering a clear-eyed explanation of the root causes of this insidious and entrenched bias and laying out its effects, Doing Harm will change the way we look at health care for women.

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About the Author-
  • Maya Dusenbery is a writer and editor of the award-winning site Feministing.com. She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist for Pacific Standard magazine. Before becoming a journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 15, 2018
    Dusenbery, editor of the website Feministing, presents a canny and candid analysis of how modern medicine treats women in pain. She skillfully interweaves history, medical studies, current literature, and hard data to produce damning evidence that women wait longer for diagnoses, receive inadequate pain management, and are often told they are imagining symptoms that are taken seriously in men. Dusenbery exposes the biases underlying treatment for established conditions such as heart disease and discusses the “circular logic built into psychogenic theories” that keep conditions exclusively or commonly experienced by women, such as endometriosis and autoimmune diseases labeled as “contested illnesses.” Backed by patient stories that range from hopeful to horrifying, Dusenbery illustrates how often modern physicians dismiss women’s symptoms as arising from anxiety, depression, and stress. She’s fair to doctors, who are “fallible human beings doing a difficult job,” and her solution is simple—more funding for research that can find the causes for “medically unexplained” conditions and that can close the knowledge gap about sex and gender differences in disease. But the biggest paradigm shift Dusenbery suggests is to eliminate the trust gap and believe women when they say something’s wrong. Dusenbery’s excellent book makes the sexism plaguing women’s health care hard to ignore.

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Doing Harm
Doing Harm
The Truth about How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick
Maya Dusenbery
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