Women with agonising toothache in the 1980s used to encounter daftnesses like these:
Saying that you are in such agonising pain that you are contemplating suicide, proves you are 'really' depressed. You do not need your imaginary pain to be dealt with; you just need antidepressants.
"Prescribing antidepressants to someone who is contemplating suicide because of the intensity and long duration of pain is a life-saving measure and I am proud of saving lives in this way." - A belief (about their women patients) commonly held by GPs in the 80s.
"He wasn't being rude to you. Speaking like that is just his way." - This was Miss Anne Atkinson's response when I told her that Mr Reg Dinsdale had repeatedly addressed me as "You Fat Depressives" (plural), instead of by my name. These two misguided health professionals worked at the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital. Mr Dinsdale was an 'eminent' oral surgeon. Miss Atkinson was a Senior Lecturer in dentistry who claimed to be trying to help me.
When I told my then GP, Dr Hazel Radley, of Mr Dinsdale's insulting way of speaking to me, she described it as "Shock Treatment", intended to 'shock' me out of believing that I was in pain!
Miss Atkinson demonstrated her own mastery of daft dental logic by insisting to me that I was not really in pain, I only thought I was in pain!
And when Mr Dinsdale was performing an apicectomy on my UL2, he told his student assistant that Depressives did not actually feel pain, they only complained about being in pain! - And when bone failed to regenerate after his poorly performed apicectomy, which had left me in greater pain than before, he told the student who was looking at the X-ray with him that 'neurotics' were very poor at regenerating bone! - Very clearly, this man was deluded. An 'ordinary dentist', a general dental practitioner, did a re-apicectomy on the UL2 the following year, and this time the op was done properly and the infection was properly removed so that the bone did at last regrow.
I was sent by Roger Heesterman - Community Dental Officer, I think his title was - in a further stage of the cynical game of pretending that something was being done to help me, to see a Mr Hirschmann, another high-up dentist at a dental hospital in another city, (Heestermann could, and should, in my opinion, have helped me himself. He was a qualified dentist after all. But I suppose there was some Dept of Health rule that people complaining of dental negligence must on no account receive any actual help, only exhausting hassle so that they'd give up their struggle.)
Hirschman said that no doubt I did have some dental problems, but that the real problem was depression. He said that he wouldn't indulge me by taking any X-rays and that none of the dentists there would help me, but possibly one of the students could be spared after the summer holidays...
In contrast to all this daft dangerous misogynistic nonsense:
I had an article published in Mensa magazine about my great suffering at the hands of high-up dental drips: Cruelty, Negligence and the Abuse of Power in the NHS: Fighting the System. Someone sent a copy of the article to an academic health campaigner, and she wrote to me to commend me for my "excellent piece in Mensa about customer complaints". She continued, "I have been fighting the medical attitude to consumer complaints - especially from women - for years - as a member of a Regional Health Board, then Chair of the Patients Association, now as a lay member of the General Medical Council.
I certainly remember a number of cases from my days at the Patients Association of patients with intractable dental pain who were treated as neurotic or frankly loony - and all women. They were laughed at, insulted and generally had a rotten time."
She went on to suggest that I should write a similar article for the British Dental Journal to get to the professionals directly. - I did, in fact, do this, but the article was rejected, as you might, perhaps, have guessed it would be.
The very top man in the whole world on the subject of pain used to be Professor Patrick Wall of University College, London, who died in 2001. In a personal letter to me some years ago, he wrote: "Simple-minded doctors and dentists (the majority) have a built-in scale of how much pain they expect for how much damage. If you fall outside their norm, you are labelled as mad. It is they who need their heads examining. They also need to read and think."