BY: A.F. Andrew,
In the wake of Lynn Gilderdale’s death, one would have expected an editorial in the BMJ to acknowledge the devastating effects of severe ME, and try to lead the way forward to find proper treatment and hopefully a cure.
One would have expected that such an editorial would mention the fact that ME has been classified by the WHO as a neurological illness since 1969. A fact that most doctors, including myself before I fell ill, are not aware of.
Most doctors are led to believe, by a small group of psychiatrists, that this illness, either doesn't exist, or is based on false illness believes, and is all in the mind. That the psychiatrist changed the name 20 years ago from ME in CFS, and then changed the criteria, is just a small detail.
The basis of CBT for ME/CFS is fantastic. First, you blame the patient for his illness, and then when CBT doesn't cure him, you blame him for not being motivated. When I'm fit and well again, I will use this same principle when I see a patient with for example, a severe infection. If the antibiotic I have prescribed, doesn't solve the problem, then I will blame the patient. That the culture has shown that I prescribed the wrong treatment, is something I will ignore.
According to the three psychiatrists, CBT and GET are super treatments for ME. Lynn at one stage, couldn't swallow anymore, to brighten up her life even more. Her doctor then had the choice to treat swallowing problems, with the so fancied behavioural therapy, i.e. CBT, or with exercise therapy, also called GET, the other psychiatric favourite. Luckily, Lynn's treating doctor inserted a tube, so she could be tube fed. Although I agree with the psychiatrists that CBT is best.
You might still think that ME doesn't exist, or, that it is all in the mind, and continue to be incredibly hostile to your ME patients. However, you might be next and become an ME patient as well, just like myself and many others. And I can assure you, you will be in for a big shock, and at the same time, you will also find that this illness has got nothing to with what you have been reading in your magazines, written by CBT psychiatrists. So hip hip hooray for CBT, because who needs proper treatment for a severe and very disabling illness anyway?
Competing interests: I am a doctor with ME who simply adores CBT