‘Above and beyond everything else, history teaches us that authorities perpetually decide upon a vested, self-interested view of what is and what isn’t truth, which through a collective collusion of the levers of power, spreads into the minds and beliefs of the public and becomes held as ‘the popular view’. Only in time, does the actual truth emerge based in direct evidence as to what really happened.’ djl
From the outset, it must be acknowledged that not all psychologists have played a role in the misrepresentation and abuse of people suffering with M.E. Moreover, many types of psychological theory and practice exist. So, in the right context psychology has its place and purpose. The key point raised herein is the unlawful application of ‘all in the mind’ ‘the mind only effecting the body’ ‘mind-over-matter’ psychological theories applied in M.E, and purposely confusing a neurological condition with ‘fatigue’ syndromes associated with depression and mental health issues, with dire consequences. But continuing to pursue such an inherently and obviously flawed line of reasoning and practice, even when the overwhelming medical evidence and patient testimonies now available, strongly indicate otherwise. Such practices are not reflective of psychology’s claim to be ‘scientific’.
Unfortunately, and like many who develop M.E, my direct experience at the hands of psychologists (and some complementary practitioners using psychology to fill-in the gaps in their flawed practices) was dire. First, my truthfully and meticulously recorded patient evidence and testimony was simply overlooked and dismissed under the power mongering, patronising and flippant, ‘just a story’ moniker (as was the Canadian Consensus document presented herein). Second, I was made to feel (and basically told) that I was fully responsible for creating M.E; that somehow I‘d made myself ill and was even maintaining my illness by ‘playing the victim’. Third, that the reason behind this was due to ‘beliefs’ I held about M.E and the world that I’d somehow psychologically latched onto as an excuse for M.E, and that ‘Chronic Fatigue/M.E’ was simply ‘an incorrect illness belief and story’ I was holding to; as if there was nothing actually physically wrong with me and the prolonged and unrelenting symptoms were ‘all in the mind’ and ‘just a bit of physical’.
Forth, that ‘some patients get better and do exercise regardless of having M.E’ and therefore it was my ‘psychological aversion to exercise’ that was the problem, nothing else; a fear I had to face by exercising. Indeed, certain complementary practitioners lavishly using psychology even forced me into exercising at 7am daily on a ‘shamanic medicine wheel course’ that I paid for, which left me almost completely crippled by the end of the week. Finally, that psychological reasoning could easily explain ‘my fatigue’ through a variety of labels haphazardly placed on me without my consent: ‘a strong psychological pull to suffering’ ‘holding a long-held grudge towards my parents that I needed to get over perhaps’ ‘undiagnosed depression’ ‘multi-personality syndrome’ and more baseless ‘psychological rabbits pulled out of the hat’ in a vain attempt to explain M.E without those individuals having a single clue as to what M.E exactly is.
These practices completely overlooked my highly physically active life prior to M.E; that it was continuing to exercise whilst developing M.E that nearly led to my death; that to avoid de-conditioning, even with acute M.E, I’d practiced daily yoga/Qi Gung for 10 years and later skated with incurred constant relapsing; the reality of the severe physical-neurological suffering I’d endured over 10 years (and still endure); the enormous effort, dedication, perseverance and money I’d ploughed into therapy/treatment to get better; the way in which exercise severely worsened M.E regardless of if it was voluntary or forced; and the breakdown of my life at every level. They did nothing to change ANY of the symptoms of M.E or helped me in any manner whatsoever. Instead, they only increased my isolation, alienation and suffering at every level, and in the case of the complementary therapy, left me penniless and ever deeper in credit card debt. If this were happening to people who develop cancer, heart-disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and more, there would be a national uproar and outcry. And yet because of misrepresentation by psychologists, in the case of M.E, we have been convinced that it is quite acceptable. This is extremely detrimental to all those with M.E and why I openly share this information here.
Psychologists intervening in M.E: a short history largely unknown to the general public.
Although M.E has been identified and studied for almost 100 years now in various guises and was classified in 1969 by the World Health Organisation as an organic, acquired, physiological-neurological illness that should not be confused with ‘chronic fatigue’, for decades, certain psychologists have blatantly and flippantly chosen to ignore these truths with dire consequences for patients with M.E.
