Activism,  Health Care,  Review

Book Review: Doing Harm by Maya Dusenberry

On a day that I had time to kill I picked up Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenberry at my neighborhood library. It’s a pretty heady read for something I picked up on a whim, but it called to me from the New Release shelf.

I was not even aware of Maya Dusenberry before I began to read this well researched and important book. Women’s health, gender bias, and misdiagnosis of serious health issues can be an emotionally charged topic including anger, sadness, and placing blame. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book dealing with these topics.

In Doing Harm readers are treated to a well researched treatise on the history of women’s health, being sick, and challenges faced by women in the doctor’s office and beyond. From hysteria, to Sigmund Freud and conversion disorders, to the exclusion of women from clinical trials, Dusenberry starts with a though background of women’s status in the health care industry.

Issues such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, chronic pain, and  disputed illnesses are of particularly importance to women.  However, women are often treated drastically different than men by the medical community. The author presents her information, statistics, and arguments about this  so clearly that I often found myself reaching conclusions before she was able to state them.

Throughout the entire book I was simultaneously encouraged and enraged at the state of women’s relationship with medicine. Encouraged by the stories that reflect my own, knowing I was not fighting alone. Enraged, especially about the topics I was not familiar with and how they are dismissed and ignored by doctor’s and the research community.

Doing Harm is packed full of information. I kept 11 pages of notes with ideas and statistics that I will be thinking about for a long time to come. Dusenberry awakened my hunger for knowledge and for that I am grateful. Along with my new knowledge I have also felt inspired to raise awareness about delayed diagnosis, under treated pain, and lack of acknowledgment that medicine may not know everything there is to know about women and their health.


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