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How can cognitive therapy help overcome latrophobia and thoughts about unethical experiences?

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Posted on 2 days ago
Question: Hi
I have developed a doctor phobia (Iatrophobia). My guess is that it started when I was a kid with a doctor who would yell at me and tell me I was fat. Then when I was 18 a doctor physically hurt me and really emotionally traumatized me during a pelvic exam.

But I had it under control for years until a few months ago a doctor pressured me with threats of cancer into having a rectal exam, and I had my first panic attack in probably 25 years. It was just really horrible.

Unfortunately, since then whenever I go to any doctor now I have immense panic. The doctor who pressured me was male, so I decided to try a female doctor. It made no difference. I tried a couple more doctors. No difference. They all freaked me out. I finally settled on one who seemed kind of ok. But I'm still afraid. He ordered a lab test that he didn't talk to me about yesterday and I was in this anxiety loop for hours.

I know that some people who are afraid of the doctor are afraid of bad news, but I don't think that's me. I'm afraid of them misdiagnosing me (because it has happened), of being out of control with all of the tests that they push me into, and of them being angry at me. I know most of it is excessive. So what if they get angry at me, right? But somehow when I feel like it is happening I just react...either by shutting down and agreeing to anything, or by bursting into tears. I just hate it.

I have been doing therapy for about 4 months. I don't avoid going to the doctor. I just go, even though I know I'm probably going to panic and look like an idiot. I'm on Effexor, and I was prescribed Xanax as needed, but I'm reluctant to take it because it's addictive and because it makes it hard for me to think clearly.

So my question...any other ideas? How do I fix this?

I seriously have never heard such a damaging, unhelpful, dismissive response.

Cognitive therapy is way more than chanting positive probably untrue thoughts to yourself. Doctors judge all the time. "You weigh too much," "Your blood pressure is too high." "You need to eat less." "You need to exercise more." and now "Your thoughts are illogical, this is all your fault."

If I hadn't experienced abuse...not malpractice, but actual physical, emotional or sexual abuse from three different doctors over the past 40 years I would not be afraid of doctors.

There is so much you don't understand. I am wondering what your training is in cognitive therapy? Where did you study it?



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It really seems to me that you don't understand trauma or phobias. Let's say that you have a malfunctioning stove, you turn it on, something goes wrong, there's an explosion and your face is burned badly causing you months of pain. The next time you walk up to a stove are you going to reach over and turn it on without worrying about it? Of course not. That fear of pain response is very deep and biological. Phobias are classical conditioning at work. If you force yourself to use a stove again...push through the fear, and nothing bad happens, over and over, eventually you will be able to turn a stove on without much anxiety. That's exposure therapy, which works on the principle of extinction.

But then let's say that you have a second stove blow up in your face. Poof. Phobia is back stronger than ever. That's where I am now. I worked and worked to get to the point where I could mostly trust doctors again...and I found some good doctors. But then out of the blue I found another bad one. And this time it has been even harder to get myself to the point where I could trust them again. And of course I logically know that most doctors aren't abusive or incompetent. But a few are. I also know that even competent doctors can make mistakes. So that's why cognitive therapy has failed me on this one. Unfortunately exposure therapy isn't working so well right now either.

doctor
Answered by Dr. Salah Saad Shoman (24 hours later)
Brief Answer:
I agree

Detailed Answer:

Hello,

I agree that cognitive thinking is not about adopting untrue thoughts.. I am also sorry for the experience you had as regards the abuse you were subjected to, but this doesn't mean that all doctors will cause you this unethical experience...

So, by using cognitive therapy as well as thought, I would recommend that you start thinking this was an isolated experience from some non-trustworthy individuals and not as a general attitude of doctors...

Also, as I stated before doctors are meant to help not judge and if a doctor comments on a patients weight, blood pressure or lifestyle, then this probably is meant to direct the patient to improve his/her health in various means...

I hope I have clarified the idea...Please let me know if I can assist you further...

Kind regards



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Brief Answer:
Combine both

Detailed Answer:
Dear Ma’am, hello again..

Relapses often are more resistant to treatment since there is added painful experiences that requires clearing up... I would recommend that you combine both exposure and cognitive therapy for better results..

I hope you find this helpful..
Regards
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Arnab Banerjee
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Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Salah Saad Shoman

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 1902 Questions

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How can cognitive therapy help overcome latrophobia and thoughts about unethical experiences?

Brief Answer: I agree Detailed Answer: Hello, I agree that cognitive thinking is not about adopting untrue thoughts.. I am also sorry for the experience you had as regards the abuse you were subjected to, but this doesn't mean that all doctors will cause you this unethical experience... So, by using cognitive therapy as well as thought, I would recommend that you start thinking this was an isolated experience from some non-trustworthy individuals and not as a general attitude of doctors... Also, as I stated before doctors are meant to help not judge and if a doctor comments on a patients weight, blood pressure or lifestyle, then this probably is meant to direct the patient to improve his/her health in various means... I hope I have clarified the idea...Please let me know if I can assist you further... Kind regards --------------------------------------------------------------------- Brief Answer: Combine both Detailed Answer: Dear Ma’am, hello again.. Relapses often are more resistant to treatment since there is added painful experiences that requires clearing up... I would recommend that you combine both exposure and cognitive therapy for better results.. I hope you find this helpful.. Regards