A pivotal episode became known as the ‘1955 Royal Free’, named after the London based hospital in which the outbreak of M.E occurred. Despite an abundant and overwhelming swathe of physiological/neurological evidence that virus and bacterial infections amongst the patients and staff were the cause of the manifestation of M.E, and verification of this fact by the medical doctors who catalogued exactly what happened to the staff and patients affected, quite randomly and based on clearly flawed reasoning, in 1970 psychologists McEvedy and Beard decided that the outbreak was a mere case of ‘public hysteria’ and ‘female neurosis’ because many of those affected were females (although males were also affected). Unfortunately, and for reasons still not clear, this perception was taken-up and presented in the media suggesting M.E was merely ‘mass hysteria’ and ‘all in the mind’. Moreover, many medical doctors accepted this flawed view without reason, whilst overlooking the presented medical literature of Dr Melvin Ramsay who played a leading role in recording the ‘1955 Royal Free’ outbreak of M.E from an organic, medical view point.
Nevertheless, psychologists who were unwilling to admit that they had made a mistake in overlaying psychological reasoning in the case of the ‘Royal Free’ outbreak of M.E, persisted at denying they had done so to save ‘professional face’ and continued with their obviously flawed line of reasoning. Indeed, throughout much of the 1970’s and 1980’s, the public were largely informed in the media of M.E as ‘Yuppie flu’ ‘post viral fatigue’ ‘entirely imaginary’ or a simple case of ‘patients who can’t be bothered to do anything’ and mere ‘female neurosis’. These ludicrous ideas and blatant misinformation were nevertheless spread widely through the mainstream media through a collective collusion driven by unseen vested interest groups. For, by denying the reality of M.E under the patronising ‘people just feeling tired’ ‘entirely imaginary’ or ‘trying to get out of doing things’ no funding was required to be allocated to pursue research, treatment or support in the case of M.E. Forwarding psychology to explain M.E away was simply a cheaper and easier option, even if those theories were flawed and the result of unnecessary abuse for sufferers. Many with M.E were house and bed-bound so couldn’t speak out for themselves and few M.E charities/support groups existed. So, psychological reasoning largely ruled and influenced many with little opposition or questioning despite an existing and increasing body of physiological-neurological medical literature substantiating M.E.
Then in the late 1980’s, to only make matters worse, the term M.E was dropped in favour of ‘Chronic Fatigue’. The alleged reason being was that using the available technology of the day, there was no evidence of continued viral infection or brain/spinal inflammation in M.E. Although many of the physiological-neurological symptoms identified by Dr Melvin Ramsay were initially part of the criteria of ‘Chronic Fatigue’ an increased emphasis was placed upon only one symptom: ‘fatigue’. Thereby, this included a much broader and less specific patient group (basically anyone presenting with ‘fatigue’ regardless of whether they had genuine M.E and presented with the adverse physiological/neurological abnormalities or not). Of course, today we know that many M.E sufferers do have (and even die from) inflammation/infection of the spinal chord and brain, and that the key factor in viral infection is the distinct change in function viruses effect in the human body/mind complex, even after they are no longer present or are destroyed. Thus, changing M.E to ‘fatigue’ would prove to be lethal, as the severe physiological/neurological implications and dangers of M.E were brushed decidedly further aside. Moreover, psychologists treating ‘fatigue’ pursued ‘Graded physical exercise’ as ‘treatment’; the single action that worsens and severely regresses people with M.E due to a distinct change in the function of their brain/nervous system and muscles to forced or voluntary exercise.
1990’s Oxford and Fukuda ‘Chronic Fatigue/CFS’ Criteria.
By the early 1990’s, the categorising of ‘Chronic Fatigue’ was further altered here in the UK which a certain group of psychologists had a major hand in, despite opposition from some medical doctors who knew M.E is a neurological disorder. Nevertheless, this altered criteria removed the great majority of the physiological-neurological symptoms as previously listed in M.E by Dr Melvin Ramsay (and even included in the late 1980’s ‘Chronic Fatigue’ criteria) and replaced them by focusing on ‘fatigue’ of a persistent nature. Even worse, depression and anxiety disorders were not exclusions in this new criteria. Thus, the dangerous and wholly misleading confusion of M.E, ‘fatigue syndrome’ and psychological conditions was complete. In short, a panel largely represented by psychologists explaining ‘fatigue syndromes’ by psycho-social models, redefined M.E as if it were a psychological condition and mere ‘fatigue’, not an acquired neurological one made significantly worse by voluntary and/or forced physical/mental activity. In tandem with the early 90’s changes to the criteria of M.E here in the UK, the US also later followed in 1994 by including depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions in the criteria of ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’. Moreover, the predominating mentality became an increased emphasis upon ‘psycho-social reasoning’ to thereby explain ‘Chronic Fatigue’ and the important role of physiological factors in causing M.E was significantly reduced and/or overlooked entirely.
