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Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick
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Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  380 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
In this shocking, hard-hitting expose in the tradition of Naomi Klein and Barbara Ehrenreich, the editorial director of, reveals how gender bias infects every level of medicine and healthcare today—leading to inadequate, inappropriate, and even dangerous treatment that threatens women’s lives and well-being.

Maya Dusenbery brings together scientific and soci
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by HarperOne
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Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I want to take this book to my next doctor's appointment, smack him upside the head with it, and then stand there and read the whole damn thing out loud to him! It was infuriating and maddening to read, but it helped me to feel better that I'm not the only woman who is fighting the medical system for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
I hate to say it, but I found this book pretty repetitive in a lot of spots. Each section, regardless of what part of history or which medical issue was being discussed, felt like I was re-reading entire paragraphs at some point because so much was constantly being reiterated in the same way. Because of that, I also didn't find the writing to be entirely engaging as I expected such a topic to be for me. In fact, it was rather dry. In this case, that doesn't mean I didn't like the book - I though ...more
Alex Linschoten
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
Important and timely. Dusenbery has hit the nail on the head with this book. I highlighted so many passages. She reveals how -- at almost every turn -- women are rendered dismissed, ignored and invisible by the medical system.
Alyssa Foll
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an eye-opening read about how poorly women are treated in the medical system. Maya Dusenbery examines multiple factors for why medicine tends to be sexist and paternalistic in its care of women, but she also shares countless stories of women who advocated for themselves and for the healthcare they deserved.
I can't say that this is a "pop" science read-- there was an impressive amount of data, acronyms, and medical jargon. However, it is well worth the read to explore how women in pain
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Women's symptoms are not taken seriously because medicine doesn't know as much about their bodies and health problems. And medicine doesn't know as much about their bodies and health problems because it doesn't take their symptoms seriously."

If you are a woman, have a body and go to the doctor, read this book. You will recognise your experience in these pages. You will get enraged. And you will be joined by many other women.

As a sufferer of CFS, I faced years of doctors telling me I was sufferi
Zia Okocha
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is must read for all women, doctors who care for women, and anyone with girls and women in their lives (so, yes everyone). As a female physician of color, I know I have come to have antennas up for inherent systemic racism built into our medical education and treatment systems. Until this book, however, I did not notice how sexist the medical system is as well. As the author notes, so many medical conditions that cause knee-jerk negative reactions are experienced mostly by women. She a ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A deep dive into decades-long practices in science and medicine that disadvantage women from the word go. Bad science, prejudicial and paternalistic attitudes by physicians and other care providers, and a persistent belief that women’s self-reported symptoms are not to be trusted. Dusenbery gets into the actual published science behind all the bad science/medicine and how the tides are slowly beginning to turn.

Book 2 of the three-Book trifecta coming out 3/6 about women’s health and chronic ill
Shaina Robbins
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Would it be inappropriate for me to give a copy of this to every medical professional I meet? Or maybe just to a couple of terrible of doctors from my past?
Marianne K
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A repetitive look at gender-bias in the doctor/ patient relationship. Having experienced this firsthand, I certainly agreed with the premise. I almost bailed in the introduction as the author had so many liberal views that I do not subscribe to, "... nature is a lot more diverse than the two categories [gender] we try to impose on it", uh, no, sorry. Here's another gag-inducing gem, "I won't be discussing routine reproductive health care in this book-that is, contraception, abortion, and care du ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction, paper
Important and heartbreaking. The lengths to which a woman must advocate for her own care is ridiculous. Every health provider needs to read this book, even if they think they treat all patients the same (because guess what - they probably don’t).
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: printed
Forthcoming. If you’re going into/already in science or medicine OR if you support feminism (hopefully everyone), this book is an important siren call for bias awareness.
Much of the book focuses on anecdotes of doctors dismissing womens' symptoms simply because the patients are women. "Before [the twentieth century], doctors had no choice but to take patients at their word about what they were experiencing in their bodies." p 69 However, "I spoke to a depressing number of women with a range of conditions who attested to the power of a male relative - whether a partner, a father, or even a son - to help ensure their symptoms were taken seriously." p295 One young ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
"When it comes to 'active' life expectancy - the number of years living free from significant limitations that prevent you from doing everyday tasks - men have overtaken women in the past three decades. Women still live longer, but men live better longer." (20)

"The medical community has viewed women's health with a bikini approach, focusing essentially on the breast and reproductive system." - Dr. Nanette Wenger (27)

1 in 3 deaths in women is due to heart-related causes, more than from all types
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Infuriating and terrifying. Why is it so hard to believe women?
Sara Kalucza
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Albeit a bit repetetive at spots, this is a great and infuriating odyssey through gender bias in the medical world. I think the repetetativeness could actually be helpful for people whit specific interests in certain chapters, pertaining to their own illnesses and experiences. I could for example see my self recommending certain chapters to some of my friends, without them having/wanting to read the whole book. In these cases the repeating of some arguments through several chapters is helpful.

Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a very difficult read for me because nearly every page filled me with outrage. Anyone who has gone to the doctor while female will recognize some of the ways that women's suffering has been ignored, dismissed, and marginalized, often leading to delayed diagnoses, additional sufferings, and inflated medical costs. And that is just for diseases with a known somatic basis. Pity the poor woman who suffers from a mystery disease - she is more likely to get a mental illness diagnosis of ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, medicine
This is an important book on the gender gap in medicine. Maya Dusenbery identifies two main gaps: the knowledge gap and the trust gap. Medicine still lags in including women in clinical trials and in researching conditions that occur only in, more frequently in, or differently in women. Secondly, doctors distrust women, discount their reporting of their symptoms, and ascribe women's pain as psychological--despite data showing that women are not more emotional, are not drug seekers, and do not se ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There’s not really much else for me to say other than this book really opened my eyes to a lot of issues that I hadn’t known even EXISTED in the medical community and that’s entirely because of the fact that I’m male and identify as a man. As I read the first couple sections of the book, I started talking to my female friends about some of experiences that the book described and I was blown away by the fact that a lot of them had some experience with this type of sexism. I really have this book ...more
Kitty Galore
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The MeToo movement has highlighted sexist practices in America today. Thoughts about this is that women knew about it long before the press got hold of it. In general why do women allow these things to happen in the first place? What have we been thinking over the Millenia? Were we thinking at all in allowing men to gain the upper hand? At any rate, this book is an extension of the unfair and biased treatment women have received in this country. A paternalistic medical establishment had always t ...more
Kira Brighton
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
As a woman with multiple female-dominant medical conditions (most of which were discussed in this book), I'm thrilled this book exists. It's vital that we have this modern examination of sexism in the medical industry. Some of what's in this book I already knew, from prior research and personal experience, but I still found it to be stunning and educational.

I personally related most to chapters 2, 5, and 7, and to some degree, 6.

(If you're interested in hearing more about my own chronic illness
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
The author discusses how women’s health concerns, especially illnesses which primarily affect females, such as CFS, POTS, and fibromyalgia, are often dismissed as psychosomatic. Better medical education and research directed towards many of these illnesses would help, but our society does not prioritize them. It’s depressing that women’s concerns are so frequently marginalized, and that multiple doctor visits are often required for the patient to be taken seriously, and be diagnosed and helped.
Terri Ehrlich
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Every woman should read this book. This author has done her homework, and recounts the discrimination and negligence on the part of both medical researchers and practitioners when it comes to illnesses that affect mostly women. Although parts of this book made me downright angry, it was a fascinating read. Ms. Dusenbery also gives women the tools to counteract this phenomenon in order that future generations of women won’t fall under the “hysteria” umbrella.
Rachel Rickard
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dusenberry’s research has so much breadth and depth, and this is probably my favorite nonfiction read of 2018 so far. Necessary reading for understanding healthcare, disease, and gender.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
important and timely. should be read by all medical professionals.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Everyone should read this book - well researched, important, and shocking.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book...kind of the nutshell review I can give this book is TLDR. I skimmed most the book. I read all of a few chapters in the middle before becoming frustrated with the repetitive feel of the book and skimming again. Each section about different types of illnesses read in a very similar fashion. Women get sick, no one bothers to really find out what is wrong with them, history lesson about the illness and how it has been blamed on "hysteria", history of the misogeny of modern medicine, expl ...more
Chris Pederson
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great book.. really challenged me to think differently about pain and other chronic illnesses
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Listen to women. Trust us when we say we're sick. Start there, and you'll find we have a lot of knowledge to share."

Good book. Although I have been VERY fortunate (and highly selective) in my mid twenties and later to have NPs and doctors who respect and believe me, I still suffered for years before I got proactive and picky from bad diagnoses and from my doctors just not being familiar with what I had, or by them not listening to me. The prime example of this is an allergist (who was at least
Julie Barrett
I learned a lot of infuriating information from this book that will hopefully improve future interactions I have with doctors. I wish, though, that the information had been presented better. It was quite a slog, getting through this book. Lots and lots of facts, many repetitive and written in a dry, dull style. Reading non fiction books like these make me appreciate it when I do come across a piece of non fiction that is well written.

What did this book teach me? A lot. There are two overriding p
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This terrifying and eye-opening book is a must-read for any female or any person in the medical field. Although it is not a particularly enjoyable book, it is well-written and extremely insightful. I found myself revisiting every encounter I've had with a medical professional and feeling thankful that I have not needed a lot of medical attention in my life. An extremely important read.
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Maya Dusenbery is a writer, editor, and author of Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick.

In 2013, Maya became editorial director of the award-winning site, where she has written about a range of feminist topics since 2009. She has also been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and an online columnist at Pacific Stand
“Only 15 percent of the doctors diagnosed heart disease
in the woman, compared to 56 percent for the man, and only 30 percent
referred the woman to a cardiologist, compared to 62 percent for the man.
Finally, only 13 percent suggested cardiac medication for the woman, versus
47 percent for the man.”
“One 1993 study suggested that up to 40 percent of black women with endometriosis were misdiagnosed as having sexually transmitted PID. "It was so blatantly racist it just blows my mind," Ballweg says.” 3 likes
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