Vaccinating Young People

(Disclosure: The following item appeared originally in slightly different form on a private Facebook page. I decided to share it here because a quotation in the Washington Post article (link below) suggested teens must be better informed about the dangers of the pandemic. I found that refreshing because often healthcare for underage patients locks those young people out of any discussion and demands only obedience.)

I hope there can be an effort to communicate with adolescents directly to encourage vaccination and other precautions. If there’s just an aggressive “We’re the parents, and this is the decision we’ve made for you, kid,” thing, that does nothing to help teenagers develop the critical thinking skills for making good choices after they become adults.

This is an especially delicate issue for me because my mother suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. That’s a mental illness which gives high priority to a parent or caregiver’s emotionally needy impulses, and often results in a vulnerable person being harmed. Usually, it’s a mother lying about her child being ill and being preoccupied with subjecting the child to unnecessary diagnostic procedures and treatments. Usually, people with that mental illness are seeking respect or sympathy. They want some kind of attention, at the expense of a person who has no power.

It’s worth mentioning that I developed a combination anorexic/compulsive eating condition during childhood, partly because of this domineering treatment.

I refused to see any medical doctor for about 7 years, from 1974 to 1981. I was nearly 21 when, still living with my parents, I saw a doctor. My mother and I had a horrible fight over that because she was furious about being excluded.

The relationship with the doctor went badly because he committed some ethics violations that were traumatic for someone in my situation, and eventually he discontinued my care because I kept objecting to his behavior.

I didn’t have the good sense to decide to stop seeing that doctor myself because I hadn’t learned self-respect. I thought I was handling it well because I was speaking up instead of being passive. Children of Munchausen Mothers are expected to be passive, and I had been that way to the extreme for as long as my mother controlled the doctor-patient relationship.

A supportive parent could have averted a lot of that, and I believe healthcare providers who include young patients in discussions of their health can help those kids transition to making informed choices.

Of course, Munchausen Mothers will have nothing good to say about healthcare providers who treat kids with respect, but that’s when courage in the healthcare field is vital. You can’t help a patient in a dysfunctional family if you just cave to the person who holds the power.

CDC director urges parents to vaccinate teens, pointing to increase in severe cases – The Washington Post

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