When Patients Try to Seduce Doctors

Leigh Page


October 26, 2016

In This Article

Why Some Patients Want to Seduce Their Doctors

Why would patients want to seduce their doctors? The late psychiatrist Ethel Spector Person, MD, postulated that the patient might be trying to compensate for the physician's control in the therapeutic relationship. "Love acts as an attempt to exert control over the situation," she wrote[9] in 2003. "It is an example of power-seeking, if you will."

Dr Heitt says that a doctor may inadvertently kindle a patient's feelings. "A doctor will often sit and listen to patients, and even touch them on the shoulder in a comforting way," he says. Some patients may misinterpret this as a more personal gesture than it is meant to be, he explains.

The feelings that patients have for their doctors can be quite intense. And, as in a an interaction between any two people, signals are sometimes misinterpreted. A patient might believe that a physician is returning his or her feelings, but that could be wishful thinking; or a physician might decline the offer in order to protect himself or herself.

But in some cases, patients may be so intent on pursuing doctors that they won't take no for an answer and may even make up stories about seduction if they don't cooperate.

In Great Britain, a 50-year-old patient said she became "infatuated" with her gynecologist after he allegedly gave her great pleasure in 2006 during a medical examination, even though a nurse chaperone stood just a few feet away, according to a report[10] in the Daily Mail.

She persisted with her claim for 3 years and even took it to trial. But when another doctor agreed to testify that she had pressed him for sex too, she withdrew the case and admitted she made up the incident.

The accused gynecologist said he had been put through "a horrible ordeal," and the trial in particular had been "unspeakably stressful especially for my wife, our families and for me."

Predatory patients are rare but can be very frightening, Dr Heitt says. Dr Schenthal says they may try to entice the doctor through favors. This might involve offering free tickets to a concert by a favorite of the doctor's, in hopes of creating a special relationship. In these cases, the patient doesn't accompany the doctor, but afterward she might call up to ask how it went.


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