12 responses to “CFS/ME and “faulty illness beliefs”: The incredible hubris of the psychiatro-patriarchal complex”

  1. Lynz

    See, here’s where the “mind over body” argument runs into a solid wall of fail for me, apart from the obvious stupidity of it in the first place: I started having the symptoms of fibro and CFS when I was five years old. And I hadn’t even heard of either term until I was diagnosed at twelve. So how on earth is it possible to argue that I “thought myself sick”? The sheer lack of logic behind the argument would be laughable, if it weren’t for the fact that so many people actually believe it.

  2. Naamah

    “a distinct entity which is not burnout or overwork or stress or vitamin deficiency or fat or lack of exercise.”

    Why is fat on that list? No, really. Why is fat on that list?

  3. lauredhel

    “Why is fat on that list? No, really. Why is fat on that list?”

    Because, like all the other things on the list, doctors often falsely attribute chronic fatigue to it. I agree that it isn’t written very clearly – I was pretty heavily fogged when I wrote this.

  4. calyx

    Huh, I resisted vigorously the idea that I was chronically ill for a long while – like many go-go-go types, I just couldn’t believe that my body wasn’t going to bounce back.

  5. Shiyiya

    Just ran into this article about CFS… http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/opinion/21johnson.html?_r=1
    .-= Shiyiya´s last blog ..Letter from my representative. =-.

  6. Naamah

    Sorry for any prickliness. I was foggy when I wrote that, too. My apologies.

  7. Amy

    I thought it was all in my head too, until I started throwing up at inopportune times, and tests revealed nought wrong with my stomach lining.

  8. John

    There’s a lot more to it than Wessely- the head honcho of the CDC’s CFS Research Program, Bill Reeves, is on record several times saying he doesn’t believe CFS to be a disease, but rather an ‘illness’ which affects the ‘female gender’, as opposed to the female sex, which is commonly cited to be more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, MS, etc. Why the ‘female gender’, you might ask? According to doctor Reeves, because ‘women are treated differently than men in society’.

    CDC has refused to replace Dr. Reeves despite the unanimous recommendation of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee, which advises the Sec. of Health and Human Services(who also doesn’t listen to their recommendations), as well as the IACFS/ME, the largest CFS/ME professional’s group in the world and the nation’s largest patient charity, the CFIDS Association, not to mention who knows how many patients themselves calling for his replacement at CFSAC and other public meetings.

    (note- when Dr. Reeves comments about more men than women suffering from ‘CFS’ in rural areas, it should be noted that he is using a definition of CFS which no other research group in the entire world uses and which the IACFS/ME recommended CDC not only stop using, but to actually make a public statement in this regard.

    It has been shown that more women than men suffer from CFS, generally by a 3 or 4:1 ratio, similar to MS, since what is commonly regarded to be the first outbreak of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis(ME) in 1934, ME being the disease which CDC renamed CFS in the mid-eighties after outbreaks in the US.)


    Reeves- “We look upon CFS as a complex illness, not as a disease. Diabetes is a disease with metabolic pathways involved. CFS is an illness from which various diseases spring.”
    William C. Reeves, CCRP Program Leader

    “The data pose a pivotal question: Are the results due to sex (the fact that women have two X chromosomes and men have one X and one Y—primarily a genetic influence) or do they reflect gender? Gender is described as women’s role in their particular racial/ethnic group and society; the ways in which they have to function differently because they are women.”
    William C. Reeves, CCRP Program Leader

    “Host: Sidenote, you said that there’s higher numbers in the rural areas than you expected.
    Dr. Reeves: There were- actually not higher numbers in the rural areas, we asked the question about women.
    Host: Ok.
    Dr. Reeves: Ok women are very high risk.
    Host: Ok.
    Dr. Reeves: And women are women because of their sex.
    Host: Right.
    Dr. Reeves: Women are treated differently in society than men are.
    Host: Ok, so wait, I was wrong though about the rural, I thought you said-
    Dr. Reeves: It’s gender. What was different in metropolitan and rural is 5 times as many women than men in metropolitan areas have it, twice as many men as women have it in the rural areas.
    Host: Huh.”


  9. NTE

    This whole thing makes me very Hulk-ish, and I almost didn’t read it when I say Wessely’s name in the opening paragraph, but I think it’s important to know who your enemies are (even if you haven’t yet got a clue how to defeat them), and Wessely and Reeves are definitely on that list for all people with CFS/ME. Let’s say that Reeves isn’t a thief (or at least a co-conspirator in the theft of millions of dollars that were supposed to be dedicated to CFS research) and a sexist (see John’s quotes in the above comment), he’s still unable to change his mind about his pet theories even in the presence of actual, scientific evidence. In response to the recently published,(hopefully groundbreaking and game-changing) retrovirus research findings from the Whittemore Peterson Institute, for example, Reeves could only say that he was surprised the article was published, and that he didn’t expect that the CDC would be able to replicate their findings. Really? So the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic – those aren’t prestigious enough researchers for the CDC? Granted, yes: it’s a small study, it’s a new and intriguing finding which may have some controversial points that still need to be worked out, but to say that they’re wrong to publish it? To pretty much guarantee that the presence of XMRV is not a repeatable finding, and to suggest that, even if it were, it wouldn’t mean anything? That’s not scientific – it’s bullheaded and dangerous, and we are supposed to believe the the CDC is actually working for the patient community? Outrageous.
    .-= NTE´s last blog .. =-.

  10. cinderkeys

    I know someone with ME. I’ve gone with him on doctors’ visits. As far as I can tell, being male hasn’t protected him from this kind of prejudice. Or, if it has, I REALLY hate to think how badly women with the disease are treated.
    .-= cinderkeys´s last blog ..The search (algorithm) for good music =-.

  11. cinderkeys

    Yep. I used to teach a women’s studies class.

    But as a feminist, advocate for the ME/CFS cause, and former wannabe-sociologist, I’d like data. On average, do women have it worse than men when they see doctors for invisible illnesses? If yes, do men get taken more seriously simply because they’re men, or does the effect go away when controlling for how often women and men see doctors?

    I don’t have a hypothesis. It could go either way. But it would be a good thing to know.

    In any case, I think YOU’VE hit the nail on the head as regards the whole blame-the-victim mentality. Thinking of people as disturbed rather than genuinely suffering seems to make a lot of friends and family members happy somehow. They can cling to their assumption that the universe is fair, and don’t have to ponder the harsh realities of what it’s like to live with chronic pain.
    .-= cinderkeys´s last blog ..Loud =-.