Prof Wessely says it's all in our heads!

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Bluebottle, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. Bluebottle

    Bluebottle New Member

    The latest drivel from this incredibly powerful man: (comments can be left online)

    Can people think themselves sick? This is what psychiatrist Simon Wessely explores. His research into the causes of conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf war syndrome has led to hate mail, yet far from dismissing these illnesses as imaginary, Wessely has spent his career developing treatments for them. Clare Wilson asks what it's like to be disliked by people you're trying to help

    How might most of us experience the effects of the mind on the body?

    "In an average week you probably experience numerous examples of how what's going on around you affects your subjective health. Most people instinctively know that when bad things happen, they affect your body. You can't sleep, you feel anxious, you've got butterflies in your stomach... you feel awful.

    When does that turn into an illness?

    Such symptoms only become a problem when people get trapped in excessively narrow explanations for illness - when they exclude any broader consideration of the many reasons why we feel the way we do. This is where the internet can do real harm. And sometimes people fall into the hands of charlatans who give them bogus explanations.

    Is that how chronic fatigue syndrome can start?

    Often there is an organic trigger like glandular fever. That's the start, and usually most people get over it, albeit after some weeks or months. But others can get trapped in vicious circles of monitoring their symptoms, restricting their activities beyond what is necessary and getting frustrated or demoralised. This causes more symptoms, more concerns and more physical changes, so much so that what started it all off is no longer what is keeping it going.

    One of the enigmas is why certain infections, like glandular fever, have an increased likelihood of triggering chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), while others, such as influenza, do not. We also don't know why people who have had depression are twice as likely to develop CFS. I get cross with people who want to explain one and not the other. Some people take too psychiatric a view of CFS and ignore the infective trigger, whereas others want to think only about the infection.

    So how do you treat CFS?

    The first thing you have to do is engage people. I see them for 2 hours, which enables me to take a proper history to ensure I understand their symptoms and how the illness is affecting them. This helps people to open up, as they can see I am interested in their problems and taking them seriously.

    With many people I genuinely do not know why they are ill. Or if I do, if they had glandular fever five years ago, say, I tell them there is nothing I can do about the original trigger. What makes a difference is what happens next. Then we get on to the practical stuff, such as finding out how people deal with the condition. Are there things they are doing that may not be the best for recovery? Then I recommend cognitive behavioural therapy and tailored programmes of gradually increasing activity levels.

    How successful is your treatment of CFS?

    Roughly a third of people completely recover and a third show good improvement. About a third we can't do much for.

    What about those people who have such severe CFS they are bedridden?

    In that kind of disability, psychological factors are important and I don't care how unpopular that statement makes me. We also have to consider what those years of inactivity have done to their muscles. People know that if you break your leg, when you take the plaster off there's nothing much left. If you've been in a wheelchair for some years, the laws of physiology haven't stopped.

    Your most cited paper claims that conditions such as CFS, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia are all the same illness.

    If you ask people with irritable bowel syndrome whether they suffer from fatigue, they all say yes. It's just gastroenterologists don't ask that question. Likewise, if you talk to someone with CFS, you find that nearly all of them have gut problems. If you systematically interview people with these illnesses, you find that a big proportion of these so-called discrete syndromes have a large overlap with the others. You have to think that we have got the classifications wrong.

    So do you think these syndrome labels are arbitrary?

    Each country has different syndromes. They don't have CFS in France; they have a strange one, spasmophilia, where a person has unexplained convulsions. In Sweden they have dental amalgam syndrome, which hasn't really caught on here. In Germany they believe low blood pressure is bad.

    Where does Gulf war syndrome fit in?

    I'd read about people with Gulf war syndrome in newspapers. They looked incredibly like my CFS patients except they were in uniform. Behind them was an interesting scientific conundrum calling out for epidemiological research. Someone had to ask: "What are the rates of illness in those we sent to the Gulf compared with those we haven't?" And that's what we did. We showed that serving in the Gulf had definitely affected the health of a proportion of those personnel, even though this was not a new "syndrome".

    Is looking into Gulf war syndrome how you came to focus on military health?

    Yes. I like dealing with military personnel - I admire what they do. Looking back on my career, it is military research that has given me the most straightforward pleasure, and the satisfaction of knowing we have had a positive impact on policy.

    What kind of input has your team had on military policy?

    We have provided information on rates of psychiatric disorders in troops. For example, alcohol is a bigger problem than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We've shown that extending operational tour length has a bad effect on people's morale and mental health. We also did a comprehensive review of prior research into PTSD and concluded that psychological debriefing after a traumatic incident doesn't help. Normal soldiers need to keep away from people like me - psychiatrists and counsellors.
    Alcohol is a bigger problem than post-traumatic stress disorder in troops

    Your recent research is on people who claim that mobile phones make them ill. What's going on there?