The intelligent reader can clearly see that over the course of 40 years, the clearly classified and distinct neurological condition M.E was changed under the influence of flawed psychological theories, to a psychological condition under ‘fatigue syndromes’.
So now, such is the wide patient group existing under the ‘Chronic Fatigue’ banner, that many of them do not necessarily have the neurological condition M.E at all. In reality, only a smaller proportion do and are regressed by psychological practices treating ‘fatigue syndromes’. Moreover, for the last 20 years +, due to the blatantly flawed changes in the criteria for M.E, acutely ill sufferers have (and still are) treated as if they are simply ‘depressed’ ‘neurotic’ ‘have psychological problems’ or ‘incorrect illness beliefs’. Are thereby denied access to medical investigation and care that might help them, social benefits even though they cannot work, and face widespread medical and social ignorance and scepticism. These very real consequences have been played down and even denied by many psychologists clinging to their career driven ‘Chronic Fatigue’ delusions.
Throughout the late 1990’s several more attempts were made to allegedly ‘clarify’ the situation on ‘CFS’ (‘The National Task Force Report on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome and M.E’ and later superceded by the ‘Royal Colleges Report on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’). Unfortunately, neither of these reports did anything to change the fundamental problem with confusing M.E and ‘Chronic Fatigue’ or reinstated many of the physiological-neurological symptoms and effects listed by Dr Melvin Ramsay. On the contrary, the consensus remained that ‘CFS’ was the chosen term and the criteria for diagnosis remained the same also. This was not surprising given that the overall bias in the ‘Royal College’s Report’ was heavily weighted in favour of social psychiatry and psycho-social models explaining ‘fatigue’ which is not the same as M.E at all.
This was very disappointing for many with M.E and did nothing to help them. Nevertheless, this report has continued as the basis to inform many medical doctors on ‘Chronic Fatigue’ here in the UK for nearly two decades now, despite the fact that people who develop M.E are being abused (even to death in some cases) and new and overwhelming evidence of the physiological-neurological damage/abnormalities in M.E, recorded through advanced scanning methods, is now available for all to read. i
On their own admission, this collusion by psychologists is unlawful under the guidelines of the WHO because they state that a medical condition can only have one classification (under one rubic). So, to create ‘Chronic Fatigue/M.E’ is to openly flaunt the very laws of the ruling body that is meant to protect public health. Moreover, the consequences of the changes made in categorising M.E as ‘fatigue’ has led to the abuse and deaths of people who develop M.E because the very medical community many sufferers approach to seek help, treatment and guidance from, view them as nothing more than ‘having a psychological problem’ and thereby send them for treatment plans that include ‘Cognitive behavioural therapy’ (mind-over-matter) and ‘graded exercise’ regimes that only further worsen symptoms and regress patients. This ludicrous situation still persists here in the UK to this very day and many GP’s and psychologists are in deep denial about what is being allowed to unfold given the responsibility the medical community holds for their collective collusion.
The simple question to the truly intelligent is: ‘what purpose does it serve anyone to abuse (even to death) people who develop M.E?’ Surely the time has come to accept what has been collectively created and on the basis of the real medical evidence now available, reinstate M.E as the distinct, physiological/neurological disorder it truly is and thereby avoid harming any more innocent people direly unfortunate enough to develop M.E. In doing so, they can be awarded the medical care, compassion and support they desperately require.
‘What is possible for one is possible for all’.
i For further in-depth discussion of the history of M.E being changed to ‘CFS’ see Dr Anne Macintyre’s book ‘ M.E’.
Transition and the written material composing this project is copyrighted. No reproduction in any form is allowed without the permission of the author.