Dr. Drew Pinsky is a board certified internist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at USC, but most of us know him better as radio and cable television’s most tireless ambulance chaser. Over the years, he’s doled out a variety of less than sound and/or helpful ideas. But when he speculated recently to a “Loveline” caller about his fiancée’s endometriosis, he definitively made the case against getting medical advice from flippant talk show hosts.
As Erin Gloria Ryan first noted on Jezebel, Pinsky was fielding a call from a man who was concerned about his girlfriend’s “multitude of conditions,” including endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, lactose intolerance and what he described as “no stomach lining.” The good doctor quickly interjected before the listener could even pose his question, explaining, “These are what we call sort of functional disorders. Everything you mentioned, everything you mentioned, are things that actually aren’t discernibly pathological. They’re what we call ‘garbage bag diagnoses,’ when you can’t think of anything else, you go, ‘Eh, it’s that.’ So, it then makes me question why is she so somatically preoccupied that she’s visiting doctors all the time with pains and urinary symptoms and pelvic symptoms, and then that makes me wonder, was she sexually abused growing up?”
Though the caller did acknowledge that his fiancée had in fact survived abuse, let’s take a step back here and observe that he never said the woman was “preoccupied” and “visiting doctors all the time” – on the contrary, he said she almost always “refuses” to go to doctors, even when she’s “in so much pain.” But Dr. Drew had a handy explanation, stating, “Trust me, she saw lots of doctors before you.” He then went on to explain why her early abuse was causing her problems now. “When people have unexplained pain, pelvic pain, it’s called somatoform dissociation,” he said, “and the only way her body, which was suffering during those early experiences, can tell its tale of woe is with pain. And she really needs to see a trauma specialist, not a urologist. Know what I’m saying?” This was immediately segued with Pinksy’s colleague joking that an additional way someone could have unexplained pelvic pain was by having sex with the show’s guest, Alan Thicke. Charming.
Dr Drews comments on endometriosis are outrageous. He is not educated in a disease that strikes more than one in ten women! Find another doctor! Chronic stage 4 endo with severe adhesions has almost killed me twice. It is real, incurable and I hope you devote air some time in spreading awareness about endometriosis to counteract the sad stereotype that has made the burden of this horrible disease even harder.