    My colleague James Rubin and I showed that people who believe they are sensitive to mobile phones aren't able to tell the difference between sham and real phone signals. So are these people all making it up? Of course not. They've got themselves into a situation where a mobile phone triggers symptoms, but it doesn't do so through electromagnetic radiation.

    What is it like to receive hate mail?

    There have been times when it has been pretty unpleasant. But it goes with the territory. I'm not targeted by my own patients. If I ever thought that my patients or peer group thought I was a bad person, I would be worried. What matters is that the research we do is good quality. That's what you stand or fall by.

    Simon Wessely trained in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and psychiatry at Maudsley Hospital in London. He founded the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research and Treatment Unit at King's College London and the first specialist NHS clinic for CFS at what is now King's College Hospital. He now focuses on military health and terrorism psychology, and is an adviser to the UK's Home Office and Ministry of Defence."
  2. TeaBisqit

    TeaBisqit Member

    Mostly his rear end. But if you look closely in the article, he admits he doesn't know what he's doing and he can't help a great deal of the patients. He also admits all of his patients spoke of a viral onset.

    He's just trying not to talk himself out of a job.

    The most hurtful part of the article is that it appeared in Newsday, the paper my relatives just happen to read. And they won't read it closely, they'll just look at how it's geared to make us look nuts. So it's more damning evidence they can throw in my face.

    Wessely is a parasite leeching off our illness and I wish someone would stop him.
  3. loto

    loto Member

    he can kiss my FIBROMYALGIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)
  4. pacotaco

    pacotaco New Member

    you said the best thing for so many of us...thanks
  5. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    this sounds like the same interview that was posted about a month ago....I responded in the comments sections of that one, and so did a ton of others (all who disagreed with what he was saying)....if he wasn't believed by so many in the medical field, I would say to just ignore him, but since he has so much unfortunate, inaccurate, and harmful influence, he needs to be stopped
  6. Iamwell

    Iamwell New Member

    I am so sick of this stupid guy. I just emailed him and told him to take the CFS and Fibromyaglia challenge. I said I'd really think it would help in the advancement of science and to prove his theory to have some blood transfused into him from some CFS and Fibro patients and wait to see what happens.

    The CFS and Fibro Challenge needs to be our montra to him. I say PROVE IT!

  7. outofstep

    outofstep Member

    That's awesome. I will happily donate blood for the challenge-I hope he likes viruses!
  8. SBear

    SBear Member

    Historically the medical profession seems to have a record of patient trashing when confronted with any disease or disorder they don't understand. For example, MS was once called "Hysterical Paralysis", which of course acted as a statement that the patients had merely made up the disease. We have to remember that many of these people have egos out of proportion to their knowledge, and it's so much easier to imply that the patient is mentally ill than to admit that they do not have knowledge of how to treat the disease.

    Do I think fibromylagia has a mental/emotional component? Yes, absolutely---every disease has, including cancer. My point is that, just as with cancer, the mental/emotional component does not excuse the medical profession from finding a way to treat the physical component of the disorder.
  9. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I made up a disease I never heard of with bizarre symptoms that I didn't know
    came in a package.

    It is the medical profession which has a history of making things up.

    Illness is caused by demons, for example.

    For thousands of years the learned physicians believed illness was due to an
    imbalance of the four bodily humors: yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood.
    It's only in the last two centuries that this view was gradually replaced.

    And doctors were very slow to adopt the idea that washing your hands before
    surgery or assisting at childbirth was a good idea.

    Bleeding patients is effective treatment.

    And doctors have been generally slow to accept any new theories such
    as the existence of bacteria or the use of immunizations.

    Check out this site: Indiana University. Medical myths even doctors believe:

    Some doctors say patients make up illnesses for secondary gains. They get
    attention, etc. But as we know from reading the messages here, the attention most
    of us get is negative. We lose our jobs, our friends, our social life, our place in
    the family, etc.

    Somebody has a post on the good things CFS has brought to her life. My view is it has
    ruined my life. Wonder if the good doctor can explain why I wanted to do that.


  10. outofstep

    outofstep Member

    He already has a diagnosis even before he sees his patients-so why the 2 hours? Seriously he could see a patient a minute, tell them they're crazy and need CBT/GET and send them on their way-are we supposed to be impressed that he drags it out for 2 hours?

    I cannot wait until this guy is proven wrong and is out of a job.

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